Zev Radovan

Cultic conformity. Found disassembled and embedded in an eighth-century B.C.E. wall at Tel Beersheba, this reconstructed altar had been dismantled, probably during King Hezekiah’s religious reforms (c. 715 B.C.E.), after which the blocks were reused as wall stones. It was relatively easy to identify the altar blocks as belonging to the same structure. They all had been cut from calcareous sandstone, different in color and harder than the common limestone used elsewhere in the wall. Fitting the blocks together again proved simple, because they had been cut to precise dimensions, with a different height for each course of stones. The raised points on the corners at the top are undoubtedly the “horns of the altar” referred to in Exodus 27:2: “You shall make [the altar’s] horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it.” Standing more than 5 feet high, the Beersheba altar—like the one at Arad—conforms to the height of 3 cubits prescribed for the altar of the wilderness tabernacle in Exodus 27:1.