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[199] When you have possessed yourselves of the land of Canaan, and have leisure to enjoy the good things of it, and when you have afterward determined to build cities, if you will do what is pleasing to God, you will have a secure state of happiness. Let there be then one city of the land of Canaan, and this situate in the most agreeable place for its goodness, and very eminent in itself, and let it be that which God shall choose for himself by prophetic revelation. Let there also be one temple therein, and one altar, not reared of hewn stones, but of such as you gather together at random; which stones, when they are whited over with mortar, will have a handsome appearance, and be beautiful to the sight. Let the ascent to it be not by steps 1 but by an acclivity of raised earth. And let there be neither an altar nor a temple in any other city; for God is but one, and the nation of the Hebrews is but one.

1 This law, both here and Exodus 20:25, 26, of not going up to God's altar by ladder-steps, but on an acclivity, seems not to have belonged to the altar of the tabernacle, which was in all but three cubits high, Exodus 27:4; nor to that of Ezekiel, which was expressly to be gone up to by steps, ch. 43:17; but rather to occasional altars of any considerable altitude and largeness; as also probably to Solomon's altar, to which it is here applied by Josephus, as well as to that in Zorobabel's and Herod's temple, which were, I think, all ten cubits high. See 2 Chronicles 4:1, and Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 3. sect. 7. The reason why these temples, and these only, were to have this ascent on an acclivity, and not by steps, is obvious, that before the invention of stairs, such as we now use, decency could not be otherwise provided for in the loose garments which the priests wore, as the law required. See Lamy of the Tabernacle and Temple, p. 444.

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