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[111] When Phineas had discoursed thus, the governors of the assembly, and the whole multitude, began to make an apology for themselves, concerning what they were accused of; and they said, That they neither would depart from the relation they bare to them, nor had they built the altar by way of innovation; that they owned one and the same common God with all the Hebrews, and that brazen altar which was before the tabernacle, on which they would offer their sacrifices; that as to the altar they had raised, on account of which they were thus suspected, it was not built for worship, "but that it might be a sign and a monument of our relation to you for ever, and a necessary caution to us to act wisely, and to continue in the laws of our country, but not a handle for transgressing them, as you suspect: and let God be our authentic witness, that this was the occasion of our building this altar: whence we beg you will have a better opinion of us, and do not impute such a thing to us as would render any of the posterity of Abraham well worthy of perdition, in case they attempt to bring in new rites, and such as are different from our usual practices."

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