ולאחר שיפרקו הלוים את המשכן
and, when they are leaving the camp, after the Levites dismantle the Tabernacle but before they remove the altar. Since the altar has not yet been moved, it is still permitted to consume the sacrificial food.
מהו דתימא איפסיל להו ביוצא קא משמע לן
The Gemara continues: It was necessary to state this halakha lest you say that once the partitions surrounding the courtyard have been taken down, the sacrificial food has been disqualified because it is considered to have left the courtyard of the Tabernacle. Therefore, the baraita teaches us that the food is permitted for consumption as long as the altar remains in place.
ואימא הכי נמי אמר קרא (במדבר ב, יז) ונסע אהל מועד אף על פי שנסע אהל מועד הוא
The Gemara challenges: And say it is indeed so, that the sacrificial food should be disqualified because it is no longer within the partitions surrounding the courtyard. The Gemara explains: The verse states: “Then the Tent of Meeting shall travel” (Numbers 2:17). This verse indicates that even though it traveled it is still considered the Tent of Meeting. Therefore, the sacrificial food is not considered to have left its designated area.
אמר רב הונא אמר רב מזבח של שילה של אבנים היה דתניא ר"א בן יעקב אומר מה תלמוד לומר (שמות כ, כא) אבנים (דברים כז, ב) אבנים (דברים כז, ב) אבנים שלש פעמים אחד של שילה ואחד של נוב וגבעון ובית עולמים
§ The Gemara raises another discussion concerning the altar: Rav Huna says that Rav says: The altar in Shiloh was fashioned of stones, unlike the portable altar constructed in the time of Moses, which was fashioned from copper. This is as it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov says: Why must the verses state that the altar must be fashioned from stones (Exodus 20:22), and state again that the altar must be fashioned from stones (Deuteronomy 27:5), and mention yet again the word stones (Deuteronomy 27:6), with regard to the altar, for a total of three times? These allude to three different stone altars: One in Shiloh, and one in Nov and Gibeon, and one in the Eternal House, i.e., the Temple.
מתיב רב אחא בר אמי אש שירדה מן השמים בימי משה לא נסתלקה מעל מזבח הנחושת אלא בימי שלמה ואש שירדה בימי שלמה לא נסתלקה עד שבא מנשה וסילקה ואם איתא מעיקרא הוא דאיסתלק ליה
Rav Aḥa bar Ami raises an objection based on a baraita: The fire that descended from Heaven upon the altar in the days of Moses (see Leviticus 9:24) departed from atop the copper altar only in the days of Solomon, when he replaced the copper altar with a stone altar, and the fire that descended upon the altar in the days of Solomon did not depart until Manasseh came and removed it by destroying the altar. And if it is so that the altar in Shiloh was fashioned of stones, it emerges that the fire departed the copper altar earlier, when the stone altar in Shiloh replaced the copper altar of Moses, many years before King Solomon.
הוא דאמר כרבי נתן דתניא רבי נתן אומר מזבח של שילה של נחושת היה חלול ומלא אבנים
The Gemara explains: Rav Huna stated his opinion in accordance with the statement of Rabbi Natan, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Natan says: The altar in Shiloh was fashioned of copper; it was hollow and full of stones.
ר"נ בר יצחק אמר מאי לא נסתלקה לא נסתלקה לבטלה מאי היא רבנן אמרי שביבא הוה משדרא רב פפא אמר אושפיזא הוה נקט וזימנין הכא וזימנין הכא
Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak says there is an alternative answer: What is the meaning of the statement in the baraita that the fire did not depart until the days of Solomon? It means that it did not depart in a manner in which it was nullified; it was still somewhat present in Shiloh on the copper altar, which stood together with the stone altar. The Gemara asks: What is it, i.e., what does it mean that the fire did not depart a manner in which it was nullified? The Gemara answers: The Rabbis say: The fire on the copper altar would emit sparks toward the stone altar when the priests would sacrifice offerings on the stone altar. Rav Pappa says: The fire was as a guest; sometimes it was here, on the copper altar, and sometimes it was there, on the stone altar.
תנן התם וכשעלו בני הגולה הוסיפו עליו ד' אמות מן הדרום וד' אמות מן המערב כמין גמא מאי טעמא אמר רב יוסף משום דלא ספק
§ The Gemara continues discussing the altar: We learned in a mishna there (Middot 35b): The altar in the First Temple was twenty-eight by twenty-eight cubits. When the members of the exile ascended to Jerusalem in the beginning of the Second Temple period, they added four cubits to it on the south and four cubits on the west sides of the altar, like the shape of the Greek letter gamma, i.e., the additions made a right angle. As a result, the altar in the Second Temple was thirty-two by thirty-two cubits. The Gemara asks: What was the reason for this expansion? Rav Yosef said: Because the size of the altar from the First Temple was not sufficient.
אמר ליה אביי השתא מקדש ראשון דכתיב ביה (מלכים א ד, כ) יהודה וישראל רבים כחול אשר על (שפת) הים ספק מקדש שני דכתיב ביה (עזרא ב, סד) כל הקהל כאחד ארבע רבוא לא ספק א"ל התם אש של שמים מסייעתן הכא אין אש של שמים מסייעתן
Abaye said to him: Now, if in the First Temple era, about which it is written: “Judah and Israel were many as the sand that is by the sea” (I Kings 4:20), the altar was sufficient, how could it be that in the Second Temple era, about which it is written: “The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and sixty” (Ezra 2:64), the altar was not sufficient? Rav Yosef said to Abaye: There, in the First Temple, a heavenly fire would assist them and consume the offerings. Here, in the Second Temple, there was no heavenly fire that would assist them. Therefore, they needed a larger area in which to burn the offerings.
כי אתא רבין אמר ר"ש בן פזי משום בר קפרא שיתין הוסיפו מעיקרא סבור מזבח אדמה שהוא אטום באדמה
When Ravin came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he reported that which Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi says in the name of Bar Kappara with regard to the expansion of the altar: They expanded the altar to extend over the underground cavities into which the libations flowed. Initially, in the First Temple era, they held that when the verse states: “An altar of earth you shall make for Me” (Exodus 20:21), it means that it should be completely filled with earth.
ולבסוף סבור שתיה כאכילה ומאי מזבח אדמה שהוא מחובר באדמה שלא יבננו לא ע"ג כיפים
But ultimately, in the Second Temple era, they maintained that the altar’s drinking is like its eating, i.e., just as the offerings are burned upon the altar, so too, the libations must be poured onto the altar itself and not down its side. Consequently, they expanded the altar to cover the underground cavities, and created holes in the altar so that the libations could be poured on top of the altar and flow into the underground cavities. And according to this, what is the meaning of the phrase “an altar of earth”? It teaches that the altar must be attached to the earth, so that one may not build it on top of arches