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Vestments for the Priesthood


Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 2You shall make sacred vestments for the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron. 3And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with skill, that they make Aaron’s vestments to consecrate him for my priesthood. 4These are the vestments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, and a sash. When they make these sacred vestments for your brother Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests, 5they shall use gold, blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine linen.

The Ephod

6 They shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, skillfully worked. 7It shall have two shoulder-pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. 8The decorated band on it shall be of the same workmanship and materials, of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen. 9You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11As a gem-cutter engraves signets, so you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel; you shall mount them in settings of gold filigree. 12You shall set the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the L ord on his two shoulders for remembrance. 13You shall make settings of gold filigree, 14and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.

The Breastplate

15 You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work; you shall make it in the style of the ephod; of gold, of blue and purple and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen you shall make it. 16It shall be square and doubled, a span in length and a span in width. 17You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald shall be the first row; 18and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire, and a moonstone; 19and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. 21There shall be twelve stones with names corresponding to the names of the sons of Israel; they shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes. 22You shall make for the breastpiece chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; 23and you shall make for the breastpiece two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the breastpiece. 24You shall put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the breastpiece; 25the two ends of the two cords you shall attach to the two settings, and so attach it in front to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod. 26You shall make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the breastpiece, on its inside edge next to the ephod. 27You shall make two rings of gold, and attach them in front to the lower part of the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod, at its joining above the decorated band of the ephod. 28The breastpiece shall be bound by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it may lie on the decorated band of the ephod, and so that the breastpiece shall not come loose from the ephod. 29So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart when he goes into the holy place, for a continual remembrance before the L ord. 30In the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the L ord; thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the Israelites on his heart before the L ord continually.

Other Priestly Vestments

31 You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it may not be torn. 33On its lower hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the lower hem, with bells of gold between them all around— 34a golden bell and a pomegranate alternating all around the lower hem of the robe. 35Aaron shall wear it when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the L ord, and when he comes out, so that he may not die.

36 You shall make a rosette of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, “Holy to the L ord.” 37You shall fasten it on the turban with a blue cord; it shall be on the front of the turban. 38It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take on himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering that the Israelites consecrate as their sacred donations; it shall always be on his forehead, in order that they may find favor before the L ord.

39 You shall make the checkered tunic of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.

40 For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics and sashes and headdresses; you shall make them for their glorious adornment. 41You shall put them on your brother Aaron, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, so that they may serve me as priests. 42You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh; they shall reach from the hips to the thighs; 43Aaron and his sons shall wear them when they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place; or they will bring guilt on themselves and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants after him.

1. And take thou unto thee Aaron. The calling of God is here alleged to prove the importance and dignity of the priesthood, and this too the Apostle has well weighed in the words:

"And no man taketh the honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4.)

Among heathen nations the priests were appointed by popular election, so that ambition alone governed their appointment; but God would only have those accounted lawful priests whom He had selected at His own sole will; and surely the whole human race together had no power to obtrude any one on God, who should interpose himself to obtain pardon and peace; nay, not even Christ Himself would have been sufficient to propitiate God, unless He had undertaken the office by the decree and appointment of His Father. To which refers the famous oath, whereby His heavenly Father appointed Him to be priest; and so much the more vile and detestable was the sacrilege which afterwards prevailed in the Jewish nation, viz., that the successors of Aaron bought the priesthood! This unworthy traffic of the office, which Josephus relates, ought to awaken horror in us now, when we see that sacred honor profaned by the family which had been chosen by God to represent Christ. Nevertheless, however they may have violated all law and justice, still the counsel of God remained inviolable, that believers might know that the priesthood depended on His authority, just as reconciliation flows from His mere mercy. For in order that it should be lawful for men to establish a priest, it would be necessary that they should anticipate God by their own deservings; and from this they are very far distant. The case is different as to the election of the pastors of the Church; since, after Christ had instituted the order itself, He commanded that there should be chosen out of the Church those who by their doctrine and integrity of life were fitted to exercise the office. Still He does not thus resign His own right and power to men, for He does not cease through them to call those (by whom He would be served. 160160     Added from Fr. ) Wherefore, to shew that He is the sole author of the priesthood, God commands Aaron and his sons to be separated from among the others; and the performance of this He entrusts to Moses, whom, however, He does not elevate to the like honor. Moses consecrates Aaron, although he was never himself dedicated by anointing and investiture to the service of God; 161161     “Ad Dei cultum.” — Lat. “A sacrifier.” — Fr. whence we perceive that the sacraments have their power and effect not from the virtue of the minister, but only from the commandment of God; for Moses would not have given to others what he had not himself, if it had not so pleased God.

2. And thou shalt make holy garments. These external ornaments denoted the want of those which are true and spiritual; for if the priest had been absolutely and entirely perfect, these typical accessories would have been superfluous. But God would shew by this symbol the more than angelical brightness of all virtues which was to be exhibited in Christ. Aaron was defiled by his own corruption, and therefore unworthy to appear in the presence of God; in order, then, that he might be a fit peacemaker between God and man, he put off his ordinary garments, and stood forth as a new man. Hence the holy garments were, first of all, supposed to conceal his faults; and, secondly, to represent the incomparable adornment of all virtues. The latter may indeed be in some measure applied to the pastors of the Church; nor will the comparison be absurd, if we say that no others are worthy of so excellent an honor, except those in whom surpassing and extraordinary virtue brightly manifests itself. But we must chiefly recollect what I have said, viz., that in these garments the supreme purity and wondrous glory of Christ were represented; as if God should promise that the Mediator would be far more august than the condition of man could produce. He therefore declares that they shall be “for glory and for beauty.” We shall speak more fully hereafter, what I will touch upon now, as to the wisdom of the artificers, viz., that all who from the foundation of the world have invented arts useful to the human race, have been imbued with the Spirit of God; so that even heathen authors have been compelled to call them the inventions of the gods. But inasmuch as in this Divine work there was need of rare and unwonted skill, it is expressly spoken of as a peculiar gift of the Spirit.

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