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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.

36. And thou shalt make a plate. It is not without reason that this inscription is placed upon the priest’s forehead, that it may be conspicuous; for not only did God thus testify that the legal priesthood was approved of, and acceptable to Him, since He had consecrated it by His word, but also that holiness was not to be sought elsewhere. These two things, then, are to be observed, — first, that the priesthood of His own appointment is pleasing to God, and so, that all others, however magnificently they may be spoken of, are abominable to Him, and rejected by Him; and secondly, that out of Christ we are all corrupt, and all our worship faulty; and however excellent our actions may seem, that they are still unclean and polluted. Thus, therefore, let all our senses remain fixed on the forehead of our sole and perpetual Priest, that we may know that from Him alone purity flows throughout the whole Church. To this His words refer,

"For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:19;)

and the same thing is expressed in this passage of Moses, “that Aaron may hear the iniquity of the holy things,” etc. It is undoubtedly a remarkable passage, whereby, we are taught that nothing proceeds from us pleasing to God except through the intervention of the grace of the Mediator; for here there is no reference to manifest and gross sins, 167167     Addition in Fr., “Et qu’on puisse condamner par le sens commun;” and which even common sense must condemn. the pardon of which it is clear that we can only obtain through Christ; but the iniquity of the holy oblations was to be taken away and cleansed by the priest. That is but a poor exposition of it, that if any error were committed in the ceremonies, it was remitted in answer to the prayers of the priest; for we must look further, and understand that on this account the iniquity of the offerings must be purged by the priest, because no offering, in so far as it is of man, is altogether free from guilt. This is a harsh saying, and almost a paradox, that our very holinesses are so impure as to need pardon; but it must be borne in mind that nothing is so pure as not to contract some stain from us; just as water, which, although it may be drawn in purity from a limpid fountain, yet, if it passes over muddy ground, is tinged by it, and becomes somewhat turbid: thus nothing is so pure in itself as not to be polluted by the contagion of our flesh. Nothing is more excellent than the service of God; and yet the people could offer nothing, even although prescribed by the Law, except with the intervention of pardon, which none but the priest could obtain for them. There is now no sacrifice, nor was there ever, more pleasing to God than the invocation of His name, as He himself declares,

"Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” (Psalm 50:15;)

yet the Apostle teaches us that “the sacrifice of praise” only pleases God when it is offered in Christ. (Hebrews 13:15.) Let us learn, then, that our acts of obedience, when they come into God’s sight, are mingled with iniquity, which exposes us to His judgment, unless Christ should sanctify them. In sum, this passage teaches us that whatsoever good works we strive to present to God are so far from deserving reward, that they rather convict us of guilt, unless the holiness of Christ, whereby God is propitiated, obtains pardon for them. And this is again asserted immediately afterwards, where Moses says that by favor of the priest the sins of the sacred oblations are taken away 168168     Lat., “In beneplacitum.” A. V., “That they may be accepted.” The translation I have given is that of Ainsworth. “for favorable acceptation,” i.e., that the Israelites may be sure that God is reconciled and favorable to them. I have nothing to say of the tiara itself, which some call a mitre, (cidarim,) and others a cap; neither do I choose to philosophize too subtilely about the belt or girdle. 169169     This sentence is omitted in the Fr.

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