Exodus Chapter 28

The Priestly Garments

    • Call your brother Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar to serve as My priests. Tell the craftsman, which I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, who are skilled at making garments to make holy garments for them that are glorious and beautiful. They should use gold, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen to make a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a tunic, a turban, and a sash for them.

      • Guzik remarks, “The priesthood of Israel was not earned by effort nor aspired to by ambition. It could only be inherited by birthright. One must be born into a priestly family…The priesthood was no place for ambition or self-glory. It was only entered into by God’s call and invitation. In the New Covenant, our priesthood is also not earned nor aspired to. We are priests because of our new birth into Jesus’ priestly family (1 Peter 2:5).”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The garments described in this chapter are primarily those for Aaron, the first high priest. The clothing for Aaron’s sons, who functioned as his assistants, is described in 28:40-43.”

The Ephod

    • The ephod is to be made of fine linen and embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. It should be made in two pieces, front and back, that are joined together with two shoulder pieces. The sash should be made of the same material.

      • “The ephod was a kind of apron consisting of front and back pieces joined by shoulder straps (28:7) and secured by a decorative sash (28:8, 27-28).” NLT Illustrated Study Bible

    • Engrave two onyx stones with the names of the tribes of Israel in order of their birth- six on one stone and six on the other. These stones should be mounted in gold filigree and fastened to the two shoulder pieces of the ephod by gold cords as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel.

      • “The badge of office on the shoulder indicated what the person was really carrying. Thus, the high priest represented the people before God, and with his royal garments he represented the glory of God before the people.”(NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

The Breastpiece

    • A breastpiece is to be made to be worn when seeking a decision from God. It should match the ephod- made of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread. It should be made of one piece of cloth folded to form a pouch measuring 9 inches square. It should have four rows of gemstones in this pattern: the first row should have a cornelian (red), topaz, and emerald; the second row should have a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row should have a jacinth (orange), an agate, and an amethyst; the fourth row should have beryl (blue-green), an onyx, and a jasper (green). These should all be set in gold filigree and engraved with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.

    • The breastpiece should be attached to the ephod by golden cords tied to two golden rings at the top corners of the breastpiece. The other end of the golden cord should be tied to the shoulder pieces of the ephod. The breastpiece will be further attached to the ephod by more golden rings so that it is held securely above the decorative sash. This is so that Aaron will also carry the names of the children of Israel over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place as a continual reminder the he represents the people when he comes before the Lord.

      • Guzik writes, “It was not enough that the High Priest worked for the people (having them on his shoulders). He must also love the people – that is, bear them on his heart…It isn’t enough for a priest to have a heart for God. He must also have a heart for the people, and bear them on his heart in his entire ministry unto the Lord.”

    • Insert the Urim and the Thummim into the breastpiece to be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the presence of the Lord so that Aaron will always have over his heart the objects used to determine God’s will for the people.

      • “The Urim and Thummim (Hebrew terms that might translate as ‘lights’ (or curses) and ‘perfections’ were apparently a pair stones that were thrown down to get a yes or no answer from God. No physical description of these objects exists; their use is further explained in Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; I Samuel 28:6; Ezra 2:63; and Nehemiah 7:65.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • The Urim and the Thummim are somewhat of an interesting mystery. No one knows exactly what they were made of or how exactly they were used or even when exactly they ceased being used. The following two articles give some extra information on this topic:

              1. How Did the Urim and the Thummim Function?

              2. Ancient Jewish History: The Urim and the Thummim

          • This second article is particularly interesting since it includes extra information passed down through ancient Jewish tradition.

The Robe

    • The robe that is worn with the ephod should be entirely blue and have an opening in the center of the top (for Aaron’s head). This opening should have a collar to reinforce it to prevent it from tearing. The lower hem of the robe should be decorated with pomegranates embroidered with blue, purple, and scarlet thread alternating with gold bells. Aaron should wear this robe whenever he ministers before the Lord. The bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the Holy Place so that he won’t die.

      • Cole writes, “The pomegranates (symbols of fruitfulness) were either hanging as ‘bobbles’ between the bells, or else embroidered on the fabric.”

      • Morgan adds, “The alternating bell and pomegranate on the skirts of the priest’s robe were typical of his obligation to testimony and fruit bearing.”

      • “The bells signaled that the priest was still moving and had not been struck dead by God’s presence (see Leviticus 10:1-2). Jewish tradition tells us that the priest had a cord tied to his ankle so that if he died in the Holy Place (Exodus 28:35), his body could be dragged out.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

        • This sounds shocking, but the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 (linked above) gives more context. The priesthood came with very specific instructions that were to be followed and a priest who did not take this seriously could suffer deadly consequences.

The Turban

    • A gold plate engraved with the words: HOLY TO THE LORD is to be fastened to the front of the turban by blue thread. Aaron must wear this on his forehead so that he can take the guilt of the people of Israel upon himself when he consecrates their offerings. Aaron must wear this so that the people would be accepted before the Lord.

      • Guzik writes, “Even the gifts and sacrifices Aaron and the other priests brought before the Lord were touched with iniquity. Yet when God’s appointed priest in God brought them in God’s appointed way, God accepted them.”

Other Priestly Garments

    • The tunic and turban are to be made of fine linen. An embroidered sash is also to be made. Aaron’s sons are to wear a tunic, sash, and headband that are glorious and beautiful. Aaron and his sons are to put on their garments and be anointed, consecrated, and sanctified so that they can serve as My priests. Aaron and his sons should also wear linen underwear that extends from their waists to their thighs which must be worn when they enter the Tabernacle or approach the altar in the Holy Place to perform their priestly duties so that they won’t incur guilt and die. This is a permanent law for Aaron and his descendants.

      • “Though the regular priests had special garments, they were simple clothes of fine linen. They were special, but not much compared to the glory and beauty of the High Priest’s garments…This is because the regular priests, though important, had a far lesser office than the High Priest – and were appropriately clothed for this lower position.” (Guzik)

      • Guzik explains anointing, then quotes Morgan with respect to consecration and sanctification, “Anoint describes the application of the sacred oil upon the head. In the consistent idiom of the Bible, it represents the filling and continual reliance upon the power and work of the Holy Spirit… Consecrate ‘Is the translation of two Hebrew words, meaning the filling of the open hand, and signifies the perfect equipment of the anointed one for the discharge of that ministry.’ ..Sanctify ‘Means literally, to make clean, and refers to the spiritual and moral separation of the priest from all defilement.’ (Morgan)”

      • Clarke says this regarding the undergarments of the priests, “This command had in view the necessity of purity and decency in every part of the Divine worship, in opposition to the shocking indecency of the pagan worship in general, in which the priests often ministered naked, as in the sacrifices to Bacchus.”