The Priests’ Garments
28 “Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.
“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. And you 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 LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance. You shall make settings of gold filigree, and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.
“You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work. In the style of the ephod you shall make it—of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen shall you make it. It shall be square and doubled, a span its length and a span its breadth. You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle shall be the first row; and the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold filigree. There shall be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes. You shall make for the breastpiece twisted chains like cords, of pure gold. And you shall make for the breastpiece two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the breastpiece. And you shall put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the breastpiece. The two ends of the two cords you shall attach to the two settings of filigree, and so attach it in front to the shoulder pieces of the ephod. You shall make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the breastpiece, on its inside edge next to the ephod. And you 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 seam above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. And they shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, so that it may lie on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, so that the breastpiece shall not come loose from the ephod. So 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, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD. And in 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 LORD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.
“You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment, so that it may not tear. On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, around its hem, with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the LORD, and when he comes out, so that he does not die.
“You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.
“You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.
“For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty. And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him.
Exodus 28 Commentary
by Hank Workman
God had tremendous instructions for the people as to how they were to worship Him. This was detailed all the way down to what the priests wore. He wanted them to be fully recognizable to their own responsibilities in the tabernacle and service they carried out. Priests could only be from the tribe of Levi. They also had to be a descendant of Aaron, the first high priest. They performed daily sacrifices, maintained the tabernacle and counseled people.
It may come as a surprise to read the exact detail of what the priests were to wear but there was purpose behind it. Brad will dig into a bit more specifics to very key items the priests were to wear – mainly the Ephod and instruments called the Urim and Thummim, but it is worth comparing the garments of the High Priest to Jesus’ clothing. For upon His sacrifice He became our High Priest, interceding for us even at this moment.
These thoughts come from commentator David Guzik who contrasts both:
Jesus wore no Ephod – only a purple robe for mocking. He had no precious gems on His shoulders only a cross that we deserved. Jesus had no breastplate with “Israel on His heart” yet He died of a broken heart for Israel and all mankind. As High Priest, Jesus had a seamless robe that was not torn but was stripped away at the cross.
He heard no delicate sound of bells proving that the High Priest was alive, only the sound of pounding nails insuring our High Priest’s death. Jesus wore no fine linen turban, rather a painful crown of thorns. He had no headplate reading Holiness To The Lord, but a life and death showing nothing but holiness to the Lord. Finally, Jesus had no linen trousers to hide His nakedness, rather He bore our sins on the cross in naked shame.David Guzik
The comparison is rich as we look at this chapter in all the detail of the priests and then consider what Jesus did for us. And what He did was all for love.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:14-16
Exodus 28 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
“You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around:Exodus 28:33 NASB
You may ask, why bells? The tinkling of the bells would sound as the priest moved about within the sacred places. For people on the outside, this was a very tangible way for them to know that the priest was interceding on their behalf. I wondered, as I read this, what would that be for us today?
What indicators do we have that the Holy Spirit is interceding for us? Do we notice them? Have we even thought about them?
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.Romans 8:24-27 NASB
The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be verbalized. To us, they are unspoken. I’ve often thought about this verse when I am so overwhelmed that I simply don’t know how or what to say. Here in Exodus 28, we read of the priestly duty of intercession. It was the first establishment of this duty. Jesus Christ, THE High Priest, performed the ultimate intercession at the cross. The tinkling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts affirms that priestly duty and reminds us daily that we have a mediator, advocate, and Savior. It’s a powerful image.
The hope we have in Christ, however, is a greater hope than any previous priestly generation. Who would you rather have interceding for you, Aaron or Jesus Christ? This revelation should lead us to a place of thankful reverence for the gift of Salvation. Like the one and only Samaritan leper (out of 10) who went back and thanked Jesus in Luke 17, we must always remember to give thanks to the One who purchased us for eternity.