Exodus 28
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chapters 25–31

We come now to the long section of P, which contains the instructions stated to have been given by God to Moses on the mount for the construction and equipment of a sanctuary, and for the vestments and consecration of a priesthood. These instructions fall into two parts: (1) chs. 25–29; (2) chs. 30–31. The instructions contained in chs. 25–29 relate to (a) the vessels of the sanctuary, viz. the ark, the table of Presence-bread, and the candlestick,—named naturally first, as being of primary interest and importance (ch. 25); (b) the curtains, and wooden framework supporting them, to contain and guard the sacred vessels (ch. 26); (c) the court round the Sanctuary, and the Altar of Burnt offering, standing in it (ch. 27); (d) the vestments (ch. 28) and the consecration (ch. 29) of the priests who are to serve in the sanctuary (Exodus 29:1-37); (e) the daily burnt-offering, the maintenance of which is a primary duty of the priesthood (Exodus 29:38-42), followed by what is apparently the final close of the whole body of instructions, Exodus 29:43-46, in which Jehovah promises that He will bless the sanctuary thus established with His presence. Chs. 30–31 relate to (a) the Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10); (b) the monetary contributions for the maintenance of public service (Exodus 30:11-16); (c) the Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:17-21); (d) the holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30:22-33); (e) the Incense (Exodus 30:34-38); (f) the nomination of two skilled artificers, Bezal’el and Oholiab, to make the sanctuary and its appurtenances Exodus 31:1-11); (g) the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17).

The principal names of what we—adopting a rendering based upon Jerome’s tabernaculum (i.e. ‘tent’)—commonly call the ‘Tabernacle’ are the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 27:21), the Tent where God ‘met’ and talked with Moses; the Tent; the Tent of the Witness or Testimony, i.e. (see on Exodus 25:16) the Tent containing the Ark, in which were deposited the two tables of the Decalogue; the Dwelling (Exodus 25:9 al.), the Dwelling of Jehovah (Numbers 16:9 al.), or the Dwelling of the Testimony (Exodus 38:21 al.); and the Sanctuary (see on Exodus 25:8). The first two these designations are found in both JE and P; the others are used exclusively by P. If the passages in which E and J speak of the ‘Tent of Meeting’ or the ‘Tent’—viz. Exodus 33:7-11, Numbers 11:16 f., 24, 26, Exodus 12:5; Exodus 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:14 f.—are read carefully, it will be found that the representation which they give of it differs in several respects very materially from that given by P. In E the Tent of Meeting is outside the camp (Exodus 33:7, Numbers 11:26 f., cf. v. 30, Exodus 12:4 : on Numbers 14:44, see p. 428); it is guarded by one attendant, Joshua, who never leaves it Exodus 33:11; cf. Numbers 11:28); though it had probably some decoration (cf. on Exodus 33:6), it was obviously a much simpler, less ornate structure than that described by P; Moses used to go out to it, and enter into it speak with God, and the pillar of cloud then descended, and stood at the entrance of the Tent, and Jehovah spoke to him from it (Exodus 33:8-11; cf. Numbers 11:17; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5; Numbers 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:14 f.); on the march also, the ark precedes the host, to seek out a camping-place for it (Numbers 10:33). In P, on the contrary, the Tent of Meeting is in the centre of the camp, with the Levites around it on the west, south, and north, and Aaron and his sons on the east, and the other tribes, three on each side, outside them (Numbers 2; Numbers 3:23; Numbers 3:29; Numbers 3:35; Numbers 3:38); it is served by Aaron and his sons, and a large body of Levites (in Numbers 4:48, 8580); it is a highly decorated, costly structure (chs. 25–27); the cloud (which is not in P spoken of as a ‘pillar’), instead of descending from time to time, as occasion requires, to the entrance of the Tent, that Jehovah may speak with Moses, rests upon the Tent always, when the camp is stationary (Exodus 40:35-38, Numbers 9:15-23), and Jehovah, instead of speaking to Moses at its ‘entrance,’ speaks to him from between the cherubim above the ark (Exodus 25:22, Numbers 7:89); on the march, also, the ark, borne, covered up, by the Kohathites, with the other sacred vessels, is in the centre of the long procession of Israelites, six tribes preceding it, and six following it (Numbers 2:17; Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:5 ff; Numbers 10:21). Lastly in P the Tent of Meeting is the centre of an elaborate sacrificial and ceremonial system (Leviticus 1-27, &c.), such as is nowhere mentioned in connexion with the Tent of Meeting of J and E, and, in view of the subsequent history (Judg., Sam.), not historically probable,—at least on anything like the same scale. Unquestionably (cf. p. 359) both representations have common features: in both, in particular, the Tent is the place where God speaks with Moses, and communicates to him His will; nor need it be doubted, though it is no stated in so many words, that the Tent of JE, like that of P, sheltere the ark (though a much simpler ark than P’s): but there are also wide differences between them. Here it will be sufficient to have noted these differences: in explanation of them see p. 430 ff.

The Tabernacle, with its various appurtenances, is described to having been made by Bezal’el and Oholiab, and other skilled workmen acting under them, in accordance with detailed specifications given by God to Moses (chs. 25–31), and a ‘pattern,’ or model, shewn Moses in the mount (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40, Exodus 26:30, Exodus 27:8). It is designed as a ‘dwelling’ (Exodus 25:8-9) in which God may permanently dwell among His people (Exodus 29:45); and after it has been erected and consecrated, He gives manifest tokens of His presence in it, He fills it with His glory (Exodus 40:34-38), He habitually speaks in it with Moses (Exodus 25:22), and He gives him many of His instructions from it (Leviticus 1:1, Numbers 1:1). It is also the centre at which all sacrifices are to be offered (Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 3:2, &c.).

In its general principle the ‘Tabernacle’ of P is a portable Temple (so Jos. Ant. iii. 6. 1 μεταφερόμενος καὶ συμπερινοστῶν ναός). On the one hand, it is a tent, and is repeatedly so called, formed of tent-hangings, or curtains, held in their places by cords and tent-pins, of oblong shape, and with a flat upper surface (without a ridge pole), like the tents of Bedawin at the present day (see ill. in Smith, DB. iii. 1467; Judges in SBOT. (Engl. vol.), p. 63; Doughty, i. 226; or (best) Benzinger, Bilderatlas zur Bibelkunde, 1905, No. 287, or Arch.2 89), and divided into two compartments, in this respect also (Kn. on Exodus 26:37) resembling the tents of Bedawin, in which a separate compartment is formed by a curtain for the women (Burckh. Bed. i. 39 f.; EB. iv. 4972); on the other hand, the Tabernacle has also the form of a temple of a type very common in antiquity, and in fact represented by Solomon’s temple, consisting of an oblong rectangular structure, with pillars on its front, standing in a large court, and divided into two parts, the hall (in Greek πρόναος, ‘fore-shrine’; in Solomon’s temple, the hêkâl, 1 Kings 6:3; 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:17, &c. [in EVV. rendered badly ‘temple,’ suggesting the whole building]), corresponding to the Holy Place, and the shrine (ναός Hdt. i. 183, or ἄδυτον, the ‘part not to be entered,’ Lat. cella; Heb. debîr, the ‘hindmost part,’ 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:16, &c. [in EVV., through a false etymology, the ‘oracle’]), corresponding to the Most Holy Place,—both without windows, and the latter containing, if there was one, the image of the deity to whom the temple was sacred, and usually entered only by the priests. The ‘Tabernacle’ was however primarily and essentially a tent; it was the tapestry curtains alone which formed the real ‘Dwelling’ of Jehovah (see on Exodus 26:1); the ‘boards,’ or framework, were merely intended to give the tent greater stability and security than ordinary tent-poles would do. An altar, a priesthood, with regulations determining who might hold it, and prescribing the sacrifices and other religious offices to be maintained, often also an ark containing some sacred object, a table on which food was laid out for the deity, lavers for ceremonial ablutions, &c., were likewise, in one form or other, the necessary elements in an ancient Temple establishment. The Tabernacle of P was an elaborate and ornate structure. Metals more or less precious, and woven materials more or less ornamented, and more or less richly coloured, were employed; the general distinction observed being that the nearer an object was to the Presence of Jehovah in the Holy of holies, the costlier and more beautiful it was, the commoner materials, such as bronze and ordinary woven stuff, being reserved for the objects further off (cf. on Exodus 25:3). In the same way, the high priest had a specially gorgeous and splendid attire, while that of the ordinary priests was much plainer.

In their dimensions, both the ‘Tabernacle’ and the court display great symmetry. The ruling numbers are 3, 4, 7, 10, their parts (1½, 2, 2½, 5), and their multiples (6, 9, 12, 20, 28, 30, 42, 48, 50, 60, 100). If, without indulging in fantastic extravagances, we may discern a symbolism in numbers, we may perhaps see in three a symbol of the divine, in four—suggesting the four quarters of the earth—the totality of what is human, in seven and twelve numbers which, deriving their original significance from astronomy, came to be regarded as symbols of completeness, and in ten and its multiples numbers specially suggestive of symmetry and perfection. In the prominence given to the numbers mentioned, we may perhaps recognize an effort ‘to give concrete expression—in a manner, it is true, which our Western thought finds it difficult to appreciate—to the sacred harmonies and perfection of the character of the Deity for whose “dwelling” the sanctuary is destined’ Kennedy, DB. iv. 667b). The Holy place Isaiah 20 cubits (30 ft.) long, 10 cubits (15 ft.) high and broad, and the Holy of holies a perfect cube of 10 cubits (exactly half the dimensions of the Holy of holies in Solomon’s temple); and these ratios, a perfect cube, or two cubes placed side by side, are, we are told (Enc. Brit.9 Architecture, cited ibid.), still considered the most pleasing in architectural art; while the perfect cube, forming the Holy of holies, may be intended to represent symbolically the ‘perfection of Jehovah’s character and dwelling place, the harmony and equipoise of all His attributes.’ Comp. how, in Revelation 21:16, the ideal perfection of the New Jerusalem is expressed in the fact that ‘the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.’

The ‘Tabernacle,’ moreover, symbolizes directly, and gives visible expression to, various theological and religious truths. It must, however, be clearly understood that in the text itself no symbolism or significance whatever is attributed either to the Tabernacle or to any of its appurtenances; so that, if we go beyond what is suggested directly by the names or uses of the Tabernacle, or its parts, we are in danger of falling into what is arbitrary or baseless. Bearing this in our minds, we may however observe that by one of its principal names, the mishkân, or ‘Dwelling’ (see on Exodus 25:9), the Tabernacle expresses in a sensible form the truth of God’s presence in the midst of His people; by another of its principal names, the ‘Tent of Meeting’ (Exodus 27:21), it gives expression to the truth that God is not only present with His people, but that He reveals Himself to them; by its third name, the ‘Tent (or Dwelling) of the Witness or Testimony,’ it reminded the Israelite that in the Decalogue, inscribed on the Tables in the Ark, it contained an ever-present witness to the claims of God and the duty of man. These three, especially the first, are the fundamental ideas symbolized by the Tabernacle. But there are also other ideas. Thus the gold, and costly, beautifully worked fabrics, which decorated, especially, the Holy of holies, and were also conspicuous in the gorgeous vestments of the high priest, give expression to the thought that the Dwelling, and the most responsible ministers of God, should be decked, or apparelled, with becoming splendour and dignity. The Bronze Altar, standing midway between the entrance to the court and the Tent, emphasized the importance of sacrifice in general under the old Dispensation (see further on Leviticus 1-5.), and taught the truth that ‘apart from shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22); while the burnt-offering, offered daily upon it on behalf of the community, gave expression to the spirit of worship which Israel as a whole should ever be actuated, and symbolized its constant sense of the devotion due from it to its divine Lord. The Laver, standing probably directly in front of the entrance to the Tent, in which the priests washed their hands and feet before their ministrations, secured the ceremonial purity, which was an emblem of the moral purity, that should belong to those who are the ministers of God. The Presence-bread—whatever it may have denoted originally (see on Exodus 25:30)—is an expression of thankfulness, and an acknowledgement that man’s daily bread,—is a like all other ‘blessings of this life,’—divine gift. The symbolism of the Candlestick is less obvious: none is suggested by the text; and any that may be proposed is in danger of being far-fetched, or of being read into the description as an afterthought: but—whether this was its original intention, or not—the candlestick may perhaps be most easily regarded as symbolizing the people of Israel, shining with the light of divine truth (cf. the figure of ‘light’ in Isaiah 51:4, Matthew 5:16 f., Php 2:15; and Revelation 1:12; Revelation 1:20, where the seven golden candlesticks seen in vision are said to denote the seven churches). The interpretation of Zechariah 4:1-4; Zechariah 4:11-13 is too uncertain to be used in explaining the symbolism of the candlestick in the Tabernacle (see the Century Bible, p. 203 f.): moreover, the candlestick there is differently constructed, and the lamps are differently supplied with oil. The Altar of Incense symbolized a higher form of devotion than the altar of burnt-offering: the smoke of incense was finer and choicer than that of animal victims; and it symbolized the devotion not of action, but of aspiration and prayer (cf. Psalm 141:2, Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3 f.): the blood of the sin-offering was also applied to the altar of incense, when it was offered for the high priest or the community (Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18 : see also Exodus 30:10). The ark itself, sacred though it is, does not in P enshrine or symbolize the divine Presence: it contains the Decalogue, which is the ‘witness’ to God’s claims and man’s duty: but the Presence is symbolized by the golden cherubim upon it—which are regularly the emblems of the nearness of deity (see on Exodus 25:18-20)—‘from between’ which, and above the ark, Jehovah speaks with Moses. And the cherubim rest upon the golden mercy-seat, or ‘propitiatory,’ symbolizing, with special emphasis and clearness, the mercifulness of God (Exodus 34:6 f.), and His readiness to forgive sin which has been repented of, and duly purged away (p. 332) by a propitiatory rite. The purification of the altar of burnt-offering (see on Exodus 29:36 f.), and the anointing of the Tabernacle and its vessels after their completion (Exodus 30:26-29), signified that objects designed for sacred purposes must be properly consecrated before being actually used in the service of Jehovah. And the ascending degrees of sanctity, attaching to the court, the Holy place, and the Holy of holies, marked both by the materials of which they were constructed, and by the fact that while the people generally might enter the court, only the priests could enter the Holy place, and only the high priest, and he only once a year, and that ‘not without blood,’ the Holy of holies, safeguarded, in an impressive and significant manner, the holiness of God; and shewed that, though the way to Him was open, it was open only under restrictions (Heb Exo 9:8), and especially that the Presence of God Himself could be approached only by those who were, in a special sense, ‘holy’ (cf. Lev Exo 19:2), and who carried with them the blood of atonement. According to the historical view of the Old Testament, these truths and principles do not date from Moses’ time, but were acquired gradually as the result of divinely guided meditation and reflection upon sacred things: but the question the actual date at which they were acquired does not affect their reality and value.

The symbolical meanings attached to the Tabernacle and its vessels, vestments of the high priest, &c., by Josephus and Philo (see Westcott, Hebrews, p. 238 f.), are cleverly drawn out, and testify to the reverence and regard with which the Tabernacle was viewed, but are too remote to possess probability.

In the NT. the Tabernacle is explained symbolically from a different point of view. In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is represented as constructed so as to reproduce a heavenly archetype—not a mere architect’s model, such as Exodus 25:9 would naturally suggest, but—a real and eternal heavenly original, the genuine ‘tent,’ pitched by God, not man (Exodus 8:2),—‘a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, and not of this creation,’ i.e. not of this visible order of things (Exodus 9:11),—whether by this is meant heaven itself, or an ideal celestial temple in heaven,—of which the earthly tabernacle is merely a secondary representation, a copy (ὑπόδειγμα, Exodus 8:5, Exodus 9:23 : cf. Wis 9:8) and shadow (Exodus 8:5), or counterpart (ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν). And into this heavenly Temple, the archetype of the earthly tabernacle, Christ, the ideal and perfect High Priest, entered, like the Jewish high priest, only not with the blood of animal victims, but with His own blood, to appear before God, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Exodus 9:12; Exodus 9:23-26; cf. on Leviticus 16). Thus while Josephus and Philo regarded the Tabernacle as a microcosm, or ‘epitome of that which is presented on a larger scale in the world of finite being’ (Westcott, p. 240), the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews regards it as the temporal and material counterpart of an eternal and invisible temple in heaven. The Tabernacle further corresponds to Christ’s humanity. God ‘dwelt’ in the midst of His people in the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 25:9) of a tent; and the Word, when He took flesh, ‘dwelt as in a tent or tabernacle’ (ἐσκήνωσεν) among us, and manifested His ‘glory’ to the world (John 1:14). And entrance into (the presence of God, which was all but closed under the older Dispensation, is now opened, by the blood of Jesus, ‘through a new and living way, which he hath dedicated for us, through the veil, that is to say, through his flesh’ (Hebrews 10:20); on which A. B. Davidson (ad loc.) remarks, ‘This beautiful allegorizing of the veil cannot of course be made part of a consistent and complete typology. It is not meant for this. But as the veil stood locally before the holiest in the Mosaic Tabernacle, the way into which lay through it, so Christ’s life in the flesh stood between Him and His entrance before God, and His flesh had to be rent ere He could enter.’

There is no question that the Tent of Meeting, as described by J and E, is historical; but there are strong reasons for holding that the Tent of Meeting, as described by P, represents an ideal, and had no historical reality. See on this question p. 426 ff.

The execution of the directions given in chs. 25–31 is narrated in chs. 35–40, and (Exodus 29:1-37) Leviticus 8,—mostly in the same words, with merely the future tenses changed into pasts, but with a few cases of abridgment, omission, and transposition. In the notes on 25–31 the passages in 35–40 which correspond are noted at the beginning of each paragraph by ‘cf.’

The general structure and character of the Tabernacle are perfectly clear: but great difficulty and uncertainty attach to some of the details. It is impossible within the limits of the present commentary to discuss the doubtful or disputed points. The following notes are indebted frequently to Kennedy’s full and illuminative art. Tabernacle in DB.; a statement and criticism of divergent views upon the principal doubtful points will be found in Benzinger’s ably written art. Tabernacle in EB.

Ch. 28. The vestments of the priests.

The directions for the sanctuary are complete; and provision has next to be made for the vestments and (ch. 29) consecration of the priests who are to serve it. The directions contained in these two chapters are founded upon the elaborately developed dress and ceremonial of the Zadokite priesthood of the writer’s own day, the original institution of both being referred back to the appointment of Moses himself. Aaron represents the Zadokite high priest of later times; his ‘sons’ represent the ordinary priests. The gorgeous, golden robes of the high priest are described at length: the simpler vestments of the ordinary priests are dismissed in 4 verses (vv. 40–43). Limits of space forbid here more than the briefest notice of the history and functions of the Isr. priesthood (see more fully McNeile, p. lxiv ff.; Baudissin’s article in DB. iv. 67 ff.; EB. iii. 3837 ff.). The present ch. reflects a late stage in the history of the priesthood. The main prerogatives of the older Isr. priest (JE, Jud., Sam.) were to give tôrâh (p. 161), to obtain Divine oracles by the Urim and Thummim (p. 313), and to pronounce decisions ‘before God’ at a sanctuary (Exodus 22:8-9): no doubt he also offered sacrifice (1 Samuel 2:28), but the right of doing this was by no means at this time restricted to the priests (cf. on Exodus 20:24). A member of the guild (cf. on Exo Exodus 4:14), or tribe, of Levi was preferred as a priest (Jdg 17:13). The priests mentioned in Sam.1[206] belong all to the line of Eli, who is first connected with Aaron, through Aaron’s younger son Ithamar, in 1 Chronicles 24:3 (c. 300 b.c.). Abiathar, the last of Eli’s line, who had been David’s principal priest, was deposed by Solomon; and Zadok was made principal priest in his stead (1 Kings 2:27; 1 Kings 2:35). Zadok’s pedigree is not stated in 1 K.: in 1 Chronicles 6:8 &c., he is represented as descended from Aaron’s elder son Eleazar. Zadok’s descendants continued to hold the first place among the Jerusalem priests, with all the prestige and importance which their connexion with the Temple naturally gave them, throughout the period of the monarchy. Even in the 7th cent., however, Dt. (Deuteronomy 18:6-8) insists upon the right of every ‘Levite,’ i.e. of every member of the tribe, to officiate as priest, and draw the emoluments of the priesthood, if he but goes to reside at the central sanctuary2[207]: no doubt, however, the exclusiveness of the families established at Jerusalem placed difficulties in the way of this right being practically exercised: and in the end a sharp line of demarcation was drawn between those who were regarded as the full priestly members of the tribe, and those who did not succeed in securing this position: these latter are the ‘Levites’ in P’s sense of the term (cf. on Exodus 32:29), i.e. non-priestly members of the tribe. It is noticeable that, while Dt. represents the whole tribe as set apart by Jehovah for priestly functions (Exodus 10:8; cf. ibid.), in P Aaron and his sons are consecrated as priests solely in virtue of their own right: the ‘Levites’ (i.e. the other members of the tribe) are appointed to be their assistants for menial duties only afterwards, Numbers 3:5-39; Numbers 8:5-26. For two striking poetical descriptions of the high priest and his ministrations, see Sir 45:9-22 (Aaron), Sir 50:1-21 (Simon).

[206] Except Zadok (on 2 Samuel 8:17, see DB. s.v.), David’s sons (2 Samuel 8:18), a Ira (2 Samuel 20:26).

[207] Dr Orr (Problem of the O. T., p. 191 f.) endeavours in vain, by misunderstanding the plainest Heb. expressions, to escape this conclusion.

On the Ephod

The high priest’s Ephod, it is clear, was a decorated garment: but the position in which it was worn is not clearly stated; and though it has commonly been regarded as worn above the waist (like a waistcoat), Moore (EB. ii. 1308), Holz., and esp. E. Sellin in a paper on the ephod in Orient. Studien Theodor Nöldeke zum siebzigsten Geburtstag gewidmet (1906), ii.701 f. (cf. Rashi on Exodus 28:4; Exodus 28:6), argue that it was worn below the waist, and was in fact a kind of apron (Moore), or short tightly-fitting skirt: the ‘band’ of the ephod, upon this view, was not at the bottom of the ephod, but at its top, the ephod being suspended from it; and the pouch (which was upon Aaron’s ‘heart’) was not upon the ephod, but likewise above it (‘al in v. 28 being rendered not ‘upon,’ but ‘above’). Sellin urges the terms of v. 27 f.; and it is certainly more natural to suppose that the straps ended at the top of the ephod, and that this was the place of the ‘juncture’ spoken of in v. 27, than that they were continued on the front, down each side, as the usual explanation requires. Still, neither this nor the other arguments adduced seem to be conclusive. It is true, the priests in Egypt wore round their loins short plain skirts (Erman, p. 296: for illustrations of such skirts, see pp. 59 (= 209), 62, 204, 205, 207, Perrot and Chipiez, Art in Phoen. ii. 11, 28, 31, 125, 129; cf. Maspero, i. 405, 468 f.): but this does not prove much; for we do not know that the idea of the high priest’s ephod was derived from Egypt. (In Perrot and Chipiez’s Egyptian Art, i. 247, 302, there are two figures wearing vest-like garments, reaching from the breasts nearly to the knees, with both a band round the waist, and shoulder-straps.)

As regards the notices of the ‘ephod,’ the earlier historical books mention (a) a linen ephod, with which Samuel and David are ‘girt,’ when performing sacred, if not priestly, offices—either a plain linen ‘waistcoat’ (cf. p. 300), or a short skirt girt about the waist (cf. the illustrations cited above); (b) an ephod ‘borne’ (not ‘worn’) by priests, valued by them as a distinctive possession (1 Samuel 2:28), and used in some way when Jehovah was consulted by means of the Urim and Thummim (1 Samuel 14:3; 1 Samuel 14:18 LXX. (see RVm.), Exodus 21:9, Exodus 22:18 [omit linen with LXX.: the ephod is here ‘borne’; see Kennedy’s note], Exodus 23:6; Exodus 23:9, Exodus 30:7); (c) the ‘ephod’ made by Gideon, Jdg 8:27; and (d) in conjunction with the oracular (Ezekiel 21:21) ‘teraphim,’ Jdg 17:5; Jdg 18:14; Jdg 18:17-18; Jdg 18:20, Hosea 3:4. In 1 Samuel 21:9, (c) and (d) ‘ephod’ has often been taken to be a plated image (cf. the cognate ’ăphuddâh, which clearly means the gold casing of an image in Isaiah 30:12): in 1 Samuel 14:3, &c. (b) it is clearly used in some way in obtaining an oracle, and the same is doubtless the case with (d), if not with (c). But though we thus learn the use to which the ephod is put, we do not learn what the ephod was. On the whole, however, it seems probable that at least in (b) and (d) the ephod was a more decorated garment than the ‘linen ephod’ (a), worn at this time by the priest in his ordinary ministrations, and was one specially put on by him, as a mark of respect, when consulting the oracle (Sellin, pp. 712, 716; cf. Livy, xxiii. 11). As years went on, the dress of the priests, and especially of the high priest, became more elaborate and ornate; and the high-priestly ephod, as described by P, will be the form which this vestment ultimately assumed. The sacred lots were kept in a pouch attached to the high priest’s ephod; it seems probable that this was already the case with the ephod mentioned in (b) and (d). This may explain why in (b) the ephod is spoken of, not as worn, but as ‘borne’: it was not regularly ‘worn’ by the priest; it was carried about by the priest from place to place, especially on a campaign, and only ‘brought near,’ and put on, when occasion required: it was not only a garment, but had also attached to it a receptacle for the sacred lots: it thus provided the means of consulting them; and to ‘bear,’ or carry, it was a highly prized prerogative of the priests (1 Samuel 2:28; 1 Samuel 22:18). See further DB. and EB. s.v., DB. iv. 840a, v. 641 f.; Kennedy, Sam. p. 49; Holz., with ill., pp. 135–9; Benzinger, Arch.2 347 f., 359 (a skirt); and esp. Sellin, as cited).

And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
1. And thou, bring thou near, &c.] as Exodus 27:20. hikrib (‘bring near’) has here the special, sacred sense of present, or, of a sacrifice, offer, as very often in P; cf. Exodus 29:3-4; Exodus 29:8; Exodus 29:10; Exodus 40:12; Exodus 40:14; and DB. iii. 587b.

and his sons with him] the addition of ‘with him,’ as often in P: v. 41, Exodus 29:21 (twice), Genesis 6:18; Genesis 7:7; Genesis 7:13 &c. (see LOT. p. 132, No. 10). Aaron’s ‘sons,’ as already explained, represent in this and the next ch., the ordinary priests.

minister … in the priest’s office] in the Heb., one word, be (or Acts as priest. The Heb. for ‘priest’ is kôhen, a word of which the etym. sense is unknown: the supposition that it denotes ‘one who stands’ (to serve God) is most precarious: there is no Semitic root kâhan, or even kûn, meaning to ‘stand’: kûn, in Arab., Eth., and Phoen. is the common word for ‘to be’; in Ass. it means to be firm; derivatives in Heb. also mean to be or to make firm, but this is not the same thing as to ‘stand.’ In Arabic the corresponding word, kâhin, means a seer—an important man in a tribe, who was consulted before an undertaking, esp. a war, or to settle a dispute, or other difficulty, the organ of a deity, or, mostly, of a jinn (Wellh. Arab. Heid. 130–4, 167; 2131–8, 143): the older Isr. kôhçn also habitually gave answers, by the Urim and Thummim, on questions submitted to him, and divine decisions upon legal cases (see on Exodus 18:15). The common name, and the kindred functions, justify the inference that the kôhçn and the kâhin were originally identical: both will have been originally guardians of an oracle at a sanctuary: but their functions diverged: the kâhin sank to be a mere diviner; the kôhçn acquired gradually more and more of the sacrificial functions which we commonly attach to the idea of a ‘priest.’

Nadab and Abihu] see in J Exodus 24:1; Exodus 24:9; in P Exodus 6:23, Leviticus 10:1-2.

Eleazar and Ithamar] Eleazar is mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:6 as Aaron’s successor in the priesthood, and in Joshua 24:33 (E) his death is recorded. See further on Exodus 6:23.

1–5. Sacred vestments to be made for the priests.

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
2. for glory and for beauty] or, and for decoration (so v. 40),—for a distinctive decorated dress.

And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
3. And thou] the pron. is emphatic.

wise … wisdom] of artistic cleverness or skill: cf. Exodus 31:3; Exodus 31:6, Exodus 35:10; Exodus 35:25-26; Exodus 35:31, Exodus 36:1-2; Exodus 36:4; Exodus 36:8; Jeremiah 10:9 (‘cunning’: Heb. wise). The heart is with the Hebrews the seat not of feeling, as with us, but of understanding: Jeremiah 5:21 RVm., Hosea 4:11 RVm., Job 12:24, &c.

the spirit of wisdom] i.e. an impulse and activity, instinct with wisdom (i.e., here, artistic skill): cf. Deuteronomy 34:9 (P), Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 28:6; and (in a bad sense) Isaiah 19:14; Isaiah 29:10, Hosea 4:12. Comp. on Exodus 31:3.

to sanctify him] the investiture is a part of the consecration, Exodus 29:5 ff.

And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
4. The vestments to be made: a pouch (v. 15 ff.), an ephod (v. 6ff.), a robe (v. 31 ff.), a tunic (v. 39), a turban, and a sash (ib.).

And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.
5. the gold, &c.] mentioned above in Exodus 25:3-4.

6–12 (cf. Exodus 39:2-7). The ephod. The ‘ephod’ (which, to judge from Isaiah 30:22. Heb., will have signified a closely-fitting covering), according to the ordinary view (for another, see p. 312), was a kind of waistcoat, consisting of an oblong piece of richly variegated material, the ‘work of the designer,’ bound round the body under the arms, and reaching down as far, apparently, as the waist. It was supported by two ‘shoulder-pieces’ (Heb. shoulders), i.e. probably two broad flaps or straps passing, like braces, over the shoulders, and attached to the ephod in front and behind: on the top of each of these shoulder-straps was an onyx-stone, enclosed in a filigree setting of gold, and engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel. Round the body the ephod was further held in its place by a band woven in one piece with it, but perhaps of a different pattern, probably forming a border at its lower edge, and passing closely round the waist. The ephod was worn over a long blue ‘robe,’ described in vv. 31–5.

And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
6. gold] i.e. gold thread (see Exodus 39:3). The other materials for the ephod were the same as those for the curtains (Exodus 26:1): but the ephod would be the handsomer on account of the gold thread interwoven with them.

the work of the designer] or pattern-weaver: see on Exodus 26:1.

It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.
7. Read with Sam. LXX. and Exodus 39:4 : It shall have two shoulder-straps joined (to it): at its two (top) edges shall it be joined (יחבר for וחבר). The ephod went closely round the body; and it was supported by two straps passing over the shoulders, and attached in front and behind to its top edges.

And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
8. And the artistically woven band (or simply, And the band: see below) of its attachment, which is upon it, shall be, &c.] ‘Artistically woven band’ is in the Heb. one word, ḥçsheb, cognate apparently with ḥôshçb, ‘designer,’ v. 6. As however the entire ephod was to be of the same material, and the ḥçsheb was indeed to be of the same piece with it, it is not apparent why the term should be applied to this particular part of the entire fabric: hence many suppose ḥçsheb to be derived by metathesis from ḥçbesh (from ḥâbash, to bind on), and to mean simply band (cf. késheb, and kébesh, both = ‘lamb’). Whichever etymology be adopted, the general sense remains the same: the band, as the following words shew, was to be of the same work, and the same piece, as the ephod itself, though perhaps of a different pattern, so as to form a border along the bottom of the ephod. The word is used only of this band of the ephod: vv. 27, 28, Exodus 29:5 ("" Leviticus 8:7), Exodus 39:5; Exodus 39:20-21†.

of its attachment] cognate with ‘ephod’; the word which in Isaiah 30:22 is rendered ‘plating’ (viz. of gold round an idol), probably lit. encasement. The rend. ‘to gird’ is not sufficiently distinctive.

And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:
9–12. Two onyx stones, enclosed in filigree settings of gold, and each engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel, to be fixed on the top of the two shoulder-straps.

onyx] see on v. 20.

Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth.
10. according to their birth] i.e. according to their ages; cf. Exodus 6:16. Jos. (Ant. iii. 7. 5) says that the names of Jacob’s six elder sons were on the stone upon the right shoulder, and those of his six younger ones on the stone upon the left shoulder.

With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.
11. the engravings of a signet] Seal engraving of precious stones was an art practised from very remote times in both Babylonia and Egypt.

ouches] filigree settings, or, in one word, rosettes. (LXX. in v. 13 ἀσπιδίσκαι, ‘little shields’). ‘Ouch’ (‘an ouch’ for ‘a nouch,’ by a mistaken division of words [cf. an apron for a napron, an adder for a nadder, umpire for numpire; and conversely newt for ewt, notch for otch], Fr. nouche, a buckle or clasp) is an old word for the frame in which precious stones were set, used also for the jewels themselves; cf. 2 Henry IV. ii. 4. 53 ‘Your brooches, pearls, and ouches’ (Aldis Wright, Bible Word-Book, s.v.). The Heb. root means to chequer or plait (see on v. 39): hence what is probably meant is ‘settings of filigree work’: the gold was first beaten out into thin sheets, which were afterwards cut up into narrow strips (see Exodus 39:3); these were then formed into filigree work by a delicate process of soldering, and used as a setting for jewels (Kennedy, DB. iii. 636). Rosettes would probably express the general meaning with sufficient accuracy.

And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.
12. The two stones, thus engraved, are to remind Jehovah of His people: cf. on v. 29.

13–30 (with vv. 15–28, cf. Exodus 39:8-21). The pouch of judgement, designed to contain the Urim and Thummim (v. 30). This was a pouch, or bag, ½ a cubit (9 in.) square, made of the same richly coloured texture as the ephod; and on its front were inserted, by means of gold settings, four rows of jewels, three in a row, engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. It was worn in front of the ephod, its four corners having golden rings, by which it was fastened to the two shoulder-straps (which are conceived to extend along the sides of the ephod to its bottom).

And thou shalt make ouches of gold;
13. ouches] filigree settings or rosettes (v. 11).

13, 14. Two rosettes of gold to be made, with chains of gold attached to them. The object of these chains is explained in vv. 22–5: they are to attach the ‘breastplate’ to the shoulder-straps.

And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.
14. put] i.e. fasten.

And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
15, 16. The ‘breastplate.’ The Heb. ḥôshen (often in the sequel, but only in the present connexion) is of uncertain etym., but there is nothing in it to suggest the idea of a ‘breastplate’; and as v. 30 shews, pouch would convey a much clearer idea of what is intended. It is called the ‘pouch of judgement,’ on account of the Urim and Thummim being kept in it, which were the means by which judgements, or decisions, were obtained by the high priest. It was to be of the same richly coloured texture as the ephod (v. 6).

Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
16. double] More clearly, doubled, viz. so as to form a bag or pouch.

a span] ½ a cubit, or 9 inches. A piece of material, a cubit long and ½ a cubit broad, was to be doubled over, and sewn together, so as to form a pouch ½ a cubit square.

And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.
17. a sardius. Heb. ’ôdem, ‘redness,’ LXX. σάρδιον, Vulg. sardius: Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 21:20. The sardius is described by the ancients as ‘blood-red’: it is either what we call the cornelian (Kn. Di., Myres altern.), or the opaque red jasper (Petrie, Myres altern.). The ruby (RVm.) is improbable, because (1) it is found only in countries as distant from the Hebrews as Ceylon and Burmah, and (2) because it is so hard that it was scarcely ever engraved in antiquity.

a topaz. Heb. p̣iṭdâh, τοπάζιον, topazius (Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 21:20); spoken of in Job 28:19 as coming from Ethiopia. The modern ‘topaz’ was hardly known before Greek times. ‘The τοπάζιον of the Greeks was a translucent, golden-coloured (διαφανὴς χρυσοειδὲς ἀποστίλβων φέγγος, Strabo xvi. 770), or yellow-green (e virenti genere, Plin. H. N. xxxvii. 8) stone, probably the modern chrysolite (or peridot); and this was in common use for scarabs and cylinders of all dates’ (Myres). The ancient topaz was obtained chiefly from an island (τοπάζιος νῆσος) in the Red Sea (Strabo, p. 770). The identification with the Ass. ḥipindu [EB. iv. 4803) depends upon an alteration in the Heb. text (ibid. 5140).

a carbuncle. Heb. bâréḳeth, σμάραγδος, smaragdus: Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 4:3; Revelation 21:20. Probably, if these renderings are right, a rock-crystal, a colourless stone, used for engraving in Egypt at all periods: or (Petrie) only a colourless stone would shew a rainbow of prismatic colours (Revelation 4:3), or could have been used by Nero for an eye-glass (Pliny, H. N. xxxvii. 64). So also Myres, who compares carefully the rival claims of beryl.

17–21. Twelve precious stones, each engraved with the name of one of the tribes of Israel, to be arranged in gold settings in four rows of three each, and fastened in front of the pouch. The identity of several of the stones mentioned is very uncertain; for philology throws little or no light upon the meanings of the names, and the ancient Versions in several cases give inconsistent renderings, or renderings which are themselves of uncertain interpretation. The oldest interpretations of the names are those given by the LXX.; and in identifying these, much help is afforded by Theophrastus, On Stones [c. 300 b.c.), and notices in Pliny, H. N. See more fully Petrie, DB. iv. 619 ff., and esp. J. L. Myres, EB. iv. 4799 ff. The list is repeated in Exodus 39:10-13 : comp. also the lists in Ezekiel 28:13 (= the 1st, 2nd, and 4th rows here, the stones being however differently arranged) of stones in the ‘covering,’ or decorated garment, of the king of Tyre, and in Revelation 21:19 f. of the stones forming the foundations of the walls of the New Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 54:11 f.; Tob 13:16 f.).

And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
18. an emerald] Heb. nôphek, ἄνθραξ, carbunculus [a red stone, called ἄνθραξ and carbunculus because in the sun-light it flashes like a burning ‘coal,’ Theophr. de Lap. 18]: Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 28:13. As is generally agreed, the red garnet, a species of carbuncle.

a sapphire] Heb. sappir, σάπφειρος, sapphirus: Exodus 24:10, Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 10:1; Ezekiel 28:13, Job 28:6; Job 28:16, Song of Solomon 5:14, Isaiah 54:11, Lamentations 4:7, Revelation 21:19. Not, however, our ‘sapphire,’ which was ‘almost unknown before Roman imperial times,’ but the opaque blue lapis lazuli (so Revelation 21:19 RVm.), as is shewn by the description of the Greek and Roman ‘sapphire’ by Theophrastus and Pliny as sprinkled with gold dust (ὥσπερ χρυσόπαστος, ‘inest ei et aureus pulvis’), with allusion to the particles of iron pyrites, easily mistaken by their colour and lustre for gold, frequently found in the lapis lazuli (cf. Sapphire in DB. and EB.; and Job 28:6 ‘And it hath dust of gold’).

a diamond] Heb. yahâlôm, ἴασπις, jaspis: Ezekiel 28:13. Ἴασπις, jaspis, seem so naturally to correspond to Heb. yâshepheh in v. 20, that many suppose an accidental transposition to have taken place in either the Heb. or the Greek text: if this be granted, yahălôm will be represented by ὀνύχιον here and Ezekiel 28:13, and by βηρύλλιον in Exodus 39:13. What the yashălôm was, is, however, uncertain. ‘Diamond’ has nothing to recommend it: there is no evidence that this stone was known to the ancients. RVm. sardonyx (cf. Revelation 21:20), a stratified stone, consisting of layers of red and white (hence the name, the ‘sard’ being red, and the ‘onyx’ whitish), and in ancient times often with a layer of dark brown as well; well adapted for engraving, on account of the variety produced by the different strata (EB. Sardonyx). For the symbolism attached to the three colours, see the quaint verses quoted in DB. s.v. Onyx.

And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
19. a jacinth] Heb. léshem, λιγύριον, ligurius. Perhaps (Myres) the cairngorm, a clear yellow stone. On the jacinth (cf. Revelation 21:20), which was apparently first suggested by Braun, de vestitu sacerdd. (ed. 2, 1698), 11. xiv, Mr Myres writes, ‘there is no evidence that the jacinth was either found in Liguria, or was known at all till Roman times.’ The λιγύριον (or λυγκούριον) is variously explained by Pliny as a fiery-coloured gem, like the carbuncle (H. N. viii. 38, xxxvii. 13), and (xxxvii. 11) as amber (hence RVm.).

an agate] Heb. shebhô, ἀχάτης, achates. The correctness of this rendering is not doubted. A red, opaque stone.

an amethyst] Heb. ’aḥlấmâh, ἀμέθυστος, amethystus. This rend. is also unquestioned. A purple, clear stone.

And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.
20. a beryl] Heb. tarshish, χρυσόλιθος (Revelation 21:10), chrysolithus: Ezekiel 1:16; Ezekiel 10:9; Ezekiel 28:13, Song of Solomon 5:14, Daniel 10:6. The name tarshish apparently points to its being obtained from Tarshish (Tartessus) in Spain. The chrysolite (‘gold-stone’) of the later Greeks (which was also obtained from Spain, Pliny, H. N. xxxvii. 127) is probably our topaz1[208], but as this was unknown in earlier times, some other gold-coloured stone must be intended,—perhaps (Petrie) the yellow jasper. It is not however stated whether this stone is (or was) found in Spain. The rend. beryl is as old as Abarbanel (1437–1508): the chalcedony (RVm.; Revelation 21:19) of the ancients,—so called from its being found at Chalcedon (opposite to Byzantium),—was the green transparent carbonate of copper, our copper emerald (Smith, DB. s.v.).

[208] By a curious interchange of terms, it seems that ‘the ancient chrysolite is the modern topaz, and the ancient topaz the modern chrysolite’ (Smith, DB. s.v. Beryl).

an onyx] Heb. shôham, βηρύλλιον (so LXX. here, but not consistently), onychinus: v. 9, Exodus 25:7, Genesis 2:12, Ezekiel 28:13, Job 28:16, 1 Chronicles 29:2. This is usually supposed to be either the onyx (LXX. in Job; Vulg. mostly) or the beryl (LXX. here; Pesh. Targ. always): the onyx being a stratified stone, consisting of layers of white (resembling in colour the nail, whence the name), grey, and other colours (see DB. s.v.), and the beryl a clear blue, green, or pale yellow stone (see EB. s.v.). Myres, however (EB. iv. 4808), argues in favour of malachite (green carbonate of copper), ‘common in Egypt in all periods, obtained from the Sinaitic mine district,’ and also other sources of copper, as Cyprus, and known likewise in Babylonia and Assyria.

a jasper] Heb. yâshepheh, ὀνύχιον, beryllus (but see on ‘diamond’ in v. 18): Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 21:19. In all probability the green jasper is intended.

And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.
And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold.
22. The ‘chains like cords’ are those mentioned in v. 14, so that the verse is really superfluous.

22–25. Two golden chains of wreathen work to be made, and attached at one end, by rings of gold, to the two upper corners of the pouch, and at the other, to the two rosettes (v. 13 f.), in the two shoulder-straps, so that the pouch might hang down from them.

22–28. How the pouch is to be kept in position on the front of the ephod.

And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate.
23. put] i.e. fasten, as v. 14: so vv. 24, 25, 26, 27.

the two ends] i.e. the two upper corners.

And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate.
And the other two ends of the two wreathen chains thou shalt fasten in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it.
25. the two rosettes] Those mentioned in vv. 13, 14.

And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate in the border thereof, which is in the side of the ephod inward.
26. upon the two ends, &c.] i.e. at the two lower corners of the pouch, on the inner side, towards the ephod, so that the rings were hidden from view.

26–28. Two rings of gold to be attached to the inner lower corners of the pouch, and tied by pieces of blue lace to two other rings of gold on the lower part of the shoulder-straps, to hold the pouch close to the ephod.

And two other rings of gold thou shalt make, and shalt put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart thereof, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.
27. underneath, &c.] low down, in front of it.

close to its juncture
(with the shoulder-straps), above the band of the ephod] The directions are not very clear: but the shoulder-straps seem to be continued down the front of the ephod, on its right and left sides, as far as the band (v. 8): the lower edge of the pouch was just above this band, and it was tied by the two pieces of blue lace to the rings in the shoulder-straps close to where these were sewn to the ephod.

And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod.
28. the rings of the ephod] Properly, the rings of the shoulder-strap of the ephod (v. 27).

a lace of blue] i.e. of the blue (violet) dyed material mentioned in Exodus 25:4 (see the note).

And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.
29. Aaron (i.e. the high priest), bearing the names of the tribes of Israel both (v. 12) on his shoulders (which support the weight and symbol of office, Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 22:22), and on his heart (implying that they have a constant place in his thoughts, Deuteronomy 6:6), will thus enter the Holy place as Israel’s official representative, ever mindful of the nation’s interests, and ever bringing the remembrance of it before God;

the pouch of judgement] see on v. 15. So v. 30.

for a memorial] to call them to remembrance before God: so v. 12; cf. Exodus 30:16, Numbers 10:10; Numbers 31:54.

And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.
30. The Urim and Thummim. These are to be put into the pouch of judgement: they are consequently something quite distinct from the jewels in front of it (v. 17), with which they have often been identified; and from the manner in which they are mentioned elsewhere (esp. 1 Samuel 14:41) there can be little doubt that they were two sacred lots, used for the purpose of ascertaining the Divine will on questions of national importance. We do not know their size or the material of which they were made: they are not described, but introduced as something well known. See further p. 313 f.

the judgement of &c.] The Urim and Thummim are so called as the means by which a Divine judgement, or decision, might be obtained on matters of national importance. Cf. Numbers 27:21 (P).

On the Urim and Thummim

In addition to Exodus 28:30, the Urim and Thummim are mentioned in the "", Leviticus 8:8, and (the Urim alone) in Numbers 27:21 (both P: here Eleazar is to determine for Joshua by their help when Israel is to ‘go out’ and ‘come in’); in the Blessing attributed to Moses, Deuteronomy 33:8 (as a privileged possession of the priestly tribe), in 1 Samuel 28:6 (the Urim alone,—Jehovah answered Saul ‘neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets’), in Ezra 2:63 = Nehemiah 7:65 (‘till a priest should rise up with Urim and Thummim,’ implying they were lost in the post-exilic age); and esp. in the original Heb. text of 1 Samuel 14:41, presupposed by the LXX. which throws the greatest light upon the manner in which they were used, ‘And Saul said, O Jehovah, the God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If the iniquity be in me or in Jonathan my son, give Urim; and if it be in thy people Israel, give Thummim. And Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, but the people escaped.’ (The Heb. words rendered in RVm. = A.V. ‘Give a perfect (lot)’ are a mutilated fragment of the longer text preserved in LXX., thâmim, ‘perfect,’ differing from ‘Thummim’ only in vocalization.) The priest who cast the lots on this occasion was evidently Ahijah, who just before (vv. 3, 18 RVm.) is mentioned as ‘bearing’ (above, p. 313) an ephod; and a comparison of the other passages in 1 Sam. in which the priest asks for a Divine decision with the help of the ephod, makes it probable that on these occasions also the Urim and Thummim, though not actually mentioned, were in fact employed: see 1 Samuel 14:18 (read as RVm.), 19, 37, Exodus 23:10-12 (see v. 6), Exodus 30:7-8. After David’s time the Urim and Thummim are not mentioned in the history; and though we are naturally not in a position to say that they were never resorted to, yet the increasing importance of the prophets as announcers of the Divine will, and the more spiritual conceptions of God which their teaching brought with it, make it probable that their use fell more and more into abeyance. But the possession of the sacred lots was an ancient and prized prerogative of the priestly caste (Deuteronomy 33:8); the right of using them was doubtless jealously maintained by the chief priest till—through whatever cause—they were lost (Ezra 2:63); and so they naturally found a place in P’s description of the high priest’s official dress, and their original institution was referred back to Moses.

The etymological meaning of ‘Urim and Thummim’ is uncertain. Regarded as two Heb. words, they would naturally signify Lights and Perfections; but as giving the original sense of the expression, this explanation is anything but satisfactory. It is possible that the words are the Hebraized forms of two originally Babylonian technical terms. The LXX. usually express Urim by either δῆλοι (sc. λίθοι), i.e. ‘visible, manifest (stones),’—and so in the Greek text of Sir 33:3 (codd. א A and RV.), Sir 45:10,—or δήλωσις, ‘manifestation, declaration’; and Thummim by ἀλήθεια, ‘truth’ (cf. Sir 45:10): the former rend is a paraphrase of ‘Lights’: the latter—as the translators lived in Egypt—may have been suggested to them by the fact that in Egypt the judge presiding at a trial wore, suspended from his neck, an image of Tme, the Egyptian goddess of truth (Wilk.-B. i. 296, iii. 183 f.; Diod. i. 48, 75). For further particulars on the whole subject, see Kennedy in DB., and Moore in EB., s.v.

31–35 (cf. Exodus 39:22-26). The robe of the ephod. This was a long violet robe woven in one piece, put on by being drawn over the head, with arm-holes (but without sleeves), and with pomegranates worked in colours, and small golden bells, arranged alternately as a border, round the bottom of the skirt

And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue.
31. robe] Heb. me‘îl, a long garment, worn over the tunic, and usually, it seems, open down the front, and with sleeves (see ill. in DB. i. 625a; and Benz. Arch.2 76 f.), made of better material than the more ordinary simlâh (see on Exodus 12:34), and often worn in place of that by men of position (1 Samuel 18:4; 1 Samuel 24:4; 1 Samuel 24:11; by Samuel Exodus 15:27, Exodus 28:14, cf. Exodus 2:19; Ezra 9:3; Ezra 9:5).

blue] or violet (see on Exodus 25:4). The robe was to be entirely woven of this material, and without figures: hence it is called simply the ‘work of the weaver’ (Exodus 39:22 : see on Exodus 26:1).

And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.
32. a hole for the head, &c.] It was not open behind or in front: it had simply a hole at the top, and was thrown over the head in the manner of a jersey.

woven work] the work of the weaver (Exodus 36:1). In ch. 39. these words are attached not to the ‘binding’ (v. 23), but to the robe itself (v. 22); and that is probably their original place here (after ‘of the ephod’ in v. 31). The binding was to keep the edge of the hole from fraying.

a coat of mail] Heb. taḥărâh, only here and in the "", Exodus 39:23 : Onk. שריון a coat of mail. No doubt, a linen corselet, the λινοθώρηξ of the Greeks (Il. ii. 529), is what is meant; Herodotus (ii. 182, iii. 47) mentions two made in Egypt for Amâsis.

And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:
33, 34. The skirt was to be adorned with a border of pomegranates (i.e. balls shaped like pomegranates), made of the richly coloured materials mentioned in Exodus 25:4; and a small golden bell was to be attached to the hem between each two of the pomegranates. The pomegranate tree was common in Palestine (cf. Numbers 13:23, Deuteronomy 8:8, al.); its fruit, when ripe, is of a bright red colour, about the size of an orange. In v. 33 Sam. LXX. add, and fine twined linen: cf. Exodus 38:24.

A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.
And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.
35. to minister] i.e. in order that he may minister.

that he die not] for not putting it on, and so infringing one of the laws of the sanctuary: cf. v. 43, Exodus 30:21, Leviticus 8:35; Leviticus 10:7.

Originally, it has been conjectured, the object of the bells was to protect the officiating priest from the spirits which were supposed to haunt the thresholds of sanctuaries. But here their object is that they might be heard when the high-priest entered, and left, the sanctuary,—in order (Di.) that the worshippers outside might know how long to follow him with their devotions (cf. Luke 1:10; Luke 1:21), or (Riehm, HWB. 878,2 646) to remind God (cf. Sir 45:9; ‘memorial,’ as above, vv. 12, 29) that he appeared before Him as the official representative of the people.

36–38 (cf. Exodus 39:30-31). The gold plate on the front of the high priest’s turban. The high priest’s turban was of fine white linen (v. 39); and there was to be a blue band tied round it, with a plate of gold attached to it in front, bearing the inscription, Holy to Yahweh.

And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
36. a plate] Heb. ẓiẓ,—properly, it seems, a shining thing (usu. a flower, Isaiah 40:7 al.), i.e., here, a burnished plate (in this sense only Exodus 39:30, Leviticus 8:9 besides); LXX. πέταλον, a leaf, fig. a thin plate of metal. Cf. Polycrates ap. Eus. v. 24 (a πέταλον worn by St John, as priest). According to tradition, the ‘plate’ was 2 fingers broad.

HOLY TO YAHWEH] The high priest, in virtue of his office, was brought specially near to Jehovah, and was thus specially ‘holy’ to Him. Cf., in other connexions, Exodus 30:37, Exodus 31:15, Leviticus 27:23; Leviticus 27:30 Zechariah 14:10. Jos. (BJ. v. 5, 7), and Pseudo-Aristeas (ap. Swete, Introd. to O.T. in Greek, p. 536), say that the inscription was written in ‘sacred,’ or ‘holy,’ characters, by which they mean doubtless the older Hebrew characters, such as are found on old Heb. seals, as also on the Moabite stone, and in Phoen. inscriptions, before they had changed into the later ‘square’ characters.

And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.
37. a lace of blue] a lace, or band, of the violet material mentioned in Exodus 25:4. This was apparently tied round the turban, somewhat ‘above’ its lower edge (cf. Exodus 39:31), in the manner of a ‘diadem’ (Exodus 29:6 n.),—in the proper sense of the word, something bound round1[209],—so that the plate attached to it might appear conspicuously in front.

[209] The ‘diadem’ was properly a blue silk band, spotted with white, 2 in. wide, tied round the lower part of the tall stiff cap worn by the Persian kings, and fastened in a knot behind, with the ends hanging down (see ill. in Rawl. Anc. Mon. iii. 204, n. 17; and cf. Xen. Cyr. viii. 3, 13).

the mitre] the turban (RVm.): see on v. 39.

And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.
38. bear the iniquity, &c.] i.e. take upon himself the guilt of any ritual error or mistake made accidentally in offering the holy things; cf. Leviticus 22:16. Elsewhere the expression becomes equivalent to be responsible for (Numbers 18:1; Numbers 18:23). Cf. LOT. p. 50, No. 20c.

that they may be accepted] more lit. for their acceptance: so Leviticus 22:20; and similarly (in the Heb.) Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 19:5; Lev Exo 22:19; Leviticus 22:21; Leviticus 22:29; Leviticus 23:11. The gold plate, with its inscription, on the high priest’s forehead, marks him out as the people’s specially holy representative before God: and enables him, as such, to secure His acceptance of their offerings, in spite of any venial oversight or omission made in offering them.

And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.
39. The high priest’s tunic, turban, and sash. With vv. 39–42 compare (condensed) Exodus 39:27-29.

the coat] the tunic. This was made of fine linen, the ‘work of the weaver’ (Exodus 39:27), woven in one piece. Josephus says (Ant. iii. 7. 2) that it reached down to the feet, fitted close to the body, and had tight sleeves: it had a narrow aperture about the neck, and was girt about the breast by a sash (see below). It would thus resemble a cassock or dressing-gown (see ill. of an ordinary tunic in DB. i. 624b). Linen, as a clean and cool material, was much prized in antiquity (cf. on Exodus 25:4); and was worn in particular by priests both in Egypt Hdt. ii. 37; Wilk.-B. ii. 159), and also often elsewhere (see Di.).

chequer work] what exactly is denoted by shibbçẓ is uncertain; but not improbably something of the nature of a ‘check,’ obtained by the weaver alternating threads of different colours in warp and woof; or, if the threads were all of the same colour, quilted or honey-combed work (cf. Ges. Thes. 1356; Kennedy, EB. iv. 5288). The tunic was only the ‘work of the (ordinary) weaver’ (Exodus 39:27), which was not as elaborate as the two other kinds described on Exodus 26:1; but it was something more than perfectly plain weaving. Work of the same kind is mentioned also in v. 4, Psalm 45:13 (‘chequer-work of gold (-thread),’ but the text is doubtful); and, of plaited settings of gems (‘rosettes’), vv. 11, 13, 14, 20, Exodus 39:6; Exodus 39:13; Exodus 39:16; Exodus 39:18†.

a turban] Heb. miẓnépheth, something wound round (the cogn. verb occurs in Isaiah 22:5; see RVm.), i.e. what we call not a ‘mitre,’ but a turban. It was of fine white linen (v. 39); and probably was folded many times round the head: the Talm. says that it contained 16 cubits (= 24 ft.) length of material. Except in Ezekiel 21:26 [Heb. 31], where it denotes the royal turban of the Jewish king (Zedekiah), the word occurs only here and elsewhere in P of the high priest’s turban. See further (esp. with reference to Jos.’s statements) the very full art. Mitre in EB. RVm. silk for shçsh, as in AV. of Proverbs 31:22. The rend. is not probable: though ‘white silk’ was used for shçsh by Luther.

a girdle] a sash; Heb. ’abnçṭ, only of the sash worn by the priests, and (Isaiah 22:21) by a high officer of state. It was made (see the next note) of richly coloured material: Jos. (Ant. iii. 7. 2) adds that it was four fingers broad, wound twice round the body, beginning at the breast, and tied in front in a bow: the ends reached the ankles, but while the priest was officiating, they were thrown over the left shoulder so as not to be in his way (EB. ii. 1735; see ill. in Braun, de vest. sacerdd. opp. to p. 404). According to the Talmud, it was 32 cubits (48 ft.) long. It is thus very inadequately described as a ‘girdle.’

the work of the embroiderer] or variegator (see on Exodus 26:1): the "", Exodus 39:29, prefixes ‘fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet.’ The materials and work were thus the same as those of the screens at the entrances to the Tent and the court (Exodus 26:36, Exodus 27:16).

And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.
40. The tunics, sashes, and caps, for Aaron’s ‘sons’ (i.e. for the ordinary priests). Whether the tunics and sashes differed in any way from those of the high priest, is not stated.

headtires] of fine linen (Exodus 39:28),—doubtless a band of fine linen bound round the head (Leviticus 8:13); and, to judge from the etym. of migbâ‘ôth (from gâba‘, prob. to be convex, cf. gib‘âh, ‘hill,’ gâbîa‘, ‘goblet’), in shape like a brimless convex cap (Jos. Ant. iii. 7. 3 πῖλος, a felt cap, in shape resembling a half-egg; see Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Pilleus). The word occurs only of the caps of the ordinary priests (Exodus 29:9, Exodus 39:28, Lev. l.c.†). Cf. EB. Mitre.

At the great sanctuary of the Phrygian Leto at Hierapolis in Phrygia (cf. Rel. Sem. Index, s.v. Hierapolis; Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, i. 89 ff.) the priests were dressed wholly in white, and wore a πῖλος on their head, the chief priest alone wearing a purple vestment (cf. above, v. 31, and on Exodus 26:1), and having a golden ‘tiara’ bound round his head (Luc. de dea Syr. § 42).

And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.
41. An anticipation of Exodus 29:1 a, 5–9, not very exactly expressed; for the garments for Aaron and his ‘sons’ were not in all cases the same (v. 40). The words, and shalt anoint them, are probably a later addition; for Exodus 29:7, like Leviticus 8:12, speaks only of Aaron himself, and not his ‘sons’ also, as being anointed: see on Exodus 30:30.

consecrate them] install them would be a more distinctive rendering. The Heb. is lit. fill their hand, a technical term for install or institute to a priestly office—originally, perhaps, meaning to fill the priest’s hand with the first sacrifices (cf. Exodus 29:24; and see Moore, Judges, p. 380)—occurring also Jdg 17:5; Jdg 17:12, Exodus 32:29 (fig.), Ezekiel 43:26 (fig. of altar); Exodus 29:9; Exodus 29:29; Exodus 29:33; Exodus 29:35, Leviticus 8:33; Leviticus 16:32; Leviticus 21:10, Numbers 3:3 (all P); 2 Chronicles 13:9; also (fig.) 1 Chronicles 29:5, 2 Chronicles 29:31. Cf. also Exodus 29:22 ‘the ram of installation’ (lit. of filling).

And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
42, 43. The linen drawers, to be worn by the priests during their ministrations in the Tent of meeting or at the altar. A dictate of reverence and modesty. The layman was forbidden to go up by steps to the altar, lest he should expose his person upon it (Exodus 20:26): for the priests, who did go up upon the altar (see on Exodus 27:5), and were otherwise frequently engaged in or near the Tent of meeting, special garments were provided, in order to prevent the same unseemliness. Among the Romans the Flamen Dialis similarly (Gell. x. 15), ‘tunicam intimam nisi in locis tectis non exuit, ne sub caelo tanquam sub oculis Jovis nudus sit’ (cited by Kn.).

breeches] Only in this connexion (Exodus 39:28, Leviticus 6:10; Leviticus 16:4; and in Ezek.’s regulations for the priesthood, Ezekiel 44:18†): from the description, evidently what we should call either loincloths or drawers. LXX. περισκελῆ; Jos. (Ant. iii. 7. 1) διάζωμα περὶ τὰ αἰδοῖα.

And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.
43. the altar] i.e. the altar of burnt-offering: cf. on Exodus 27:1.

the holy place] i.e. the sanctuary in general (including the court), as Exodus 36:1; Exodus 36:3-4; Exodus 36:6; not in the special sense of Exodus 26:33; for the altar of burnt-offering did not stand in the Dwelling, but in the court (Exodus 40:6). With to minister, as Exodus 29:30, Exodus 35:19 al. (P); Ezekiel 44:27.

bear iniquity and die, cf. Leviticus 22:16 (H); and on v. 35 above.

a statute for ever] as Exodus 30:21, Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 7:34; Leviticus 10:15; Leviticus 24:9, Numbers 18:8; Numbers 18:11; Numbers 18:19 (all P): cf. on Exodus 12:14 (where the Heb. is ḥuḳḳâh, the fem. of ḥôḳ, the word used here).

andhis seed after him] one of P’s standing expressions: Genesis 9:9; Genesis 17:7-10; Genesis 17:19; Genesis 35:12; Genesis 48:4, Numbers 25:13.

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