Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the LORD commanded Moses.XXXIX.
THE MAKING OF THE HOLY GARMENTS.
(1-31) This section corresponds to Exodus 28:5-40, but does not follow exactly the same order. Exodus 39:2-7 correspond to Exodus 39:5-12 of Exodus 28; Exodus 39:8-21 to Exodus 39:13-28; Exodus 39:22-26 to Exodus 39:31-35; but after this a dislocation occurs. Exodus 39:27-29 correspond to Exodus 39:39-42 of Exodus 28, and Exodus 39:30-31 to Exodus 39:36-38. It is not clear why any change was made. The order observed in Exodus 28 seems preferable.
(1) Cloths of service.—See Note on Exodus 31:10.
And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.(3) They did beat the gold into thin plates and cut it into wires.—This very primitive method of forming gold thread is nowhere else mentioned. It implies a ruder state of the art of metallurgy than we should have expected.
To work it in the blue.—The blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the white linen thread were woven into a patterned fabric. The gold was inserted afterwards in the way of embroidery. A similar practice prevailed in Egypt (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii., p. 128).
And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.(7) Stones for a memorial.—See Note on Exodus 28:12.
And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.(24) Pomegranates of blue . . . and twined linen.—Rather, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, twisted together. (Comp. Exodus 28:33.)
And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates;(25) Bells of pure gold.—On the object of the bells, see Note on Exodus 28:35.
And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons,(27) They made coats.—Rather, tunics or shirts. See Note on Exodus 28:40.
And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen,(28) A mitre . . . and goodly bonnets.—The “mitre,” or rather “turban,” was for Aaron, the “goodly bonnets,” or rather “caps,” for his sons. (See the Notes on Exodus 28:36-40.)
Linen breeches.—Rather, linen drawers. These were to be made both for Aaron and for his sons. (See Exodus 28:42-43.)
And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses.(29) A girdle.—The girdle was for Aaron. It is described much more fully here than in the “instructions,” where it is called simply a “girdle of needlework” (Exodus 28:39).
And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.(30) The plate of the holy crown.—See Note on Exodus 29:6.
(33-43) It is probable that the various parts of the work were presented to Moses for inspection as they were completed; that if they did not satisfy him, they might be altered and amended at once. Moses alone had seen “the pattern in the mount,” and Moses alone could say if the work came up to the required standard. We are not told that anything was rejected; and it is quite possible that all the portions of the work were satisfactorily rendered at their first essay by the several workmen; for the workmen, it must be remembered, besides receiving instructions from Moses, were divinely assisted in the production of their several works (Exo. 36:42).
And the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of badgers' skins, and the vail of the covering,(34) The vail of the covering—i.e., the vail which separated between the Holy place and the Holy of Holies, covering the latter from the sight of man. (Comp. Exodus 40:21.)
The pure candlestick, with the lamps thereof, even with the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and the oil for light,(37) The lamps to be set in order.—Heb., the lamps of arrangement. The reference is probably to the arrangement of the lamps in a single line or row. (Comp. Leviticus 24:6.)
The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons' garments, to minister in the priest's office.(41) The cloths of service . . . and the holy garments.—There is no “and” in the original. Translate, the cloths of service to do service in the holy place—the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons’ garments. The second and third clauses are exegetical of the first. (See Note on Exodus 31:10.)
And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.(43) Moses did look upon all the work—i.e., inspected it, examined it, to see if it was “according to the pattern” shown him. Being satisfied, he expressed his own and God’s approval by blessing those who had worked so faithfully.