Exodus 28:1
Next, bring near to you your brother Aaron from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, to serve Me as priests.
Interpretation of the PriesthoodE. E. Atwater.Exodus 28:1
The PriesthoodS. Robinson, D. D.Exodus 28:1
The PriestsW. Brown.Exodus 28:1
Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?G.A. Goodhart Exodus 28:1, 2
The Priests' GarmentsD. Young Exodus 28:1-4
Aaron in His Priesthood the Type of JesusJ. Urquhart Exodus 28:1-38
The Priests and Their GarmentsJ. Orr Exodus 28:1-43

I. OBSERVE HOW THE INDIVIDUAL IS HERE SUBORDINATED TO THE OFFICE. Jehovah tells Moses here, amid the solemnities of the mount, that his brother Aaron and Aaron's sons are to be taken for service in the priest's office; but no word is said concerning the characters of any of these men, not even Aaron himself. There is a demand that those who made the priestly garments should be wise-hearted, men with a spirit of wisdom which Jehovah himself would put into them; but nothing is said as to Aaron himself being wise-hearted. Nor is there any indication given beforehand of any personal fitness that he had for the office. We gather much as to the way in which God had been training Moses; but Aaron so far as we can see, seems to have been led by a way that he knew not. All the commandment to Moses is, "take to thee Aaron thy brother." He is indicated by a natural relation, and not by anything that suggests spiritual fitness. It is interesting to compare the utter absence of any reference here to personal character with the minute details of what constitutes fitness for bishop and deacon, as we find these details in the epistles to Timothy and Titus. In the old dispensation where there was but the shadow of good things to come, the trappings of the official and the ceremonies of the office were of more importance than the character of any individual holder. The purpose of Jehovah was best served, in proportion as the people, beholding Aaron, forgot that it was Aaron, and were chiefly impressed by the fact that they were looking on the appointed priest of the Most High.

II. OBSERVE WHAT WAS AIMED AT IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PRIESTLY GARMENTS. They were to be for glory and for beauty. Not only different from the garments of the common people, but much more splendid. Gold was worked into the very substance of these garments; precious stones glittered upon them; and everything was done to make them beautiful and impressive. Nor was the splendour of these garments for a mere occasional revelation. Though not worn constantly, yet they had to be assumed for some part of every day; and thus all eyes were continually directed to symbols of the glory, beauty, and perfection which God was aiming to produce in the character of his people. There was as yet no finding of these things in human nature. The gold of human nature could not yet be purified from its debasing dross; but here for a symbol of the refined and perfected man, was gold, pure and bright, we may imagine, as ever came out of the furnace; and here were these precious stones, inestimably more precious since the tribal names were graven on them, and with the preciousness crowned when they took their place on the shoulders and breasts of the priest. Thus, whenever these stones flashed in the light, they spoke forth afresh the great truth, that this priest so gloriously attired, was the representative of the people before God; not a representative whom they had elected for themselves, and who would therefore go to God on a peradventure, but one who, because God himself had chosen him, could not fail to be acceptable. The principle underlying the direction to make these splendid garments is that which underlies the use of all trappings by government and authority. The outward shows of kingly state, the crown, the sceptre, the throne, the royal robes - these may not be impressive now as once they were; but they have been very serviceable once, and may still serve an important purpose, even though it be not easily perceived. It might make a difference in the administration of justice, if the garb of those who are the chief administrators were to differ nothing in public from what it is in private.

III. OBSERVE THAT TO SHOW FURTHER THE IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO THESE GARMENTS, GOD HIMSELF PROVIDED SKILL FOR THE MAKING OF THEM. Much skill might be needed, far more than could be guessed by the observer, to make these garments graceful and impressive. What was all the richness of the material unless there was also dextrous, tasteful, and sympathetic workmanship? The gold, and the blue, and the purple, and all the rest of the promising materials would have availed nothing in some hands to avert a clumsy and cumbrous result. The people provided all they could, and it was a great deal; but God had to provide the craftsmen in order to make full use of the people's gift. - Y.

The priest's office.
The Hebrew priesthood was instituted because the people were not qualified to draw near to God in person. By virtue of their election, the people of Jehovah were entitled to dwell in His habitation, but their consciousness of sin made them afraid of Him: therefore, in condescension to their inability to understand the greatness of His love, He provided a class of persons who, as the representatives of His elect, might in their stead enter the Tabernacle. To draw near to God, and to be a priest, are equivalent expressions. Aaron drew near in behalf of those who were elected to have spiritual communion with God, but were not yet delivered from bondage to fear; and his admission within the habitation signified that they were entitled to a corresponding access in spirit, that they were called a kingdom of priests for the reason that they might thus draw near to God in spiritual fellowship. By his office he was qualified to do outwardly and symbolically what all might do in spirit and in truth. But, before Aaron could enter the holy habitation in behalf of the people, he must officiate at the altar of sacrifice, and expiate sin; for his constituents were sinful, and the representation of their approach to God as members of His household must be preceded by signs that their sin was taken away: otherwise it might be inferred that Jehovah was indifferent whether His people were holy or unholy. The Hebrew priesthood therefore symbolized in general, the expiation of sin, and the admission to filial intercourse with God effected thereby.

(E. E. Atwater.)

I. QUALIFICATIONS. Every applicant for the priesthood had to prove his descent from Aaron, and had to be free from bodily defect or blemish (see Leviticus 21). This restriction pointed to the dignity and holy character of the position occupied by a priest, and to the inward purity requisite for the proper discharge of his sacred duties.

II. DUTIES. The chief duty of the priests was to offer or present offerings and sacrifices to God. They had sometimes to kill the victims (Leviticus 16) and always to sprinkle and pour out their blood, and also to burn their carcases, or part of them, on the altar. They had the charge of the altar and the sanctuary; they had to see that the fire was ever burning on the altar; they made loaves of shewbread, trimmed and lighted the lamps of the golden candlestick, and evening and morning burned incense on the golden altar, and, in general, conducted the sacred services of the Tabernacle worship. Their duties were not, however, confined to the performance of the rites and ceremonies of that worship; for the law being committed to their custody, they, with the Levites, were intrusted with the religious instruction of the nation (Deuteronomy 33:10); and the people were exhorted to seek knowledge at the priests' lips.

III. MAINTENANCE. The priests were not permitted to follow any secular calling. Their time was entirely devoted to their sacred work; hence it was necessary and just that their maintenance should be provided for at the expense of those for whose spiritual and temporal welfare they ministered. The remuneration consisted principally of the redemption money paid for the first-born Israelites, the first-fruits of the field, the fruit of trees in the fourth year, parts of various of the offerings, and a tenth of the tithes which fell to the Levites. They were not able, of course, to reap all these dues till they reached the promised land.

(W. Brown.)

Previous to this time, there was probably no separate order of priesthood in the Church of God; but every father was the priest of his family, as in killing the lamb of the passover and sprinkling the blood, or each worshipper had been at liberty to transact the business of sacrifice as he pleased. So far, in the history of Israel as redeemed from Egypt, Moses seems to have officiated occasionally as priest, as in the case of offering the sacrifice and sprinkling the blood of the covenant; or he selected young men as temporary priests. But the erection of a special place of worship, most notably carried with it the setting up an order of priesthood, with ritual of worship. The very name "cohen," which we translate "priest," is supposed to denote the idea of a familiar friend of God. The distinctive function of the office was to receive and present to God, as His nearest friend and associate, that which belonged to Him. The three great elements entering into the idea of their position and office were:

1. That they are chosen by Jehovah Himself to be His.

2. That they are officially holy in a pre-eminent sense.

3. That they have, by reason of their election and holiness, the privilege of drawing near to God, as holding a position intermediate between man and God, and therefore of mediators.

(S. Robinson, D. D.)

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