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of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. 16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
17 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.
18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their 'inclosings.
21 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.
22 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold.
23 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate.
24 And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate.
25 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.
26 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.
unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.
30 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.
31 And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue.
32 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.
Heb. fill in it fillings of stone.
33 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:
34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.
35 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.
36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
37 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.
38 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.
39 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.
27 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.
28 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.
29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in
4 Or ruby.
5 Heb. fillings.
40 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.
41 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.
42 And thou shalt make them linen
Verse 3. Aaron's garments."-The distinctive dress of Aaron as high-priest consisted of eight articles, some of which were peculiar to him, and others common to all the priests. We shall take them in the order in which the detailed description occurs.
6. "The ephod."-This appears to have been a sort of close robe or vest reaching from the shoulders to the loins. It was made of a rich cloth of fine linen, embroidered with blue, purple, scarlet, and gold. The inferior priests also wore ephods, but they were plain ones of linen. It does not appear that even these were worn at first by the common priests. But we afterwards read of common priests wearing ephods; and indeed Samuel, who was only a Levite, wore one; and David, who was not even a Levite, did the same when he danced before the ark. On one occasion Saul consulted the Lord by Urim, and consequently used the ephod of the high-priest (1 Sam. xxviii. 6): and on another occasion David did the same (1 Sam. xxx. 7). It is thought by some, however, that Saul and David did not themselves use the ephod, but directed the priest to use it, and this seems the most probable interpretation.
It is, however, an opinion entertained by some, that the kings had a right to wear the ephod, and to consult the Lord by Urim and Thummim without the intervention of the priest.
8. "Girdle of the ephod.”—Some think this means the materials of the shoulder-pieces mentioned in the following verse, but this does not agree with verse 28, where the breast-plate is described as being above the curious girdle of the ephod. It seems better to understand it as a girdle, of the same materials as the ephod, and by which that garment was confined around the body of the high-priest.
9. "Onyx stones."--The bindings above the shoulders had the name of shoulder-pieces (verse 7), and seem to have been of the same rich cloth as the ephod itself; they had on each shoulder an ouch or socket of gold containing an onyx stone, on which the names of the tribes of Israel were engraved, as in a seal, six on each shoulder. The Rabbins say that Joseph's name was spelt with a letter more than ordinary, that there might be exactly twenty-five letters on each stone.
15–29. “A breastplate."-This was a piece of rich cloth set with twelve precious stones, one for each tribe of Israel, the size and beauty of which, according to Josephus, placed this ornament beyond the purchase of men. The cloth was of the same embroidered stuff as the outer robe or ephod over which it was placed, and this stuff was doubled, the better to hold the precious stones with which it was set. When thus doubled it was a span (or nine inches) square. There was at each corner a ring of gold, to the two uppermost of which were attached wreathed chains of gold, by which the breastplate was fastened to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod; and the two under rings were furnished with blue laces, to be fastened to rings in the embroidered girdle of the ephod.
17. "Sardius" (Odem).-The carnelian of the moderns; its ancient name, ragdov, seems to have been taken from Sardus, or Sardinia, where it was originally found. The Hebrew, intimating redness, is very well applied to a gem that is generally of a red colour, though there be varieties which are of a flame and of a pearl tincture, from the East Indies. The finest specimens come from Surat, a large city near the gulf of Cambay, in the north-western shores of India. It is found the channels of torrents of Hindostan, in nodules of a black olive passing into grey. After exposure for some weeks to the sun, these are subjected to heat in earthen pots, whence proceed those lively colours for which they are valued in jewellery.
Topaz” (Pitda, ToTao).-The topaz of the ancients is generally understood to be our modern chrysolite. This gem is not remarkable for its hardness, being scratched by quartz. It is of a green colour, declining to a yellow, and of a splendent external lustre. It comes from Egypt, where it is found in alluvial strata. According to the analysis of Klaproth, every hundred parts of this gem contain nineteen of the oxide of iron, to which the green may be owing.
"Carbuncle" (Boreketh, avdgaž). — The precious or noble garnet appears to agree best with the avag of Theophrastus, which, when held to the sun, resembles a burning coul——πρὸς δὲ τὸν ἥλιον τιθέμενον, ἄνθρακος καιομένου ποιεῖ χροάν. The colour of the precious garnet, it is well known, is of a deep red, sometimes falling into a blue. The best garnets are from Pegu in the Birman empire. The ancients obtained the most esteemed from Africa, whence they were called Garamantine and Carthaginian.
18. "Emerald" (Nophek).—The precious emerald is well characterized by its green colour, of various depths. In value it ranks next after the ruby, and is nearly as hard as the topaz. The best that are brought to this country come from Peru, but India may have afforded as good in the time of Moses.
Sapphire."-See Exod. xxiv. 10.
"Diamond" (Yahlom, ass, or jasper of the Septuagint).—The diamond is composed of layers, which by an adroit application of force may be parted from each other, though the layers themselves are so hard as to resist any kind of force. This observation explains and accounts for conflicting statements which have sometimes been made in reference to the hardness of the diamond.
19. "Ligure" (2ıyvqıov, Leshem).—The Lapis Lyncurius of the ancients agrees best with our hyacinth, as being of a red colour for the most part, zugga, and in being electric, a property ascribed to the Lapis Lyncurius, ov λvyzvgior, of Theophrastus. Those known to us are brought from the south of Europe.
‘Agate” (Shebo, axárns).—The original term seems to hint at the variety of colours and figurations of the agate. The agate takes a fine polish, which brings out those beautiful forms so much admired in that variety called Mocha stone. ‘Amethyst" (Achlama).—The Oriental amethyst is a gem of a violet colour and great brilliancy, and is said to be as hard as the ruby and sapphire. It comes from Persia, Arabia, Armenia, and the East Indies. Those that commonly pass under the name of amethysts are merely pieces of quartz tinged with a rosy or vinous colour.
20. "Beryl" (Tarshish).—The beryl, or, as the most valuable kind is called, aqua marine, resembles the emerald in colour, but is superior to it in hardness. It is in fact considered by some as a species of emerald. Its green often passes into a honey yellow and sky-blue. It is found in the Altaic chain of mountains in Siberia, and in Limoges in France, as well as in Brazil.
Onyx."-See Gen. ii. 12.
Jasper" (Yashpheh).— Our word jasper is plainly from laris, which comes from 5 of the Hebrew. Jasper is a species of the quartz family, and embraces a great many varieties. The brown Egyptian variety was perhaps the one selected for the breastplate. The brown is of various shades disposed in concentric stripes, alternating with black stripes. It occurs loose in the sands of Egypt, and is cut into ornaments.
30. "Urim and Thummim."-Much ingenious speculation has been brought to bear on the subject of the Urim and Thummim, through which the high-priest obtained responses from God. The questions on which the discussion has turned have been: Were the urim and thummim distinct from or identical with the precious stones of the breastplate? if distinct, what were they? and in what manner were they instrumental in obtaining answers from God to the questions of the high-priest? The word urim (8) means "lights," and the word thummim (D) "perfections," and might be very well applicable to the precious stones of the breastplate, if taken as epithets instead of names. The most judicious interpreters are generally disposed to concur in the statement of Josephus, that the urim and thummim were identical with the precious stones. It does indeed seem remarkable that, had they been something separate, they should not have been described in this minute statement; and we are inclined to think, that a careful examination of the different texts will leave little doubt as to their identity. In the description of the breastplate in chap. xxxix. 8-21, the urim and thummim are not mentioned, but the precious stones are; while in the description in Levit. viii. 8, the urim and thummim are mentioned, but not the stones, from whence it is obvious to infer that they were the same things. Even the text before us, as compared with the preceding verse, can only be well understood by supposing the urim and thummim to be the substance on which the names of the tribes were engraven. In the previous verse Aaron is directed to wear the names upon his heart before the LORD continually; and in the present text he is directed to wear the urim
and thummim upon his heart before the LORD continually. This certainly seems a more reasonable and proper account than that of Gesenius and others, who imagine that the urim and thummim were small oracular images, like the teraphim, by which revelation and truth were personified, and which were placed in the inner cavity of the breastplate. Spencer and others, who had previously entertained a similar view, fancy that the ornament was derived from the Egyptians, whose chief priest, who was also their supreme civil judge, wore, suspended from a golden chain around his neck, an ornament of precious stones called "Truth," and a cause was not opened till the judge had put on this ornament. We do not see much resemblance this, except so as any jewelled ornament worn about the neck may be said to resemble another. The jewel worn by the Egyptian judges was wholly judicial; whereas the urim and thummim were not only judicial but oraculous and sacerdotal.
There have been many fanciful conjectures as to the manner in which the Divine will was manifested to the priest. The most common of these imaginations is, that the letters engraved on the precious stones in the breastplate were affected in an extraordinary manner, so that the dimness or lustre, depression or elevation, of the successive letters composing the answer, enabled the high-priest to read the response in, or reflected from, his breastplate. The more received and probable opinion is, that the urim and thummim merely put the high-priest in a condition to receive responses, which, when he applied in a proper manner, were given in an audible voice from between the cherubim. This seems supported by the fact that this method of obtaining the Divine response is described as "asking at the mouth of the Lord." Whatever was the precise medium through which the response was conveyed, the mode in which the priest acted is sufficiently plain. When any national emergency arose for which the law had made no provision, the high-priest arrayed himself in his breastplate and pontifical vestments, and went into the holy place, and standing close before the vail, but not entering within it, stated the question or difficulty, and received an answer. Several instances will occur of this manner of consulting the Lord. It is an opinion which has at least the tacit sanction of Scripture, that the mode of consulting the Lord by urim and thummim only subsisted under the theocracy, and while the tabernacle still remained. Spencer strongly urges that the urim and thummim were essentially connected with the theocratic government of the Hebrews. While the Lord was their immediate governor and king, it was necessary that they should be enabled to consult him on important matters, and obtain his directions on occasions of difficulty. This method was also established for the purpose of consulting God in matters that concerned the common interest of the entire nation. On both these grounds the oracle might well cease when the theocracy terminated by the kingdom becoming hereditary in the person and family of Solomon; and still more, when the division of the nation into two kingdoms at his death rendered the interests of the nation no longer common. This is but an hypothesis: but it is certain that there are no traces in the Sacred books of consulting the Lord by urim and thummim from the time of the erection to the demolition of Solomon's Temple; and that it did not afterwards exist is on all hands allowed.
31. "The robe of the ephod."-This was a ng linen gown of light blue, reaching to the middle of the leg, or, as some think, to the feet. It was all of one piece, with a hole at top for the head to pass through, which opening was strongly hemmed round, that it might not be rent. We do not know on what authority this robe is said to be woollen, unless we are at liberty to infer as much from the fact that it is not, like the rest, said to be of linen. It seems to have been without sleeves, there being only holes in the sides for the arms. On the skirt at the bottom of the robe there were figures of pomegranates, wrought with blue, purple, and scarlet yarn. These pomegranates, according to Jarchi, were hollow, and about the size and form of a hen's egg. If, however, they resembled hens' eggs, they could not be like pomegranates, which have a very different shape. Our version is no doubt right in saying that the bells were hung between the pomegranates, or that there was a bell and a pomegranate alternately; although some of the Rabbins have a conceit that the bells were inclosed within the pomegranates. The number of bells and pomegranates is not mentioned in Scripture; and those who undertake to inform us differ much among themselves. Seventy-two is the number most commonly mentioned, but Clement of Alexandria says there were as many as days in the year. The object of these bells is not very clear: the reason given in verse 35—“That his sound may be heard....that he die not”—would seem to intimate that the sound of the bells was to be considered to harbinger his approach to the Sacred Presence; which, without such announcement, would be regarded as an unceremonious and disrespectful intrusion: the sound also intimated that he was clothed in his proper robes, to minister without which was death (verse 43). They might serve also to admonish the people of the sacred offices in which their priest was engaged.
Pomegranate" (rimmon).—The Punica granatum, or pomegranate-tree, bears a leaf and a flower which resemble the myrtle. It was formerly ranked among the myrtaceous family. The flowers differ in different varieties, so that the writer, when at Macao, observed four several kinds about the wells and cultivated inclosures. The fruit is larger than the golden pippin, and filled with seeds, imbedded in a red pulp, which is the part eaten. The leaves, flowers, and fruit are remarkable for their beauty; hence the last were selected as objects of skilful imitation.
36—38. “Mitre.”—This mitre was a turban of fine linen (verse 39), furnished in front with a plate of pure gold, on which were inscribed the words (HOLINESS TO THE LORD, or HOLY TO JEHOVAH), and which was attached to the turban by a blue lace. The word translated "plate" signifies a flower, and is rendered Tira, "petal," in the Septuagint, which seems to show that the plate was wrought with flowered work, or was itself in the form of a flower or petal. In chap. xxxix. 6, this ornament is called (nezer), from a verb signifying "to separate," and hence denoting a crown, as a mark of separation or distinction. The same word is applied to the diadem of kings. Indeed, such turbans of fine linen, with an encircling or front ornament of gold or precious stones, seem to have been the usual diadems of ancient kings. Thus we read, in Justin, that Alexander the Great took his diadem from his head to bind up the wounds of Lysimachus; which shows clearly enough that it was of linen, probably with some distinguishing ornament on the same principle as this on the turban of the Hebrew pontiff.
39. "The coat of fine linen."-This was the inmost of the sacerdotal vestments, and it was a long robe with sleeves to the wrists. This was not peculiar to the high-priest, but was similar to that worn by the other priests while officiating. What became of the tunic of the high-priest we do not know; but that of the common priests was unravelled when old, and made into wicks for the lamps burnt in the feast of tabernacles.
"Girdle of needle-work.”—This was a piece of fine twined linen, embroidered with blue, purple, and scarlet, and which went around the body. Josephus says it was embroidered with flowers; and also states that it was four fingers broad, and that, after being wound twice around the body, it was fastened in front, and the ends allowed to hang down to the feet, on common occasions; but that, when officiating at the altar, the priest threw them over his left shoulder. Maimonides says the girdle was three fingers broad, and thirty-two cubits long; being, as its length necessarily implies, wound many times around the body. As this girdle was so narrow, its length, if this statement be correct, will not seem extraordinary to those who are acquainted with the inordinate length of oriental girdles, and the number of times they are carried around the body. This girdle was worn over the embroidered coat by the common priests, to whom this formed the outer garment.
40. "Bonnets."-These bonnets, or more properly turbans, seem to have been like those of the high-priest, except that they wanted the plate of gold. Josephus, however, says that the turban of the high-priest had a purple cover over it; if so, this must have constituted another distinction between his "mitre" and the bonnets of his sons.
42. "Linen breeches."- More properly" drawers." The ancient Jews, like the modern Arabs and some other orientals, did not generally wear drawers or trowsers. Maimonides says that the drawers worn by the priests reached from above the navel to the knee, and had no opening before or behind, but were drawn up around the body by strings, like a purse. This resembles the linen drawers worn by the Turks and Persians at the present day, except that they reach rather below the knee. They are very wide altogether, and when drawn on are fastened very tight around the body by means of a string or girdle, which runs through a hem in the upper border.
In concluding this account of the priestly robes, it may be useful to repeat that the robes common to all were-the drawers, the embroidered coat, the girdle, and the turban; but, besides this, the high-priest wore the ephod, the robe of the ephod with its bells and pomegranates, the breastplate over the ephod, the shoulder-pieces of onyx-stone, and the engraved ornament of pure gold in front of his turban. The Rabbins seem to have the sanction of the Scripture for their opinion, that the robes were so essential a part of the priestly character, that without them a priest had no more right than private persons, or even foreigners, to officiate at the altar. It seems that the old robes of the priests, as already mentioned in the note on verse 39, were unravelled, to be burnt as wicks for the lamps at the feast of tabernacles. What was done with those of the high-priest is not known; but analogy would seem to render it probable that they were similarly used for the lamps in the tabernacle.