Exodus 28


Aaron and his sons are set apart for the priest's office, 1.

Garments to be provided for them, 2, 3.

What these garments were, 4,

and of what made, 5.

The ephod, its shoulder-pieces, and girdle, 6-8.

The two onyx stones, on which the names of the twelve tribes

were to be engraven, 9-14.

The breastplate of judgment; its twelve precious stones,

engraving, rings, chains, and its use, 15-29.

The Urim and Thummim, 30.

The robe of the ephod, its border, bells, pomegranates, &c.,

and their use, 31-35.

The plate of pure gold and its motto, 36,

to be placed on Aaron's mitre, 37, 38.

The embroidered coat for Aaron, 39.

Coats, girdles, and bonnets, 40.

Aaron and his sons to be anointed for the priest's office, 41.

Other articles of clothing and their use, 42, 43.


Verse 1. Aaron-and his sons] The priesthood was to be

restrained to this family because the public worship was to be

confined to one place; and previously to this the eldest in every

family officiated as priest, there being no settled place of

worship. It has been very properly observed that, if Moses had

not acted by the Divine appointment, he would not have passed by

his own family, which continued in the condition of ordinary

Levites, and established the priesthood, the only dignity in the

nation, in the family of his brother Aaron. "The priests,

however, had no power of a secular nature, nor does it appear from

history that they ever arrived at any till the time of the

Asmoneans or Maccabees." See Clarke on Ex 19:22.

Verse 2. For glory and for beauty.] Four articles of dress were

prescribed for the priests in ordinary, and four more for the

high-priest. Those for the priests in general were a coat,

drawers, a girdle, and a bonnet. Besides these the

high-priest had a robe, an ephod, a breastplate, and a plate

or diadem of gold on his forehead. The garments, says the sacred

historian, were for honour and for beauty. They were emblematical

of the office in which they ministered. 1. It was honourable.

They were the ministers of the Most High, and employed by him in

transacting the most important concerns between God and his

people, concerns in which all the attributes of the Divine Being

were interested, as well as those which referred to the present

and eternal happiness of his creatures. 2. They were for beauty.

They were emblematical of that holiness and purity which ever

characterize the Divine nature and the worship which is worthy of

him, and which are essentially necessary to all those who wish to

serve him in the beauty of holiness here below, and without which

none can ever see his face in the realms of glory. Should not the

garments of all those who minister in holy things still be

emblematical of the things in which they minister? Should they

not be for glory and beauty, expressive of the dignity of the

Gospel ministry, and that beauty of holiness without which none

can see the Lord? As the high-priest's vestments, under the law,

were emblematical of what was to come, should not the vestments of

the ministers of the Gospel bear some resemblance of what is come?

Is then the dismal black, now worn by almost all kinds of priests

and ministers, for glory and for beauty? Is it emblematical of

any thing that is good, glorious, or excellent? How unbecoming

the glad tidings announced by Christian ministers is a colour

emblematical of nothing but mourning and wo, sin, desolation,

and death! How inconsistent the habit and office of these men!

Should it be said, "These are only shadows, and are useless

because the substance is come." I ask, Why then is black almost

universally worn? why is a particular colour preferred, if there

be no signification in any? Is there not a danger that in our

zeal against shadows, we shall destroy or essentially change the

substance itself? Would not the same sort of argumentation

exclude water in baptism, and bread and wine in the sacrament of

the Lord's Supper? The white surplice in the service of the

Church is almost the only thing that remains of those ancient and

becoming vestments, which God commanded to be made for glory and

beauty. Clothing, emblematical of office, is of more consequence

than is generally imagined. Were the great officers of the crown,

and the great officers of justice, to clothe themselves like the

common people when they appear in their public capacity, both

their persons and their decisions would be soon held in little


Verse 3. Whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom] So we

find that ingenuity in arts and sciences, even those of the

ornamental kind, comes from God. It is not intimated here that

these persons were filled with the spirit of wisdom for this

purpose only; for the direction to Moses is, to select those whom

he found to be expert artists, and those who were such, God shows

by these words, had derived their knowledge from himself. Every

man should be permitted as far as possible to follow the bent or

direction of his own genius, when it evidently leads him to new

inventions, and improvements on old plans. How much has both

the labour of men and cattle been lessened by improvements in

machinery! And can we say that the wisdom which found out these

improvements did not come from God? No man, by course of reading

or study, ever acquired a genius of this kind: we call it

natural, and say it was born with the man. Moses teaches us to

consider it as Divine. Who taught NEWTON to ascertain the laws by

which God governs the universe, through which discovery a new

source of profit and pleasure has been opened to mankind through

every part of the civilized world? No reading, no study, no

example, formed his genius. God, who made him, gave him that

compass and bent of mind by which he made those discoveries, and

for which his name is celebrated in the earth. When I see NAPIER

inventing the logarithms; COPERNICUS, DES CARTES, and KEPLER

contributing to pull down the false systems of the universe, and

NEWTON demonstrating the true one; and when I see the long list of

PATENTEES of useful inventions, by whose industry and skill long

and tedious processes in the necessary arts of life have been

shortened, labour greatly lessened, and much time and expense

saved; I then see, with Moses, men who are wise-hearted, whom God

has filled with the spirit of wisdom for these very purposes; that

he might help man by man, and that, as time rolls on, he might

give to his intelligent creatures such proofs of his Being,

infinitely varied wisdom, and gracious providence, as should cause

them to depend on him, and give him that glory which is due to his


How pointedly does the Prophet Isaiah refer to this sort of

teaching as coming from God, even in the most common and less

difficult arts of life! The whole passage is worthy of the

reader's most serious attention.

"Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow? doth he open and

break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face

thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the

cummin, and cast in the principal wheat, and the appointed barley,

and the rye, in their place? For HIS GOD DOTH INSTRUCT HIM to

discretion, and doth teach him. For the fitches are not threshed

with a threshing-instrument, neither is a cart-wheel turned about

upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and

the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not

ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor

bruise it with his horsemen. This also cometh forth from the LORD

of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working,"

Isa 28:24-29.

But let us take heed not to run into extremes here; machinery is

to help man, not to render him useless. The human hand is the

great and most perfect machine, let it not be laid aside. In our

zeal for machinery we are rendering all the lower classes useless;

filling the land with beggary and vice, and the workhouses with

paupers; and ruining the husbandmen with oppressive poor-rates.

Keep machinery as a help to the human hand, and to lighten the

labour, but never let it supersede either.

This principle, that God is the author of all arts and sciences,

is too little regarded: Every good gift, and every perfect gift,

says St. James, comes from above, from the FATHER of LIGHTS. Why

has God constructed every part of nature with such a profusion of

economy and skill, if he intended this skill should never be

discovered by man, or that man should not attempt to examine his

works in order to find them out? From the works of CREATION what

proofs, astonishing and overwhelming proofs, both to believers and

infidels, have been drawn both of the nature, being, attributes,

and providence of God! What demonstrations of all these have the

Archbishop of Cambray, Dr. Nieuwentyt, Dr. Derham, and Mr. Charles

Bonnet, given in their philosophical works! And who gave those

men this wisdom? GOD, from whom alone MIND, and all its

attributes, proceed. While we see Count de Buffon and Swammerdam

examining and tracing out all the curious relations, connections,

and laws of the ANIMAL kingdom; -Tournefort, Ray, and Linne, those

of the VEGETABLE;-Theophrastus, Werner, Klaproth, Cronstedt,

Morveau, Reamur, Kirwan, and a host of philosophical chemists,

Boerhaave, Boyle, Stahl, Priestley, Lavoisier, Fourcroy, Black,

and Davy, those of the MINERAL; the discoveries they have made,

the latent and important properties of vegetables and minerals

which they have developed, the powerful machines which, through

their discoveries, have been constructed, by the operations of

which the human slave is restored to his own place in society, the

brute saved from his destructive toil in our manufactories, and

inanimate, unfeeling NATURE caused to perform the work of all

these better, more expeditiously, and to much more profit; shall

we not say that the hand of GOD is in all this? Only I again say,

let machinery aid man, and not render him useless. The nations of

Europe are pushing mechanical power to a destructive extreme. He

alone girded those eminent men, though many of them knew him not;

he inspired them with wisdom and understanding; by his

all-pervading and all-informing spirit he opened to them the

entrance of the paths of the depths of science, guided them in

their researches, opened to them successively more and more of his

astonishing treasures, crowned their persevering industry with his

blessing and made them his ministers for good to mankind. The

antiquary and the medalist are also his agents; their

discernment and penetration come from him alone. By them, how

many dark ages of the world have been brought to light; how many

names of men and places, how many customs and arts, that were

lost, restored! And by their means a few busts, images, stones,

bricks, coins, rings, and culinary utensils, the remaining wrecks

of long-past numerous centuries have supplied the place of written

documents, and cast a profusion of light on the history of man,

and the history of providence. And let me add, that the

providence which preserved these materials, and raised up men to

decipher and explain them, is itself gloriously illustrated by


Of all those men (and the noble list might be greatly swelled)

we may say the same that Moses said of Bezaleel and Aholiab: "GOD

hath filled them with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in

understanding, and in knowledge; and in all manner of workmanship,

to devise cunning works; to work in gold and in silver, and in

brass, in cutting of stones, carving of timber, and in all

manner of workmanship;" Ex 31:3-6. "The

works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have

pleasure therein;" Ps 111:2.

Verse 4. Breastplate] choshen. See Clarke on Ex 25:7.

Ephod] . See Clarke on Ex 25:7.

Robe] meil, from alah, to go up, go upon;

hence the meil may be considered as an upper coat, a surtout. It

is described by Josephus as a garment that reaches down to the

feet, not made of two distinct pieces, but was one entire long

garment, woven throughout. This was immediately under the ephod.

See Clarke on Ex 28:31, &c.

Broidered coat] kethoneth, tashbets, what Parkhurst

translates a close, strait coat or garment; according to Josephus,

"a tunic circumscribing or closely encompassing the body, and

having tight sleeves for the arms." This was immediately under

the meil or robe, and answered the same purpose to the priests

that our shirts do to us. See Clarke on Ex 28:13.

Mitre] mitsnepheth. As this word comes from the root

tsanaph, to roll or wrap round, it evidently means that

covering of the head so universal in the eastern countries which

we call turban or turband, corrupted from the Persian [Persic]

doolbend, which signifies what encompasses and binds the head or

body; and hence is applied, not only to this covering of the head,

but to a sash in general. As the Persian word is compounded of

[Persic] dool, or dawal, a revolution, vicissitude, wheel, &c.,

and [Persic] binden, to bind; it is very likely that the Hebrew

words dur, to go round, and benet, a band, may have

been the original of doolbend and turband. It is sometimes called

[Persiac] serbend, from [Persic] ser, the head, and [Persic]

binden, to bind. The turban consists generally of two parts:

the cap, which goes on the head; and the long sash of muslin,

linen, or silk, that is wrapped round the head. These sashes are

generally several yards in length.

A girdle] abnet, a belt or girdle; see before. This

seems to have been the same kind of sash or girdle, so common in

the eastern countries, that confined the loose garments about the

waist; and in which their long skirts were tucked up when they

were employed in work, or on a journey. After being tied round

the waist, the two ends of it fell down before, to the skirts of

their robes.

Verse 8. The curious girdle of the ephod] The word chesheb,

rendered here curious girdle, signifies merely a kind of diaper,

or embroidered work; (See Clarke on Ex 26:1;) and it is

widely different from abnet, which is properly translated

girdle, Ex 28:4. The meaning therefore of the text, according

to some, is this, that the two pieces, Ex 28:7, which connected

the parts of the ephod at the shoulders where the onyx stones were

set, should be of the same texture with the ephod itself, i.e., of

gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, embroidered

together. But others suppose that some kind of a girdle is meant,

different from the abnet, Ex 28:39, being only of

plain workmanship.

Verse 9. Two onyx stones] See Clarke on Ex 25:7.

Verse 11. Like the engravings of a signet] So signets or seals

were in use at this time, and engraving on precious stones was

then an art, and this art, which was one of the most elegant and

ornamental, was carried in ancient times to a very high pitch of

perfection, and particularly among the ancient Greeks; such a

pitch of perfection as has never been rivalled, and cannot now be

even well imitated. And it is very likely that the Greeks

themselves borrowed this art from the ancient Hebrews, as we know

it flourished in Egypt and Palestine long before it was known in


Verse 12. Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord] He was

to consider that he was the representative of the children of

Israel; and the stones on the ephod and the stones on the

breastplate were for a memorial to put Aaron in remembrance that

he was the priest and mediator of the twelve tribes; and, speaking

after the manner of men, God was to be put in mind of the children

of Israel, their wants, &c., as frequently as the high priest

appeared before him with the breastplate and the ephod. See

Ex 28:29.

Verse 13. Ouches of gold] mishbetsoth, strait places,

sockets to insert the stones in, from shabats, to close,

inclose, straiten. Socket, in this place, would be a more proper

translation, as ouch cannot be traced up to any legitimate

authority. It appears sometimes to signify a hook, or some mode

of attaching things together.

Verse 15. The breastplate of judgment] choshen

mishpat, the same as the choshen, see Ex 25:7, but here

called the breastplate of judgment, because the high priest wore

it upon his breast when he went to ask counsel of the Lord, to

give judgment in any particular case; as also when he sat as judge

to teach the law, and to determine controversies. See

Le 10:11; De 17:8, 9.

Verse 16. Four-square it shall be] Here we have the exact

dimensions of this breastplate, or more properly breast-piece or

stomacher. It was a span in length and breadth when doubled,

and consequently two spans long one way before it was doubled.

Between these doublings, it is supposed, the Urim and Thummim were

placed. See Clarke on Ex 28:30.

Verse 17. Four rows of stones] With a name on each stone,

making in all the twelve names of the twelve tribes. And as these

were disposed according to their birth, Ex 28:10, we may suppose

they stood in this order, the stones being placed also in the

order in which they are produced, Ex 28:17-20:-


Upon a Sardius or Ruby was engraven Reuben |

------ Topaz ------------ Simeon |

Carbuncle ------------ Levi |



Upon an Emerald was engraven Judah | Leah.

----- a Sapphire ------------ Issachar |

----- Diamond ------------ Zebulun |

Sons of


Upon a Ligure or Jacinth was engraven Dan |-Rachael's

------ Agate ------------ Naphtali |-maid.

------ Amethyst ------------ Gad |-Sons of



Upon a Beryl, or Crysolite was engraven Asher |-maid

------ Onyx, or Sardonyx ------------ Joseph |-Sons of

------ Jasper ------------ Benjamin |-Rachel.

In this order the Jews in general agree to place them. See the

Jerusalem Targum on this place, and the Targum upon Canticles,

So 5:14; and see also

Ainsworth. The Targum of Jonathan says, "These four rows were

placed opposite to the four quarters of the world; but this could

only be when laid down horizontally, for when it hung on the

breast of the high priest it could have had no such position. As

it is difficult to ascertain in every case what these precious

stones were, it may be necessary to consider this subject more at


1. A SARDIUS, odem, from the root adam, he was ruddy;

the ruby, a beautiful gem of a fine deep red colour. The sardius,

or sardie stones, is defined to be a precious stone of a blood-red

colour, the best of which come from Babylon.

2. A TOPAZ, pitdah, a precious stone of a pale dead green,

with a mixture of yellow, sometimes of a fine yellow; and hence it

was called chrysolite by the ancients, from its gold colour. It

is now considered by mineralogists as a variety of the sapphire.

3. CARBUNCLE, bareketh, from barak, to lighten,

glitter, or glister; a very elegant gem of a deep red colour,

with an admixture of scarlet. From its bright lively colour it

had the name carbunculus, which signifies a little coal; and among

the Greeks ανθραξ anthrax, a coal, because when held before the

sun it appears like a piece of bright burning charcoal. It is

found only in the East Indies, and there but rarely.

4. EMERALD, nophech, the same with the ancient smaragdus;

it is one of the most beautiful of all the gems, and is of a

bright green colour, without any other mixture. The true oriental

emerald is very scarce, and is only found at present in the

kingdom of Cambay.

5. SAPPHIRE, sappir. See this described, Ex 24:10.

6. DIAMOND, yahalom, from halam, to beat or

smite upon. The diamond is supposed to have this name from its

resistance to a blow, for the ancients have assured us that if

it be struck with a hammer, upon an anvil, it will not break, but

either break them or sink into the surface of that which is

softest. This is a complete fable, as it is well known that the

diamond can be easily broken, and is capable of being entirely

volatilized or consumed by the action of fire. It is, however, the

hardest, as it is the most valuable, of all the precious stones

hitherto discovered, and one of the most combustible substances in


7. LIGURE, leshem, the same as the jacinth or hyacinth;

a precious stone of a dead red or cinnamon colour, with a

considerable mixture of yellow.

8. AGATE, shebo. This is a stone that assumes such a

variety of hues and appearances, that Mr. Parkhurst thinks it

derives its name from the root shab, to turn, to change,

"as from the circumstance of the agate changing its appearance

without end, it might be called the varier." Agates are met with

so variously figured in their substance, that they seem to

represent the sky, the stars, clouds, earth, water, rocks,

villages, fortifications, birds, trees, flowers, men, and animals

of different kinds. Agates have a white, reddish, yellowish, or

greenish ground. They are only varieties of the flint, and the

lowest in value of all the precious stones.

9. AMETHYST, achlamah, a gem generally of a purple

colour, composed of a strong blue and deep red. The oriental

amethyst is sometimes of a dove colour, though some are purple,

and others white like diamonds. The name amethyst is Greek,

αμεθυστος, and it was so called because it was supposed that it

prevented inebriation.

10. The BERYL, tarshish. Mr. Parkhurst derives this name

from tar, to go round, and shash, to be vivid

or bright in colour. If the beryl be intended, it is a pellucid

gem of a bluish green colour, found in the East Indies, and about

the gold mines of Peru. But some of the most learned

mineralogists and critics suppose the chrysolite to be meant.

This is a gem of a yellowish green colour, and ranks at present

among the topazes. Its name in Greek, chrysolite, χρυσολιθος,

literally signifies the golden stone.

11. The ONYX, shoham.

See Clarke on Ge 2:12; and "Ex 25:7".

There are a great number of different sentiments on the meaning of

the original; it has been translated

beryl, emerald, prasius, sapphire, sardius, ruby, cornelian,

onyx, and sardonyx. It is likely that the name may signify both

the onyx and sardonyx. This latter stone is a mixture of the

chalcedony and cornelian, sometimes in strata, at other times

blended together, and is found striped with white and red strata

or layers. It is generally allowed that there is no real

difference, except in the degree of hardness, between the onyx,

cornelian, chalcedony, sardonyx, and agate. It is well known that

the onyx is of a darkish horny colour, resembling the hoof or

nail, from which circumstance it has its name. It has often a

plate of a bluish white or red in it, and when on one or both

sides of this white there appears a plate of a reddish colour, the

jewellers, says Woodward, call the stone a sardonyx.

12. JASPER, yashepheh. The similarity of the Hebrew name

has determined most critics and mineralogists to adopt the jasper

as intended by the original word. The jasper is usually defined a

hard stone, of a beautiful bright green colour, sometimes clouded

with white, and spotted with red or yellow. Mineralogists

reckon not less than fifteen varieties of this stone: 1. green; 2.

red; 3. yellow; 4. brown; 5. violet; 6. black; 7.

bluish grey; 8. milky white; 9. variegated with green, red,

and yellow clouds; 10. green with red specks; 11. veined

with various colours, apparently in the form of letters; 12. with

variously coloured zones; 13. with various colours mixed without

any order; 14. with many colours together; 15. mixed with

particles of agate. It can scarcely be called a precious stone;

it is rather a dull opaque rock.

In examining what has been said on these different precious

stones by the best critics, I have adopted such explanations as

appeared to me to be best justified by the meaning and use of the

original words; but I cannot say that the stones which I have

described are precisely those intended by the terms in the Hebrew

text, nor can I take upon me to assert that the tribes are

arranged exactly in the manner intended by Moses; for as these

things are not laid down in the text in such a way as to preclude

all mistake, some things must be left to conjecture. Of several

of these stones many fabulous accounts are given by the ancients,

and indeed by the moderns also: these I have in general omitted

because they are fabulous; as also all spiritual meanings which

others have found so plentifully in each stone, because I consider

some of them puerile, all futile, and not a few dangerous.

Verse 30. Thou shalt put in the breastplate-the Urim and the

Thummim] What these were has, I believe, never yet been

discovered. 1. They are nowhere described. 2. There is no

direction given to Moses or any other how to make them. 3.

Whatever they were, they do not appear to have been made on this

occasion. 4. If they were the work of man at all, they must have

been the articles in the ancient tabernacle, matters used by the

patriarchs, and not here particularly described, because well

known. 5. It is probable that nothing material is designed. This

is the opinion of some of the Jewish doctors. Rabbi Menachem on

this chapter says, "The Urim and Thummim were not the work of the

artificer; neither had the artificers or the congregation of

Israel in them any work or any voluntary offering; but they were a

mystery delivered to Moses from the mouth of God, or they were the

work of God himself, or a measure of the Holy Spirit." 6. That

God was often consulted by Urim and Thummim, is sufficiently

evident from several scriptures; but how or in what manner he

was thus consulted appears in none. 7. This mode of consultation,

whatever it was, does not appear to have been in use from the

consecration of Solomon's temple to the time of its destruction;

and after its destruction it is never once mentioned. Hence the

Jews say that the five following things, which were in the first

temple, were wanting in the second: "1. The ark with the

mercy-seat and cherubim; 2. The fire which came down from

heaven; 3. The shechinah or Divine presence; 4. The Holy Spirit,

i.e., the gift of prophecy; and 5. The Urim and Thummim."

8. As the word urim signifies LIGHTS, and the word

tummim, PERFECTIONS, they were probably designed to point out

the light-the abundant information, in spiritual things, afforded

by the wonderful revelation which God made of himself by and under

the LAW; and the perfection-entire holiness and strict conformity

to himself, which this dispensation required, and which are

introduced and accomplished by that dispensation of light and

truth, the GOSPEL, which was prefigured and pointed out by the

law and its sacrifices, &c.; and in this light the subject has

been viewed by the Vulgate, where the words are translated

doctrina et veritas, doctrine and truth-a system of teaching

proceeding from truth itself. The Septuagint translate the

original by δηλωσιςκαιαληθεια, the manifestation and the truth;

meaning probably the manifestation which God made of himself to

Moses and the Israelites, and the truth which he had revealed to

them, of which this breastplate should be a continual memorial.

All the other versions express nearly the same things, and all

refer to intellectual and spiritual subjects, such as light,

truth, manifestation, doctrine, perfection, &c., &c., not one of

them supposing that any thing material is intended. The Samaritan

text is however different; it adds here a whole clause not found

in the Hebrew: [Samaritan] veasitha eth haurim veeth hattummim,

Thou shalt make the Urim and the Thummim. If this reading be

admitted, the Urim and Thummim were manufactured on this occasion

as well as the other articles. However it be, they are

indescribable and unknown.

The manner in which the Jews suppose that the inquiry was made

by Urim and Thummim is the following: "When they inquired the

priest stood with his face before the ark, and he that inquired

stood behind him with his face to the back of the priest; and the

inquirer said, Shall I go up? or, Shall I not go up? And

forthwith the Holy Ghost came upon the priest, and he beheld the

breastplate, and saw therein by the vision of prophecy, Go up, or

Go not up, in the letters which showed forth themselves upon the

breastplate before his face." See Nu 27:18, 21; Jud 1:1;

Jud 20:18, 28; 1Sa 23:9-12; 28:6; and see


It was the letters that formed the names of the twelve tribes

upon the breastplate, which the Jews suppose were used in a

miraculous way to give answers to the inquirers. Thus when David

consulted the Lord whether he should go into a city of Judea,

three letters which constituted the word aloh, GO, rose up or

became prominent in the names on the breastplate; ain, from the

name of Simeon, lamed from the name of Levi, and he

from the name of Judah. But this supposition is without proof.

Among the Egyptians, a breastplate something like that of the

Jewish high-priest was worn by the president of the courts of

justice. Diodorus Siculus has these words: εφορειδουτοςπερι


λιθωνοπροσηγορευοναληθειαν. "He bore about his neck a golden

chain, at which hung an image set about with or composed of

precious stones, which was called TRUTH."-Bib. Hist., lib. i.,

chap. lxxv., p. 225. And he farther adds, "that as soon as the

president put this gold chain about his neck, the legal

proceedings commenced, but not before. And that when the case of

the plaintiff and defendant had been fully and fairly heard, the

president turned the image of truth, which was hung to the golden

chain round his neck, toward the person whose cause was found to

be just," by which he seemed to intimate that truth was on his


AElian, in his Hist. Var., lib. xxxiv., gives the same account.

"The chief justice or president," he says, "was always a priest,

of a venerable age and acknowledged probity. ειχεδεκαιαγαλμα


And he had an image which was called TRUTH engraved on a sapphire,

and hung about his neck with a gold chain."

Peter du Val mentions a mummy which he saw at Cairo, in Egypt,

round the neck of which was a chain, having a golden plate

suspended, which lay on the breast of the person, and on which was

engraved the figure of a bird. This person was supposed to have

been one of the supreme judges; and in all likelihood the bird, of

what kind he does not mention, was the emblem of truth, justice,

or innocence.

I have now before me paintings, taken on the spot by a native

Chinese, of the different courts in China where criminal causes

were tried. In these the judge always appears with a piece of

embroidery on his breast, on which a white bird of the ardea or

heron kind is represented, with expanded wings. All these seem

to have been derived from the same source, both among the Hebrews,

the Egyptians, and the Chinese. And it is certainly not

impossible that the two latter might have borrowed the notion and

use of the breastplate of judgment from the Hebrews, as it was in

use among them long before we have any account of its use either

among the Egyptians or Chinese. The different mandarins have a

breast-piece of this kind.

Verse 31. The robe of the ephod] See Clarke on Ex 28:4. From

this description, and from what Josephus says, who must have been

well acquainted with its form, we find that this meil, or robe,

was one long straight piece of blue cloth, with a hole or opening

in the centre for the head to pass through; which hole or opening

was bound about, that it might not be rent in putting it on or

taking it off, Ex 28:32.

Verse 35. His sound shall be heard] The bells were doubtless

intended to keep up the people's attention to the very solemn and

important office which the priest was then performing, that they

might all have their hearts engaged in the work; and at the same

time to keep Aaron himself in remembrance that he ministered

before Jehovah, and should not come into his presence without

due reverence.

That he die not.] This seems an allusion to certain ceremonies

which still prevail in the eastern countries. Jehovah appeared

among his people in the tabernacle as an emperor in his tent among

his troops. At the doors of the tents or palaces of grandees was

generally placed some sonorous body, either of metal or wood,

which was struck to advertise those within that a person prayed

for admittance to the presence of the king, &c. As the tabernacle

had no door, but a veil, and consequently nothing to prevent any

person from going in, Aaron was commanded to put the bells on his

robe, that his sound might be heard when he went into the holy

place before the Lord.

Verse 36. Thou shalt make a plate of pure gold] The word

tsits, which we render plate, means a flower, or any appearance

of this kind, The Septuagint translate it by πεταλον, a leaf;

hence we might be led to infer that this plate resembled a wreath

of flowers or leaves; and as it is called, Ex 29:6,

nezer, a crown, and the author of the book of

Wisdom 18:24, who was a Jew, and may be supposed to know well

what it was, calls it διαδημα, it was probably of the form, not of

the ancient diadem, but rather of the radiated crown worn by the

ancient Roman emperors, which was a gold band that went round the

head from the vertex to the occiput; but the position of the

Jewish sacerdotal crown was different, as that went round the

forehead, under which there was a blue lace or fillet,

Ex 28:37, which was probably attached to the

mitre or turban, and formed its lowest part or border.

HOLINESS TO THE LORD.] This we may consider as the grand badge

of the sacerdotal office. 1. The priest was to minister in holy

things. 2. He was the representative of a holy God. 3. He was to

offer sacrifices to make an atonement for and to put away SIN.

4. He was to teach the people the way of righteousness and true

holiness. 5. As mediator, he was to obtain for them those Divine

influences by which they should be made holy, and be prepared to

dwell with holy spirits in the kingdom of glory. 6. In the

sacerdotal office he was the type of that holy and just ONE who,

in the fulness of time, was to come and put away sin by the

sacrifice of himself.

It is allowed on all hands that this inscription was, in the

primitive Hebrew character, such as appears upon ancient shekels,

and such as was used before the Babylonish captivity, and probably

from the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. The Kodesh

Laihovah, of the present Hebrew text, would in those ancient

characters appear thus:-

[Ancient Hebrew] See image 2000001

which, in the modern Samaritan character, evidently derived from

that above, is as follows: [Samaritan]. And the word [Samaritan]

in this ancient and original character is the famous

Tetragrammaton, or word of four letters, which, to the present

day, the Jews will neither write nor pronounce. The Jews teach

that these letters were embossed on the gold, and not engraven

in it, and that the plate on which they were embossed was about

two fingers broad, and that it occupied a space on the forehead

between the hair and the eyebrows. But it is most likely that it

was attached to the lower part of the mitre.

Verse 38. May bear the iniquity of the holy things]

venasa Aharon eth avon hakkodashim. And Aaron

shall bear (in a vicarious and typical manner) the sin of the holy

or separated things-offerings or sacrifices. Aaron was, as the

high priest of the Jews, the type or representative of our blessed

Redeemer; and as he offered the sacrifices prescribed by the law

to make an atonement for sin, and was thereby represented as

bearing their sins because he was bound to make an atonement for

them; so Christ is represented as bearing their sins, i.e., the

punishment due to the sins of the world, in his becoming a

sacrifice for the human race. See Isa 53:4,12, where the same

verb, nasa, is used; and see 1Pe 2:24. By the inscription

on the plate on his forehead Aaron was acknowledged as the holy

minister of the holy God. To the people's services and their

offerings much imperfection was attached, and therefore Aaron was

represented, not only as making an atonement in general for the

sins of the people by the sacrifices they brought, but also as

making an atonement for the imperfection of the atonement itself,

and the manner in which it was brought.

It shall be always upon his forehead] The plate inscribed with

Holiness to the Lord should be always on his forehead, to teach

that the law required holiness; that this was its aim, design, and

end: and the same is required by the Gospel; for under this

dispensation it is expressly said, Without holiness no man shall

see the Lord;

Heb 12:14.

Verse 40. For glory and for beauty.]

See Clarke on Ex 28:2.

Verse 42. Linen breeches] This command had in view the

necessity of purity and decency in every part of the Divine

worship, in opposition to the shocking indecency of the pagan

worship in general, in which the priests often ministered naked,

as in the sacrifices to Bacchus, &c.

ON the garments of the high priest some general reflections have

already been made; see Ex 28:2:

See Clarke on Ex 28:2. and to what is there said it may

be just necessary to add, that there can be no doubt of their

being all emblematical of spiritual things; but of which, and in

what way, no man can positively say. Many commentators have

entered largely into this subject, and have made many edifying and

useful remarks; but where no clue is given to guide us through a

labyrinth in which the possibility of mistake is every moment

occurring, it is much better not to attempt to be wise above what

is written; for however edifying the reflections may be which are

made on these subjects, yet, as they are not clearly deducible

from the text itself, they can give little satisfaction to a

sincere inquirer after truth. These garments were all made for

glory and for beauty, and this is the general account that it

has pleased God to give of their nature and design: in a general

sense, they represented, 1. The necessity of purity in every part

of the Divine worship; 2. The necessity of an atonement for sin;

3. The purity and justice of the Divine Majesty; and, 4. The

absolute necessity of that holiness without which none can see the

Lord. And these subjects should be diligently kept in view by all

those who wish to profit by the curious and interesting details

given in this chapter. In the notes these topics are frequently


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