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Exodus 28-29 Listen
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1 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.
2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
3 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.
4 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.
5 And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.
6 And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
7 It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.
8 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.
9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:
10 Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth.
11 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.
12 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.
13 And thou shalt make ouches of gold;
14 And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.
15 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
43 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.
We saw the specifications for the Tabernacle in Exodus 25-27 (see notes). Now, Aaron and his sons get tapped to be the priests of Israel, with Aaron serving as the high priest. The ceremony takes place in Leviticus 8 (see notes). His four sons are Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Just to give you a preview, Nadab and Abihu get cut short in Leviticus 10:1-2 (see notes), leaving only Eleazar and Ithamar to serve with their father Aaron. In this chapter we have a description of the special clothing to be worn by Aaron (the High Priest) and his sons. Aaron's wardrobe was beautiful. Notice Exodus 28:2, "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." His clothing was supposed to be impressive looking.
Aaron would appear before God in the Most Holy Place on behalf of all the Hebrews. Notice that he wore the names of all the Tribes of Israel on his chest in Exodus 28:29, "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." Incidentally, the KJV term "curious girdle" in verse 28 comes from the Hebrew word "khay´-sheb" and means "intricately woven." The 17th century definition for "curious" included "extremely careful; scrupulous."
Now for the special addition to the breastplate of the High Priest in Exodus 28:30, "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aarons 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." These additions to Aaron's breastplate disappeared at the time of the fall to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. At that time, the Ark of the Covenant (in the Most Holy Place i.e. Holy of Holies) was vanished as well. Neither were restored back to the rebuild of the temple after the exiles returned to Jerusalem. Hence, though they returned to Jerusalem in 535 B.C. (the fall in Jerusalem was consummated in 586 B.C.), worship was never restored to its Aaronic style. Many believe that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden prior to the Babylonian attack.
And think, some people complain about punching a time clock. How would you like to have bells hanging from your clothing that broadcast every movement you make? That's exactly what Aaron had. Why? Look at Exodus 28:35, "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." The people outside knew he was working because the bells were ringing. As you can see, if the bells stopped ringing before he emerged from the Holy Place...well...that would be problematic. It is interesting to note that on the one day of the year (Day of Atonement) when the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place, he wore different clothing which he changed into while still standing in the Holy Place (Leviticus 16:4, 23-24, see notes). The people never saw him in this special clothing on the Day of Atonement. By the way, the Day of Atonement was the only time the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies.
Incidentally, there is an oft-repeated, yet untrue addition to this procedure that a rope was tied to the high priest's ankle for the purpose of pulling the dead man out if the bells stopped ringing. Obviously it's an embellishment based upon Exodus 28:35, but there is absolutely no Biblical record nor Jewish tradition that this ever took place. As a matter of fact, careful examination of the Biblical specifications shows this notion to be impossible, inasmuch as the priest shed the robe with the bells and changed into the special bell-less garment prior to entering the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:4, 23-24, see notes).
Here's an interesting verse: Exodus 28:42, "And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:" Special underwear was provided for the priests doing work in the tabernacle. This was a garment that covered them from the waist down to their thighs. And what was the purpose for this special undergarment? Verse 43 says, "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." No immodesty permitted in the process of serving in the tabernacle.
Hey! What about shoes? An elaborate-looking outfit like that must have some fabulous shoes with it; right? With all the exact descriptions given in this passage, where's the description of the shoes? Obviously, they wore none; they wore no shoes when they ministered in the tabernacle, and we'll see a confirmation of this in chapter 29 (see below) where blood is placed upon their big toes during consecration. Remember what God said to Moses from the burning bush? Exodus 3:5 (see notes), "And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." It seems only appropriate that the priests wear no shoes when they stand on the holy ground of the tabernacle.
1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,
2 And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.
3 And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.
4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.
5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:
6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.
7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them.
9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest’s office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.
10 And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.
11 And thou shalt kill the bullock before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
12 And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar.
13 And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar.
14 But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.
15 Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
16 And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.
17 And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head.
18 And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
19 And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
20 Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
21 And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.
22 Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:
23 And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD:
24 And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
25 And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the LORD: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
26 And thou shalt take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD: and it shall be thy part.
27 And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:
28 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the LORD.
29 And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them.
30 And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place.
31 And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place.
32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
34 And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.
35 And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.
36 And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.
37 Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.
38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.
39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:
40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.
41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.
45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.
This is not your typical ribbon-cutting ceremony. You don't need to get very far into this chapter to realize that this consecration is going to involve animal sacrifice and blood. This is not a new concept to us; at least one animal was sacrificed all the way back in Genesis 3:21 (see notes) to provide clothing for Adam and Eve after they sinned in the garden. Abel, Noah, Abraham - all made animal sacrifices before God. It was a concept with which all the patriarchs were familiar and practiced with regularity. However, this is different. God's new house has a rather large brazen altar designed for the specific purpose of making volume sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel. Just so there's no misunderstanding the character of their worship, God instructs Moses to consecrate everything having to do with Israel's worship with blood sacrifices. It would appear from this passage that this initial dedication of the tabernacle and the priests was a seven-day ceremony (verse 37).
The first 28 verses in this chapter deal specifically with the consecration of Aaron's sons. Notice that they are washed in verse 4, anointed in verse 7 and we see the sacrificing that was done on their behalf in 10-28. The word "consecrate" in the Hebrew means to "fill" or to "fill one's hand." Literally, this consecration resulted in Aaron and his sons being filled with authority on behalf of the Hebrews. Notice all the places where this blood is sprinkled. It is even sprinkled on the priestly garments, their right ear and their right big toes. I think this confirms that the priests wore no shoes in their priestly duties, don't you? Now wait a minute; let me get this straight. The priests were washed in verse 4, but then stained up again with sacrificial blood along with their garments. I'm going out on a limb here when I speculate that those garments never came completely clean of the blood - beautiful garments, but blood stained right from the beginning. You'll notice in verse 10 that before the bull is slain, Aaron and his sons must lay hands on him. Let there be no question; this bull was slain on their behalf. The same procedure was followed with the ram.
Notice that not all of the bullock sacrifice was burned at the altar (verses 10-14). Most of it had to be taken outside the camp and burned there; that couldn't have been a very pleasant job. The ritual with the two rams was a little different; the whole thing was sacrificed in the tabernacle. With the intentional sprinkling of the blood of the second ram (verse 21), I can assure you that their garments were covered with blood at the end of this ceremony.
Then there's a third part of this offering ceremony, the wave offering involving bread and part of the lamb which are held up before the Lord before they sit down and have a nice lamb meal. So, let's get this straight: the Hebrews are living off of manna while Aaron and his sons are feasting on lamb everyday for a week. Well, what can I say - the job did have its perks. What about the leftovers? Nope - look at verse 33, "...but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy."
Now notice Exodus 29:37, "Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy." Why was the procedure so long to "sanctify" the altar? Let's firmly fix this in the minds of the Hebrews and in our minds: Blood is used to sanctify from sin. Leviticus 17:11 (see notes) says, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." This was supposed to make a big impression on the Hebrews. It is clear to us that Jesus shedding his blood as the perfect, spotless Lamb of God was the only acceptable means for our redemption. Everything done here simply foreshadows the necessity of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would later make by shedding his own blood.
For additional information on these sacrifices, click here to see the notes on Levitical sacrificing.