A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a
First a golden bell and then a pomegranate, then a bell and then a pomegranate again, and so on:
upon the hem of the robe round about;
all round the hem or skirts of the robe were they placed in this manner: the Targum of Jonathan says, the sum or number of them were seventy one; but Maimonides F3 says there were seventy two, thirty six in each skirt; and so says R. Levi Ben Gersom; but Clemens of Alexandria F4 has increased the number to three hundred and sixty six, according to the days of the year, and thinks they signified the acceptable year of the Lord proclaiming and resounding the great appearance of the Saviour: "golden bells" may denote either the intercession of Christ in heaven, which if not vocal, as on earth, has a speech or sound in it, which is understood: his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, call aloud for peace and pardon, and it is a sound that is always heard with delight; the matter of them being gold may denote the preciousness and excellency of Christ's intercession, and the duration of it; and being on the hem of the robe shows that Christ's righteousness is that on which his intercession depends, and from whence it has its efficacy: or else these bells may be an emblem of the Gospel, as preached by Christ himself, and by his apostles and ministers, compared to "bells" for sound; the sound of the Gospel being a sound of love, grace, mercy, peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; a joyful sound, like that of the jubilee, an even and certain one, different from that of the law, and exceeding musical and delightful; and to "golden" bells for the preciousness of it, and its truths, and for its duration; and being on the hem of the robe may signify that in the Gospel the righteousness of Christ is revealed and pointed at, and that faith in this righteousness comes hereby; "the pomegranates" on Aaron might be an emblem of his priesthood, and of the ceremonial law, and of the good things they were shadows and types of; and of Christ himself, and of the virtue, odour, and fragrancy of his sufferings, sacrifice, and intercession; and also of the church, called an orchard of pomegranates, ( Song of Solomon 4:13 ) consisting of various members, as the pomegranate of various grains; the juice of which the blood of Christ may resemble, in which those members swim and are washed; and who are of a grateful odour to God, and are surrounded by his power and love; and their hanging upon the hem of the robe may signify the acceptableness of them through the righteousness, sacrifice, and mediation of Christ, and the fruits of good works, which both the righteousness of Christ and the Gospel produce; and particularly the bells and pomegranates may signify that sound doctrine and a savoury life and conversation should go together in the priests of the Lord, in the ministers of his word.
F3 Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 4.
F4 Stromat. l. 5. p. 564.