Exodus 28

The Priestly Garments

1 "Have your brother Aaron, with his sons, come to you from the Israelites to serve Me as priest-Aaron, his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
2 Make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and beauty.
3 You are to instruct all the skilled craftsmen,[a] whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron's garments for consecrating him to serve Me as priest.
4 These are the garments that they must make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a specially woven tunic,[b] a turban, and a sash. They are to make holy garments for your brother Aaron and his sons so that they may serve Me as priests.
5 They should use[c] gold; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; and fine linen.

The Ephod

6 "They are to make the ephod of finely spun linen embroidered with gold, and with blue, purple, and scarlet yarn.
7 It must have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges so that it can be joined together.
8 The artistically woven waistband that is on the ephod[d] must be of one piece,[e] according to the same workmanship of gold, of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of finely spun linen.
9 "Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of Israel's sons:
10 six of their names on the first stone and the remaining six names on the second stone, in the order of their birth.
11 Engrave the two stones with the names of Israel's sons as a gem cutter engraves a seal. Mount them, surrounded with gold filigree settings.
12 Fasten both stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the Israelites. Aaron will carry their names on his two shoulders before the Lord as a reminder.
13 Fashion gold filigree settings
14 and two chains of pure gold; you will make them of braided cord work, and attach the cord chains to the settings.

The Breastpiece

15 "You are to make an embroidered breastpiece for decisions.[f] Make it with the same workmanship as the ephod; make it of gold, of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of finely spun linen.
16 It must be square and folded double, nine inches long and nine inches wide.[g]
17 Place a setting of gemstones[h] on it, four rows of stones: The first row should be a row of carnelian, topaz, and emerald;[i]
18 the second row, a turquoise,[j] a sapphire,[k] and a diamond;[l]
19 the third row, a jacinth,[m] an agate, and an amethyst;
20 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They should be adorned with gold filigree in their settings.
21 The 12 stones are to correspond to the names of Israel's sons. Each stone must be engraved like a seal, with one of the names of the 12 tribes.
22 "You are to make braided chains[n] of pure gold cord work for the breastpiece.
23 Fashion two gold rings for the breastpiece and attach them to its two corners.
24 Then attach the two gold cords to the two gold rings at the corners of the breastpiece.
25 Attach the other ends of the two cords to the two filigree settings and in this way attach [them] to the ephod's shoulder pieces in the front.
26 Make two [other] gold rings and put them at the two other corners of the breastpiece on the edge that is next to the inner border of the ephod.
27 Make two [more] gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the ephod's two shoulder pieces on its front, close to its seam,[o] and above the ephod's woven waistband.
28 The craftsmen are to tie the breastpiece from its rings to the rings of the ephod with a cord of blue yarn, so that the breastpiece is above the ephod's waistband and does not come loose from the ephod.
29 "Whenever he enters the sanctuary, Aaron is to carry the names of Israel's sons over his heart on the breastpiece for decisions, as a continual reminder before the Lord.
30 Place the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece for decisions, so that they will also be over Aaron's heart whenever he comes before the Lord. Aaron will continually carry the [means of] decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.

The Robe

31 "You are to make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue yarn.
32 There should be an opening at its top in the center of it. Around the opening, there should be a woven collar with an opening like that for body armor[p] so that it does not tear.
33 Make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn[q] on its lower hem and all around it. Put gold bells between them all the way around,
34 [so that] gold bells and pomegranates alternate around the lower hem of the robe.
35 The robe must be [worn by] Aaron whenever he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he enters the sanctuary before the Lord and when he exits, so that he does not die.

The Turban

36 "You are to make a plate[r] of pure gold and engrave it, like the engraving of a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD
37 Fasten it to a cord of blue yarn so it can be placed on the turban; the plate is to be on the front of the turban.
38 It will be on Aaron's forehead so that Aaron may bear the guilt connected with the holy offerings that the Israelites consecrate as all their holy gifts. It is always to be on his forehead, so that they may find acceptance with the Lord.

Other Priestly Garments

39 "You are to weave the tunic from fine linen, make a turban of fine linen, and make an embroidered sash.
40 Make tunics, sashes, and headbands for Aaron's sons to [give them] glory and beauty.
41 Put these on your brother Aaron and his sons; then anoint, ordain,[s] and consecrate them, so that they may serve Me as priests.
42 Make them linen undergarments to cover [their] naked bodies; they must extend from the waist[t] to the thighs.
43 These must be [worn by] Aaron and his sons whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary [area], so that they do not incur guilt and die. This is to be a permanent statute for Aaron and for his descendants after him.

Exodus 28 Commentary

Chapter 28

Aaron and his sons set apart for the priest's office, Their garments. (1-5) The ephod. (6-14) The breastplate, The Urim and Thummim. (15-30) The robe of the ephod, The plate of the mitre. (31-39) The garments for Aaron's sons. (40-43)

Verses 1-5 Hitherto the heads of families were the priests, and offered sacrifices; but now this office was confined to the family of Aaron only; and so continued till the gospel dispensation. The holy garments not only distinguished the priests from the people, but were emblems of that holy conduct which should ever be the glory and beauty, the mark of the ministers of religion, without which their persons and ministrations will be had in contempt. They also typified the glory of the Divine majesty, and the beauty of complete holiness, which rendered Jesus Christ the great High Priest. But our adorning under the gospel, is not to be of gold and costly array, but the garments of salvation, the robe of righteousness.

Verses 6-14 This richly-wrought ephod was the outmost garment of the high priest; plain linen ephods were worn by the inferior priests. It was a short coat without sleeves, fastened close to the body with a girdle. The shoulder-pieces were buttoned together with precious stones set in gold, one on each shoulder, on which were engraven the names of the children of Israel. Thus Christ, our High Priest, presents his people before the Lord for a memorial. As Christ's coat had no seam, but was woven from the top throughout, so it was with the ephod. The golden bells on this ephod, by their preciousness and pleasant sound, well represent the good profession that the saints make, and the pomegranates the fruit they bring forth.

Verses 15-30 The chief ornament of the high priest, was the breastplate, a rich piece of cloth, curiously worked. The name of each tribe was graven in a precious stone, fixed in the breastplate, to signify how precious, in God's sight, believers are, and how honourable. How small and poor soever the tribe was, it was as a precious stone in the breastplate of the high priest; thus are all the saints dear to Christ, however men esteem them. The high priest had the names of the tribes, both on his shoulders and on his breast, which reminds us of the power and the love with which our Lord Jesus pleads for those that are his. He not only bears them up in his arms with almighty strength, but he carries them in his bosom with tender affection. What comfort is this to us in all our addresses to God! The Urim and Thummim, by which the will of God was made known in doubtful cases, were put in this breastplate. Urim and Thummim signify light and integrity. There are many conjectures what these were; the most probable opinion seems to be, that they were the twelve precious stones in the high priest's breastplate. Now, Christ is our Oracle. By him God, in these last days, makes known himself and his mind to us, Heb. 1:1, Heb. 1:2 ; Joh. 1:18 . He is the true Light, the faithful Witness, the Truth itself, and from him we receive the Spirit of Truth, who leads into all truth.

Verses 31-39 The robe of the ephod was under the ephod, and reached down to the knees, without sleeves. Aaron must minister in the garments appointed. We must serve the Lord with holy fear, as those who know they deserve to die. A golden plate was fixed on Aaron's forehead, engraven with "Holiness to the Lord." Aaron was hereby reminded that God is holy, and that his priests must be holy, devoted to the Lord. This must appear in their forehead, in open profession of their relation to God. It must be engraven like the engravings of a signet; deep and durable; not painted so as to be washed off, but firm and lasting; such must our holiness to the Lord be. Christ is our High Priest; through him sins are forgiven to us, and not laid to our charge. Our persons, our doings, are pleasing to God upon the account of Christ, and not otherwise.

Verses 40-43 The priest's garments typify the righteousness of Christ. If we appear not before God in that, we shall bear our iniquity, and die. Blessed is he, therefore, that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, ( Revelation 16:15 ) . And blessed be God that we have a High Priest, appointed of God, and set apart for his work; furnished for his high office by the glory of his Divine majesty, and the beauty of perfect holiness. Happy are we, if by the law spiritually understood, we see that such a High Priest became us; that we cannot draw near to a holy God, or be accepted, but by him. There is no light, no wisdom, no perfection, but from him; no glory, no beauty, but in being like unto him. Let us take encouragement from the power, love, and compassion of our High Priest, to draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Footnotes 20

  • [a]. Lit all wise of heart
  • [b]. Hb obscure
  • [c]. Lit receive
  • [d]. Lit waistband of its ephod, which is on it
  • [e]. Lit piece with the ephod
  • [f]. Used for determining God's will; Nm 27:21
  • [g]. Lit a span its length and a span its width
  • [h]. Many of these stones cannot be identified with certainty.
  • [i]. Or beryl
  • [j]. Or malachite, or garnet
  • [k]. Or lapis lazuli
  • [l]. Hb obscure; LXX, Vg read jasper
  • [m]. Hb obscure
  • [n]. The same chains mentioned in v. 14
  • [o]. The place where the shoulder pieces join the front of the ephod
  • [p]. Hb obscure
  • [q]. Sam, LXX add of finely spun linen
  • [r]. Or medallion
  • [s]. Lit anoint them, fill their hand
  • [t]. Lit loins

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 28

This chapter informs us of the servants God would have to minister to him in the house, or tabernacle, he had ordered to be made, even Aaron and his sons, Ex 28:1 of the garments they were to wear in their service, Ex 28:2-5 and first of the garments of the high priest, and particularly of the ephod, with the girdle, on the shoulder pieces of which were to be two onyx stones, with the names of the children of Israel engraved on them, Ex 28:6-14, and that of the breastplate of judgment, with the Urim and Thummum in it, Ex 28:15-30 and of the robe of the ephod, Ex 28:31-35, and of the mitre, Ex 28:36-39 and then of the garments of the common priests, Ex 28:40-43.

Exodus 28 Commentaries