Exodus 28

The Priestly Garments

1 “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests.
2 Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.
3 Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.
4 These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests.
5 Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.

The Ephod

6 “Make the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen—the work of skilled hands.
7 It is to have two shoulder pieces attached to two of its corners, so it can be fastened.
8 Its skillfully woven waistband is to be like it—of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen.
9 “Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel
10 in the order of their birth—six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other.
11 Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings
12 and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD.
13 Make gold filigree settings
14 and two braided chains of pure gold, like a rope, and attach the chains to the settings.

The Breastpiece

15 “Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen.
16 It is to be square—a span[a] long and a span wide—and folded double.
17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl;
18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald;
19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst;
20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[b] Mount them in gold filigree settings.
21 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
22 “For the breastpiece make braided chains of pure gold, like a rope.
23 Make two gold rings for it and fasten them to two corners of the breastpiece.
24 Fasten the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece,
25 and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front.
26 Make two gold rings and attach them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod.
27 Make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod.
28 The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod.
29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the LORD.
30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD.

Other Priestly Garments

31 “Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth,
32 with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar[c] around this opening, so that it will not tear.
33 Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.
34 The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe.
35 Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.
36 “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD.
37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban.
38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the LORD.
39 “Weave the tunic of fine linen and make the turban of fine linen. The sash is to be the work of an embroiderer.
40 Make tunics, sashes and caps for Aaron’s sons to give them dignity and honor.
41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.
42 “Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh.
43 Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die. “This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants.

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.

Cross References 43

  • 1. Leviticus 8:30; Psalms 99:6; Hebrews 5:4
  • 2. S Exodus 6:23; Exodus 24:9
  • 3. S Exodus 6:23
  • 4. Leviticus 8:2; Leviticus 21:1; Numbers 18:1-7; Deuteronomy 18:5; 1 Samuel 2:28; Hebrews 5:1
  • 5. Exodus 29:5,29; Exodus 31:10; Exodus 35:19; Exodus 39:1; Lev 8:7-9,30; Leviticus 16:32; Numbers 20:26-28
  • 6. ver 40
  • 7. Exodus 31:6; Exodus 35:10,25,35; Exodus 36:1
  • 8. Exodus 31:3; Deuteronomy 34:9; Isaiah 11:2; 1 Corinthians 12:8; S Ephesians 1:17
  • 9. ver 15-30
  • 10. S Exodus 25:7
  • 11. ver 31-35
  • 12. ver 39; Leviticus 10:5
  • 13. ver 37
  • 14. Exodus 25:4
  • 15. S Exodus 25:7
  • 16. Exodus 29:5
  • 17. Song of Songs 8:6; Isaiah 49:16; Haggai 2:23
  • 18. Deuteronomy 33:12; Job 31:36
  • 19. ver 29; Exodus 30:16; Numbers 10:10; Numbers 31:54; Joshua 4:7; Zechariah 6:14
  • 20. S Exodus 25:7
  • 21. Ezekiel 28:13; Revelation 21:19-20
  • 22. Ezekiel 1:16; Ezekiel 10:9; Daniel 10:6
  • 23. Joshua 4:8
  • 24. Revelation 21:12
  • 25. ver 43; ver 12
  • 26. Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; 1 Samuel 28:6; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65
  • 27. Numbers 13:23; 1 Samuel 14:2; 1 Kings 7:18; Song of Songs 4:3; Jeremiah 52:22; Joel 1:12; Haggai 2:19
  • 28. ver 37; Exodus 29:6; Leviticus 8:9
  • 29. Zechariah 14:20
  • 30. Leviticus 5:1; Leviticus 10:17; Leviticus 16:22; Leviticus 22:9,16; Numbers 18:1; Isa 53:5,6,11; Ezekiel 4:4-6; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24
  • 31. S Genesis 32:20; Leviticus 22:20,27; Leviticus 23:11; Isaiah 56:7
  • 32. ver 4
  • 33. Exodus 29:6; Leviticus 16:4; Ezekiel 24:17,23; Ezekiel 44:18
  • 34. ver 4; Exodus 29:8-9; Exodus 39:41; Exodus 40:14; Leviticus 8:13
  • 35. ver 2
  • 36. Exodus 40:13
  • 37. Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 6:20; Leviticus 10:7; Leviticus 21:12; Numbers 35:25
  • 38. Exodus 29:7-9; Exodus 30:30; Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 8:1-36; Numbers 3:3; Hebrews 7:28
  • 39. Leviticus 6:10; Leviticus 16:4,23; Ezekiel 44:18
  • 40. S Exodus 27:21
  • 41. ver 29
  • 42. Exodus 30:20,21; Leviticus 16:13; Leviticus 22:9; Numbers 1:51; Numbers 4:15,20; Numbers 18:22; Exodus 20:26
  • 43. S Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 17:7

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. That is, about 9 inches or about 23 centimeters
  • [b]. The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

Chapter Summary


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

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