Exodus 28

1 Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
2 You shall make sacred vestments for the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron.
3 And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with skill, that they make Aaron's vestments to consecrate him for my priesthood.
4 These are the vestments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, and a sash. When they make these sacred vestments for your brother Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests,
5 they shall use gold, blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine linen.
6 They shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, skillfully worked.
7 It shall have two shoulder-pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together.
8 The decorated band on it shall be of the same workmanship and materials, of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen.
9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel,
10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth.
11 As a gem-cutter engraves signets, so you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel; you shall mount them in settings of gold filigree.
12 You shall set the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance.
13 You shall make settings of gold filigree,
14 and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.
15 You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work; you shall make it in the style of the ephod; of gold, of blue and purple and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen you shall make it.
16 It shall be square and doubled, a span in length and a span in width.
17 You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald shall be the first row;
18 and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a moonstone;
19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst;
20 and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree.
21 There shall be twelve stones with names corresponding to the names of the sons of Israel; they shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes.
22 You shall make for the breastpiece chains of pure gold, twisted like cords;
23 and you shall make for the breastpiece two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the breastpiece.
24 You shall put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the breastpiece;
25 the two ends of the two cords you shall attach to the two settings, and so attach it in front to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod.
26 You shall make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the breastpiece, on its inside edge next to the ephod.
27 You shall make two rings of gold, and attach them in front to the lower part of the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod, at its joining above the decorated band of the ephod.
28 The breastpiece shall be bound by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it may lie on the decorated band of the ephod, and so that the breastpiece shall not come loose from the ephod.
29 So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart when he goes into the holy place, for a continual remembrance before the Lord.
30 In the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron's heart when he goes in before the Lord; thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the Israelites on his heart before the Lord continually.
31 You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue.
32 It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it may not be torn.
33 On its lower hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the lower hem, with bells of gold between them all around—
34 a golden bell and a pomegranate alternating all around the lower hem of the robe.
35 Aaron shall wear it when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he may not die.
36 You shall make a rosette of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, "Holy to the Lord."
37 You shall fasten it on the turban with a blue cord; it shall be on the front of the turban.
38 It shall be on Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall take on himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering that the Israelites consecrate as their sacred donations; it shall always be on his forehead, in order that they may find favor before the Lord.
39 You shall make the checkered tunic of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.
40 For Aaron's sons you shall make tunics and sashes and headdresses; you shall make them for their glorious adornment.
41 You shall put them on your brother Aaron, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, so that they may serve me as priests.
42 You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh; they shall reach from the hips to the thighs;
43 Aaron and his sons shall wear them when they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place; or they will bring guilt on themselves and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him 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 3

  • [a]. The identity of several of these stones is uncertain
  • [b]. Or [lapis lazuli]
  • [c]. Meaning of Heb uncertain

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