The office of the high priest and his garments have a kedusha, but the person does not. In fact, when he puts on the garments he will be in a state of kedusha. We are told this in Exo 28.3, so the garments have a kedusha. However, before these garments are consecrated, anyone can touch them. There are garments for the coming high priest at the Temple Institute in Jerusalem today. Ordinary people have actually held them. But, once they are consecrated and have a kedusha, an ordinary person can no longer touch or hold them. There comes a point of separation, or boundary, with the concept of kedusha. At that point, only certain people can touch them, at certain times, in certain places, for certain reasons. That’s how kedusha works.
The garments of the high priest were for “glory” (kivod) and for “beauty” (tiferet/splendor). The high priest is a picture of the perfect man, made in the image of God before man sinned in the garden. Man had a kedusha. The Mishkan/Temple is about many objectives and accomplishments spiritually that happen. Tow primary aspects that are important is that we see the Mishkan/Temple as a place for the people to come to worship God.
We see synagogues and churches this way. People read billboards that say, “Come worship with us.” That is an important aspect of the Mishkan/Temple. However, there is a difference between the Mishkan/Temple, and synagogues and churches. The worship in the Mishkan/Temple was designed by the Lord as a “tavnit” (blueprint). So, while we have the Mishkan/Temple as a place of worship, it is also a place for God to show man how to worship. What passes for worship today is a far cry from what God showed as worship. The high priest is a picture of the perfect man. Adam was created in the image of God, and the garments are for “glory and for beauty (splendor). This is for us to see man in this state, as he was created to be.
Exo 28.3 says, “And you shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom (chachamh) so that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to me.” Many people are “attenders” and their heart isn’t there. The spirit of wisdom means “those whose face is turned towards God” and those are the ones he will use.
The high priest had eight garments, which is the number of completion. He had a breastplate called the “Choshen ha Mishpat” or Breastplate of Judgment (Exo 28.15-29). He had an ephod called a “Mi’el” with techelet blue, argamon purple, tolat shanni scarlet and gold (Exo 28.6-14). He had a tunic called the “K’tonet” of techelet blue (Exo 28.31-31). There was a head plate called a “Tzitz” or mitre of gold (Exo 28.36-38). Then there was a white tunic of linen, linen pants, a linen sash and a linen turban. The last four are called the “white garments” (Exo 28.39-43, 39.41).
The techelet blue, the argamon purple, the tolat shanni scarlet are wool strands used in the ephod. They will be combined together to make one thread. Each color was six-ply wool, the shesh linen was six-ply wool and the gold will be one ply (Exo 28.6). So, it would look like this. A gold thread is joined to the six-ply techelet blue, making seven. The one thread of gold is added to the six-ply argamon purple, making seven. It is added to the six-ply tolat shanni scarlet, making seven. And it is added to the six-ply shesh linen, making seven. So, you have seven times four equaling twenty eight. We know seven is the number of perfection, and six is the number of man. So, this alludes to the high priest being a picture of the perfect man, made in the image of God before he sinned. He had a kedusha in order to meet and talk to God “face to face.”
Let’s go over the concept of kedusha and the Mishkan/Temple. Kedusha is basically defined like this, “to designate, or to set apart, for the service of God. This is done by formal, legal restrictions and limitations. The kedusha of periods of time are marked by limits on what man can do, his activities, in regards to work and construction.” When we think of Chanukah (dedication), several themes come to mind for most people. We have the Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes, the story about the Menorah and so on. But, that is not what Chanukah is really about. It is about the Temple and its re-dedication back to God. They were restoring the kedusha. If we are going to study the Temple, we must study the Mishkan. That is why we spend so much time teaching about it here in Exodus. The Temple was called the “Beit Ha Mikdash” or “House of Kedusha.” We have already defined what kedusha is and the same concept that was in the Temple originated in the Mishkan.
In Exo 19, we learn that Israel has finally arrived at Mount Sinai. They set themselves apart for three days, and now we have come to Sivan 6 and they come out to the mountain. The people hear the audible voice of God giving the Ten Commandments. The people actually heard the voice of God, but after that they were very afraid. They wanted Moses to speak to them about whatever else God had to say (Exo 20.18-21).
In Exo 20.22-26 God gives commands for an altar, and it was not to made with cut stones (not a work of man) and it was not to have steps. Then starting in Exo 21, he gives many more commandments and Moses hasn’t even gone up to Mount Sinai yet. These commands are understood as being commands they already had and they are being repeated at Sinai. If you go to Exo 24.1-9, you will read where the Lord finally tells Moses, Aaron, Ndab, Abihu and seventy elders to “come up” and “they saw God.” This is called a “Ma’aseh Merkavah” or the “Work of the Chariot. Exo 24 is where the covenant is ratified in blood. A cloud covers Sinai (v 12-18) for six days, and on the seventh day God calls for Moses from the midst of the cloud to come up on the mountain, and he was there for forty days and forty nights.
So, in Exo 24.9-11 we have what is called the Ma’aseh Merkavah. The “chariot” is seen as the throne of God. The Ark of the Covenant (the covenant just ratified) is seen as the “Chariot of God” or his throne. That is why it went before the people. The Ark was carried with the long side facing you as you saw it coming, as if God was sitting on his throne. You didn’t carry a king sideways on his throne! God is in his “chariot” leading his people, like any king would ride in his chariot before his people. When the presence wasn’t there, God wasn’t there. We will see this concept in Ezekiel 1.1-28.
In Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 5, Paragraph 8, it says, “During the days of his absence he had suggested to him also that he would have a tabernacle built for him, into which he would descend when he came to them; and how we should carry it about with us when we remove from this place; and that there would be no longer any occasion for going up to Mount Sinai, but that he would himself come and pitch his tabernacle among us, and be present at our prayers; as also the tabernacle should be of such measures and construction as he had shown him; and that you are to fall to the work, and prosecute it diligently. When he had said this, he showed them the two tables, with the Ten Commandments engraved on them. Five upon each table; and the writing was by the hand of God.”
The first thing Moses says when he comes down from the mountain, according to Josephus, is he has given them their government because they were to be a “holy nation” and a “kingdom of priests.” God dictated what their government was going to be, not like our “Constitution” which was written by the hand of men in a constitutional convention. The Lord was not interested in any discussion about these laws or other opinions about it. The other thing he tells them is that they were to build him a Mishkan. So, two things were given at Sinai, the Torah and the Mishkan.
In Part 53, we will pick up here.