Temple 101-The Priestly Garments

This will be a brief overview of the priestly garments, starting with the High Priest (Exo 28.1-39), called the Kohen ha Gadol. No priest is fit to serve in the Mishkan or Temple unless he is wearing these garments. These garments were for “glory and for beauty” which means they were very special and they were custom made to fit each individual. They were made by skillful persons (wise hearted) endowed with the “spirit of wisdom” so these were special. The High Priest was to have a breast piece of judgment (signifying love) and an ephod with a robe and tunic. It also had a sash. They were to take gold (deity), blue (heaven), purple (royalty), scarlet (blood) and linen material to make the ephod. It will have two shoulder pieces (speaks of strength and security; government will be upon his shoulders-Isa 9.6-7). Two (speaks of balance-Law and Prophets) onyx stones had the names of the twelve tribes engraved (eternal security) on them, six (the number of man) on one and six on the other. The High Priest was to “bear” (“nasa” in Hebrew meaning “to lift up, forgive and care for-Isa 53.4) these names as a memorial and an ornamental work of gold wire was made and two chains were made of twisted cordage work and put on the ornamental work. The ephod was square and four rows of three stones were placed in the ornamental work. Each stone was to have a name of a tribe on it. Two rings (eternal) of gold were put at the bottom of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod. The breast piece was bound by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord so that it would not come loose. The High Priest would carry the names of the twelve tribes over his heart (love) when he enters the Holy Place. In the breast piece the High Priest carried the “urim” (lights) and the “thummim” (perfections) and these were also over the heart. Nobody knows for sure what these were and how they functioned. B Some think they were two stones or sticks. Some think that God would spell out an answer using letters on the stones. Whatever these were they were used by the High Priest to communicate with the Lord in order to make decisions. Ezra used them to determine the ancestry of the priests returning from exile (Ezra 2.63). Later, the prophets gave clear words from the Lord so they are never mentioned again. The robe of the ephod was blue with an opening at the top for his head to go through. On the hem pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet were made to go all round it. Golden bells were also put all round. A golden bell and a pomegranate alternated all around the hem. When the High Priest ministered, the bells would tinkle and be heard as he entered and left the Holy Place. A plate of pure gold was made and “Holiness to the Lord” was engraved on it. It was fastened to the front of the turban he wore with a blue cord. It was on the forehead (headship of God, intellect and reason) of the High Priest to “bear” (nasa) the iniquity of the holy things which was consecrated and it was to be on his forehead at all times so that the holy gifts may be accepted by the Lord. His tunic was made of fine linen (righteousness) with a sash. The regular priests (Exo 28.40-43) had tunics made of linen (righteousness) with a turban also of linen. They also had a sash for the tunic. Linen breeches were made to cover their bare flesh (no works of the flesh accepted) from the loins to the thighs. These garments were symbolic of being “set apart” for the work of the Lord. These rules were complied with at all times. The priestly garments were never washed. Any garment that was disqualified from further use because of the blood or were torn was cut up and used for wicks on the Menorah and the sixteen lamps used for the Feast of Sukkot that were placed in the Court of the Women when the Temple stood. When the High Priest had a garment that became unwearable, it was not destroyed. It was put away so that nobody could ever wear it again. The High Priest did not wear the full regalia into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. He wore only the tunic, turban, breeches and sash. There is a myth that still goes around that the High Priest wore his full “uniform” with the tinkling bells into the Holy of Holies. The story goes on to say that a rope was tied around his waist so that if the bells stopped tinkling and he died in the Holy of Holies he could be dragged out. But, he never wore all his garments into the Holy of Holies so this is just a myth. Why did he wear only the linen garments? Because the Lord shows no partiality, whether you are the High Priest or not. On the Day of Atonement, he had to have his sins atoned for just like anyone else. All of these garments were pictures of Yeshua and his redemptive work.

Posted in Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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