Exodus 28

1 “Bring Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, near to you from amongst the children of Israel, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 2 You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all who are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to sanctify him, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, and his sons, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. 5 They shall take the gold, and the blue, and the purple, and the scarlet, and the fine linen. 6 “They shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the skilful workman. 7 It shall have two shoulder straps joined to the two ends of it, that it may be joined together. 8 The skilfully woven band, which is on it, that is on him, shall be like its work and of the same piece; of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the children of Israel: 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones, according to the names of the children of Israel: you shall make them to be enclosed in settings of gold. 12 You shall put the two stones on the shoulder straps of the ephod, to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for a memorial. 13 You shall make settings of gold, 14 and two chains of pure gold; you shall make them like cords of braided work: and you shall put the braided chains on the settings. 15 “You shall make a breastplate of judgement, the work of the skilful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it; of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, you shall make it. 16 It shall be square and folded double; a span shall be its length of it, and a span its width. 17 You shall set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: a row of ruby, topaz, and beryl shall be the first row; 18 and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be enclosed in gold in their settings. 21 The stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names; like the engravings of a signet, everyone according to his name, they shall be for the twelve tribes. 22 You shall make on the breastplate chains like cords, of braided work of pure gold. 23 You shall make on the breastplate two rings of gold, and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. 24 You shall put the two braided chains of gold in the two rings at the ends of the breastplate. 25 The other two ends of the two braided chains you shall put on the two settings, and put them on the shoulder straps of the ephod in its forepart. 26 You shall make two rings of gold, and you shall put them on the two ends of the breastplate, on its edge, which is towards the side of the ephod inward. 27 You shall make two rings of gold, and shall put them on the two shoulder straps of the ephod underneath, in its forepart, close by its coupling, above the skilfully woven band of the ephod. 28 They shall bind the breastplate by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be on the skilfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastplate may not swing out from the ephod. 29 Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgement on his heart, when he goes in to the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. 30 You shall put in the breastplate of judgement the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgement of the children of Israel on his heart before the LORD continually. 31 “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 It shall have a hole for the head in the middle of it. It shall have a binding of woven work around its hole, as it were the hole of a coat of mail, that it not be torn. 33 On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, around its hem; and bells of gold between and around them: 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. 35 It shall be on Aaron to minister: and its sound shall be heard when he goes in to the holy place before the LORD, and when he comes out, that he not die. 36 “You shall make a plate of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engravings of a signet, ‘HOLY TO THE LORD.’ 37 You shall put it on a lace of blue, and it shall be on the sash; on the front of the sash it shall be. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall make holy in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD. 39 You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash, the work of the embroiderer. 40 “You shall make coats for Aaron’s sons, and you shall make sashes for them and you shall make headbands for them, for glory and for beauty. 41 You shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to me in the priest’s office. 42 You shall make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness; from the waist even to the thighs they shall reach: 43 They shall be on Aaron, and on his sons, when they go in to the Tent of Meeting, or when they come near to the altar to minister in the holy place; that they don’t bear iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute forever to him and to his offspring after him.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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, 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, Re 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.

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