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Verses 6-14

THE EPHOD

"And thou shalt make the ephod of gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the skillful workman. It shall have two shoulder-pieces joined to the two ends thereof, that it may be joined together. And the skillfully woven band, which is upon it, wherewith to gird it on, shall be like the work thereof and of the same piece; of gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: six of the names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engraver of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones, according to the names of the children of Israel; thou shalt make them to be enclosed in settings of gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before Jehovah upon his two shoulders for a memorial. And thou shalt make settings of gold; and two chains of pure gold; like cords shalt thou make them of wreathen work: and thou shalt put the wreathen chains on the settings."

This was the principal element in the High Priest's costume, bearing not only the memorial stones on the shoulders, but also the breastplate (next to be described) with its four rows of memorial stones. The mention of the "two ends" indicates that it was long enough to come down to about the knees both front and back, connected with straps, to which there were affixed the onyx stone memorials at the shoulder level. This arrangement permitted the adjustment of the straps to fit any sized person. It consisted of a beautifully-woven tapestry of gold and the three colors so predominately used throughout the whole tabernacle. The gold was apparently to be woven separately into the completed tapestry.

"According to their birth ..." This meant either: (1) according to their chronological ages; or (2) accordingly as they were born (a) of Jacob's legal wives, or (b) of his concubines. Scriptural examples of either arrangement may be cited; but which was to be used here is not given.

The old problem so often encountered in the O.T. of the same word having more than one meaning is also apparent here. In context, it is clear enough that some kind of garment is meant, an article of the "holy garments" designed for Aaron, the soon-to-be-named high priest. There are instances, however, in the O.T., where, "an image of some sort is indicated (Judges 8:24-37; 17:5; 18:14; and Hosea 3:4)."[8]

"To be stones of memorial ..." The symbolism of these indicated that when the High Priest fulfilled his mission of entering the Holy of Holies he did so as a representative of all Israel. These memorial stones were a reminder primarily to Israel of this supplication upon their behalf, and also to Aaron in order that he might not forget that his was a mission ON BEHALF OF the whole nation. We reject the notion that the purpose of these was "to remind God ... that God would not forget to be gracious to Israel!"[9] It is true, however, that, "They served as a kind of visible supplication of His gracious remembrance."[10]

Throughout this chapter the prevailing conception is that of a properly clothed and anointed priesthood employed in supplicating God on behalf of others. The holy church itself, at times, has been betrayed into the acceptance of this device of a human priesthood, a system that may be identified generally as sacerdotalism. Here at the outset of the O.T. sacerdotalism is a good place to note that these devices were temporary, expedient, and served merely as types, shadows, copies and signs of the great realities which replaced them in Christianity. There is NO earthly priesthood today in the church of God, despite some religious practices that might seem to indicate that there is. As Fields put it:

We must beware of religions like Roman Catholicism and its descendants, that set up a special class of individuals within the church as "priests." To adopt such a system is to lapse back into the covenant of Moses! We live under a new and better covenant, with a better priesthood (Hebrews 7:18-22). To revert to the system of the law of Moses is to revert to condemnation (Galatians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 3:9).[11]

The ephod described here has been variously described as "a waistcoat,"[12] "a short linen garment,"[13] "a very gorgeous robe,"[14] or "a kind of apron."[15] Whatever it might be called, one thing is clear, the expensive beauty of the garment must have made it indeed a beautiful and glorious element of the High Priest's regalia.

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