Exodus – Chapter 28

The Bible – Old Testament


Chapter 28


«From among the Israelites have your brother Aaron, together with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, brought to you, that they may be my priests.


For the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron you shall have sacred vestments made.


Therefore, to the various expert workmen whom I have endowed with skill, you shall give instructions to make such vestments for Aaron as will set him apart for his sacred service as my priest.


These are the vestments they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocaded tunic, a miter and a sash. In making these sacred vestments which your brother Aaron and his sons are to wear in serving as my priests,


they shall use gold, violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen.


1 «The ephod they shall make of gold thread and of violet, purple and scarlet yarn, embroidered on cloth of fine linen twined.


It shall have a pair of shoulder straps joined to its two upper ends.


The embroidered belt of the ephod shall extend out from it and, like it, be made of gold thread, of violet, purple and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined.


«Get two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel:


six of their names on one stone, and the other six on the other stone, in the order of their birth.


As a gem-cutter engraves a seal, so shall you have the two stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel and then mounted in gold filigree work.


Set these two stones on the shoulder straps of the ephod as memorial stones of the sons of Israel. Thus Aaron shall bear their names on his shoulders as a reminder before the LORD.


Make filigree rosettes of gold,


as well as two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, and fasten the cordlike chains to the filigree rosettes.


2 «The breastpiece of decision you shall also have made, embroidered like the ephod with gold thread and violet, purple and scarlet yarn on cloth of fine linen twined.


It is to be square when folded double, a span high and a span wide.


3 On it you shall mount four rows of precious stones: in the first row, a carnelian, a topaz and an emerald;


in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire and a beryl;


in the third row, a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst;


in the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. These stones are to be mounted in gold filigree work,


twelve of them to match the names of the sons of Israel, each stone engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.


«When the chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, have been made for the breastpiece,


you shall then make two rings of gold for it and fasten them to the two upper ends of the breastpiece.


The gold cords are then to be fastened to the two rings at the upper ends of the breastpiece,


the other two ends of the cords being fastened in front to the two filigree rosettes which are attached to the shoulder straps of the ephod.


Make two other rings of gold and put them on the two lower ends of the breastpiece, on its edge that faces the ephod.


Then make two more rings of gold and fasten them to the bottom of the shoulder straps next to where they join the ephod in front, just above its embroidered belt.


Violet ribbons shall bind the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod, so that the breastpiece will stay right above the embroidered belt of the ephod and not swing loose from it.


«Whenever Aaron enters the sanctuary, he will thus bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastpiece of decision over his heart as a constant reminder before the LORD.


4 In this breastpiece of decision you shall put the Urim and Thummim, that they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus he shall always bear the decisions for the Israelites over his heart in the LORD’S presence.


«The robe of the ephod you shall make entirely of violet material.


It shall have an opening for the head in the center, and around this opening there shall be a selvage, woven as at the opening of a shirt, to keep it from being torn.


All around the hem at the bottom you shall make pomegranates, woven of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen twined, with gold bells between them;


first a gold bell, then a pomegranate, and thus alternating all around the hem of the robe.


Aaron shall wear it when ministering, that its tinkling may be heard as he enters and leaves the LORD’S presence in the sanctuary; else he will die.


«You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, as on a seal engraving, ‘Sacred to the LORD.’


This plate is to be tied over the miter with a violet ribbon in such a way that it rests on the front of the miter,


over Aaron’s forehead. Since Aaron bears whatever guilt the Israelites may incur in consecrating any of their sacred gifts, this plate must always be over his forehead, so that they may find favor with the LORD.


«The tunic of fine linen shall be brocaded. The miter shall be made of fine linen. The sash shall be of variegated work.


«Likewise, for the glorious adornment of Aaron’s sons you shall have tunics and sashes and turbans made.


5 With these you shall clothe your brother Aaron and his sons. Anoint and ordain them, consecrating them as my priests.


You must also make linen drawers for them, to cover their naked flesh from their loins to their thighs.


Aaron and his sons shall wear them whenever they go into the meeting tent or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary, lest they incur guilt and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants.

1 [6] Ephod: this Hebrew word is retained in the translation because it is the technical term for a peculiar piece of the priestly vestments, the exact nature of which is uncertain. It seems to have been a sort of apron that hung from the shoulders of the priest by shoulder straps (⇒ Exodus 28:7) and was tied around his waist by the loose ends of the attached belt (⇒ Exodus 28:8).
2 [15-30] Breastpiece: in shape like a modern altar burse, it was a pocketlike receptacle for holding the Urim and Thummim (⇒ Exodus 28:30), and formed an integral part of the ephod, to which it was attached by an elaborate system of rings and chains. Both the ephod and its breastpiece were made of brocaded linen.
3 [17-20] The translation of the Hebrew names of some of these gems is quite conjectural.
4 [30] Urim and Thummim: both the meaning of these Hebrew words and the exact nature of the objects so designated are uncertain. They were apparently lots of some kind which were drawn or cast by the priest to ascertain God’s decision in doubtful matters. Hence, the burse in which they were kept was called «the breastpiece of decision.»
5 [41] Ordain them: literally, «fill their hands,» a technical expression used solely for the installation of priests. The phrase probably originated in the custom of placing in the priests’ hands the instruments or other symbols of the sacerdotal office.