King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 28

Aaron and his sons set apart for the priest’s office, Their garments. (1-5) The ephod. (6-14) The breastplate, The Urim and Thummim. (15-30) The robe of the ephod, The plate of the mitre. (31-39) The garments for Aaron’s sons. (40-43)

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Aaron and his sons set apart for the priest’s office, Their garments

1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.

2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

4 And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

5 And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.

The ephod

6 And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.

7 It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.

8 And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.

9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

10 Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth.

11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.

12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.

13 And thou shalt make ouches of gold;

14 And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.

The breastplate, The Urim and Thummim

15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.

16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.

17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.

18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.

19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.

20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.

21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

22 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold.

23 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate.

24 And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate.

25 And the other two ends of the two wreathen chains thou shalt fasten in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it.

26 And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate in the border thereof, which is in the side of the ephod inward.

27 And two other rings of gold thou shalt make, and shalt put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart thereof, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.

28 And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod.

29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.

30 And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

The robe of the ephod, The plate of the mitre

31 And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue.

32 And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.

33 And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:

34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.

35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.

36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.

38 And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.

39 And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.

The garments for Aaron’s sons

40 And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.

41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Take, &c. Priests must be called by God, as Aaron was. Heb. v. W.

Ver. 2. And beauty, that all may be filled with awe, and adore the majesty of God. C. — Our priestly vestments, which are objects of derision to the ignorant, are made so rich and beautiful for the same purpose. They have the sanction of God, by a parity of reason; and the authority of his church. H.

Ver. 3. Heart. The Hebrews generally attributed to the heart, what we give to the head. — Wisdom. All good, both inthe order of grace and of nature, proceeds from God. — Consecrated, as if they imparted a sort of virtue. C.

Ver. 4. Rational and ephod. See C. xxv. 7. — Tunic, long robe or cloak of blue wool. — Garment, next the body, and woven very close and thick. — Mitre, like a tiara or turban of linen, or rather of byssus, or fine cotton. This was never laid aside in the temple; as, to appear uncovered was then esteemed a mark of insolence. Eneas introduced the Phrygian custom into Italy, of sacrificing with a cap on the head. — Girdle, for his under-garment, besides that which formed a part of the ephod. C. — By these vestments, we are admonished to exercise the virtues of discretion, &c. S. Jer. ep. ad Fab.

Ver. 6. Ephod, (superhumerale.) That of the other priests was made of linen; and such were worn by Samuel, and by David, when he danced before the ark. M.

Ver. 7. Together, by the hooks, under the two precious stones. Josep. iii. 8.

Ver. 8. Work. Heb. “all the work, and the girdle, shall be of the same” materials, and net sewed on afterwards. C.

Ver. 9. Onyx. Sept. emeralds. C. — Heb. shoham, which the Protestants render onyx-stone. H.

Ver. 10. Birth. On the right shoulder were engraven Ruben, Simeon, Juda, Dan, Nephtali, and Gad. On the left, Aser, Issachar, Zabulon, Ephraim, Manasses, and Benjamin. The high priest himself represented the tribe of Levi. M.

Ver. 12. Remembrance, for both, v. 29. The sins or burdens of the people, were thus to be borne by the high priest, and he was to make intercession for them. T.

Ver. 13. Hooks. Sept. aspidiscas, “imitating the form or biting of an asp.” C. — Gold, on the ephod, by which the rational was suspended from the shoulders. H.

Ver. 14. Linked, &c. The present Heb. has “at the ends,” migbaloth. But the Vulg. seems to have read more properly k instead of g, as in C. xxvi. 4. C.

Ver. 15. The rational of judgment. This part of the high priest’s attire, which he wore at his breast, was called the rational of judgment; partly because it admonished both priest and people of their duty to God; by carrying the names of all their tribes in his presence; and by the Urim and Thummim, that is, doctrine and truth, which were written upon it: and partly because it gave divine answers and oracles, as if it were rational and endowed with judgment.

Ver. 16. Span, or half a cubit, (Ezec. xliii. 13. 17,) formed like a purse, in which the Rabbins say the Urim and Thummim, were placed. C.

Ver. 17. Stones. It is difficult to ascertain the true names of these stones, interpreters are so much at variance; as they are also respecting the name of the 12 patriarchs, which were engraven upon each. They probably stood according to the order of their birth, v. 10. 21. Thus Ruben, Simeon, and Levi, would occupy the first places, upon the sardius, topaz, and emerald. See on these stones, Plin. xxvii. 5. xxxviii. 8.

Ver. 18. The carbuncle, (ruby) sapphire, and jasper, (or diamond) had on them Juda, Dan, and Nephtali.

Ver. 19. Ligurius, agate, and amethyst, (or eumeces; Plin. xxxvii. 7,) had Gad, Aser, and Issachar.

Ver. 20. Chrysolite, (beryl and opale,) onyx, (Sept. beryl; Chal. or emerald, C.) beryl, (Heb. jasper; Sept. &c. onyx) were inscribed with the names of Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. In Ezec. xxviii. 13, the jasper stone comes in the sixth place, as it does in the Vulg. here. C. — The mystical interpretation of these stones, may be seen in A. Lapide. S. Epiphanius has written a learned work on the 12 precious stones. H.

Ver. 28. Another. Hence the ephod, rational, urim, &c. are used to denote the same thing. See 1 K. xxx. 7. C.

Ver. 30. Doctrine and truth. Heb. Urim and Thummim: illuminations and perfections. These words, written on the rational, seem to signify the light of doctrine, and the integrity of life, with which the priests of God ought to approach to him. Ch. — Aurim means things brilliant, “declarations,” Sept. and thomim, “perfections,” or “truths.” Some imagine, that God required the stones of the rational to be of the utmost brilliancy and perfection; Oleaster and Josephus (Ant. iii. 8,) say, it was by the appearance of those stones that the high priest was enlightened, when he consulted God. If God approved of what was in agitation, they assumed a surprising brightness, as well as those on the high priest’s shoulders. But this had not happened for 200 years before he began his history. The Urim and Thummim were not in the second temple, 1 Esd. ii. 63. Some think these words were engraven on the stones in the rational. Whether God explained his will by articulate sounds, as (Matt. iii. 17,) this is my beloved son, or internally instructed the high priest, when he was consulted, cannot be determined. C. — S. Chrysostom is of the former opinion. “If any thing was to be known, a voice came from between the cherubim, from the propitiatory, to declare what would happen.” As the Jews lost the propitiatory, when they were led captives to Babylon, it seems they never afterwards obtained this privilege of having an oracle. God sometimes instructed them by his prophets. But, for a long time, none had appeared; and all might attend more earnestly to the voice of the Messias. T. — Judgment. He shall be the supreme judge in religious matters, and must strive to pass sentence according to the dictates of my law, with truth. H. — The chief judge in Egypt wore a golden chain, hanging from the neck on the breast, to which was attached the image of Truth, on a sapphire stone. Olian (Var. Hist. xxxiv. 14,) also observes, that this office was always held by a venerable and honest priest.

Ver. 33. Bells, to denote the harmony of the universe, (Philo) and that all the actions of a priest ought to give edification. S. Jerom.

Ver. 35. Die, for coming in disrespectfully, without giving notice. See Judith xiv. 8.

Ver. 36. Plate; reaching from ear to ear, two fingers’ breadth, tied behind like a diadem. Wisd. xviii. 24. — Holy, or “sanctity, belongeth to the Lord,” and all who approach to Him, ought to be holy. C. — Josephus represents the ornaments of the high priest’s head, like the triple crown of the pope. Ant. iii. 8.

Ver. 38. Iniquities. This means, perhaps, that he shall wear these grand vestments and crown only on the solemn day of expiation, when he makes atonement for all the sins of the people, as a figure of Jesus Christ. Josephus tells us, that on other occasions, he wore a less costly attire. De Bel. v. 6. or 15. C. — By bearing on his forehead kodesh la Yehovah, “Holiness to the Lord,” he confessed that all mankind were sinners, and stood in need of pardon. H.

Ver. 40. Linen. In Ezechiel (xliv. 17,) woollen garments are forbidden to be worn by priests. Many of the pagans required their priests to be clothed in white linen. All these prescriptions of God, which seem to us so minute, had a more sublime and mysterious meaning. For in the priestly robe…was the whole world, by the colours denoting the air, light, earth, and water: the two stones on his shoulders, signified the sun and moon, as the 12 did the signs of the zodiac, or the glory of the fathers; and thy majesty was written upon the diadem of his head. Wisd. xviii. 24. Thus the priest was a mediator between God and his people, and was to be solicitous for the welfare of all. S. Tho. 1. 2. q. 102. a. 5. S. Aug. S. Jer. &c.

Ver. 41. Consecrate. Heb. and Sept. “thou shalt anoint and fill their hands” with oil, and the instruments of their office.

Ver. 42. Linen breeches, descending as far as the knees. S. Jer. In the C. xxxix. 29, they seem to have been made of byssus, or cotton. But as linen is prescribed in all other places, perhaps a word has crept in there, by mistake of the transcribers. They were intended to remind the priests of superior modesty, as they were not commonly worn. Homer never mentions them. Virgil only specifies the cloak and tunic of Evander. Augustus wore breeches and stockings in winter. Sueton. — But the ancient breeches were not like ours, but resembled rather an apron or girdle, enveloping both thighs, and hanging from the waist. C.