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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Exodus 28

 

 

Verse 1

EXODUS CHAPTER 28

Aaron and his sons ordained for the priest’s office, Exodus 28:1. His holy garments, Exodus 28:2-5. The ephod, Exodus 28:6. Curious girdle, Exodus 28:8. The two onyx stones on which the names of the children of Israel were engraven, Exodus 28:9-14. Of the breastplate, whereon was the same, Exodus 28:15-22; with two golden rings, Exodus 28:23-29. The Uri and Thummim, Exodus 28:30. The golden plate which had on it, Holiness to the Lord, Exodus 28:36. The coats of Aaron’s sons, their girdles, caps, and their linen drawers, Exodus 28:40, which they put on when they served in the holy place, Exodus 28:43

Take thou unto thee cause them to come near unto thee, that thou mayst before them and before the people declare the will of God herein, and solemnly set them apart for his office.


Verse 2

Garments to be used only in holy ministrations,

for glory and for beauty, i.e. such as are glorious and beautiful; partly to mind the people of the dignity and excellency of their office and employment; and principally to represent the glorious robes wherewith Christ is both clothed himself, and clotheth all his people, who are made priests unto God.


Verse 3

All that are wise-hearted, i.e. skilful artists. The Hebrews make the heart, not the brain, the seat of wisdom See Job 9:4.

Whom I have filled; either,

1. By my ordinary providence and assistance, giving them both ability and opportunity to learn the arts; or rather,

2. By extraordinary inspiration, which was necessary for the Israelites, whose base and laborious drudgery took off their minds and hands from all ingenious studies and arts. To consecrate him, i.e. to be an outward sign of my calling and consecration of him to my holy service. A metonymical expression.


Verse 4

An ephod was a short upper garment, made without sleeves, which was girt about the body. And it was twofold; the one made of fine linen, which was common not only to all the priests, as 1 Samuel 2:18 22:18; but to some others also upon solemn and sacred occasions, as 2 Samuel 6:14: the other made of divers stuffs and colours, peculiar to the high priest; the parts whereof were not sewed, but tied together.

A robe; an upper garment like a surplice.

A broidered coat; an under coat curiously wrought with circular works like eyes, as the word notes, and richly adorned with gems and other things.

A mitre; a kind of bonnet or cap for the covering of the head, supposed to be something like a Turkish turban for the form of it. A

girdle, to enclose and fasten all the other garments, which were loose in themselves, that he might be more expeditious in his work.


Verse 6

Of gold, beaten out into plates, and cut into wires.


Verse 7

The two shoulder-pieces were two parts of the ephod going up from the body of the ephod, the one before, the other behind, which when the priest had put over his head, were tied together, and covered the priest’s shoulders, and part of his back and breast.


Verse 8

The girdle of the ephod was for the closer fastening and girding of it. Which is upon it: this is added to distinguish it from the other girdle, Exodus 28:4, which was to gird all the garments, and was tied in a lower place.

Of the same; either,

1. Of the same piece; or rather,

2. Of the same kind of materials and workmanship, as the following words explain it.


Verse 10

Levi seems to be omitted here, as being sufficiently represented by the high priest himself.


Verse 11

Hollow places, such as are made in golden rings to receive and hold the precious stones which are put in them.


Verse 12

Upon the shoulders of the ephod, i.e. in the place where the two shoulder-pieces were joined together.

Before the Lord; into the holy of holies: an evident type of Christ’s entering into heaven with the names and in the stead of his people, the true Israel, upon his shoulders, and presenting them to his Father with acceptance.

For a memorial; not so much to the high priest, that he should not forget to pray for them, as to God, that he, beholding their names there, according to his order, might graciously remember them, and show mercy unto them. Such a memorial to God was the rainbow, Genesis 9:13. Such things are spoken of God after the manner of men.


Verse 14

At the ends, or, with ends; i.e. not like chains that are fastened about one’s neck or arm, which seem to have no end; but two distinct chains, with two several ends, both hanging downward: compare Exodus 28:22. The Syriac render it double, others equal, or of equal length.


Verse 15

This was a square and curiously wrought piece put over the ephod upon one’s breast, called of judgment, because from thence the Israelites were to expect and receive their judgment, and the mind of God in all those weighty matters of war or peace wherein they consulted God for direction.


Verse 16

It was doubled for greater strength, that it might better support and secure the precious stones which were put into it, and that it might receive the Urim and Thummim, Leviticus 8:8.


Verse 17

It is needless to trouble the reader with the explication of these stones, which the Jewish doctors themselves are not agreed in, seeing this use of them is now abolished. It may suffice to know that they were precious stones severally allotted to the names of the several tribes, according to God’s good pleasure, possibly with respect to some disposition or concernment of each tribe, which at this distance we cannot learn.


Verse 21

i.e. According to the order of their birth, the first stone to the eldest, the second to the next, &c.


Verse 22

Some think these are the same with those mentioned Exodus 28:14. But it seems improbable and without example that God should in this short description, and that within a few verses, give a new and second command concerning the same thing. It may rather seem that these are other chains fastened to the breastplate, as it follows, whereas those chains, Exodus 28:14, seem to have been fastened to the ephod, to those ouches made in it for that purpose, Exodus 28:13. And whereas these chains also are fastened in the said ouches, Exodus 28:25, two several chains may well enough be fastened in divers parts of each of the ouches; and there seems to be this difference between the chains, those chains mentioned Exodus 28:14 are said to be fastened only at one end, even to the ouches of the ephod, whence they might hang down loosely, whereas these are manifestly fastened at both ends, Exodus 28:24,25.


Verse 25

i.e. In the forepart of the ephod; or before him, i.e. the high priest, in his forepart, upon his breast.


Verse 26

Upon the two ends, to wit, upon the lower ends, for there were other rings put upon the upper ends, Exodus 28:23-25.

In the side of the ephod inward, i.e. in the inner side of the ephod, under which these rings were hid; for the ephod was double, Exodus 28:16.


Verse 27

Two other rings, to answer the two rings in the breastplate, that by all these the breastplate might be the better fastened to the ephod.

On the two sides of the ephod underneath; in the lower part of the ephod, or in that part of it which is under the lowest part of the breastplate.

Toward the forepart thereof; towards the breast.

Over-against the other coupling thereof, i.e. over-against the ouches on the shoulder-pieces, where the upper part of the breastplate was fastened to the ephod.


Verse 29

Partly to admonish the high priest of that dear affection he should have to his people, and with what ardency he should pray for them, and principally to represent the tender compassions of Christ, the great High Priest, towards his people, and how mindful he is of them, and of all their concerns, even when he is in the holy of holies, that is, in heaven, where he remembers them still, and incessantly intercedes for them.

Unto the holy place, i.e. into the most holy place; the positive degree being put for the superlative.


Verse 30

The words Urim and Thummim confessedly signify light, or illuminations and perfections, which may be understood either of two differing things, the one noting the knowledge, the other the perfection, to wit, of virtues and graces, which were required in the high priest, and which were in Christ in an eminent degree, and from him alone communicated to his people; or of one and the same thing, noting perfect light or illumination, by a figure called hendyadis, oft used in Scripture, as Deuteronomy 16:18 Matthew 4:16, compared with Job 10:21 John 3:5 Acts 17:25, compared with Genesis 2:7. Which may seem probable,

1. Because the great use of this instrument was to give light and direction in dubious and difficult cases, and not to confer any other perfection upon any person.

2. Because sometimes both these words and things are expressed only by one of them, and that is by Urim, Numbers 27:21 1 Samuel 28:6, which signifies lights. And the name seems to be given from the effect, because hence the Israelites had clear light, and perfect or certain direction in dark and doubtful matters. But the great question is, what this Urim and Thummim was, and in what manner God answered by it; which God having on purpose concealed from us, and not set down the matter or form of it, as he hath done of all the other particulars, it may seem curiosity and presumption for men solicitously to inquire, and positively to determine. Many conceive it was nothing else but the twelve precious stones, wherein the names of the twelve tribes were engraven, and that the answer of God was composed out of those letters which either show more brightly, or thrust themselves further outward, than the rest did; which seems a frivolous and ungrounded conjecture, both because all the letters of the alphabet were not there, and so all answers could not be given by them; and because it was shut up within the duplicature of the breastplate, and therefore could not be seen by the high priest; and there is not a word to signify that he was to take it out thence, and look upon it, but rather the contrary is evident. And that this Urim and Thummim are not the same thing with those twelve stones may be easily proved:

1. Because the stones were set and engraven in the breastplate, Exodus 28:17,21, this was only put into it, which is a word of quite different and more loose and large signification, and therefore probably doth not design the same thing.

2. It is not likely that in such a brief account of the sacred utensils the same command would be repeated again, especially in more dark and general words than it was mentioned before. And how could Moses now put it in, when the workmen had fastened it there before? or why should he be required to put it in the breastplate, when it was fastened to it already, and could not without violence be taken from it?

3. Because the stones were put in by the workmen, Exodus 39:10, the Urim and Thummim by Moses himself, Leviticus 8:8. It is objected, that where the stones are mentioned there is no mention of Urim and Thummim, as Exo 29, and that where the Urim and Thummim are mentioned there is no mention of the stones, as Leviticus 8:8, which shows they were one and the same thing. But that is not necessary, and there is an evident reason of both those omissions; of the former, Exo 39, because he mentions only those things which were made by the workmen, whereas the Urium and Thummim seems to have been made immediately by God, or by Moses with God’s direction; of the latter, Le 8, because the stones are implied in the breastplate as a part of it, and being fastened to it, whereas there he only mentions what was put in by Moses himself. There are other conjectures, as that it; as the name Jehovah, or some visible representations, &c. But such conjectures are as easily denied as affirmed. It is therefore more modest and reasonable to be silent where God is silent, than to indulge ourselves in boundless and groundless fancies. It may suffice us to know that this was a singular piece of Divine workmanship, which the high priest was obliged to wear upon solemn occasions, as one of the conditions upon which God engaged to give him answers; which answers God might give to him either by inward suggestion to his mind, or by a vocal expression to his ear. But which of those ways, or whether by any other way, it is needless now to search, and impossible certainly to discover.

The judgment of the children of Israel. A short speech. As the testimony is oft put for the ark of the testimony, so is the judgment here for the breastplate of judgment, i.e. that breastplate which declared the judgment, or oracle, or mind of God to the Israelites in those cases which they brought to the Lord.

Before the Lord continually, i.e. at all times when he shall appear before the Lord in the holy place.


Verse 31

Not the ephod itself, for that was prescribed before, Exodus 28:6, but a long and loose robe called the

robe of the ephod, because it was worn next under it, and was girded about the high priest’s body with the curious girdle of the ephod.


Verse 33

Pomegranates; the figures of pomegranates, but flat and embroidered. By the sound of the

bells the people might be admonished of the work which the priest was employed in, and thereby be provoked to join their affections and devotions with his. These pomegranates and bells might note either,

1. The qualifications of the priest, who was both to declare or give forth the sound of pure and wholesome doctrine, and to adorn his doctrine with the fragrancy and fruitfulness of a good conversation. Or,

2. The glorious achievements of Christ, who caused the sound of his doctrine to be heard by all men, and offered up himself as a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour, Ephesians 5:2.


Verse 35

For his disobedience or carelessness. For though the matter might seem small in itself, yet it was an error in God’s worship, wherein God is more severe than in other things; and it was an error of the high priest, who had more knowledge of God’s mind herein, and was obliged to more care and diligence, not only for himself, but for the influences of his bad example upon the people.


Verse 36

The plate of pure gold was like a half coronet, reaching, as the Jews say, from ear to ear.

Holiness to the Lord, to mind the priest of his special consecration to God, and of that singular holiness which was required of him, as at all times, so especially in his approaches to God. It might also represent Christ, who is called the Holy One of God, and who is a crowned Priest, or both King and Priest.


Verse 37

The words may be rendered, thou shalt put it on, or, bind it, as the Vulgate renders it, with a blue lace, to wit, upon the mitre, as it follows.


Verse 38

That Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things; either,

1. That he, being consecrated to God for this end, that he should take care as far as he could that both persons and things presented to God should be holy or agreeable to the mind of God, might bear the punishment for any miscarriage committed therein which he could have prevented. Or rather,

2. That he, being a holy person, and appointed by God to make a typical reconciliation for the sins of the people, and to intercede for them, might take away, or obtain from God the pardon of their iniquity, wherewith even their holy things are defiled, if God should severely mark what is amiss in them; which sense the last words of the verse favour. And the high priest was herein eminently a type of Christ, who properly and truly bare and took away the iniquity of his people’s holy things by his sacrifice and intercession.

Which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts, i.e. shall separate or consecrate unto God in all their offerings or gifts. If there be any thing amiss either in the thing offered, or in the manner of offering, God upon the priest’s intercession will pardon it.

It shall be always upon his forehead, i.e. at all times of his solemn appearance before God.


Verse 39

The coat was a loose and large garment made with sleeves, worn under the ephod, reaching down to the feet, which was girt with a girdle, Leviticus 8:7.


Verse 40

The coats were not of woollen, Ezekiel 44:17, but of linen, Exodus 39:27. These were ephods, 1 Samuel 22:18.


Verse 41

Consecrate them, Heb. fill their hand, i.e. present them to God with part of the sacrifice in their hands, as we find, Exodus 29:24, by that rite putting them into their office.


Verse 42

Including both. Compare Exodus 20:26.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 28:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/exodus-28.html. 1685.

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