Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
אפוד . This article of dress was worn by laymen as well as by the high priest. The sacred ephod, the one made for the high priest, differed from the others, in being fabricated of cotton, which was coloured with crimson, purple, and blue, and in being ornamented with gold. In the time of Josephus, it was a cubit of the larger size in length, and was furnished with sleeves. The high priest's ephod had a very rich button upon each shoulder, made of a large onyx stone set in gold. This stone was so large, that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were engraven, six on each stone, Exodus 28:9-12 . The word shoham, which we render onyx, is translated, by the Septuagint, smaragdos, an emerald; but as we have no certain knowledge either of this, or of any of the twelve stones of the breastplate, we may as well be satisfied with our translation as with any other. To the ephod belonged a curious girdle, of the same rich fabric as the ephod itself. This girdle is said to be upon the ephod, Exodus 28:8; that is, woven with the ephod, as Maimonides understands; and, coming out from the ephod on each side, it was brought under the arms like a sash, and tied upon the breast. Samuel, though Levite only, and a child, wore a linen ephod, 1 Samuel 2:18 . And David, in the ceremony of removing the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem, was girt with a linen ephod, 2 Samuel 6:14 . The Levites were not generally allowed to wear the ephod; but in the time of Agrippa, as we are told by Josephus, a little before the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans, they obtained of that prince permission to wear the linen stole, as well as the priests. Spencer and Cunaeus are of opinion, that the Jewish kings had a right to wear the ephod, because David, coming to Ziklag, and finding that the Amalekites had plundered the city, and carried away his and the people's wives, ordered Abiathar, the high priest, to bring him the ephod, which being done, David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I pursue after this troop?"
1 Samuel 30:8 . Whence they infer, that David consulted God by urim and thummim, and consequently put on the ephod. But it is probable the text only means that he ordered the priest to do what he is himself said to have done. The ephod of Gideon is remarkable for having become the occasion of a new kind of idolatry to the Israelites, Judges 8:27 . What this consisted in, is matter of dispute among the learned. Some authors are of opinion that this ephod, as it is called, was an idol; others, that it was only a trophy in memory of the signal victory obtained by Gideon, and that the Israelites paid a kind of divine worship to it; so that Gideon was the innocent cause of their idolatry, in like manner as Moses had been in making the brazen serpent, which was afterward worshipped.
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Ephod'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/e/ephod.html. 1831-2.