Tuesday, June 5, 2012

High Priest Garments - The Blue Robe

Verses of Exodus 28:31-35 discuss another Priestly Garment - The Blue Robe. It was worn by Aaron right under the Ephod (The Vestment) and thus this garment was only partially visible, however, in this post for illustrative purposes I will show only the Robe (w/o other garments). Let's take a look:
31 ‏וְעָשִׂ֛יתָ אֶת־מְעִ֥יל הָאֵפ֖וֹד כְּלִ֥יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃
‎32 ‏וְהָיָ֥ה פִֽי־רֹאשׁ֖וֹ בְּתוֹכ֑וֹ שָׂפָ֡ה יִֽהְיֶה֩ לְפִ֨יו סָבִ֜יב מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֹרֵ֗ג כְּפִ֥י תַחְרָ֛א יִֽהְיֶה־לּ֖וֹ לֹ֥א יִקָּרֵֽעַ׃


33 ‏וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ עַל־שׁוּלָ֗יו רִמֹּנֵי֙ תְּכֵ֤לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן֙ וְתוֹלַ֣עַת שָׁנִ֔י עַל־שׁוּלָ֖יו סָבִ֑יב וּפַעֲמֹנֵ֥י זָהָ֛ב בְּתוֹכָ֖ם סָבִֽיב׃

‎34 ‏פַּעֲמֹ֤ן זָהָב֙ וְרִמּ֔וֹן פַּֽעֲמֹ֥ן זָהָ֖ב וְרִמּ֑וֹן עַל־שׁוּלֵ֥י הַמְּעִ֖יל סָבִֽיב׃

‎35 ‏וְהָיָ֥ה עַֽל־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לְשָׁרֵ֑ת וְנִשְׁמַ֣ע ק֠וֹלוֹ בְּבֹא֨וֹ אֶל־הַקֹּ֜דֶשׁ לִפְנֵ֧י יְהוָ֛ה וּבְצֵאת֖וֹ וְלֹ֥א יָמֽוּת׃ ס
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.
Just like I mentioned above, the Blue Robe was worn by Aaron right under the Ephod. Here is the rendering of the Ephod:



And here is the rendering of the Blue Robe of the description. Please note that for illustrative purposes I'm showing only the Blue Robe without the Ephod and the Breastplate and other garments.

As Exodus 28:32 says, the top of the robe, the hole for the head, was to be reinforced by a woven collar. The purpose of this collar is obvious - to prevent the Robe from tearing (if someone tries to grab it, e.t.c). This probably also indicates that the Robe was far more delicate then the Ephod, as only thin fabrics require such reinforcements. Like so:

The next verse of the description, Exodus 28:33, tells us that on the bottom portion of the robe there were to be "trees" (רמני) and golden bells (פעמני זהב). Like so:

Since this is very important distinction that I'm providing you with, let's take a look at the INCORRECT understanding of this verse as most traditional sources indicate (by placing actual "pomegranates" and bells right on the bottom edge of the blue robe). Like so:
The reason why there were no "pomegranates" and why the "trees" were located on the Robe itself (instead of being located on the edge) is very simply because the text says so. 

First of all, the word רמני (rimmōnê) can be translated both as the "fruits" (traditionally of pomegranate) and as the actual "trees" (of pomegranate - traditionally). However in this case, the description implies the actual trees, mostly because for the second reason below.

Secondly, traditional interpretations of this verse imply that these "pomegranates" and bells were to be located on the edge of the Robe. However, nowhere in the text such positioning can be found or even implied. This is because the text says על שוליו (al-šûlāyw) (on skirts of him), instead of say על שפת (on hems/lips) or על קצה (on end/edge) which would be more appropriate to satisfy such traditional interpretation. 

This is why there were actual "fruit trees" on the bottom of the Robe, made out of blue, purple and scarlet (and as Samaritan Pentateuch also implies - see my NIP) of twined linen, with the golden bells in the midst of these trees. Like so: 

Thus, the complete Blue Robe upon the Priest would look like so:

And as the last verse of the description implies (Exodus 28:35) this Robe with the bells were to be upon Aaron at all times while he was performing the service in the Tabernacle so that he could be heard when he is approaching the sanctuary and so he does not die (perhaps from sudden encounter with God). 

I will explain this last verse in more details in my next posts. 

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