Sunday, May 9, 2010

Exodus 28:1-29:46 - A brief summary of the High Priest Garments and Priestly Service Initiation

The next two chapters(28 and 29) of the Book of Exodus are dedicated entirely to the priestly service. Chapter 28 describes the Garments of the Priests, and Chapter 29 describes the Initiation Procedures required to vow Priests into the service. But since these details are little bit out of scope of this blog (even though there are some important details that could be transferred upon the Mishkan itself), I will only provide a brief summary of these chapters:

Exodus 28 describes the following:

  • Exodus 28:1-4 provides a brief introduction and minor details about the Service
  • Exodus 28:5-14 describes the Ephod(or literally "The Vestments(of redemption)")
  • Exodus 28:15-29 describes the Breastplate of Judgement, with its Twelve Special Precious Stones
  • Exodus 28:30 describes so called "Urim" and "Thummim", which literally means "Aura/Glowing/Light" and "Flawlessness/Perfection". I do not know yet what this may mean, but the literal translation of this verse says: "And you give to the breastplate of judgement the Glowing and the Perfection...".  Perhaps this may refer to the special procedure that activated the Breastplate and made it functional for the Divine Service.
  • Exodus 28:31-35 describes a special Blue Robe with special Golden Bells and Pomegranates. This robe was made only for the High Priest. All other priest wore different garments.
  • Exodus 28:36-38 describes a special Golden Forehead Plate(or "Tzitzit" - yes, this is where it comes from) with the special Inscription.
  • Exodus 28:39 describes the remaining details of the High Priest Garments - the Embroidered Coat, the Turban and the Belt.
  • Exodus 28:40-41 describes less glorious garments for other priests.
  • Exodus 28:42  describes the Underwear for the Priests.
Here is an artistic illustration of the High Priest Vestments(Garments) by Braun & Schneider from the book "History of Costume" c.1861-1880.

And here is another illustration of the High Priest in his Garments from the 1890 Holman Bible by an unknown illustrator:

There is also this very good attempt to illustrate the Priestly Garments, and even though it is a Christian web site, I can highly recommend to check it out.

Exodus 29 describes the exact procedure that was required to consecrate the Priests into the service, as well as some other things that were required to sanctify the Mishkan. There is no point for me to provide a summary here, as the description is very dense and is better read in its original form.

Check out this page from the same Christian web site, as it also shows the illustrated procedure of consecration of the Mishkan in much details.

Lastly, I would like to note that once the High Priest was initiated into service, he would essentially become a "Kohen ha-Moshiach" or "Priest the Messiah" - The Anointed Priest.

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