without the vail, which is before the testimony; that is, without the vail which divided between the holy and the most holy place, and which vail was before the ark, where the law or the testimony was put; for the candlestick was in that part of the tabernacle which was without the vail, or in the holy place: and here
Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord; that is, they were to take care that the lamps which went out might be lighted; and that they be kept clear and burning, they were to trim and snuff them, for which they had proper instruments provided for them, Exodus 25:37. This points at the word of God, which shines as a light in a dark place, and is a lamp to the feet, and a light to the path, and to the constant application of Gospel ministers in preaching it, in order to enlighten men in all ages unto the end of the world:
it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations, on the behalf of the children of Israel; on whom it was incumbent to provide oil for the lamps, as long as the tabernacle and temple service lasted; and figured out either the maintenance of Gospel ministers by the churches, or the grace and gifts of the Spirit, with which they are furnished by the head of the church, often signified by oil in Scripture.
INTRODUCTION TO Exodus 28
This chapter informs us of the servants God would have to minister to him in the house, or tabernacle, he had ordered to be made, even Aaron and his sons, Exodus 28:1 of the garments they were to wear in their service, Exodus 28:2 and first of the garments of the high priest, and particularly of the ephod, with the girdle, on the shoulder pieces of which were to be two onyx stones, with the names of the children of Israel engraved on them, Exodus 28:6, and that of the breastplate of judgment, with the Urim and Thummum in it, Exodus 28:15 and of the robe of the ephod, Exodus 28:31, and of the mitre, Exodus 28:36 and then of the garments of the common priests, Exodus 28:40.
from among the children of Israel: and before them all invest them with the office of priesthood, as it follows:
that they may minister unto me in the priest's office, before this time every master of a family was a priest, and might and did offer sacrifice, and all the Israelites were a kingdom of priests; and Moses, as Aben Ezra calls him, was "a priest of priests"; but now it being enough for him to be the political ruler of the people, and the prophet of the Lord, the priestly office is bestowed on Aaron and his sons; nor might any afterwards officiate in it but such as were of his family; and a great honour this was that was conferred on him, and to which he was called of God, as in Hebrews 5:4 and it is greatly in the favour of Moses, and which shows him to be an upright and undesigning man, that sought not to aggrandize himself and his family; that though he had so much honour and power himself, he sought not to entail any upon his posterity. It is hinted in the latter part of the preceding chapter, that Aaron and his sons should minister in the sanctuary, and look after the candlestick, and its lamps; and here the design of God concerning them is more fully opened, which was, that they should be his peculiar ministers and servants in his house, to do all the business appertaining to it:
even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons: who were all the sons that Aaron had that we read of; though Aben Ezra thinks it probable that he might have other sons, and therefore the names of those are particularly mentioned, who were to be taken into the priest's office with him; the two first of these died very quickly after this, in a very awful manner, as the sacred story relates; and from the other two sprung all the priests that were in all successive generations.
(n) "appropinquare fac", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus.
for glory and beauty; that is, with glorious and beautiful ones, and which would make his priests look so: and this was done, partly to point out the dignity of their office to themselves, that they might take care to behave suitable to it, and keep up the honour and credit of it; and partly to make them respectable unto men, and be honoured by them, none being clothed as they were, as Aben Ezra observes; but chiefly because they were typical of the glory and beauty of Christ's human nature, which was as a garment put on, and put off, and on again, and in which he officiated as a priest, and still does; and which is now very glorious, and in which he is fairer than any of the children of men; and of the garments of salvation, and robe of righteousness, in which all his people, his priests, appear exceeding glorious and beautiful, even in a perfection of beauty.
(o) De Vestitu Sacerdot. Heb. l. 1. c. 1. sect. 5. p. 11.
whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom; for besides a common understanding of things, these required a peculiar gift from God, which some men, as Bezaleel and Aholiab had:
that they may make Aaron's garments, to consecrate him to put upon him at the time of his consecration; and indeed this was one way, by which, as well as by sacrifices, that he was consecrated, see Exodus 29:1,
that he may minister unto me in the priest's office for the priests, without having these garments on, might not minister in their office; for when these garments were off, as they were when they were out of their service, they were as other men, as laymen; see Gill on Ezekiel 42:14.
a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle; of each of which, with others, there is a more particular account in this chapter, and will be observed in their order:
and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons: as those before mentioned, with some others not mentioned; some for Aaron only, and others that were to be worn by his sons also:
that he may minister unto me in the priest's office; these were absolutely necessary to the execution of the priestly office, and an essential qualification for it, and without which it was not lawful to serve in it.
gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen; pieces of gold, which they beat into thin plates, and drew into wires, and which they worked into stuffs, woollen or linen, or both, of the colours here mentioned; all which were made use of in the ephod, girdle, breastplate, &c. see Exodus 39:3 and had a mystical significance in them.
gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work; the stuff of which it was made was interwoven with threads of gold, and threads of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and threads of linen, wrought with divers figures in a curious manner, which looked very beautiful; and was a fit emblem of the glory, excellency, and purity of Christ's human nature; of the various graces of the Spirit in it; of his heavenly original; of his blood, sufferings, and death, and glorious exaltation; and of its being a curious piece of workmanship wrought by the Lord himself, Hebrews 10:5.
(p) Comment. in 1 Chronicles 15. 27. (q) Comment. in loc. (r) Comment. in loc. (s) Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 9. (t) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 5. (u) Ib.
joined at the two edges thereof; the two edges of the ephod; not sewed thereunto with a needle, as Maimonides (w) and other Jewish writers think, but were woven along with it, and in the weaving was of the same with it:
and so it shall be joined together; that is, the hinder and fore parts of the ephod in the shoulder pieces of it, shall be joined together by the two onyx stones upon them, hereafter mentioned, with which they were buttoned.
(w) Ut supra. (Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 9.)
shall be of the same; of the same matter as the ephod, and woven in the same manner, and together with it:
according to the work thereof; wrought with the same coloured, curious, and cunning work:
even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; and from the gold in it, it was called a golden girdle, to distinguish it from others, and with it the priest was girt under the arm holes about the paps, to which the allusion is, Revelation 1:13 and is an emblem of the close union of the human nature of Christ to his divine which is the effect of his love to his people; which, as it is seen in his incarnation, so more especially in his sufferings and death; and it may denote his strength to do his work as a priest, his readiness to perform it, and his faithfulness and integrity in it; righteousness being the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
and grave on them the names of the children of Israel; the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, six on one stone and six on the other, as often mentioned, for which onyx stones are very fit; and they must be very large to have so many letters graved upon them; for there is no reason to believe the initial letters of their names only were engraved, but their whole names at length. In the Museum at Dresden is an oriental onyx which cost 48,000 dollars; it is of an oval figure, and its longest diameter is almost six inches, and in such an one might easily be engraved so many names: and Wagenseil makes mention of one in the possession of the bishop of Bamberg, in which were represented Christ sitting, and teaching his twelve apostles standing round him, of which he has given the figure (z): the onyx stone being of the colour observed, was a fit emblem of Christ in his human nature, and if the sardonyx, of him in both his natures; and as the twelve tribes of Israel were a figure of the church, their names being on two stones may denote both the Jewish and Gentile churches; these being precious stones on which they were engraven, may signify how valuable the church and its members are to Christ; and being alike there, their being equally loved of God, chosen in Christ, redeemed by his blood, interested in all the blessings of his grace, and shall enjoy the same glory; and their names being there, the distinct knowledge had of them by name, and being in ouches of gold, their dignity and safety, as afterwards declared.
(x) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 5.) (y) De Vestitu Sacerd. Heb. l. 2. c. 18. sect. 4. p. 730. (z) Not. in Misn. Sotah, c. 9. p. 996.
and the other six names of the rest on the other stone: the names of the six youngest on the stone upon the left shoulder; for these stones, as afterwards said, were put on the shoulders of the priests:
according to their birth; the order of it; so that upon the first stone were engraven the names of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, and Naphtali; and on the second stone the names of Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin; and so they are disposed by Jarchi, with whom Josephus agrees (a); though some Jewish writers, and particularly Maimonides (b), place them otherwise; but this seems most agreeable to the letter and sense of the text.
(a) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 5.) (b) Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, ut supra. (c. 9. sect. 9.)
like the engravings of a signet shall thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: as in signets or seals, by which impressions are made on wax, the letters or figures are cut deep, that they might on the wax stand out; so it seems the letters of the names of the children of Israel were cut in these stones: this shows that engraving on precious stones is very old, and the ancients indeed are said to excel in this art:
thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold; in beazils or sockets, such as precious stones in rings are set in; these with the stones in them served as buttons to fasten together the hinder and fore part of the ephod on the shoulder pieces of it.
for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: not to put the Israelites in mind of the merits of their ancestors, as the Targum of Jonathan; for none of their works were meritorious, and some were not good, and not worthy of remembrance; but rather to put Aaron or the high priest in mind to pray and make intercession for the twelve tribes, whose names were on the stones; or rather to put God himself in remembrance of his promises made unto them, and that they were his dear, special, and peculiar people; just as the rainbow was to be a memorial to the Lord of the covenant he made with all flesh, and which is to be understood after the manner of men:
and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial; signifying his presentation of them to the Lord when he appeared before him on the mercy seat; his intercession for them, and his patient bearing all their infirmities and weaknesses; in which he was a type of Christ, who presents all his people to his divine Father, makes intercession for them, and bears all their burdens, the care and government of them being upon his shoulders, Isaiah 9:6.
of wreathen work shall thou make them; these chains were not made after the manner of circles or ringlets coupled together, as chains usually are, but of golden wires twisted together as a rope is twisted
and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches; to the ouches on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, in which the onyx stones were set, very probably to rings that were in these ouches.
with cunning work, after the work of the ephod thou shall make it; wrought with divers figures in a very curious manner:
of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it; a piece of stuff interwoven with threads of gold, or golden wires, and with threads of yarn, of blue, purple, and scarlet colours, and with threads of fine twined linen six times doubled; all which may signify the beautiful array of the saints, with the several graces of the Spirit; and especially their being clothed with fine linen, called the righteousness of the saints; that raiment of needlework, and clothing of wrought gold, the righteousness of Christ, consisting of his obedience, sufferings, and death, fitly expressed by these various colours.
a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof; a square, which is the measure, the form of the new Jerusalem, the church of Christ, Revelation 21:16 and may denote the perfection, firmness, and immovableness of it, Psalm 125:1. Some have thought that this breastplate was doubled, in order to have something enclosed in it: some imagine, that within this fold were put the Urim and Thummim, which they suppose to be two words engraved on a stone, and different from the twelve stones in it; others, that the name of Jehovah was written and put there, as the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi on Exodus 28:30 and other Jewish writers, and others, fancy some little images were put within these folds, the name with the teraphim, and supposed to be the Urim and Thummim; but if these were hid in the folds, they could not be seen when consulted; it is most probable there is nothing put within the double, which was not done for any such use; but most likely that it might be strong to bear the weight of the precious stones, put in ouches of gold upon it.
(c) Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 6.
even four rows of stones; making a four square, and so filling up the measure of the breastplate:
the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle; about these stones, and those that follow, there is a great variety of interpretations of them, both among Jews and Christians; and they seem to be little known: our translators upon the whole seem to be as right as any in giving the names of them; the first of these, the "sardius", is a red stone of a blood colour, as the "cornelian" or "ruby", and which some have thought is here meant, and has its name either from the place where it has been found, Sardis or Sardinia; or rather from its red colour; for "sered" signifies red in Ezekiel 28:13 as Braunius (e) has observed from Kimchi; and so Odem, which is the word here used, signifies, and undoubtedly intends a stone of such a colour; and it is highly probable that this is the Demium of Pliny (f), which is one of the three kinds of sardius in India; and the red is so called from its redness, as the same Braunius observes. The second stone, the "topaz", had its name, according to Pliny (g), from an island in Arabia, in the Red sea, called Topazos; and the best topaz is the topaz of Cush or Arabia, as in Job 28:19. The topaz of the ancients was of a green colour; and so the three Targums call this stone Jarken or Jarketha, which signifies green; hence some have taken this to be the emerald, which is of a fine green colour: the third stone is the "carbuncle", as we render it; whatever stone is meant, it must be a bright and glittering one, like lightning, as the word signifies; wherefore some have taken it to be the emerald, so the Septuagint and Braunius (h); it being a very radiant and glittering stone, of a grass green, and very refreshing to the sight; but Danaeus (i) says, that the carbuncle is that species of the ruby, which of all is most beautiful and excellent, and darts out light like lightning to those that look at it at a distance, and shines in the middle of the night and darkness, so that it enlightens places near it, as if it were a sun:
this shall be the first row; now upon these three stones were engraven the names of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, as both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem agree.
(d) "et implebis in eo plenitudinem lapidis", Montanus; "vel eum impletione lapidis", Pagninus; "implebis in eo impletione lapidis", Drusius. (e) De Vestitu Sacerd. Heb. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 10. p. 639. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 7. (g) Ibid. l. 6. c. 29. (h) Ut supra, (De Vestitu Sacerd. Heb. l. 2.) c. 10. sect. 4. p. 653. (i) Apud De Dieu in loc.
(k) Ut supra, (Nat. Hist. l. 37.) c. 5. (l) Ut supra, (De Vestitu Sacerd. Heb. l. 2.) c. 11. sect. 2, 7. p. 661, 667. (m) De Gemmis, l. 2. c. 2.
(n) Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 3.((o) Apud De Dieu in loc. (p) Ut supra, (De Vestitu Sacerd. Heb. l. 2.) c. 14. sect. 9. p. 699. (q) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 10.
they shall be set in gold in their enclosings; or be set and enclosed in ouches or sockets of gold, as the two onyx stones upon the shoulder pieces of the ephod: there were twelve of these ouches or sockets, which might be made out of one piece of gold, into which the twelve above stones were put. These stones were, no doubt, brought out of Egypt by the children of Israel, and were the gifts of their princes.
(r) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 5. (s) Ut supra, (De Vestitu Sacerd Heb. l. 2.) c. 17. sect. 7. p. 720. (t) De Gemmis, l. 2. c. 7. (u) Ut supra, (De Vestitu Sacerd Heb. l. 2.) c. 18. sect. 4. p. 730.
like the engravings of a net, everyone with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes; not like the impression of a seal on wax, then the letters indeed would have been protuberant, as some have thought; but these were like the engravings of a seal, in which the letters or figures are cut within it: these twelve stones, with the names on them, represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and they the whole spiritual Israel of God; and being precious stones, show the excellency of the people of God, of what value, and in what esteem they are with God and Christ, being their jewels and peculiar treasure; and their names being in them, denote the special and particular knowledge God has of them, their names being written in heaven in the book of life; and they are called by name by the Lord; and being engraved as a signet, is an emblem of their being set as a seal on the arm and heart of Christ, and of their being as dear and precious to him as a signet on a man's right hand; and being set in ouches and enclosures of gold, express both the dignity and excellency, and the careful preservation of them: these were set in rows, as members of churches are, everyone in his order, rank, and station, 1 Corinthians 12:18.
of wreathen work of pure gold; not of circles and ringlets of gold coupled together, but of golden wires twisted together, as ropes are.
and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate; the two upper ends or corners of it, the right and left.
which are on the ends of the breastplate; the two uppermost ends or corners of it.
and put them in the shoulder pieces of the ephod before it; that is, on the ouches upon them, as before observed: into that part or side of the ouches which was to be the fore part of the ephod; so that the breastplate hung by these chains from the shoulder pieces of the ephod, on the fore part of it, upon the breast of the high priest.
and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate; on the other two ends or corners of it:
in the border thereof which is in the side of the ephod inward: these were at the two lower ends of the breastplate, towards the ephod on the inside.
and shalt put them on the two sides of the ephod; one on the right and the other on the left:
underneath, towards the fore part thereof; underneath the ephod, yet towards the fore part of it; or rather on the fore part of it, though so as the rings could not be seen:
over against the other coupling thereof; either so as to answer to the other coupling of the breastplate to the shoulder pieces of the ephod above; or to the rings at the ends of the breastplate below, with which these were to be coupled with a lace of blue; and so the word "other" here supplied may be left out:
above the curious girdle of the ephod; just above that these rings in the ephod were, to answer to the rings in the lower ends of the breastplate.
unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue; this blue lace was put both into the rings of the breastplate and into the rings of the ephod, and so being tied in a knot, fastened them together, as the shoulder pieces of the ephod and the breastplate were coupled above, with wreathen chains of gold put into rings: now this was done:
that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod: that the breastplate might be above it, or else the lace of blue:
and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod: but be kept tight and close to it by the wreathen chains above, and by the knots of blue lace below; which may denote the conjunction of the prophetic and priestly offices in Christ; the former being signified by the breastplate of judgment, in which the Urim and Thummim were, and the latter by the ephod; or else the union of the saints to Christ, the bond of which is everlasting love, from which there can be no separation; this union can never be dissolved, his people can never be loosed from him, they are members of his body, and one spirit with him.
(w) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 89. 2.
when he goeth in unto the holy place; to trim the lamps and offer incense, and especially when he went into the most holy place once a year:
for a memorial before the Lord continually; for a memorial to himself, to pray for them when he appeared before the Lord, to put the Lord in remembrance of his covenant with them, and promises to them; see Gill on Exodus 28:12, Isaiah 43:26, the Targum of Jonathan is, "for a good memorial": not a memorial for evil, but for good.
and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the Lord; either into the holy or into the most holy place, just as the names of the children of Israel on the stones are said to be; see Gill on Exodus 28:29,
and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually; not only bear their names and remember their cases, make intercession for them, and represent their persons, in all which he was a type of Christ, but bear their judgment, have that at heart, and administer it unto them; and in all doubtful and difficult cases inquire of God what was fit and right to do for them, or for them to do: so Christ has the government of his people both at heart and in his hands; all judgment is committed to him, and he is the righteousness of his people now, and will be their Judge hereafter.
(x) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 5. (y) Var. Hist. l. 14. c. 34. (z) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 68. (a) See a Discourse of mine, called Levi's Urim and Thummim, found with Christ, &c. published in 1725.
(b) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 4.
it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it; a large hem or selvage, perhaps of the same kind of woven stuff the robe itself was made of, and this was done to strengthen it:
as it were the hole of an habergeon; a corslet or coat of mail:
that it be not rent; when the high priest put it on; or through the weight of the ephod and the ouches of gold on the shoulder pieces of it, and the breastplate hanging down from thence; this may denote the strength and duration of Christ's righteousness, which is an everlasting one.
thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; these were figures made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, in the form of pomegranates: Jarchi says they were round and hollow, and made like hens' eggs, about the size of them, and of an oval form:
and bells of gold between them round about; according to some, the bells were put into the pomegranates, which is supposed to be the meaning of the phrase "between them", or, "in the midst of them"; and so Aben Ezra observes, that some say the bells did not appear, they were only in the midst of the pomegranates, and there they caused their sound to be heard: but according to our version and others, the bells were placed between the pomegranates, between every pomegranate and pomegranate there was a golden bell; and this seems to be plainly the sense of the following verse.
upon the hem of the robe round about; all round the hem or skirts of the robe were they placed in this manner: the Targum of Jonathan says, the sum or number of them were seventy one; but Maimonides (c) says there were seventy two, thirty six in each skirt; and so says R. Levi Ben Gersom; but Clemens of Alexandria (d) has increased the number to three hundred and sixty six, according to the days of the year, and thinks they signified the acceptable year of the Lord proclaiming and resounding the great appearance of the Saviour: "golden bells" may denote either the intercession of Christ in heaven, which if not vocal, as on earth, has a speech or sound in it, which is understood: his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, call aloud for peace and pardon, and it is a sound that is always heard with delight; the matter of them being gold may denote the preciousness and excellency of Christ's intercession, and the duration of it; and being on the hem of the robe shows that Christ's righteousness is that on which his intercession depends, and from whence it has its efficacy: or else these bells may be an emblem of the Gospel, as preached by Christ himself, and by his apostles and ministers, compared to "bells" for sound; the sound of the Gospel being a sound of love, grace, mercy, peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; a joyful sound, like that of the jubilee, an even and certain one, different from that of the law, and exceeding musical and delightful; and to "golden" bells for the preciousness of it, and its truths, and for its duration; and being on the hem of the robe may signify that in the Gospel the righteousness of Christ is revealed and pointed at, and that faith in this righteousness comes hereby; "the pomegranates" on Aaron might be an emblem of his priesthood, and of the ceremonial law, and of the good things they were shadows and types of; and of Christ himself, and of the virtue, odour, and fragrancy of his sufferings, sacrifice, and intercession; and also of the church, called an orchard of pomegranates, Sol 4:13 consisting of various members, as the pomegranate of various grains; the juice of which the blood of Christ may resemble, in which those members swim and are washed; and who are of a grateful odour to God, and are surrounded by his power and love; and their hanging upon the hem of the robe may signify the acceptableness of them through the righteousness, sacrifice, and mediation of Christ, and the fruits of good works, which both the righteousness of Christ and the Gospel produce; and particularly the bells and pomegranates may signify that sound doctrine and a savoury life and conversation should go together in the priests of the Lord, in the ministers of his word.
(c) Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 4. (d) Stromat. l. 5. p. 564.
and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out; by means of which the priests would have notice that they might depart, and he be alone in his ministrations; or rather, that the people might know his going out and coming in, and so give themselves up to prayer, while he was offering incense, see Luke 1:9 though the instance of Zacharias is not of an high priest, but of a common priest:
that he die not the Targum of Jonathan adds, with flaming fire. This is added, to make him, and all succeeding priests, careful that this robe, nor any other of the priestly garments, were wanting, when they ministered before the Lord; should any be wanting, it would be highly resented by the Lord: and such an one would be in danger of being cut off by death from the immediate hand of God, as Nadab and Abihu were for offering strange fire to the Lord; for, according to the Jewish writers (e), a priest not rightly attired, either with more or fewer garments than he should have, his service was illegal, and he was as a stranger, and his service strange service, unacceptable to God, yea, provoking to him; and so Jarchi on the text says, if he wanted one of these garments, he was guilty of death by the hand of heaven, the immediate hand of God.
(e) Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 10. sect. 4, 5.
and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD; which words were written either in two lines, or in one. If in two, Maimonides (g) says, the word "holiness" was above, and to "the Lord" below: but it might be written in one line, and that seems most likely: he also says the letters were protuberant, or stood out; but then they would not be graved like the engravings of a signet, in which the letters or figures are engraved within, but like the impressions of a signet made on wax, or other things: in this the high priest was a type of Christ, who is holy in himself, in his person, in both his natures, divine and human, in his offices of prophet, priest, and King; and he is holiness itself, the most holy, essentially, infinitely, and perfectly so, as angels and men are not, and the source and spring of holiness to others: and he is holiness to the Lord for his people; he is so representatively; as their covenant head he has all grace in his hands for them, and they have it in him; this is sanctification in Christ, and is by virtue of union to him, and is complete and perfect, and the cause of holiness in his people; and he is so by imputation. The holiness of his human nature was not a mere qualification for his office, or only exemplary to us, but is with his obedience and sufferings imputed to us for justification. Moreover, Christ has by his blood sanctified his people, or made atonement for them, and procured the cleansing of them from their sins, or the expiation of them; and he is also the efficient cause of their internal holiness by his Spirit, without which there is no seeing God, 1 Corinthians 6:11.
(f) Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 1. Vid. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 63. 2. & Succah, fol. 5. 1.((g) Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 1. Vid. T. Bab, Sabbat, fol. 63. 2. & Succah, fol. 5. 1.
that it may be upon the mitre; either the plate or the lace; the lace is the nearest antecedent, but it seems by what follows it should be the plate:
upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be; the plate of gold; the mitre was of linen, a wrap of linen about the head, and was like a turban on it, in the top of it; it did not come down low upon the forehead, but left that bare for this plate of gold to be put upon it. Jarchi seems to understand all this of the lace, by comparing it with the following verse, and Exodus 39:31 as if the plate was represented as in the lace, and the lace upon the plate and upon the mitre above; all which he thinks is to be reconciled by observing, that the plate had three holes, and in every hole was a blue lace, and each lace was divided into two parts, so that there were six in all, two laces at each end of the plate, and two in the middle, by which they were fastened upon the top of the mitre, by which it was kept from falling off; and of this middle lace, he thinks, the text is to be understood. The Targum of Jonathan observes, that this plate was put on a blue lace, to make atonement for the impudent.
that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; this supposes that the sacrifices of the children of Israel, which they brought to the priests to offer for them, or the gifts they devoted to sacred use, might be attended with sin and blame, either in the matter of their offerings and gifts, or in the manner in which they brought them; and which through the high priest having this plate of gold, with the above inscription on it, were expiated; they were bore away from them, and were not placed to their account, but they were cleared and discharged of them: and so it is that there is sin in the best performances of the saints; there is not a just man that does good, but he sins in doing that good; the best righteousness of men is imperfect, and attended with sin; and this cannot be borne, or taken away by themselves; if God should mark such sins as these, they could not stand before him; now Christ, their High Priest, bears and takes away these, along with all others, which are laid upon him, and borne by him:
and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord; not that he had always this plate of gold on his forehead, only in time of service; but then it was continually for the acceptance of them, though it was not upon his forehead, as Jarchi observes; at Maimonides (h) says, there was great necessity that the high priest should be always in the sanctuary, as it is said, "it shall be always upon his forehead", and therefore must be always there, for he might not wear it outside of it. This with respect to the antitype may signify, that the persons and services of the people of God are accepted with him through the holiness and righteousness of Christ, who is always in the presence of the Lord, ever appears in heaven for them, and is the Lamb of God, to whose person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, they are directed to look for the removal of their sins of every sort.
(h) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 47.
and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen: which was a wrap of linen sixteen cubits long, as Maimonides (l) says, both for the high priest, and for common priests, which only differed in the manner of wrapping them; that for the high priest was wrapped fold upon fold, as a roller for a plaster, and so the mitre was flat upon the head, and was like a turban, and did not rise up into a point; but those of the common priests were so wrapped, as that they arose up like a night cap, or a high crowned hat. The mitre, hat, or cap, though a token of honour, yet also of servitude; and may denote, that the people of the Jews were in a state of servitude, and point at the obscurity and darkness of that dispensation; they not clearly discerning divine mysteries, and wanting boldness and freedom to look up to God; or it may denote that the priests under the law were servants, and that Christ, our great High Priest, should appear in the form of one; and may also point at the intenseness of the mind in them and him on business, being deaf to everything else. The Targum of Jonathan says, the coat of fine linen was to atone for the shedding of innocent blood, and the mitre to atone for those who have elated thoughts, are puffed up with pride and vain conceit:
and thou shall make the girdle of needlework; to gird about the embroidered coat, which Josephus (m) says was four fingers broad; but, according to Maimonides (n), it was about three fingers broad, and thirty two cubits long, which they wound about and about; and though we translate it "needlework", it should rather be the "work of the embroiderer", as Ainsworth renders it: and this was not wrought by the needle, but in weaving; for, as Maimonides (o) observes,"they did not make any of the priests' garments with needlework, but the work of the weaver, according to Exodus 39:27.''This girdle may denote the strength, readiness, faithfulness, and integrity of Christ in the performance of his priestly office; see Isaiah 11:5.
(i) Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 16. (k) De Vestitu Sacerdot. Heb. l. 1. c. 17. p. 379, 380. (l) Ut supra, (Cele Hamikdash) c. 8. sect. 19. (m) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 2.((n) Ut supra. (Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 19.) (o) lbid.
and thou shall make for them girdles; linen ones, to gird up their linen coats, which were long, that they might the more expeditiously perform their service; and which is an instruction to all the priests of the Lord, true believers in Christ, to be ready, forward, and diligent in the work of the Lord; and especially to ministers of the word, who, as their doctrines and lives ought to be pure, signified by the priest's linen garment, so they should be girt about with the girdle of truth, and ready upon all occasions to publish and defend it, and to do their work with cheerfulness and faithfulness:
and bonnets shall thou make for them: these were coverings for the head, and of the same kind with the mitre of the high priest, and of the same length, but differed from that in the manner of wrapping the linen, of which they were made; see Gill on Exodus 28:39, and all these were to be made
for glory and beauty: to beautify and adorn them, to make them look like persons of some note and figure, and that they might be respectable among men, and typical, as they all were, of our great and glorious High Priest, the Son of God.
and shall anoint them; with the anointing oil, of which afterwards a particular account is given, and how to be made, and for what use, Exodus 30:22, typical of the holy graces of the Spirit of God:
and consecrate them; the consecration of them was by investing them with their garments, and by anointing them with oil; for this phrase does not intend the whole of their consecration, only another branch of it, and may be literally rendered, "fill their hand" (p); that is, with sacrifices to be offered up by them, see Exodus 29:1.
and sanctify them; by all this, set them apart, and devote them to the sacred office of priesthood:
that they may minister unto me in the priest's office; by offering sacrifices for the people, burning incense, and doing other things relative to the office.
(p) "et implebis manum eorum", Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version, Fagius, Piscator.
from the loins even unto the thigh they shall reach; they were to reach above the navel near the heart, and to the end of the thigh, which is the knee, as Maimonides says (r); who also observes, that they had strings, but had no opening before or behind, but were drawn up round like a purse; they were a sort of drawers, and somewhat like our sailors' trousers.
(q) "carnem nuditatis", Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius; "carnem nudam", Junius & Tremellius; "carnem verendorum", Tigurine version; "carnem pudendorum", Piscator. (r) Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 18.