The Tabernacle – Priestly Office & Garments

Exo 28:1-43 Exo 39:1-31

A. The Office

1. Primary priestly duties

    • watch over the fire on the Altar of Burnt Offering to keep it burning continually both by day and night, Lev 6:12; 2Ch 13:11

    • maintain the golden lamp outside the veil Exo 27:20-21; Lev 24:2

    • offer the morning and evening sacrifices, each accompanied with a meat offering and a drink offering, at the door of the Tabernacle. Exo 29:38-44

    • teach the children of Israel the statutes of the Lord. Lev 10:11; 2Ch 15:3; Eze 44:23-24

    • cover the Ark and all the vessels of the sanctuary, with a purple or scarlet cloth, before the Levites might approach them. Num 4:5-15

    • blow “an alarm” with long silver trumpets at the beginning of each day’s march Num 10:1-8

2. In addition to regular priestly duties, the high priest would also:

    • offer the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14; Lev 6:15).

    • share with the priests in the caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21; Lev. 24:1-4)

    • assist in arranging the shewbread (Ex 25:30; Lev. 24:5-9)

    • officiate at the ceremony of the two goats, when one is sent into the wilderness to Azazel, and the other slain to make atonement for the sanctuary (Exod 30:10; Lev 16:8-10).

    • make atonement for the sins of the people, the priests and his own house (Lev 4:3; Lev 9:8; Lev 16:6; Num 15:25).

    • the high priest was to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:3; Lev 16:15; Lev 16:33; Lev 16:34).

    • act as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29) when he carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed thereon

    • consult the Urim and Thummim before Yahweh (Nu 27:21).

It is supposed that there were in all eighty-three high priests, beginning with Aaron (1657 B.C.) and ending with Phannias (A.D. 70). At its first institution the office of high priest was held for life (but compare 1Ki 2:27), and was hereditary in the family of Aaron (Num 3:10). The office continued in the line of Eleazar, Aaron’s eldest son, for two hundred and ninety-six years, when it passed to Eli, the first of the line of Ithamar, who was the fourth son of Aaron. In this line it continued to Abiathar, whom Solomon deposed, and appointed Zadok, of the family of Eleazar, in his stead (1Ki 2:35), in which it remained till the time of the Captivity. After the Return, Joshua, the son of Josedek, of the family of Eleazar, was appointed to this office. After him the succession was changed from time to time under priestly or political influences. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

3. The high priest and his office prefigured Christ

The Aaronic priesthood described – Heb. 4:14ff

The superior priesthood identified – Heb. 4:14; 8:1-2

contrasted with the Aaronic priesthood – Heb. 8:5-6

B. The Garments v. 1-5

1. Their purpose v. 2-3, 40

a. for glory – kabod – also honor, dignity

b. for beauty – also splendour, glory

c. for consecration – dedicated to sacred use

A solemn recognition of the significance of an appointed official dress. It expresses that the office is not created or defined by the man himself Heb 5:4, but that he is invested with it according to prescribed institution. Barnes’ Notes

To consecrate him, i.e. to be an outward sign of my calling and consecration of him to my holy service. Matthew Poole

2. Specific items

a. The High Priest v. 4, 42-43

i. Breastplate, ephod, robe, tunic, turban, sash, linen trousers (undergarments)

b. “assistant” priests – Aaron’s sons v. 40-43

i. tunic, sash, turban, linen trousers (undergarments)

3. General materials

a. linen ( בּד : Bad ) and fine linen ( שׁשׁ ; Shesh )

b. gold for:

i. thread v. 5-8

ii. gemstone settings v. 11, 13, 20

iii. chains v. 14, 22

iv. rings v. 23-24, 26-28

v. bells v. 33-34

vi. half coronet v. 36-37

c. blue, purple and scarlet thread – probably wool – for:

i. the ephod v. 5-6

ii. the breastplate v. 15

iii. the robe (solid blue) v. 31ff

iv. the pomegranates v. 33

v. the sash v. 39 (implied since it is described as “embroidered” or “woven work”)

d. precious stones

i. shoulder pieces v. 12

ii. breastplate v. 17-21

4. order of attiring

a. linen trousers

b. tunic

c. robe

d. ephod

e. breastplate

f. sash

g. turban


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