Exodus 28:1
And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
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(1) Take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother.—Heb., make to draw near to thee Aaron thy brother. Hitherto the position of Moses had been absolutely unique. He had been, from the time that Egypt was quitted, the one and only intermediary between God and the people—the one and only priest of the nation. Now this was to be changed. Perhaps in consequence of his original reluctance and want of faith (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:10-13), perhaps on account of Aaron’s elder birth (Exodus 7:7), it pleased God to commit the office of ministering to Him in the tabernacle, not to Moses and his descendants, but to Aaron and those sprung from his loins. In this way Aaron and his sons were drawn near” to Moses in respect of rank, position, and dignity.

That he may minister to me in the priest’s office.—Or, “that he may be priest to me.” The actual investiture of Aaron with the priestly office did not take place until some time after the tabernacle was completed. It is related in Leviticus 8; and his first priestly acts are recorded in the following chapter (Leviticus 9:8-22).

Nadab and Abihu.—On Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron, see Exodus 6:23; Exodus 24:1.

Eleazar and Ithamar.—The priestly office was, in fact, continued in the families of these two. Eleazar became high priest at the death of Aaron (Numbers 20:28), and was succeeded by his son Phinehas, whom we find high priest in the time of Joshua (Joshua 22:13) and afterwards (Judges 20:28). At a later date, but under what circumstances is unknown, the high priesthood passed to the line of Ithamar, to which Eli belonged.

Exodus 28:1. Aaron and his sons — Hitherto every master of a family was priest to his own family. But now, as the families of Israel began to be incorporated into a nation, and a tabernacle of the congregation was to be erected, as a visible centre of their unity, it was requisite there should be a public priesthood instituted. Moses, who had hitherto officiated, and is therefore reckoned among the priests of the Lord, (Psalm 99:6,) had enough to do as their prophet, to consult the oracle for them, and as their prince, to judge among them. Nor was he desirous to engross all the honours to himself, or to entail that of the priesthood, which alone was hereditary, upon his own family; but was very well pleased to see his brother Aaron invested with this office, and his sons after him; while (how great soever he himself was) his sons after him would be but common Levites. It is an instance of the humility of that great man, and an evidence of his sincere regard to the glory of God, that he had so little regard to the preferment of his own family. Aaron, that had humbly served as a prophet to his younger brother Moses, and did not decline the office, is now advanced to be a priest to God. God had said to Israel in general, that they should be to him a kingdom of priests; but because it was requisite that those who ministered at the altar should give themselves wholly to the service of God, he had chosen from among them one to be a family of priests, the father and his four sons; and from Aaron’s loins descended all the priests of the Jewish Church, whom we read of both in the Old Testament and in the New.

28:1-5 Hitherto the heads of families were the priests, and offered sacrifices; but now this office was confined to the family of Aaron only; and so continued till the gospel dispensation. The holy garments not only distinguished the priests from the people, but were emblems of that holy conduct which should ever be the glory and beauty, the mark of the ministers of religion, without which their persons and ministrations will be had in contempt. They also typified the glory of the Divine majesty, and the beauty of complete holiness, which rendered Jesus Christ the great High Priest. But our adorning under the gospel, is not to be of gold and costly array, but the garments of salvation, the robe of righteousness.(Compare Exodus 39:1-31.) Moses is now commanded to commit all that pertains to the offerings made to the Lord in the sanctuary to the exclusive charge of the members of a single family, who were to hold their office from generation to generation. In the patriarchal times, the external rites of worship had generally been conducted by the head of the tribe or family, in accordance with the principle involved in the dedication of the firstborn Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:12-13. Moses, as the divinely-appointed and acknowledged leader of the nation, had, on a special occasion, appointed those who were to offer sacrifice, and had himself sprinkled the consecrating blood of the victims on the people Exodus 24:5-6, Exodus 24:8. On the completion of the tabernacle, after Aaron and his sons had been called to the priesthood, he took chief part in the daily service of the sanctuary Exodus 40:23-29, Exodus 40:31-32 until the consecration of the family of Aaron, on which occasion he appears to have exercised the priest's office for the last time (Leviticus 8:14-29; compare Exodus 29:10-26). The setting apart of the whole tribe of Levi for the entire cycle of religious services is mentioned Numbers 3:5-13; Numbers 8:5-26; Numbers 18:1-32.

Exodus 28:1

Nadab and Abihu, the two older sons of Aaron, had accompanied their father and the seventy Elders when they went a part of the way with Moses up the mountain Exodus 24:1, Exodus 24:9. Soon after their consecration they were destroyed for offering "strange fire before the Lord" Leviticus 10:1-2. Eleazar and Ithamar are here mentioned for the first time, except in the genealogy, Exodus 6:23. Eleazar succeeded his father in the High priesthood, and was himself succeeded by his son Phinehas Judges 20:28. But Eli, the next high priest named in the history, was of the line of Ithamar. The representatives of both families held office at the same time in the days of David. See 1 Chronicles 24:1-3; 2 Samuel 8:17.


Ex 28:1-43. Appointment to the Priesthood.

1. take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him—Moses had hitherto discharged the priestly functions (Ps 99:6), and he evinced the piety as well as humility of his character, in readily complying with the command to invest his brother with the sacred office, though it involved the perpetual exclusion of his own family. The appointment was a special act of God's sovereignty, so that there could be no ground for popular umbrage by the selection of Aaron's family, with whom the office was inalienably established and continued in unbroken succession till the introduction of the Christian era.Aaron and his sons ordained for the priest’s office, Exodus 28:1. His holy garments, Exodus 28:2-5. The ephod, Exodus 28:6. Curious girdle, Exodus 28:8. The two onyx stones on which the names of the children of Israel were engraven, Exodus 28:9-14. Of the breastplate, whereon was the same, Exodus 28:15-22; with two golden rings, Exodus 28:23-29. The Uri and Thummim, Exodus 28:30. The golden plate which had on it, Holiness to the Lord, Exodus 28:36. The coats of Aaron’s sons, their girdles, caps, and their linen drawers, Exodus 28:40, which they put on when they served in the holy place, Exodus 28:43

Take thou unto thee cause them to come near unto thee, that thou mayst before them and before the people declare the will of God herein, and solemnly set them apart for his office.

And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him,.... Moses is bid to fetch or send for Aaron and his sons to him: or "cause" them to "draw near" (n) to him, and stand before him, that he might in the name of the Lord, and by his authority, distinguish and separate them

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.

And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
1. And thou, bring thou near, &c.] as Exodus 27:20. hikrib (‘bring near’) has here the special, sacred sense of present, or, of a sacrifice, offer, as very often in P; cf. Exodus 29:3-4; Exodus 29:8; Exodus 29:10; Exodus 40:12; Exodus 40:14; and DB. iii. 587b.

and his sons with him] the addition of ‘with him,’ as often in P: v. 41, Exodus 29:21 (twice), Genesis 6:18; Genesis 7:7; Genesis 7:13 &c. (see LOT. p. 132, No. 10). Aaron’s ‘sons,’ as already explained, represent in this and the next ch., the ordinary priests.

minister … in the priest’s office] in the Heb., one word, be (or Acts as priest. The Heb. for ‘priest’ is kôhen, a word of which the etym. sense is unknown: the supposition that it denotes ‘one who stands’ (to serve God) is most precarious: there is no Semitic root kâhan, or even kûn, meaning to ‘stand’: kûn, in Arab., Eth., and Phoen. is the common word for ‘to be’; in Ass. it means to be firm; derivatives in Heb. also mean to be or to make firm, but this is not the same thing as to ‘stand.’ In Arabic the corresponding word, kâhin, means a seer—an important man in a tribe, who was consulted before an undertaking, esp. a war, or to settle a dispute, or other difficulty, the organ of a deity, or, mostly, of a jinn (Wellh. Arab. Heid. 130–4, 167; 2131–8, 143): the older Isr. kôhçn also habitually gave answers, by the Urim and Thummim, on questions submitted to him, and divine decisions upon legal cases (see on Exodus 18:15). The common name, and the kindred functions, justify the inference that the kôhçn and the kâhin were originally identical: both will have been originally guardians of an oracle at a sanctuary: but their functions diverged: the kâhin sank to be a mere diviner; the kôhçn acquired gradually more and more of the sacrificial functions which we commonly attach to the idea of a ‘priest.’

Nadab and Abihu] see in J Exodus 24:1; Exodus 24:9; in P Exodus 6:23, Leviticus 10:1-2.

Eleazar and Ithamar] Eleazar is mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:6 as Aaron’s successor in the priesthood, and in Joshua 24:33 (E) his death is recorded. See further on Exodus 6:23.

1–5. Sacred vestments to be made for the priests.

Verses 1-12. - THE HOLY GARMENTS. The special object of the present chapter is to prescribe the form, materials, colour, etc., of the holy garments - or the attire of those who were to minister in the tabernacle at the time of their ministration. As the service of the tabernacle was about to be committed to Aaron and his sons, their selection for this office is mentioned in verse 1, and their investiture and consecration briefly touched in verse 41. Otherwise the whole chapter is concerned with the attire That of Aaron is first prescribed (vers. 4-39). It consists of an ephod (vers. 6-12); a breastplate (vers. 13-30); a robe (vers. 31-35); a mitre (vers 36-38); a coat, or tunic; and a girdle (ver. 39). The dress of his sons follows. It comprises drawers (ver. 42), tunics, girdles, and caps or turbans (ver. 40). Incidentally it is mentioned in verse 43, that drawers are also to be worn by Aaron; and, in conclusion, the neglect of this ordinance in the case of either Aaron or his sons is forbidden under penalty of death Verse 1. - Take thou unto thee. Literally, "Make to draw near to thee." Moses had hitherto been of all the people the one nearest to God, the medium of communication. He was now to abdicate a portion of his functions, transferring them to his brother and his brother's sons. By this act he would draw them nearer to him than they were before. It is worthy of remark that he makes no remonstrance or opposition, but carries out God's will in this matter as readily and willingly as in all others. (See Leviticus 8:4-30.) From among the children of Israel. The LXX. reads "And from among the children of Israel," as if others besides the family of Aaron had been admitted to the priesthood. But this is contrary to the entire tenor of the later narrative. The existing Hebrew text is correct. Nadab and Abihu, and again, Eleazar and Ithamar, are always coupled together in the Pentateuch (Exodus 24:1; Leviticus 10:1, 12; etc.), while a marked division is made between the two pairs of brothers. It is probably the sin and early death of the two elder (Leviticus 10:1-2) that causes the separation. Of Ithamar after the death of his brothers, nothing is known. Eleazar became high priest (Numbers 34:17; Joshua 14:1; Joshua 17:4; etc.). Exodus 28:1(cf. Exodus 39:1-31). Appointment and Clothing of the Priests. - Exodus 28:1, Exodus 28:5. "Let Aaron thy brother draw near to thee from among the children of Israel, and his sons with him, that he may be a priest to Me." Moses is distinguished from the people as the mediator of the covenant. Hence he was to cause Aaron and his sons to come to him, i.e., to separate them from the people, and install them as priests, or perpetual mediators between Jehovah and His people. The primary meaning of cohen, the priest, has been retained in the Arabic, where it signifies administrator alieni negotii, viz., to act as a mediator for a person, or as his plenipotentiary, from which it came to be employed chiefly in connection with priestly acts. Among the heathen Arabs it is used "maxime de hariolis vatibusque;" by the Hebrews it was mostly applied to the priests of Jehovah; and there are only a few placed in which it is used in connection with the higher officers of state, who stood next to the king, and acted as it were as mediators between the king and the nation (thus 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:26; 1 Kings 4:5). For the duties of their office the priests were to receive "holy garments for glory and for honour." Before they could draw near to Jehovah the Holy One (Leviticus 11:45), it was necessary that their unholiness should be covered over with holy clothes, which were to be made by men endowed with wisdom, whom Jehovah had filled with the spirit of wisdom. "Wise-hearted," i.e., gifted with understanding and judgment; the heart being regarded as the birth-place of the thoughts. In the Old Testament wisdom is constantly used for practical intelligence in the affairs of life; here, for example, it is equivalent to artistic skill surpassing man's natural ability, which is therefore described as being filled with the divine spirit of wisdom. These clothes were to be used "to sanctify him (Aaron and his sons), that he might be a priest to Jehovah." Sanctification, as the indispensable condition of priestly service, was not merely the removal of the uncleanness which flowed from sin, but, as it were, the transformation of the natural into the glory of the image of God. In this sense the holy clothing served the priest for glory and ornament. The different portions of the priest's state-dress mentioned in Exodus 28:4 are described more fully afterwards. For making them, the skilled artists were to take the gold, the hyacinth, etc. The definite article is sued before gold and the following words, because the particular materials, which would be presented by the people, are here referred to.
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