Exodus 28:2
And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Holy garments.—Though holiness is, strictly speaking, a personal quality, yet all nations have felt it right to regard as “holy,” in a certain modified sense, all those material objects which are connected with religion and employed in the worship of God. Hence we hear, both in Scripture and elsewhere, of “holy places,” “holy vessels,” “holy books,” “holy garments.” These last are required especially for the ministrants in holy places, who need to be marked out by some evident signs from the body of the worshippers. In Egypt the ministering priests in temples always wore peculiar dresses; and probably there was no nation in the time of Moses which, if it possessed a class of priests, did not distinguish them by some special costume, at any rate when they were officiating. The natural instinct which thus exhibited itself, received Divine sanction by the communications which were made to Moses in Sinai, whereby special dresses were appointed both for the high priest and for the ordinary priests.

For glory and for beauty.—These words have great force. God would have His priests richly, as well as decently, apparelled, for two objects—(1) For glory—to glorify them—to give them an exalted position in the eyes of the nation, to cause them to be respected, and their office to be highly regarded; (2) for beauty—to make the worship of the sanctuary more beautiful than it would otherwise have been, to establish a harmony between the richly-adorned tabernacle and those who ministered in it; to give to the service of the sanctuary the highest artistic, as well as the highest spiritual, perfection. The relation of art to religion is a subject on which volumes have been written, and which cannot be discussed here; but God’s regard for “beauty” is here brought prominently before us, and no honest exegesis can ignore the pregnant fact that when God was pleased to give directions for His worship upon earth, they were made subservient, not only to utility and convenience, but to beauty. Beauty, it would seem, is not a thing despised by the Creator of the universe.

Exodus 28:2. The priests’ garments were made for glory and beauty — Some of the richest materials were to be provided, and the best artists employed in making them, whose skill God, by a special gift, would improve to a very high degree. Eminence, even in common arts, is a gift of God; it comes from him, and ought to be used for him. The garments appointed were, 1st, Four, which both the high-priest and the inferior priest wore, namely, the linen breeches, the linen coat, the linen girdle, which fastened it to them, and the bonnet: that which the high-priest wore was called a mitre. 2d, Four more, which were peculiar to the high-priest, the ephod, with the curious girdle of it, the breast-plate of judgment, the long robe, and the golden plate on his forehead. These glorious garments were appointed, 1st, That the priests themselves might be reminded of the dignity of their office. 2d, That the people might thereby be possessed with a holy reverence for that God whose ministers appeared in such grandeur.

3d, That the priests might be types of Christ, and of all Christians who have the beauty of holiness put upon them.

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.

2-5. holy garments—No inherent holiness belonged either to the material or the workmanship. But they are called "holy" simply because they were not worn on ordinary occasions, but assumed in the discharge of the sacred functions (Eze 44:19).

for glory and for beauty—It was a grand and sumptuous attire. In material, elaborate embroidery, and color, it had an imposing splendor. The tabernacle being adapted to the infantine aid of the church, it was right and necessary that the priests' garments should be of such superb and dazzling appearance, that the people might be inspired with a due respect for the ministers as well as the rites of religion. But they had also a further meaning; for being all made of linen, they were symbolical of the truth, purity, and other qualities in Christ that rendered Him such a high priest as became us.

Garments to be used only in holy ministrations,

for glory and for beauty, i.e. such as are glorious and beautiful; partly to mind the people of the dignity and excellency of their office and employment; and principally to represent the glorious robes wherewith Christ is both clothed himself, and clotheth all his people, who are made priests unto God.

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother,.... Called so, because in these he was to minister in the holy place, and perform holy service; and because typical of the holy human nature of Christ our great High Priest, and of his spotless righteousness, and of the garments of sanctification, both outward and inward, that all believers in him, who are made priests unto God, are arrayed with: Aaron and his sons being appointed priests, their garments are first described before their work and even before their consecration to their office; and there were some peculiar to Aaron, or the high priest, and different from those of his sons, or the common priests; and which are first treated of, as the breastplate, the robe of ephod, and the plate of gold; besides these, there were four more, common to all the priests, as the coat, the breeches, the girdle, and bonnet. Now whereas some of the Heathen priests performed their office, and offered their sacrifices, naked, which was very shameful and abominable, as Braunius (o) from various authors has shown, though this was not done by them all: in opposition to such a filthy practice, and to show his detestation of it, the Lord orders his priests to be clothed, and that in a very splendid manner, with garments

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.

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for {a} glory and for beauty.

(a) By which his office may be known to be glorious and excellent.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. for glory and for beauty] or, and for decoration (so v. 40),—for a distinctive decorated dress.

Verse 2. - Holy garments have provoked an extreme aversion and an extreme affection at different periods of the world's history. In Moses' time probably no one thought of raising any objection to them. Priestly dresses of many different kinds were worn in Egypt, and some costume other than that of ordinary life, was probably affected by the priest class of every nation. Without entering into any elaborate "philosophy of clothes," we may say that the rationale of the matter would seem to be that expressed with great moderation by Richard Hooker - "To solemn actions of royalty and justice their suitable ornaments are a beauty. Are they in religion only a stain?" (See Eccl. Pol. 5:29, § 1.) The garments ordered to be made for Aaron and his sons (ver. 41), are said to have been for glory and for beauty.

1. "For glory." To exalt the priestly office in the eyes of the people - to make them look with greater reverence on the priests themselves and the priestly functions - to place the priests in a class by themselves, in a certain sense, above the rest of the nation.

2. "For beauty." As fit and comely in themselves - suitable to the functions which the priests exercised - in harmony with the richness and beauty of the sanctuary wherein they were to minister. God, himself, it would seem, is not indifferent to beauty. He has spread beauty over the earth, fie will have beauty in his earthly dwelling-place. He requires men to worship him "in the beauty of holiness" (Psalm 29:2; Psalm 96:9; 1 Chronicles 16:29). He ordains for his priests rich and splendid dresses "for glory and for beauty." Exodus 28:2(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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