Exodus 28:38
And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) That Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things.—The “holy things” are the offerings brought by the people. These would always have some “iniquity” attaching to them, some imperfection, owing to the imperfection of human nature and the mixed character of human motives. The high priest’s official holiness enabled him to present to God offerings thus imperfect without offending Him. It was accepted as purging the offerings from their impurity.

It shall be always upon his forehead—that is to say, during his ministrations.

Exodus 28:38. Aaron must have this upon his forehead, that he may bear the iniquity of the holy things, and that they may be accepted before the Lord — Herein he was a type of Christ, the great Mediator between God and man. Through him, what is amiss in our services, is pardoned: even this would be our ruin, if God should enter into judgment with us: but Christ, our High-Priest, bears this iniquity; bears it for us, so as to bear it from us. Through him, likewise, what is good is accepted; our persons, our performances, are pleasing to God upon the account of Christ’s intercession, and not otherwise. His being holiness to the Lord, recommends all those to the divine favour that believe in him. Having such a High-Priest, we come boldly to the throne of grace.

28:31-39 The robe of the ephod was under the ephod, and reached down to the knees, without sleeves. Aaron must minister in the garments appointed. We must serve the Lord with holy fear, as those who know they deserve to die. A golden plate was fixed on Aaron's forehead, engraven with Holiness to the Lord. Aaron was hereby reminded that God is holy, and that his priests must be holy, devoted to the Lord. This must appear in their forehead, in open profession of their relation to God. It must be engraven like the engravings of a signet; deep and durable; not painted so as to be washed off, but firm and lasting; such must our holiness to the Lord be. Christ is our High Priest; through him sins are forgiven to us, and not laid to our charge. Our persons, our doings, are pleasing to God upon the account of Christ, and not otherwise.Bear the iniquity of the holy things - The Hebrew expression "to bear iniquity" is applied either to one who suffers the penalty of sin (Exodus 28:43; Leviticus 5:1, Leviticus 5:17; Leviticus 17:16; Leviticus 26:41, etc.), or to one who takes away the sin of others (Genesis 50:17; Leviticus 10:17; Leviticus 16:22; Numbers 30:15; 1 Samuel 15:25, etc.). In several of these passages, the verb is rightly rendered to forgive. The iniquity which is spoken of in this place does not mean particular sins actually committed, but that condition of alienation from God in every earthly thing which makes reconciliation and consecration needful. Compare Numbers 18:1. It belonged to the high priest, as the chief atoning mediator between Yahweh and His people (see the note at Exodus 28:36), to atone for the holy things that they might be "accepted before the Lord" (compare Leviticus 8:15, note; Leviticus 16:20, Leviticus 16:33, note): but the common priests also, in their proper functions, had to take their part in making atonement (Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 10:17; Leviticus 22:16; Numbers 18:23, etc.).37. mitre—crown-like cap for the head, not covering the entire head, but adhering closely to it, composed of fine linen. The Scripture has not described its form, but from Josephus we may gather that it was conical in shape, as he distinguishes the mitres of the common priests by saying that they were not conical—that it was encircled with swathes of blue embroidered, and that it was covered by one piece of fine linen to hide the seams. That Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things; either,

1. That he, being consecrated to God for this end, that he should take care as far as he could that both persons and things presented to God should be holy or agreeable to the mind of God, might bear the punishment for any miscarriage committed therein which he could have prevented. Or rather,

2. That he, being a holy person, and appointed by God to make a typical reconciliation for the sins of the people, and to intercede for them, might take away, or obtain from God the pardon of their iniquity, wherewith even their holy things are defiled, if God should severely mark what is amiss in them; which sense the last words of the verse favour. And the high priest was herein eminently a type of Christ, who properly and truly bare and took away the iniquity of his people’s holy things by his sacrifice and intercession.

Which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts, i.e. shall separate or consecrate unto God in all their offerings or gifts. If there be any thing amiss either in the thing offered, or in the manner of offering, God upon the priest’s intercession will pardon it.

It shall be always upon his forehead, i.e. at all times of his solemn appearance before God.

And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead,.... That is, the plate of gold, with the inscription on it, holiness to the Lord, and so was very visible and legible. The Targum of Jonathan adds, from temple to temple, that is, from the furthermost end of the one, to the furthermost end of the other, the same as from ear to ear; see Gill on Exodus 28:36 the use of it follows:

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 it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may {p} bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.

(p) Their offerings could not be so perfect, but some fault would be in them: which sin the high priest bore and pacified God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. bear the iniquity, &c.] i.e. take upon himself the guilt of any ritual error or mistake made accidentally in offering the holy things; cf. Leviticus 22:16. Elsewhere the expression becomes equivalent to be responsible for (Numbers 18:1; Numbers 18:23). Cf. LOT. p. 50, No. 20c.

that they may be accepted] more lit. for their acceptance: so Leviticus 22:20; and similarly (in the Heb.) Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 19:5; Lev Exo 22:19; Leviticus 22:21; Leviticus 22:29; Leviticus 23:11. The gold plate, with its inscription, on the high priest’s forehead, marks him out as the people’s specially holy representative before God: and enables him, as such, to secure His acceptance of their offerings, in spite of any venial oversight or omission made in offering them.

Verse 38. - It shall be upon his forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the sacred things. Imperfection attaches to everything that man does; and even the sacrifices that the people offered to God required to be atoned for and purified. It was granted to the high priest in his official capacity to make the necessary atonement, and so render the people's gifts acceptable. For this purpose he was invested with an official holiness, proclaimed by the inscription upon the plate, which exhibited him as the type and representative of that perfectly Holy One, through whom alone can any real atonement be made to the Father. It shall be always upon his forehead - i.e., whenever he ministers.

CHAPTER 28:39 Exodus 28:38The fourth article of the high priest's dress was the diadem upon his head-band. ציץ, from צוּץ to shine, a plate of pure gold, on which the words ליהוה קדשׁ, "holiness (i.e., all holy) to Jehovah," were engraved, and which is called the "crown of holiness" in consequence, in Exodus 39:30. This gold plate was to be placed upon a riband of dark-blue purple, or, as it is expressed in Exodus 39:31, a riband of this kind was to be fastened to it, to attach it to the head-band, "upon the fore-front (as in Exodus 26:9) of the head-band," from above (Exodus 39:31); by which we are to understand that the gold plate was placed above the lower coil of the head-band and over Aaron's forehead. The word מצנפת, from צנף to twist or coil (Isaiah 22:18), is only applied to the head-band or turban of the high priest, which was made of simply byssus (Exodus 28:39), and, judging from the etymology, was in the shape of a turban. This is all that can be determined with reference to its form. The diadem was the only thing about it that had any special significance. This was to be placed above (upon) Aaron's forehead, that he "might bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel sanctified, with regard to all their holy gifts,...as an acceptableness for them before Jehovah." עון נשׁא: to bear iniquity (sin) and take it away; in other words, to exterminate it by taking it upon one's self. The high priest was exalted into an atoning mediator of the whole nation; and an atoning, sin-exterminating intercession was associated with his office. The qualification for this he received from the diadem upon his forehead with the inscription, "holiness to the Lord." Through this inscription, which was fastened upon his head-dress of brilliant white, the earthly reflection of holiness, he was crowned as the sanctified of the Lord (Psalm 106:16), and endowed with the power to exterminate the sin which clung to the holy offerings of the people on account of the unholiness of their nature, so that the gifts of the nation became well-pleasing to the Lord, and the good pleasure of God was manifested to the nation.

(Note: See my Archaeology i. pp. 183-4. The following are Calvin's admirable remarks: Oblationum sanctarum iniquitas tollenda et purganda fuit per sacerdotem. Frigidum est illud commentum, si quid erroris admissum est in ceremoniis, remissum fuisse sacerdotis precibus. Longius enim respicere nos oportet: ideo oblationum iniquitatem deleri a sacerdote, quia nulla oblatio, quatenus est hominis, omni vitio caret. Dictu hoc asperum est et fere παράδοξον, sanctitates ipsas esse immundas, ut venia indigeant; sed tenendum est, nihil esse sane purum, quod non aliquid labis a nobis contrahat.... Nihil Dei cultu praestantius: et tamen nihil offerre potuit populus, etiam a lege praescriptum, nisi intercedente venia, quam nonnisi per sacerdotem obtinuit.)

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