Exodus 28:39
And you shall embroider the coat of fine linen, and you shall make the turban of fine linen, and you shall make the girdle of needlework.
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(39) The garments hitherto described have been the outer garments. To these are now added the inner ones, of which there was but little to be said. They consisted of linen drawers (Exodus 28:42-43), a linen tunic or shirt, woven in a peculiar way, and, to confine the tunic, a girdle, which was to be of many colours (Exodus 39:29), and ornamented with embroidery.

Thou shalt embroider.—It is generally agreed that this is a wrong rendering. Kalisch translates, “thou shalt weave.” Gesenius, “thou shalt work in chequer.” Canon Cook, “thou shalt weave in diaper work.” The word used, which is a rare one, probably designates some peculiar kind of weaving.

The coat.—“Coat” is an unfortunate translation. The ketôneth (comp. Gr. χιτών) was a long white linen tunic or shirt, having tight-fitting sleeves, and reaching nearly to the feet. The sleeves must certainly have shown, as they were the only covering of the priest’s arms; and the lower part of the tunic probably showed below the “robe of the ephod.”


It appears from Exodus 39:29 that the girdle was to be “of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet,” like the ephod (Exodus 28:6). It was not, however, to be woven of these colours, but to have them worked into it with the needle. As it was worn immediately above the tunic and underneath the robe of the ephod (Leviticus 8:7), little, if any, of it could have been seen. Perhaps, however, the ends may have depended below the robe of the ephod.

Exodus 28:39. The embroidered coat of fine linen — Was the innermost of the priestly garments, it reached to the feet, and the sleeves to the wrists, and was bound to the body with a girdle or sash of needle-work. The mitre or diadem was of linen, such as kings anciently wore in the East, typifying the kingly office of Christ.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.The coat of fine linen - A long tunic, or cassock. Josephus says that it was worn next the skin, that it reached to the feet, and that it had closely fitting sleeves. The verb translated "embroider" appears rather to mean weave in diaper work. The tissue consisted of threads of one and the same color diapered in checkers, or in some small figure.

The girdle of needlework - The girdle of the work of the embroiderer Exodus 26:1; Exodus 35:35. The word translated "girdle" is different from that so rendered in Exodus 28:8 (see the note), and is probably Egyptian. Josephus says that it was wound several times round the body, and that its ends ordinarily hung down to the feet, but were thrown over the shoulder when the priest was engaged in his work.

39. coat of fine linen—a garment fastened at the neck, and reaching far down the person, with the sleeves terminating at the elbow.

girdle of needlework—a piece of fine twined linen, richly embroidered, and variously dyed. It is said to have been very long, and being many times wound round the body, it was fastened in front and the ends hung down, which, being an impediment to a priest in active duty, were usually thrown across the shoulders. This was the outer garment of the common priests.

The coat was a loose and large garment made with sleeves, worn under the ephod, reaching down to the feet, which was girt with a girdle, Leviticus 8:7. And thou shall embroider the coat of fine linen,.... Which was a distinct garment from the ephod, and from the robe of the ephod, and was the innermost of all; it was made of fine linen, curiously wrought in the weaving of it: according to some, it was full of a sort of eyelet holes; but as the word is that, from whence comes that for ouches, Exodus 28:6. Jarchi thinks it was full of holes, like those ouches or sockets, in which the stones were set; and so this coat was decked and adorned with gems and precious stones stuck in those holes or ouches: but rather it was figured with such little cornered holes as are in the stomach of animals that chew the cud, called the "reticulum"; being in the form of network, as Maimonides (i) observes, and which is approved by Braunius (k): this was an emblem of the righteousness of Christ, comparable to fine linen richly embroidered, decked and adorned with jewels, and curiously wrought, see Revelation 19:8,

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 shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.
39. The high priest’s tunic, turban, and sash. With vv. 39–42 compare (condensed) Exodus 39:27-29.

the coat] the tunic. This was made of fine linen, the ‘work of the weaver’ (Exodus 39:27), woven in one piece. Josephus says (Ant. iii. 7. 2) that it reached down to the feet, fitted close to the body, and had tight sleeves: it had a narrow aperture about the neck, and was girt about the breast by a sash (see below). It would thus resemble a cassock or dressing-gown (see ill. of an ordinary tunic in DB. i. 624b). Linen, as a clean and cool material, was much prized in antiquity (cf. on Exodus 25:4); and was worn in particular by priests both in Egypt Hdt. ii. 37; Wilk.-B. ii. 159), and also often elsewhere (see Di.).

chequer work] what exactly is denoted by shibbçẓ is uncertain; but not improbably something of the nature of a ‘check,’ obtained by the weaver alternating threads of different colours in warp and woof; or, if the threads were all of the same colour, quilted or honey-combed work (cf. Ges. Thes. 1356; Kennedy, EB. iv. 5288). The tunic was only the ‘work of the (ordinary) weaver’ (Exodus 39:27), which was not as elaborate as the two other kinds described on Exodus 26:1; but it was something more than perfectly plain weaving. Work of the same kind is mentioned also in v. 4, Psalm 45:13 (‘chequer-work of gold (-thread),’ but the text is doubtful); and, of plaited settings of gems (‘rosettes’), vv. 11, 13, 14, 20, Exodus 39:6; Exodus 39:13; Exodus 39:16; Exodus 39:18†.

a turban] Heb. miẓnépheth, something wound round (the cogn. verb occurs in Isaiah 22:5; see RVm.), i.e. what we call not a ‘mitre,’ but a turban. It was of fine white linen (v. 39); and probably was folded many times round the head: the Talm. says that it contained 16 cubits (= 24 ft.) length of material. Except in Ezekiel 21:26 [Heb. 31], where it denotes the royal turban of the Jewish king (Zedekiah), the word occurs only here and elsewhere in P of the high priest’s turban. See further (esp. with reference to Jos.’s statements) the very full art. Mitre in EB. RVm. silk for shçsh, as in AV. of Proverbs 31:22. The rend. is not probable: though ‘white silk’ was used for shçsh by Luther.

a girdle] a sash; Heb. ’abnçṭ, only of the sash worn by the priests, and (Isaiah 22:21) by a high officer of state. It was made (see the next note) of richly coloured material: Jos. (Ant. iii. 7. 2) adds that it was four fingers broad, wound twice round the body, beginning at the breast, and tied in front in a bow: the ends reached the ankles, but while the priest was officiating, they were thrown over the left shoulder so as not to be in his way (EB. ii. 1735; see ill. in Braun, de vest. sacerdd. opp. to p. 404). According to the Talmud, it was 32 cubits (48 ft.) long. It is thus very inadequately described as a ‘girdle.’

the work of the embroiderer] or variegator (see on Exodus 26:1): the "", Exodus 39:29, prefixes ‘fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet.’ The materials and work were thus the same as those of the screens at the entrances to the Tent and the court (Exodus 26:36, Exodus 27:16).Verse 39. - THE TUNIC AND GIRDLE. From the outer garments, which were the most important and distinctive, a transition is now made to the inner ones, in which there was nothing very remarkable. The linen drawers are for the present omitted, as not peculiar to the high priest. Directions are given for the tunic and the girdle. The former is to be woven in some peculiar way - so as to be diapered, as some think - and the latter is to be "the work of the embroiderer." Verse 39. - Thou shalt embroider. This is certainly not the meaning of the Hebrew. Some peculiar mode of weaving the coat is intended. The coat. Rather, "the tunic" or "shirt." The keloneth was a long linen gown or cassock, worn immediately over the drawers. It reached to the feet, and had tightly-fitting sleeves (Joseph. Ant. Jud. 3:7, § 2). Whether it showed beneath the "robe of the ephod," or not, is uncertain; but the sleeves must certainly have been visible. The keloneth was white. Thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen. This direction had not been previously given. It is a little out of place. Thou shalt make the girdle of needlework. Literally, "of the work of the embroiderer." The girdle was worn directly over the linen shirt, and under "the robe of the ephod." It would seem that it was not seen at all, unless its ends hung down below "the robe of the ephod." It was however to be artistically embroidered (See Exodus 39:29.)

CHAPTER 28:40-43 On the lower hem (שׁוּלים the tail or skirt) there were to be pomegranates of dark-blue and dark-red purple and crimson, made of twisted yarn of these colours (Exodus 39:24), and little golden bells between them round about, a bell and a pomegranate occurring alternately all round. According to Rashi the pomegranates were "globi quidam rotundi instar malorum punicorum, quasi essent ova gallinarum." פּעמנים (from פּעם to strike of knock, like the old High German cloccon, clochon, i.e., to smite) signifies a little bell, not a spherical ball.
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