Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Take, &c. Priests must be called by God, as Aaron was, Hebrews v. (Worthington)
And beauty, that all may be filled with awe, and adore the majesty of God. (Calmet) --- Our priestly vestments, which are objects of derision to the ignorant, are made so rich and beautiful for the same purpose. They have the sanction of God, by a parity of reason; and the authority of his church. (Haydock)
Heart. The Hebrews generally attributed to the heart, what we give to the head. --- Wisdom. All good, both inthe order of grace and of nature, proceeds from God. --- Consecrated, as if they imparted a sort of virtue. (Calmet)
Rational and ephod. See chap. xxv. 7. --- Tunic, long robe or cloak of blue wool. --- Garment, next the body, and woven very close and thick. --- Mitre, like a tiara or turban of linen, or rather of byssus, or fine cotton. This was never laid aside in the temple; as, to appear uncovered was then esteemed a mark of insolence. Eneas introduced the Phrygian custom into Italy, of sacrificing with a cap on the head. --- Girdle, for his under-garment, besides that which formed a part of the ephod. (Calmet) --- By these vestments, we are admonished to exercise the virtues of discretion, &c. (St. Jerome, ep. ad Fab.)
Ephod, (superhumerale.) That of the other priests was made of linen; and such were worn by Samuel, and by David, when he danced before the ark. (Menochius)
Together, by the hooks, under the two precious stones. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] iii. 8.)
Work. Hebrew, "all the work, and the girdle, shall be of the same" materials, and net sewed on afterwards. (Calmet)
Onyx. Septuagint, emeralds. (Calmet) --- Hebrew shoham, which the Protestants render onyx-stone. (Haydock)
Birth. On the right shoulder were engraven Ruben, Simeon, Juda, Dan, Nephtali, and Gad. On the left, Aser, Issachar, Zabulon, Ephraim, Manasses, and Benjamin. The high priest himself represented the tribe of Levi. (Menochius)
Remembrance, for both, ver. 29. The sins or burdens of the people, were thus to be borne by the high priest, and he was to make intercession for them. (Tirinus)
Hooks. Septuagint aspidiscas, "imitating the form or biting of an asp." (Calmet) --- Gold, on the ephod, by which the rational was suspended from the shoulders. (Haydock)
Linked, &c. The present Hebrew has "at the ends," migbaloth. But the Vulgate seems to have read more properly k instead of g, as in chap. xxvi. 4. (Calmet)
The rational of judgment. This part of the high priest's attire, which he wore at his breast, was called the rational of judgment; partly because it admonished both priest and people of their duty to God; by carrying the names of all their tribes in his presence; and by the Urim and Thummim, that is, doctrine and truth, which were written upon it: and partly because it gave divine answers and oracles, as if it were rational and endowed with judgment.
Span, or half a cubit, (Ezechiel xliii. 13, 17,) formed like a purse, in which the Rabbins say the Urim and Thummim, were placed. (Calmet)
Stones. It is difficult to ascertain the true names of these stones, interpreters are so much at variance; as they are also respecting the name of the 12 patriarchs, which were engraven upon each. They probably stood according to the order of their birth, ver. 10, 21. Thus Ruben, Simeon, and Levi, would occupy the first places, upon the sardius, topaz, and emerald. See on these stones Pliny, Natural History xxvii. 5; xxxviii. 8.
Exo 28:18 carbuncle, (ruby) sapphire, and jasper, (or diamond) had on them Juda, Dan, and Nephtali.
Ligurius, agate, and amethyst, (or eumeces; Pliny, Natural History xxxvii. 7.) had Gad, Aser, and Issachar.
Chrysolite, (beryl and opale,) onyx, (Septuagint, beryl; Chaldean, or emerald; Calmet) beryl, (Hebrew, jasper; Septuagint &c., onyx) were inscribed with the names of Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. In Ezechiel xxviii. 13, the jasper stone comes in the sixth place, as it does in the Vulgate here. (Calmet) --- The mystical interpretation of these stones, may be seen in Cornelius a Lapide. St. Epiphanius has written a learned work on the 12 precious stones. (Haydock)
Another. Hence the ephod, rational, urim, &c., are used to denote the same thing. See 1 Kings xxx. 7. (Calmet)
Doctrine and truth. Hebrew Urim and Thummim: illuminations and perfections. These words, written on the rational, seem to signify the light of doctrine, and the integrity of life, with which the priests of God ought to approach to him. (Challoner) --- Aurim means things brilliant, "declarations," Septuagint, and thomim, "perfections," or "truths." Some imagine, that God required the stones of the rational to be of the utmost brilliancy and perfection; Oleaster and Josephus (Antiquities iii. 8,) say, it was by the appearance of those stones that the high priest was enlightened, when he consulted God. If God approved of what was in agitation, they assumed a surprising brightness, as well as those on the high priest's shoulders. But this had not happened for 200 years before he began his history. The Urim and Thummim were not in the second temple, 1 Esdras ii. 63. Some think these words were engraven on the stones in the rational. Whether God explained his will by articulate sounds, as (Matthew iii. 17,) this is my beloved son, or internally instructed the high priest, when he was consulted, cannot be determined. (Calmet) --- St. Chrysostom is of the former opinion. "If any thing was to be known, a voice came from between the cherubim, from the propitiatory, to declare what would happen." As the Jews lost the propitiatory, when they were led captives to Babylon, it seems they never afterwards obtained this privilege of having an oracle. God sometimes instructed them by his prophets. But, for a long time, none had appeared; and all might attend more earnestly to the voice of the Messias. (Tirinus) --- Judgment. He shall be the supreme judge in religious matters, and must strive to pass sentence according to the dictates of my law, with truth. (Haydock) --- The chief judge in Egypt wore a golden chain, hanging from the neck on the breast, to which was attached the image of Truth, on a sapphire stone. Olian (Var. Hist. xxxiv. 14,) also observes, that this office was always held by a venerable and honest priest.
Bells, to denote the harmony of the universe, (Philo) and that all the actions of a priest ought to give edification. (St. Jerome)
Die, for coming in disrespectfully, without giving notice. See Judith xiv. 8.
Plate; reaching from ear to ear, two fingers' breadth, tied behind like a diadem, Wisdom xviii. 24. --- Holy, or "sanctity, belongeth to the Lord," and all who approach to Him, ought to be holy. (Calmet) --- Josephus represents the ornaments of the high priest's head, like the triple crown of the pope. (Antiquities iii. 8.)
Iniquities. This means, perhaps, that he shall wear these grand vestments and crown only on the solemn day of expiation, when he makes atonement for all the sins of the people, as a figure of Jesus Christ. Josephus tells us, that on other occasions, he wore a less costly attire. (Jewish Wars v. 6. or 15.) (Calmet) --- By bearing on his forehead kodesh la Yehovah, "Holiness to the Lord," he confessed that all mankind were sinners, and stood in need of pardon. (Haydock)
Linen. In Ezechiel (xliv. 17,) woollen garments are forbidden to be worn by priests. Many of the pagans required their priests to be clothed in white linen. All these prescriptions of God, which seem to us so minute, had a more sublime and mysterious meaning. For in the priestly robe....was the whole world, by the colours denoting the air, light, earth, and water: the two stones on his shoulders, signified the sun and moon, as the 12 did the signs of the zodiac, or the glory of the fathers; and thy majesty was written upon the diadem of his head, Wisdom xviii. 24. Thus the priest was a mediator between God and his people, and was to be solicitous for the welfare of all. (St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae] 1, 2, q. 102, a. 5; St. Augustine; St. Jerome; &c.
Consecrate. Hebrew and Septuagint, "thou shalt anoint and fill their hands" with oil, and the instruments of their office.
Linen breeches, descending as far as the knees. (St. Jerome) In chap. xxxix. 29, they seem to have been made of byssus, or cotton. But as linen is prescribed in all other places, perhaps a word has crept in there, by mistake of the transcribers. They were intended to remind the priests of superior modesty, as they were not commonly worn. Homer never mentions them. Virgil only specifies the cloak and tunic of Evander. Augustus wore breeches and stockings in winter. (Suetonius) --- But the ancient breeches were not like ours, but resembled rather an apron or girdle, enveloping both thighs, and hanging from the waist. (Calmet)