Revelation 1:13
And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) In the midst of the seven candlesticks (the word “seven” is omitted in some of the best MSS.) one like unto the Son of man.—“He who kindled the light to be a witness of Himself and of His own presence with men was indeed present.” He was present the same as He had been known on earth, yet different—the same, for He is seen as Son of Man; the same as He had been seen on the Resurrection evening; the same as He appeared to Stephen; the same Jesus, caring for, helping and counselling His people: yet different, for He is arrayed in the apparel of kingly and priestly dignity. He is robed to the foot with the long garment of the high priest. St. John uses the same word which is used in the LXX. version of Exodus 28:31, to describe the robe of the Ephod. (Comp. Zechariah 3:4.) It has been understood by some, however, to indicate the “ample robe of judicial and kingly power.” There is in the vision a combination of both thoughts. He is the King-Priest who is seen by the Evangelist, the Melchisedec whom the Epistle to the Hebrews had so gloriously set forth (Hebrews 5:9-10; Hebrews 6:20; especially Hebrews 7:1-17). He is girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. The girdle is not around the loins, as though ready for action and toil (Luke 12:35), but it is worn as by one who rests from toil in the “repose of sovereignty.” So, according to Josephus (Ant. iii. 7, § 2), the Levitical priests were girdled. The girdle is of gold; not interwoven with gold, as was the high priest’s girdle (Exodus 28:8), but pure gold, the emblem of a royal presence. (Comp. Isaiah 11:5; Daniel 10:5; Ephesians 6:14.)

1:12-20 The churches receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks; they should be precious and pure; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches; their light should so shine before men, as to engage others to give glory to God. And the apostle saw as though of the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the midst of the golden candlesticks. He is with his churches always, to the end of the world, filling them with light, and life, and love. He was clothed with a robe down to the feet, perhaps representing his righteousness and priesthood, as Mediator. This vest was girt with a golden girdle, which may denote how precious are his love and affection for his people. His head and hairs white like wool and as snow, may signify his majesty, purity, and eternity. His eyes as a flame of fire, may represent his knowledge of the secrets of all hearts, and of the most distant events. His feet like fine brass burning in a furnace, may denote the firmness of his appointments, and the excellence of his proceedings. His voice as the sound of many waters, may represent the power of his word, to remove or to destroy. The seven stars were emblems of the ministers of the seven churches to which the apostle was ordered to write, and whom Christ upheld and directed. The sword represented his justice, and his word, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, Heb 4:12. His countenance was like the sun, when it shines clearly and powerfully; its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold. The apostle was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared. We may well be contented to walk by faith, while here upon earth. The Lord Jesus spake words of comfort; Fear not. Words of instruction; telling who thus appeared. And his Divine nature; the First and the Last. His former sufferings; I was dead: the very same whom his disciples saw upon the cross. His resurrection and life; I have conquered death, and am partaker of endless life. His office and authority; sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there is no appeal. Let us listen to the voice of Christ, and receive the tokens of his love, for what can he withhold from those for whose sins he has died? May we then obey his word, and give up ourselves wholly to him who directs all things aright.And in the midst of the seven candlesticks - Standing among them, so as to be encircled with them. This shows that the representation could not have been like that of the vision of Zechariah Zechariah 4:2, where the prophet sees "a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon." In the vision as it appeared to John, there was not one lampbearer, with seven lamps or branches, but there were seven lamp-bearers, so arranged that one in the likeness of the Son of man could stand in the midst of them.

One like unto the Son of man - This was evidently the Lord Jesus Christ himself, elsewhere so often called "the Son of man." That it was the Saviour himself is apparent from Revelation 1:18. The expression rendered "like unto the Son of man," should have been "like unto a son of man"; that is, like a man, a human being, or in a human form. The reasons for so interpreting it are:

(a) that the Greek is without the article, and

(b) that, as it is rendered in our version, it seems to make the writer say that he was like himself, since the expression "the Son of man" is in the New Testament but another name for the Lord Jesus.

The phrase is often applied to him in the New Testament, and always, except in three instances Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14, by the Saviour himself, evidently to denote his warm interest in man, or his relationship to man; to signify that he was a man, and wished to designate himself eminently as such. See the notes on Matthew 8:20. In the use of this phrase in the New Testament, there is probably an allusion to Daniel 7:13. The idea would seem to be, that he whom he saw resembled "the Son of man" - the Lord Jesus, as he had seen him in the days of his flesh though it would appear that he did not know that it was he until he was informed of it, Revelation 1:18. Indeed, the costume in which he appeared was so unlike that in which John had been accustomed to see the Lord Jesus in the days of his flesh, that it cannot be well supposed that he would at once recognize him as the same.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot - A robe reaching down to the feet, or to the ankles, yet so as to leave the feet themselves visible. The allusion here, doubtless, is to a long, loose, flowing robe, such as was worn by kings. Compare the notes on Isaiah 6:1.

And girt about the paps - About the breast. It was common, and is still, in the East, to wear a girdle to confine the robe, as well as to form a beautiful ornament. This was commonly worn about the middle of the person, or "the loins," but it would seem also that it was sometimes worn around the breast. See the notes on Matthew 5:38-41.

With a golden girdle - Either wholly made of gold, or, more probably, richly ornamented with gold. This would naturally suggest the idea of one of rank, probably one of princely rank. The raiment here assumed was not that of a priest, but that of a king. It was very far from being that in which the Redeemer appeared when he dwelt upon the earth, and was rather designed to denote his royal state as he is exalted in heaven. He is not indeed represented with a crown and scepter here, and perhaps the leading idea is that of one of exalted rank, of unusual dignity, of one suited to inspire awe and respect. In other circumstances, in this book, this same Redeemer is represented as wearing a crown, and going forth to conquest. See Revelation 19:12-16. Here the representation seems to have been designed to impress the mind with a sense of the greatness and glory of the personage who thus suddenly made his appearance.

13. His glorified form as man could be recognized by John, who had seen it at the Transfiguration.

in the midst—implying Christ's continual presence and ceaseless activity in the midst of His people on earth. In Re 4:1-3, when He appears in heaven, His insignia undergo a corresponding change yet even there the rainbow reminds us of His everlasting covenant with them.

seven—omitted in two of the oldest manuscripts, but supported by one.

Son of man—The form which John had seen enduring the agony of Gethsemane, and the shame and anguish of Calvary, he now sees glorified. His glory (as Son of man, not merely Son of God) is the result of His humiliation as Son of man.

down to the foot—a mark of high rank. The garment and girdle seem to be emblems of His priesthood. Compare Ex 28:2, 4, 31; Septuagint. Aaron's robe and girdle were "for glory and beauty," and combined the insignia of royalty and priesthood, the characteristics of Christ's antitypical priesthood "after the order of Melchisedec." His being in the midst of the candlesticks (only seen in the temple), shows that it is as a king-priest He is so attired. This priesthood He has exercised ever since His ascension; and, therefore He here wears its emblems. As Aaron wore these insignia when He came forth from the sanctuary to bless the people (Le 16:4, 23, 24, the chetoneth, or holy linen coat), so when Christ shall come again, He shall appear in the similar attire of "beauty and glory" (Isa 4:2, Margin). The angels are attired somewhat like their Lord (Re 15:6). The ordinary girding for one actively engaged, was at the loins; but Josephus [Antiquities,3.7.2], expressly tells us that the Levitical priests were girt higher up, about the breasts or paps, appropriate to calm, majestic movement. The girdle bracing the frame together, symbolizes collected powers. Righteousness and faithfulness are Christ's girdle. The high priest's girdle was only interwoven with gold, but Christ's is all of gold; the antitype exceeds the type.

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks; that is, of the churches, resembled by the golden candlesticks.

One like unto the Son of man: we say, no like is the same; but Christ, who was the Son of man, and who ordinarily calls himself so throughout the gospel, is undoubtedly here meant, as appeareth by Revelation 1:17,18, which description can agree to him alone. He is said to have come in the likeness of sinful flesh, though he came in true human flesh; and Philippians 2:7, he was made in the likeness of men. John saw one who appeared to him as a man in the midst of seven golden candlesticks, which was Christ in the midst of his churches; placed in the midst, partly to let us know his observation of them all, and partly to let us know his being at hand to them all, to help, protect, and defend them.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot; podhrh the word signifieth a long garment reaching to the feet, whether of linen or woollen, or what other material, is not expressed; so as it seemeth to me hard to determine, whether it was to signify his priestly or kingly office, or neither. It is a habit of gravity.

And girt about the paps with a golden girdle; nor dare I determine the significancy of the golden girdle about his loins. It was a habit like that in Daniel’s vision, Daniel 10:5. They were both symbols of majesty, authority, and dignity, and the appearance agreed very well to him, who was both a High Priest and a King. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the son of man,.... By whom is meant not an angel, for he speaks of himself as a divine Person, as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, phrases not applicable to any created beings; and of himself also as having been dead, which angels are not capable of, and of living again, and of living for evermore, and having power over death and the grave, which no creature has; yea, he calls himself expressly the Son of God, Revelation 1:11; so that Christ is manifestly designed, who, as a divine Person, appeared in a form like that individual human nature which was at his Father's right hand; for that human nature of his, or he as the son of man, was not in the midst of these candlesticks, or churches, but he the Son of God was in a form like to his human nature in heaven; so before his incarnation, he is said to be like unto the son of man, in Daniel 7:13; to which there is a reference here, and not only in this, but in some other parts of the description; so after his ascension, he in a visionary way appears, not in that real human nature he assumed, but in a form like unto it, that being in heaven; but when he was here on earth he is called the son of man, and not like to one; though even such a phrase may express the truth and reality of his humanity, for who more like to the son of man than he who is so? see John 1:14; now Christ was seen by John in the midst of the candlesticks or churches, and among whom he walked, as in Revelation 2:1; which is expressive of his presence in his churches, and which he has promised unto the end of the world; and of the gracious visits he makes them, and the sweet communion and conversation he indulges them with, to their joy and comfort; as well as the walks he takes among them for his own delight and pleasure; and where he is, abides and takes his turns, particularly as a priest, in which form he now appeared, as the antitype of Aaron the high priest, to him the lamps or candles in the candlesticks, to cause them to burn more brightly and clearly:

clothed with a garment down to the foot; which some understand of the righteousness of Christ; this is called a garment, a wedding garment, the best or first robe, the robe of righteousness; and is fitly compared to one, it being unto, and upon believers, put upon them, and which covers their persons, keeps them warm and comfortable, and beautifies and adorns them; and is a very beautiful, pure, and spotless robe; and reaches to the feet, covers all the members of Christ's mystical body, the meanest and lowest, as well as the more excellent; the weakest believer as well, and as much, as the strongest: but not Christ mystical, but personal, is here represented; others therefore think that this long garment is a sign of gravity and wisdom, it being usual for men of power and authority, and learning, as the Jewish sanhedrim, Scribes and Pharisees, to wear long garments; but it seems rather to design a priestly robe; the robe of the ephod wore by the high priest is called by this name in the Septuagint version of Exodus 28:4; and so it is by Josephus (i), who speaking of the hyacinthine tunic, or robe of blue, says, this is "a garment down to the foot", which in our language is called "Meeir"; rather it should be "Meil", which is its Hebrew name; and so this robe is expressed by the same word here, used by Philo the Jew (k), and by Jerom (l); so Maimonides (m) says, the length of his garment was to the top of his heel: and in the habit of a priest did Christ now appear; and so he is described in his priestly office, in the midst of his churches, having made atonement for their sins by the sacrifice of himself; and now as their high priest had entered into the holiest of all with his own blood and righteousness; bore their names on his breastplate, appeared in the presence of God on their account, and ever lived to make intercession for them:

and girt about the paps with a golden girdle; as the high priest was with the girdle of the ephod, which was made of gold, of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, Exodus 28:8; and with which the priests were girt about the paps, or breast, as Christ is here described: it is said of the priests in Ezekiel 44:18, "they shall not gird themselves with anything that causeth sweat"; which some render "in sweating places": and so some Jewish writers interpret it, which will serve to illustrate the present place,

"says R. Abai (n), (upon citing Ezekiel 44:18) they do not gird themselves in the place in which they sweat; according to the tradition, when they gird themselves they do not gird neither below their loins, nor above their arm holes, but over against their arm holes;

the gloss says, upon their ribs, against their arm pit, that is, about their breast, or paps; and which is still more plainly expressed by the Targum on the above place, which paraphrases it thus,

"they shall not gird about their loins, but they shall gird , "about their heart".

So Josephus (o) says, the high priest's garment was girt about the breast, a little below the arm holes. Christ's girdle, as a King, is the girdle of faithfulness and righteousness, which is about his loins; and his girdle, as a prophet, is the girdle of truth; but, as a priest, it is the girdle of love; it is that which has constrained him to put himself in the room and stead of his people, to assume their nature, give himself a sacrifice for them, and intercede on their behalf: this is like a girdle, round from everlasting to everlasting; is said to be "golden", because of the excellency, purity, glory, and duration of it; and because it is very strong, affectionate, and hearty, it is hid to be a girdle about the paps, near where is the heart, the seat of love; and this may also denote the power, strength, and readiness of Christ to assist and help his churches in every time of need,

(i) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 4. (k) De Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 671. (l) Ad Fabiolam. fol. 19. H. (m) Cele Hamikash, c. 8. sect. 17. (n) T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 18. 2. & 19. 1. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 74. 2. Vid. Jarchi & Kimchi in Ezekiel 44.18. (o) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 2.

{8} And I turned to {k} see the voice that spake with me. {9} And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

(8) The exposition, declaring the third and last point of the proposition (for the other points are evident of themselves) in which is he first speaks of the author of his calling (till verse 17), and secondly, of the calling itself Re 1:17-20. First of all the occasion is noted in this verse, in that John turned himself towards the vision, and after he sets down the description of the author, in the following verses, Re 1:13-16.

(k) To see him whose voice I had heard.

(9) The description of the Author, who is Christ: by the candlesticks that stand about him, that is, the churches that stand before him, and depend upon his direction. In Re 1:13 he is described by his properties, that he is provided with wisdom and dexterity for the achieving of great things, and in Re 1:14 with ancient gravity and most excellent sight of the eye. In Re 1:15 he is described with strength invincible and with a mighty word, and in Re 1:16 by his ruling of the ministry of his servants in the Church by the sword of his word, and enlightening all things with his countenance, and mightily providing for everyone by his divine providence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 1:13. The entire appearance of Christ expresses essentially what has been said of him in Revelation 1:5-6,[746] and is likewise as highly significant as that declaration, as to the entire contents of the book. Hence each of the seven epistles is introduced “by a sketch of his form,”[747] as the majesty of Christ here presented, who holds his people in his hand,[748] is the real foundation and support of the apocalyptic hope.[749]

[746] Cf. Revelation 1:17-18.

[747] Herder.

[748] Cf. Revelation 1:20.

[749] 1 Timothy 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

Christ appears in the midst of the seven candlesticks, not walking,[750] but rather, if any thing dare be imagined, standing. He is not named, but is infallibly designated already by the ὅμοιον υἱῷ ἀνθρώπου.[751] The ὅμοιον is incorrectly urged by those who wish to infer thence that not Christ, the Son of man himself, but “an angel representing Christ,”[752] is meant. In this expression the dogmatic thought is not present, that Christ is essentially more than a mere son of man;[753] but John had to write ὅμοιον, which does not correspond to the simple כְּ, Daniel 7:13 (LXX., ὡς),[754] as the type of the form of the Son of man was to be recognized in the divine majesty of the entire manifestation.[755]

The Lord, who makes his people priests and kings (Revelation 1:5), appears clad in the sublime splendor of the high priest and of kings. He wears the robe of the high priest, reaching down to his feet,[756] which, according to Wis 18:24,[757] was a symbol of the world; yet God himself also appears, as he is royally enthroned, in a similar long robe.[758] To this is added the entirely golden girdle.[759] The girdle of the high priest was only adorned with gold.[760] That Christ wears the girdle πρὸς τοῖς μαζοῖς,[761] not about the loins,[762] is in no way to be urged in the sense of Ebrard: “The twofold nature of the unglorified body, in the nobly endowed upper part of the body, and in the lower part of the body serving the purposes of reproduction, nourishment, and discharge, vanishes in that higher girding, as it is first correctly marked by the girding above the loins.” For, is Daniel 10:5 to be understood of an unglorified body? Cf., besides, Josephus, Antiqq., iii. 7, 2, as to why the priests bind their girdles κατὰ στέρνον.

[750] Ebrard, according to Revelation 2:1; cf. on that passage.

[751] Daniel 7:13; cf. Daniel 10:16; cf. Daniel 10:18.

[752] N. de Lyra, Bossuet, Grot., Marek.

[753] De Wette, Hengstenb.

[754] Ebrard.

[755] Cf. Revelation 13:2.

[756] ποδήρης, sc. χιτων.

[757] Cf. Grimm on the passage.

[758] Isaiah 6:1.

[759] Not “girdle-buckle,” which, according to 1Ma 10:89, was peculiar to kings; Hengstenb.

[760] Exodus 28:8; Exodus 39:5.

[761] Cf. Revelation 15:6.

[762] Daniel 10:5.Revelation 1:13. The churches are inseparable from their head and centre Jesus, who moves among the cressets of his temple with the dignity and authority of a high priest. The anarthrous . . is the human appearance of the celestial messiah, as in En. xlvi. 1–6 (where the Son of man accompanies God, who, as the Head of Days, had a head “white as wool”) and Asc. Isa. xi. 1. The difficult ὅμοιον is to be explained (with Vit. ii. 127, 223, 227) as = ὡς (Revelation 2:18, Revelation 6:14, Revelation 9:7-8; Revelation 9:11) or οἶον, “something like,” a loose reproduction of the Heb. (“un être semblable à nous, un homme”). The whole passage illustrates the writer’s habit of describing an object or person by heaping up qualities without strict regard to natural or grammatical collocation. ποδήρης (sc. χιτὼν or ἐσθής), a long robe reaching to the feet, was an oriental mark of dignity (cf. on Revelation 1:7, and Ezekiel 9:2; Ezekiel 9:11, LXX), denoting high rank or office such as that of Parthian kings or of the Jewish high priest who wore a purple one. High girding (with a belt?) was another mark of lofty position, usually reserved for Jewish priests, though the Iranians frequently appealed to their deities as “high-girt” (i.e., ready for action = cf. Yasht 15:54, 57, “Vaya of the golden girdle, high-up girded, swift moving, as powerful in sovereignty as any absolute sovereign in the world”). The golden buckle or πόρπη was part of the insignia of royalty and its φίλοι (1Ma 10:8-9; 1Ma 11:58). The author thus mixes royal and sacerdotal colours on his palette to heighten the majesty of Christ’s appearance. New, golden (as in Iranian eschatology), shining, white—are the usual adjectives which he employs throughout the book for the transcendent bliss of the life beyond and its heavenly tenants; “golden” had been used already in Greek as a synonym for precious, excellent, divine.13. one like unto the Son of man] There is no article with either noun, while in the title of our Lord “the Son of Man” in the Gospels and in Acts 7:56 it is expressed with both. The inference is, not that our Lord is not intended, but that the title is taken, not from His own use of it, but direct from the Greek of Daniel 7:13—where also the art. is absent. Whether we should translate “a son of man” is a question rather of taste than of grammar: the words of themselves mean no more than “I saw a human figure,” but their associations make it plain to anyone acquainted with the Book of Daniel, that it was a superhuman Being in human form; and to a Christian, of St John’s days as of our own, Who that Being was.

a garment down to the foot] Certainly a garment of dignity (as Sir 27:8; Daniel 10:5; Ezekiel 9:2; Ezekiel 9:11): probably in particular of priestly dignity, as Exodus 28:31 (where the next verse suggests comparison with John 19:23). The same word as here is used in the so-called Epistle of Barnabas (c. 7) of the scarlet robe in which the Lord will appear when coming to judgement: some suppose that the writer had in his mind this passage, and perhaps Revelation 19:13.

girt about the paps] So Revelation 15:6, of angels. We therefore can hardly press the distinction of this from Daniel 10:5 (and Ezekiel 9:2, LXX.), where the angels wear the girdles of gold or gems, as men would, on the loins.Revelation 1:13. Ποδήρη) מעיל, Septuagint ποδήρης, of the garments of Aaron.Verse 13. - In the midst of the candlesticks. "For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20; comp. 2 Corinthians 6:16). Like unto the Son of man. Here and in Revelation 14:14 we have simply υἱὸς ἀνθωώπου, as also in John 5:27 and Daniel 7:13; not υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, as in Acts 7:56 and everywhere else in all four Gospels. It is not certain that the absence of the articles forbids us to render the phrase, "the Son of man;" but it is safer to render, "a son of man." The glorified Messiah still wears that human form by which the beloved disciple had known him before the Ascension (John 21:7). With the exception of Acts 7:56, the full form, "the Son of man," is used only by the Christ of himself. A garment down to the feet. The word ποδηρής, sc. χιτών (vestis talaris), though frequent in the LXX. (Ezekiel 9:2, 3, 11; Zechariah 3:4, etc.), occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The robe is an official one. The Rhemish renders it "a priestly garment down to the foote." Compare Joseph's "coat of many colours," which literally means a "coat reaching to the extremities." In Exodus 28:31 "the robe of the ephod" of the high priest is ὑποδύτης ποδήρης. The angel in Daniel 10:5, 6 is described in similar language: "whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz" (comp. Isaiah 22:21, "I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand"). "Enough is said to indicate that the Son of man claims and fulfils the office which was assigned to the children of Aaron; that he blesses the people in God's Name; that he stands as their Representative before his Father" (F.D. Maurice). Seven.

Omit.

The Son of Man

The article is wanting in the Greek Rev., "a son of Man." But the reference is none the less to the Lord, and is not equivalent to a man. Compare John 5:27; Revelation 14:14.

A garment down to the foot (ποδήρη)

Compare Daniel 10:5. From πούς, the foot, and ἄρω, to fasten: hence that which connects head and foot. The word is properly an adjective, reaching to the foot, with χίτων garment, understood. Xenophon speaks of the heavy-armed soldiers of the Persians as bearing wooden shields reaching to their feet (ποδήρεσι ξυλίναις ἀσπίσιν) "Anabasis," i., 8, 9). The word occurs only here in the New Testament, but several times in the Septuagint; as Ezekiel 9:2, Ezekiel 9:3, Ezekiel 9:11, where the A.V. gives merely linen; Exodus 28:4, A.V., robe; of the High-Priest's garment, Leviticus 16:4; of Aaron's holy linen coat.

The long robe is the garment of dignity and honor. It may be either royal, or priestly, or both. Compare Isaiah 6:1.

Girt about the paps (περιεζωσμένον πρὸς τοῖς μαστοῖς)

Rev., more correctly, "girt about at (πρὸς) the breasts." Compare Revelation 15:6. The ordinary girding was at the loins. According to Josephus, the Levitical priests were girded about the breast.

A golden girdle

The girdle is an Old Testament symbol of power, righteousness, truth (Isaiah 22:21; Job 12:18; Isaiah 11:5). Compare Ephesians 6:14, where the girdle of the Christian panoply is truth, which binds together the whole array of graces as the girdle does the upper and lower parts of the armor. The girdle suits equally Christ's kingly and priestly office. The girdle of the High-Priest was not golden, but only inwrought with gold. See Exodus 28:8 : "curious girdle:" Rev., "cunningly woven band." So Exodus 29:5.

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