The Priesthood – Revisited


This post is another in the “Tabernacle” series. Select  “Tabernacle” under Categories to view the other posts in this series.

(Exodus 28; 29:1-37; 39:1-31) This subject, in its relationship to the children of Israel, should have its proper beginning with Genesis 14:18-20. Eight times in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in dealing with the meaning of the Aaronic priesthood, as typifying the High Priesthood of JESUS CHRIST, the Apostle mentions the ministry of Melchizedek, king of Salem, who, for the first time in sacred history, brought forth bread and wine, symbolizing all that the Sacred Communion means to spiritual Christians today. Thus Israel’s priesthood is linked to that of Melchizedek, to whom Abraham gave tithes and, as is clearly indicated in Hebrews 7:10, as did those who were called to the priesthood and service of Jehovah, to minister in things Divine in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and, on through many centuries, in the temple in Jerusalem.

When Aaron and his sons were inducted into the priesthood, in obedience to GOD’s command Moses brought them to the door of the Tabernacle, probably to the Laver of cleansing, where Moses thoroughly bathed their bodies with water. Thus, the first requisite for the service of GOD, REGENERATION, or the New Birth, was symbolized. Moses did it, as they could not cleanse themselves. Only GOD can cleanse the souls of men by the washing of regeneration. After that, they must go constantly to the laver to wash their feet and hands soiled by service, as they handle earthly things. (see previous post “The Brass Laver for Cleansing).

Moses, acting as GOD’s representative, then placed clean garments upon Aaron. Symbolically the garments with which the High Priest and his sons were invested were GOD’s providing.

(Exodus 29:20-25; Exodus 30:30-32) The truth, presented by the two passages which we have cited directly above, is profoundly significant. The blood of the ram to be sacrificed, in token of the taking away of the sins of Aaron and of his sons, was to be applied to the tip of their right ear, and to the thumb of their right hand, and to the great toe of their right foot. They were to hear what GOD the Lord would speak. (Psalm 85:6-8) Their hand was to be set apart and dedicated to GOD’s service. Their walk in the sight of men, and their journeyings with messages and services for GOD were to be under the blood, and sacrificially rendered in His name and for His glory.

They were to be sanctified and set apart by the administering of oil, signifying the baptism with the HOLY SPIRIT. In the case of the High Priest, oil was poured over his head, and ran down upon his beard and over his garments, symbolizing complete anointing and consecration of his all, to the ministry and service of GOD.

In Hebrews 7:1-28,  we are shown that the meaning and application for us relates to the priesthood, and in the case of the high priest, typifies the ministry of OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST, JESUS CHRIST, who has, once for all, entered within the Holy of Holies of the Temple in the Heavens to make intercession for us before the throne of GOD.

(Exodus 28:1-5) The raiment of the High-Priest consisted of six garments, or parts of garments; a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, an embroidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle.

The Ephod: (Exodus 28:6-14) The ephod was the outer garment. It was cunningly wrought in the colours symbolizing the character and ministry of CHRIST, gold, purple, scarlet, and blue wrought on fine-twined, white linen. It was loosely fitted, dropping to the bulge of the thighs.

We are told that gold was beaten into thin plates, cut into fine wires, and worked into the linen with the three colours already mentioned. The ephod had two broad shoulder straps, one for each shoulder, with some sort of band crossing over, both front and back, joining them. On each shoulder was an onyx stone, attached to the ephod. Each stone was engraved with the names of six tribes of Israel, six names on one shoulder and the remaining six names on the other shoulder, arranged in the order of the birth of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel).

These onyx stones were mounted in gold, and were designed to symbolize the fact that when the High Priest appeared in The Tabernacle, and especially in the Holy of Holies, he bore in remembrance before the Lord all the children of Israel. There were two more golden settings, like rosettes, which ornamented the shoulder-pieces, and golden cords depending (hanging) from them. The breastplate and girdle were worn with the ephod.

The Girdle: (Exodus 28:8) The girdle served the purpose of a belt. It was a very skillfully woven band, of the same material as the ephod, and of the same colours, having the same symbolism. Our great High Priest, as seen in Revelation 1:12-13, was girt with a golden girdle.

The Breastplate: (Exodus 28:15-28) The breastplate contained or constituted the Urim and Thummin by which the high priest received the pronouncements or decisions and judgments of GOD, as relating to His people. Its materials, colours and workmanship were the same as those of the ephod. Its symbolism was the same. It was 9 inches wide and 18 inches long. When folded it formed a pouch 9 inches square. On the front it was set with stones in gold-mountings. There were 12 stones, set in 4 rows with 3 stones in each row. It is evident that these stones were engraved with the names of the 12 sons of Israel, in the order of their birth, from the oldest to the youngest. These stones in order were, in the first row, sardius, topaz, carbuncle; second row, emerald, sapphire, diamond; third row, jacinth (ligure), agate, amethyst; fourth row, beryl, onyx, jasper.

The breast plate was held in place by golden cords attached to rings pendant from the golden rosettes on the shoulders as already mentioned. Other rings at the girdle held cords so interlaced that the breastplate was held firmly in place, resting on the ephod. Thus as the High Priest came into the presence of GOD in the Holy of Holies, he bore the names of the children of Israel engraved on stones resting on his shoulders and upon the ephod over his heart.

The Robe of the Ephod: (Exodus 28:31-35) The robe of the ephod was all of blue. It was woven in one piece. It had an opening for the head, and hung to the floor from the shoulders. On the lower hem was a row of pendant bells, fashioned in the form of pomegranates, interspersed with balls of purple, scarlet, and blue. The High Priest was forbidden to enter the Holy Place without this garment on. It was essential that these bells be heard on entering and leaving the Holy of Holies, otherwise he would die.

The Mitre: (Exodus 28:36-39) This was a holy crown. Engraved upon it were the words “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” It was mounted upon blue lace, and was borne across the front of Aaron’s forehead, perhaps wound around the head, with the golden, engraved plate in front.

The Embroidered Coat: (Exodus 28:39-43) This, doubtless, was an undergarment. It was of fine linen, woven in checkerwork. It was put on first, next to the body. It may have been fashioned as an undershirt, possibly with a rather deep skirt. Added to this was a garment much like our modern “shorts.” The description of these garments indicates this to be correct. The wearing of this garment was obligatory. Disobedience merited death.

The Dress of the Priests: (Exodus 28:40-43) The official dress of the sons of Aaron consisted of four garments. A coat of fine linen, held in place by a girdle. They were woven in the four essential colours which we have noticed so often: purple, scarlet, blue and white. Each priest was required to wear a head-dress, similar to that of the high-priest, but far simpler. Under all were worn “concealers”, or breeches, as already stated. Every priest must wear these specified garments. Moses was expressly commanded to see that these garments were worn, and also that before any priest began his duties, he must be anointed with the holy oil, consecrated and sanctified, or set apart wholly to the service and ministry of GOD.

The instructions and commandments, relating to all these detailed preparations for the priesthood, should have a sobering effect and would add dignity and solemnity to the service and ministry of every servant of GOD.

1 Peter 2:9 NIV “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (cross reference link to Melchizedek post is mine)

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!


  1. Excellent, Bruce. The illustrations and short descriptions (including the symbolizations) are very helpful for those trying to navigate through Exodus 28.


  2. Since I have a poor knowledge of OT (Tanakh) generally (relative to the NT especially), I appreciate posts like this. As I read through this, my thoughts went to our spiritual armor in Ephesians 6.

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  3. Oh how you try try to convince yourself and others of this hogwash being truth. An IT man trying to find truth in questionable info. Wow…
    Bruce, just wow!


    • I’m curious Damon, on what exactly it is that YOU are trying to convince yourself and others on. I’m not the one who acknowledges that you’ve developed a deep disgust for another human being (that would be me) as per your latest post: I’m not the one who can’t seem to be able to control himself from slinging mud at someone who holds beliefs that differs from yours. You are. I’ve had to delete your comments a couple of times in the past when you have resorted to hurling personal insults. That’s you throwing stones at me, not me throwing stones at you. You write about personal realizations you’ve discovered and how it has changed you. Really, how is that working for you? Yet supposedly, you easily see through my facade. Have you ever honestly looked at your own facade? Have you ever wondered why it is that I continue to allow you to cast your accusations? I will tell you why. It is because I see in you, some of the bitterness and hurt that I used to hold onto, because of cards that I was personally dealt and self centered decisions that I made, that took me on a path of destruction. I don’t presume to have all the answers to all of the questions. But I do know what I have found and what I have learned along the way, that helped me climb out of what you are still in. And if God in His grace, can help me, in spite of all of my misconceptions and shortfalls, then it is my hope and prayer that He would help you. And maybe, just maybe, the reasons why you prod at me often and don’t know why (your words), is that God in His mercy and grace, IS trying to get through to you. But you’ve got that all in hand, don’t you? May our gracious and loving God bless you and yours richly in Christ Jesus. – Bruce


  4. Oh, ok. You have me figured out now? Well, looking at your posts are a form of entertainment for me, especially when I’m laying down for the night, because I don’t have a make believe way of viewing the world and life, like Christians. I sure don’t try, day in and day out, to convince myself of a bunch of bits of questionable info to be the truth. Yourself, millions like you, and the ignorant whom never even look at the truth of themselves being a huge mess (you, me, everyone) full of bitterness and fear of different degrees…perhaps I should go copy and paste your own bitterness towards other Christians, mud slinger. Anyway, the truth I see in you dear sir is a broken little man crying because he has so much bottled up emotion that remains because of God’s perfect will, and you have no choice, because whatever happens is God’s plan. I have taken on many challenges within my life, and nothing changed when I gave my life to the Bible, yes, the Bible, because that is the base for your religious beliefs. Nothing happened because I tried, like you and others, to constantly convince myself that it all worked. Does it? No, not for me. What works is what I write about, and acknowledging the fact of what is in front of me. Not imagining the great words of the Roman rule being truth.
    You get a challenge from me, Bruce, because I am sure you have the same thoughts I have about certain things, but because of fear of a little devil and a big god you walk the narrow path, even though you try to paint a pretty picture for an audience to mask the deep seated pain I see in you. Jesus to the rescue, I know. Why pull up things from your site that will show the same mud slinging? Because somehow you’re miraculously past those days. Nice try, perfect man. I like real, not fake crap like the Reasoned Cases for Christ site, which is usually unreasonable. But not for Christians who agree with you. And stop blessing me. You don’t mean it.


    • The Bible, Damon, is what leads us to Jesus and if ever there was a “perfect” man, that gives us insight into the ways and thoughts of God, it would be Him. You make a lot of assumptions, most of which are based on your own understanding, which as we have both acknowledged, differs from mine. You’ve had your say, once again, on both myself and what I write about. Duly noted. But with regard to me blessing you, I will continue to ask for God’s grace to bless you in my prayers, because you, like all of us, really need His grace. And please don’t presume to know my heart, because you don’t.

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