Wednesday, March 2, 2011

QQC--Weighty Clothes

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Exodus 28:6-29 

Aaron, and all the high priests after him, wore special clothes, different and more elaborate than those worn by the ordinary priests.  Part of that were the ephod and breastplate.  Both were made of specially woven fabric containing threads of gold but there was more to them than just cloth. 

The ephod was underneath the breastpiece and provided its support—held in place by a waistband and shoulder straps, kind of like the top of a full apron.  On each shoulder was a stone mounted in gold filigree settings with braided chains of gold attached.  Each stone had to be large enough to have the names of six of Jacobs sons engraved on it:

The stones of the breastpiece and the names in Hebrew of the twelve tribes.

I’ve had my name engraved on the front of a Bible or two and even with today’s technology, it takes a fair bit of space.  I’m thinking that the stones on Aaron’s shoulders would have had to have been fairly big and thus heavy, to accommodate all that engraving—never mind the weight of the attached gold.

The breastpiece was square and had mounted on it twelve stones, one for each tribe and each in a gold filigree setting.  Each stone had written on it the name of the tribe it represented so again, the stones weren’t too small.  In addition, each corner of the breastpiece had a gold ring sewn to it, with a gold chain at the two top corners to attach them to the shoulder settings and blue cord between the rings on the bottom corners and tied to two more gold rings on the ephod’s waistband.

All this was a considerable amount of weight.  How did the high priest manage to wear this day after day after day?

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Harmony said...

Reminds me of the fire fighter's outfits. Jacket alone is 50 pounds.

Perhaps this weighty garment served as a reminder of the responsibility they had to direct and lead God's people.

You have the most thought provoking posts Debbie.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Thank you! I hadn't thought about the weight of the garment being a reminder of the weight of the high priest's responsibility but that makes very good sense. By the way, there was more weight than what I described. At the bottom of his robe, the high priest had little bells and pomegranates--I think of gold, which would add considerable weight.


Konrad said...

That's one way to stay fit!

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Good point, Konrad!

Stephen Foster said...

I find it interesting that you estimate the size of the breastplate to be large, when the size is given as a "span long and a span wide- and folded double." Ex 28:16 A span is approx 8" and I have never seen a rendering of the Breastplate folded double.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Hi Stephen, welcome to my blog!

Actually, I said the STONES on the breastpiece had to be large--large enough to have words engraved on them and, as I pointed out, engraving takes space; the stones had to be large enough to accomodate the engraving. As I think of it I realise that when I referred to the stones being large, I wasn't even talking about the stones on the breastpiece itself but on the stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod. There were six names carved into each of those stones of onyx. I said nothing about the actual size of the breastpiece and was focusing on the weight of it; large stones means "heavy."