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:
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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