The Priestly Vestments. 1a Have your brother Aaron, and with him his sons, brought to you, from among the Israelites, that they may be my priests: Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 2For the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron you shall have sacred vestments made. 3Therefore, tell the various artisans whom I have endowed with skill* to make vestments for Aaron to consecrate him as my priest. 4These are the vestments they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocade tunic, a turban, and a sash. In making these sacred vestments which your brother Aaron and his sons are to wear in serving as my priests, 5they shall use gold, violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen.
The Ephod and Breastpiece. 6The ephod* they shall make of gold thread and of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, embroidered on cloth of fine linen twined.b 7It shall have a pair of shoulder straps joined to its two upper ends. 8The embroidered belt of the ephod shall extend out from it and, like it, be made of gold thread, of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined.
9Get two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: 10six of their names on one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11As a gem-cutter engraves a seal, so shall you have the two stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel and then mounted in gold filigree work. 12Set these two stones on the shoulder straps of the ephod as memorial stones of the sons of Israel. Thus Aaron shall bear their names on his shoulders as a reminder before the LORD. 13Make filigree rosettes of gold,c 14as well as two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, and fasten the cordlike chains to the filigree rosettes.
15d The breastpiece* of decision you shall also have made, embroidered like the ephod with gold thread and violet, purple, and scarlet yarn on cloth of fine linen twined. 16It is to be square when folded double, a span high and a span wide. 17* On it you shall mount four rows of precious stones: in the first row, a carnelian, a topaz, and an emerald; 18in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire, and a beryl; 19in the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20in the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper. These stones are to be mounted in gold filigree work, 21twelve of them to match the names of the sons of Israel, each stone engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
22When the chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, have been made for the breastpiece, 23you shall then make two rings of gold for it and fasten them to the two upper ends of the breastpiece. 24The gold cords are then to be fastened to the two rings at the upper ends of the breastpiece, 25the other two ends of the cords being fastened in front to the two filigree rosettes which are attached to the shoulder straps of the ephod. 26Make two other rings of gold and put them on the two lower ends of the breastpiece, on its edge that faces the ephod. 27Then make two more rings of gold and fasten them to the bottom of the shoulder straps next to where they join the ephod in front, just above its embroidered belt. 28Violet ribbons shall bind the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod, so that the breastpiece will stay right above the embroidered belt of the ephod and not swing loose from it.
29Whenever Aaron enters the sanctuary, he will thus bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastpiece of decision over his heart as a constant reminder before the LORD. 30In this breastpiece of decisione you shall put the Urim and Thummim,* that they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus he shall always bear the decisions for the Israelites over his heart in the presence of the LORD.
Other Vestments. 31The robe of the ephodf you shall make entirely of violet material. 32It shall have an opening for the head in the center, and around this opening there shall be a selvage, woven as at the opening of a shirt, to keep it from being torn. 33At the hem at the bottom you shall make pomegranates, woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen twined, with gold bells between them; 34a gold bell, a pomegranate, a gold bell, a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe. 35Aaron shall wear it when ministering, that its sound may be heard as he enters and leaves the LORD’s presence in the sanctuary; else he will die.
36You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, as on a seal engraving, “Sacred to the LORD.” 37This plate is to be tied over the turban with a violet ribbon in such a way that it rests on the front of the turban,g 38over Aaron’s forehead. Since Aaron bears whatever guilt the Israelites may incur in consecrating any of their sacred gifts, this plate must always be over his forehead, so that they may find favor with the LORD.
39h The tunic of fine linen shall be brocaded. The turban shall be made of fine linen. The sash shall be of variegated work.
40Likewise, for the glorious adornment of Aaron’s sons you shall have tunics and sashes and skullcaps made, for glorious splendor. 41With these you shall clothe your brother Aaron and his sons. Anoint and install them,* consecrating them as my priests. 42You must also make linen pants for them, to cover their naked flesh from their loins to their thighs.i 43Aaron and his sons shall wear them whenever they go into the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary, lest they incur guilt and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants.
* [28:3] Artisans…endowed with skill: lit., “wise of heart,” and “filled with a spirit of wisdom.” In Hebrew wisdom includes practical skills. Cf. 35:35; 36:1–2.
* [28:6] Ephod: this Hebrew word is retained in the translation because it is the technical term for a peculiar piece of the priestly vestments, the exact nature of which is uncertain. It seems to have been a sort of apron that hung from the shoulders of the priest by shoulder straps (v. 7) and was tied around his waist by the loose ends of the attached belt (v. 8).
* [28:15–30] Breastpiece: an approximately nine-inch square, pocketlike receptacle for holding the Urim and Thummim (v. 30). It formed an integral part of the ephod, to which it was attached by an elaborate system of rings and chains. Both the ephod and its breastpiece were made of brocaded linen. Span: Heb. zeret, the distance between the top of the little finger and the thumb; one half a cubit, approximately nine inches.
* [28:17–20] The translation of the Hebrew names of some of these gems is quite conjectural.
* [28:30] Urim and Thummim: both the meaning of these Hebrew words and the exact nature of the objects so designated are uncertain. They were apparently lots of some kind which were drawn or cast by the priest to ascertain God’s decision on particular questions. Hence, the pocket in which they were kept was called “the breastpiece of decision.”
* [28:41] Install them: lit., “fill their hands,” a technical expression used for the installation of priests.
a. [28:1–5] Ex 39:1; Sir 45:7.
b. [28:6–12] Ex 39:2–7; Sir 45:8–14.
c. [28:13–14] Ex 28:22, 25; 39:15, 18.
f. [28:31–35] Ex 39:20–25; Lv 8:9; Sir 45:10.