Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Exodus
Book: Exodus
Chapter: 28

Aaron and his sons set apart for the Priest's office, Their
garments. (1-5) The Ephod. (6-14) The Breastplate, The Urim and
Thummim. (15-30) The robe of the Ephod, The plate of the Mitre.
(31-39) The garments for Aaron's sons. (40-43)

1-5 Hitherto the heads of families were the priests, and
offered sacrifices; but now this office was confined to the
family of Aaron only; and So continued till the Gospel
Dispensation. The holy garments not only distinguished the
priests from the people, but were emblems of that holy conduct
which should ever be the Glory and beauty, the Mark of the
ministers of religion, without which their persons and
ministrations will be had in contempt. They also typified the
Glory of the Divine majesty, and the beauty of complete
Holiness, which rendered Jesus Christ the great High Priest. But
our adorning under the Gospel, is not to be of Gold and costly
array, but the garments of Salvation, the robe of Righteousness.

6-14 This richly-wrought Ephod was the outmost garment of the
high Priest; Plain Linen ephods were worn By the inferior
priests. It was a short Coat without sleeves, fastened close to
the body with a Girdle. The shoulder-Pieces were buttoned
together with precious Stones set in Gold, one On each shoulder,
On which were engraven the names of the children of Israel. Thus
Christ, our High Priest, presents his people before the Lord for
a memorial. As Christ's Coat had No seam, but was woven from the
top throughout, So it was with the Ephod. The golden bells On
this Ephod, By their preciousness and pleasant sound, Well
represent the good profession that the saints make, and the
pomegranates the Fruit they bring forth.

15-30 The chief ornament of the high Priest, was the
Breastplate, a rich piece of cloth, curiously worked. The name
of each Tribe was graven in a precious Stone, fixed in the
Breastplate, to signify how precious, in God's sight, believers
are, and how honourable. How small and Poor soever the Tribe
was, it was as a precious Stone in the Breastplate of the high
Priest; thus are all the saints dear to Christ, however men
esteem them. The high Priest had the names of the tribes, both
On his shoulders and On his breast, which reminds us of the
power and the Love with which our Lord Jesus pleads for those
that are his. He not only bears them up in his arms with
almighty strength, but he carries them in his Bosom with tender
Affection. What comfort is this to us in all our addresses to
God! The Urim and Thummim, By which the will of God was made
known in doubtful cases, were Put in this Breastplate. Urim and
Thummim signify Light and integrity. There are many conjectures
what these were; the most probable opinion seems to be, that
they were the twelve precious Stones in the high Priest's
Breastplate. Now, Christ is our Oracle. By him God, in these
last days, makes known himself and his mind to us, Heb 1:1,2;
Joh 1:18. He is the true Light, the Faithful Witness, the Truth
itself, and from him we receive the Spirit of Truth, who leads
into all Truth.

31-39 The robe of the Ephod was under the Ephod, and reached
down to the knees, without sleeves. Aaron must Minister in the
garments appointed. We must serve the Lord with holy fear, as
those who know they deserve to die. A golden plate was fixed On
Aaron's Forehead, engraven with "Holiness to the Lord." Aaron
was hereby reminded that God is holy, and that his priests must
be holy, devoted to the Lord. This must appear in their
Forehead, in open profession of their relation to God. It must
be engraven like the engravings of a Signet; Deep and durable;
not painted So as to be washed off, but firm and lasting; such
must our Holiness to the Lord be. Christ is our High Priest;
through him sins are forgiven to us, and not laid to our charge.
Our persons, our doings, are pleasing to God upon the account of
Christ, and not otherwise.

40-43 The Priest's garments typify the Righteousness of Christ.
If we appear not before God in that, we shall Bear our iniquity,
and die. Blessed is he, therefore, that watcheth, and keepeth
his garments, Re 16:15. And blessed be God that we have a High
Priest, appointed of God, and set apart for his work; furnished
for his high office By the Glory of his Divine majesty, and the
beauty of perfect Holiness. Happy are we, if By the Law
spiritually understood, we see that such a High Priest became
us; that we cannot draw near to a holy God, or be accepted, but
By him. There is No Light, No Wisdom, No Perfection, but from
him; No Glory, No beauty, but in being like unto him. Let us
take encouragement from the power, Love, and compassion of our
High Priest, to draw near with boldness to the Throne of Grace,
that we may obtain Mercy, and find Grace to help in time of