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Exodus 28:1-5

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Exodus 28:1
  • Exodus 28:2
  • Exodus 28:3
  • Exodus 28:4
  • Exodus 28:5

The LORD describes the priestly garments that are to be made by skilled craftsmen. These garments for Aaron and his sons.

In the last two verses of chapter 27, Aaron and his sons were commissioned to make sure that the lamp in the tabernacle continued to burn. This indicated that Aaron and his sons were to be the ones in charge of worship in the tabernacle.

This being the case, the LORD instructed Moses to bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel. Both Aaron as well as his sons were to be separated from the rest of the Israelites in order to be completely dedicated to minister as priest to the LORD. Specifically, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons were set apart for His service. Later, two of Aaron’s sons were killed by the LORD because of disobedience to their calling (Leviticus 10:1 – 2). As a result the priestly line continued through Aaron’s surviving sons Eleazar (who replaced Aaron as high priest in Numbers 3:4) and well as his brother Ithamar.

The priests’ needed to have a visible confirmation in the eyes of the people of the LORD’s calling of Aaron and his sons to minister as priests of God. The visible confirmation was to make holy garments for Aaron your brother. These garments were to be holy. Holy means “set apart for special service.” These garments would show visibly that Aaron was specially set apart as the high priest. The garments were designed for glory and for beauty, like the rest of the tabernacle. They were to give the high priest dignity and honor in the eyes of the people, that they might respect his service as priest before the LORD. This would be a constant reminder to everyone of the LORD’s holiness as well.

To make these important clothes, Moses was to speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. The word wisdom is the same word prevalent in the book of Proverbs, meaning “skill.” In Proverbs, wisdom is skill in living life effectively. Here, it refers to people endowed by the LORD to be master craftsmen. Bezalel and Oholiab will be the named leaders of this group of master craftsmen (Exodus 36:1). This underscores the same point made in Colossians 3:18-24, which states overtly that all activities done as unto the LORD are spiritual services of worship. Colossians 3:23 even applies this principle to “whatever you do,” which can include any activity:

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.”

Note in this verse from Colossians that the “reward of the inheritance” is given for “whatever you do” so long as it is done to please God. The work of these craftsmen pleased God because it was great craftsmanship.

The verse states that God endowed a spirit of wisdom in these skillful persons, the master craftsmen. In this case, God’s specific blessing was the talent of creative hands, to construct, mold, and shape. In the midst of setting apart a group for special service in worship, God makes it clear He cares and elevates all aspects of life, and all skills of people. All have a role to play, and should play it as unto the LORD. In chapter 27, God gave the role of providing clear oil for the tabernacle to all the people. So everyone had a role to play.

Verse 4 lists the garments which the skillful persons shall make:

  • a breastpiece
  • an ephod
  • a robe
  • a tunic of checkered work
  • a turban
  • a sash

The details of their making are described later in this chapter. At this point the LORD only admonishes that these skillful persons shall make the holy garments. This was a command. The LORD emphasizes to Moses that the holy garments are for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me.

Why so much repetition? The LORD made humans, and knows the importance of repetition in understanding, learning, and setting priorities.

Verse 5 describes the materials that the craftsmen were to use in making the priestly garments. They were to make them using the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet material and the fine linen. These are the same materials as was used to make the curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, 31, 36).

Biblical Text

1 “Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me – Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 2 You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me. 5 They shall take the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet material and the fine linen.