THE AARONIC SACREDOTAL VESTMENTS: PURPOSE AND RELEVANCE TO THEIR TIME by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE LAGOS, LAGOS WEST, LAGOS MAINLAND, BADAGRY AND AWORI JOINT CLERGY WORKSHOP HELD AT OUR SAVIOUR ANGLICAN CHURCH, TAFAWA BALEWA SQUARE ON TUESDAY 7TH FEBRUARY, 2017 AT 12.15PM
SUB-THEME: THE AARONIC SACREDOTAL VESTMENTS: PURPOSE AND RELEVANCE TO THEIR TIME
“And draw near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office; Aaron, Nadav, and Avihu, Elazar, and Itamar, the sons of Aaron, and You shall make a sacred garments for Aaron your brother, for honor and for beauty. And you shall speak to all who are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a quitted undercoat, a mitre, and a girdle; and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, and his sons, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office…” (Ex. 28:1-4)
Moses was instructed by God that the garments of the priests were to be dignified and beautiful; as precious as the garments of royalty. Indeed, the Talmud informs us that when the wicked Persian King Ahasuerus made a feast for his advisors and officers and sought to impress them with his garments (as recorded in the scroll of Esther, which tells the story of Purim) he put off his own royal vestments and donned the uniform of the High Priest… which was made precious than his own. These priestly garments were in his possession since the First Temple has been destroyed by the Babylonians. Understanding Life in the Holy temple is noteworthy and revealing that one of the finest ways to gain insight into both the details of life in the Holy Temple, and to its inner spirit, is by a study of the priestly garments. We shall see that these garments are essential in order for the priests to function in their sacred capacity, so much so that in their absence, the offerings made by the priests in the temple have no validity! Without his uniform, the priest who serves in the Holy Temple is considered like a “Stranger” before the Lord. Like an ordinary non-priest. What, then, is the basis for the garments’ powerful significance?

THE GARMENTS POSSESSES AN INTRINSIC HOLINESS
No priest neither lay nor the High Priest himself, is fit to serve in the Temple unless he is wearing the sacred garments. As the Talmud states. While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them. Conducting the service without these garments would render the priests as the same as those who are not descendants of Aaron – all of whom are unfit for service in the Temple. Why does the Bible attach so much significance to the garments? Because their quality is such that they elevate the wearers – Aaron and all his descendants – to the high levels of sanctity required from those who come to serve before God in the holy place. These garments themselves possesses a certain holiness; powerful enough to sanctify all those who merely come in contact with them, as we read in the prophets “… so as not to hallow the people with their garments” (Ezekiel 44:19). Actually, the Hebrew expression which we are translating as “sacred” or “holy” garments also means “garments of the temple”, that is, the garments themselves show that their wearers are standing in the Divine Service.
THE GARMENTS ATONE FOR SINS
Another important quality of the priestly garments is that their very presence, worn by the priests during the temple service, serves to atone for the sins of Israel. It is taught that just as the sacrifices facilitate atonement for sin, so do the priestly garments. This is one of the deeper aims of wearing these garments, and something for the priest to ponder while they are upon him. For his everyday actions in the temple transcend his own personal idiom and take on a more universal theme … he makes atonement and spiritual reflection for all humanity. Thus we are taught: The tunic, which covers most of the priest’s body, atones for killing, the pants atone for sexual transgressions. The turban, worn on the head, atones for haughtiness. The belt, worn about the body and worn over the heart, atones for “sins of the heart” – improper thoughts. The breastplate atones for errors in judgement. The ephod atones for idolatry. The robe atones for evil speech. The High Priest’s crown atones for arrogance. “For honour and for beauty”. The rabbis established that God’s command for the priestly garments to be “for honour and for beauty” teach us that they must be new and dignified. If the garments were soiled, stained, or ripped, the priests may not conduct the service while wearing them – and if they did, the service would be invalid. Another aspect of “honour and beauty” means that the uniform must fit each perfectly. It was forbidden for the pants, for example, to be too long or too short. The garments were made to order for each priest, tailored to fit his measurements exactly. This tells us something of the tremendous work force needed to turn out these garments in such quantities that every priest in Israel could be supplied with his own garments. As we shall learn with regard to the incense offering, there were so many priests available for duty in the Holy temple that no priest ever offered the daily incense service more than once in his lifetime, and it was offered twice daily for many hundreds of years! Yet each has his own garments.
THE GARMENTS WERE NOT WASHED
Furthermore, although the priests were extremely neat, just as they were diligent and careful still, they were working with the sacrifices. Any garment which became soiled to the extent that its stains could not be removed, those garments were not washed. When they became disqualified from use in this manner, they were shredded and used to fulfil another of the Creator’s commandments! The tunics were used to make wicks for the Women’s Court during the Festival of Sukkot. This applies only to the garments of the ordinary priests, of which there were a great many. When the High Priest’s uniform become unusable through wear and tear, it was not destroyed, but hidden away so that no other man could ever wear it.
THE PRODUCTION OF THE GARMENTS
“And you shall speak to all who are wise hearted, whom, I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office” (Ex. 28:3) Aside from the fact that the priestly garments must be made “for honour and for beauty”, the above verse also instructs us that they must be made with wisdom and understanding … for they must be produced in exact accordance with all the nuances of the Biblical requirements. Furthermore, they must be made with a special intention in mind – namely, that they are being created for the sake of fulfilling God’s commandment. The priestly garments are not sewn, like other clothes. Each item is woven, seamless, of one piece. The only exception to this is the sleeves of the robe, which are woven separately and sewn onto the robe afterwards.
THE THREE CATEGORIES OF PRIESTLY GARMENTS
There are three separate categories of priestly garments. The High Priest’s uniform, which he wears all year round. These consist of eight garments, called the “golden garments.” The clothing worn by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. These are four garments called the “white garments.” The uniform of the ordinary priests, consisting of four garments.
THE GOLDEN GARMENTS
The eight garments worn by the High Priest all year round are as follows: The ephod, breastplate, robe, tunic, turban, belt, crown, and pants. These are the garments described in these verses: “And these are the garments which they shall make a breastplate, an ephod and a tunic of checkered pattern, a turban and a belt. And they shall make the sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, to serve me.” (Ex. 28:4). And you shall make a crown of pure gold “And make for them linen pants.
THE WHITE GARMENTS
With regard to the High Priest’s service on the Day of Atonement the Bible states: “He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and he shall have the linen pants upon his flesh, and he shall be girded with a linen belt, and with the linen turban he shall be attired” (Lev. 16:4) The four garments worn by the high Priest on the Day of Atonement are the tunic, pants, the turban and the belt. These garments are made from the white flax; hence their designation “the white garments.” They must be woven, as mentioned above, and each thread used must be six-ply-woven from six individual strands of fabric. The High Priest had two tunics which he wore on the Day of Atonement. Once-he wore in the morning and the other at the evening. After the conclusion of the Day of Atonement, he will never again wear the white garments in which he officiated on this day. They are hidden in the place where he removed them, as the verse indicates “And Aaron shall come into the Tent of Meeting, and he shall take off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and he shall leave them there.”
THE UNIFORM OF THE ORDINARY PRIESTS
The ordinary priests wear four garments all year round-these are the same as the “white garments” worn by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement: tunic, pants, hat, and belt. Referring to these priests, the verse states “And for Aaron’s sons you shall make for them tunics, and you shall make for them belts, and you shall make for them hats… and make them linen pants…” (Ex. 28:40-42). These garments are to be made from flax, and they too must be created from thread a consisting of six individual strands.
THE MATERIALS FIVE COMPONENTS IN THE GARMENTS
Five different materials were used to create the priestly garments: gold techelet, sky-blue wool dark-red, wool crimson, and wool twisted linen. The gold was beaten into thin sheets, and then cut into fine threads. The techelet sky-blue colour was a dye obtained from an aquatic invertebrate known as chilazon.
THE EPHOD AND BREASTPLATE
The ephod and breastplate were made of five materials. Thus the Bible states regarding each “And they shall make the ephod of gold, sky-blue, dark-red and crimson dyed wool, and twisted linen” and “And you shall make the breastplate of judgement; the work of an artist; after the manner of the ephod shall you make it: of gold, sky-blue, dark-red, and crimson dyed wool, and of twisted linen shall you make it.” (Ex. 28:6, 25).
THE BELT: THREE DIFFERENT TYPES
Three different belts were worn by the priests in the Holy Temple:
(a) The High Priest’s year-round belt, part of the “golden garments”. This was embroided of sky-blue, dark-red and crimson dyed wools, and twisted linen: “And a belt of fine twisted linen, and sky-blue, dark-red and crimson dyed wools, the work of an embroiderer” (Ex. 39:29). The belt worn by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement; one of the “white garments.” This was made only of six-ply linen, as the verse states “and he shall be girded with a linen belt” (Lev. 16:4).
(b)     THE BELT OF THE ORDINARY PRIESTS: Regarding this item, there are two opinions among the scholars. Some maintained that it was the same as the belt belonging to the set of “golden garments,” and thus consisting of four materials; others opine that it belongs to the “white garments” category and were made of linen alone.
(c)      THE POMEGRANATES: The robe was decorated with pomegranates that were made from three materials: sky-blue, dark-red and crimson dyed wools. “On the bottom of the robe, you shall make pomegranates of sky-blue, dark-red and crimson dyed wool.” (Ex. 28:33)
THE BELLS AND THE CROWN
The bottom of the robe was also decorated with bells. These bells, and the High Priest’s crown, were both made of pure gold exclusively: “A golden bell and (alternatively) a pomegranate… on the bottom of his robe, all around” and “and you shall make a crown of pure gold” (Ex.28:34, 36)
THE ROBE
The robe was made exclusively of sky –blue dyed wool. “And you shall make the robe of the ephod completely of sky-blue wool”. Its threads were 12 ply.  A close look at the sacred Garment look like the “Golden Garments”
THE EPHOD.
The most important garment worn by the High Priest is the Ephod. Its appearance can be likened to an apron; it was worn in back, on top of his other garments, and was fastened by a long belt in the front, opposite his heart. This belt was woven into the entire length of the ephod’s upper hem. There were also two shoulder-straps that were sewn onto the belt. These straps went behind, up and slightly over the upper corners of the garment, over the priest’s shoulders. The settings for the two sardonyx stones were attached at the end of these straps, on the shoulders. The ephod covered the back of his body. Some opinions describe it as a sort of half-cape; others, more like a skirt. It was long – it extended from just below his elbows, all the way to his heels. It was slightly wider than a man’s back since it was to cover his back and extend a little towards the front on both sides as well, covering a portion of his belly from either side.
THE TWO SARDONYX STONES
Two sardonyx stones were fixed in settings of gold on the High Priest’s shoulders; one of the rights, and one on the left. The names of the tribes of Israel were engraved upon these two stones, according to the instructions. “And you shall take two sardonyx stones, and engrave upon them the names of the children of Israel: there shall be six names on one stone and six names on the second stone in the order of their birth” (Ex. 28:9-10).
REMEMBRANCE STONES
The Bible calls these two stones “remembrance stones”, as it is written, “And you shall place the two stones on the two shoulder pieces of the ephod as remembrance stones for the children of Israel. And Aaron shall carry their names before God on his two shoulders as a remembrance.” The sages explain the meaning of this expression when the High Priest entered into the holy place dressed in the ephod, the Holy One saw all the tribes of Israel inscribed before Him and he was moved to have mercy on His people. Another two square gold-settings were on the High Priest’s shoulders, directly under the sardonyx stones. Golden chains extended from these settings to the golden hooks in the rings of the breastplate, in other to fix the breastplate to the ephod.
THE HIGH PRIEST’S BREASTPLATE
And you shall make the breastplate of judgement, the work of an artist, after the manner of the ephod shall you make it of gold, sky-blue, dark red, and crimson dyed wool, and of twisted linen shall you make it” (Ex.28:6,15). This garment is called chosen mispat in Hebrew, which means the “breastplate of judgement” or “decision”, Square-shaped and worn over the heart, it was called so because of the unique role which it played in helping to render fateful decisions. According to the Biblical instructions and rabbinical traditions, the breastplate is patterned brocade like the ephod. The threads of its fabric are gold, sky-blue, dark red and crimson wool, and twisted linen. The garment itself is set with four rows of small square stones, in settings of knitted or braided gold. Each row contained three stones-totalling twelve stones, one stone representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name of the corresponding tribe was engraved on each stone. “And you shall set it with four rows of mounted stones: the first row, a ruby, an emerald, and a topaz. The second row: a carbuncle, a sapphire, and a quartz crystal. The third row: a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst. The fourth row: a chrysolite, an onyx, an opal. These stones shall be placed in gold settings. The stones shall contain the names of the twelve children of Israel, one for each of the twelve stones, each one’s name shall be engraved as on a signet ring, to represent the twelve tribes” (Ex. 28:17-21) In the course of many years, as nations flourished and fell, and civilizations migrated to new lands, languages evolved and the meanings of words changed. Thus in one location, a word may have one meaning and connote a particular concept, while in another land, the same word may carry the exact opposite meaning.
THE ENGRAVING OF A SIGNET RING
The stones shall contain the names of the twelve children of Israel, one for each of the twelve stones; each one’s name shall be engraved as on a signet ring, to represent the twelve tribes” (Ex. 28:12). What process is this engraving, similar to that which appears on a signet ring.  The sages taught that because of these instructions, the words were not written with any sort of ink. Nor were they carved out or chiselled with any metal tool verse 20 specifically indicates that the stones must be set into their golden settings while yet “ in their fullness;” in order to carve or to scratch out from the surface, some of the stone itself would inevitably by missing. Rather, a most unique method was utilized to carve the names into the stones of the breastplate. It was accomplished naturally, by one of God’s creations. A worm called the Shamir that would cut stones merely with its glance. According to the rabbits, this creature was brought into existence during the original six days of creation, but ceased to exist following the destruction of the First temple. It is taught that Moses himself used the Shamir for the stones of the original ephod and breastplate while yet in the desert, for the Tabernacle. “Initially, the words are written on the stones ink. Then the stones in ink. Then the stones are simply exposed to the Shamir, and the letters are cut into the stones automatically, of their accord… like a fig which ripens and splits open in summer, it splits open but yet no part of it is missing. And a valley splits open during the rainy season, but it too lacks nothing” (BT Sotah 48:B) – thus the stones remained in their fullness,
HOW WERE THE TRIBUTES ARRANGED ON THE BREASTPLATE?
Above, regarding the two sardonyx stones that were placed on the High Priest’s shoulders, we have quoted the verse “And you shall take two sardonyx stones, and engrave upon them the names of the children of Israel; there shall be six names on one stone, and six names on the second stone in the order of their birth” (Ex. 28:9-10). When it came to those two stones, this verse clearly indicated that the names of the tribes should be engraved upon them in the order of their birth. But in the context of the stones of the breastplate, scripture gives no such indication. Therefore, there is some controversy as to the order in which these names appeared. In the opinion of Yonatan Ben Uzei, author of an Aramaic translation/commentary on the Bible, the children of Israel’s names were inscribed on the breastplate’s stones in order of their birth, and were therefore arranged in the following manner: Reuben Simeon Levi Judah Dan Naftali Gad Asher Issachar Zebulun Joseph Benjamin. Another translation, the “Tarum Yerushalmi”, places the order of the tribes according to the Matriarchs; the six sons of Leah, two sons of Bilhah, two sons of Zilpah and two sons of Rachel. Thusly: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naftali, Gad,  Naftali, Gad, asher, Joseph, Benjamin. When the reader tries to visualize the breastplate based on this information, he should bear in mind that in both cases, the order which meets the eye is actually reserved- since Hebrew reads from right to left. It should be noted that both of these commentaries (which date back to the time of the temple) are held in the highest regard as sources of both wisdom and authoritative knowledge. For the sake of brevity we have only presented these two opinions, but there are more schools of thought among the great sages: some hold that the names appeared in downward columns, rather than in rows across; some hold that the names of the tribes appeared on the breastplate in the same order in which they camped in the desert.  There is also a tradition which Moses received at the Sinai revelation, that all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet should be present on the stones. Since all of these letters are not found in the names of Jacob’s progeny, several other words were also engraved upon the stones: the names of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the words “the tribes of Jeshurun”. One opinion is that the words Abraham, Isaac and Jacob appeared at the top of the first stone, over the name reuben, and the other words on the last stone. Others maintain that all these extra letters were divided among the stones.
A REMEMBRANCE
Like the two sardonyx shoulder stones, the Bible states that the purpose of the twelve stones is “to be a perpetual remembrance before the Lord” (Ex. 28:29). When the High Priest bore eteh breastplate into the Holy place, Israel was remembered for peace. The sages taught that the ephod served to invoke the cause of Israel’s sustenance and material welfare, and the breastplate – her salvation, and deliverance from her enemies.
THE URIM V’TUMMIM
And you shall place the Urim  V’tummim in the breastplate of judgement, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he comes before Gos (ibid v.30)
THE URIM (V’TUMMIM) IS THE NAME OF GOD
The Urim (V’Tummim) was the famed, oracle-like aspect of the breastplate by which a heavenly answer was received for important questions. According to most authoritative opinions, the expression Urim (v’tummim) actually refers to the breastplate itself, but to the mystical Divine name of God which was written on a piece of parchment and inserted into a flap of the garment. The presence of the take facilitated the reception of Divine guidance through the shining of specific letters on the stones.
THE IDENTITY OF GOD IS THE SOURCE OF CREATION
This is indeed a lofty concept, but one whose lesson can be readily appreciated, at least on a simple level of understanding. God is the Creator of all existence; His power is unlimited. He has no form whatsoever, neither has He beginning or red… he is the Supreme Being. He is perfect and absolute unity. And he is also totally unknowable. Yet in numerous passages throughout the Bible, we are commanded to “know” God.  “In all of your ways, Know Him” (Proverbs 3:6); “And I shall betroth you in faith, and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:22) are but two examples of many such instances. Truly, how can we come to know God who is omnipotent and infinite? Yet we are commanded – and therefore expected to do just that. And there is a general rule with regard to the Torah’s commandments: the Holy one never makes unfair demands on a person.
FROM THE TIME TO MOSES
The Urim v’tummim is unlike any other aspect of the priestly garments, for it was not created by those skilled artisans who fashioned the other items, aided by their understanding and inspiration; and it was not created by those skilled artisans who fashioned the other items, aided by their understanding and inspiration; and it was not created from the donations or contributions of Israel, as were all the appointments of the Temple. The entire matter is one of those mysteries which were handed down to Moses at Mount Sinai by God Himself, and its secret was transmitted orally down through the generations. At the time of the original Tabernacle erected in the desert, Moses took the original Urim v’tummim, written in sublime holiness, and placed it inside the breastplate of judgement, after Aaron donned the ephod. This is by the verse (Lev. 8:7) “… and he put the ephod upon him, and he fastened him with the belt of the ephod… and he put the breastplate upon him, and into the breastplate he put the urim v’tummim. The process of questioning for Divine aid with the Urim V’Tummim was done in the following manner. When a question arose whose implications were so consequential that the entire congregation of Israel would be effected such as, for example, the question of whether or not to go out to war then the king of Israel (or the commanding officer of the army) would ask his question before the High Priest. An ordinary person or someone not representing the entire community would not ask of the urim v’tummum. The High Priest stands facing the Ark of the testimony, and the questioner stands behind him, facing the priest’s back. The questioner does not speak out loud, neither does he merely think the question in his heart, he poses his query quietly, to himself like someone who prays quietly before God. For example, he will ask “shall I go out to battle, or shall I not go out?”
A MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCE AND A PROPHETIC REVELATION
The High Priest is immediately enveloped by the spirit of Divine inspiration. He gazes at the breastplate, and by meditating upon the holy names of God, the priest was able to receive the answer through a prophetic vision – the letters on the stones of the breastplate, which would shine forth in his eyes in a special manner, spelling out the answer to the question. The priest then informs the questioner of the answer. Flavius Josephus writes (Antiquities 3:8:9) that the stones also shore brilliantly when Israel went forth into battle. This was considered as an auspicious sign for their victory. Another midrashic passage indicates that when the tribes of Israel found favour in God’s eyes, each respective stone shone brilliantly. But when particular members of any one tribe were involved in a transgression, that tribe’s stone would appear tarnished and dimmed. The High Priest would see these phenomena and understand its cause. He would then cast lots within the rank of this tribe, until the guilty person was revealed and judged.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE WORDS URIM V’TUMMIM?
According to the commentary of the famed Rashi, these words are derived from their Hebrew roots for “lights” and “perfections,”, since through the urim v’tummim, the question is illuminated through the letters and its subject matter is then perfected by the High Priest. The Talmud also indicates that the message which was received was called tummim, “perfect,” because it was immutable
THE ROBE
According to the opinion of most scholars, the robe was a closed garment, seamlessly woven from one piece of fabric, and slipped on over the head. It was worn over the tunic; the tunic was longer than the robe by one handbreadth, so it was visible underneath the robe at the bottom. The opening at the neck was round, with a hem that was doubled over and closed by weaving – not by a needle. The garment hung down in front and in back, and its length extended all the way down to the priest’s feet. There were different of opinions as to whether there were sleeves. As mentioned above. The robe was fashioned exclusively from techelet, the sky-blue dyed wool, with no other material.
POMEGRANATES AND BELLS
Decorative pomegranates made of sky-blue, dark-red and crimson dyed wool were attached to the lower hem of the robe (each thread of each of these materials being woven from 8 individual strands). The Book of Exodus tells us that these pomegranates appeared together with golden bells: “A golden bell and pomegranates, on the hem of the robe all around.” (Ex. 28:34). Some opinions interpret this to mean that the bells and pomegranates were interspersed alternatively, in between each other, another holds that the bells were placed inside the pomegranates. The hem of the robe was woven over doubly in order to prevent it from ripping due to the weight of the pomegranates and bells. Again, no sewing was used for this. “And there shall be a hole for the head, in the midst of it, it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole, like the opening of a suit of armour, that it not be torn” These pomegranates were actually hollow spheres of fabric in the shape of pomegranates. “And it shall be on Aaron when he comes to serve, and its sound shall be heard when he comes to the Holy place before the Lord, and when he goes out, so that he does not die.”
THE CROWN: “And you shall make a crown of pure gold, and engrave on it in the manner of signet ring:  Holy to the Lord.” (Ex.28:36). The crown was a thin plate constructed of one piece of pure, solid gold. Unlike the crown worn by royalty on top of the head, this is worn across the forehead and extends from ear to ear. It was thin enough to arch across the forehead like a bow. Its width is described by Maimonides as 2 fingerbreadths. “Holy to the Lord”. This crown was engraved with the words “Holy to the Lord”. At times, these words were written across two lines, and at times they were fit into one line. The Talmud provides the eye-witness testimony of Rabbi Eliezer the son of rabbi Yose who saw the crown in Rome (both the Talmud and Josephus inform us that after the destruction of the Second temple, many of the sacred vessels were plundered and taken to Rome, where they were publicly displayed for many years): “Rabbi Eliezer said: I saw the crown in Rome, and the words “Holy to the Lord” were written in one line. “It was worn at all times while the High Priest was within the temple, as the Bible states: “And it shall be worn on Aaron’s forehead, that he shall carry the iniquity of the holy things (specifically, this is a reference to ritual impurity), which the children of Israel shall sanctify in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be upon his forehead, that they may be accepted by the Lord.”
THE TUNIC
And they made the tunics for Aaron and his sons by weaving them of fine linen” (Ex.39:27) the tunic clung close to the body and extended from the priest’s neck, down to the feet, just above the heels (each tunic was made according to the priest’s specific height and width). As it was one piece, it was one piece, it was donned by placing it over the head
FINE WEAVING?
The expression used by the Bible to describe the method for producing these garments is translated as an act of “fine weaving”. The tunics of both the High Priest and the ordinary priests were woven completely from linen fabric, each thread of which was made of six strands. There was absolutely no sewing or seems involved here with the exception of the arm-length sleeves, which by necessity were woven separately and afterwards sewn on.
THE TURBAN AND THE HAT
And you shall make a linen turban… and for the sons of Aaron … and make for them hats.
THE HIGH PRIEST’S TURBAN
The High Priest’s turban was fashioned of a narrow strip of white linen, measuring 16 cubits. It was wound around the top of the priest’s head after the manner in which one dresses a wound, wrapping the material lengthwise over and over, similar to the traditional kayiyeh Arabic headdress. Flavius Josephus (Antiquities 3:7:3) maintains that a cap of sky-blue wool was placed over the High Priest’s while linen turban. Over this cap,. He continues, three horizontal hold hands were placed, topped off with a flower-shaped decoration. Thus the turban appeared like a crown, with an opening in front to allow for the placement of the tefillin and “crown” the gold plate on his forehead.
THE HAT OF THE ORDINARY PRIESTS
Many authorities hold that the ordinary priests hat was exactly the same as that of the High Priest, except that the former’s was wound on, and the latter’s is simply placed on. Others maintain that the High Priest’s is correctly called a turban because of its shape, whereas the hat of the ordinary priests was also wound around, but it had a conical shape upon the head.
THE BELT
The belt of white linen was only “3 fingerbreadths” (2 ¼ inches) wide, records both the Talmud and Maimonides. But it was made from an exceedingly long piece of fabric – its Biblical measurement, writes Maimonides, and is 32 cubits… app 48 feet.
THE MEASUREMENT OF THE HEART
Earlier we learned that the belt “atoned for sins of the heart” and was worn over the heart of the Hebrew word lev, meaning heart. The length of the belt itself serves as a reminder to the priest, as he officiates in the hallowed courts of the Lord, of the purity which his office requires, and of the unsullied intentions he must have as he goes about his duties.
A DOUBLE EMBROIDERED DESIGN
Josephus describes the belt as being hollow like the skin shed by a snake. It was a work of “embroidery,” when used in this context of Temple furnishings; the Bible uses this term to indicate that the same design was featured on both sides of the material. Although the belt itself was made of linen, the embroidery a floral design was done of coloured wool threads (the three colours which we have mentioned), and attached to the white linen background for the priestly garments. The High Priest and the ordinary Priest: Was the belt the same? The above certainly applies to the belt of the High Priest. The belt was wrapped many times around the body at the hips, but close to the heart. Its purpose was to separate the upper and lower portions of the body, Jewish religious law obligates this separation during prayer or the mentioning of anything holy. Josephus states that when worn, the two ends of the belt hung in front, down to the priest’s ankles. However during the actual service the priest would cast these two ends over his left shoulder, to prevent them from interfering with his work.
THE PANTS
And make for them linen pants to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the loins to the thighs (Ex. 28:42) the pants are required for modesty alone.  This verse indicates that the priest’s pants do not serve the same purpose as the other sacred garments. For all the other items which make up their uniform are “for honour and for beauty”. They glorify the sacred office and bespeak dignity, not to mention their deeper significance, such as the power to atone, etc. But this does not apply to the pants; we are specifically informed here, that their function was one of modesty alone to cover his nakedness.
The Priest Must Be Barefoot When Conducting The Temple Service: The priests wore no shoes or sandals; they would walk barefoot on the marble floors of the Temple courts.  This is because the floor of the temple complex was itself sanctified, just as the temple proper. Therefore there must be nothing interrupting between the priests and the floor, to the extent that if something comes in the way of contact between the priest’s feet and the floor, his service is invalid (Maimonides). He shall wear the holy linen tunic, and he shall have the linen pants upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen belt, and he shall be attired with the linen turban; these are the holy garments; therefore he shall bathe his flesh in water, and put them on” (Lev. 16:4) Maimonides sates that it is these words which indicate that the garments must next to the skin, with nothing else interfering.

Remain blessed in Jesus name.

Rt. Revd. Dr. J. Akin Atere
Bishop, Diocese of Awori