Exodus Chapter 39
This chapter gives us an account of the finishing of the work of the tabernacle. I. The last things prepared were the holy garments. The ephod and its curious girdle, ver. 1-5. The onyx-stones for the shoulders, ver. 6, 7. The breastplate with the precious stones in it, ver. 8-21. The robe of the ephod, ver. 22-26. The coats, bonnets, and breeches, for the inferior priests, ver. 27-29. And the plate of the holy crown, ver. 30, 31. II. A summary account of the whole work, as it was presented to Moses when it was all finished, ver. 32, &c.
B. C. 1491.
1 And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the LORD commanded Moses. 2 And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 3 And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work. 4 They made shoulderpieces for it, to couple it together: by the two edges was it coupled together. 5 And the curious girdle of his ephod, that was upon it, was of the same, according to the work thereof; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; as the LORD commanded Moses. 6 And they wrought onyx stones inclosed in ouches of gold, graven, as signets are graven, with the names of the children of Israel. 7 And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses. 8 And he made the breastplate of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 9 It was foursquare; they made the breastplate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled. 10 And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row. 11 And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. 12 And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. 13 And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they were inclosed in ouches of gold in their inclosings. 14 And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name, according to the twelve tribes. 15 And they made upon the breastplate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold. 16 And they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings; and put the two rings in the two ends of the breastplate. 17 And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breastplate. 18 And the two ends of the two wreathen chains they fastened in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod, before it. 19 And they made two rings of gold, and put them on the two ends of the breastplate, upon the border of it, which was on the side of the ephod inward. 20 And they made two other golden rings, and put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart of it, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod. 21 And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses. 22 And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue. 23 And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend. 24 And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen. 25 And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; 26 A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses. 27 And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons, 28 And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen, 29 And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses. 30 And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. 31 And they tied unto it a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre; as the LORD commanded Moses.
In this account of the making of the priests’ garments, according to the instructions given (ch. 28), we may observe,
1. That the priests’ garments are called here clothes of service, v. 1. Note, Those that wear robes of honour must look upon them as clothes of service; for from those upon whom honour is put service is expected. It is said of those that are arrayed in white robes that they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple, Rev. vii. 13, 15. Holy garments were not made for men to sleep in, or to strut in, but to do service in; and then they are indeed for glory and beauty. The Son of man himself came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
2. That all the six paragraphs here, which give a distinct account of the making of these holy garments, conclude with those words, as the Lord commanded Moses, v. 5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31. The like is not in any of the foregoing accounts, as if in these, more than any other of the appurtenances of the tabernacle, they had a particular regard to the divine appointment, both for warrant and for direction. It is an intimation to all the Lord’s ministers to make the word of God their rule in all their ministrations, and to act in observance of and obedience to the command of God.
3. That these garments, in conformity to the rest of the furniture of the tabernacle, were very rich and splendid; the church in its infancy was thus taught, thus pleased, with the rudiments of this world; but now under the gospel, which is the ministration of the Spirit, to affect and impose such pompous habits as the church of Rome does, under pretence of decency and instruction, is to betray the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and to entangle the church again in the bondage of those carnal ordinances which were imposed only till the time of reformation.
4. That they were all shadows of good things to come, but the substance is Christ, and the grace of the gospel; when therefore the substance has come, it is a jest to be fond of the shadow.
(1.) Christ is our great high-priest; when he undertook the work of our redemption, he put on the clothes of service–he arrayed himself with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which he received not by measure–girded himself with the curious girdle of resolution, to go through with his undertaking–charged himself with the curious girdle of resolution, to go through with his undertaking–charged himself with all God’s spiritual Israel, bore them on his shoulders, carried them in his bosom, laid them near his heart, engraved them on the palms of his hands, and presented them in the breast-plate of judgment unto his Father. And (lastly) he crowned himself with holiness to the Lord, consecrating his whole undertaking to the honour of his Father’s holiness: now consider how great this man is.
(2.) True believers are spiritual priests. The clean linen with which all their clothes of service must be made is the righteousness of saints (Rev. xix. 8), and Holiness to the Lord must be so written upon their foreheads that all who converse with them may see, and say, that they bear the image of God’s holiness, and are devoted to the praise of it.
– Matthew Henry Commentary