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THAT no species of sanctity or honour might be wanting to the priesthood, the Aaronic priests were consecrated to their office by various rites and ceremonies ; being first purified with water, then clothed with garments proper for each of them, after that anointed with holy oil, and, in the last place, duly expiated and initiated by the sacrifice of certain victims.
The first part of the consecration commenced, as we have said, with ablution ;* to teach them the necessity of holiness to the proper discharge of so holy an office. For a similar reason it is that we who are under the christian dispensation, are introduced into the new covenant by initiation at the sacred font. Thus also, when persons descended from foreign families, became proselytes to the Jewish religion, it was the custom for them to be immersed in water. The same mode of initiating their devotees was practised among heathens. Hence Clemens Alexandrinus says : ‘The mysteries of the Greeks begin with ex
piations, as those of the Barbarians do with ablu'tions.'I Hence also Tertullian : 'In the Eleusinian mysteries, and in the rites performed in honour of Apollo, they certainly practise ablution, and this they presume to do in order to obtain regeneration, ' and impunity for their perjuries. Among the an'cients, whoever had polluted himself with murder, expiated the crime by a purgation in water.'s
To Exod. xxix. 4. Levit. viii, 6.
+ Maimon. in Isure Bia. c. 13. Stromat. 5. § De Baptismo, c. 5.
the same purpose is a passage of Augustine : ' Men
are said to be baptized in many of the sacrilegious services of idols.'*
II. As soon as the lustrations had been duly performed on Aaron and his Sons, Aaron himself was first arrayed with the pontifical attire; the splendour and magnificence of which were proportioned to the dignity of the pricsthood, and of the services to be performed. Hence the pontifical garments are said to have been made “for glory and for beauty.”+ The vestments of the high priest were the Coat, the Drawers or Breeches, the Girdle, the Robe, the Ephod, the Breastplate, the Mitre, and the Holy Crown: all which being very beautiful, and some of them made of gold, they have been called by the Jews golden vestments. These were put upon Aaron, and used to be worn by every high priest in the performance of all the sacred functions, except only on the day of annual atonement. In the services of that day no others were worn than the Coat, the Drawers, the Girdle and the Mitre : these were made of linen, and are called by the Jews white vestments. Grief became that day, and pompous attire is unsuitable to grief.
III. Of all the pontifical garments, the first that were put on were the Drawers, which reached from the loins to the knees. The flamens of the heathens used to expose before Peor, parts which it most of all became them to conceal : but as God required his priests to be modest, so it was his will that their bodies should be covered. This also was the reason why there was a sloping ascent to the altar: “ neither
shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy
* De Baptismo contra Donatistas. Maimon, in Chele Mikdash. c. 10.
+ Exod. xxviii. 2. Kimchi ad Ezek. xliv, 18.
“ nakedness be not discovered thereon."* It was for the same reason, as Abarbinel has justly observed, that whereas the other sacred vestments were put upon Aaron by Moses, Aaron, with a proper regard to modesty, put on the drawers himself in private.
To the drawers was added the Coat, a vesture made of linen, with sleeves, and finely embroidered, reaching down to the feet.
The coat was fastened with the Girdle, which was a linen belt, three § or four|| fingers broad, and thirtytwo cubits long, passing several times round the body: this was designed to defend the priests from the cold, and to strengthen them for their laborious employment.
After the girdle, was put on the Robe, which was a blue vesture, without sleeves,** divided from the collar into two parts, of which one descended over the breast, and the other hung from the back part
of the neck nearly down to the ankles. Appended to the hems at the bottom were seventy-two little bells, separated from each other by the like number of pomegranates of curious workmanship.tt
To the robe was added the Ephod, made" of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined
linen, with cunning work:"If of which the fore part reached from the arms to the bottom of the chest, and the hinder part almost to the ankles. To the part which hung over the back were joined two belts, brought from the sides under the arms and tied upon the breast. These, like the ephod itself, * Exod. xx. 26. + Exod. xxviii. 40-43. xxix, 5, 6. Levit. viii. 7--9.
Maimon. in Chele Mikdash, c. 8. 10. § Ibid. c. 8. Il Joseph. Antiq. l. iji. c. 8. Joseph. ibid. Philo Jud. de Vit. Mos. ** Maimon. in Chele Mikdash, c. 9. ++ Exod. xxxix. 92-26.
11 Exod. xxviji. 6.
being ingeniously embroidered with gold, are called the “ curious girdle of the ephod.” And the robe also, because it was bound by these belts, was called “ the “ robe of the ephod."* On the shoulders of the ephod were fixed two epaulettes, and in the buttons two onyx stones set in sockets of gold, with the names of the twelve tribes engraven, six upon each stone. . The design of this probably was, that the high priest might bear in mind, who were committed to his charge, and how important an office he sustained. The observation of the Jews, that the names of the tribes were cut in these stones in such a manner, that each stone contained twenty-five letters, to accomplish which an additional letter was inserted in the name of Joseph,t is too trifling to deserve notice. To these epaulettes were attached four little rings of gold, two on the top of the shoulders, and the other two on the breast, one on each side.
To the ephod was annexed the Breastplate, made of the same materials and in the same manner as the ephod, and placed on the breast of the high priest : it was made two spans in length and one in breadth, but was folded double and then was a span square. I Between its folds were placed the urim and thummim; by which oracles were given respecting things relating to the commonwealth, till, after the rejection of the government of God, the kingdom was transferred to the family of David. On this account it was cailed “the breastplate of judgment.” In the breastplate were set twelve jewels, inclosed in sockets of gold, with the naines of the twelve tribes engraven on them, in the order of the seniority of the twelve patriarchs. Hereby the high priest was instructed how dear to him those tribes ought to be, whose names had been placed upon his breast and heart by the command of God. But God also directed the names of the tribes to be engraven on the epaulettes of the ephod, and on the breastplate, that the names of those, whom he had made the objects of his peculiar care, might be present before his own eyes as it were in the sanctuary, and as the scripture says, “ for a memorial " before him;"* by which symbol he signified that he would always be mindful of all his people.
, I Maimon. in Chele Mikdash, c. 9. Exod. xxviii. 15, 16. xxxix. 8, 9.
* Exod. xxviii. 31.
יוסף they say was engraven instead of יהוסף +
Above the name of Reuben, according to the tradition of the Jews, were engraven the names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and under the name of Benjamin, two words signifying Tribes of the Lord : so that the breastplate contained all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.† As to the epaulettes of the ephod, so to the corners of the breastplate, were attached four golden rings; the upper rings of the latter were fastened to the upper rings of the former by two golden chains, and the lower rings of the latter to the lower rings of the former by two blue laces or ribbands. I The high priest, perhaps that he might not appear inattentive to the office committed to him, was required to take particular care, “ that the breastplate” should “not be loosed from the ephod.” If this should ever happen with his knowledge, he was to be punished by scourging. ||
The high priest thus arrayed was next invested with the Mitre, a linen band, sixteen cubits long, plaited in various folds, and placed upon his head. Josephus
. Exod. xxviii. 12. 29. + Maimon. in Chele Mikdaslı, c. 9, • Exod. xxviii. 26, &c.
§ Exod. xxviii. 28. || Maimon, in Chele Mikdash, c. 9.