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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 28

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 2


‘And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.’

Exodus 28:2

I. The garments peculiar to the high-priest were four: the ephod, with its ‘curious girdle,’ the breastplate, the robe of the ephod, and the mitre.

I. The garments were made of linen, typical of the human nature which Christ wears still in His glorified state.

II. They were carefully fastened together, signifying the complete unity which there is in all Christ’s work for His people.

III. They were robes, not of war, but of peace, indicating that our Saviour’s warfare is accomplished, and that He is now set down in the calm and quiet of His holy, peaceful functions.

IV. The robe of the ephod represents the perfect robe of the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.

V. Aaron bearing the names of the people before the Lord on his ephod is a picture of Christ bearing the names of His people in holy remembrance before God.

VI. The breastplate teaches that Christ not only bears His people on His shoulders for strength, but lays them separately on His heart for love.

VII. The high-priest wore a mitre with this inscription graven upon it, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ Jesus Christ, in His very character and being, as our Representative, is standing before God, and emblazoned upon His front is His own proper title: ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ Not for Himself—He needs it not—but for us! He bears the iniquity of our holy things. For us the golden letters run ‘for glory and for beauty’ upon the mitre of Jesus.


(1) ‘The shoulders are the place of strength, so that as our great High Priest goes in, He bears our names, representing us, one by one, on the place of strength; and there they are borne up and carried, there we typically dwell between His shoulders, there we are carried all day long, and there is the assurance of perfect supply in our most utter weakness. So that, like Paul, when we see our names there we may glory in our weakness, because it will only show forth the perfection of His strength.’

(2) ‘The holiness of the raiment implies that separation to office can be expressed by official robes in the Church as well as in the State: and their glory and beauty show that God, who has clothed His creation with splendour and with loveliness, does not dissever religious feeling from artistic expression.’

Verse 36


‘And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, Holiness to the Lord.’

Exodus 28:36

This plate of pure gold was fastened by blue lace to the mitre, or turban, or tiara, or linen which was upon the head of the high-priest. With the plate of pure gold upon his forehead, he went in before God to present the inscription graven there like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ to take away the iniquity of the holy things of Israel and to make those holy things, purged from their iniquity, acceptable to God. Consider the subject of holiness.

I. The word is used in three senses in the Bible.—(1) Sometimes the word ‘holy’ means that which is set apart, consecrated. In that sense the vessels of the Temple were holy. (2) Sometimes the word signifies the indwelling of the Spirit, with His gradually sanctifying processes. In this sense the Church is holy. (3) There is a still higher sense in which man is perfectly holy. Christ perfects them that are sanctified.

II. The true definition of holiness is the likeness of God.—But we cannot conceive of the likeness of God but through a medium, and that medium must be the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever traits we find characterising the life of Jesus, these make up holiness. (1) The life of Christ was a separate life. (2) He always carried about an inner sanctuary in His own soul. (3) The life of Christ had a subdued tone. (4) It was a life consecrated to an object. (5) It was a life of praise.

III. Look upon holiness as an end to be obtained.—Do not seek holiness as a means to happiness, but happiness as a means to holiness. Be more careful about the holiness of little things than of great things.

Rev. Jas. Vaughan.


‘Josephus tells us that the head-dress of the high-priest was “not a conical cap, but a sort of crown, made of thick linen swathes” ( Ant. Jud., 3. 7, § 3). It was, in fact, a kind of turban. The colour was white, and the only ornament on it was the “plate of pure gold,” with its blue ribbon or fillet. This plate was placed in front over the forehead, was made probably of burnished gold. It had engraved on it the inscription “Holiness to the Lord.” That golden plate was a type of the essential holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ. His was a life of holy separation to God. Throughout the whole of His lowly course, holiness to Jehovah was the ruling purpose of His mind. And it is written, “It shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.” This shows us where we stand in God’s sight. It shows us how and why we are accepted. Not because of any holiness imparted to us—not in virtue of what we are—or have become by Divine grace, but because of what He is. We are represented by Him. His holiness is ours. He is “always” in the presence of God for us. Are we ever tempted to think that because of fluctuating feelings and harassing doubts we are no longer acceptable to God? Let us remember that it is never because of anything in us that we are accepted at all. The measure of our acceptance is what Christ is to God; and that remains ever the same in spite of the ups and downs of our spiritual condition. He is there before the throne, that we who are here on earth may be accepted of God in Him.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 28". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-28.html. 1876.
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