Functional Clothing (Exodus #38)

Text: Exodus 28

  1. 28:6-12 pattern for the priest’s ephod
  2. 28:13-30 pattern for priest’s breastplate
  3. 28:31-35 pattern for priest’s robe
  4. 28:36-38 pattern for priest’s hat
  5. 28:39-43 pattern for priest’s coats

The clothing does not belong to the priests but to the Tabernacle. The apparel is for use in the ministry. Some of these are only worn by the High Preist himself. They aren’t comfortable. They don’t provide protection from the elements. The garments are purely functional for the ministry. 

They are said to be for glory and beauty (vs 2). They transform the High Priest who “wears” them into a walking embodiment of the whole nation of Israel, and they play indispensable roles in the regular pageant of worship that he enacts on Israel’s behalf.


  • They serve as a reminder to God of the nation of Israel (vs 12).
  • The ephod’s precious stones, inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes, are said to serve as a reminder to God of Israel, and the same is true of the twelve stones on the breastplate. Thus by his very person, which we might call the “body politic,” the High Priest personifies the whole of the Israelite people when standing in God’s presence.


  • The Urim and Thummim, connected with the breastplate, enable Aaron, each time he enters the sanctuary, to inquire of God for judgment (Exodus 28:30), which probably means in order to ascertain the correct decision in legal proceedings.
  • They would offer judgments (vs 30). (David requested the Urim and Thummim when wondering how to handle a situation with Saul.)


  • The robe is “worn” for its bells, their sound alerting the divine presence to Aaron’s approach as he enters the sanctuary “so that he not die” (Exodus 28:35).
  • They would ring out as an indication that priestly work was being done (vss 34-35).


  • They would be a declaration of holiness though all the activities and sacrifices were carnal and physical and temporary (vss 36-38)
  • The diadem on Aaron’s head is said to remove from God’s abode any wrongdoing connected with Israel’s offerings and to ensure, by means of the inscription proclaiming that Israel’s worship is holy to God that God graciously accepts their sacrifices (Exodus 28:38).


  • They were meant to cover nakedness during the ministry (vss 42-43).