Today we begin Exodus Chapter 28.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“You are to summon your brother Aharon and his sons to come from among the people of Isra’el to you, so that they can serve me as cohanim — Aharon and his sons Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar and Itamar.”-Exodus 28:1
Chapter 28 begins with the Lord making an announcement that He has chosen Aaron and his sons Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar and Itamar to be his set-apart priests or COHANIM in Hebrew.
The Lord also instructs Moses that special garments are to created for the regular priests and the High Priest for the purpose of setting them apart from everybody else.
Aaron’s garments in particular, given his exalted position as the first High Priest, were to be especially distinctive as they are to reflect the glory, dignity, and splendor of the Lord.
Now here’s an interesting fact.
The use of distinctive garments for the priestly sect was nothing special or new to many of the Middle Eastern cultures of the time.
However, it was new to Israel.
Keep in mind that up until this point in Israel’s 600 years of history they had never had an official priesthood.
Whatever type of worship style the Israelites engaged in prior to the Exodus and Mount Sinai must have been a very unsystematic, personal and probably very unfocused activity.
So this was a revolutionary act taking place here.
What is also interesting about the instructions God gave to Israel is the inordinate amount of detail He provided.
The Lord left very little detail on how to properly worship him up to the whims of men.
And this meticulousness even extended right down to what the priests were to wear when they were serving Him.
However, understand that priestly garments were only worn by the Levites when they were on active duty.
When not on duty, they were allowed to wear what everyone else wore.
In a nutshell, what the regular Levite priests donned while on active duty was a simple white linen outfit consisting of the following:
-a turban hat called a MITRE
-a girdle (a belt-like accessory)
-breeches (pants that served as underwear)
The white color of the priestly garments symbolized righteousness and purity.
At this point, I would like to bring up an important question.
Why do you think the Lord was so unflinching and uncompromising in His worship instructions to Israel?
Why was He sooooo detailed in His instructions down to the very undergarments the priests would wear?
Well, in order to answer that question, keep in mind, that for most of their history as a people, Israel had been subjected to Egypt’s gods and religious system.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the lens through which the Hebrews viewed the spirit world was still very Egyptian in nature.
One doesn’t change overnight.
As I’ve said many times before, Israel may have left Egypt but the Egypt inside of them still remained.
The Israelites were still a work in progress.
They needed to be taught what true worship was to consist of, and more importantly what it was NOT to consist of.
They needed to understand what true justice is and is not.
They also needed much training and education in terms of the true nature of God and that He is one.
The Hebrews absolutely still believed in the existence of other gods.
They absolutely still held to the notion that we have our God and the goyim (gentiles) have their gods.
As we study the Scriptures, we will see that Israel, all throughout their history, would have grievous lapses into idolatry and that it would take many years after Mount Sinai for Israel to develop a proper understanding of these matters.