“On the bottom hem they made pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet, and woven linen; and they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates all the way around the hem of the robe — between the pomegranates, that is, bell, pomegranate, bell, pomegranate, all the way around the hem of the robe for service — as Adonai had ordered Moshe.”-Exodus 39:24-26
We are continuing to review the High Priest’s garments.
Last time we talked about the EPHOD and the breastplate.
Today I want to talk a little bit about the alternating golden bells and pomegranates that were sown to the bottom hem of the long blue outer robe over which the EPHOD and Breastplate were worn.
We were told earlier that that the purpose of these golden bells was so “The Hight Priest would not die” while he was serving in the Tabernacle.
These dangling bells were much more than decorative jewelry.
In the Temple era, a rope was tied to the ankle of the High Priest when he went into the Holiest Place on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
“A chain was tied to the feet of the High Priest, when he entered THE HOLY OF HOLIES, so that if he dies there they will take him out, SINCE IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER THERE… Then there is joy among the higher and lower beings. If not, they were all in sorrow and all knew that their prayer was not accepted.”-Zohar Vol. 16 Emor, Section 34. Yom Kippur, Par. 251.
Now I was told that while the High Priest was engaged in his purification rituals, the common priests who were standing outside the Sanctuary would be on high alert always listening for the steady jingling of the golden bells.
If that jingling STOPPED for a considerable amount of time, they would assume that the Lord had probably killed the High Priest due to some breach of protocol.
Then, they would pull him out of the Holy of Holies with the rope that was attached to his foot.
The logic behind this was simple.
Only the High Priest can enter the Holy of Holies.
Anybody else who tried to enter would be instantly killed by the Lord.
Hence, if the High Priest died while he was inside the Holy of Holies, there was no way to remove the corpse!
Even a makeshift appointing of a new High Priest wouldn’t work.
Because under no circumstances is a High Priest allowed to touch or handle a dead body.
Not even a member of a High Priest’s own family is allowed to handle a dead body.
Now this all makes sense except for one interesting point that a friend brought to my attention and I cross referenced with a Torah teacher much, much more learned than me.
On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the High Priest changed into a white linen garment.
And there weren’t any jingling or jangling bells attached to this outfit folks!
The reference supporting this is as follows:
“He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and he shall have the linen pants upon his flesh, and he shall be girded with a linen belt, and with the linen turban he shall be attired.”-Leviticus 16:4
Per the Lord’s command, the linen garments had to be pure white linen and could have nothing attached to them.
So I guess the only way the common priests found out if the Lord had killed the High Priest or not was by maybe hearing the thud of the body hitting the ground or simply a super loooong time passing by without High Priest coming out of the Holy of Holies.
Having said all that, there are no records, Biblical or otherwise, of a High Priest being struck dead by the Lord, and having to have his body dragged out of the Holiest Place by the rope attached to his ankle.