Exodus 39:1-43 Priests’ Clothes

These aren’t the colors displayed on the outside but could be the undergarments.

It’s time to make the clothes for those who will minister to the Lord. God gave specific requirements for these garments and Bezalel followed them to the letter.

This is the final piece in the construction process of the Tabernacle. Everything else has been completed. But this piece is no less important than all the other items created along the way. The priestly garments are to be worn EVERY TIME one goes in to minister to the Lord. And ONLY those doing that task will be allowed to enter the tent of meeting itself.

Moses had set up a tent of meeting outside the camp from early on. This was where anyone who wanted to meet with God would go. Moses himself went there daily. He loved meeting with God. As he was not given a priestly robe, would he be granted access to the Lord’s Tabernacle? Or would he too have to go through the priesthood to gain access to the Lord? Did he put away his own tent of meeting? Was there now a separation between him and God? He would be the one to dedicate the Tabernacle and also ordain Aaron and his sons. Did this leave Moses in a closer relationship with God; in his current relationship?

While reading about the construction of the priestly garments I was impressed with the use of pure gold in the weaving process. This wasn’t just dyed yarn but actual gold woven into the body of the garments. As the wearer moved, the light from the lamp would touch all the places where the gold was woven in. I can imagine the light bouncing around inside. Did their garments appear to glow as Moses’ face had? Was this light originally distraction? I know I would have been looking at the “rainbows” reflected all over. I wish I could have seen them. I bet they were spectacular!

The garments being constructed were to be used for several generations to come. These were not Aaron and his sons’ personal property. They were for the Lord. They were to be passed on from generation to generation as the priesthood also passed that way. Great care had to be exercised in maintaining these garments after they were made and also in the construction process. The garments were not made “form fitting” or cut to size for Aaron. They were all made with general fit parameters. The sashes would take care of the extra room in the body of the garment and also help with any length issues. This would be a “one size fits all” garment.

The engraving work had to be exquisite too! We don’t know how large the stones were but they had to bear the names of the tribes on their settings. An image of a class ring just popped into my head. The stones on my class ring were surrounded by the year of graduation and my initials. But the stones being set in these garments bore MUCH more information. The shoulder stones had the tribes’ names split between the two of them while the ones on the breastplate contained one name each. I’m still curious to know the meaning behind each stone choice. Were they birthstones? If they were, then no two sons were born in the same month. Were they representative of the character of each of the original twelve sons? Were they meant to communicate something about God’s nature or how to approach Him? Did the children of Israel recognize the meaning behind each stone? I have a feeling this is going to have to be one of my bench questions.

One item to ponder before we leave the clothes. I want to know if the priests wore shoes into the Tabernacle. When Moses first approached the burning bush, he was told to take his shoes off as he was standing on holy ground. And when directing Moses as to what to create for the priests He never mentioned shoes. God addressed everything from the underwear to the coats and hats. Not one word was spared for foot covering. He even spoke of the hem of the garments and what they were to have on them. I don’t think God “forgot” about the shoes. The bronze basin was for washing hands and feet before going in to see the Lord. So did they go barefoot from there? Or were they supposed to wear their normal shoes? I’m more inclined to think they went barefoot but where did they leave their shoes? At the door or at the basin?

In the last half of our reading we see the people bringing EVERYTHING that they made to Moses to inspect it. Can you imagine the line of people carrying those pieces? It probably stretched out half way across the camp. I believe Moses had been keeping an eye on the construction process from the beginning but this was the first time everything was assembled together for his inspection. I can almost see him as he ran his hands over the stack of linens for the walls and felt the smooth surfaces of each of the items covered in precious metals. Did he hold the breastplate up to let the jewels catch the light? Did he trace the intricate design of the gold leaf that was woven into the ephod? Did he rub the turban against his face to feel the softness of the material? Did he feel the heft of the bases and compare the weight of the two different kinds? Did he examine the straightness of the poles? Everything he saw was good and just as the Lord had commanded.

Father God, that was an AMAZING undertaking. I would have been one of those “looky loos” who had to see everything as it was being made. I probably could have watched for hours at the side of the looms. Just watching as the pattern emerged. Did You let little girls watch or were they chased off?

I wouldn’t have wanted to spoil what had been made but I would love to have had the opportunity to see, touch and feel all the pieces like I imagined Moses did. Would that have been disrespectful? It all sounds so wonderful! I wish I could do the same with all Your stories and also You one day. Will You let me touch Your hair? Can I smell Your robe? Is it a fresh linen smell, the fragrance of Your incense or a smell all Your own? I imagine it is the softest cloth ever made. I imagine it is so white that it nearly pulsates with its own light. Will You have a special blanket that I can wrap around me and snuggle into? That’s something I enjoy doing too. I guess it is all a wait and see proposition. BETTER than any Christmas ever!

In the meantime Lord, thank You for sharing Your stories with me and letting me use my imagination when I read them. Don’t let me go too far afield. Thank You for the closeness to You that this story brings to me. Keep me always coming back to Your lap to snuggle in once more for “story time.”

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