The life of Gideon (Judg 8:22-8:28)

“Then the Israelites said to Gideon. ‘Rule over us, you, your son and your grandson also. You have delivered us out of the hand of Midian.’ Gideon said to them. ‘I will not rule over you. My son will not rule over you. Yahweh will rule over you.’ Then Gideon said to them. ‘Let me make a request of you. Each of you give me an earring that he has taken as booty.’ The enemy had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites. ‘We will willingly give them.’ They answered. So they spread a garment. Each threw into it an earring he had taken as booty. The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold. This is apart from the crescents, the pendants, and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and the collars that were about the necks of their camels. Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his town, in Ophrah. All Israel prostituted themselves to it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his family. So Midian was subdued before the Israelites. They lifted up their heads no more. So the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.”

The Israelites wanted Gideon and his family to rule over them as some kind of king. He suggests that only Yahweh is the king ruler. However, he asks that each one give an ear ring taken from the Ishmaelites that is from the sons of Ishmael. He then made an ephod, which is a sacred ephod like the high priest. This must have been some kind of shrine in Ophrah. Peace then reigned in Israel for forty years. Gideon is judge #5.

The ephod (Ex 39:1-39:7)

“Of the blue, purple, and crimson yarns they made finely worked vestments, for ministering in the holy place.  They made the sacred vestments for Aaron, as Yahweh had commanded Moses.  He made the ephod of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen.  Gold leaf was hammered out and cut into threads to work into the blue, purple, and crimson yarns and into the fine twisted linen, in a skilled design.  They made for the ephod shoulder-pieces, joined to it at its two edges.   The decorated band on it was of the same materials and workmanship, of gold, of blue and purple and crimson yarns, and of fine twined linen, as Yahweh had commanded Moses.”

As Yahweh had commanded Moses in chapter 26, the ministers, like Aaron, should wear sacred vestments. The ephod was made of gold, with the colorful yarns and linen. Gold leaf was hammered out and cut into threads in a skilled design.

“The onyx stones were prepared, enclosed in settings of gold filigree and engraved like the engravings of a signet, according to the names of the sons of Israel.   He set them on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, to be stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel, as Yahweh had commanded Moses.”

Two shoulder pieces were joined together, with two onyx stones, like a signet or cameo, with the names of the twelve tribes, as a remembrance.  This was a very colorful piece of clothing.

The breastplate (Ex 28:15-28:30)

“You shall make a breastplate of judgment, in skilled work.  You shall make it in the style of the ephod.  You shall make it of gold, of blue and purple and crimson yarns, and fine twined linen. It shall be square and doubled a span in length and a span in width.  You shall set in it four rows of stones.  A row of carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald shall be the first row.  The second row is a turquoise, a sapphire, and a moonstone.  The third row is a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst.  The fourth row is a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper.  They shall be set in gold filigree. There shall be twelve stones with names according to the names of the sons of Israel.  They shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes.  You shall make for the breastplate chains of pure gold, twisted like cords.  You shall make for the breastplate two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the breastplate.   You shall put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the breastplate.  The two ends of the two cords you shall attach to the two settings. Attach it in front to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod.  You shall make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the breastplate, on its inside edge next to the ephod.  You shall make two rings of gold, and attach them in front to the lower part of the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod, at its joining above the decorated band of the ephod.   The breastplate shall be bound by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it may lie on the decorated band of the ephod, and so that the breastplate shall not come loose from the ephod.   So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastplate of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the holy place, for a continual remembrance before Yahweh. In the breastplate of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim.  They shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before Yahweh.  Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the Israelites upon his heart before Yahweh continually.”

The breastplate is made in the style of the ephod, but it is square with 4 rows of 3 stones each.  They really knew the various gemstones. 4 rows with 3 stones each corresponds to the 12 tribes of Israel.  Of course, there are gold rings at the two ends of the breastplate in order to attach it to the ephod with a blue cord.  There is a mention of the Urim and Thummim.  These were sacred oracles, in the pouch of the breastplate of judgment.  Aaron bears the names of the Israelites and the judgment of the Israelites, when he goes into the holy place, for a continual remembrance.

 

The ephod (Ex 28:6-28:14)

“They shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, skillfully worked.  It shall have two shoulder-pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together.  The decorated band on it shall be of the same workmanship and materials, of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen.  You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth.  As a gem-cutter engraves signets, so you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel.  You shall mount them in settings of gold filigree.  You shall set the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel.  Aaron shall bear their names before Yahweh on his two shoulders for remembrance.   You shall make settings of gold filigree, and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords.  You shall attach the corded chains to the settings.”

The ephod is an old cultural vestment, an embroidered garment, believed to be like an apron with shoulder straps, worn by Hebrew priests in ancient Israel.  It was made of gold, as well as blue, purple, and crimson yarns and fine twisted linen.  The two shoulder pieces that were joined together had two onyx stones, like a cameo, with the engraved names of the twelve tribes, six on each stone in the order of their birth, one on each shoulder as a remembrance.  On top of that, you have two gold chains attached to these stones.  This was a very colorful piece of clothing or apron, much like the later medieval Christian chasubles.

The priestly vestments (Ex 28:1-28:5)

“Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests.   Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar will serve as priests.  You shall make sacred vestments for the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron. You shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with skill, that they make Aaron’s vestments to consecrate him for my priesthood.  These are the vestments that they shall make: a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a checkered tunic, a turban, and a sash.  When they make these sacred vestments for your brother Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests, they shall use gold, blue, purple, and crimson yarns and fine linens.”

Aaron and his 4 sons will serve as priests to Yahweh.  There is no mention of Moses’ 2 sons.  Skilled workers were needed to make Aaron’s vestments so that he could be consecrated to the priesthood.  The following are the vestments that will be laid with gold, blue, purple, and crimson yarns and linens: 1) a breastplate, 2) an ephod, 3) a robe, 4) a checkered tunic, 5) a turban, 6) and a sash.