The ephod (1 Samuel 2)

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The ephod was a sacral garment, either a simple linen uniform worn by all priests in service to the Lord (1 Samuel 2:28) or the more elaborate apparel of the high priest (Exodus 28:6). The ephod of ordinary priests was of white linen (1 Samuel 22:18), a material preferred by all priesthoods of the ancient world because of its association with ritual purity. Ordination of the Israelite Old Testament priesthood involved investiture (a ceremony of installing someone to priestly office, often including the conferring of special garments; see Leviticus 8:30, Numbers 20:26), and thus the privilege of wearing the ephod that was conferred upon the Levites carried a special significance (1 Samuel 2:28). When David donned a linen ephod to bring the ark to Jerusalem, he did so to emphasize his priestly role before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14).

The high priestly ephod (pictured above) was a sleeveless garment similar to an apron, held up by the shoulders and fastened in the back by a belt. Its fabric was an intricate weave of gold, blue, purple and scarlet threads. Hammered gold leaf cords were worked into each individual coloured thread so that gold was the predominant material of the ephod’s fabrication (Exodus 39:3). Yet it was the revelatory nature of this garment that it rendered it the most important piece of priestly attire. Hanging from the ephod was the breastplate that contained the Urim and Thummim, oracle stones through which the high priest could determine the will of God. In the hope of receiving an oracle from the Lord, the ephod was often carried into battle (1 Samuel 23:9, 30:7-8).


 

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