Priesthood garments – Ephod – and significance

Picture…The pattern for the official clothing of the high priest, or presiding head of the Aaronic Priesthood… was given by revelation and had symbolic as well as practical significance.

Ephod (ay’fode in Hebrew)… an article of sacred clothing worn by the high priests of the Levitical Priesthood. The Lord directed that they were not to wear ordinary clothing during their service, but they were to have ‘holy garments’ made by those whom the Lord had ‘filled with the spirit of wisdom.’ (Ex 28:2,3). These sacred garments were to be passed from father to son along with the high priestly office itself. (Ex 29:29).

The ephod, worn over a blue robe, was made of blue, purple and scarlet material, with designs of gold thread skillfully woven into the fabric. This garment was fastened at each shoulder and had an intricately woven band with which it could be fastened around the waist. In gold settings on each shoulder were onyx stones engraved with the names of the 12 sons of Israel as a ‘memorial’ as the priest served before the Lord. (See Ex 28:6-14 and 39:2-7). Fastened to the ephod was a breastplate into which the Urim and Thummim (oo reem and too meem) could be placed (Ex 28:15-30).

The exact function of the ephod is not known. As President Joseph Fielding Smith observed, information concerning these ancient ordinances ‘was never recorded in any detail because such ordinances are sacred and not for the world.’ (Improvement Era, Nov 1955).

This “apron,”as it is sometimes translated, signified a beautiful symbolic concept. With the two onyx stones, which fastened the ephod on the shoulders, the high priest (a type of Christ and also of his authorized representatives) entered the tabernacle (the house of the Lord, or God’s presence) carrying Israel on his shoulders (see Ex 28:12).

From Old Testament Student Manual, Religion 301, Genesis – 2Samuel, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, p. 151-2.

The ephod was worn by David while dancing in the presence of the Ark (containing the stone tablets). It is usually described and being made of linen but was not a full garment; more like a loincloth but not a complete outer garment. The breastplate, called the Urim and Thummim would rest in a cloth receptacle upon the ephod. The Talmud argues that each of the textures was combined in six threads with a seventh of gold leaf, making twenty-eight threads to the texture in total.

“Besides use as a garment, an Ephod was also used for oracular purposes, in conjunction with Urim and Thummim, the books of Samuel imply that whenever Saul or David wished to question God via oracular methods, they asked a priest for the Ephod.] Since the oracular process is considered by scholars to have been one of cleromancy, with the Urim and Thummim being the objects which were drawn as lots, the Ephod is considered by scholars to have been some form of container for the Urim and Thummim; to harmonise this with the descriptions of the Ephod as a garment, it is necessary to conclude that the Ephod must have originally been some sort of pocket, which the priests girded to themselves. However, the biblical text states the Urim and Thummim were placed in the breastplate, not the ephod (Leviticus 8:8”… According to the Talmud, the wearing of the ephod atoned for the sin of idolatry on the part of the Children of Israel.

From Wikipedia


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