Exodus 28:31 - Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Bible Comments

THE PRIEST’S ROBE.—Exodus 28:31-35

A robe is the badge of office, and the robe here described marks out the high priest as one whose function it was to preserve and declare divine truth. And Christ, the great High Priest, is also the Apostle of our confession. Consider what this robe suggests concerning the truth as it is in Jesus.

I. The colour of the robe suggests, that our great High Priest is the source and guardian of truth. The robe was to be entirely of blue. “That this is significant cannot be doubted, if we consider, that (Numbers 15:38) the Israelites are commanded to wear on the borders of their garments fringes with a thread of blue, ‘that they might see it and remember all the precepts of the Lord;’ we may, therefore, safely infer that the robe, with its only blue colour, represented the high priest as perfectly and entirely under the command of God, as the instrument and guardian of His laws.”—Kalisch. Christ is the grand source of spiritual and divine truth. He declares the laws of God to mankind. It is the highest truth: blue, the colour of the lofty firmament. It is the purest truth: the deep blue sky is an image of purity—free from all stains and defilements. It is the infinite, eternal, truth: the blue unchanging sky is the image of eternity.

II. The integrity of the robe suggests the integrity of the law and truth of Christ. The robe was of one piece, it was entirely woven without the use of the needle; and the robe was of one colour, all of blue. The Gospel of Jesus is no patchwork, as some would assume, partly true and partly false, partly human and partly divine, partly obligatory and partly obsolete, partly beautiful and partly unseemly. The Gospel of Jesus is not a thing made from scraps and shreds gathered from various sources, Jewish and Pagan,—it is of one spirit, one beauty, one authority throughout. Let us not attempt to tear it asunder. “There was to be a binding of woven work round about the hole for the neck, like the opening of an armour, that it be not rent,” Exodus 28:32. Let us make no schism in it. The Gospel of Jesus is the unfolding of God’s heart and God’s mind, and let us be careful and preserve the whole counsel of God.

III. The ornaments of the robe suggest the sweetness and virtue of the truth as it is in Jesus, Exodus 28:33-35. “We find allusions to the Word and Testimony of God in the pendant of pomegranates and bells attached to the fringe of the high priest’s robe. The simile in Proverbs 25:11, where the word is compared to an apple, suggests the idea that the pomegranates, with their pleasant odour, their sweet and refreshing juice, and the richness of their delicious kernel, were symbols of the Word and Testimony of God, as a sweet and Pleasant spiritual food that enlivens the soul and refreshes the heart.”—Delitzsch. The music of the golden bells we may also regard as the delightful harmony of Gospel truth—sweet alike to God and man. The truth as it is in Jesus is full of richness and beauty—it speaks of pardon, reconciliation, and immortality.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”



Scripture-Secrets! Exodus 28:1-43. “The Bible can never be exhausted. The most learned commentators and eloquent preachers have but crossed the threshold of the magnificent temple. As in Nature, so in Revelation: the materials of every steam-engine, telegraph, microscope, and other mechanical and scientific contrivances, have been lying for countless ages under the dust of the earth undisturbed until a comparatively recent date.… And what yet may be fashioned out of the materials of nature no sagacity can prognosticate. Our present conquests form the starting-points of more dazzling victories. So, in reference to Revelation: generations yet unborn will group around its pages, and gather from them more sublime and radiant truths than those which have flashed on our intellect and cheered our heart—from the harps of the Hebrew bards they will hear a more elevating melody than ever charmed our spirits, and in the living words of the Divine Man perceive a depth, a grandeur, and a significance of which no conception can be formed. The ancient prophets have yet more to relate. Isaiah will reveal glories surpassing imagination, and Ezekiel unfold splendours which would overpower our visual organs. Intellectual perception will be quickened so as to penetrate the clouds which intercept man’s vision of the truth. No NEW Revelation, however, will be granted; but from the present Bible will stream ‘a light above the brightness of the sun.’ Never need we fear an exhaustion of the truth. It is sempiternal as God, and perennial as the springs of immortality.”

“The Book of God! a well of streams divine!
But who would wish the riches of that mine
To make his own, his thirst to satisfy
From that pure well, must ear, eye, soul apply.”


Pomegranates! Exodus 28:33.

(1.) The tree, or rather shrub, which bears this beautiful and delicious fruit, has its habitat in Asia and North Africa. Its leaves are dark green, in shape of those of the myrtle. The flower is a rich, brilliant red, and the fruit like an orange in shape, somewhat darker red in colour. The flavour is almost identical with that of a man darin orange. The pomegranate was exhibited by the Israelite spies at Eshcol. When cut open, it reveals juicy red seeds, arranged symmetrically in rows parallel to the core. Hence in Song of Solomon 4:3, the Church of Christ, at the time of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, is likened to an open pomegranate.

(2.) Is it more than a mere coincidence that in Song of Solomon 4:12; Song of Solomon 6:11; Song of Solomon 7:12, allusions are made to this fruit! The first of these allegorical prophecies refers to the closing scenes in the life of Christ during the Last Supper; the second is inseparably connected with the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; while the third links itself with the subsequent Evangelisation of the Samaritans and other Gentiles. It was then that our Lord passed within the veil after “His Exodus” accomplished at Jerusalem, and when arrayed in the gorgeous high-priestly apparel He presented His fragrant and fruitful intercessions before the Throne of Mercy and Grace above.

“And He gathers the prayers as He stands,
And they change into fruits in His hands,
Pomegranates of purple and red;
And beneath the great arch of the portal,
Through the streets of the City Immortal,

Is wafted the fragrance they shed.”


Golden-Bells! Exodus 28:34. The sound of these bells was very pleasant to the worshippers in the court of the tabernacle—telling, as they did, of the Advocate within the veil who was acting for them, and prevailing according to the will of God. We have a better High Priest, One who can never die, and who, having entered into heaven itself, now appears in the presence of God for us. May we not well believe, suggests Wood, that the golden bells on His robe are those melodious declarations of love—those alluring promises which give life and gladness to the soul, and which have all their value and significance only as they are connected with Him who is the Substitute and Surety of sinners! Trapp, however, says that they shadow out the prophetical office of Christ here and His perpetual intercession in heaven.

“Hark to the bells among the fruits, low, surging deep,
Falling in tender minors, now once more
Blending in heavenly harmonies, as creep
The rippling wavelets on the shelving shore.”


Conscience-Chimes! Exodus 28:34. Years ago, one lovely Sabbath morning, eight young law students were strolling along the bank of one of the tributaries of the Potomac River. They were going to a secluded spot in a grove to murder the precious hours of that holy day by playing whist and drinking wine. Each of them was the son of a praying mother. As they were sauntering along, and amusing each other with idle jests, the court-house bells—used for calling the people to their house of worship—commenced to ring. Suddenly one of them stopped, told how the bells recalled his mother’s farewell assurance that every Sunday morning, when the church bells rang, she would pray for him, and expressed his determination to go back to church. “Silently,” says the ringleader, “we all followed. Each of us managed to throw our cards and flasks into the stream, and not one of us now lives without a new heart”—each a monument to a mother’s prayers.

“How soft the cadence of those village bells
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet!”


Pomegranate-Prefigurations! Exodus 28:34. If the joyful sounds of grace to sinners were prefigured by the golden bells on the robe of the ephod, it has been suggested that we shall not be far wrong in supposing that these fruits were types of the results which always follow a right hearing of the sweet melody. As every golden bell was followed by its pomegranate, so every Gospel message is, when welcomed, succeeded by its appropriate fruit. The pomegranate is not only

(1) beautiful to the eye, but
(2) richly luscious to the taste. It is also
(3) full of seed, to extend the blessings already possessed by itself. So, says a Glasgow merchant, is it with the fruits of grace. Not one of them but is lovely to the sight of God and man. In themselves refreshing and delightful, they carry spiritual seeds for the propagation of the same rich joy which they enwrap. Blessed in themselves, they give forth blessing to others. These are the fruits of the Spirit detailed by St. Paul. It is hinted by Trapp that these pomegranates shadow out the duty of ministers, which is to live sermons—to be fruitful as well as painful teachers.

“Oh! then sustain me, Holiest! I am vowed

To solemn service high;

And shall the spirit, for Thy tasks endowed
Sink on the threshold of the sanctuary!”

Aaronic-Bells! Exodus 28:35.

(1.) This verse shows their use and intent. The sound of the numerous bells that covered Aaron’s robe, gave notice to the assembled people that the most awful ceremony of their religion had commenced. When arrayed in this garb, he bore into the sanctuary the vessel of incense. This was the signal to prostrate themselves before God, and to commence those fervent ejaculations which were to ascend with the column of incense to the Throne of Heaven. The music of the bells was here, then, a signal to wrestle with Jehovah to bless the intercession of Aaron.
(2.) Talmage suggests that the Gospel has many bells:
(1) Golden Bells, signifying the preciousness of the glad tidings of salvation;

(2) Inviting Bells, summoning the servants of God to worship Him in His holy temple;

(3) Warning Bells, saying that delay in serving God is attended with danger;

(4) Cheering Bells, setting forth the possibility of pardon to all anxious sinners; and

(5) Triumphant Bells, singing, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

(3.) Wood says that the sound of the bells outside attested Aaron’s being alive and active, and accepted in the intercessory work to which he was appointed. When the worshippers learned from the ringing of the bells that their advocate within the veil was prospering in his appeal on their behalf, they were emboldened to blend their supplications with those of Aaron.

“Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices, something understood.”


Exodus 28:31-35

31 And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue.

32 And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.

33 And beneath upon the hemc of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:

34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.

35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.