31. And thou shalt make the robe. This robe was above the oblong coat between that and the ephod; and from its lower edge hung the bells and pomegranates alternately. Although there was no smell in the pomegranates, (164) yet the type suggested this to the eyes; as if God required in that garment a sweet smell as well as a sound; and surely we who stink through the foulness of our sins, are only a sweet smell unto God as being covered with the garment of Christ. But God would have the bells give a sound; because the garment of Christ does not procure favor for us, except by the sound of the Gospel, which diffuses the sweet savor of the Head amongst all the members. In this allegory there is nothing too subtle or far-fetched; for the similitude of the smell and the sound naturally leads us to the honoring of grace, (165) and to the preaching of the Gospel. By the pomegranates, therefore, which were attached to the hem of the garment, God testified that whatever was in the priest smelt sweetly, and was acceptable to Him, provided the sound accompanied it; the necessity of which is declared, when God denounces death against the priest if He should enter the sanctuary without the sound. And assuredly it was a general invitation which awakened the peoples’ minds to attention, whilst the sacred offices were performed. There is no absurdity in the fact, that the punishment which God threatens does not properly apply to Christ; because it was necessary to issue severe injunctions to the Levitical priests, lest they should omit these external exercises of piety, until the truth was manifested. The ancients do not unwisely make a spiritual application of this to the ministers of the Church; for the priest is worthy of death, says Gregory, (166) from whom the voice of preaching is not heard; just as Isaiah reproves “the dumb dogs.” (Isaiah 56:10.) But this we must especially remember, that the garment of Christ is sonorous, since only faith, which cometh by hearing, clothes us with His righteousness.
(164) Lat., “ in malogranatis, vel malts punicis;” the latter being the translation of the V.
(165) “ Que la justice de Jesus Christ nous rend odoriferans par la predication de l’Evangile;” (leads us to this) that the righteousness of Jesus Christ makes us sweet through the preaching of the Gospel. — Fr.
(166) Quoted in the Glossa Ordinaria in loco : “ Quia tram contra se occulti Judicis provocat, si sine praedicationis sonitu incedit."