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render himself, by repentance and atonement, worthy of that reconciliation ; for the prayers and sacrifices of the High-priest are efficacious only in so far as the people itself shows a craving after the restoration of that blissful harmony.'* The ephod had a band or girdle, woven of the same costly texture, and forming with it one entire piece.
3. Above the ephod, and attached to it by two chains twisted of gold thread, and resting chiefly upon the heart, was the Breast-plate of Decision. This remarkable portion of the pontifical vestments was woven of the same fine texture and the same costly materials as the ephod, with which it was meant to be closely connected. On the breast-plate sparkled twelve precious stones in four equal rows; on each stone the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel was engraven. Nothing represents both the origin and destiny of man strikingly and more beautifully than precious stones carefully worked out. Like the jewel, man is a child of the earth; but as this earthly frame encloses the breath of God and an eternal soul, it is a precious treasure in the eyes of God; He values man as bearing His image and His indelible impress. But it is the aim of man to train himself from a creature of the earth into a denizen of heaven, to transform the gloom and heaviness inherent in matter into the aerial brightness which is the essence of the spirits; and the smiling splendour of the precious stones, which are, like him, taken from the same dark womb of the common mother, symbolize to him that internal regeneration, that ascending from earth to heaven, from impurity to purity, from worldliness to sanctity, which is the innermost tendency of the Mosaic dispensation. But further, the jewels are, among all ancient nations, regarded as the foci of light, as the eyes of the earth ; they are the emblems of the stars, which they
* See Kalisch, on Exod. xxviii.
rival in splendour; their brilliancy recalls the brightness of heaven; and if the names of the tribes were engraven on twelve stones, the hosts of Israel were reminded to strive after the light and the purity of the heavenly hosts. (Kalisch, loc. cit.)
The twelve jewels, as far as it is at present possible to ascertain the meaning of the Hebrew terms, were as follows:
1. Carnelian, topaz, and smaragd.
4. Chrysolite, onyx, and jasper. These stones were, at the same time, used for a very peculiar purpose. By their means the High-priest was, in critical and difficult emergencies, enabled to discover and reveal the will of God; hence the breast-plate was designated “the breast-plate of decision ;' and the twelve stones are described by the remarkable terms Urim and Thummim, or Light and Truth. As, therefore, the Urim and Thummim are identical with the twelve gems, they must bear some reference to the symbolical meaning of the latter; and this is, as has been observed above, purification from the state of sin and worldliness.
6 The brilliancy of the precious stone is a type of the shining splendour of the purified soul and of the celestial orbs. Now the Urim and Thummim are nothing else than this “perfect light or brilliancy;" they represent the absolute banishment of terrestrial selfishness, the highest possible degree of self-denial. Therefore Aaron had to wear them on the heart, the source of all desires, of all mundane propensities on the heart, which is “deceitful above all things and wicked, which no man knows and which God alone searches." If the heart of the High-priest was purified, if he pursued no other interests than the welfare of his people, then only was he worthy and capable
of becoming the medium through which Israel received advice and guidance in times of trouble and uncertainty. And thus the much-disputed question, in what manner the answers of the Urim and Thummim were given, may perhaps be decided. The High-priest was, by the sight of the gems, powerfully impressed with the grandeur of his mission; his mind gave itself up entirely to the duties of his office; all earthly thoughts vanished before him; he was raised to a prophetic vision, and in this state of sanctity God deigned to reveal to him His will and the destinies of His people; and both the Highpriest and the people were convinced of the truth of such inspirations. But there is this difference between the High-priest and the prophet, that the former has to try to rise up to God by moral exertion, whilst God descends to the latter spontaneously; the one is a servant, the other a messenger; and therefore the office of the Highpriest is continuous, while prophets are only inspired in extraordinary times and for special purposes. (Ibid.)
4. To complete the magnificent attire of the Highpriest, he wore between the ephod and the tunic the Robe, which was longer than the ephod and shorter than the tunic. It was of fine blue wool, without sleeves, woven of one piece with an aperture for the neck, round which a strong border was worked for protection from tearing. The blue colour of the garment was a significant symbol of that heavenly virtue which was to be the constant aim of the High-priest. Yet in order that his principal vestment might not be wanting in those colours which chiefly characterise the Tabernacle and the priestly attire, it ended in a broad hem of pomegranates, of blue, red, and crimson. Between these pomegranates small golden bells were inserted. The bells were not merely meant as an additional ornament, but they served a more important purpose. Their sound, produced when
Aaron walked into the Sanctuary to perform the prescribed service, or when he returned after its completion, was to call the attention of the worshipping Israelites in the Court to the sacredness of his office, and to impress their minds with deep reverence; for without the pious devotion of the people, the intervention of the Highpriest before God was of little avail.
Thus magnificently were the High-priest and the priests attired; yet were they to approach the Sanctuary with uncovered feet, that they might constantly be reminded of modesty and humility.
43. THE GOLDEN CALF.
The Israelites had watched Moses from their tents as he disappeared amidst the flames and the smoke of Mount Sinai; they awaited his return with anxiety; but when day after day, week after week passed by, and they were still left without their chief and guide, they despaired of his re-appearance, and came to Aaron and said : Rise, make us a god who shall go before us; for as to this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' Aaron, weak and well aware of the stubbornness and violence of the people, acceded to their demand. He bade the men and women bring their golden ornaments, which he melted and formed into the shape of a calf, most probably a likeness of the Egyptian Apis. Then the people exclaimed in wild rejoicing : These are thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt ;' and Aaron built an altar before the image and announced : “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.'
The morrow came, and the reckless people brought their peace-offerings and their burnt-offerings, and sacri
ficed to the idol. Then followed the usual public feasting, with dancing and games.
The Lord, as He communed with His servant Moses on the heights of Sinai, heard the impious sounds rising from the tents, and His wrath was great. He commanded Moses to descend, and to declare that He would utterly annihilate the rebellious people. But Moses prayed to the Lord humbly and fervently : Lord, why is Thy anger kindled against Thy people, which Thou hast brought from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, To their misfortune He brought them out to slay them in the mountains, and to destroy them from the face of the earth ? Turn from the rage of Thy anger, and recall the evil against Thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants, to whom Thou hast sworn by Thy own self, and to whom Thou hast said, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land of which I have spoken will I give to your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the Lord heard the prayer of His pious servant.
Moses then went down, bearing in his hands the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments had been written by the finger of God. Joshua, his devoted follower, awaited him at the foot of the mountain. The sounds of merriment were rising loud in the air, and Joshua, the warrior, exclaimed, .There is a noise of war in the camp.' But Moses answered, “It is not the voice of those who cry victory, nor the voice of those who cry defeat; the voice of those who sing do I hear. And as he advanced, he came in full view of the camp. the golden calf raised on high, with the offerings burning before it, whilst around it danced and sang the infatuated multitude. The faithful servant of God was filled with horror at the impiety of the people: in his indignation