Of Ephods and Pomegranates: The Vestments of Aaron, the High Priest . . .
So What Is An Ephod?
No One Knows
Ephods, or “the ephod,” are mentioned about 48 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, mostly as some sort of garment for the High Priest:
“6 They shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, skillfully worked. 7 It shall have two shoulder-pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. 8 The decorated band on it shall be of the same workmanship and materials, of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen. 9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a gem-cutter engraves signets, so you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel; you shall mount them in settings of gold filigree. 12 You shall set the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance. 13 You shall make settings of gold filigree, 14 and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.” Exodus 28:6-14
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). The integration of the stones in the breastplate, as well as the Hebrew usage of “Urim” as “lights,” suggest that the Urim and Thummim may have been a type of ocular device through which the priest would look when receiving divine communication. (Wikipedia)
In addition to carrying the Urim and Thummim, the ephod served as the foundation garment for the Breastplate of Righteousness, which carried twelve semi-precious stones upon which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This Breastplate is part of our logo.
Indeed, no one is exactly certain just what an Ephod was, other than something liturgical. Most likely some sort of bag or pouch that carried the Urim and Thummim, some sort of objects used for divination.
Pomegranates, by contrast, are somewhat easier to identify. The Pomegranate is mentioned at least 25 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, but for our purpose we need only look once again at Exodus 28 and the robe of the High Priest:
“31 You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a coat of mail,[c] so that it may not be torn. 33 On its lower hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the lower hem, with bells of gold between them all around— 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate alternating all around the lower hem of the robe. 35 Aaron shall wear it when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he may not die.” (vv 31-35)
Ephods and Pomegranates are intimately woven into the spirituality of Biblical Israel.
Ephods and Pomegranates produces handwoven goods for the temple, whether it be the temple of the individual home, or the temple for the congregation in Synagogue and Chuch. Glyn is a retired Episcopal Priest, and Will is Jewish.