Theimages of the high priests and Levites opposite (8, 9, 10, 18, 20 and 21) date fromthe end of the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century, and areinterpretations of descriptions in the Book of Exodus. We know very little ofwhat effect the turmoil and upheavals of those times might have had on Hebrewsacred costume: the influences of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria and Greece must allhave had their effect.
We do know, however, that Moses chose those who would servein the sanctuary exclusively from the tribe of Levi, after their exemplaryconduct in the affair of the golden calf. They were divided into two classes:the priests and the Levites.
The high priest, or the "anointed priest" (socalled because his head was anointed with holy oil), was in charge of thegeneral administration of the sanctuary and the forms of worship. Some of hisgarments were common to all priests: leggings, a tunic, a belt and a highbonnet.
In addition, the high priest wore a violet tunic that had bellshanging from it to alert people to his presence in the sanctuary, an ephod (13 and 14), which was a type ofcorset of Egyptian origin, fixed at the shoulders and made from linen anddecorated with gold brocade, and a pectoral (14). Moses called this "anornament of justice": it was square, embellished with precious stones andworn on the chest.
According to Exodus, Aaron, the first high priest, wore anephod decorated with twelve precious stones representing the twelve tribes ofIsrael.
1, 2, 11 and 12 show the influence of Egyptianheaddresses on those worn by the Hebrew High Priest.
1 and 2 show the symbolic fleur de lys that had replaced the cobra as aruler's decoration at the time of the exile from Egypt.
8 A man wearing a tunic such as
Aaron would have worn beneath his ephod. In Hebrew this tunic was called amehil.
The neck of this garment was hemmed and woven so that theedges did not tear. It had a fringe made of small bells, so the wearer could beheard in the tabernacle. Examples of this decoration are common on pictures ofroyal clothes through the ages and have been found in Egyptian tombs.
3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 A variety of small bells. Sometimes these were enamelled and sometimes theywere made of metal, so different sounds could be made when they were strucktogether.
13, 14, 16 and 17 The calecon, the basic article of Levite costume. It wasshorter than that worn by the Egyptians, so Moses decreed that a long tunicshould be worn on top of it.
19 A fittedundergarment with tight sleeves, which in this case stops at the knees. It wasworn by the priests under their ceremonial costume.
15, 16 and 17 Examples of belts worn by the Levites. Theywere often made of snake skin (15 and 16), following Egyptian custom.
Moses did not specify whether these should be coloured likethose worn by the high priests or whether they should be all white. The beltswere wrapped around the body several times and the ends hung down.