How did God Speak Through the Ephod?
How did God speak through the ephod? The Ephod was worn by Israel's priests, serving several purposes including communicating with God directly. It allowed them to connect and commune with Him directly.
The Urim and Thummim
God gave Moses two gifts that remain one of the great mysteries in the Old Testament: Urim and Thummim (meaning two stones that lit up when asked a question by priest) was among them. Concealed inside his breastplate was this sacred object meant for seeking divine guidance - Urim and Thummim could be found within an Ephod breastplate for use when seeking guidance from Him. Nowhere does Scripture provide more detail than they existed within an ephod breastplate: two stones that lit up when presented questions by priests (the Bible doesn't provide much detail).
The Urim and Thummim were traditionally employed to help priests understand God's will for war, judgement and other issues. David of Old Testament fame used them in seeking guidance for his fight with King Saul while disobeying Him - yet still managed to obtain answers through this means.
Josephus, a Jewish historian and soldier who lived from 38 CE to 100 CE, provides us with an account of the Urim and Thummim in his work Antiquities of the Jews (3.7.5). According to him, they were two sardonyx stones which could help priests make judgment calls when in doubt about what God said (3.7.5).
There are only a handful of references to urim and thummim in the Five Books of Moses, one being 1 Samuel 28:6, where Saul inquired of God but received no clear response; other references can be found in Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65 but neither provide much detail as to their use or purpose.
The Ephod’s Breastplate
The breastplate of a priest consisted of a golden garment which draped both shoulders on either side, decorated with two onyx stones bearing each tribe of Israel written out, six per stone according to their birth (Exodus 28:9-14).
The Talmud describes an ephod as composed of gold thread woven together with threads made of scarlet material and fine twisted linen to form one strand, to be fastened to rings on both shoulders (Yoma 71b).
It was also described in the Bible as having two divinatory tools known as Urim and Thummim that served as divinatory tools. Their exact purpose remains unknown, but these items were used to answer queries presented to God and reveal His replies; whether through simple "yes/no" responses or more complex responses remains unknown.
The Ephod itself served a variety of other purposes. For instance, in 1 Samuel 23:6-9 when David learned of Saul's plans against him he asked Abiathar to bring the Ephod so he could consult it and inquire with God as to his next course of action; God answered him through its Urim and Thummim and revealed His answer through this means.
The Ephod’s Shoulder Pieces
The two shoulder pieces of an ephod were composed of twined linen strips which were tied together. Engraved onyx stones with names of Israelite tribes were attached to these pieces, and worn by high priests just like military officers would show their rank. Wearing these pieces symbolized that Israel was represented before God while reminding their wearers of their familial heritage and national pride.
Pieces of the ephod were decorated with gold filigree and rings to represent Christ as He presented humanity before God and made intercession for them, bearing their infirmities and weaknesses as He bore their sins on his shoulders. According to sages from Talmud, this garment symbolized that act. It also represented Jesus carrying Israel's sins onto himself for them all to bear and repent of.
The Ephod was an intricate garment with deep spiritual significance for Israelites, according to Exodus 28. God provided detailed instructions for its construction: using gold representing holiness, blue representing God's authority, purple representing beauty and scarlet representing justice as well as fine twined linen similar to what wedding dresses use as fabric for its construction. Furthermore, its symbolic use shows us God using His Word to communicate with us all! Consequently, its significance for Israel can only be fully appreciated through its study in scripture - for it remains as its centerpiece today!
The Ephod’s Belt
Israel's high priests used an ephod as the main means to connect with God. Along with breastplate and Urim and Thummim, this represented their only known method to access him at that time; otherwise they would have been denied entrance to Holy of Holies.
In addition to serving as God's primary channel of communication with His people, the ephod also represented His glory: it was shaped like a lampstand and shone with golden light when worn by Aaron; sunlight danced off of its golden facets that mimicked fire's brilliance when Aaron donned it.
As such, when the Levitical priesthood had its ephod stolen by thieves and it went missing for some reason, it caused much havoc for them. Although eventually replaced by the Ark of the Covenant, Levitical priesthood continued using their ephods when worshipping or seeking guidance from God through rituals or seeking His guidance - such was its significance that it passed from Aaron through to his son and later through Levi's descendants.
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