February 26, 2014

Pomegranates and Bells of the High Priest

Along the bottom hem of the Jewish high priest's blue robe was a row of pomegranates and bells (see Exodus 28:33-35 and Exodus 39:24-26). The pomegranates were to be made of purple, blue and scarlet wool (similar to the ephod and breastplate, except without the thread of gold). Though the Bible does not tell us how many bells or pomegranates were to be included, Jewish tradition states that there were to be 36, 70, or 72 pomegranates in total (Temple Institute). As I was more interested in the look (and as the Bible does not actually prescribe the number), I included 17 pomegranates and 17 bells.

The pomegranate is a symbol of the promised land, as it was one of the fruits brought back by the spies when they entered Canaan (see Numbers 13:23). It is also a symbol of posterity or prosperity, as there are literally hundreds of seeds in each fruit. The pomegranate is also a symbol of royalty and the temple, as the fruit has a small crown on the top, and as the design was used on the pillars of Solomon's temple (see 1 Kings 7:18-20).

Thus, as the high priest walked around, he carried on him the signs of the promised land, great posterity, royalty, and temple blessings. All blessings promised to those who truly understood and apply in their lives the sacrifice of the Great High Priest, even Jesus Christ.

February 19, 2014

The Crown of the High Priest

The Jewish high priest wore a golden crown with the words "Holiness to the Lord" engraven upon it (see Exodus 28:36-38). The crown was not like a traditional royal crown (going all the way around the head and covering the top) but instead was a small plate that was held on by two blue straps tied in the back. According to Jewish tradition, the crown was two fingerbreadths wide and went from ear to ear (Temple Institute).

The Bible states, "It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD." (Exodus 28:38 ESV).

From this verse it seems to indicate that the crown made the high priest holy, or "set apart" so that he could bear the guilt of the people upon himself. Aaron (and the later high priests) were all sinful (as Christ is the only sinless man ever to live), thus the crown only seems to symbolize that it is through a holy life that one can approach God. Because the high priest was considered "holy" he hallowed, or made holy, the gifts (sacrifices) brought forth by the children of Israel.

From the Bible we learn that Jesus Christ is the true "great High Priest" (see Hebrews 4:14). Just as the high priest went before the Lord to intercede before God, so Jesus the Messiah goes before God and intercedes on our behalf. Jesus was of royal blood (of the lineage of King David), thus the crown represents the royal lineage of Christ as the true King of kings. The words "holiness to the Lord" represent the life the Savior lived. Because of his sinless life, he makes our gifts (or our sacrifices that we bring to the altar of God) become holy, or acceptable to God.

Engraving the Hebrew letters on the back of the crown
The crown of the Jewish high priest
Wearing the crown of the Jewish high priest
The crown with the words, "Holiness to the Lord"
The back with the blue ribbons tied, holding the crown on the head

February 12, 2014

High Priest Pants or Breeches

Breeches of the high priest from Vestitus Sacerdotum Hebraeorum 
The first piece of clothing of the Jewish high priest outfit that I have finished is the undergarments, pants, or breeches. We learn about the pants in Exodus 28:42, which reads: "And thou shalt make them [the priests] linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach."

According to the Talmud, the pants are described as the following: "We were taught: To what can the priests' pants be likened? To the knee breeches (riding pants) worn by horsemen; wide from the hips to the thighs, tied with a lace, and without an opening-neither in back nor in front" (as quoted on the Temple Institute website).

Below are a few pictures of the pants or breeches I completed:

February 5, 2014

Hypocephalus and the Book of Abraham

In celebration of studying the Book of Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price this year, I decided to recreate and photograph a few of the hypocephali I have created recently and in the past. The hypocephalus comes from Egypt and is a disc-shaped object used during the burial process. The hypocephalus generally was made from stuccoed linen (though some were made from metal, wood, papyrus, and clay), then painted with various designs and patterns.

The disc-shaped object was placed under the head and was believed to help protect the dead by enveloping them in light as they transitioned from the mortal to immortal-life. There are around 100 examples of hypocephali today, each one unique in their own way (click here to view an excellent collection of hypocephali found throughout the world.).

In the early LDS church history, founder Joseph Smith purchased several mummies containing papyrus scrolls and a hypocephalus, today known as Facsimile #2 (click here for a video showing a display of some of the artifacts from the Book of Abraham).

Below are several photos of the recreated hypocephali that I have created over the years. I hope to be posting a video here in a few weeks, so check back if you would like to see it.

Hypocephalus 36188 (the original is on stucco, but I placed it on papyrus)
Recreation of the Book of Abraham hypocephalus on stucco-linen
Recreated hypocephalus 37909
Recreated hypocephalus 37909 (front side)
Recreated hypocephalus 37909 (back side showing linen)
Recreated hypocephalus 37909 (showing linen and stucco)
My first recreated hypocephalus, now framed with the other facsimiles