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