The Uniform of the Ordinary Priests

The ordinary priests wear four garments all year round-these are the same as the "white garments" worn by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement: tunic, pants, hat, and belt. Referring to these priests, the verse states "And for Aaron's sons you shall make for them tunics, and you shall make for them belts, and you shall make for them hats... and make for them linen pants... " (Ex. 28:40-42). These garment are to be made from flax, and they too must be created from threads consisting of six individual strands.

 

The Materials

Five Components in the Garments

Five different materials were used to create the priestly garments:

  1. gold
  2. techelet, sky-blue wool
  3. dark-red wool
  4. crimson wool
  5. twisted linen

The gold was beaten into thin sheets, and then cut into fine threads. The techelet sky-blue color (said by the Talmud to resemble indigo - BT Menachot 42:B) was a dye obtained from an aquatic invertebrate known as chilazon. The exact identification of this animal, and the method used to produce the dye, is the subject of extensive research. While various attempts have been made to conclusively identify the chilazon, most recently it has been classified to the Mediterranean snail known as murex trunculus.

The dark-red color (said by some to more closely resemble purple), argaman in Hebrew, is also derived from a snail; possibly the murex trunculus as well. According to this theory, the difference in color is a product of the amount of time the substance is initially exposed to sunlight.

The crimson color is produced from a worm called by the Bible the "crimson worm," tola'at shani in Hebrew, a mountain worm which has been identified as kermes biblicus, the cochineal insect.

The Hebrew word which appears here for "linen" is shesh, which literally means "six." This indicates that each thread used in these garments is required to be a six-ply linen thread.

Some of the garments were composed of all five ingredients; some contained three or four; some contained only one.

 

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