Bible Commentary: Exodus 39

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Exodus 39

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Priestly Garments; The Work Completed

The priestly garments were made according to the fashion God had instructed Moses in chapter 28. The only thing left out here is the placement of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate (see Exodus 28:30 Exodus 28:30And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be on Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel on his heart before the LORD continually.
American King James Version×
)—a step that takes place in Leviticus 8:8 Leviticus 8:8And he put the breastplate on him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.
American King James Version×
. Notice here the short trousers that were part of the priestly uniform. This linen undergarment, God had earlier explained, was for modesty's sake—"over their nakedness" (Exodus 28:42 Exodus 28:42And you shall make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even to the thighs they shall reach:
American King James Version×
). "Given the sexually preoccupied worship of Israel's neighbor's, this provision was decidedly countercultural" (Nelson Study Bible,note on verse 42). "This modesty communicated to the Israelites that human sexuality could not influence God. That idea was a central feature of Baal worship, which continually tempted the Israelites. The priests of Baal would use obscene gestures and actions in the pagan worship of their depraved god" (note on Leviticus 6:10 Leviticus 6:10And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put on his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire has consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.
American King James Version×
). In stark contrast, "Nothing obscene or unseemly was permitted in the pure worship of the living God" (note on Exodus 20:26 Exodus 20:26Neither shall you go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not discovered thereon.
American King James Version×

With the completion of the priestly garments, the work of construction was finally finished. Verses 32-43 of chapter 39 list "all the work" that God had commanded through Moses. It was now finished. "Then Moses looked over all the work" (verse 43)—a final inspection. And the result? "And indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it" (verse 43). May the same be said of us as we strive to please God in our lives. In the end, Moses blessed them, just as Christ will bless us if we follow God's instructions.