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Shemot/Exodus 28:31-32 You shall make the robe of the ephod as blue wool - it shall not be torn
The robe, that is to have the row of pomegranates and bells along its bottom edge is to be made of wool. The colour is also translated 'turquoise' by some versions, in an attempt to convey the word , which is the name of the mollusc that was used to produce the dye. The robe is worn under the ephod, runs from collar to calf and is to be made all in one piece without any seams or joins. However, it is also to have a hole for the wearer's head to pass through, which must be woven in the fabric, not later cut and edged. The verb is in prefix form and Nifil stem; the prefix form usually indicates either an action that is incomplete or in the future; the Nifil stem indicating a passive voice: the action being carried out upon the subject rather than by the subject. In this case, it should be translated as a command rather than just an observation: "he shall not be torn" in preference to "he will not be torn". This command is #101 in the list the 613 mitzvot compiled by theRambam. Sforno deduces, by comparing the verb to Jeremiah 22:14 where it is used for cutting out windows - which are long and narrow - that the opening is to be round, rather than simply a split in the weave.
Yochanan the Evangelist alludes to this mitzvah in his account of the crucifixion, when he records the words of the execution squad: "Now [Yeshua's] tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. They therefore said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be'" (John 19:23-24, NASB). Even the soldiers who were crucifying Yeshua unknowingly spoke words that confirmed Yeshua's role as the High Priest of Israel as He offered Himself as a sin offering for all our sin. Yochanan goes on to point out that their act of sharing out Yeshua's garments and casting lots for the tunic fulfill the words of Psalm 22: "They divide My garments among themselves; for my clothing they throw dice" (Psalm 22:19(18), CJB). This is but one of the many remarkable prophecies of the crucifixion to be found in that psalm.
In regular years, this portion is always read around the time of Purim whose name means 'lots' and serves to remind us that, "One can cast lots into one's lap, but the decision comes from Adonai" (Proverbs 16:33, CJB). It was no accident that Yeshua became out sin offering, just as it was no accident which particular centurion and soldiers were chosen for the execution detail on the day that Yeshua was crucified, so that the centurion could declare his innocence, the jar of sour wine would be there to satisfy a thirst, and that all the other details could be fulfilled. G-d had prepared not only the large picture but all the smallest detail in advance so that everything worked - even down to not tearing the cloth of the High Priest's robe. "Therefore I told you long long beforehand, announced things to you ere they happened" (Isaiah 48:5, JPS).
Further Study: Psalm 22:1-22(21); Acts 2:22-25
Application: Today is a day to be certain that just as G-d arranged all the events we read about in the Scriptures, from the biggest plans to the smallest detail, so He looks after our lives today. Are you uncertain or hesitant? Have you been shaken by a recent event or accident? Know that G-d knew all about it beforehand and has you in the palm of His hand.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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