And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.…
The ephod, with its "curious girdle" and the oynx stones upon its shoulder-pieces, was the distinctive priestly garment. It hung upon the shoulders down to the waist, and was formed of the most costly and beautiful materials, corresponding exactly to those employed in the interior decoration of the holy place. The girdle was made of the same materials, with the same combination of colours. As garments were associated in the Hebrew mind with character, and the girdle with energy in work, we find in the correspondence of both with the interior of the holy place, a memorial of the necessity that those who enter the house of the Lord must be themselves holy and beautiful in character, and be engaged in high and holy service. But the most important parts of the ephod were the shoulder-pieces, on which were set two oynx stones, with the names of the tribes engraven on them (see ver. 12). Here we have the idea of representation clearly and beautifully symbolized. The shoulders, to a Hebrew mind, were the symbol of strength; and the idea was, that when the high priest entered the holy place he did not go alone, but carried with him on his strong shoulders the children of Israel whom he represented; and the estimation in which the people were held was expressed in the value of the precious stones on which the names were engraved, and the setting of pure gold with which they were surrounded.
(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.