What is an Ephod?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 8, 2017 4 comments


by Katie Erickson

What is an ephod and why am I spending time to write about it? That’s what we’re digging into today.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember an ephod from back when we were writing on Gideon in Judges 8:22-28. As I wrote there, “The ephod was an apron-like garment worn by the high priest and was made of linen; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; and gold thread. Two shoulder straps and a waistband held it secure. The ephod was an article of clothing that the priests would wear when they would consult with God. Making the ephod gave the people a way to honor Gideon without him becoming their leader.”

What does an ephod look like? This picture is an example that points out the different parts of a high priest’s outfit, which includes the ephod.

The ephod was made of fine linen. It had two pieces (a front and a back) joined together over the shoulders. It was worn on top of the tunic. The high priest’s ephod would be embroidered with many colors such as the one in the photo, while others would be much simpler

So, the ephod was a sacred vestment, which is like article of clothing. It was originally worn by the high priest (Exodus 28:4) but later was worn by regular priests (1 Samuel 22:18). We also see Samuel wearing an ephod in 1 Samuel 2:18, and David wearing one in 2 Samuel 6:14.

So far it sounds like an ephod is a good thing, used for worshiping God, right? Well, there’s another definition of that same word that isn’t so good. The word ephod is also associated with idol worship. Back in Gideon’s story, Judges 8:27 says, “Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” The people began to worship Gideon’s ephod rather than God, and that is clearly idolatry. This also happened in the book of Hosea, as referenced in Hosea 3:4.

Scholars believe that it started out that the ephod was worn to worship God, then it was worn to worship foreign gods (idols), then the people would put the ephod on the idol statue, and the term then became synonymous with idol worship.

So are ephods important today? If you’re talking about the garment itself, then not really. Ephods are not generally worn or seen anywhere today, except possibly for some Jewish religious ceremonies. But the idea behind it is definitely still important. Idol worship is still a bad idea and goes against how God created us - to worship Him and Him alone. Anything that we worship, whether it’s a statue, a person, or a piece of clothing, is wrong and is disobedient to God.

While the details of the physical garment of an ephod are not very relevant today, perhaps thinking of it will help you remember to keep your heart pure and not worship anything except the one true God.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, these aren't used much by Jews of today then?

Katie said...

Thanks for reading, Anonymous!

Based on my research, ephods are not used much today, although I did find a reference that said they're possibly still used in some Jewish ceremonies. Not being Jewish myself, I don't have any personal experience with that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing back the Judges blog, an excellent aid to my personal Bible study.

Katie said...

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you're enjoying this blog! :)