Date of Award
Religious and Theological Studies
Mark K. George, Ph.D.
Aaron, Hebrew Bible, Tabernacle, Vestments
In the tabernacle narratives of Exodus, the LORD instructs the Israelites to build a tabernacle and to make special garments in which to consecrate Aaron (proto-type high priest) and his sons (proto-type priests). The garments are to be for Aaron's and his sons' "glorious adornment." Detailed descriptions of the special garments are provided, and the description shares much in common with the descriptions of the cloths which comprise the tabernacle complex. What is there about the unique clothing of Aaron and the cloth of the tabernacle that causes Aaron and the tabernacle to be glorified? What is being said about Aaron, his sons, and the tabernacle by their being described as gloriously adorned?
The fundamental premise underlying this dissertation is that the principle function of clothing is one of affirming and projecting social identity and social position.
Comparing the fiber content, dyes, and weave structure of the cloths of the tabernacle to archaeological and non-biblical textual data, the tabernacle cloths are shown to be at least equivalent to the finest, most magnificent textiles made in the ANE. They are likely the major contributor to the glory and splendor of the tabernacle, surpassing the other precious materials involved.
The same materials and workmanship are used in the textiles of Aaron's consecration garments. Other specific details are given as well, concerning the multiple hems, hem pendants, and neck opening of his robe, for example. Comparing Aaron's special garments to iconographic depictions of the clothing of other elite persons in the ANE, Aaron's consecration attire clearly identifies him as on a par with kings. Biblical law forbids anyone other than Aaron's successors as high priests from wearing similar garments.
The thesis and the conclusion of this dissertation is that Aaron's unique clothing and the other cloth furnishings of the tabernacle convey the statuses of the Aaronide (or high) priest and of the tabernacle as the one person and one place, respectively, of most elite status in the society reflected in the tabernacle narratives. The fact that the Priestly writers portray Aaron and the tabernacle in this way implies that the passages were written in the early Persian period.
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Billington, Selena, "Glorious Adornment: The Social Function of Cloth and Clothing in Israel's Tabernacle" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1391.
Received from ProQuest