What did Jewish Priests Wear?

Posted in: Ancient Near East Today, ASOR
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02000 By: Joan E. Taylor In antiquity, as today, ritual experts of various kinds were distinguished by dress that marked them off as engaged in sacred duties. In ancient Rome a priest of the imperial cult, the flamen, wore flame-coloured clothing with a remarkable apex-pointed skullcap. The Roman Catholic clerical collar, the Eastern Christian cassock, and the robes of Buddhist monks all serve the same functions today. But when we consider what the priests wore in the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, we have no clear pictorial representations, because most Jews through to the second century understood the biblical prohibitions on images (Exodus 20:3–6; Leviticus 26:1; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 4:16; 27:15) to mean that there should be no image of humans.What we have, instead, are descriptions, and on the basis of these descriptions we have to imagine what priests (kohanim) wore, using analogies, insofar as these might be useful. Ara Pacis relief in Rome showing Roman priests wearing flamen head gear. Descriptions of priestly dress are found in Exodus 28–29; Leviticus 6:10; 16:4, and Ezekiel 44:17–20. In Exodus 28, there is a description of the sacred vestments required for the High Priest Aaron, after which there is a summary of the clothing of Aaron’s sons, the ordinary priests: 40 For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics (kuttonot) and sashes (avnētim) and items

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