Hebrew: aphwd or aphd
Greek: ÂepomÃs, ÂephÃ³d, ÂephoÃºd
There seems to be two super-sacramental items in the Old Covenant, the Ark of the Covenant and the High Priest’s Ephod. The latter consisted of three parts and was worn (it seems) only in liturgical contexts (Exodus 28:4; Leviticus 8:7; 1 Samuel 2:28). It was red, blue, purple, and gold in color.
The Ephod of the High Priest in Three Parts
Supplementing the data contained in the Bible with those gleaned from Josephus and the Egyptian monuments, we may distinguish in the ephod three parts:
1) the “rational of judgment” or breastplate
2) the two shoulder-pieces
3) the girdle or cincture
The “rational of judgment” was a breastplate fastened on the front of the ephod which it resembled in material and workmanship. It was a span in length and width, and was ornamented with four rows of precious stones on which were inscribed the names otwelvewelvfe tribes. It held also the Urim and Thummim (doctrine and truth) by means of which the high-priest consulted the Lord.
The second part of the ephod consisted of a pair of shoulder-pieces, or suspenders, fastened to the bodices in front and behind, and passing over the shoulders. Each of these straps was adorned with an onyx stone engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel, so that the high-priest while ministering wore the names of all the tribes, six upon each shoulder (Exodus 28:9-12; 25:7; 35:9; 39:16-19).
The third part of the ephod was the cincture, of the same material as the main part of the ephod and woven in one piece with it, by which it was girt around the waist (Leviticus 8:7). Some writers maintain that the correct Hebrew reading of Ex., xxviii, 8, speaks of this band of the ephod; the contention agrees with the Syriac and Chaldee versions and with the rendering of Josephus (cf. Exodus 28:27 sq.; 29:5; 39:20 sq.).
The Liturgical Use of the High Priest’s Ephod
It must not be imagined that the ephod was the ordinary garb of the high-priest; he wore it while performing the duties of his ministry (Exodus 28:4; Leviticus 8:7; 1 Samuel 2:28) and when consulting the Lord. Thus David learned through Abiathar’s ephod the disposition of the people of Ceila (1 Samuel 23:11 sq.) and the best plan of campaign against the Amalecites (1 Samuel 30:7 sqq.). In I K., xiv, 18, it appears that Saul wished the priest Achias to consult the Lord by means of the Ark; but the Septuagint reading of this passage, its context (1 Samuel 14:3), and the text of Josephus (Ant. Jud., VI, vi, 3) plainly show that in I K., xiv, 18, we must read “take the ephod” instead of “bring the ark”.