Friday, February 21, 2014

What is the Meaning of the Bells and Pomegranates on Aaron’s Robe in Exodus 28:33-35?
31 ¶And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue….
33 ¶And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:
34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.
35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not. (Exodus 28:31, 33-35)

This part always used to puzzle me.  The idea that Aaron had to have bells and pomegranates around the hem of his robe as a safety feature so that he wouldn’t die because the sound would keep him safe while going in and out of the temple is really strange.    This should tip us off that there is some symbolism here that is supposed to teach us about Christ.

I have already written about the symbolism of the pomegranate and its meanings of atonement, eternal life, and countless posterity, so I’m going to focus more on the bells in this post.

Why bells?  What is the function of a bell that hangs on a person or animal?  It is to usually to let you know they are coming or to let you know where they are. 

I started trying to imagine what it would be like for the high priest to wear all those bells.  Right away it became evident that the high priest wouldn’t be able to make the slightest movement without making noise.  You’d always know when the priest was coming because of the sound of those bells. 

Then I thought, Did Jesus go around with bells on?  No.  But then I thought about the explanation of bells as a safety feature every time the high priest moves and then I thought about how it might fit in with how important it was for Jesus to stay pure.  It was important for Jesus to stay spiritually safe, otherwise He would die spiritually and the Plan of Salvation would be frustrated.  I realized the ringing bells symbolized prayer, and that Jesus had to let Heavenly Father know everything He was going to do so that He could be warned if it was bad so He wouldn’t sin.  He had to learn ahead of time from Heavenly Father, rather than learning by experience so that He would stay pure.  So the bells symbolize constant communication to Heavenly Father about Christ was about to do so that “he die not” or avoid spiritual death.

The arrangement of bells alternating around the hem of Aaron’s robe also gives us a sort of symbolic film strip of Christ’s life—bell, pomegranate, bell, pomegranate—prayer, life, prayer, life—to show us that Christ stayed spiritually alive because of prayer.

I think this shows us that if we want to be more like Christ, we can learn to counsel with our Heavenly Father over what we are about to do and learn to be obedient to the warnings we receive.  Prayer will help us stay alive in Christ.

The sound of the bells on Aaron’s hem would automatically start when he moved.  I think this can teach us about how natural and automatic prayer was to Christ, and it can also teach us how natural and automatic prayer can be (and should be to us) if we want to be like Him.


C Squared said...

A better understanding might be that is a type of the ascended Christ. How he makes Himself known is through the bells and pomegranates. The hem of His garment is the closest thing to the earth. How he manifests himself today is through the gifts of the Spirit and through the fruit of the Spirit. The golden bells correlates to 1st Corinthians 12 gifts, and the pomegranates correlates to the Galatians fruit. though it doesn't say, I wouldn't be surprised if there were nine bells & 9 pomegranates across the hem of His garment.

Michaela Stephens said...

C Squared, that's a very interesting interpretation you have come up with. Forgive me if I don't quite understand how bells would point the mind to spiritual gifts as in 1 Cor. 12. Or how pomegranates correlate to Galatians. Perhaps if you explained a little bit better..

Thanks for stopping by.

Anthony Quick said...

I have a theory it represents that part of genesis after eve stole the fruit and god was looking for Adam, having to call him twice before Adam stepped out

Michaela Stephens said...

So Anthony, are you saying that the pomegranates represent the eating of the fruit (thus, the fall) and the bells represent God calling Adam afterward?

Richard Lee Terry said...

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

"All thins are written for our instruction and admonition" ergo I am admonished that the gifts of the spirit and "things pertaining to God" (priests) are to be exercised in love, joy, peace, etc. according to the fruit of the Spirit——which is one fruit, represented by the pomegranate——else I'm just so much noise even if I have all the gifts. Some people "chase after wind" (Ecc. ) their entire lives in pursuit of the gifts without result, (but still making lots of noise :) the wrong emphasis and wrong approach I think.

Michaela Stephens said...

So you're saying the bells represent a sounding brass or a life without charity, and the pomegranates represent the fruits of the Spirit? I don't know if I quite care for the bell part of your interpretation. I don't see why that would be something God would want to put on the high priest robes.

Regardless, thanks for stopping by, Richard.

Richard Lee Terry said...

Conparing scripture with scripture ("spirutual things with spiritua") is the cardinal ruke of biblical interpretation, scripture interprets itselfCor

Richard Lee Terry said...

it's not a life without charity it's "gifts," spiritual gifts

Michaela Stephens said...

Richard, I think you're going to have to be more clear with your interpretation. That to me is one of the cardinal rules, particularly on my blog.

When I parsed what you said, I got something that made sense about pomegranates, but in addition, it seemed you were trying to make a statement about the bells, but it didn't make sense, so I said what I thought you were saying. It was an invitation for you to clarify (though perhaps badly done). I give you one more try, if you care to take it.

Taylors Robes said...

Isaiah 55:8-9King James Version (KJV)

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Michaela Stephens said...

Granted, Taylors Robes, that the Lord's thoughts and ways are higher than ours. However, my feeling is the Lord uses symbolism to communicate things to us about Christ as the great high priest through the medium of the high priest's clothing (among other things). Communication assumes that He wants us to understand or make the effort to understand in a way that builds faith in Christ. Understanding requires clarity. So I'm looking for clarity.

Keven Myers said...

Without the pomegranates(love)the bells would clang against each other and make unharmonious noise clanging similar to brass. The love chapter is golden ,nestled in between 12,and14.If the church has no love in its body and only gifts the bells do not ring and the priest is sleeping or dead.

Justin Adkins said...

I think the bells were to let the other priests know he was still alive inside the holy of holies. If they were quiet for to long then they would pull him out by the rope tied around him. If they entered the holy of holies they would die too.

Nicey said...

The Bible doesn't mention anything about a rope being tied around the priest to pull him out if he died. That is a very old legend that sounded good but isn't biblical correct.

Unknown said...

I know that pomegranate has 613 seeds which represent the 613 laws God gave Moses. In reading the other replies it dawned me that Jesus said I did not come to remove the law and the prophets but to fulfill them. Could it possibly be the bells represent the prophets? God's word and proclaiming God's word.