Every time you clothe yourself you are putting on the symbols which those clothes represent; so dress yourself according to the symbols you would like to represent you. Whenever you see a man or a woman dressed in strange clothes in order to prove that they are servants of God, it is an important symbol which gives hope to the normal people around them who are fighting against the evils of the world. In this way the clergy, by their clothing become separated as servants of YAH, and a refuge for those around them. Saint Paul tells us that those who have faith should at all times seek to:
ומן כל צבו בישא ערוקו
Abstain from evil appearance. (1st Thessalonians 5:22)
But instead do their best to have the appearance of the angels. We know from the merkaba and visionary texts of the Old Testament that the angelic beings are show themselves, dressed in fine white linens. The Prophet Daniel tells how it was,
ועוד אני מדבר בתפלה והאיש גבריאל אשר ראיתי בחזון בתחלה מעף ביעף נגע אלי כעת מנחת ערב
Around the time of the evening offering, when I was engaged in prayer, the man Gabriel whom I had seen in the beginning of my vision came to me in my weariness (Daniel 9:21)
ואשא את עיני וארא והנה איש אחד לבוש בדים
and I lifted up my eyes to look and I beheld a man clothed in linen. (Daniel 10:5)
The faithful (i.e. the Talmidin or “Righteous Ones”) who are the living temples of God, have become a royal priesthood, praying without ceasing and offering their thoughts, praise, and worship as a living sacrifice to the living God are commanded to:
כתנת בד קדש ילבש ומכנסי בד יהיו על בשרו ובאבנט בד יחגר ובמצנפת בד יצנף בגדי קדש הם ורחץ במים את בשרו ולבשם
Put on the linen tunic, and the linen undergarments next to their body, and gird themselves with the sash of linen, and the turban, and thus shall they be attired in the holy raiment; therefore they shall wash their flesh in water and then put them on. (Leviticus 16:4)
The prophet Ezekiel also says:
לא יחגרו ביזע
Do not be clothed in anything which causes sweat. (Ezekiel 44:18)
Pants KNISSIN כניסן
Knissin are the white breeches or undergarments of fine linen which are worn under the other garments. These are worn at all times, for the sake of modesty. They are also sometimes called Maknasbin (Literally “Brought together”) referring to the way the legs of the breeches close around the legs of the wearer). They are commanded so that the priests do not expose themselves to the altar steps and platform which are considered part of the altar and are therefore holy. For it is said that:
ועשה להם מכנסי בד לכסות בשר ערוה ממתנים ועד ירכים יהיו
You shall make linen undergarments to cover their bare flesh from the waist (Exodus 28:42)
Hair Shirt BAGEPHTHA בגפתא
The word bageptha refers to a “vine”, and is also sometimes known as “L'Zikhurion”, which means “the memory”. It is a tight girdle worn on the trunk of the body which is closed by rope which is laced through thirty six holes along the sides. This is the numerical equivalent of the name “YAH” or (“Life”) written in Aramaic.
The bageptha is made from zikhar-ruqia, which means the “cloth of remembrance”, an itchy or otherwise uncomfortable material the sole purpose of which is to remind the wearer to be ever mindful of each and every movement and action. This is the cloth that the Greeks incorrectly identified with “sackcloth” in their version of the scriptures.
Cassock HALUQA הלוקא
The haluqa הלוקא is the linen tunic mentioned in Leviticus 16:4. It is a full length garment reaching from the neck down to the ankles and is only ever made of white linen. The clean linen fabric is important, because it helps us to remember that we are soldiers in the spiritual war against the Deceiver, the Enemy of humankind.
ושבצת הכתנת שש ועשית מצנפת שש
And you shall weave the tunic from fine linen, and make the tunic of fine linen... (Exodus 28:39)
Traditionally, this garment has twenty-two buttons or ties, which represent the letters of the abâgâdâ (Aramaic alphabet), so that you may mark oneself with a motion designating each letter while putting it on. It is good to recite the abâgâdâ whilst dressing, in order to bring to memory those letters which God used in Creation, and also as an aid to keep track to make sure that the garment is properly buttoned.
While Saint John said that the Word of God wore a garment dipped in blood (i.e. red),
ומעטף מאנא דזליע בדמא ומתקרא שמה מלתא דאלהא
Clothed He was wrapped in a vessel of cloth, drawn in blood, and His name was the Word of EL (i.e. God). (Revelation 19:13)
וחילותא דשמיא נקיפין הוו לה על רכשא חורא ולבישין בוצא חורא ודכיא
The armies of Heaven followed him on white horses; clothed in purest white linen. (Revelation 19:14)
Once each button is buttoned, and the haluqa is in place, the wearer shall stand upright and say,
I looked at myself and I had become like one of the glorious ones... (2nd Enoch 22:10)
Turban MASNAFSA מסנפסא
That the regular people
פארי פשתים יהיו על ראשם
... shall wear linen caps on their heads (Ezekiel 44:18 paraphrased)
Has long been understood as part of the tradition of the faithful. And yet also those who perform priestly service should also wear the Masnafsa. The word masnafsa is the Aramaic word meaning “turban”. The masnafsa is white in colour, and shall have the words “Qadeesh L’Mar YAH” (“Holy to the Lord God”) sewn in gold thread onto the place that touches the crown of the head.
This is to mimic the clothes of Aaron the High Priest, on whose turban was a plate of pure gold engraved with the words
(“Holy Unto the LORD”)
And you shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it the engraving of signet saying, "Holy unto the LORD" (Exodus 28:36)
The masnafsa may be worn loose so as to be wrapped each time, or may be sewn onto a white hat, so that it may keep its good appearance over time. To consecrate a new masnafsa, the Beloved priest shall say,
חנן דין דבני איממא חנן הוין עירין ברעינן ולבישין שרינא דהימנותא ודחובא ונסים סנורתא דסברא דחיא
But let us who are of the daytime be awake in our conscious and be clothed the breastplate of faith and loving kindness and put o the helmet of life, hope and salvation. (1st Thessalonians 5:8)
לאילין דבמסיברנותא דעבדא טבא תשבוחתא ואיקרא ולא מתחבלנותא בעין יהב להון חיא דלעלם
Who act with patience and praise, honor (glory & majesty), seek not corruption, but the salvation of the world. (Romans 2:7)
When wrapping the masnafsa for priestly service, the Beloved priest says,
ותחסרהו מעט מאלהים וכבוד והדר תעטרהו
For you have made (man) a little lower than the gods and have crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5)
Alb ETHUMA עתומא
The ethuma is a lacey white garment worn over the cassock in liturgical situations. The modern ethuma is a garment skillfully made of finely twined linen threads (See: Exodus 39:8), in the pattern of leaves or flowers, to mimic the inside of the Temple as it was described in the time of King Solomon. (See: 1st Kings 6). Josephus described the garments worn in the temple, saying:
The high Priest's tunic likewise signifies the earth, being of linen, and its blue the arch of heaven, while it recalls the lightning by the pomegranates, the thunder by the sound of the bells. His upper garment too denotes universal nature, which it pleased God to make of four elements; being further interwoven with gold in token, I imagine, of the all-pervading sunlight.
The Aramaic usage of the word "ethuma" means ‘to judge’ or ‘to divine’, and derives from the use of the ephod (not exactly the same vestment) worn by the high priest whilst the High Priest wore a short, decorative blue version with golden bells and scarlet pomegranates sewn on the bottom hem, which was used to hold the urmim and the thummim. Exodus 28:32 refers to the Ephod as symbolic of a coat of armour (תחרא) worn by the High Priest. This is the linen garment worn before the Ark, for it is said that King
ודוד מכרכר בכל עז לפני יהוה ודוד חגור אפוד בד
David, dressed in a linen ephod, danced with all of his might, before the LORD (YHVH). (2nd Samuel 6:14)
1st Samuel says that a white linen version of this garment was worn by the regular servants of the temple.
והיה על אהרן לשרת
And it shall be upon Aaron so that he may minister...(Exodus 28:35 paraphrased)
There should be 52 tassels shaped as pomegranates around the hem of the ethuma, as a symbol of the same vestment worn by the High Priest, for God has said in reference to his ephod that:
פעמן זהב ורמון פעמן זהב ורמון על שולי המעיל סביב
Golden bells and pomegranates shall be around the hem of the robe. (Exodus 28:35)
The Kebra Nagast tells us that all priests, not just the high priest wore the ephod for, in the Tabernacle of Testimony… the priests wore the ephod so that they might minister… and the high priests offered up offerings.
Shirt COMMIS כמיס
This is a white garment resembling a sailor’s suit, going down to the knees, with a faux hood on the back, typical of the pre-Catholic church in India and throughout the Nazarani sphere of influence. This garment is typically worn by seminary students, as underwear by the old, as house dress by priests and other clergy.
Mantle KETUNYE כתןניע
The Ketunye is an overcoat, of very simple but flowing design, which is often made of silk, velvet or fine fabric, and onto which may be embroidered patterns from nature, including leaves, flowers, et cetera. The ketunye is a reminder of the cloak made for Joseph by his father, Jacob symbolising royalty. The same word occurs when speaking of the mantle that the preiests used: a cloak made of one piece of seamless fabric to symbolise integrity, completeness and goodness. This is part of the choir dress of the priest. The Ketunye (Like the coat of Joseph) may be of any tasteful colour, or appropriate mixture of colours.
Stole TSURAMIS זורמיס
The Tsuramis is named for 'urara' which means "golden" Ur means gold and has since the Sumerians. It has been passed down in the Semitic tongues. Urara would be specific to a location in the world, in a city, on the body etc. The neck is the basis of the word. Since early times, it has been what most conveniently bore gold i.e. necklaces. TsURa is neck. Thus, the shawl (Stole) worn on the neck is called the tsuramis.
Pearl MARGANYTHA מרגניתא
The idiom marganytha means simultaneously “pearl”, “jewel”, “treasure” or “gift”, and refers to the distinctive liturgical vestment worn by the Metropolitan when fully vested; at which time he is known as the “gizbara”, Aramaic for “treasurer”. This vestment is worn whenever he will perform any liturgical function specific to his office as Metropolitan, including ordinations, episcopal consecrations, and the consecration of Holy Myron, dedication of churches, et cetera. Jesus speaks in the Gospel of Matthew saying,
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” [Matthew 13:44-45]
- Antiquities, III .184