ephod, sacred linen garment worn by the high priests of Israel. It was in two parts—one covering the back, one the front of the body to the hips—and was fastened at the shoulders by two clasps of onyx on which were engraved the 12 tribal names, six on each. The vestment was held in at the waist by a twined linen girdle of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet; on the ephod was the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim, hung by golden chains and rings. The priest was adorned in this fashion to symbolize the presence of God with his people. The ephod was somehow used for divination. It is mentioned in numerous passages in the Bible.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.