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Garments of the Solomonic High Priest.

Here some informations and pictures about the Garments of the High Priest and especially on the famous breastplate with the 12 stones ..

The High Priest (in hebrew כהן גדול, Kohen Gadol, Kohen ha-Gadol or Kohen ha-Rosh) is the title that the first priest wore in the Israelite religion.

The priestly breastplate. (Hebrew: חֹשֶׁן‎ ẖošen)

The priestly breastplate was a sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest of the Israelites, according to the Book of Exodus. In the biblical account, the breastplate is sometimes termed the breastplate of judgment, because the Urim and Thummim were placed within it.

These stones were, at times, used to determine God’s will in a particular situation (see Exodus 28:30). It should be noted that using these stones did not always determine God's will (see 1 Samuel 28:6). If any other way was not given by God, the high priest would find God's guidance.

According to the description in Exodus, this breastplate was attached to the ephod by gold chains/cords tied to the gold rings on the ephod's shoulder straps, and by blue ribbon tied to the gold rings at the belt of the ephod.

The biblical description states that the breastplate was also to be made from the same material as the Ephod - embroidery of 3 colors of dyed wool and linen - and was to be 1/3 of a cubit squared, two layers thick, and with four rows of three engraved gems embedded in gold settings upon it, one setting for each stone.

The description states that the square breastplate was to be formed from one rectangular piece of cloth - 1/3 of a cubit by 2/3 of a cubit, folded so that it formed a pouch to contain the Urim and Thummim. The term for the breastplate, hoshen, appears to be connected either to its function or to its appearance; some scholars think that it is probably derived from Hebrew hasuna, meaning "beautiful," while others think that it is more likely to derive from Hebrew sinus, meaning "a fold for containing something." 

According to the Talmud, the wearing of the Hoshen atoned for the sin of errors in judgement on the part of the Children of Israel..

The 12 Jewels.

The twelve jewels on the breastplate were each, according to the Biblical description, to be made from specific minerals, none of them the same as another, and each of them representative of a specific tribe, whose name was to be inscribed on the stone. According to a rabbinic tradition, the names of the twelve tribes were engraved upon the stones with what is called in Hebrew: שמיר = shamir, which, according to Rashi, was a small, rare creature which could cut through the toughest surfaces, but according to Rabbi David Kimhi and Rabbi Jonah ibn Janah, was a stone stronger than iron (possibly Naxian stone). The word has its equivalent in the Greek, σμήρις (smeris).

There are different views in classical rabbinical literature as to the order of the names; the Jerusalem Targum, for example, argued that the names appeared in the order according to which they were born. Maimonides describes the jewel stones arranged in four rows, saying that on the first stone belonging to Reuben were also engraved the names of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while on the last stone belonging to Benjamin were also engraved the words, the tribes of God; kabbalistic writers such Hezekiah ben Manoah and Bahya ben Asher argued that only six letters from each name was present on each stone, together with a few letters from the names of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or from the phrase [these are] the tribes of Jeshurun, so that there were 72 letters in total (72 being a very significant number in Kabbalistic thought).

There was also a different order for the names inscribed on the two "onyx" stones, carried on the High Priest's shoulders. One opinion suggests that the names of the twelve tribes were arranged in groups after their mothers: Leah's six sons aligned one after the other on one stone, with Judah heading this list, followed by Rachel's sons with the names of the concubines' sons interposed between the two sons of Rachel.

Unfortunately, the meaning of the Hebrew names for the minerals, given by the masoretic text, are not clear, and though the Greek names for them in the Septuagint are more clear, some scholars believe that it cannot be completely relied on for this matter because the breastplate had ceased to be in use by the time the Septuagint was created, and several Greek names for various gems have changed meaning between the classical era and modern times.

However, although classical rabbinical literature argues that the names were inscribed using a Shamir worm because neither chisels nor paint nor ink were allowed to mark them out, a more naturalistic approach suggests that the jewels must have had comparatively low hardness in order to be engraved upon, and therefore this gives an additional clue to the identity of the minerals. Others suggest that they were engraved with emery, having the similar property of a diamond used in cutting other stones and which was called in Greek σμήρις (smeris). 

Explanation of the symbolic meaning of the jewels generated a great deal of both Jewish and Christian writing, and was a staple component of the tradition of lapidaries or books on gemology.

BREASTPLATE OF THE HIGH PRIEST - Morris Jastrow, Jr., Ira Maurice Price, Marcus Jastrow, Louis Ginzberg

A species of pouch, adorned with precious stones, worn by the high priest on his breast when he presented in the Holy Place the names of the children of Israel. The etymological significance of the Hebrew word is uncertain, but the directions for the making of the breastplate, in Ex. xxviii. 13-30 and xxxix. 8-21, are sufficiently clear.

This breast piece was to be made in part of the same material as the Ephod. The directions specify that it was to be made "of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen" (Ex. xxviii. 15). "Foursquare it shall be, being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof" (ib. xxviii. 16); thus before it was doubled it was a cubit long and a half-cubit wide. On the front face of this square were set, in four rows, twelve precious stones, on each of which was engraved the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

These jewels in gold settings were (Ex. xxviii. 17-19): in the first row, "a sardius [margin, "ruby"], a topaz, and a carbuncle [margin, "emerald"]"; in the second row, "an emerald [margin, "carbuncle"], a sapphire, and a diamond [margin, "sardonyx"]"; in the third row, "a jacinth [R. V.: margin, "amber"], an agate, and an amethyst"; and in the fourth row, "a beryl [margin, "chalcedony"], and an onyx [margin, "beryl"], and a jasper."

The exact identification and the order of these stones, as well as the tribe represented by each, are matters of speculation. The breastplate was worn over and fastened to the ephod. It hung over the breast of the wearer, and was secured to the shoulders of the ephod by gold cords (or chains). These cords of "wreathen work," tied in the gold rings at the top corners of the outer square of the breastplate, were fastened to ouches on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod.

The lower part of the breastplate was fastened to the ephod at some point below the shoulders by a blue ribbon, which passed through gold rings at the lower corners of the inner square. As well as being a means of securing in its place this most important portion of the dress of the high priest, these fastenings formed a brilliant decoration. The term "breastplate of judgment" (Ex. xxviii. 15, 29, 30) indicates that the name was given to this portion of the priestly dress because of its use in connection with the mysterious Urim and Thummim.

The Rabbis explain that the breastplate of the high priest is called in Scripture ("breastplate of judgment") because it was intended to work atonement for errors in pronouncing judgment (Zeb. 88b; Yer. Yoma vii.44b; compare also Targ. Yer. to Ex. xxviii. 15; Philo and the Septuagint have instead of the Greek λόγιον or λνγεimacr;ον, which example Rashi follows in the passage to Ex. l.c., translating by "raisonnement"; similarly also Tobiah b. Eliezer, in Leḳaḥ Ṭob on the passage).

Aaron and his successors wore the breastplate on the heart (Ex. xxviii. 29) as a reward, because Aaron was "glad in his heart" (Ex. iv. 14) when Moses returned to Egypt, and was not envious because his younger brother was chosen by God to deliver Israel (Shab. 139a; Ex. R. iii., end). According to the Talmud, the breastplate was made of the same material as the ephod and in the following manner: The gold was beaten into a leaf and cut into threads; then one golden thread was woven with six azure () threads, and another golden thread with six purple () threads, and similarly with the scarlet wool () and the byssus.

Thus there were four combinations of six-fold threads, with one golden thread woven through each; and, when these were twisted together the strand consisted of twenty-eight threads (Yoma 71b). The breastplate was fastened to the ouches () of the ephod by means of threads of woven gold, passed through rings attached to the right and left of the upper part of the ephod. Furthermore, two rings were attached to the lower ends of the breastplate, from which azure cords passed through two rings at the lower points of the two shoulder-bands of the ephod, where they joined the girdle; so that the lower part of the breastplate was connected with the girdle of the ephod, and could neither slide up nor down, nor be detached (Rashi to Ex. xxviii. 6, in many editions also at the end of Ex.; Maimonides, "Yad," Kele ha-Miḳdash, ix. 6-9).

The Stones of the Breastplate.

The twelve precious stones with which the breastplate was decorated contained the names of the twelve tribes; each name being fully engraved on one stone, in order that, when the high priest came before Him, God might be mindful of the piety of the patriarchs (Ex. R. xxxviii. 8; Lev. R. xxi. 6). No chisel was to touch the stones, nor was it permitted to mark the names of the twelve patriarchs on the stones by means of paint or ink.

The engraving was done by means of the Shamir, which was placed on the stone, and had the marvelous power of cutting it along the lines of the letters of the proper names, which were first traced with ink (Soṭah 48b). In addition to the names of the twelve tribes, the stones also contained, at the head, the names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and at the end the words: "[all these are] the tribes of Jeshurun" (Yoma 73b, where the first two words are not found, while Yer. Yoma vii., end, 44c has them, and also instead of ; Maimonides, l.c. 7, seems to have used a source differing both from Bab. and Yer., as his version has the words ="tribes of God").

These words could not be omitted from the breastplate, since the whole Hebrew alphabet had to be included, in order that, on consulting the Urim and Thummim, the high priest might be enabled to form words from the different colors of the individual letters on the stones of the breastplate, and hence might be able to answer questions put to him (Yoma, l.c.).

Order of the Names on the Stones.

Even in early times there were various opinions on the order of the names of the twelve patriarchs on the stones; and Baraitas existed that discussed the matter. The latter, however, have evidently been lost; for the opinions therein contained are known only through quotations found in the early authors.

A Baraita, quoted by Tobias b. Eliezer in his work "Leḳaḥ Ṭob" on Ex. xxviii. 10, says that the order corresponded to that given in Ex. i. 2-4, except that Zebulun was followed by Dan, not by Benjamin, and that the last two names were Joseph and Benjamin (compare Soṭah 36a, b). This corresponds in part with the order in Num. R. ii. 7, except that there Gad precedes Naphtali; while Ex. R. xxxviii. 8 and Targ. on Cant. v. 14 correspond with the above-mentioned Baraita. According to the Targ. Yer. on Num. ii. 2 et seq., however, the names on the stones of the breastplate followed in the same sequence as that observed by the tribes when marching in the wilderness (Num. ii. 2-21). Targ. Yer. on Ex. xxviii. 17 et seq. agrees with Josephus ("Ant." iii. 7, § 5) in saying that the names of the twelve patriarchs followed in the sequence of their ages, while Maimonides (l.c.) and Tobias b. Eliezer (l.c.) assert that the names of the patriarchs were engraved on the first stone and the words on the last, Baḥya b. Asher and Hezekiah b. Manoah say, in their commentaries on Ex. l.c., that each stone contained only six letters, selected from the name of the respective tribal-patriarch, together with one or more letters of the names of the three national patriarchs or of the words . Hence the letters on the whole of the stones numbered seventy-two, corresponding with the number of letters in the Shem ha-Meforash.

Compare Ephod,Gems, and Urim and Thummim.

Voici quelques informations et illustrations sur les vêtements traditionnels des Prêtres Gadol et plus particulièrement sur le fameux Plastron aux 12 pierres..

Le Grand Prêtre (en hébreu כהן גדול, Kohen Gadol, Kohen ha-Gadol ou Kohen ha-Rosh) est le titre que portait le premier des prêtres dans la religion israélite..

Les secrets du pectoral du Grand Prêtre. (Hébreu: חֹשֶׁן hosen)

Ces différentes appellations désignent toutes le pectoral que le Cohen Gadol portait dans l’exercice de ses fonctions. En effet, il y avait deux sortes de Cohanim : le Cohen simple ou Cohen ‘hédioth et le Cohen Gadol.

Les différences entre les deux étaient nombreuses : sur le plan vestimentaire, le Cohen simple ne portait que quatre vêtements : le pantalon, la tunique, la tiare et la ceinture alors que le Cohen Gadol portait en plus de ces quatre vêtements quatre autres accessoires tels que le pectoral, le tablier, le manteau d’azur, et le diadème.

Le Cohen Gadol pour l’exercice de sa fonction recevait un don de prophétie qui lui était indispensable pour pouvoir effectuer une distinction entre les différents cas qui se présentaient à lui. De plus les vêtements que le Grand Prêtre portait servaient encore à l’expiation des fautes commises lorsqu’il procédait aux sacrifices.

Qu’est-ce que le Pectoral ?

Il s’agit d’une sorte de plaque faite en lin sur laquelle sont enchâssées 12 pierres précieuses. Sur chaque pierre est gravé le nom de l’une des douze tribus. Cette plaque est retenue par des cordelières d’azur de chaque côté de la taille et sur les épaules du Grand Prêtre. Sur chaque épaule était fixé un onyx sur chacun desquels étaient gravés six noms des douze tribus.

Le Pectoral servait au Cohen Gadol – dans une certaine mesure – à communiquer avec le Saint béni soit-Il car il était permis alors de se tourner vers le Grand Prêtre et de lui poser une question de première importance bien sûr. Le Grand Prêtre muni de ses atours se tournait alors vers le Sanctuaire et par l’intermédiaire des joyaux qui s’éclairaient tour à tour le Saint Béni Soit Il répondait à la question : ce sont les Ourimvetoumim אורים ותומים ou lumières et vérités. C’est la raison pour laquelle cet ornement est appelé hoshenmishpat ou le pectoral du jugement חושן משפט.

En effet, les noms des douze tribus contiennent pratiquement toutes les lettres de l’alphabet (il n’en manque que 4 : heth, teth, tsadik, et kouf) et ainsi le prêtre voyant les pierres s’allumer pouvait « lire » la réponse. A ce propos il faudrait citer le midrash donnant l’exemple de Hanna, qui se rendit au Temple où Eli le Cohen officiait et éplorée car elle était stérile, priait et pleurait sans qu’un son ne sortît de ses lèvres.

Le Pectoral s’alluma et Eli crut y lire « shikora » שכורה soit enivrée ou prise de vin et il admonesta la pauvre femme qui fut plus tard la mère de Samuel le Prophète alors que le Saint Béni Soit Il voulut signaler au prêtre que cette femme était stérile comme Sara : כשרה (ké Sara).. 

Les pierres précieuses étaient rangées en quatre rangées de trois pierres dans l’ordre de la naissance des douze fils de Jacob ainsi (de droite à gauche) 

Réouven, Shimon, Lévy, Yéhouda, Dan, Naftali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zevouloun, Yossef, Binyamin. 

D’autres lettres accompagnaient chaque pierre et à chaque tribu et pierre correspond un signe du zodiaque ainsi :

Les cabalistes qui utilisent la Cabale Pratique ont recours aux OurimVetoumim pour procéder par exemple à une amélioration du mazal de la personne.

Il ne faut surtout pas faire appel aux services d’une personne «cabaliste» sans se renseigner auparavant.

Morris Jastrow, Jr., Ira Maurice Price, Marcus Jastrow, Louis Ginzberg