Sunday, November 25, 2012

Names of the 12 Tribes of Israel Engraved in Jewels on the High Priest of the Temple

You shall make a Breastpiece of Judgment, the work of a skillful workman...You shall mount on it four rows of stones...The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes.

- Exodus 28:15-21

The priestly breastplate (Hebrew hoshen חֹשֶׁן) was a sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest for the Israelites, according to the Book of Exodus...The biblical description states that the breastplate was also to be made from the same material as the Ephod - embroidered linen - and was to be a square, a cubit in width, two layers thick, and with four rows of three engraved gems each embedded upon it, each jewel being framed in gold. The description states that the square breastplate was to be formed from two equal rectangular pieces of cloth - suggesting that its appearance was similar to a backless waistcoat.

- Priestly Breastplate, Wikipedia

One of the most important parts to the High Priest of the Temple of Jerusalem's ceremonial garments was what was called the 'Breastpiece of Judgment' which was a piece of perfectly square cloth with 12 different jewels attached to it into 4 rows of 3 jewels each. Upon each jewel was carefully inscribed the names of each of the 12 tribes of Israel in Hebrew letters. According to Judaism, this is what the engraved names actually looked like (not necessarily in this order):

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Tribe of Naphtali

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Tribe of Simeon

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Tribe of Zebulun

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Tribe of Reuben

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Tribe of Asher

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Tribe of Judah

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Tribe of Gad

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Tribe of Dan

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Tribe of Issachar

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Tribe of Levi

Tribe of Ephraim

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Tribe of Benjamin


Spike said...

Nice post - I think you might want a proofreader next time for your Hebrew text :) You seem to have switched out a few letters by accident.
Binyamin is spelled with a Nun, not Gimmel as the second letter. And should have a vowel under the Mem (4th letter) - a chirik (single dot).
Issaschar has a Chaf, not Bet, as the 4th letter.

All the best!

Judas Maccabaeus said...

Thank you for your comment and correction Sir! I was wondering if you could also inform the site where I got the information from that they are misspelled as well. I can't speak Hebrew so I don't know anything at all. So let them know too. Here's the link I got the ikons from:


God bless and Shalom.