Choshen Breastplate in Amulets and Jewelry
"And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones; a row of carnelian, topaz, and smaragd shall be the first row; and the second a row of carbuncle, a sapphire, and an emerald; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper; and they shall be enclosed in pure gold in their settings. And the stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names" - Exodus 28: 17-22
The above biblical passage from the Old Testament Book of Exodus, described the instructions given by God to Moses as to the sacramental Choshen Breastplate to be worn by the High Priest when entering and officiating in the Holy of Holies. This breastplate, made of pure gold, was set with four rows of three gemstones, each stone representing one of the Twelve "Sons of Israel" or Jacob. Throughout the ages, and as long as the High Priest officiated in either the Tabernacle or Temple in Jerusalem, he was required to wear this breastplate on top of his ritual garments, which are also vividly described in subsequent passages of the same book of the bible.
Though the names of many of these stones have become 'modernized' , i.e. smaragd being called carbuncle or emerald, and jacinith as topaz, each stone represents the name of one of the original Twelve Tribes of Israel. Some of these representative gemstones, and respective tribes, are noted as follows:
Carnelian or Ruby - The Tribe of Rubin. This stone is said to give protection to pregnant women against both miscarriage and problems during childbirth.
Topaz - The Tibe of Simeon. This stone is said to have a cooling effect on the body and was prized by both the ancient Egyptians and Ethiopians.
Smaragd (carbuncle, emerald, or aquamarine) - This stone, representing the Levites or Priestly Tribe is said to make men wise and "light up their eyes".
Carbuncle (a beryl family stone) - Representing the Tribe of Judah and is said to give strength and make the wearer victorious in battle.
Sapir or Sapphire - Representing the Tribe of Issachar, this purplish-blue stone is said to make one healthy, especially when "passed across the eyes".
Shoham (Onyx) - this stone, sometimes called Joseph's Stone, is mentioned twice in Exodus 28, as God commanded that the names of the 12 tribes be inscribed on two pieces on onyx, six names on each piece. Onyx was also prized among the Egyptians and was commonly found in the mountains of the Sinai.
The Choshen Breastplate has been the source of speculation and a well documented part of religious history for thousands of years, it has also been used in jewelry and amulets for many years. Its significance gives it a special protective power that is believed by some to provide peace and comfort to those who possess it.
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