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Updates Archive

The Breastplate of the High Priest


IN PROGRESS: The Garments of the High Priest

One of the most exciting projects ever begun by the Temple Institute is currently underway: the production of the garments for the High Priest. "And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother... and these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe... " (Ex. 28)

After many years of exhaustive research, the scholars of the Temple Institute have come to a final and conclusive identification of the twelve stones of the breastplate of the High Priest, and the garment is now being created. Pictured here are the stones, set in golden settings and engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The garment is woven and the stones are attached with golden thread.

"And you shall make the breastplate of judgment, the work of an artist; after the manner of the ephod shall you make it: of gold, sky-blue, dark-red, and crimson dyed wool, and of twisted linen shall you make it" (Ex. 28:6,15).

This garment is called choshen mishpat in Hebrew, which means the "breastplate of judgment" or "decision." Square-shaped and worn over the heart, it was called so because of the unique role which it played in helping to render fateful decisions.

According to the Biblical instructions and rabbinical traditions, the breastplate is a patterned brocade like the ephod. The threads of its fabric are gold, sky-blue, purple and crimson wool, and twisted linen. The garment itself is set with four rows of small square stones, in settings of knitted or braided gold. Each row contained three stones - totaling twelve stones, one stone representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name of the corresponding tribe was engraved on each stone.

The twelve stones for the breastplate of the High Priest. The stones are set in golden settings and engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The garment is woven and the stones are attached with golden thread.

The two "Remembrance Stones" that go on the shoulders of the ephod of the High Priest. The Bible calls these two stones "remembrance stones:"

"And you shall place the two stones on the two shoulders of the ephod as remembrance stones for the Children of Israel. And Aaron shall carry their names before G-d on his two shoulders as a remembrance." (Ex. 28:12)

The sages explain the meaning of this expression. When the High Priest entered into the holy place dressed in the ephod, the Holy One saw all the tribes of Israel inscribed before Him and He was moved to have mercy on His people.

Another two square gold settings were fixed on the High Priest's shoulders, directly under the sardonyx stones. Golden chains extended from these settings to the golden hooks in the rings of the breastplate, in order to fix the breastplate to the ephod.

The Bible instructs that each thread used in the High Priest's breastplate and ephod must be 28 ply: each thread is made from 6 threads each of TECHELET (sky-blue), of ARGAMAN (purple), of TOLA'AT SHANI (crimson) and of white twisted linen, and 4 threads of PURE GOLD.

Click here to learn more about the breastplate fabric and construction.

Click here to see pictures of the completed breastplate and priestly garments.



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