Thursday, May 31, 2012

High Priest Garments - The Ephod (Vestment) - Part 2

Verses of Exodus 28:9-12 provide us with the description of the special two stones that were to be mounted in the mountings of the Ephod (Vestment) that I have discussed in my previous post. Let's take a look at these verses first:

Exodus 28:9-12

9 ‏וְלָ֣קַחְתָּ֔ אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֖י אַבְנֵי־שֹׁ֑הַם וּפִתַּחְתָּ֣ עֲלֵיהֶ֔ם שְׁמ֖וֹת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃



‎10 ‏שִׁשָּׁה֙ מִשְּׁמֹתָ֔ם עַ֖ל הָאֶ֣בֶן הָאֶחָ֑ת וְאֶת־שְׁמ֞וֹת הַשִּׁשָּׁ֧ה הַנּוֹתָרִ֛ים עַל־הָאֶ֥בֶן הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית כְּתוֹלְדֹתָֽם׃



‎11 ‏מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה חָרַשׁ֮ אֶבֶן֒ פִּתּוּחֵ֣י חֹתָ֗ם תְּפַתַּח֙ אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֣י הָאֲבָנִ֔ים עַל־שְׁמֹ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל מֻסַבֹּ֛ת מִשְׁבְּצ֥וֹת זָהָ֖ב תַּעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָֽם׃


‎12 ‏וְשַׂמְתָּ֞ אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֣י הָאֲבָנִ֗ים עַ֚ל כִּתְפֹ֣ת הָֽאֵפֹ֔ד אַבְנֵ֥י זִכָּרֹ֖ן לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְנָשָׂא֩ אַהֲרֹ֨ן אֶת־שְׁמוֹתָ֜ם לִפְנֵ֧י יְהוָ֛ה עַל־שְׁתֵּ֥י כְתֵפָ֖יו לְזִכָּרֹֽן׃
9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:
10 Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth.
11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.
12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.
If you remember, the stones were to be setup in special golden mountings that were interwoven into the Ephod. Here is a separate rendering of these two golden mountings:

Please note special handles on each of these mountings as this is a very important part of the design that will be important to the other parts of the Ephod which I will discuss in my next posts. 

Now, Exodus 28:9 tells us that the stones to be mounted were the Onyx stones. Unfortunately this is an arbitrary translation of the word שהם, as its literal translation means "flock" or "flocklings". See my NIP for more details.  However, since there is no research available on the subject as usual, so I will just go ahead with this traditional translation and will assume for now that these were the green onyx stones. Like so:

Exodus 28:10 is where the description gets interesting. According to this verse, on these stones there were to be engraved the names of the Children of Israel according to their birth. At the first glance this order does not seem to pose any problems as the book of Genesis seem to provide us with all the information we may need (see Genesis 29:31-30:24, Genesis 35:16-18 and Genesis 41:50-52). However, a closer look reveals a little hidden problem. To make this problem clear, the table below provides a comparative look at the original order of births listed in the book of Genesis and the correct order of what was actually written on the aforementioned stones:











# Name Mother Father # Name Stone

1 Reuben
(seeing-son)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
1 Reuben (ראובן) Right 

2 Simeon
(hearing)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
2 Simeon (שמעון) Right 

3 Levi
(cleaved)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)





4 Judah
(praised)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
3 Judah
(יהודה)
Right 

5 Dan
(judge)
Bilhah
(timid)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
4 Dan
(דן)
Right 

6 Naphtali
(wrestlings-of-me)
Bilhah
(timid)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
5 Naphtali (נפתלי) Right 

7 Gad
(attack)
Zilpah
(trickling)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
6 Gad
(גד)
Right 

8 Asher
(upright)
Zilpah
(trickling)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
7 Asher
(אשר)
Left

9 Issachar
(rewarding)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
8 Issachar (יששכר) Left

10 Zebulun
(dweller)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
9 Zebulun (זבלון) Left


Dinah
(justice)
Leah
(tiring)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)





11 Joseph (he-shall-add) Rachel
(ewe)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)





12 Benjamin
(son-of-right-hand)
Rachel
(ewe)
Jacob
(he-is-circumventing)
10 Benjamin (בנימין) Left

13 Manasseh
(causing-to-forget)
Asenath
(i-shall-thorn)
Joseph
(he-shall-add)
11 Manasseh (מנשה) Left

14 Ephraim (fruitfulnesses) Asenath
(i-shall-thorn)
Joseph (he-shall-add) 12 Ephraim (אפרים) Left









As you can see from the above table, the original order of births given in the book of Genesis lists 12 sons, 1 daughter and 2 grandchildren, to the total count of 15. However, the description of the stones assumes only 12 spaces for the names, 6 on each stone. So how do we fit 15 names into 12 slots on the stones?

Obviously, we can immediately exclude the daughter Dinah (justice), as the description states that only the sons (males) of Israel to be included. This leaves us with 14 names to be fitted into 12 slots on the stones.

Now, one can assume that the grandchildren born to Joseph (he-shall-add) in Egypt (suffering) can also be excluded as they were not technically the sons of Israel (Jacob) but rather his grandchildren (sons of Joseph). This theory would allow to end up with 12 names for 12 slots on the stones. 

However, if we were to exclude Manasseh and Ephraim, we would still have a problem as further in the text we can find that there were no such thing as the tribe of Joseph, and the tribe of Levi was explicitly excluded from the rest of the tribes.

Therefore, the only solution to this problem is to exclude two names from the stones - namely Levi and Joseph. This would leave us with the 12 names for 12 slots on the stones in the order as follows:

  1. Right Stone: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan Naphtali, Gad
  2. Left Stone: Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim
Exodus 28:11 also mentions that the names stones were to be engraved (or cut into the stones), thus meaning that the text would have somewhat whitish appearance and would be clearly visible. And of'course this verse repeats that the stones were to be set into aforementioned golden mountings (or fillings).

Like so:


Another minor problem is with the positioning of the stones on the priest shoulders. At this point I think that the stones were positioned right stone to the right shoulder and left stone to the left shoulder of the priest. This is because the priest could see these stones both on his shoulders and in the reflection of the walls of the Tabernacle. Also, the text gives preference to the right side so the first 6 names (the firstborn) would have to be on the right side of the priest since this would be most logical and rational solution. 

However, anyone who would see the priest head on would see the reverse positioning of the stones - right stone would appear to be on the priest's left and the left stone would appear to be on the priest's right. As usual, more thorough research is needed to definitively answer this question and solve this problem.

For now I would go with the right-to-right and left-to-left positioning of the stones on the priest's shoulders and, consequently, on the Ephod. Like so:

And like so:

And thus here is the final rendering of the priest (Aaron) in the Ephod (Vestment) with both engraved "onyx" stones on his shoulders, as description of Exodus 28:9-12 states.


LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts

Blog Archive