” An engraver should engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones as he would engrave a seal. Mount the stones in gold settings, and put the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the vest as stones calling to mind the sons of Israel. Aaron is to carry their names before Adonai on his two shoulders as a reminder.”-Exodus 28:11-12
Now that we’ve taken a bird’s eye view of the High Priest’s special uniform, I want to back up and start exploring some of the items one by one in detail starting with the EPHOD.
The EPHOD contained the names of all the 12 Tribes of Israel and was worn over the High Priest’s heart.
The name of ONE tribe of Israel was inscribed on each precious stone of the EPHOD.
So we’re talking about 12 stones with 12 names engraved on them.
In like manner, the two larger stones on the Ephod’s shoulder straps also had the names of the 12 tribes of Israel engraved on them, 6 on one pad and 6 on the other.
What one will notice when looking at these stones is that they were each different and unique.
This indicates the unique and separate identity each tribe of Israel would embody.
The two large stones on the shoulder pads of the EPHOD are prophetic in that they indicate Israel is actually two groups.
We will see later on that Israel will actually become 2 houses: The “House of Ephraim” and the “House of Judah”.
All together, the stones on the EPHOD reveal the unique 3-fold nature of Israel as follows:
-ALL of Israel-
-the 2 Houses of Israel-
-Each individual Tribe of Israel-
Another interesting part of the EPHOD was a pouch attached to it called HOSHEN in Hebrew.
Inside this pouch or HOSHEN were two stones know as the URIM and the THUMMIM.
These two stones, which for some reason remind me of the game Dungeons & Dragons, (a game I’ve never played), were used by the Lord to communicate His will to Israel.
The point I want to make here is this pouch with the URIM and THUMMIM were considered an integral part of the total EPHOD.
When I say “total EPHOD”, I mean BOTH the EPHOD and the breastplate.
The Breastplate in English is usually translated the “Breastplate of Righteousness”, but the original Hebrew is HOSHEN HA-MISHPAT.
Do you recall what the word MISHPAT means?
It means “judgment” or “justice”.
What’s important to know is that we should NOT take the word “judgment” here to mean “wrath” or “punishment”.
The gentile church has generally taught that the Biblical use of the word “judgment” refers to a negative consequence as a result of committing a sin.
The idea they have in their head is that of divine punishment.
This nuance is incorrect.
The High Priest’s breastplate should NOT be thought of as the “Breastplate of Wrath”.
Since MISHPAT literally means “justice”, a much better translation is “Breastplate of Justice” or “Breastplate of God’s Will”.
And since the ALL the tribes of Israel are engraved on this breastplate, the point being expressed is that the Lord is going to deal with Israel according to His system of saving justice.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
having your loins girt about with truth,
and having on the breastplate of righteousness“