28:9 “You are to take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 1 28:10 six 2 of their names on one stone, and the six remaining names on the second stone, according to the order of their birth. 3 28:11 You are to engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel with the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a seal; 4 you are to have them set 5 in gold filigree 6 settings. 28:12 You are to put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod, stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron will bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for a memorial. 7 28:13 You are to make filigree settings of gold 28:14 and two braided chains of pure gold, like a cord, and attach the chains to the settings.
28:15 “You are to make a breastpiece for use in making decisions, 8 the work of an artistic designer; you are to make it in the same fashion as the ephod; you are to make it of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen. 28:16 It is to be square 9 when 10 doubled, nine inches 11 long and nine inches wide. 28:17 You are to set in it a setting for stones, four rows of stones, a row with a ruby, a topaz, and a beryl – the first row; 28:18 and the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald; 28:19 and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 28:20 and the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper. 12 They are to be enclosed in gold in their filigree settings. 28:21 The stones are to be for the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to the number of 13 their names. Each name according to the twelve tribes is to be like 14 the engravings of a seal.
1 tn Although this is normally translated “Israelites,” here a more literal translation is clearer because it refers to the names of the twelve tribes – the actual sons of Israel.
2 tn This is in apposition to the direct object of the verb “engrave.” It further defines how the names were to be engraved – six on one and the other six on the other.
3 tn Heb “according to their begettings” (the major word in the book of Genesis). What is meant is that the names would be listed in the order of their ages.
4 sn Expert stone or gem engravers were used to engrave designs and names in identification seals of various sizes. It was work that skilled artisans did.
5 tn Or “you will mount them” (NRSV similar).
6 tn Or “rosettes,” shield-like frames for the stones. The Hebrew word means “to plait, checker.”
7 sn This was to be a perpetual reminder that the priest ministers on behalf of the twelve tribes of Israel. Their names would always be borne by the priests.
8 tn Heb “a breastpiece of decision” (חֹשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט, khoshen mishpat; so NAB). The first word, rendered “breastpiece,” is of uncertain etymology. This item was made of material similar to the ephod. It had four rows of three gems on it, bearing the names of the tribes. In it were the urim and thummim. J. P. Hyatt refers to a similar object found in the Egyptian reliefs, including even the twisted gold chains used to hang it from the priest (Exodus [NCBC], 282).
9 tn Heb “four.”
10 tn “when” is added for clarification (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 375).
11 tn The word זֶרֶת (zeret) is half a cubit; it is often translated “span.”
12 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 375-76) points out that these are the same precious stones mentioned in Ezek 28:13 that were to be found in Eden, the garden of God. So the priest, when making atonement, was to wear the precious gems that were there and symbolized the garden of Eden when man was free from sin.
13 tn For clarity the words “the number of” have been supplied.
14 tn The phrase translated “the engravings of a seal” is an adverbial accusative of manner here.