Mysteries of the Bible

"Unanswered Questions of the Bible"

Breastpiece of Judgment

Posted by foryourfaith on June 9, 2011


The stone-encrusted breastpiece was worn by priests, as prescribed in Exodus 28. It was a small, square garment, worn over the priestly robe, and its pouch held the sacred lots, the Urim and Thummin. Woven of fine, colorful threads, the breastpiece was attached to the priest’s vestment by four golden rings. Set into the fabric were four rows of precious and semiprecious stones, each bearing the name of one of Israel’s 12 tribes. Thus, the breastpiece marked the high priest as a representative of Yahweh.

The origins of the Urim and Thummin are shrouded in mystery. In fact, the meaning of the words is unknown, although scholars believe they were borrowed from the Canaanites. Their composition and shape can only be guessed at small pebbles, dice, and sticks have all been suggested. Both Saul and David relied on the Urim and Thummin to determine God’s will, although the Bible does not reveal the technique for using them. Since the lots were kept in the pocket of the priest’s breastpiece, perhaps they were cast from the pocket, like dice. The question laid before the Lord had to be answerable by a yes or a no, so it is thought that the lots may have carried significant markings that indicate the Lord’s answer.


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