green beryl, above which is laid a yellowish green topazion,
thought to be either peridot or topaz. The tenth stone is the
Chrysoprase, of dark green hue, surmounted by the jacinth, of
rich crimson, and crowned by the purple amethyst.
The Hebrews employed precious stones to decorate the
sacerdotal robes, the Tabernacle, and, later, the Temple at
Jerusalem. King thinks it probable that the most ancient of
all authentic sacred jewels were those of the breastplate of the
Jewish high-priest, supposed to be the "Urim and Thummim,"
though what this was has been a disputed question. The
words have been variously interpreted, " Lights and Perfections, " "The Declaration," "The Truth," and "The Oracle of
Judgment." Some commentators have maintained the opinion
that the Urim and Thummim was distinct from the breastplate,
and consisted of a blue sapphire worn over it when the highpriest entered the "Holy of Holies"; but the Jewish writers
probably understood better than any others the nature of their
own sacred symbols,—Josephus applies the mystic words to
the breastplate itself.
4 This priestly ornament was a square of eight inches set with
twelve different gems engraved with the names of the tribes of
Israel, a stone for each tribe, arranged in four rows. Both
Josephus and the Vulgate give a different order from our
version, but the stones are the same except the chrysolite
substituted for the diamond. They are as follows : — First
row : sard, red ; topaz, yellowish green ; smaragdus (emerald),
bright green. Second row : carbuncle, red ; sapphire, blue ;
jasper, green. Third row: ligure, yellow; achates (agate),
black and white ; amethyst, purple. Fourth row : chrysolite,
yellow ; onyx, blue and black ; beryl, pale green or blue.
Josephus says these stones shot forth brilliant rays of fire to
denote the presence of the Deity, but this power ceased two