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Home > Articles > The Hoshen Stones
The Hoshen Stones

The Hoshen stones are the 12 stones found in the sacred breastplate, known as the Hoshen that is worn by the Israelite High Priests. The Hoshen functioned as a mediator between God and the twelve tribes of Israel. The stones symbolized the connection between the ambitions of man and natures perfection.
Different Jewish references teach us that besides representing the  Children of Israels twelve tribes, every stone has helped as a manifestation of optimism and faith all throughout the generations. Each  of the stones represents the unity of the Jewish people and their equalized place before the God Almighty. As precious and non precious stones were placed in the Hoshen together, all men stand equal in the sight of God.

Each of the Hoshen Stones in accordance to the Bible scriptures is to be created from particular minerals, it should be different from one another, and each of them symbolical of a particular tribe, whose identity was to be engraved on the stone. There has been no coherent view in the standard rabbinic literature on the order of how the names were arranged; the Jerusalem Targum, for instance, reasoned that according to the Book of Genesis, the names came out in the order of the birth of the patriarch of every tribe. Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon debated that the  names were carved on the first stones, while on the last stone the words (these are) the tribes of Jeshurun are carved on it; Kabbalistic writers such as Bahya Ben Asher and Hezekiah Ben Manoah   reasoned that only six letters from each name was found on every stone, including some letters from the names of Abraham, Jacob or Isaac, or from the words (these are) the tribes of Jeshurun, so the total ended up with seventy-two letters.

Unfortunately, the meaning of the Hebrew names of the minerals are not clearly stated in the Masotric text, and although the Greek names for them in the Septuagint are a lot clearer, scholars believe that we cannot rely completely on this matter since the breastplate had not been used during the time of the creation of the Septuagint, and some Grecian names for different gems have changed meaning between the classical era and recent times. Even so, while the classical rabbinical literature debates that the names were carved with the use of a magic worm since neither chisels, paint or ink was permitted to mark them out, a further representational approach indicates that the jewels must have had relatively low hardness so that it can be carved on, and hence this gives an added hint of the mineral's identity.
The Twelve Hoshen Stones are listed below;

Carnelion/Ruby  - Reuven - symbol of love and marriage; aid in conception, maternity and giving birth
Topaz -     Shimon - carries benediction of abundance and joy to one’s life
Emerald - Levi -    symbol of generousness, reserve and kindness
Turquoise - Yehuda - contributes to success in business matters
Lapis Lazuli  - Yissachar - sign of clearness of thought and honesty
Quartz - Zevulun - imparts strength; symbolizes purity and the love of truth
Jacinth - Dan - induces creative thinking; bestows self-realization
Agate  - Naphtali - has an extraordinary calming effect
Amethyst  - Gad - symbolic representation of spiritual strength; defends against negative energies
Chrysolite - Asher - sanctifies both body and soul; brings in inner peace
Onyx - Yosef - strengthens one's courageousness and self-discipline
Jasper - Binyamin - brings physical strength; improves self-esteem


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The Hoshen Stones are the twelve stones found on the breastplate worn by the High Priests of Israel. The High Priest Aaron, eldest brother of Moses was the first one to have worn this breastplate.
The Twelve Stones
Each stone is made from certain minerals that are different from each other. They are each engraved with the names of the sons of Israel and combined with the twelve tribes of Israel. In the book of Exodus chapter 28, it was described how the breastplate is made and what it is made of.  The Hoshen had  four rows wherein different stones were placed.
First Row: In Masoteric Text/ Septuagint:
•    Odem / Sardios – is referred to as ruby, since it has a red color. It is closely related to the rocks found at Mount Odem, an extinct volcano in Israel. It is said to be a charm for bleeding.
•    Pit'dah / Topazios  – it was compared to topaz. Although during that time topaz was unknown. It is a translucent greenish yellow stone and found in a certain Island in the Red Sea.
•    Bareket/ Smaragdos – it fits a close description of rock crystal and heliodor, due to the fact that both stones are green.
Second Row: In Masoteric Text/ Septuagint:
•    Nofekh / Anthrax – a debate transpired if the color of this stone is greenish blue or red. It also refers to turquoise or malachite.
•    Sapir / Sapphiros – the most potential candidate for this stone is Lapis Lazuli. Despite seeming to be liken to Sapphire, Sapphire was not discovered yet prior to the Roman Empire Era.
•    Yahalom / Onychion – is closely related to Onyx or Jasper, but it is believed by scholars that Lapis is closely related to this stone.
Third Row:  In Masoteric Text/ Septuagint:
•    Leshem / Ligurios - Some have thought that this gem was  like  the jacinth, other people think that it was the  amethyst or opal.
•    Sebo / Achates - Achates categorically pertains to agate, and Sebo possibly related to  the Assyrian word Subu, which means agate. Agates were common in Assyria and Egypt, and were thought of as a powerful talisman.
•    Ahlamah / Amethystos - pertains to Amethyst, a purple mineral which was thought to protect against getting intoxicated from alcoholic beverage and was typically in use in Egypt.
Fourth Row:  In Masoteric Text/ Septuagint:
•    Tarshish / Chrysolithos - in other places the Septuagint alternatively has Anthrax or coal, where the Masoretic interprets Tarshish. Tarshish is believed by intellectuals to pertain to Tarshish, in regard to the chief source of the mineral being Tarshish.
•    Shoham / Beryllios - Jewish custom typically prefers leek-green Beryl as the possible meaning of Shoham, though intellectuals believe it's more probable to be Malachite, which can be green enough to be likened to Smaragdos and the blue-green color of the sea, is cloudy enough to be likened to a cloudy form of Beryl, and is striped and opaque enough to be mixed up with Onyx.
•    Yashfeh / Laspis - the gem is diversely distinguished as a green emerald, as a yellow hyacinth, or as a red ruby.