Choshen Stones in Jewish Art and Jewelry
What are Choshen Stones?
Coshen stones date back to the ancient Israelites. In the Beit Ha Migdash the holy temple of the ancient Israelites, the high priest or, Kohen Gadol wore a sacred breastplate called Choshen. On the breastplate were 12 gems, each represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. These jewels are known as Choshen stones or gems, in Hebrew, Avnei HaChoshen.
Each Choshen gem stone was unique and the name of the tribe it represented was inscribed on it. Rabbinical texts state that the names were placed on the stone with the help of a special worm. It stated that they were not allowed to use a chisel, ink, or paint to make these markings.
About the Choshen Gems
A description of the Choshen and the Choshen gem stones are outlined in the book of Exodus, there isn’t enough information to know what minerals were used on the Hoshen. Although the identities of the Hoshen stones are not conclusive, there are theories that correlate the stones mentioned in the Bible to gems we know today.
The 12 Gems of the Choshen:
1. Odem: A red gem maybe, believed to be Sard.
2. Pit’dah: A flashing stone, believed to be a Topaz.
3. Bareket: A shimmering gem believed to be an Emerald .
4. Nofekh: According to Babylonian translation is believed to be Turquoise. The Jerusalem translation believes it a red stone the color of burning coal.
5. Sapir: Another red stone possible a Sapphire.
6. Yahalom Diamond: Some theories believe it is a diamond, others believe it was an Onyx.
7. Leshem: A pale or natural colored stone such as an opal.
8. Sebo: Believed to be referring to agate.
9. Ahlamah: Believed to be referring to Amethyst.
10. Tarshish: This is believed to be referring to a yellowish/goldish stone.
11. Shoham: A leek-green or sea green stone possibly a green onyx
12. Yashfeh: Believed to be Jasper.
The Greek translation of the Torah, known as the Septuagint, offers much clearer definitions for the Choshen stones. However, since it was created long after the Hoshen stopped being used, many scholars believe that the definitions are unreliable.
Ruby – (Tribe of Reuven): Contributes to smooth birth, helps to prevent miscarriage, and has calming effects.
Topaz – (Tribe of Shimon): Good for relaxation, self-control and cools the body.
Emerald – (Tribe of Levi): Enhances Intelligence, understanding and learning abilities.
Turquoise -(Tribe of Judah): Drives away enemies and banishes worry.
Sapphire – (Tribe of Yisachar): Improves vision and relieves pain.
Diamond – (Tribe of Zevulun): Provides longevity, and helps in earning a livelihood.
Opal – (Tribe of Dan): Strengthens the heart and brings joy and success
Agate – (Tribe of Naftali): Brings inner peace, wisdom, happiness and respect, and wards off the negative energies
Amethyst (Tribe of Gad): brings courage in times of War
Choshen stones make unique Jewish jewelry pieces, often worn as amulets.
They also feature in current Jewish art such as Mezuzah designs. You can find the Choshen stones amulet and the Mezuzah at Jerusalem Everything –
Buy original handmade Judaica and more direct from Jerusalem, Israel.