Rev. Dr. Karen Adrien Osbey Atkins, PhD
The "Breast-Plate Of Decision"
The High Priest's Breastplate, Called The "Breast-Plate Of Decision"
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The priestly breast
plate (Hebrew: חֹשֶׁן Hoshen/Choshen) was a sacred breast
plate worn by the High Priest of the Israelites, according to the Book of Exodus.
In the biblical account, the breastplate is sometimes termed the breastplate of judgement, because the Urim and Thummim, which were used in divination, were placed within it.
According to the description in Exodus, this breastplate was attached to the ephod by gold chains/cords tied to the gold rings on the ephod's shoulder straps, and by blue ribbon tied to the gold rings at the lower parts of the ephod (Exodus 28:15-19).
The biblical description states that the breastplate was also to be made from the same material as the Ephod - embroidered linen - and was to be a square, a cubit in width, two layers thick, and with four rows of three engraved gems each embedded upon it, each jewel being framed in gold.
The description states that the square breastplate was to be formed from two equal rectangular pieces of cloth - suggesting that its appearance was similar to a backless waistcoat, with a pouch inside to contain the Urim and Thummim.
The term for the breastplate, hoshen, appears to be connected either to its function or to its appearance; some scholars think that it is probably derived from Hebrew hasuna, meaning "beautiful," while others think that it is more likely to derive from Hebrew sinus, meaning "a fold for containing something."
According to the Talmud, the wearing of the Hoshen atoned for the sin of errors in judgement on the part of the Children of Israel (B.Zevachim 88b). [more]