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HPs Breast Plate, Shamir

18 September 2016

This one is fascinating as it brings some obscure references in the Bible and Talmud to life. At www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/has-legendary-gem-sacre… … It comes from Peter Mungo Jupp's web site but concerns the breast plate of the High Priest in Jerusalem, a rather strange affair when outlined in the Bible. It was adorned with 12 precious stones, all different, and was hung from the neck of the HP and suspended over his heart. The Biblical and extra-biblical sources seem to show that gems in those days did not simply have a material or monetary value but were closely bound up in religious ideas (as gold and bronze were at one time). They had a symbolic role, representing aspects of deity – and the prevalence of red, blue, and green colouration may indicate an auroral role in visits by deity to the people of earth. We are told that the breast plate was designed to allow the HP to directly communicate with God. When deity was being asked a question God replied via the wind. The wind was regarded as the voice of god and in this instance a draught of wind was applied to a flame in a lamp that reflected upon two gem stones, held on the shoulders of the HP. The reflection from these stones bounced across the 12 gems on the breast plate and the pattern of glinting light produced, which could vary in multiple ways, was interpreted as the reply by God to the HP (blowing as it was on the wind). We are not told if the strength of the draught of wind varied or who might decide how hard to blow wind at the lamp but it is an intriguing form of divination (and I'm not sure if it is true) but each gem had a different symbol inscribed on them. The Bible does record the breast plate and it was regarded as holy in many ways, not least in that 'shamir' was used to engrave signs on the 12 gem stones.

Why has this rather strange behaviour become newsworthy. Well, it seems a woman in South Africa has come forward with a gemstone that she claimed was brought back from Jerusalem by one of her ancestors, a Knights Templar. She was interested in knowing if this was factual or a family myth and Israeli specialists were called in. It seems it could very well be one of the gems from the breast plate as it is inscribed with two Hebrew letters – and it is said how they got there is a mystery as the marking as not done by any known methodology. It was also said the gem had not been cut into two in order to insert the inscription internally – so what was shamir?

   Peter Jupp gleaned the report from www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3789923/Mysterious-onyx-stone-th…

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