The Hoshen: Unity under God
The Hoshen, also called the Priestly Breastplate, as described in Exodus 28:15-19 was first worn by Aaron, the High Priest and brother of Moshe, in the Tabernacle in the desert. It was subsequently worn by every high priest to perform his duties of determining truths and falsities.
The priestly breastplate was comprised of 12 colored stones, one stone for each of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Each hoshen stone is different and the name of the tribe it represented was inscribed on each stone. Arranged on the breastplate together, these 12 stones symbolize the unity of the Jewish people and the equal status amongst the Tribes of Israel.
The Hoshen Today
Today the Hoshen can be seen mostly in beautiful Hoshen pendants. In Hebrew the stones are known as Avnei Hoshen which is written on many Hoshen Pendants. These are made from precious and semi-precious stones set in gold or silver. Wearing a Hoshen pendant is a wonderful way to show that no matter what “tribe” we belong to, we are one under God and His protective hand. The stones serve as an expression of faith and optimism that no matter how we worship, we all honor the one, true God.
The stones used in the original breastplate are outlined in Exodus, but the names used are ancient and Biblical scholars have been unable to determine the modern names for many of the stones. However, the stones commonly used to recreate the hoshen are: ruby, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, onyx, opal, agate, amethyst, aquamarine, green onyx and jasper. Some Hoshen pendants are created with these specific stones, however, since no one knows for sure which stones were used in ancient times many pendants are created with other colored stones.
The Hoshen and the New Testament
In Revelation 21:18-20 a wall in the New Jerusalem is described. Twelve layers of the wall are described and each layer was built with a different stone. The stones depicted in this wall are mostly those mentioned on the list for the breastplate. This is most definitely not a coincidence. It ties everything together from the ancient Hebrew ways to the Messiah. This extends the hoshen to not just an expression of ancient wisdom, ways and unity, but as a link to times to come. These stones represent the perfection of God’s nature and the hopes of humankind.