|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:15-30 The chief ornament of the high priest, was the breastplate, a rich piece of cloth, curiously worked. The name of each tribe was graven in a precious stone, fixed in the breastplate, to signify how precious, in God's sight, believers are, and how honourable. How small and poor soever the tribe was, it was as a precious stone in the breastplate of the high priest; thus are all the saints dear to Christ, however men esteem them. The high priest had the names of the tribes, both on his shoulders and on his breast, which reminds us of the power and the love with which our Lord Jesus pleads for those that are his. He not only bears them up in his arms with almighty strength, but he carries them in his bosom with tender affection. What comfort is this to us in all our addresses to God! The Urim and Thummim, by which the will of God was made known in doubtful cases, were put in this breastplate. Urim and Thummim signify light and integrity. There are many conjectures what these were; the most probable opinion seems to be, that they were the twelve precious stones in the high priest's breastplate. Now, Christ is our Oracle. By him God, in these last days, makes known himself and his mind to us, Heb 1:1,2; Joh 1:18. He is the true Light, the faithful Witness, the Truth itself, and from him we receive the Spirit of Truth, who leads into all truth.
Verse 19. - The third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. The term "ligure" is unknown in modern mineralogy; and it is to the last degree uncertain what stone the ancients intended by their lingurium or lapis ligurius Some think that "jacinth," others that "tourmaline," is the stone here meant. A few suggest amber, but amber cannot receive an engraving. "Agate" and "amethyst" are generally allowed to be right translations.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. The first of these stones, the ligure or lyncurius, is said to be so called from the congealed urine of the lynx (n), but rather from the spots of that creature; for, according to Danaeus (o), it is the same stone with that called "stellina", from having many specks like stars spread about in it. Braunius (p) takes the "jacinth" stone to be here meant, and so does Ainsworth; see Revelation 21:20, the second stone, the agate, is well known; and though now of little account, was formerly in great esteem, as Pliny (q) asserts, and therefore may well be thought to have a place among these stones. Pyrrhus king of Epirus had a very famous one, in which, not by art, but by nature, were seen the nine Muses, and Apollo holding an harp; the word for it here is "shebo", which comes from a word which signifies to captivate; because, as De Dieu observes, this stone is easily captivated under the hand of the artificer; there being no stone which so easily admits of engravings as this. The last of this row is the "amethyst"; which stone has its name either from its being of the colour of wine; or, as others, from its being a preservative from drunkenness: the Hebrew word "achlamah" seems to come from a word which signifies to dream; and this stone is supposed to cause persons to dream, as Aben Ezra, from one of their wise men, relates. On these three stones, according to the Jerusalem Targum, were written the names of the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Gad; but, according to the Targum of Jonathan, Gad, Asher, and Issachar, which is much better, for a reason before given.
(n) Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 3.((o) Apud De Dieu in loc. (p) Ut supra, (De Vestitu Sacerd. Heb. l. 2.) c. 14. sect. 9. p. 699. (q) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 10.
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