Exodus 28:11
With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.
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(11) The engravings of a signet.—Compare Note 2 on Exodus 28:9. Signets had been already mentioned in Genesis 38:18; Genesis 38:25; Genesis 41:42. Those of Egypt were for the most part rings, with cylindrical bezels turning upon an axis. Those of Babylonia were cylinders, which were commonly worn by a string round the wrist. The engraving of the Babylonian cylinders is frequently of a very fine quality.

Thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.—The setting intended seems to have been a sort of open or filigree work, such as is very common in Egyptian ornaments of the time. The term “ouche”—more properly “nouch”—is derived from the old French “nouche,”a buckle or clasp (see Skeat’s Etymol. Dict., §5).

Exodus 28:11. Ouches — Hollow places, such as are made in gold rings, to receive and hold the precious stones.

28:6-14 This richly-wrought ephod was the outmost garment of the high priest; plain linen ephods were worn by the inferior priests. It was a short coat without sleeves, fastened close to the body with a girdle. The shoulder-pieces were buttoned together with precious stones set in gold, one on each shoulder, on which were engraven the names of the children of Israel. Thus Christ, our High Priest, presents his people before the Lord for a memorial. As Christ's coat had no seam, but was woven from the top throughout, so it was with the ephod. The golden bells on this ephod, by their preciousness and pleasant sound, well represent the good profession that the saints make, and the pomegranates the fruit they bring forth.Like the engravings of a signet - Compare Exodus 28:21, Exodus 28:36. These words probably refer to a special way of shaping the letters, adapted for engraving on a hard substance. Seal engraving on precious stones was practiced in Egypt from very remote times.

Ouches of gold - Gold settings formed not of solid pieces of metal, but of woven wire, wreathed round the stones in what is called cloisonnee work, a sort of filigree, often found in Egyptian ornaments. These stones, as well as those on the breastplate, were perhaps in the form of ovals, or rather ellipses, like the cartouches, containing proper names, in hieroglyphic inscriptions. The word "ouches" is used by Shakespeare, Spenser, and some of their contemporaries in the general sense of "jewels."

6-14. ephod—It was a very gorgeous robe made of byssus, curiously embroidered, and dyed with variegated colors, and further enriched with golden tissue, the threads of gold being either originally interwoven or afterwards inserted by the embroiderer. It was short—reaching from the breast to a little below the loins—and though destitute of sleeves, retained its position by the support of straps thrown over each shoulder. These straps or braces, connecting the one with the back, the other with the front piece of which the tunic was composed, were united on the shoulder by two onyx stones, serving as buttons, and on which the names of the twelve tribes were engraved, and set in golden encasements. The symbolical design of this was, that the high priest, who bore the names along with him in all his ministrations before the Lord, might be kept in remembrance of his duty to plead their cause, and supplicate the accomplishment of the divine promises in their favor. The ephod was fastened by a girdle of the same costly materials, that is, dyed, embroidered, and wrought with threads of gold. It was about a handbreadth wide and wound twice round the upper part of the waist; it fastened in front, the ends hanging down at great length (Re 1:13). Hollow places, such as are made in golden rings to receive and hold the precious stones which are put in them.

With the work of an engraver in stone,.... Not in common but precious stones: Moses was not to do this himself, as it could not be supposed he should, but he was to employ an engraver, whose business it was, and one that was capable of doing it in a professional manner:

like the engravings of a signet shall thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: as in signets or seals, by which impressions are made on wax, the letters or figures are cut deep, that they might on the wax stand out; so it seems the letters of the names of the children of Israel were cut in these stones: this shows that engraving on precious stones is very old, and the ancients indeed are said to excel in this art:

thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold; in beazils or sockets, such as precious stones in rings are set in; these with the stones in them served as buttons to fasten together the hinder and fore part of the ephod on the shoulder pieces of it.

With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.
11. the engravings of a signet] Seal engraving of precious stones was an art practised from very remote times in both Babylonia and Egypt.

ouches] filigree settings, or, in one word, rosettes. (LXX. in v. 13 ἀσπιδίσκαι, ‘little shields’). ‘Ouch’ (‘an ouch’ for ‘a nouch,’ by a mistaken division of words [cf. an apron for a napron, an adder for a nadder, umpire for numpire; and conversely newt for ewt, notch for otch], Fr. nouche, a buckle or clasp) is an old word for the frame in which precious stones were set, used also for the jewels themselves; cf. 2 Henry IV. ii. 4. 53 ‘Your brooches, pearls, and ouches’ (Aldis Wright, Bible Word-Book, s.v.). The Heb. root means to chequer or plait (see on v. 39): hence what is probably meant is ‘settings of filigree work’: the gold was first beaten out into thin sheets, which were afterwards cut up into narrow strips (see Exodus 39:3); these were then formed into filigree work by a delicate process of soldering, and used as a setting for jewels (Kennedy, DB. iii. 636). Rosettes would probably express the general meaning with sufficient accuracy.

Verse 11. - With the work of an engraver. Rather, "an artificer." The engravings of a signet. Signets in Egypt were ordinarily rings, on the bezel of which the name of the owner was inscribed. Some were of solid gold; others with cylindrical bezels of glass or hard stone. On the early use of such signet rings in Egypt see Genesis 41:42. Cylinders, strung round the wrist and engraved with a name and titles, were common in Mesopotamia from B.C. 2000. Ouches of gold. Settings in open-work or filagree seem to be intended - a kind of setting which is very common in Egyptian ornaments. Exodus 28:11"Work of the engraver in stone, of seal-cutting shalt thou engrave the two stones according to the names of the sons of Israel." The engraver in stone: lit., one who works stones; here, one who cuts and polishes precious stones. The meaning is, that just as precious stones are cut, and seals engraved upon them, so these two stones were to be engraved according to the name of the sons of Israel, i.e., so that the engraving should answer to their names, or their names be cut into the stones. "Surrounded by gold-twist shalt thou make it." זהב משׁבּצות, from שׁבץ to twist, is used in Exodus 28:39 (cf. Psalm 45:14) for a texture woven in checks; and here it denotes not merely a simple gold-setting, but, according to Exodus 28:13, gold-twists or ornaments representing plaits, which surrounded the golden setting in which the stones were fixed, and not only served to fasten the stones upon the woven fabric, but formed at the same time clasps or brooches, by which the two parts of the ephod were fastened together. Thus Josephus says (Ant. iii. 7, 5) there were two sardonyxes upon the shoulders, to be used for clasps.
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