Has a Legendary Gem from a Sacred Jewish Breastplate Been Rediscovered?

Has a Legendary Gem from a Sacred Jewish Breastplate Been Rediscovered?

(Read the article on one page)

After being lost from the pages of history for about a thousand years, a legendary gemstone may find its way back home. An anonymous owner of what may be a very important religious artifact is ready to relinquish a cherished family heirloom and return it to its homeland. The artifact is said to have had an exciting history and, if it is indeed real, it has a strong significance in the Jewish faith as well.

Both Breaking Israel News and the Daily Mail claim that the gem in question may have its origins in a sacred breastplate that was worn by the High Priest of Jerusalem. Before examining more of the gem’s history, it is interesting to look closer at the legend behind this breastplate.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia , the "ḥoshen" (the name for the breastplate) was “adorned with precious stones, worn by the high priest on his breast when he presented in the Holy Place the names of the children of Israel.” The Temple Institute describes the High Priest’s breastplate by saying:

“This garment is called choshen mishpat in Hebrew, which means the "breastplate of judgment" or "decision." Square-shaped and worn over the heart, it was called so because of the unique role which it played in helping to render fateful decisions. According to the Biblical instructions and rabbinical traditions, the breastplate is a patterned brocade like the ephod. The threads of its fabric are gold, sky-blue, dark red and crimson wool, and twisted linen. The garment itself is set with four rows of small square stones, in settings of knitted or braided gold. Each row contained three stones-totaling twelve stones, one stone representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name of the corresponding tribe was engraved on each stone.”

Front of the breastplate on the front of the central Sephardic synagogue in Ramat Gan.

Front of the breastplate on the front of the central Sephardic synagogue in Ramat Gan. (Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel/ CC BY 2.5 )

The breastplate was believed to have enabled the High Priest to have communicated directly with God. When an important question was asked, the priest could deliver “God’s word” and answer the enquiry with the aid of the breastplate and two sacred stones, named the Urim and the Thummim. While wearing the jeweled breastplate and holding the two stones, the High Priest stood before a lampstand near the altar. When he asked the question, the candle would reflect light from the Urim and the Thummin onto the stones of the Breastplate. The website Pheonix Masonry explains how the answer arrived:

“this flash of light provided up to 24 combinations (2 x 12). Since there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the flashes of light could produce strings of letters. It was said that God breathed through the wind, which in turn causes the veil to move, permitting a breeze to flicker the flames in the Lampstand to momentarily alter the angle of direction of the light onto the Urim and Thummin, and thence to the Breastplate. Thus God was able to communicate directly, but not audibly, to the high priest and answer the enquiry.”

Jewish high priest wearing a hoshen, and Levites in ancient Judah.

Jewish high priest wearing a hoshen, and Levites in ancient Judah. ( Public Domain )

The stone that has recently made the headlines is said to be one of the two sardonyx gems which were set in gold on the breastplate’s shoulders. With the abovementioned legend in mind, it is easy to see why this precious stone has created a stir. But how did it end up in the hands of an elderly woman in South Africa?

The owner’s family tradition explains that the sardonyx was given to her ancestor, named Croiz Arneet deTarn Auret, from the High Priest around 1189 in gratitude for helping free Jerusalem. The Daily Mail adds to the story that “it was given to a Knight Templar and handed down through that family from one generation to the next.”

The sardonyx stone in the papyrus casket it was carried in.

The sardonyx stone in the papyrus casket it was carried in. (Owner/ Daily Mail )

After generations of keeping the stone in the family’s possession, in 2000 they asked to have it appraised. Breaking Israel News says that Dr. James Strange, a professor in religious studies and archaeology analyzed the stone for the family. Dr. Strange suggested to Breaking Israel News that he was not very impressed with the stone until he saw two letters in ancient Hebrew. He said : "There is no modern or ancient technology known to me by which an artisan could produce the inscription, as it is not cut into the surface of the stone." Dr. Strange dated the stone to about the 5th century BC and appraised the stone's value at $175-$225 million. He then asked gemologist Ian Campbell to take a look at the odd artifact. Mr. Campbell confirmed that the stone had not been cut open to make the inscription and estimated a worth starting at $200 million.


It is my observation and conclusion that in addition to air, water, shelter, food, and shelter, as well as to the remainder of “Maslow’s Hierarchy”, an essential human need is to participate at some level in a perpetual “King of the Mountain” drama. Human beings are essentially violent critters, and we command a parasitic relationship to the rest of that which, thus far, we have encountered in the universe. Ask any human being with an intellectual functioning greater than that of the average rock and you will be told of at least part of the infinite list of measurements whereby we score an invariable 9 or 10 as compared to all other organic matter which struggles to surpass 3 or 4. Of course! We wrote the instructions and devised the measuring tools. Chevy wouldn’t care to statistically prove that Ford or Dodge is a better vehicle, would they? Anyway, King of the Mountain is a uniquely human behavior that may be expressed with as little as a smirk, as much as globe-splitting explosive device, or anything in between. Grammar Nazis and pedants absolutely LOVE the game, and can often be identified by the calloused knuckles of one hand acquired by executing repeated self-congratulatory on their upper breasts.

The article says/shows the 12 stones were rectangular yet this stone is clearly oval.

“…..The sardonyx stone in the papyrus casket it was carried in…..”

The Department of Redundancy Department

Geez, it’s just s friggin agate. “….able to communicate directly, but not audibly, to the high priest and answer the enquiry…...”

So no one ever knew whether the ‘high priest’ was telling the truth or not. …...Nice racket. 

And they laugh at runes and tea leaves.

oh please... next you're gonna shout "it's womyn, not women"!!!


Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Myths & Legends

Human Origins

Map of sites and postulated migratory pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene.
Most people are now familiar with the traditional "Out of Africa" model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research

Ancient Technology

The four-handled tureen adorned with dragons, birds and spikes
Chinese archaeologists have discovered ritual tureen and “soup bowls” next to a badly decomposed body in a Zhou dynasty-era tomb. Among the remains there were also uncovered two wine vessels, which experts suggest were probably used as part of the funerary rituals.

Ancient Places

Illustration of the "Emmons mask", a Mississippian culture carved cedarwood human face shaped object once covered in copper and painted with galena and used as part of a headdress
The City of Moundsville is located along the Ohio River in Marshall County, West Virginia. From the time of European settlement in the 1770s, Moundsville was regarded by antiquarians as one of the most significant ancient sites in North America. For it was here that the Adena mound builders and their descendants constructed the largest ceremonial center in the Upper Ohio Valley

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article