The Highpriest’s Breastplate     Online Index     [flash version currently unavailable]     Download PDF     


In the Palestinian Targum and, more explicitly, in Sefer ha-Zikhronot, we find the first three stones of the Breastplate in Ex. 28 (1. Heb. Odem [Gk. Sardion], 2. Heb. Pitdah [Gk. Topazion], 3. Heb. Bareket [Gk. Smaragdos]) ascribed to the tribes on the East side of the Camp (Judah, Issachar and Zebulun). Likewise for the other sides of the Camp: — The stones of the second row of the Breastplate (4. Heb. Nophek [Gk. Anthrax], 5. Heb. Sappir [Gk. Sappheiros], 6. Heb. Yahalom [Gk. Iaspis]) are ascribed to the 3 tribes on the South side of the Camp (Reuben, Simeon and Gad). The Breastplate stones of the third row (7. Heb. Leshem [Gk. Ligourion], 8. Heb. Shevo [Gk. Achates], 9. Heb. Achlamah [Gk. Amethystos]) are ascribed to the 3 tribes on the West side of the Camp (Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin). Finally the Breastplate stones of the fourth row (10. Heb. Tarshish [Gk. Chrysolithos], 11. Heb. Shoham [Gk. Beryllion], 12. Heb. Yashpheh [Gk. Onychion]) are ascribed to the 3 tribes on the North side of the Camp, Dan, Asher and Naphtali.

In the New Testament, Rev. 21, we find twelve stone and twelve tribe names, arranged around the four walls of the New Jerusalem, three on each side. This is a fourfold arrangement, comparable to that of the Camp in Num. 2, where the tribal banners, according to the Palestinian Targum, identified tribes with the Breastplate stones of Ex. 28, and likewise, more explicitly, in Sefer ha-Zikhronot. Furthermore 7 (8 in some texts) of these 12 stones in Rev. 21 have names identical to those used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX) in Ex. 28. This is of prime importance for the identification of the stones with modern gems, because the Roman scholar Pliny in his Natural History (Bk. 37), writing in the same era as John the Revelator, used the very same names as John for the stones he studied, and gave much information about each stone which helps modern mineralogists identify them with their modern equivalents. So, working back through Revelation (with Pliny to give further details) and the same Greek names used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew gem names, we can identify the original Hebrew stones of the Breastplate with modern gems. The first two names in Rev 21, Iaspis and Sappheiros correspond to two of the 3 stones on the South side of the Camp (Palestinian Targum), namely Iaspis = Heb. Yahalom and Sappheiros = Heb. Sappir. In some texts of the Book of Revelation (164, 165, 166 [Hoskier]) the 3rd stone name (Chalcedon) is given as Anthrax, which equates with the other stone name on the South side of the Camp (Anthrax = Heb. Nophek). Furthermore the 4th and 6th stones (Smaragdos and Sardios) correspond to 2 of the 3 stones on the East side of the Camp (Smaragdos = Heb. Bareket, Sardios [also spelt Sardion] = Heb. Odem). Similarly Chrysolithos (Tarshish), Beryllos (Shoham) are on the North side and the last stone, Amethystos (Achlamah) is on the West side. The four stone names which are not identical to those found in the LXX can be shown from ancient sources (cited in the list infra and more fully in the section Birthstones) to be alternative terms for the corresponding stones in the LXX. This shows the stones in Rev 21 are reflecting the Camp Order of the tribes and stones, in a continuous line, and in the order South Side (from west to east), East Side (from south to north), North Side (from east to west), and West Side (from north to south):

Iaspis (Amethyst) = Yahalom (as in LXX)

Sappheiros (Lapis Lazuli) = Sappir (as in LXX)

Chalcedon or Anthrax (Spinel) = Nophek (Anthrax in LXX)

Smaragdos (Chrysoberyl) = Bareket (as in LXX)

Sardonyx (Sardonyx) = Pitdah (Pitdah = Topazion in LXX, but Epiphanius says the original Topazion was an “Alabastron”, that is, an Onyx, with an inner red layer, which was later known as a Sardonyx.)

Sardios (Carnelian) = Odem (as in LXX)

Chrysolithos (Golden Sapphire) = Tarshish (as in LXX)

Beryllos (Emerald) = Shoham (as in LXX)

Topazion (Brocatella) = Yashpheh (Yashpheh = Onychion in LXX, but see supra on Topazion as a form of Onyx, that is, an Onychion)

Chrysoprasos (Jacinth) = Leshem (Leshem = Ligourion in LXX, but the Ligourion or Lynkourion is a Chrysopastos, which, in turn, is identified as a Chrysoprasos in Marbodus)

Hyakinthos (Agate) = Shevo (Shevo = Achates in LXX, but Epiphanius says the Achates was also termed an Hyakinthos)

Amethystos (Almandine) = Achlamah (as in LXX)

The Camp Order was derived from the Birth Order of the sons of Israel, grouped in chronological order, but also according to their mothers. This order is as follows:

Reuben Simeon Levi Judah Issachar Zebulun [These are from Leah]

Dan Naphtali [These are from Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid]

Gad Asher [These are from Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid]

Joseph Benjamin [These are from Rachel]

Arranged in four rows of three, the order is then:

Reuben Simeon Levi

Judah Issachar Zebulun

Dan Naphtali Gad

Asher Joseph Benjamin

This is the Birthstone Order of the patriarchs’ names as inscribed on the stones of the Breastplate

The Camp Order is formed from this scheme in five stages:

1) Levi is removed from the other tribes to serve the sanctuary. This leaves a gap in the first row which can not be supplied by any other of Leah’s own children and is therefore supplied by the firstborn child of Leah’s handmaid, Gad. So Gad takes the position of Levi.

2) Joseph splits into two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, with Ephraim promoted to the firstborn position. So the fourth row of the original scheme now reads: Ephraim Manasseh Benjamin.

3) Asher is forced out of the fourth row by the expansion of Joseph into two. Asher then fills the gap left by Gad in the third row of the original scheme, this row being now composed of Dan, Naphtali and Asher. These are all children of Jacob’s concubines, but the order has to be adjusted a little to allow for primogeniture considerations: Dan is the only firstborn in the row (the firstborn of Bilhah) and therefore retains first place. Naphtali and Asher are both secondborn children of the concubines, but Asher is the (second child) of Leah’s handmaid, i.e. of the first wife’s concubine, therefore he is promoted to a position immediately following Dan in the row, whilst Naphtali is the (second) child of Rachel’s handmaid, i.e. of the second wife’s concubine, therefore he takes last position in the row.

4) The children of the second wife, Rachel, i.e. Ephraim Manasseh and Benjamin, are promoted to a position above those of the concubines, so Ephraim Manasseh and Benjamin now form the third row and Dan Asher and Naphtali the fourth row.

5) Finally Judah’s row is promoted over that of Reuben, because of Reuben’s loss of the birthright.

So the order now is:

Judah Issachar Zebulun

Reuben Simeon Gad

Ephraim Manasseh Benjamin

Dan Asher Naphtali

This is the Camp Order in Numbers 2, ordered strictly according to natural status of the remaining children. The firstborn (some of them promoted firstborn) at the head of each line in the list above, when they come to be physically located in the camp, take the commanding, central, position on each of the four sides of the camp, with their companion tribes in wing positions on either side. The verbal listing, however, gives pre-eminence to these same firstborn by listing them first in order of mention, as above.


The names of the 12 sons of Israel attached to the gates of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 48 are those of the patriarchs at their birth, and as inscribed on the stones of the Breastplate. They include Joseph (but not Ephraim and Manasseh, who replace Joseph in the Camp Order) and Levi (who was reserved to the central Sanctuary in the Camp Order). Yet, the four walls of the city are analogous to the four sides of the Camp. The Gate Order in Ezekiel 48 is, in other words, a combination of elements of the Birth Order and the Camp Order. When the Zodiac positions of the Birthstones in Sefer ha-Zikhronot are applied to the appropriate patriarchs’ names in the Gate Order, each patriarch being allocated a Zodiac sign according to his Birthstone, not by the Camp Order allocation of the stones and signs to the tribes, we find that the three names on each side of the city form a triangle similar to the triangle in the Camp Order, except that one angle of the triangle in each case is off the isosceles position of the Camp Order by a single Zodiac sign. (See the Flash video of the Camp Order and Gate Order, click here [currently unavailable], or see the images infra.) This produces in each case an acute-angled triangle where one side runs along the same line as the Camp Order, but the two other sides are different. Since the order of stones in the New Jerusalem of Revelation, the Eternal Order, is the same as in the Camp Order, this indicates that the Ezekiel 48 Gate Order, is almost, but not quite, identical to the Eternal Order of the Heavenly City. It is the Gate Order of the camp of the saints at the end of the millennium reign, in a mid-way position between the kingdom of natural Israel (Birth Order) and the ultimate Messianic Age (Camp Order). It is one stage removed yet from the Eternal Order of the New Jerusalem, as the Heavenly City only descends from God after the Millennium and Judgment: hence one angle of each triangle is off by a single Zodiac sign.



Revelation 7:4-8 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

The order of tribes here is:













This is the Tribe Order of the 144,000 Messianic Israelites of Revelation 7. The Order is based on the Gate Order of Ezekiel 48, with the name Dan omitted, and the name Joseph standing in place of Ephraim as in Ezek. 48 (because of the idolatrous sanctuaries anciently located in their territories at Dan in the tribal territory of Dan, and Bethel in the tribal territory of Ephraim, which led to the obliteration of those tribes’ names “under heaven”, see Deteronomy 29. 18-20). The 144,000 Order runs round anticlockwise, beginning with Judah in first place on the middle gate of the North Side of the City in Ezek. 48 (because the 144,000 are the Temple Guard of the Messiah Son of David). The place of the missing tribe of Dan is supplied by adding Manasseh next to, and immediately before, Simeon, this place being given to Manasseh because Manasseh substituted for Simeon according to the Blessing of Jacob. Likewise Levi is moved to a position immediately following Simeon, as in the birth order of the sons of Israel, because, with the omission of Dan, Levi would otherwise have been left in the last position of the 12 sons, a place inappropriate for Levi, but natural for Benjamin, the last of the 12 in the birth order.