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Will it have a role in the reunification ofIsrael?


One of the most mysterious aspects of the clothing of the High Priest without any question is the URIM and THUMMIM.


Whereas the Breastplate of the Kohen Gadol was highly visible, the Urim and Thummim were inserted into a pocket behind the BREASTPLATE OF THE HIGH PRIEST – in Hebrew “CHOSEN MISHPAT” meaning – THE BREASTPLATE OF JUDGEMENT. Much mystery surrounds the nature and operation of the Urim and the Thummim. Thus the ‘invisible’ Urim and Thummim have acquired an almost ‘oracle-like’ reputation, as the High Priest, by consulting the Urim and Thummim was able to give a Heavenly answer to the most important questions facing the nation of Israel.


NO PERSON OTHER THAT MOSES AND AARON AND HIS HIGH PRIESTLY SUCCESSORS HAS EVER SEEN THE URIM AND THUMMIM. Today, there is nobody around to tell you what they, or it, might look like! There is a mystical aspect to these sacred artefacts, as they represent God’s Divine interaction with His chosen nation and people. The use of the Urim and the Thummim by the High Priest invariably was miraculous in every sense of the word. 


It is worthwhile for us to enquire into this considerable mystery to see what we can learn about these strange holy objects, through which God Himself used to give His Divine answer to the questions that were of national importance to His people Israel.




As we examine this most unusual subject we are bound to learn more about our GREAT GOD. Another reason why it is important to cover this subject is for us to pose the rather intriguing question:




HaUrim means the “Light”. Note that Messiah Yeshua is referred to as, “the Light of men”.  


“In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men”. (JOHN 1:4 NKJV).


HaThummim means “the Perfections” or “complete Truth”.

The URIM is mentioned SEVEN times in the Bible and it means “LIGHTS”. At the time of Chanukah, (the festival of Lights), this should therefore have special significance for those of us who are from the House of Judah.

The THUMMIM is mentioned FIVE times in the Scriptures and it means COMPLETENESS. The number “seven” itself denotes “completeness” also, whereas the number “five” means “grace.” If we measure the meaning by the number of times the Urim and Thummim are mentioned in the Scriptures we come up with COMPLETE OR PERFECT GRACE. Thus, you see, even the Urim and the Thummim are pointing us to our High Priest Messiah Yeshua.

Note also that 7+5 =12 and that the number 12 indicates “Perfect Government.” We know from the prophets that when the Two Houses of Israel are reunited into one Kingdom under the rule of her King Mashiach, perfect government will finally be established on the earth.

“For from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem.” (ISAIAH 2: 3B TANACH ARTSCROL STONE EDITION)

The Urim and Thummim together therefore speak of COMPLETE/PERFECT LIGHT.


The names of the twelve tribal patriarchs were engraved on the jewelled stones of the Breastplate of the High Priest as a ‘memorial’ or as a ‘remembrance’ so that God will see them and recall their righteousness.

(EXODUS 28: 15-21). 


On his chest Aaron, whose name means “Light bearer”, wore an ornament that was called THE CHOSEN MISHPAT OF JUDGMENT – THE BREASTPLATE OF JUDGMENT for two reasons:


1.     It atoned for erroneous decisions made by the courts of judgment


2.        In itself it provided clear rulings for the nation through the use of the Urim

        and the Thummim.


Whenever the Kohen Gadol entered the Sanctuary bearing on his breast the names of Jacob’s twelve sons, God would remember their righteousness and bring blessing upon their offspring according to their merit e.g. obedience to His Torah. Again can we not see how terribly significant this is? Here we have Aaron, the High Priest of Israel, an Israel that is comprised of all of the Twelve Tribes of Israel; wearing the Breastplate of Judgment ON HIS HEART. He has to wear it on his heart! On this same Breastplate are engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel!


“So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before God continually.” (EXODUS 28: 29).


Remember – this High Priest is merely a symbolic type of that GREAT ROYAL HIGH PRIEST - the Mashiach Ben David that is yet to come! THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL ARE RESTING ON THE VERY BREAST OF THE HIGH PRIEST. CAN WE SEE WHERE GOD’S HEART IS? 


The High Priest also wears two stones upon his shoulders that are inscribed with the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. We are speaking here of the High Priest of Israel! Aaron has to wear the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, so that God, looking on from above, can see the names of the Twelve Sons of Jacob written upon the shoulders of His appointed High Priest.


“Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: Six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall set them in settings of gold. And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel.  Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders as a memorial.” 

(EXODUS 28: 5-12 NKJV).


The breastplate was folded in half to form a pouch like pocket. Into it Moses was to insert a slip of parchment containing the ineffable and unutterable Name of GOD known as the Tetragrammaton.  


“And you shall put in the breastplate of judgement the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.” (EXODUS 28: 30).


According to Ramban, there was more than one Name. This Name was called ‘URIM’ from the word ‘LIGHT’, because it would cause individual letters of the tribal names on the Breastplate to light up; and it was called THUMMIM from the word COMPLETENESS, because, if read in the proper order, these luminous letters presented complete and true answers to the questions of national import that the High Priest would ask of God.


The process of asking for Divine aid through the ‘Urim’ and ‘Thummim’ was done as follows: When a question of national importance arose, such as, for example, the question of whether or not to go to war – then, the king of Israel (or the commanding army officer) would ask this question of the High Priest. The Kohen Godal (High Priest) would stand facing the ark of testimony, and the questioner stood behind him, facing the High Priest’s back. The questioner did not speak aloud but posed his question quietly, to himself, like someone who prays in silence before His Creator. The High Priest enveloped by the spirit of Divine inspiration, gazed at the Breastplate and, by meditating upon the Holy names of God, was able to receive the answer through a prophetic vision. The letters on the stones of the Breastplate would light up and shine forth with a bright luminous light to spell out the answer to the question.

(From: The Holy Temple of Jerusalem, 1997, page 39, by Rabbi Chaim Richman)


Josephus Flavius – the great Jewish historian writes that the jewelled Stones in the Breastplate also shone brilliantly when Israel went forth into battle. This was considered as an auspicious sign for their victory.  He writes as follows:


Yet will I mention what is still more wonderful than this; for Adonai declared beforehand, by those twelve gems which the High Priest bare on his breast and which were inserted into his breastplate, when they should be victorious in battle; for so great a splendour shone forth from them before the army began to march that all the people were sensible of Adonai’s being present for their assistance”.



The twelve precious gems that were worn by the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) when doing service in the Miskhan (Tabernacle) or the Mikdash (Temple) represented the Whole House of Israel. They also presented Israel as a treasure!

If you were to take the twelve precious stones and placed them together in a soft leather pouch in your safety box, they become treasure, and this is exactly what is being symbolically conveyed to us, Israel as a treasure to Hashem. We have affirmation of this in the Torah:


“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine.”



King David confirms the same concept in:


“For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.”

(PSALMS 135: 4 NKJV)


It is through this Breastplate of the High priest that we can discern how important Israel is to God. We can tell from the twelve stones engraved with the names of each of the twelve tribes that God is concerned about all of the descendants of each of the twelve sons of Jacob. Every tribe is a precious gem that contributes to the nation as a whole. Clearly, Hashem is not merely concerned with the Jews alone, but His special concern extends equally to all twelve tribal sons of Jacob. Whereas, the Jews have largely, at least in part remained faithful to His Torah and His Sabbath, the other sheep of His Israelite flock have sadly gone disastrously astray.


The Prophet Jeremiah most emphatically speaks of the day when the LORD promises to, "MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH."  This is the time not too far ahead of us now, when YHVH, the Holy One of Israel will perform the final act of His redemption:


(JEREMIAH 31: 31-34 SEE ALSO JEREMIAH 30: 3-4).


So, what of this restoration of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, when the House of Israel and the House of Judah are finally reunited into one Kingdom again?


Will the URIM and THUMMIM be employed again? Might it be that the URIM and THUMMIM will one day be re-instated and used again? The Scriptures give us an interesting hint that this may indeed be the case.


The last time the URIM and THUMMIM are mentioned in the Bible is in the Book of Nehemiah. The occasion concerns a group of men returning from their captivity in Babylon who could not identify their father's house or their lineage, or even whether they were of Israel . (NEHEMIAH 7: 61). Some of them sought their listing by genealogy to no avail and hence they were excluded from the priesthood. The problem was resolved when the governor suggested that the Urim and Thummim should be consulted to determine the issue.

(NEHEMIAH 7: 64-65)


Notice that on this occasion they are used not to decide crucial questions of war and peace, but instead they are used to determine the identity and ancestry of Lost Israelites who have lost the knowledge of their true origins. Might this possibly present a pattern for the future? These people here were the re-gathered remnant from the Babylonian exile. Yet the Urim and Thummim are used to help identify true Jews who had completely lost their records and proofs of their identities, and some of them according to the account were even of priestly families. They knew they were Jews but they could not prove it. They had come six to eight hundred miles from Babylon and they desperately wanted to be part of those who were rebuilding Jerusalem.


Think how many millions of Israelites there are in the world today. In their spirit they sense their Israelite ancestry, yet, most of them have no idea from which tribe they originate. Think about that remnant which is prophesied to return to Zion. They will have made their journey whilst being battered by the travails of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble in that Great Second Exodus the prophets have spoken of. They have come through a holocaust more terrible than the first. How many of them will have lost their records, their identities with most of them not knowing who or what they are, yet some of them are Jews, some are of Issachar and Zebulon, whilst others are of Ephraim, Manasseh, Naphtali, or Reuben. Yet all of them are guided by an Unseen Hand which is leading them back to the land of their fathers in Eretz Israel.  




MIGHT IT THEREFORE NOT BE CONCEIVABLE, especially in view of the precedent that was set in the days of Nehemiah, that the URIM AND THUMMIM WILL BE USED AGAIN TO ASSIST IN THIS FINAL REGATHERING?


To sort out, to clarify, to make sure, without a shadow of a doubt, by this Divinely ordained miraculous process, who is who, from what tribe they originate, and what their genealogical origins are. We know from the example in the book of Nehemiah that it has already been done by this very same method. The pattern is there for us to see. We have seen that the Urim and Thummim were indeed used to establish the ancestry of those Babylonian returnees. Thus we have observed the former fulfilment, who is to say therefore that we are not going to see the latter fulfilment also? 


The return in the days of Nehemiah was on a very small scale, less than fifty thousand souls, the second exodus speaks of multiple millions returning, and thus the latter fulfilment is destined to be on a far greater scale.


There are Scriptures, among other places in the last few chapters of the Book of Ezekiel, which indicate that each tribe will be allocated its own tribal territories.


Thus says the Lord GOD: “These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance.”

(EZEKIEL 47:13-14)


In those territories some of us may even be given the very same parcels of land that formerly belonged to our ancestors! How can this possibly happen if we do not know who our ancestors are or even which tribe we belong to? One thing we can be sure of and that is that HaShem, the Holy One of Israel has it all in hand.  May His will be done!


Stephen J Spykerman


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