Stones of Heavens - Midrash and Yhoshua

(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Stones of Heavens: Midrash and Yhoshua”. brakha.blogspot.com.)

Due to time constraints this is an unfinished roughdraft to finish soon.

Remarkably, the list of the twelve gems in Midrash Raba by the Rabanim (Rabbis), in the book of Shmot Raba, seems identical to the list in the New Testament by the students of Yhoshua (Historical Jesus), in the book of Khazon Yhokhanan (Revelation of John).

The twelve different types of gems decorate the Khoshen חשן amulet that Kohen Ha'Mashiakh כהן המשיח (anointed priest) wears to enter the holiest area of the presence of God. Each is the official gem of one of the twelve tribes of Yisrael (Israel).

The list of the gem types that survives in Greek in the New Testament, in the book of Khazon Yhokhanan 21'19-20, is unusual. It differs from the Greek list in the Targum Hashivim (Septuagint Greek Bible), by updating the Greek gem names to Huakinthos υακινθος, Khalkėdȯn χαλκηδων, and so on. This list in Khazon represents the gem names that Yhoshua יהושע (Historical Jesus) and his students know during the Classical Age circa 00s.

About a thousand years later, during the Medieval Age circa 1000s, a similar list survives in Hebrew in Midrash Raba, in the book of Shmot Raba 38'10. The list is Hebrew, but its gem names derive clearly derive from Greek loanwords, such as Daykintin דייקינתין being a variant of Hebrew *Hyakintin הְיַקִינְתִּין from Greek Hyakinthos, and Bardinin ברדינין probably being a scribal copying variant of *Kardonin כַּרְדּוֹנִין , a contraction of *Karkdonin כַּרְכְדּוֹנִין from Greek Kalkhėdȯn. (For Hebrew Karkdonim compare the Latin variant Carcedonius in the Vulgate Latin Bible circa 300s to refer to the same gem name.)

Note: The copying variants in this list in Shmot Raba evidence, the Rabanim do not quote these gem names directly from a Greek source, but rather preserve their own list of gem names in Hebrew, that the scribes recopy a number of times, thus transmitting the names since ancient times. It is an independent Rabani tradition.

The medieval Rabanim and the ancient students of Yhoshua share this same Tora tradition to identify the twelve tribal gems.

Regarding the Rabanim, the list in the book of Khazon by the students of Yhoshua demonstrates the antiquity of the Tora tradition - already existing about a thousand years earlier.

Regarding the students of Yhoshua, this list in the book of Shmot Raba by the Rabanim demonstrates the Yahadut (“Jewishness”) of the Tora tradition that Yhoshua upholds.

The gem list in Shmot Raba that the medieval Rabanim copy is already ancient.

The Rabanim seem to preserve this list, generation after generation, for almost a thousand years. The list is in Hebrew, but most of these Hebrew gem names - probably all of these Hebrew gem names - derive from the Greek gem names. As such, the Hebrew names function as technical terms (somewhat analogous to modern scientific nomenclature) to specify the merchandise of the international gem trade across the Roman Empire.

This Hebrew list originates during the Classical Age, probably as early as circa 00s (first century CE). It uses the same gemological nomenclature as do the book of Khazon, the books by Titus Iosephus Flavia (Flavia Josephus), and as the encyclopedic books of Naturalis Historia (Natural History) by Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder). All of these writers flourish during the 00s, and the Hebrew list preserves this same terminology.

During the Classical Age circa 00s, the Temple of God stands in Yrushalayim ירושלים (Jerusalem), the capital city of Yhuda יהודה (Judea). Pilgrimage there from the across the known world brings enormous wealth to the city. Gold, silver, and the costliest gems adorn the aboriginal sacred traditions of Yisrael. Since the days of the Hashmonim (Hasmoneans), the Kohanim (priests) are the sovereign leaders of the Yhudim יהודים (Judeans), especially after the secular kings and governors are representatives of Rome. Moreover, Yrushalayim includes a significant minority of Greek-speaking “Hellenist” Yhudim. Note: The Greek gem names that actually derive from Hebrew - such as Greek Sapphiros from Hebrew Sapir ספיר and Greek To-pazd-ion from Hebrew Pitda פטדה - evidence the Yhudim to enjoy a significantly presence in the international gem trade since ancient times. The land of Yisrael is part of the links between Rome and Bavli בבלי (Babylon), and via the Red Sea even part of the links between Rome and India. Apparently, there are Hebrew-speakers during the 00s who know the Greek gem names because of their participation in the international trade for gems.

These ancient Yhudi lapidaries - gem dealers - are probably the authorship that ultimately produces the list of gem names that the Rabanim mention in Shmot Raba.

The Hebrew gem list is an independent tradition. It doesnt simply copy an ancient text, such as that of Khazon, Iosephus, or Plinius.

If the Hebrew list already exists during the 00s, then the book of Khazon Yhokhanan probably knows it, so that its gem names in Greek actually refers to the Hebrew international gem nomenclature as it pertains to the gems that the Kohen Ha'Mashiakh wears in the sacred Khoshen amulet.

The Hebrew list of these gem names seems to already exist by the 300s. At that time, Hieronymus (Saint Jerome) seems to refer to it for his Vulgate Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible. He lives in the land of Yisrael, in the coastal city of Caesarea. He frequently consults with the Rabanim there to explain obscure Hebrew words. It seems his original spelling in Latin, Carcedonius, with an -r- to represent the Greek gem name Khalkedon with an -l-, seems to derive directly from the Hebrew gem name *Karkdonin כַּרְכְּדוֹנִין.

Note: This particular gem, Karkdonin, derives from the name of the ancient city of “Carthage” in today Tunisia, and not from the ancient city of “Kalkedon” in today Turkey. Notably, both of these names come from the same Canaanite Kart-Khadsha קרת חדשה meaning “New Town” and referring to a colony of the seafaring Knaanim (Canaanites) of today Lebanon. It makes sense the gem corresponds to Carthage, since the same gems of that city also tend to exist in Mitsrayim (Egypt). The tribes of Yisrael get these twelve gems during the Bronze Age, from Mitsrayim.

During the Classical Age circa 00s, Plinius describes the gem of Carthage as a dark gem that gleams a fiery orange-red light when held up to the sun. Evidently, this is the same gem that today calls the garnet - a dark variety of it - and is identical to the same gem that Targum Hashivim (Septuagint Greek Bible) calls Anthraks, meaning an ember of burning “coal” in Greek. Moreover, this is identical to the Latin loan translation Carbunculus, which also means “coal”, and that Hieronymus uses elsewhere as the name for this same garnet gem.

Indeed the Mitsriyim (Egyptians) use garnets in their amulets during the Bronze Age.

In sum, the garnet stone in the Khoshen, that comes from the gems of Mitsrayim during the Bronze Age, appears during the Classical Age in Greek in Targum Hashivim as the name Anthraks, but appears in Greek in the New Testament as Khalkedon. Notably, this gem name apparently refers to the name of the city, Carthage, in today Tunisia that is famous for garnet, rather than to the city in Turkey that shares a related name. In the 300s, this garnet appears in Latin in the Vulgate Bible as Carbunculus that translates Greek Anthraks exactly and as Carcedonius that refers to Carthage. This Latin name Carcedonius appears to correspond to the Hebrew technical name for this garnet, Karkdonin, thus corroborates the existence circa 300s of the gem list that the later medieval Rabanim refer to in Shmot Raba.

In the Hebrew gem list, the twelve gem names are part of the living Hebrew language and evidence natural linguistic shifts. Its existence within a living Hebrew language also points to the early date.

Example: The name for the purple quartz - also known as amethyst - exemplifies the linguistic shifts that most of the gem names undergo in the Rabani Hebrew list.

Ultimately, the Greek name Amethustos αμεθυστος evolves into the Hebrew name *Hemesiyin הֵימֵיסִּיִין .

When Hebrew first borrows the Greek name Amethustos, the Hebrew lacks certain Greek sounds. The distinctive Greek -u- (rounded high front) vowel sometimes approximates as the Hebrew -u- (rounded high back) vowel or else the Hebrew -i- (unrounded high front) vowel, depending on the context of nearby sounds. Here, the -u- in Greek Amethustos approximates to the -i- in Hebrew Amethistos. But then Hebrew adds the suffix -in ין . This is the classical Greek diminutive suffix -ion -ιον , but signifies precisely the later pronunciation per the international Koine Greek as -in. (Klein. “ין”. Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language.) Thus the original Hebrew gem name deriving from Greek circa 00s, and serving as the professional nomenclature for the purple quartz in the gem trade, reconstructs as something like: *Ametistin אֲמֶתִּיסְטִין in Hebrew.

However this original approximation is unstable, and shifts.

The syllable stress from the -e- in Greek Amethustos to the final syllable -in in Hebrew *Ametistin causes a rapid succession of sounds.

Hebrew finds it awkward to pronounce two nearby -t- sounds in Greek loanwords and often reduces them to one. Thus in the context of resolving the shortened syllables, *Ametistin swaps the sounds of the consonant -t- and vowel -i- (metathesizing), tentatively *Ameitsĕtin אֲמֶיִתְּסְטִין with the vowels merging to a monosyllabic *Ametsĕtin אֲמֵיתְּסְטִין , and finally the aspirated -t- sound assimilating into the oncoming nearby -t- sound: *Amesĕtin אֲמֵיסְּטִין . To prevent contracting the initial ultrashort vowel into nothing, the initial syllable expands into a long vowel while assimilating into the oncoming -e- vowel: *Emesĕtin אֵמֵיסְּטִין . While expanding, the initial vowel also aspirates. Hebrew often does this for Greek loanwords. (Compare Greek Sunedros that becomes Hebrew Sanhedrin, when the addition of the Greek diminutive suffix -ion, actually -in, mark a Greek loanword, but shifts the stress of vowels, while the distinctive Greek -u- approximates into Hebrew as unstressed -i-, likely -ĕ-, whence -a-, and while -e- aspirates into -he-.) So far: *Hemesĕtin הֵמֵיסְּטִין . Probably later, this -t- weakens, assimilating (palletizing) among the -s-, ultrashort -ĕ-, and oncoming -i-, thus forming a -y-: *Hemesyin הֵימֵיסְּיִין .

The result: The Greek loanword Amethustos enters Hebrew as *Ametistin אֲמֶתִּיסְטִין but morphs into *Hemesyin הֵימֵיסְּיִין as part of the rhythm of the living Hebrew language.

The surviving form of the gem name in texts is, Hemesyon הֵימֵיסְּיוֹן . Probably, the -o- is a copying variant by scribe who is unfamiliar with the obscure Hebrew technical term and who visually reinterprets an ambiguous form of -י- as -ו- , thus an -o- instead of the original -i-. The accumulation of scribal variants evidences the passage of time. This list that the Rabanim cite appears many centuries old.

The gem list of the Shmot Raba evidences spoken Hebrew. Hebrew-speakers adapt these Greek technical terms as part of the rhythm of the everyday Hebrew language. Hebrew ceases to be a language of common speech circa 300, in the aftermath of the genocide of the Yhudim in Yhuda (Judea) that culminates the Bar Kokhba War circa 135. Thus the names probably derive before 300.

The Hebrew names in this list already exist during the 300s. One of the gem names survives as ברדינין , at first glance this looks something like Bardinim, a meaningless word. Most scholars agree this name must somehow be a scribal “garble” of the Hebrew gem name Kadkod כַּדְכֹּד . I agree, but the variant isnt as drastic as it seems. It seems obvious to me, the Hebrew letters ברדינין are a scribal variant of כרדונין . Rereading these letters this way is common in Hebrew even with the best handwriting. Thus the Hebrew Gem name is actually Kardonim כַּרְדּוֹנִין




(Jewish Antiquities)
Khazon Yhokhanon

(Revelation of John)

Vulgate Bible

/ Plinius
Reconstruct of original classical Hebrew gem names

Extent of later medieval Hebrew gem names

Shmot Raba

/ Achates
/ Perileucos


Yhoshua, Yhudim and Notsrim

(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Comment: Yhoshua, Yhudim and Notsrim”. brakha.blogspot.com.)

Jewish Ideas Daily publishes a book review about the “Jesus question”. Namely, how to understand the ancient Yhoshua (Historical Jesus) within the context of the Tora (Judaism).

(Chagall, Marc. ©1943. “Yellow Crucifixion”. Online: Jewish Ideas Daily.

Eve Levavi Feinstein reviews the following book about Yhoshua, his place within Tora, and by extension the implications for the modern friendship between Yhudim (Jews) and Notsrim (Christians).

• The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, Reclamation. Edited by Garber, Zev. ©2011.

(The Jewish Jesus. Online: www.thepress.purdue.edu.
www.thepress.purdue.edu/titles/format/9781557535795, 2011.)

The Jewish Jesus is a collection of essays whose topics range from the ancient Yhoshua doing the Tora to modern Yhudi scholars reclaiming him as a Yhudi spiritual figure.

The review concludes cautiously:

“It may certainly be argued that beliefs such as these are not beyond the pale of traditional rabbinic Judaism.

Yet it is difficult to imagine that they will be widely accepted within the Jewish community any time soon, making them a questionable basis for genuine inter-communal dialogue.

Moreover, as none of the Jewish thinkers cited in these essays accepts the core Christian doctrines of the resurrection and full divinity of Jesus, the gulf between mainstream Jewish and Christian views of Jesus remains quite wide.

For Jews, learning to understand and respect Christian views about Jesus - without necessarily accepting them - may be more fruitful than attempting to claim him as one of our own.”

In sum, Yhoshua seems true to Tora. There are ways to understand him within Tora. At the same time, the Tora is unable to entertain the “full divinity” of Yhoshua - namely, unable to worship a human as if a human is God.

Even so, it seems to me, Notsrim have enough ideological room to bridge the gulf.

Thus the modern reclamation of Yhoshua as a Yhudi is valuable because it clarifies how Notsrim connect to the Tora.

Rather than Yhudim needing to embrace the theology of Notsrim, Notsrim can bridge the difference, by understanding the teachings of Yhoshua within the context of the Tora.

Yhoshua, like any human, is to be “one” with God. Even so, God isnt a human. God is utterly beyond any human, including beyond the human Yhoshua.

And so on within the context of the Tora - especially within the concepts of Kabala (Jewish spirituality) - it is possible for Notsrim to reexplain the theology to clarify its monotheism.

I believe it is possible, for Yhudim and Notsrim to form a spiritual alliance.

More than a friendship among those who agree to disagree, it seems to me possible to arrive at a mutual understanding.

The bridge between Yhudim and Notsrim has something to do with the following:

• See Yhoshua as one among many Yhudim,
• See the ongoing Tora among all Yhudim as the spiritual authority,
• See the spiritual necessity of both Yhudim and Non-Yhudim,
• See why Yhudim need to do Tora, and why Non-Yhudim dont need to do Tora.
• See Non-Yhudi students of Yhoshua as God-fearers, a kind of Gerim, thus part of the spiritual community of Yisrael.

See Also:
Jewish Ideas Daily. ©2011. jewishideasdaily.com, 2011.
• Feinstein, Eve Levavi. ©2011. “Jesus for Jews”. jewishideasdaily.com.
www.jewishideasdaily.com/content/module/2011/6/15/main-feature/1/jesus-for-jews, 2011.
• The Jewish Jesus: Revelation, Reflection, and Reclamation. Edited by Galber, Zev. ©2011. Purdue University Press.
www.thepress.purdue.edu/titles/format/9781557535795, 2011.


Stones of Heavens - Bareket Stone

(Vere, Stein- Atle. ©2011. “Stones of Heavens - Bareket Stone”.

Among the twelve stones of heavens, the one that Hebrew calls the Bareket stone is probably the green beryl. Namely the emerald.

The green beryl is native to the land of Mitsrayim מצרים (Egypt). During the Bronze Age, the Mitsrim (Egyptians) know it and carve amulets from it, even mine for it.

The nomadic tribes of Yisrael ישראל (Israel) are also in Mitsrayim during this time. The tribes have access to this gem, when they determine the twelve gems for the Khoshen amulet.

(Vere, Stein-Atle. ©2011. “Stones of Heavens - Bareket Stone- Green Beryl - Egyptian Emerald - Hippo.” brakha.blogspot.com.
From the land of Mitsrayim מצרים (Egypt) during the Bronze Age circa -1900s, hippopotamus amulet carving in a Bareket stone ברקת - namely green beryl.
Source of image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ©2000. “Hippos Head”. Egyptian. Dynasty 12. Beryl.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/10.130.2310, 2011.)

The stones of heavens are those twelve gems that adorn the Khoshen חשן (“Chestpouch” amulet). The Kohen Ha'Mashiakh כהן המשיח (Anointed Priest) wears it over his chest to enter the holiest area of the presence of God. Originally, a nomadic Tent-Shrine.

During the Bronze Age, in my view circa -1590, the nomads of Yisrael carve these gems. Per the book of Shmot שמות (Exodus) of the Tora תורה in the Tanakh תנך (Hebrew Bible), they do so while returning from the land of Mitsrayim (Egypt) back to the land of Yisrael.

There is one gem per tribe. Each gem is a different kind, especially to exibit a different tribal color.

These gems come from Bronze Age Mitsrayim.

During the Iron Age circa -600s, the scribes of the Tanakh probably update the transmission with the contemporary forms of the gem names. The book of Shmot (Exodus 28'17) identifies one of the twelve as the Bareket stone ברקת .

During the Classical Age, circa -200s, the book of Targum Hashivim תרגום השבעים (Septuagint Greek Bible) translates the Hebrew Tanakh into Greek. Targum Hashivim actually borrows the Hebrew gem name Bareket as a loanword to form the Greek gem name Smaragdos σμάραγδος. (Klein, Earnest. ©1987. “ברקת”. Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language.) The letters of Maragd in S-maragd-os correspond to the Hebrew letters of Bareket.

Later circa 00s, in Latin, Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder) describes this Smaragdus stone in some detail. He clearly means the green beryl, the emerald. He mentions Aegyptus (Egypt), namely Mitsrayim, as one of its sources, and identifies its crystalline form with the light green-blue beryl, the aquamarine, that he refers to as the Beryllus stone. There are complications in the evidence, such as there being more than one kind of Smaragdos because of other stones that are Smaragodos-green in color.

Nevertheless, the primary meaning of Smargados is the green beryl, and its etymological meaning is the Bareket stone itself.

Significantly, the emerald exists in the material culture of the land of Mitsrayim, during the Bronze Age.

This green beryl especially appears during Dynasty 12 and Dynasty 13 of the pharaohs of Thebes. Precisely when, in my view, the nomadic tribes of Yisrael are there.

The Mitsrim carve the emerald to use as amulets.

(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Stones of Heavens - Bareket Stone - Green Beryl - Egyptian Emerald - Fish”. brakha.blogspot.com.
From the land of Mitsrayim (Egypt), during the Bronze Age circa -1900s to -1600s, a fish amulet carving in a Bareket stone, namely green beryl.
Source of image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. ©2000. “Fish”. Beryl. Egyptian. Dynasty 12-13. Lisht North, Tomb L847.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/09.180.1182, 2011.)

The Bronze Age emerald of Mitsrayim tends to be rough, often aggregating other minerals.

It also tends toward light green. Misleadingly, modern gemologists sometimes avoid calling it “emerald” because they prefer to reserve this word for only deep-green beryl. (Similarly, gemologists avoid calling red corundum “ruby” if the red is light “pink”.) Chemically, despite aggregates that tinge its color, the green beryl of Mitsrayim is true emerald - being neither the green-blue aquamarine nor green-yellow heliodor.

During the Bronze Age, most of the emerald is chance finds. Even so, the Mitsri culture pioneers minerological technologies, including mining for gold, copper, rock, and so on. They seek and utilize various minerals for glass, glazes, paint pigments, even to create artificial gems, and so on. Their surveys for various minerals help discover more emeralds.

Indeed, one of the mines at the Cleoptra Emerald Mines in Mitsrayim, reveals tools from early mining activity there, during the Bronze Age.

In sum.

The green beryl - the emerald - exists in ancient Mitsrayim. The tribes of Yisrael can access this gem, when carving the twelve gems of the Khoshen. The Greeks and Romans identify one of these twelve gems, namely the Bareket stone, as Smaragdos and Smaragdus, and clearly describe it as an emerald.

Among the twelve stones of heavens, the Bareket stone is probably green beryl.


Midrash Raba: Shmot Raba 38'

(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Midrash Raba: Shmot Raba 38'”. brakha.blogspot.com.)

The passage below comes amid an ongoing discussion.

At this point, the precise wording of the Tora תורה - the five books that begin the Tanakh תנך (Hebrew Bible) - seems to imply:

Moshe (Moses of the Tora) must do something ... to make the tribes of Yisrael holy to God ... for the sake of Aharon that is to found the family of Kohanim (Priests).

(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Midrasha Raba. Shmot Raba 38”. brakha.blogspot.com.
Source of derivation: Midrash Raba - Shmot Raba 38'. Version ©1960, New York.
Online: Hebrew Books.
hebrewbooks.org/14385, 2011.)

The Rabanim (Rabbis) explore in what sense Yisrael makes this Kohen (Priest) holy, and what it is that God is doing here.

One Rabi (Rabbi) proposes how Yisrael is holy and how this protects the Kohen:

Yisrael becomes holy by means their “treaty” ברית with God, specifically the treaty of circumcision that consecrates the kinship system of Yisrael to God, and God alone. This treaty is a spiritual force - a concept that is “alongside” the Kohen - that promotes “lifes and peace”. In some sense, the presence of the communal circumcision literally prevents the Kohen from dying in the overwhelming presence of God.

Note: The understanding intrigues. Society itself is a kind of entity that has the power to make people “holy”, even to safeguard them during mystical events - existential, transcendent experiences. Moreover consecrating the society as holy to God makes the power of the society holy to God.

The consensus of the Rabanim accepts this view.

Yet even in the consensus, the Rabanim explore deeper.

An other is “saying”, is debating, there is more at work spiritually. It isnt only the consecration of Yisrael that protects the Kohen. It is the very fact this society divides into twelve that protects the Kohen. Moreover, it is the fact each of these subcultures has its own unique identity. Its own name.

It is precisely the diversity of the society of Yisrael (Israel) that makes the Kohen holy.

Note: Twelve is a compelling number. From the twelve lunar cycles per solar year, to the twelve zodiacs mapping the heavens, to the twelve tribes of Yisreli (Israeli) society, even to the horoscopes sotospeak that assign unique personalities to each of the twelve - twelve is an archetype. This archetype seems to resonate the dynamic interrelationships of a society. It includes both the strengths and the weaknesses of each of the twelve. Archeologically, what reveals the unique presence of humanity is the creation of geometric shapes. Humans have a biological impulse to organize reality numerically. The experience of 'twelve' is complex. It is difficult to contemplate twelve different concepts simultaneously. Twelve seems to 'multiply' the simpler experiences of the 'place-ness' of four - within the cosmic map of the four directions of the cosmos that are ultimately forward, backward, right, and left - with the dynamic 'unfinished-ness' of three. As abstract as twelve is, it is vivid. It is vivid enough to even make the abstraction of thirteen vivid. Where twelve evokes the dynamic interaction of society, among each other, thirteen evokes the entire society itself interacting with the unknown. On the one hand, the unknown can evoke fear and danger. On the other hand, the unknown can evoke opportunity, curiosity, discovery, unlimited potential. Ultimately, when healthy, the number thirteen represents the relationship of a society with the infinite - thus becoming an infinite society who can adapt with anything the infinite reveals. Perhaps mathematically, twelve is a minimal or optimal number for the self-sustaining dynamic equilibrium of society, but in any case, twelve seems to psychologically - probably neurologically - connote such.

So each of the twelve tribes is unique. To enter the presence of God, the Kohen must clothe himself with twelve gems, where each gem conveys the uniqueness of each tribe by a unique name.

It is the diversity of Yisraeli society that makes it possible for the Kohen to enter the infinite.

The Rabanim agree: It is the unique identity of each tribe that makes the Kohen holy.

To emphasize the necessity of unique subcultures, the Rabanim mention an ancient list that correlates the unique name of each tribe with the uniqe kind of gem that exhibits its name.

This list that the Rabanim hold up as an authority is itself remarkable. I discuss it in more detail elsewhere. It appears to be a copy of an ancient document. The document itself now appears to be lost, but fortunately its content is now part of the Rabani content, and survives.

When the Rabanim cite this document, they do so to emphasize the exact sequence of tribal names.

Without more comment, their point seems to be: What makes the tribes holy is not just the uniqueness of each tribe, but these twelve unique tribes working together as a single whole. It is the unity in diversity, where an entire tribe functions as a member of a team of tribes. Tribe by tribe, they negotiate with each other to communicate their various needs, but then to prioritize - hierarchize - the goals that they are to achieve together.

A tribe is to achieve its own tribal goals, only if they are within the framework of the wider intertribal goals, that all the tribes determine collectively by negotiation.

Shmot Raba
aka Shemot Rabba, Exodus Rabbah.

שמות רבה
(Translated by Stein-Atle Vere. ©2011. brakha.blogspot.com.)

‹There is› an other talk ‹to explicate the words in the Tora in an other way›.

«And ‹the word› ‛this’ is the talk [that you ‹Moshe› will do for them ‹of Yisrael›, to make them holy, for the Kohen, to me].»
(Shmot 29'1) (Exodus).

By which merit ‹of Yisrael› was Aharon ‹the Kohen› entering into the House of the Holinesses of the Holinesses?

Rabi Khanina his child - that belongs to Rabi Yishmael - said:

The merit of the circumcision was entering with him.

‹As it› that ‹is› said ‹in the Tanakh›:

«By ‹the word› ‛this’, Aharon will come.»
(Vayikra 16'3) (Leviticus).

This ‹is› the circumcision.

As what ‹it is› that you are saying ‹when reading out loud the Tanakh›:

«‹The word› ‛this’ ‹is› my treaty ‹of circumcision› that you ones will guard.» (Breshit 17'10) (Genesis).

And thusly it is saying:

«My treaty was alongside him ‹as› the lifes and the peace.» (Malakhi 2'5) (Malachi).

ד״א .

" וְזֶה הַדָּבָר . " (שמות כט' א . )

באי זה זכות היה אהרן נכנס לבית קדשי הקדשים ?

א״ר חנינא בנו של רבי ישמעאל :

זכות המילה היתה נכנסת עמו .

שנאמר :

" בזאת יבא אהרן . " (ויקרא טז' ג . )
זו המילה .

כמה דאת אמר :

"זאת בריתי אשר תשמרו . " (בראשית יז' י . )

וכן הוא אומר :

" בריתי היתה אתו החיים והשלום . " (מלאכי ב' ה . )

Rabi Yitskhak ‹was› saying:

The merit of the tribes was entering with him.

‹As it› that ‹is› being said:
«And ‹the word› ‛this’ ‹is› the talk that you will do for them.»

‹Per Gmatrya numerology› the count of ‹the numerical value of the letters in the word› ‛this’ ‹is› twelve.

And these are the twelve stones that were given on his heart - that belongs to Aharon. On them ‹is› the names of the tribes.

ר׳ יצחק אומר :

זכות השבטים היתה נכנסת עמו .

שנאמר : " וְזֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה לָהֶם . "

מנין זה י"ב .

ואלו הן י״ב אבנים שהיו נתונות על לבו של אהרן .  ועליהם שמות השבטים .

And as this order, ‹the names on the twelve stones› are given:

וכסדר הזה היו נתונות :

Ruven (Reuben):  sdrgnyn.
Shimon (Simeon):  swmpwzyn.
Levi (Levi):  dyyknytyn.
Yhuda (Judah):  brdynyn.
Yissakhar (Issachar):  Sanpirinon.
Zvulun (Zebulon):  Ismaragdin.
Dan (Dan):  kwklyn.
Naftali (Naphtali):  'b'tys.
Gad (Gad):  hymysywn.
Asher (Asher):  krwmtysyn.
Yosef (Joseph):  pr'lwkyn.
Binyamin (Benjamin):  mrglytws.

ראובן : שדרגנין .
שמעון : שימפוזין .
לוי : דייקינתין .
יהודה : ברדינין .
יששכר : סנפרינון .
זבולון : אסמרגדין .
דן : כוחלין .
נפתלי : אבאטיס .
גד : הימיסיון .
אשר : קרומטסין .
יוסף : פראלוקין .
בנימין : מרגליטוס .

Note: In the last section above, the gem names frequently accumulate scribal variants. Example: In the image, the letters פימיסיון appear where the tradition expects the gem name הימיסיון . Thus I standardize the name forms per Jastrow per their critically attested forms. These gem names are Hebrew but obscure technical terms probably deriving from ancient lapidaries who trade in gems. Many scribes are unfamiliar with these terms, thus unable to recognize ambiguous letters or oppositely have the motive to update the tradition to introduce a clearer meaning. I transliterate most of the gem names as letters only, so they appear unclear similar to the unclarity of the Hebrew originals that the scribes copy. I will discuss the forms, origins, and meanings of these gem names elsewhere.