The choshen was the breastplate worn by the High Priest, the chief religious official of the Israelites until the fall of the Second Temple. The details of this magnificent garment are described in the book of Shemot (Exodus): twelve different kinds of jewels framed in gold, distributed over four rows, and attached to the ephod (a kind of linen outer apron), below which dangled rings and chains of precious metal, fruit made of yarn, and other decorative elements. (God is in the details, as Mies van der Rohe observed.) You might think, from the sheer number of words over multiple Torah portions used, that the chosen, ephod, and robe to which they were attached were over the top and festooned with bling. Not so. They are simple and elegant, geometrically clean and modern, and would not look out of place on today's fashion runways.
This design of this print, based on a stained-glass window in the sanctuary of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun that I see whenever I turn east for the Amidah, is created with text from Parashat Pekudei.
(The print version with English translation includes a short portion of those texts.)
Text: Parashat Pekudei, 39:8-26
8 The breastpiece was made in the style of the ephod: of gold, blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen.
9 It was square; they made the breastpiece doubled — a span in length and a span in width, doubled.
10 They set in it four rows of stones. The first row was a row of carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald;
11 the second row: a turquoise, a sapphire, and an amethyst;
12 the third row: a jacinth, an agate, and a crystal;
13 and the fourth row: a beryl, a lapis lazuli, and a jasper. They were encircled in their mountings with frames of gold. 14 The stones corresponded [in number] to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, corresponding to their names; engraved like seals, each with its name, for the twelve tribes.
15 On the breastpiece they made braided chains of corded work in pure gold.
16 They made two frames of gold and two rings of gold, and fastened the two rings at the two ends of the breastpiece,
17 attaching the two golden cords to the two rings at the ends of the breastpiece.
18 They then fastened the two ends of the cords to the two frames, attaching them to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, at the front.
19 They made two rings of gold and attached them to the two ends of the breastpiece, at its inner edge, which faced the ephod.
20 They made two other rings of gold and fastened them on the front of the ephod, low on the two shoulder-pieces, close to its seam above the decorated band.
21 The breastpiece was held in place by a cord of blue from its rings to the rings of the ephod, so that the breastpiece rested on the decorated band and did not come loose from the ephod — as the Lord had commanded Moses.
22 The robe for the ephod was made of woven work, of pure blue.
23 The opening of the robe, in the middle of it, was like the opening of a coat of mail, with a binding around the opening, so that it would not tear.
24 On the hem of the robe they made pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, twisted.
25 They also made bells of pure gold, and attached the bells between the pomegranates, all around the hem of the robe, between the pomegranates:
26 a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, all around the them of the robe for officiating in — as the Lord had commanded Moses.
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