on Exodus 28 :30
Thou shalt put in the breastplate - the Urim and the Thummim - What these were has, I believe, never yet been discovered.
1. They are nowhere described.
2. There is no direction given to Moses or any other how to make them.
3. Whatever they were, they do not appear to have been made on this occasion.
4. If they were the work of man at all, they must have been the articles in the ancient tabernacle, matters used by the patriarchs, and not here particularly described, because well known.
5. It is probable that nothing material is designed. This is the opinion of some of the Jewish doctors. Rabbi Menachem on this chapter says, "The Urim and Thummim were not the work of the artificer; neither had the artificers or the congregation of Israel in them any work or any voluntary offering; but they were a mystery delivered to Moses from the mouth of God, or they were the work of God himself, or a measure of the Holy Spirit."
6. That God was often consulted by Urim and Thummim, is sufficiently evident from several scriptures; but how or in what manner he was thus consulted appears in none.
7. This mode of consultation, whatever it was, does not appear to have been in use from the consecration of Solomon's temple to the time of its destruction; and after its destruction it is never once mentioned. Hence the Jews say that the five following things, which were in the first temple, were wanting in the second:
"1. The ark with the mercy-seat and cherubim;
2. The fire which came down from heaven;
3. The shechinah or Divine presence;
4. The Holy Spirit, i.e., the gift of prophecy; and
5. The Urim and Thummim."
8. As the word אורים urim signifies Lights, and the word תמים tummim, Perfections, they were probably designed to point out the light - the abundant information, in spiritual things, afforded by the wonderful revelation which God made of himself by and under the Law; and the perfection - entire holiness and strict conformity to himself, which this dispensation required, and which are introduced and accomplished by that dispensation of light and truth, the Gospel, which was prefigured and pointed out by the law and its sacrifices, etc.; and in this light the subject has been viewed by the Vulgate, where the words are translated doctrina et veritas, doctrine and truth - a system of teaching proceeding from truth itself. The Septuagint translate the original by δηλωσις και αληθεια, the manifestation and the truth; meaning probably the manifestation which God made of himself to Moses and the Israelites, and the truth which he had revealed to them, of which this breastplate should be a continual memorial.
on Exodus 28 :30
The Urim and the Thummim - "The Light and the Truth, or perfection."
From the way in which they are spoken of here and in Leviticus 8:8, compared with Exodus 28:15-21, it would appear that the Urim and the Thummim were some material things, previously existing and familiarly known, that they were separate from the breastplate itself, as well as from the gems that were set upon it, and were kept in the bag of the breastplate Exodus 28:16.
By means of them the will of Yahweh, especially in what related to the wars in which His people were engaged, was made known. They were formally delivered by Moses to Aaron Leviticus 8:8, and subsequently passed on to Eleazar Numbers 20:28; Numbers 27:21. They were esteemed as the crowning glory of the tribe of Levi Deu 33:8. There is no instance on record of their being consulted after the time of David.
The opinion has prevailed to a great extent that the Urim and the Thummim were of Egyptian origin, and two small images of precious stone, and that the divine will was manifested through them by some physical effect addressed to the eye or the ear.
Others prefer the view that they were some means for casting lots. Appeals to lots were made under divine authority by the chosen people on the most solemn occasions Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; Joshua 7:14-18; Joshua 13:6; Joshua 18:8; 1 Samuel 14:41-42; Acts 1:26, and it must have been a truth commonly recognized by the people that though "the lot was cast into the lap, the whole disposing thereof was of the Lord" Proverbs 16:33.
on Exodus 28 :30
28:30 The Urim and Thummim - By which the will of God was made known in doubtful cases, was put in this breast - plate, which is therefore called the breast - plate of judgment. Urim and Thummim signify light and integrity: many conjectures there are among the learned what they were: we have no reason to think they were any thing that Moses was to make, more than what was before ordered; so that either God made them himself, and gave them to Moses, for him to put into the breast - plate when other things were prepared; or, no more is meant but a declaration of the farther use of what was already ordered to be made. The words may be read thus, And thou shalt give, or add, to the breast - plate of judgment, the illuminations and perfections, and they shall be upon the heart of Aaron - That is, he shall be endued with a power of knowing and making known the mind of God in all difficult cases relating either to the civil or ecclesiastical state. Their government was a theocracy; God was their king, the high priest was, under God, their ruler, this Urim and Thummim were his cabinet council: probably Moses wrote upon the breast - plate, or wove into it, these words, Urim and Thummim, to signify, that the high - priest, having on him this breast - plate, and asking council of God in any emergency, should be directed to those measures, which God would own. If he were standing before the ark, probably he received instructions from off the mercy - seat, as Moses did, Ex 25:22. If he were at a distance from the ark, as Abiathar was when he enquired of the Lord for David, 1Sam 23:6, then the answer was given either by a voice from heaven, or by an impulse upon the mind of the high priest, which last is perhaps intimated in that expression, he shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart. This oracle was of great use to Israel, Joshua consulted it. Num 27:21, and it is likely, the judges after him. It was lost in the captivity, and never retrieved after. It was a shadow of good things to come, and the substance is Christ. He is our oracle; by him God in these last days, makes known himself and his mind to us. Divine revelation centers in him, and comes to us through him; he is the light, the true light, the faithful witness; and from him we receive the Spirit of truth, who leads into all truth. The joining of the breast - plate to the ephod notes, that his prophetical office was founded on his priesthood; and it was by the merit of his death that he purchased this honour for himself, and this favour for us. It was the Lamb that had been slain that was worthy to take the book and to open the seals. Rev 5:9. The judgment - The breast - plate of judgment: That breast - plate which declared the judgment or mind of God to the Israelites.