Emblems & Heraldry
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Tribes of Israel Stones
Be’otot [“according to the standards”, Numbers 2:2]: There was a symbol for each leader [of each tribe], with a flag and a colour, and the colour of each flag was like the colour of the precious stones that was over the heart of Aaron [the High Priest, i.e. on the hoshen/breastplate]. From this the kingdoms learned to make flags and a colour for each flag. Each tribe had its own leader, and the colour of the flag was similar to the colour of its stone.
Reuben’s stone was odem (ruby), and the colour of his flag was red, and mandrakes were drawn on it [cf. Genesis 30:14].
Simeon’s [stone was] piteda, and the colour of his flag was green, and [the city of] Shechem was drawn on it [cf. Genesis 34].
Levi’s [stone was] bareqet, and the colour of his flag was one third white, one third black, and one third red, and the Urim weTummim were drawn on it.
Judah’s [stone was] was nofekh, and the colour of his flag was like the colour of the sky, and a lion was drawn on it [cf. Genesis 49:9].
Issachar’s [stone was] sappir, and the colour of his flag was dark blue [lit. black like kohl], and a sun and a moon were drawn on it, as it is written [I Chronicles 12:33]: “And from the sons of Issachar were those who knew the wisdom of the times [i.e. astronomy and calendars].”
Zebulon’s [stone was] yahalom, and the colour of his flag was like the moon, and a ship was drawn on it, as it is written [Genesis 49:13]: “Zebulon shall dwell by the seashore.”
Dan’s [stone was] leshem, and the colour of his flag was similar to sappir, and a snake was drawn on it, as it is written [Genesis 49:17]: “Dan shall be a snake.”
Gad’s [stone was] shevo, and the colour of his flag was not white and not black but a mixture of black and white, and a military camp was drawn on it, as it is written [Genesis 49:19]: “Gad shall camp in troops [Heb: Gad gedud yegudenu].”
Naftali’s [stone was] ahlama, and the colour of his flag was like diluted wine whose red [colour] was no longer strong, and a deer was drawn on it, as it is written [Genesis 49:21]: “Naftali is a swift deer.”
Asher’s [stone was] tarshish, and the colour of his flag was like a precious stone that women decorate themselves with, and an olive tree was drawn on it, as it is written [Genesis 49:20]: “From Asher will be his rich bread.”
Joseph’s [stone was] shoham, and the colour of his flag was very black, and the [picture] drawn on it for the two leaders, Ephraim and Menasseh, was Egypt, because they were born in Egypt.
And on the flag of Ephraim was drawn an ox, as it is written [Deuteronomy 33:17]: “His first born is his ox;” this is [a reference to] Joshua, who was from the tribe of Ephraim. And on the flag of Menasseh was drawn a re’em [oryx], as it is written [Deut. 33:17]: “and his horn will be like the horns of the re’em;” this is [a reference to] Gideon, son of Joash, who was from the tribe of Menasseh.
Benjamin’s [stone was] yashpe, and the colour of his flag was like all the colours of the twelve colours, and a wolf was drawn on it, as it is written [Genesis 49:17]: “Benjamin is like a scavenging wolf.”
|Hebrew Name||King James||Septuagint||Color||Other Refs.|
|1. Odem||Sardius||Sardius||red||“red” (Hebrew); not ruby, which is “paniyn” (Lam. 4:7)|
|2. Pitdah||Topaz||Topaz||topaz||from Ethiopia (Job 28:19)|
|Emerald||green?||color of “lightning,” (Dan. 10:6), “green” (Greek)|
|red-black||precious, Ezek 27:16, “coal” (Greek)|
|5. Sappiyr||Sapphire||Sapphire||blue||sky blue, Ex. 24:10|
|7. Leshem||Ligure||Ligure||?||none; ligure is unknown|
|10. Tarshish||Beryl||Chrysolite||yellow||color of heavenly chariot wheels (Ezek. 1:16, 10:9 ); color of a heavenly man’s body, whose face was like lightning (Dan 10:6)|
|11. Shoham||Onyx||Beryl||white||“whiten” (Hebrew); on high priest’s shoulders (Ex. 28:9)|