Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel. (Exodus 28:9)
Though most translations identify these two stones as being onyx stones, the reality is that the Hebrew word shoham is of unknown origin. In fact, many lexicons assign an “unknown meaning” to this word. There is one reference that renders the Hebrew word as “identity” or “to identify” which seems to hint that the identity is unknown or, at the very least, mysterious. Perhaps this is to suggest that there is a “hidden” or mysterious aspect of Israel’s identity. Couple this with the fact that, on the breastplate of the High Priest, the shoham stone is used there as well, and it is upon this particular stone that the name Joseph is inscribed.
Joseph is a mysterious figure in Scripture in that he can represent different things to different people. Obviously, and most notably, he represents the suffering servant, the Messiah. Where his brothers are concerned, as viceroy of Egypt, his true identity is concealed from them — he is hidden. Only at a time of his choosing does he identify himself to his brothers precipitating a great reconciliation. So then, could we not conclude that the two shoham stones worn upon the shoulder of the High Priest have a connection to Messiah?
Let us take it one step further: Joseph may also represent those who are part of God’s family but who aren’t recognized as being such by those who live in the land of Israel. In other words, Joseph could also represent the Body of Messiah. That the High Priest wore two of these stones suggests that the family is somewhat divided thus connecting us to the reason Yeshua came to die and then be resurrected. Here is how Paul summed it up:
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation … that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross.” (Ephesians 2:14, 16)
It is our heavenly High Priest who, not only bears the family upon His shoulders but is committed to reconciling the two groups — circumcision and uncircumcision — that they might be one new man. It is important, also, that we do our part in this restoration process. If Joseph represents the Body of Messiah, it is important that we, like Joseph, do our part that we might be in the right place at the right time to be used of God. That means we must be faithful in the face of adversity; we must not be seduced by the ways of the world and we must be ready to respond with the call comes to stand before the king.
Blessings and Shalom,