15 “With skilled craftsmanship, you should make a sacred pouch for judging. You should make it after the style of the ephod – out of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen should you make it. 16 It should be square and doubled, a span its length and a span its breadth. 17 You should set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle should be the first row; 18 and the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They should be set in gold filigree. 21 There should be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They should be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes. 22 You should make for the sacred pouch twisted chains like cords, of pure gold. 23 And you should make for the sacred pouch two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the sacred pouch. 24 And you should put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the sacred pouch. 25 You should attach the two ends of the two cords to the two settings of filigree, and so attach it in front to the shoulder pieces of the ephod. 26 You should make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the sacred pouch, on its inside edge next to the ephod. 27 And you should make two rings of gold, and attach them in front to the lower part of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, at its seam above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 28 And they should bind the sacred pouch by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, so that it may lie on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, so that the sacred pouch should not come loose from the ephod. 29 So Aaron should bear the names of the sons of Israel in the sacred pouch of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD. 30 And in the sacred pouch of judgment you should put the Lights and the Darks, and they should be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD. Thus Aaron should bear the judgment of the sons of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.
Lights and Darks
The usual interpretation of the Urim and Thummim is that a separate group of stones were placed inside the sacred pouch and taken out and used for divination in case of an important national decision that needed to be made. This interpretation suggests that the stones were either black stones and white ones, or stones that were black on one side and white on another, and thrown like dice to discern what the LORD’s guidance was.
There is another option in regards to the Urim and Thummim. Looking at the variously colored and shaded gemstones used in the pouch themselves, it is not preposterous to conclude that these stones themselves were detachable, and could be used as the Urim and Thummim. Perhaps if there were a dispute among the tribes, the stones representing each tribe involved in the dispute could be placed in the pouch, and the prevailing tribe’s stone could be drawn out first. Or, if there were a more general need for guidance, the light stones drawn out could indicate “yes” and the dark ones “no” or vice-versa.
That is my own speculation, so it should be carefully studied before accepted. Regardless of whether that speculation is correct, it is clear that the LORD provided for his people a means of discerning his will when the usual means of consulting the covenant regulations and counsel of the elders proved ambiguous, and the way was not clear. The light and Dark stones were a reminder that God has a way for his people to go, and that he knows that way even when it is not clear to them.
LORD, we pray for clarity when making the important decisions, as nations, churches and families. Give us the clarity and confidence we need so that we walk in your path, and honor you with that walk.