with the twelve stones sewed on it, was put upon Aaron, and then the Urim and Thummim were put in it. Also, a comparison of Exodus 28:9, 12, 30 refutes the theory that they consisted of the two onyx stones on the shoulder pieces of the high priest’s ephod. (Ex. 28:9-14) They evidently were separate objects.
It is notable that the Urim and the Thummim were to be over Aaron’s heart when he went “in before Jehovah,” doubtless referring to Aaron’s standing in the Holy Place before the curtain to the Most Holy compartment when inquiring of Jehovah. Their location, “over Aaron’s heart,” would appear to indicate that the Urim and the Thummim were placed in the fold or pouch formed by the doubled construction of the breastpiece. They were for the “judgments of the sons of Israel,” and were used when a question of importance to the national leaders and consequently to the nation itself needed an answer from Jehovah. Jehovah, Israel’s Lawgiver, being the source of light and perfection’ in judgment, would give an answer to the high priest as to the right course to pursue on any matter.
David called upon Abiathar to employ the Urim and the Thummim when Abiathar, after escaping the slaughter of the priests of Nob in which his father died, came to David with the ephod, apparently the ephod of the high priest.—1 Sam. 22:19, 20; 23:6-15.
MAY HAVE BEEN LOTS
From the instances recorded in the Scriptures in which Jehovah was consulted by Urim and Thummim it appears that the question was so framed that a “yes” or “no” answer, or at least a very brief and direct reply, could be given. In one instance (1 Sam. 28:6) the Urim is mentioned alone, evidently with the Thummim also understood to be included.
A number of Bible commentators believe that the Urim and the Thummim were lots. They are called “the sacred lots” in James Moffatt’s translation of Exodus 28:30. Some suppose that they consisted of three pieces, one inscribed with the word “yes,” one with “no,” and the other blank. These would be drawn, giving the answer to the question propounded, unless the blank piece was drawn, in which case no answer was forthcoming. Others think that they may have been two flat stones, white on one side and black on the other. When thrown down, two white sides up would mean “yes,” two black sides “no,” and a black and a white would mean no answer. On one occasion, when Saul had inquired through the priest as to whether to resume an attack on the Philistines, he received no answer. Feeling that someone among his men had sinned, he petitioned: “O God of Israel, do give Thummim!” Saul and Jonathan were taken from among those present, after which lots were cast to decide between the two. In this account the appeal, “Do give Thummim,” seems to be separate from the lot casting, though it may give indication that there was some connection between the two.—1 Sam. 14:36-42.
SERVED TO LINK KINGDOM WITH PRIESTHOOD
The Aaronic priesthood is referred to at Deuteronomy 33:8-10 (NW, 1970 ed.), which says: “Your Thummim and your Urim belong to the man loyal to you.” The reference to these as belonging “to the man loyal to you [Jehovah]” perhaps alludes to the loyalty of the tribe of Levi, from which the Aaronic priesthood came, as demonstrated in connection with the incident of the golden calf.—Ex. 32:25-29.
Jehovah wisely provided the Urim and the Thummim and placed them in the hands of the high priest. This made the king dependent to a great extent on the priesthood, avoiding the concentration of too much power in the hands of the king. It brought about the necessity of cooperation between the kingship and the priesthood. (Num. 27:18-21) Jehovah made known his will to Israel by his written Word, also by prophets and by dreams. But it seems that prophets and dreams were used for special occasions, whereas the high priest with the Urim and the Thummim was always present with the people.
DISAPPEARED IN 607 B.C.E.
According to Jewish tradition, the Urim and the Thummim disappeared, together with the ark of the covenant, when Jerusalem was desolated and her temple destroyed in 607 B.C.E. by the Babylonian armies under King Nebuchadnezzar. This view is supported by what we read regarding these objects in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. There certain men, claimants to priestly descent, but who could not find their names in the public register, were told that they could not eat from the most holy things provided for the priesthood until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim, and thereafter the Bible makes no further reference to these sacred objects.—Ezra 2:61-63; Neh. 7:63-65.
GREATER HIGH PRIEST CONSULTS JEHOVAH
Jesus Christ is described in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews as the great King-Priest according to the manner of Melchizedek. (Heb. 6:19, 20; 7:1-3) In him kingship and priesthood are combined. His priestly work was foreshadowed by that of the high priest of ancient Israel. (Heb. 8:3-5; 9:6-12) All judgment of mankind is committed into his hands as such a High Priest. (John 5:22) Nevertheless, when on earth Jesus declared: “The things I say to you men I do not speak of my own originality; but the Father who remains in union with me is doing his works” (John 14:10), and, “I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28) Also, he said: “If I do judge, my judgment is truthful, because I am not alone, but the Father who sent me is with me.” (John 8:16) Certainly in his exalted heavenly position, perfected as High Priest forever, he continues in this course of subjection to his Father, looking to him for ‘light and perfection’ in judgment.—Heb. 7:28; compare 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:27, 28.
The Hebrew term keliʹ is very broad in its application and can refer to articles (Gen. 24:53; (Ex. 3:22; Lev. 13:49, 52, 57-59; 15:4, 6), implements (Gen. 27:3), goods (Gen. 31:37), receptacles (Gen. 42:25; 43:11), equipment (Gen. 45:20), instruments (Gen. 49:5; 1 Chron. 15:16), furnishings (Ex. 25:9), utensils (Ex. 25:39; 27:3, 19; 30:27, 28; 31:7-9), vessels (Lev. 6:28; 11:32-34), garb (Deut. 22:5), weapons (Judg. 9:54; 18:11, 16, 17), luggage (1 Sam. 10:22), baggage (1 Sam. 17:22), bags (1 Sam. 17:40, 49), organisms (1 Sam. 21:5) and tools.—1 Ki. 6:7.
Often keliʹ designates the various utensils used in connection with the sanctuary. These utensils included such items as dishes, pitchers, shovels, bowls, forks, fire holders, extinguishers, snuffers, basins and cups. (Ex. 25:29, 30, 39; 27:3, 19; 37:16, 23; 38:3; 1 Ki. 7:40-50; 2 Chron. 4:11-22) Being used for a sacred purpose, these utensils were “holy.” (1 Ki. 8:4) Accordingly, since the Jews who left Babylon in 537 B.C.E. were privileged to carry with them the sacred utensils that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem, they had to keep themselves clean religiously and morally. The prophetic command applied to them: “Turn away, turn away, get out of [Babylon], touch nothing unclean; get out from the midst of her, keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” (Isa. 52:11) This required more than cleanness in an outward ceremonial way. It called for a cleanness of heart. The apostle Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, applied the words of Isaiah 52:11 in showing