By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS – September 26, 2016) — A small onyx stone, said to be a gift to a Knight Templar over 1,000 years ago and handed down within a family, may actually be what the owner asserts: a gem originally worn by the High Priest in Jerusalem.
The astounding report – corroborated by a number of independent experts – was contained in a story by Adam Berkowitz in Breaking Israel News.
According to the Talmud (Yoma 21b), the precious stones worn on the High Priest’s garments were lost when Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians.
There were 12 stones mounted on the breastplate of the High Priest and two sardonyx stones fixed in gold settings on the shoulders of the High Priest.
“And you shall put the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, as stones of memorial for the sons of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for a memorial.” Exodus 28:12
Experts believe this is one of the stones missing for centuries. If restored to the right hands, it could play a role in returning the priestly caste to serve in the Temple, according to Breaking Israel News.
In 2000, Dr. James Strange, a professor in religious studies at the University of South Florida, traveled to South Africa to meet with the family in possession of the stone.
Dr. Strange earned his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School in 1964, and a PhD. in New Testament Studies from Drew University in 1970. He was a Montgomery Fellow at the W.F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem in 1970-71 and NEH fellow at the same Institute in 1980.
When Dr. Strange first met with the family he was not taking their claims about the stone seriously. But he was astonished by what they showed him. “I was indeed amazed at the gemstone,” Dr. Strange told Breaking Israel News. The stone itself was nothing special, a semi-precious sardonyx, with little intrinsic worth.
But the object he held in his hands confounded Dr. Strange. “I was unaware that anyone in the late Middle Ages stone-1-copyhad the technology to cut a hemisphere in such a medium, so I tried to exhaust all other explanations,” he said.
Even more amazing than the stone’s cut was the mysterious inscription buried within the stone, visible through the clear surface: two letters in ancient Hebrew.
Photo captions: 1) Sardonyx stone within papyrus casket. 2) Dr. James Strange. 3) Professor Moshe Sharon examines the stone. 4) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and also founder of www.GodReports.com, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. He is also co-host for “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, which is aired weekly on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv).
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