an Old English word denoting cavities or sockets in which gems were set ( Exodus 28:11 ).
Settings for gems; sockets.
With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in OUCHES of gold. ( Exodus 28:11 )
The secondary meaning of this now archaic word is the gold or silver setting of a precious stone. In Exodus, where it occurs 8 times, it is clear that the gold settings of the engraved stones forming the breast-plate of the high priest are intended; the onyx stones forming the fibula or brooch for holding together the two sides of the breast-plate being said to be "enclosed in ouches (settings) of gold" (Exodus 39:6). Not only were these two onyx or beryl stones so set, but the 12 stones forming the front of the breast-plate were "inclosed in gold in their settings" (Exodus 28:20). The same word occurs in Psalms 45:13, where the king's daughter is said to have her clothing "in-wrought with gold," i.e. embroidered with gold thread or wire. Exodus 39:3 tells us how this wire was produced. From this fact it may be inferred that the settings of the breast-plate were not solid pieces of gold, but were formed of woven wire wreathed round the stones, in a sort of filigree.
See also STONES, PRECIOUS.
W. Shaw Caldecott
These files are public domain.