And thou shalt set in it settings of stones
Or "fill in it fillings of stones" F4; which shows that there were in it ouches, or sockets of gold, the hollows of which were to be filled up with precious stones:
even four rows of stones;
making a four square, and so filling up the measure of the breastplate:
the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle;
about these stones, and those that follow, there is a great variety of interpretations of them, both among Jews and Christians; and they seem to be little known: our translators upon the whole seem to be as right as any in giving the names of them; the first of these, the "sardius", is a red stone of a blood colour, as the "cornelian" or "ruby", and which some have thought is here meant, and has its name either from the place where it has been found, Sardis or Sardinia; or rather from its red colour; for "sered" signifies red in ( Ezekiel 28:13 ) as Braunius F5 has observed from Kimchi; and so Odem, which is the word here used, signifies, and undoubtedly intends a stone of such a colour; and it is highly probable that this is the Demium of Pliny F6, which is one of the three kinds of sardius in India; and the red is so called from its redness, as the same Braunius observes. The second stone, the "topaz", had its name, according to Pliny F7, from an island in Arabia, in the Red sea, called Topazos; and the best topaz is the topaz of Cush or Arabia, as in ( Job 28:19 ) . The topaz of the ancients was of a green colour; and so the three Targums call this stone Jarken or Jarketha, which signifies green; hence some have taken this to be the emerald, which is of a fine green colour: the third stone is the "carbuncle", as we render it; whatever stone is meant, it must be a bright and glittering one, like lightning, as the word signifies; wherefore some have taken it to be the emerald, so the Septuagint and Braunius F8; it being a very radiant and glittering stone, of a grass green, and very refreshing to the sight; but Danaeus F9 says, that the carbuncle is that species of the ruby, which of all is most beautiful and excellent, and darts out light like lightning to those that look at it at a distance, and shines in the middle of the night and darkness, so that it enlightens places near it, as if it were a sun:
[this shall be] the first row;
now upon these three stones were engraven the names of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, as both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem agree.