Zodiacal Gems

The Esoterism of the Gems in the High Priest’s Breastplate

Excerpt from an article By John Hazelrigg
President Emeritus, American Academy of Astrologians


While the breastplate itself is inscribed only with the tribal names, we have placed thereon some extra notations incidental to each division for the readier consideration of the reader, including the Jewish months, beginning with Nisan, etc., names borrowed from the Chaldeans and Persians. These comprehended a civil and an ecclesiastical year, the first beginning with Tisri (Libra), the months being measured therefrom by the Sun. But after their departure from Egypt they established the ecclesiastical year, or a new annular chronology that started with Nisan (Aries), or March, the inauguration of the sacred or holy year. These are based upon the course of the Moon, the neomenias being the commencement of each successive month, and so from New Moon in March to the New Moon in April as being the first month. This is the origin of why Astrology recognizes the importance of the New Moon nearest the Vernal Equinox. So, in order to know one’s proper zodiacal gem, cognizance must be taken of which of these successive lunar periods held the time of nativity.

Aries – March – Nisan – Benjamin – Amethyst
Taurus – April – Jiar – Issachar – Agate
Gemini – May – Sivan – Simon & Levi – Beryl
Cancer – June – Thammuz – Zebulon – Emerald
Leo – July – Ab – Judah – Ruby
Virgo – August – Elul – Asher – Jasper
Libra – September – Tisri – Gad – Diamond
Scorpio – October – Hesvan – Dan – Topaz
Sagittarius – November – Kislev – Joseph – Carbuncle
Capricorn – December – Thebet – Napthali – Onyx
Aquarius – January – Sebat – Reuben – Blue Sapphire
Pisces – February – Adar – Ephraim & Manasseh – Chrysolite

It is on the basis of this ecclesiastical or sacred year that the breastplate is fashioned, and for greater perspicuity the appended Table shows the assembling of these constituent factors.

In substantiation of these zodiacal assignments to the respective tribes, as here revised, one need only have recourse to Holy Writ, as per following, all the references, unless otherwise indicated, are to be found in the 49th chapter of Genesis.


“Benjamin shall ravin like a wolf.” The wolf as a predatory beast is under the dominion of Mars, and was identified with the ram, or a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”


“Issachar is a strong ass, couching down between two burdens.” “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and ass together.” “Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?” Deut.xxii. “10 or loweth the ox over fodder?”


“Simeon and Levi are brethren.”


“Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea” (home of the crab). “Elton was buried in the house of Zebulon” Judges xii. 12. Cancer is the fourth house, known in Astrology as the grave, or end of things.


“Judah is the lion’s whelp…He stooped down and couched as a lion.” “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah.” Leo is the royal sign.


Asher. “His bread shall be aft, and he shall yield royal dainties.” The season at close of summer.


“The children of Gad passed over armed.” Joshua iv. 12. This is the Fall Equinox, or a crossing of the equatorial belt. “Pass over before the ark of the Lord.” Ibid iv. 5. And Joshua is commanded to choose twelve men, with twelve stones from the river Jordan. This is the month of Tisri, the beginning of the civil year, hence the above injunction.


“Dan shall be a serpent, an adder that biteth the horse’s heels,” the following sign of the Horseman.


Joseph. “The archers have sorely grieved him…His bow abode in strength.”


“Napthali is a hind let loose,” that is, a deer or goat with horns. A new dispensation is here projected, or “let loose,” and the Sun begins a new revolution from the nadir of the mystical planisphere.


Reuben. “Unstable as water thou shalt not excel. Again, “Thou art my first born,” following the inauguration of the above new solar revolution.


Ephraim and Manasseh. “Manasseh shall eat Ephraim and Ephraim Manasseh.” Isaiah ix. 21. A transition from the last to the first sign of the Zodiac. It is here that the whale (Cetus) swallowed Jonah. The consuming of an old order and the inception of a new.