The "Choshen" (Breastplate)

  • Rabbanit Sharon Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Parashat Hashavua
Yeshivat Har Etzion


This parasha series is dedicated
Le-zekher Nishmat HaRabanit Chana bat HaRav Yehuda Zelig zt"l.

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PARASHAT TETZAVEH

 

The "Choshen" (Breastplate)

By Rabbanit Sharon Rimon

 

 

Parashat Tetzaveh deals with God's command concerning the fashioning of the priestly garments and the sanctification of the kohanim.

 

The opening command with regard to the priestly garments reads:

 

"These are the garments that they shall make: a breastplate and an efod and a robe and a quilted undercoat, a mitre and a belt; and they shall make holy garments for Aharon, your brother, and for his sons, that he may minister to Me." (Shemot 28:4)

 

The first of the special garments that the Torah specifies to be worn by the Kohen Gadol is the choshen – the breastplate.  Why is it specifically this that is mentioned first?

 

Ibn Ezra comments on this verse as follows (in his long commentary):

 

"'These are the garments' – it mentions the breastplate first, for it was worn over the efod, which in turn is worn over the undercoat.  After it comes the robe and the belt that secures it, and the mitre upon his head."

 

According to this explanation, the reason for the breastplate being mentioned first is that it is the outermost of the garments.  In other words – a technical reason.  Our impression in reading the verse, though, is that the order in which the garments are mentioned is more than simply a technical matter.[1]

 

In Parashat Teruma, when God commands the fashioning of the vessels of the Mishkan, the first vessel to be mentioned is the Holy Ark.  Rashbam, commenting on 25:10, explains:

 

"In God's command it was necessary to elaborate on the construction of the Ark and the Table first, for it is for the sake of the Holy Ark – which is the crux of, 'They shall make Me a Sanctuary' – that it was necessary to build the Mishkan."

 

We may assume that the breastplate is similarly mentioned first out of all of the priestly garments, owing to its importance.[2]

 

Indeed, Ibn Ezra himself – in his short commentary – has this to say:

 

"The breastplate is mentioned first (out of all the garments), just as the Holy Ark is mentioned first (out of all the vessels), for it holds the judgment of the urim, and it is placed upon the heart, and the heart is more honorable than the two shoulders.  And I have not found the word 'choshen' occurring anywhere other than in connection with the Sanctuary."

 

Here Ibn Ezra draws a comparison between the Holy Ark and the breastplate, noting that both are mentioned first in their category because of their importance.

 

What is the breastplate, and what is its great importance?

 

The Fashioning of the Breastplate

 

The detailed commandment as to the fashioning of the breastplate is to be found in chapter 28, verses 15-30:[3]

 

"You shall make the breastplate of judgment – an artistic work;

Like the work of the efod shall you make it: with gold, blue, purple, scarlet, fine twined linen shall you make it."

 

Why is this article called a "choshen mishpat" – a "breastplate of judgment"?

 

To Rav Saadya Gaon's view, the term means, "A breastplate that is planned out" (i.e., built "ke-mishpato," according to its plan).

 

But most of the commentaries regard the word "mishpat," usually meaning judgment, as defining the function of the breastplate.  What is the "judgment" that is referred to here, and how is it achieved by means of the breastplate? This is not yet clear; we shall continue to examine the verses in order to arrive at an understanding of the fashioning of the breastplate and of its role.

 

The first verse describes the basis of the breastplate: a fabric made of five different kinds of thread that are woven together into a single threat that includes all of them.[4]

 

 

 


"It shall be a doubled square, a span in length and a span in breadth." (16)

 

The fabric from which the breastplate is made is "doubled" – i.e., folded in half, so as to create two layers of fabric.  Rashbam explains: like a sort of pocket.

 

Why is this formation necessary? Further on in the verses we discover the function of this pocket, but in the meantime we are left without any explanation.

 

"And you shall set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones; the first row shall be a ruby, a chrysolithe, and a beryl; this shall be the first row.

And the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond.

And the third row shall be a ligure, an agate, and a jasper. 

And the fourth row shall be an emerald, a shoham and a jade; they shall be set in settings of sold.

And the stones shall be named after Bnei Yisrael – twelve, by their names, like the engraving of a signet; each one shall be with its name, for the twelve tribes." (17-21)

 

 

 

 

The doubled fabric bore twelve stones in gold settings.[5] The names of the tribes were engraved on the stones, with each stone representing one tribe.[6]

 

The next verses (22-28) describe the attachment of the breastplate to the efod.  Let us examine just the last verse of this description:

 

"They shall attach the breastplate with its rings to the rings of the efod using a thread of blue, so that it may sit upon the wrought efod, such that the breastplate will not be loosened from the efod." (28)

 

Rashi, in his commentary on verse 6 (where he elaborates on the fashioning of the efod and the breastplate in general) explains as follows the words, "Such that the breastplate will not be loosened (lo yiza) from the efod":

 

"The back of the breastplate should adhere to the wrought efod, so that it does not move above and become separated from it."

 

In other words, the breastplate must be placed upon the efod and firmly attached to it.

 

The Function of the Breastplate

 

Thus far, the text has described the breastplate in great detail.  Next comes a verse of summary:

 

"Aharon shall bear the names of Bnei Yisrael that are on the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goes in to the holy place, as a remembrance before God at all times." (29)

 

The preceding verses described the breastplate as a plaque with the names of the tribes of Israel.  Verse 29 concludes the discussion by describing its purpose: when Aharon comes to the "holy place" he wears the breastplate, inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel.

 

What is the significance of entering the "holy place" wearing this garment?

 

The Kohen Gadol is the only person who enters the Holy of Holies, but when he enters he does so not as a private individual, but rather as the representative of all the tribes of Israel.  When he enters the Holy of Holies, he wears the breastplate, thereby bringing the entire nation in together with him, as it were.

 

The Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies as the representative of the nation of Israel, and it is necessary that he maintains this consciousness.  For this reason he must wear the breastplate, which bears the names of Bnei Yisrael; he thereby represents a constant, walking memorial of Bnei Yisrael before God.

 

The breastplate symbolizes the status of the Kohen Gadol as the representative of all of Israel when he enters the Holy of Holies.  The purpose of the breastplate, then, is to serve as a constant reminder of Bnei Yisrael before God, and to "bring them into" the Holy of Holies before God when the Kohen Gadol enters there.

 

The Urim ve-Tumim

 

Following this conclusion of the subject of the breastplate – the description of its function - we would expect the Torah to move onto the next subject.  However, the following verse adds a further detail to the fashioning of the breastplate that has not been mentioned:

 

"And you shall place on the breastplate of judgment the urim and the tumim…."  (30)

 

Where are these to be placed?

Let us go back to verse 16. 

 

The fabric of the breastplate is doubled over, forming a sort of pocket.  It is inside this pocket that the urim and tumim are placed.[7]

What are the urim and tumim?

 

The Torah does not explain what these urim and tumim, that must be placed in the breastplate, are.  (We shall discuss this matter below.)

 

After noting that the urim and tumim must be placed in the breastplate, the Torah once again summarizes the entire subject of the breastplate, in language very similar to verse 29:

 

"… and they shall be upon Aharon's heart when he comes before God, and Aharon shall bear the judgment of Bnei Yisrael upon his heart before God at all times."

 

These two verses of summary (29 and 30) are very alike:

 

Verse 29 – summary A:

"Aharon shall bear the names of Bnei Yisrael on the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he comes to the holy place, as a memorial before God at all times."

 

Verse 30 – summary B:

"They shall be upon Aharon's heart when he comes before God, and Aharon shall bear the judgment of Bnei Yisrael upon his heart before God at all times."

 

The words that appear in both verses are: "Aharon shall bear," "Bnei Yisrael," "upon his heart," "when he comes," and "before God at all times." These words sum up the function of the breastplate: the Kohen Gadol bears Bnei Yisrael upon his heart when he comes before God.

 

Is this not then a superfluous repetition? Obviously not: the Torah cannot be repeating words for no reason.  Why, then, is the conclusion of the subject of the breastplate presented twice?

 

The Torah describes separately two aspects of the breastplate.  First, it describes the breastplate itself, as a plaque inset with stones; it then concludes by stating that the function of the breastplate is so that the names of Bnei Yisrael will be borne as a remembrance before God.

 

Thereafter, the Torah speaks of placing the urim and tumim in the breastplate, and then concludes once again, at the end of verse 30, the function of the breastplate with the urim and tumim:

 

First aspect of the breastplate:

            16-28 – the fashioning of the breastplate (fabric, stones, attachment to the efod);

            29 – summary and function

Second aspect of the breastplate:

            30(A) – the urim and tumim

            30(B) – summary and function

 

While the two verses of summary parallel one another and contain the same words – as demonstrated above – a close look reveals several differences between them.  It is specifically the great similarity that serves to highlight these differences:

 

Verse 29 (Summary A):

"Aharon shall bear the NAMES of Bnei Yisrael… upon his heart when he comes to the holy place as a remembrance before God at all times."

 

Verse 30 (Summary B):

"They shall be upon Aharon's heart when he comes before God and Aharon shall bear the JUDGEMENT of Bnei Yisrael upon his heart before God at all times."

 

First difference:

In verse 29, we read: "He shall bear the names of Bnei Yisrael," while in verse 30 it is "the judgment of Bnei Yisrael" that Aharon carries with him.  This tells us that the urim and tumim gave the breastplate an additional function: that of judgment.  The breastplate is referred to already in verse 15 as the "breastplate of judgment," but only in verse 30 do we discover that the matter of "judgment" is related to the urim and tumim that are part of the breastplate.

 

Rashbam, commenting on verse 15, writes:

 

"'Breastplate of judgment' – [it is referred to thus] because the urim and tumim are placed in the breastplate and these answer questions of law and need for Israel, as it is written: 'He asked him what the urim ruled,' and therefore it is called (the breastplate of) judgment."

 

Second difference:

In verse 29, the matter of "He shall bear… of Bnei Yisrael" is mentioned first; only afterwards does the verse go on to talk about Aharon coming to the holy place.  In verse 30, in contrast, the idea of coming to the holy place appears first, and only afterwards the matter of "he shall bear… of Bnei Yisrael."

 

Third difference:

In verse 30 the Torah speaks of Aharon coming "before God," rather than "to the holy place" as in verse 29.

 

Fourth difference:

What is it that Aharon bears upon his heart when he comes to the Holy of Holies?

 

According to verse 29, when he comes to the Holy of Holies Aharon carries on his heart the names of Bnei Yisrael.

 

According to verse 30, however, when Aharon comes before God he carried upon his heart the urim and tumim.

 

What is the significance of these differences?

 

The differences teach us an important lesson about the urim and tumim.  Looking at verse 29, Bnei Yisrael appear to be the focus: Aharon brings Bnei Yisrael with him, as it were, into the Holy of Holies.  The breastplate itself, as a plaque bearing the names of all the tribes of Israel, symbolizes Aharon's role as the representative of Israel when he comes to the holy place.

 

The formulation of verse 30 is such that the focus is on standing before God.  The urim and tumim that are placed inside the breastplate imbue it with a further dimension: the dimension of standing before God.

 

The urim and tumim, then, add to the breastplate the function of "judgment" and the "standing before God."

 

What is this "judgment"? How is "judgment" achieved through the urim and tumim? And in what way do the urim and tumim symbolize standing before God?

 

None of this is made explicitly clear in the text.

 

When we compare the textual description of the breastplate to that of the urim and tumim, it is striking that the instructions for the breastplate itself are clear and detailed.  In contrast, there is no explanation as to what the urim and tumim are, how they are made, and what the connection is between them and the "judgment" that is mentioned as a function related specifically to them.

 

Twice we are told about placing the urim and tumim in the breastplate (here in Parashat Tetzaveh, and again in the command concerning the breastplate in Vayikra 8, when Aharon is garbed in his special garments: "He placed the breastplate upon him, and put the urim and the tumim in the breastplate").  But nowhere are we told what the urim and tumim are made of, what shape they should be, what size, how or by whom they are made.

 

In Parashat Pekudei, which describes the fashioning of the priestly garments by Betzalel, the urim and tumim do not even feature among the list of garments that are made.

 

What, then, are the urim and tumim?

 

According to Rav Hai Gaon (Otzar ha-Geonim, Berakhot, simanim 4-6)[8], the urim and tumim are the actual stones of the breastplate.  While this interpretation does explain the absence of any description of the urim and tumim, it raises a difficulty: according to verse 30, it seems that the urim and tumim are not the stones of the breastplate but rather some other object that adds something to the breastplate that has been described thus far.

 

Ibn Ezra disagrees with the above opinion and asserts (in his commentary on verse 30): "After the breastplate is set with the stones that are mentioned, the text says, 'You shall place in the breastplate the urim and the tumim' – in the same way that we read, 'You shall place in the Ark the testimony'… and afterwards it says of Moshe, 'He placed the breastplate upon him and placed in the breastplate the urim and the tumim.' Hence, they are not the stones that are mentioned (as being ordered) in the four rows."[9]

 

To Rashi's view (commenting on verse 30) – one with which most of the commentators agree – the urim and tumim are:

 

"The inscription of God's Name, which is placed within the folds of the breastplate; by means of this [the Kohen Gadol] illuminates And makes whole (me'ir u-metamem) his words."

 

Ramban (on verse 30) accepts Rashi's view, and expands on it:

 

"But if we accept Rashi's view, then God's Name is written and placed between the folds of the breastplate, and it if for this reason that [the fabric] must be folded in half.  Proof for this is that no mention is made of the urim and tumim in the description of the artisans' work, nor are they mentioned in the command or the fashioning…

Furthermore, we see that none of the vessels that have been mentioned thus far appear with the heh representing the definite article; rather, it is written, 'They shall make an Ark…' (25:10); 'You shall make a Table' (Ibid.  23); 'You shall make a Menora' (verse 31), and so on… Here, with regard to the urim and tumim, the text says, 'You shall place THE urim and tumim in the breastplate.' Although he has nowhere been commanded to fashion them, the text mentions them here with the definite article!...  Because they were not the product of artistic work, nor did the artists – or the congregation of Israel – have anything to do with making them or contributing towards them.  Rather, they are a secret that was passed to Moshe from God; he wrote them in sanctity, or they were a work of God…"

 

Ramban adds to Rashi's explanation, asserting that the urim and tumim were not the work of any artist, but rather were fashioned by Moshe at God's command, or perhaps even Moshe himself did not fashion them, but they were "the work of God."[10]

 

Thus, the majority opinion is that the urim and tumim were in fact the Tetragrammaton – God's Name - that was placed between the folds of the breastplate.

 

This helps us to understand the unusual description of the urim and tumim:

 

*          No mention is made of how they were fashioned – because they were not fashioned by any artist.

*          Twice the concept of "before God" is repeated with regard to the urim and tumim – at the beginning of verse 30 and at its end.  The urim and tumim lend the breastplate the supreme dimension of being "before God," because God's Name – perhaps inscribed by God Himself – was placed within it!

 

The Role of the Urim and Tumim

 

Having attained a clearer grasp of what the urim and tumim were, let us now try to understand their function.

 

According to the verses in our parasha, we understand that their purpose was judgment.  However, it is not clear what this "judgment" was, nor how it is achieved through the urim and tumim.

 

We may learn more about the role of the urim and tumim from a different verse in the Torah.  When Moshe appoints Yehoshua to succeed him as leader of the nation, God tells him:

"He shall stand before Elazar, the priest, and he shall ask of him the judgment of the urim before God;

By its word they shall go out and by its word they shall come in; he and all of Bnei Yisrael with him, and all the congregation." (Bamidbar 26:21)

 

When Yehoshua needs to go out to war (see Rashi on this verse), he must approach Elazar, the Kohen Gadol, and "ask of him the judgment of the urim before God."

 

The role of the urim, then, is to serve as a connection between the leader of Bnei Yisrael and God's will.

 

The expression "before God," which is repeated in the context of the urim and tumim, appears here, too.  The matter of "standing before God" is central to the concept of the breastplate and the urim and tumim.

 

The leader of Israel, before going out to war, must stand before God and hear what God wants.  The communication is effected through the urim.

 

Attention should be paid to the fact that here, too – as in Parashat Tetzaveh - the urim are called "judgment." Thus it becomes clear that the "judgment of the urim" is God's answer to the question posed by the leader of the nation.

 

The "breastplate of judgment" is the breastplate whose role is to allow the leaders of Israel to make inquiries of God.  The king of Israel, as he goes off to war, is supposed to appeal to God and ask Him whether and how to conduct the war.

 

Indeed, in the Early Prophets we find several instances where such enquiries were made prior to waging war.[11]

 

In addition, there were also other questions that leaders of Israel addressed to God:

 

*          identity of the sinner

In Sefer Yehoshua, when the Israelites fare badly in the war against Ai, they cast a lot to discover the identity of the sinner who was responsible for their defeat:

 

"You shall approach in the morning by your tribes, and it shall be that the tribe that is indicated by God will approach by families, and the family that is indicated by God will approach by households, and the household that is indicated by God will approach by its men." (Yehoshua 7:14)

 

How is this lot cast, how is God supposed to "indicate" the identity of the sinner?

 

Rashi, commenting on verse 15, explains: "'He made Israel approach' – before the breastplate, where the names of the tribes were inscribed…."[12]

 

*          David asks of God where his kingdom should start from.

            "And it was, after that, that David asked of God, saying: Shall I go up against one of the cities of Yehuda? And God said to him, 'Go up.' And David said, 'To where shall I go up?' And He said: 'To Chevron.'" (II Shemuel 2)

*          The division of the inheritances of the land was carried out by means of a lot (as mentioned both in Bamidbar 26 and in Yehoshua 14).  As the Gemara describes it:

"The land was divided by lot, as it is written (Bamidbar 26), 'Only by lot'; but (at the same time) it was divided by means of the urim and tumim, as it is written, 'In accordance with the lot.' How can this be? Elazar wore the urim and tumim, and Yehoshua and all of Israel stood before him, with a pile of names of the tribes and a pile of borders (of the country) placed before him.  He, guided by the Divine Spirit, would say: 'The Tribe of Zevulun has been chosen – and the area of Akko has been chosen along with it…' and so on, for each tribe." (Bava Batra 122a)

 

The question that the leader of Israel asks of God at the most critical moments testifies to the fact that he is standing "before God." Going out to war, which is done after consulting with God, is not a regular matter of mortal warfare, but rather the waging of war by God's word.

 

The king of Israel is not a supreme authority who acts independently of God.  Rather, he is a leader whose moves are guided by God and are meant to be directed towards God's will.

 

The king of Israel is meant to represent God's Kingship in the world, and therefore when it comes to the most critical decisions for the nation he does not decide alone.  He stands before God, asks for His guidance, and acts in accordance with God's will.

 

The "standing before God" and the asking of God's will are carried out by means of the breastplate and the urim and tumim within it.

 

How is the "judgment of the urim and tumim" achieved? In other words, how is the answer to the leader's question given?

 

Ramban, commenting on verse 30, explains that the urim were in fact God's Name that was placed inside the breastplate, and by the power of His Name, "The letters inscribed on the stones of the breastplate would light up and were visible to the Kohen who asked for their judgment."

 

For example, when the people asked (in Shoftim 1) which tribe should lead them into war, the stone of Yehuda lit up and the letters yud, ayin, lamed and heh (forming the word ya'aleh – will ascend) lit up at different places on the breastplate.  The letters did not light up following the order of the word; the Kohen had to put the letters together to form the word.  How did he do this?

 

According to Ramban, "There were other holy names there, referred to as tumim; by virtue of these the heart of the kohen would be focused (tamim) to know the meaning of the letters that lit up before his eyes… this represents a measure of Divine inspiration…."

 

In other words, the urim were God's Ineffable Name that caused the letters to light up; the tumim were other Divine Names that caused the kohen to be imbued with Divine inspiration, allowing him to form the illuminated letters in the proper order into words, and to understand the answer given to him.

 

The Breastplate and the Ark

 

The first vessel of all those that Bnei Yisrael are commanded to make, in Parashat Teruma, is the Holy Ark.  Clearly, it is mentioned first because of its supreme importance.

 

The first garment that is mentioned among all the priestly garments is the breastplate – apparently likewise because of its supreme importance in relation to the other garments.

 

The ark is the vessel in which the Testimony is placed.  The breastplate, correspondingly, is the "vessel" in which the urim and tumim are placed. 

 

Both the Testimony (the Tablets) and the Name of God are not fashioned by an artist, but rather are the work of God Himself.

 

The most important vessel in the Mishkan and the most important priestly garment are "vessels" for "God's work": vessels for revelation of the Divine Presence; vessels that symbolize the connection between the Divine Presence and Am Yisrael.

 

In the Ark the Testimony is placed the Torah – God's message to Israel, the commandments that He gives the nation, asking that they observe them.

 

In the breastplate the urim and tumim are placed the Name of God - by means of which Israel speak to God, express their "standing before God," and ask for His guidance in questions of national importance.

 

Summary

 

The fashioning of the breastplate is described in the Torah in two separate stages, representing two aspects of this special garment:

*          The breastplate is a plaque that bears the names of the tribes of Israel; its function is to be a constant memorial of Israel before God, and to symbolize the fact that the Kohen Gadol himself represents all of Israel when he comes into the Holy of Holies.

*          The breastplate is also the vessel that houses the urim and tumim, whose function is "judgment" – asking of God; it symbolizes standing before God.

 

Each of these two functions of the breastplate is of great significance.  The breastplate also has significance that is independent of "asking of God" (and it is for this reason that there was a breastplate in the Second Temple, too, even though there were no urim and tumim.)

 

However, it seems that the two functions of the breastplate are interrelated: asking of God is not carried out through the use of a board of letters that has no intrinsic significance (a board arranged alphabetically, for instance), but rather specifically through the use of the plaque borne on the breastplate, upon which the names of the tribes of Israel are inscribed.  Why is this so?

 

Asking of God is an approach to God on behalf of the entire nation.  Asking of God signifies that the entire nation is standing before God.

 

It is for this reason that "asking of God" is carried out specifically using a plaque that bears the names of all the tribes of Israel, and its function is to bear them "as a memorial before God at all times".

 

When this type of national question must be posed, all of Israel draw near – through the agency of their representative, the Kohen Gadol, who bears the plaque with the stones.  They stand before God, God sees all of Israel and is "reminded" of the special connection between Israel and their Father in heaven.

 

The words that are common to both summaries of the description of the breastplate (verse 29 and verse 30) are an appropriate summary of the overall function of the breastplate:

 

"Aharon shall bear Bnei Yisrael upon his heart when he comes before God at all times."

 

Translated by Kaeren Fish



[1]  When the Torah describes the order in which the garments are made, in Parashat Pekudei, we might expect the order to be technical.  Here, however – the first time that the priestly garments are presented – the order seems to be significant not only with regard to the garments, but also with respect to the vessels of the Mishkan.  In the Divine command in Parashat Teruma, the order follows the level of importance of each vessel.  Therefore, the list starts with the Holy Ark, continues through the Table for the showbread and the Menora, and only thereafter do we find a description of the Mishkan itself.  In Parashat Vayakhel, on the other hand, when the Torah describes the actual fashioning of the vessels, we see a change in the order: first we read of the construction of the Mishkan itself; only afterwards does the text describe the fashioning of the vessels.  When it comes to the practical stage, it is quite logical that first the house should be built and then the vessels, so that they can immediately be placed in their proper place in the house.

[2]  We shall discuss below the connection between the Holy Ark and the choshen.

[3]  While the breastplate is indeed the first of all the priestly garments to be mentioned in the verse that introduces the command, as we saw above, when it comes to the detailed command concerning the actual fashioning of the garments, the breastplate occupies second place.  The fashioning of the efod precedes it.  Why, in the detailed command, does the efod come before the breastplate? We shall hopefully address this question in our shiur on Parashat Pekudei, which will focus on the efod.

[4]  See Rashi on verse 6, describing the entire production of the efod and the breastplate.  Rashi also explains there how the five types of thread were woven together into a single thread from which the efod and breastplate were made.

[5]  To Rashi's view, each stone was set inside the gold setting (bezel setting), while Ramban maintains that the stone was placed over the golden square and held in place by tiny golden claws (claw or prong setting).

[6]  The orientation of the rows is the subject of some debate: does the Torah list them from right to left (as Chizkuni maintains, commenting on verse 21), or does "row" in the Torah mean a vertical column, such that the stones as listed are placed one under the other, forming four columns and three rows (as the Minchat Chinukh understands it)? The illustration above reflects the view of Chizkuni.  There is also controversy as to the order in which the names of the tribes are inscribed, and in this respect the illustration follows the view of Rashi.  Concerning the various opinions on these questions see "Mishkan Hashem" by Shimon Shapiatzky, and "Bigdei ha-Kodesh, Bigdei ha-Kehuna" by Shalom Dov-Baer Steinberg. 

[7]  See Rashbam's commentary on verse 16.

[8]  From Rabbeinu Avraham, son of the Rambam, as well as from the language of the Rambam himself in his Laws of the Temple 4:1 and Laws of the Vessels of the Temple 10:10, we deduce that the Rambam, too, maintained that the stones of the breastplate were themselves the urim and tumim.

[9]  In commenting on verse 6, Ibn Ezra elaborates at length on the matter of the efod, the breastplate, and the urim and tumim.  He declares that the whole subject of these garments is an esoterical secret that only "those who are wise will understand." But we may deduce from his words that the urim were made of gold and silver, and that there was a way of knowing the future through various means – including through use of the efod and the "wrought work" upon it, without the urim and tumim; it is for this reason that it is written in a number of places that people "consulted the efod." The question concerning the urim and tumim, however, is of a higher order.  We cannot voice any opinion on these esoterical secrets, but Ramban disagrees with Ibn Ezra and says: "Rabbi Avraham tries to be clever with regard to the urim and tumim, claiming that they are an artistic work of silver and gold, and he elaborates in their regard since he believes that they reflect the forms used by diviners so as to know the thoughts of the questioner, but he has not said anything."

[10]  The same idea arises from the Targum Yonatan, from the Ritva, Sefer Mitzvot ha-Gadol (positive commandment 173), and the Ra'avad (Beit ha-Bechira, 4,1).

[11]  Shoftim 20 (the Concubine of Giv'a); I Shemuel 14 (Shaul's war against the Pelishtim); I Shemuel 23 (David's war against Ke'ila); I Shemuel 30 (David's war against the Pelishtim at Tziklag); I Shemuel 28 (Shaul's last war against the Pelishtim); II Shemuel 5 (David's war against the Pelisthim).  Of all of these sources that mention asking God, only one place explicitly mentions the urim: in I Shemuel 28.  In all the other places we assume that the question is answered by means of the urim and tumim.  We shall hopefully explore this matter further in the shiur on Parashat Pekudei.

[12]  Another lot is mentioned in I Shemuel 14, in the battle of Shaul and Yehonatan against the Pelishtim.  Yehonatan mistakenly tastes some honey, and therefore God does not answer Shaul when he tries to ask God concerning the battle.  The lot reveals that it is Yehonatan who is the sinner.  Apparently this lot, too, was conducted by means of the breastplate, despite the fact that this is not noted explicitly in the text, nor by any of the commentators.