“You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in order of their birth. As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. … And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance.”
Ancients like the Greeks and Romans understood that beauty is connected to symmetry, perceiving that the most beautiful human faces, like the most beautiful architectural buildings, are the ones with perfect symmetrical lines. Maybe that’s why our Designer fashioned us with two eyes, two ears, two arms, and two legs, because there’s something more beautiful to Him about harmony, about a pair, about two equal objects working in tandem than one working alone. That must be at least a part of the reason why God divided the twelve names onto two onyx stones, one for each shoulder. Perfect symmetry.
But that isn’t all. There’s also the issue of proportion and the distribution of weight. Think of it, friend: if Aaron had to carry one large stone on his right shoulder day after day, he’d most likely develop arthritis or spinal issues or rack up enormous chiropractic expenses! But God is a God of balance as well as beauty; He’s a God Who measures all things in proper proportion to their weight; a God Who formed the sun and moon and planets to hold together at precisely the right distance; a God Who knows how much we can handle and promises not to give us more than we can bear. And this symbolism of two onyx stones rather than one speaks to the fact that Aaron will need both of his shoulders if he’s got any chance of carrying these people forward.
Christian, we have a Priest Who bears us not as a burden or a cross or a weight but as a trophy. A Priest Who adds our little lives to the portraiture of His own glory and engraves our names on His shoulders! What a Priest we have in Jesus!