[Avodah] Arbaa Turim - rows or columns?

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Sun Feb 18 20:18:33 PST 2024

This week's parsha (28:17-20) describes the design of the twelve jewels of
the Choshen, that they are to be in four "turim" of three jewels each.

Onkelos translates "tur" as "sidra" - an orderly arrangement. This will
ensure that we keep the sequence of the specified jewels, but it does not
help me visualize what the end result will look like.

On the one hand, [almost?] every English translation of these pesukim
renders "tur" as "row". On the other hand, the major halachic code prior to
the Shulchan Aruch was named "Arbaa Turim" (presumably named for these
pesukim), which is not only universally translated as "Four Columns", but
the Tur's title page seems to deliberately illustrate this by showing the
four architectural columns surrounding an Aron Kodesh.

So, chevra, does anyone have a clue whether these jewels were arranged in
four rows of three jewels across, or in four columns each being four jewels
tall? I looked in the Rambam, Hilchos Klei Hamikdash 9:6-7, but did not see
him address this point. No idea where else to look. Thanks in advance!

(My concordance shows me that the word "tur" does appear elsewhere in
Tanach, and "row" does seem like a reasonable translation in those cases.
However, all those cases involve three-dimensional architecture, and that
translation might not be relevant to a two-dimensional chart such as the

Akiva Miller
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/avodah-aishdas.org/attachments/20240218/d220dd0a/attachment.htm>

More information about the Avodah mailing list