how would you translate Shmoth 33.6 אֶת-עֶדְיָם ayd is witness so I'm guessing the literal is "witnesses" in the plural - some translate it as "ornaments" others as "finery" and others as "crowns" but I'm connecting it to "totafoth" - "in order that the Teaching of the L-RD may be in your mouth" Shmoth 13.9

  • the Kuzari, as reported in the Malbim connects it to tefillin
    – rosends
    Jul 17, 2018 at 17:54
  • toddah rabbah - I posed the same question to a couple of rabbis I know Jul 17, 2018 at 18:11
  • in Shabbat 57b: "Rather, Rav Yehuda said in the name of Abaye: A totefet is an appuzainu, an ornament worn on the forehead." Jul 17, 2018 at 19:28
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    this isn't such a rare word. consider ותבאי בעדי עדיים or ותעד נזמה וחליתה
    – Double AA
    Jul 17, 2018 at 20:11
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    @Double AA you use several words please clarify Jul 17, 2018 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


Firstly, JPS translates that phrase as "their ornaments". Also, here is a link to a concordance for this word. You can click on the links and see how they are explained or translated in each location.

The verse you quoted, Shemos 33:6, is actually going back on what had been said two verses prior, in 33:4 (and really in 33:5 as well):

וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע הָעָ֗ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הָרָ֛ע הַזֶּ֖ה וַיִּתְאַבָּ֑לוּ וְלֹא־שָׁ֛תוּ אִ֥ישׁ עֶדְי֖וֹ עָלָֽיו׃

And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned; and no man did put on him his ornaments. (JPS translation)

The commentaries there give a variety of explanations, some of which are listed below:

  • Rashi there says that this refers to crowns that the nation received when they said Naaseh Venishma (as per Talmud Bavli Maseches Shabbos 88a)
  • Rashbam there suggests that it refers to types of jewelry
  • Rabbi Avraham ben Harambam suggests it refers to weaponry/arms
  • Chizkuni explains that this refers to the gold and silver vessels and clothing that they took out of Egypt with them
  • Rabbeinu Bachya/Bechaye suggests that this refers to clothing (although that is more of a Kabbalistic explanation)
  • Ralbag seems to understand this as relating to their Torah observance (although this does not seem to be a literal translation)
  • Also likely not literally, Netziv understands it to be the "Jewish spirit"
  • Malbim, as noted in the comments (and found here in his commentary to 33:6), understands it to refer to Tefillin. He also quotes the Kuzari, who seems to understand it differently. He additionally quotes various others who provide other suggestions.
  • I do not see how the Talmud's statement in Shabboth 88a can be reconciled with Shmoth 33.4-6 (that the Angels came and removed their crowns) since Shmoth 33.6 states that Bnai Yisrael "stripped themselves of their ornaments" Jul 23, 2018 at 17:55
  • @YochananMauritzHummasti added Malbim, and a source. To answer according to Rashi, Bnai Yisrael stripped themselves of these crowns by committing this terrible sin. Jul 24, 2018 at 3:20

According to Rav Hirsch to 33:4, these "ornaments" are not specified, but in context with 13:16 they are tefillin, which in that occasion (33:6) they removed in sign of mourning.

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