The passuk states “אבני שהם ואבני מִלֻּאִ֑ים לאפוד ולחושן.” Rashi explains there were 2 shoham stones for the Eifod and there were 12 milu’im stones for the Choshen. A gold-setting called משבצות was made like a groove, in which the stones were placed. The stones sat on the משבצות and filled up the entire hole. The word מלאים means מלוי, filling, since the stones filled up the entire hole. In Parshas Tetzaveh it states “מסבת משבצות זהב תעשה אתם.” Rashi explains the stones were completely surrounded with gold settings in the shape of a groove which were the width of the stones. The Ramban is bothered, why should they be called אבני מלאים because later there will be a command to fill the hole which will be made for them? In addition, the shoham stones were also surrounded by a gold setting, yet they are not called מלואים?
Onkelos translates אבני מלאים as “stones of completeness.” Also it states in Parshas Tetzaveh about the stones of the Choshen “ומלאת בו מלאת אבן,” which Onkelos translates as “you shall complete it, complete stone.” The Ramban explains מִלֻּאִ֑ים means שלם, complete, as the stones weren’t hewed with a knife from a big piece of stone and no part was cut off of them at all. Rather they were created this way and remained unchanged. It is known that the strongest and most precious stones are those found by the streams, untouched and complete.
So too throughout the building of the Mishkon it states “מלא אתם חכמת לב” which Onkelos translates as “He completed them with wisdom of heart.” Hashem completed the people who would build the Mishkon, with wisdom, making them fitting for their work.
The Torah states in Parshas Tetzaveh by the Eifod, “מעשה חרש אבן פתוחי חתם תפתח את שתי האבנים על שמות בני ישראל.” The Ramban explains they made a groove in the stone with the names of Bnei Yisrael, they were not במלאותם, complete stones. However the Choshen stones were complete, as it states “ומלאת בו מלאת אבן” and “יהיו במלאתם.” The Gemara says במלואתם teaches that a knife could not be used on the stones, therefore Moshe needed the shamir worm specifically for the Choshen stones.
Onkelos translates “מסבת משבצות זהב תעשה אתם” as “sunken in gold מרמצן you shall make them.” Also in Parshas Tetzaveh it states “משבצים זהב יהיו במלאותם” which Onkelos translates as “מרמצן of gold shall be in their completeness.” What does מרמצן mean? The Ramban explains the lashon מרמצן is like the Gemara brings: it is a metal instrument with prongs with which things could be picked up. So too here, a setting was made underneath the stones to hold them. The settings had 3 fork-like teeth which stuck out to hold the stone in order to show its beauty and be able to see it from all sides without it being covered. The Nesivos Shalom says this type of setting is also found nowadays with diamond rings and other precious stones.
The Rabbeinu Bachya says from here we should be aroused to notice the greatness of Torah. It is more precious than pearls and nothing equals it. Gold and silver are cherished by people, and precious stones even more. Here the passuk states that gold was used for the setting of the precious stones, and the precious stones had letters of the Torah in them. When there is an object and a holder, the holder is of less quality than the precious things which it holds. If so the letters of the Torah are the most important thing and above everything!
May we recognize from the avnei milu’im that the letters and words of Torah are more precious than anything else!