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110

PRECIOUS STONES.


There are three important and almost identical lists of precious stones in the Bible. An interval of nine centuries occurs between the first and second, and of nearly seven between the second and third: I. The description of the High Priest's breastplate; II. The ornaments of the King of Tyre; III. The figurative foundation stones of the heavenly city. The first differs in the name and arrangement of some stones, as recorded by Moses in the Hebrew (when it was first made), from the description of it by the LXX. in their day, and also by Josephus; it had probably undergone restoration. These three are exhibited in order, with the modern names of the stones supposed to be meant.

BREASTPLATE (set in Gold).

Hebrew (A.V.). Ex. xxviii. 17-20.

SEPTUAGINT OF SAME.

MODERN NAMES.

3
Carbuncle.

2
Topaz.

1
Sardius.

3
Emerald.

2
Topaz.

1
Sardius.

3
Emerald.
(true).

2
Chrysolite.
(modern).

1
Red Carnelian.

6
Diamond.

5
Sapphire.

4
Emerald.

6
Jasper.

5
Sapphire.

4
Carbuncle.

6
Jasper.
(true).

5
Lapis Lazuli.
(modern).

4
Carbuncle or
Garnet.

9
Amethyst.

8
Agate.

7
Ligure.

9
Amethyst.

8
Agate.

7
Ligure.

9
Quartz.
Amethyst.

8
Agate.

7
Jacinth.

12
Jasper.

11
Onyx.

10
Beryl.

12
Onyx.

11
Beryl.

10
Chrysolite.

12
Aquamarine

11
Onyx.

10
Cairngorm.

COVERING OF THE KING OF TYRE.

Hebrew (A.V.).
Ezek. xxviii. 13.
(Order slightly altered from A.V.)

SEPTUAGINT OF SAME.

MODERN NAMES.

3
Carbuncle.

2
Topaz.

1
Sardius.

3
Emerald.

2
Topaz.

1
Sardius.

3
Emerald.
(true).

2
Chrysolite.
(modern).

1
Red Carnelian.

6
Diamond.

5
Sapphire.

4
Emerald.

6
Jasper.

5
Sapphire.

4
Carbuncle.

6
Jasper.
(true).

5
Lapis Lazuli.
(modern).

4
Carbuncle or
Garnet.

(Omitted from the Hebrew List.)

9
Amethyst.

8
Agate.

7
Ligure.

9
Quartz.
Amethyst.

8
Agate.

7
Jacinth.

12
Jasper.

11
Onyx.

10
Beryl.

12
Onyx.

11
Beryl.

10
Chrysolite.

12
Aquamarine.

11
Onyx.

10
Cairngorm.

THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE HEAVENLY CITY.

Rev. xxi. 19, 20.

SUPPOSED MODERN NAMES.

1
Jasper.

2
Sapphire.

3
Chalcedony.

1
Jasper, or
true Chalcedony.

2
Lapis lazuli.

3
Copper Emerald
(old Chalcedony).

4
Emerald.

5
Sardonyx.

6
Sardius.

4
Emerald.

5
Sardonyx.

6
Sardius.

7
Chrysolite.

8
Beryl.

9
Topaz.

7
Topaz.
 (Oriental),

8
Beryl, or
Aquamarine

9
Chrysolite.

10
Chrysoprasus.

11
Jacinth.

12
Amethyst.

10
Chrysoprase.

11
Sapphire.

12
Amethyst.

111
Name and Reference. Hebrew and Greek. Remarks.

Adamant.
(Ezek. iii. 9.)

Shemir.

***

The corundum, the hard stone which when ground is known to us as "emery powder." It is once translated "diamond," and was used for engraving upon stone (e.g. the ten commandments, Jos. Ant. iii. 7§ 5).

Agate.
(Is. liv. 12.)

Shebô.

***

Agate is said to derive its name from the river Achates, in Sicily. It is usually white, with a red or green grain like seaweed. It is common in the East. In Scripture it is spoken of as a material for windows. The Arabic equivalent means red, whence some have thought the Oriental ruby is meant.

Amethyst.
(Rev. xxi. 20.)

Chelem.

***

Blue transparent quartz, so called in Greek and English because thought to be a charm against drunkenness; but the Jews supposed it to bring pleasant dreams, whence its Hebrew name.

Beryl.
(Gen. ii. 12;
Ex. xxviii. 10.)

Shoham.

***

By some shoham is thought to be the onyx; by others the "arrow-stone," the hardest substance for cutting known to the ancients; by others the aquamarine.

Carbuncle.
(Ex. xxviii. 17;
Rev. iv. 3.)

Bareketh.

***

Mistranslated, or interchanged with, "emerald," in Ex. xxviii., the only green stone "flashing light," which is the meaning of the Hebrew. It is probably the stone now called emerald, a beautiful green stone, and found in ancient times in Egypt and Ethiopia. In Rev. iv. 3, it is likened to a rainbow.

Chalcedony.
(Rev. xxi. 19.)

***

An emerald, found in the copper mines of Chalcedon, near Constantinople. It was a small, transparent, brilliant green stone.

Chrysolite.
(Rev. xxi. 20.)

Tarshish (?).

***

The tarshish of Ex. xxviii. 20 is probably a Spanish stone, brought from Tartessus. Thought to be the cairngorm; but the chrysolite of Rev. xxi. 20 is no doubt the true Oriental topaz.

Chrysoprase.
(Rev. xxi. 20.)

***

The modern apple-green stone of that name is a .variety of the chalcedony class, unknown to the ancients. Epiphanius so calls a kind of chrysolite. Some Indian beryls have a similar hue; and such a stone (of a deeper blue) is found amongst Egyptian gems.

Diamond.
(Ex. xxviii. 18.)

Yahalom.

(Om. in LXX.)

The diamond could not have been used in the "breast-plate," because the Hebrews knew of no means of engraving a name upon it. Yahalom is variously conjectured to be the onyx, or alabaster, or jasper.

Emerald.
(Ex. xxviii. 18.)

Nophek.

***

Properly the carbuncle; it is used for several bright red stones, including the garnet and ruby. In Ex. xxviii. it is wrongly interchanged with carbuncle.

Jasper.
(Ex. xxviii. 20.)

Yash'pheh.

***

This was the Greek chalcedony, a dark green stone; the name includes many kinds of crystalline quartz. The jasper of Rev. iv. 3 is thought to be the dark green opaque chalcedony.

Jacinth.

Hyacinth.
(Rev. xxi. 20.)

***

The true Oriental sapphire, a splendid blue stone, of brilliant transparency.

Ligure.
(Ex. xxviii. 19.)

Leshem.

***

Some take leshem to be the fossil belemnite, others amber, opal, or tourmaline; but it is most probably jacinth, which was highly esteemed in Egypt and Arabia.

Onyx.
(Ex. xxviii. 20.)

Tarshish.

***

The onyx is the banded carnelian, cut across the layers to exhibit two strips of black and white, brown and white, &c. Some regard it as the "shell" or composite formation of two different coloured strata, one underlying the other, on which cameos are cut. In our A.V. there is a confusion between tarshish and shoham, each being translated both "onyx" and "beryl." See Chrysolite.

Sapphire.
(Ex. xxviii. 18.)

Sappir.

***

The Hebrew denotes that on which something is engraved or inscribed. According to the Targum, the Tables of the Law were made of it. This and the context in which it is used (Ex. xxiv. 10), " like the body of heaven," have given rise to the idea that lapis lazuli is meant.

Sardius.

Sardine.
(Ex. xxviii. 17.)

Odem.

***

Our red carnelian, highly valued by the ancients, and extensively used for signets and intaglios. The finest came from Babylon; but many also from Arabia and Egypt. Found in considerable abundance at Sardis, in Lydia.

Sardonyx.
(Rev. xxi. 19.)

 

Sardonyx consisted of a carnelian of three stripes of different colours, or three layers of spots. Its name is a compound of "sard" and "onyx," of which two carnelians it was thought to be the union.

Topaz.
(Ex. xxviii. 17.)

Pitdah.

***

The topaz of the ancients is the chrysolite of the moderns, and vice versa. Job says, "the topaz of Cush" (xxviii. 19). The ancient topaz (chrysolite) was of a greenish-yellow colour, found in Egypt, and in great abundance in an island in the Red Sea, from which it derived its name.

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