Gemstones in the Bible
Jacinth and Jasper

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Biblical Gems
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Gems in High Priest's Breastplate
Gemstones in New Jerusalem


The first stone mentioned in the third row of the priest's breastplate (Exodus 28:19) comes from the Hebrew word leshem (Strong's Concordance #H3958). Both Strong's and the BDB lexicon define this word as a jacinth or ligure stone. This word is also rendered as this precious stone in eight of the ten Bible versions used for comparison in this series. The other two versions of Scripture, the HBFV and the KJV, render the word as "opal" and "ligure."

The eleventh of twelve precious stones used in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:20) is called in the Greek huakinthos (Strong's #G5192). Strong's states the word can be translated as either "jacinth" or "hyacinth." Thayer's lexicon equates the Greek word to "hyacinth." All ten Scripture translations used in this series render huakinthos as this gem in Revelation 21:20.

There is a difficulty, however, in determining what the Biblical Jacinth looked like due to conflicting definitions regarding the color of the gemstone. Both Strong's and the BDB lexicon do not define the coloration of the stone mentioned in Exodus 28:19. Strong's, however, does define the jacinth (hyacinth) gemstone mentioned in Revelation 21:20 as deep blue. Thayer's says the stone in Revelation 21 is "dark blue verging on black."

What is beautiful to GOD?
Why was New Testament written in Greek?
WHY will a New Jerusalem be created?

Keil and Delitzsch's Commentary declares the jacinth found in Exodus 28:19 is "a transparent stone chiefly of an orange color, but running sometimes into a reddish brown, at other times into a brownish or pale red, and sometimes into an approach to a pistachio green." Easton's Bible Dictionary defines the gemstone as being a reddish blue or deep purple color. Both Fausset's and Smith's Biblical dictionary states the stones are a red variety of zircon. Gill's Exposition of the Scriptures says the stone is either purple or violet., a popular mineral site, states that jacinth stones (the reference of which is synonymous to hyacinths) are zircon stones that range in color from yellow-red to red-brown. The United States Geologic Survey site defines hyacinths as coming in yellow, orange, red and brown colors.

Jacinth Folklore

Amulets containing Jacinth were thought to protect travelers against the plague and any wounds or injuries they would otherwise experience during their trip. The stone was also thought to insure a warm reception at any inn he visited along the way and even protect the wearer from being hit by lightning (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, pages 81 - 82).

Tiara made with Jacinth
Tiara made with Jacinth


The last stone mentioned in the High Priest's breastplate (Exodus 28:20) is called in the Hebrew yashpheh (Strong's #H3471). It is also the name of the sixth stone that adorned Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:13). The root of the word means to "polish" and both Strong's and BDB translate the word as Jasper.

The word is translated "jasper" in Exodus 28:20 and Ezekiel 28:13 in all ten of the translations used in this series. In the New Testament, the first foundation stone in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19) is called in the Greek iaspis (Strong's #G2393). It is also translated as this gem in all ten Scripture versions used for comparison in this series.

The book of Revelation records several visions given to the apostle John, one of which includes this gemstone in relationship to God's appearance on his throne.

1. After these things I (John) looked, and behold, a door opened in heaven; and the first voice that I heard was as if a trumpet were speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things that must take place after these things." 2. And immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one was sitting on the throne. 3. And He Who was sitting was in appearance like a jasper stone . . . (Revelation 4:1 - 3, HBFV)

Jaspers are considered an opaque variety of Chalcedony stones. The most common colors found in them are red, green, brown or yellow and they can appear flamed or striped. The precious stone found in the priest's breastplate was likely colored "emerald-green" (Gemstones in the Breastplate, page 33).

A 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica section on jasper states the following concerning the possible ancient color of this gemstone.

"The jasper of antiquity was in many cases distinctly green, for it is often compared with the emerald and other green objects. Jasper is referred to in the Niebelungenlied as being clear and green."

Outcrop of Jasper
Outcrop of Jasper

Jasper Folklore

In ancient times, this gem was credited as a rainmaker. It was also thought to stop the hemorrhaging of blood. In the fourth century, the stone was thought to drive away evil spirits and to protect those who wore it from venomous bites. If a lion or an archer were carved on the stone, it would protect the wearer from poison and cure them of fever (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, pages 6, 90 – 91 and 133).

Additional Study Materials
Is it a SIN to have a blood transfusion?
What do COLORS mean in God's word?
What are the HIDDEN numbers of Revelation?

Gemstones in the Bible
AgateChrysoliteJasperR. Crystal
AmethystChrysopraseLapis Laz.Rubies
ChalcedonyJacinthRed GarnetTurquoise


1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Curious Lore of Precious Stones, 1913 edition
Diamonds, Pearls and Precious Stones, 1913 edition
Gemstones in the Breastplate, 2008 edition
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
United States Geological Survey - - Wikipedia

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