Sapphires, Topaz and Turquoise

Gemstones in the Bible

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Sapphires

Sappiyr (Strong's Concordance #H5601) is the Hebrew word used for the seventh stone that adorned Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:13). Five of our ten comparison translations render the word as "sapphire," with three others (ESV, HCSB and NIV) stating the stone could also be a lapis lazuli. The NASB translates the word directly as "lapis lazuli" while the NLT renders it "blue lapis lazuli."

Even though one of the stones that adorned Lucifer is likely a sapphire, the middle stone in the second row of the High Priest's breastplate likely is not. Please see our entry for the lapis lazuli for more information. The Greek word sappheiros (Strong's #G4552) is used for the gemstone composing the second foundation in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19). All ten Bibles in this series translate the word as "sapphire."

In modern times, sapphires are not only used in jewelry but also for scientific instruments, impact resistant windows and the inner workings of wristwatches.

Sapphire Folklore

Sapphires, in ancient times, were believed not only to be an antidote against poison but also a powerful charm that protected the wearer from fever (Diamonds, Pearls and Precious Stones, page 60).

Sapphires were thought to protect kings from harm. Those who wore the gemstone also did so because it was thought not only to protect them from envy but also to grant them favor with God. Those who were necromancers (who used black magic to trick others they were contacting the dead) highly valued this stone for its believed power to enable them to hear and understand obscure oracles (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, page 104 - 105).

Who tried to POISON Jesus?
What does SILVER symbolize?
What is beautiful to GOD?

Sapphire
Sapphire surrounded by diamonds

Topaz

The word used to refer to the second stone that decorated Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:13) is called in the Hebrew pitdah (Strong's #H6357). Nine out of the ten translations used in the series translate pitdah in this verse as topaz, while the NLT calls it "a pale green peridot." The second stone listed in the High Priest's breastplate (Exodus 28:17) also uses the word pitdah. In this verse, however, it is likely referring to the peridot gemstone. Please see our section on the peridot stone for more information.

The stone composing the ninth foundation in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:20) is referred in the Greek as topazion (Strong's #G5116). Both Strong's Concordance and Thayer's lexicon translate the word as "topaz" but also state in might be our modern chrysolite. All ten of the Bibles used for comparison purposes in this series translate the word as "topaz."

Topaz has been sought after and collected since ancient times for their stunning clearness and transparency.

Variety of Topaz
Variety of Topaz
Courtesy of Smithsonian GeoGallery

Topaz Folklore

Wearing a topaz with the image of a falcon engraved on it was said to bring goodwill from kings and princes. It was also thought to stop the discharge of fluid from eyes that were diseased (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, pages 133, 312).

Turquoise

The first gemstone listed in the second row of the breastplate (Exodus 28:18) is the Hebrew word nophek (Strong's #H5306). As stated in our entry for carbuncles, this likely refers to a precious stone known as a red garnet. However, the possibility exists that this word could be rendered as "turquoise" given that six out of the ten Scripture versions used for comparison purposes in this series translate it as such. The same six out of ten versions of Holy writ also translate nophek, stated as the eighth stone which adorned the symbolic King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:13), as "turquoise."

The English word "turquoise" actually comes from the French word for Turkey (Turks or Turkish), which was believed to be the location from which it was found and sent to Europe.

According to a USGS article on this precious stone, a robin's egg blue version of this stone was worn by Aztec kings and the Pharaohs of Egypt. This gem is believed to have been one of the first ones used by man. Two of the oldest known areas for mining this stone are the Alimersai Mountain in Iran and in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. In modern times, the United States is the world's largest producer of gem-quality turquoise.

In the early seventeenth century it was stated that no Englishman (women rarely wore the gem) considered his hand "well adorned" unless he wore on it a quality turquoise stone (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, page 111).

Turquoise Bracelet
Turquoise Bracelet
Courtesy of Smithsonian GeoGallery

Turquoise Folklore

It was once believed that these stones, like diamonds, possessed talisman-like powers. These powers, however, only manifested themselves if the stone was received as a gift. If the gem were bought, however, the "spirit" which was believed to give it its power would leave the stone and render it useless (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, page 73).

Turquoise was believed to protect the wearer if he or she fell and to signal an approaching disaster by breaking into several pieces. Horses that wore the stone were protected from the bad effects of drinking cold water after exertion (ibid. page 109).

Skepticism regarding the seeming magical powers of stones has been voiced throughout history. One such example occurred during the reign of Emperor Charles V (who ruled over the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 to 1556 A.D.). When Charles asked a court jester, "What is the property of the turquoise?" he got the following response.

"'Why,' replied he (the jester), 'if you should happen to fall from a high tower whilst you were wearing a turquoise on your finger, the turquoise would remain unbroken'" (ibid. page 24)

Additional Study Materials
What world empire will rule in the End Time?
Is it a SIN to wear jewelry?
Why will God create a New Jerusalem?

Gemstones in the Bible
Series Introduction

Precious Stones in the Breastplate
Gems in New Jerusalem

Primary Sources

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
Gemdat.org - Mindat.org - Wikipedia


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Sapphires, Topaz and Turquoise
in the Bible