Beryls in the Bible

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Beryls are the first gemstone mentioned in the Bible in the fourth row of the High Priest's breastplate (Exodus 28:20, 39:13). They are referred to, in Hebrew, as tarshiysh (Strong's Concordance #H8658). Strong's states the word probably comes from a foreign derivation and translates it as "beryls." The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon says the word likely references a chrysolite, yellow jasper or other yellow colored stone.

Seven of the ten major Bible versions used for comparison purposes in this series translate this word as "beryls," with the HBFV, NCV and NIV calling it a "chrysolite."

Tarshiysh or beryls are also listed as the fourth stone that adorned Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:13) in order to make him appear radiant and beautiful. Eight of the ten major Bible versions used for comparison purposes in this series translate this word as "beryls" (the NLT calls it a blue-green variety of the stone), with the NCV calling it a "yellow quartz" and the New International Version Bible referring to it as a "chrysolite."

The eighth foundation gemstone in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:20) is called, in the Greek, berullos (Strong's #G969). Strong's translates the word as "beryls." Thayer's lexicon defines the word as referencing beryls, the same as Strong's, but also states this precious stone displays a pale green color. All ten Bibles used in this series also translate this word as this stone.

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Tarshiysh is also mentioned in the Bible in Song of Solomon 5:14, Ezekiel 1:16, 10:9 and Daniel 10:6. In Ezekiel's well-known "wheel in a wheel" vision of God's glory and throne, he sees things colored like a beryl stone.

16. The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was the color of beryl, and the four of them had the same likeness. And their appearance and their workmanship was like a wheel inside of a wheel (Ezekiel 1:16, Holy Bible Faithful Version).

Several color varieties of beryls are known to exist. Emeralds are a deep green variety of this type of stone. Other color varieties include yellow (Heliodors), pink or a touch of rose color (Morganite), a blueish green (Aquamarine) and colorless (Goshenite).

Beryl Gemstones
Variety of Beryls
Courtesy of Smithsonian GeoGallery

Beryls in the priest's breastplate might have been a pale-yellow colored variety known as the Golden Beryl, which is known to contain very few flaws.


According to "Diamonds, Pearls and Precious Stones" (page 66), in the Middle Ages, beryls were thought to induce cheerfulness upon the wearer. It was commonly referred to as the "sweet-tempered" stone. Beryls was also believed to protect a person in battle, cure them of being lazy, and reawaken a married couple's love (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, pages 59 - 60).

Additional Study Materials
What do rainbow colors symbolize?
What exactly are the blood moons?
Mythical Animals in the Bible
The Life of Ezekiel

Gemstones in the Bible

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

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