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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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(σάπφειρος, from מַפיר)

Sapphire is the second foundation stone of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19), an idea probably suggested by Isaiah 54:11. Doubtless the lapis lazuli is meant (so Revelation 21:19 Revised Version margin). According to Theophrastus (Lap. 23) the sapphire is ‘as it were spotted with gold dust.’ (ὥσπερ χρυσόπαστος), and Pliny (Historia Naturalis (Pliny) xxxvii. 38) alludes to its ‘aureus pulvis,’ and again (39), ‘in iis [sapphiris] enim aurum punctis conlucet caeruleis.’ This description does not suit the stone now called sapphire, but is fully applicable to the lapis lazuli, which ‘frequently contains disseminated particles of iron-pyrites of gold-like appearance’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 11 xvi. 199). In Exodus 24:10 the Septuagint says that under God’s feet is ὡσεὶ ἔργον πλίνθου σαπφείρου-a fine simile for the star-gemmed azure sky (cf. Ezekiel 1:26.). The modern sapphire is probably the ancient ὑάκινθος, or ‘jacinth’ (q.v. [Note: .v. quod vide, which see.] ).

Literature-C. W. King, The Natural History of Precious Stones and Gems, 1865, pp. 273-277; J. H. Middleton, The Engraved Gems of Classical Times, 1891.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Sapphire'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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