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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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ספיר , Exodus 24:10 ; Exodus 28:18 ; Job 28:6 ; Job 28:16 ; Song of Solomon 5:14 ; Isaiah 54:11 ; Ezekiel 1:26 ; Ezekiel 10:1 ; Ezekiel 28:13 , σαπφειρος , Revelation 21:19 , only. That this is the sapphire, there can be no doubt. The Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the general run of commentators, ancient and modern, agree in this. The sapphire is a pellucid gem. In its finest state it is extremely beautiful and valuable, and second only to the diamond in lustre, hardness, and value. Its proper colour is pure blue; in the choicest specimens it is of the deepest azure; and in others varies into paleness, in shades of all degrees between that and a pure crystal brightness, without the least tinge of colour, but with a lustre much superior to the crystal. The oriental sapphire is the most beautiful and valuable. It is transparent, of a fine sky colour, sometimes variegated with veins of a white sparry substance, and distinct separate spots of a gold colour. Whence it is that the prophets describe the throne of God like unto sapphire, Ezekiel 1:26 ; Ezekiel 10:1 . Isaiah 54:11-12 , prophesying the future grandeur of Jerusalem, says,

"Behold, I lay thy stones in cement of vermilion, And thy foundations with sapphires:

And I will make thy battlements of rubies, And tiny gates of carbuncles;

And the whole circuit of thy walls shall be of precious stones."

"These seem," says Bishop Lowth, "to be general images to express beauty, magnificence, purity, strength, and solidity, agreeably to the ideas of the eastern nations; and to have never been intended to be strictly scrutinized, or minutely and particularly explained, as if they had each of them some precise moral or spiritual meaning." Tob_13:16-17 , in his prophecy of the final restoration of Israel, describes the New Jerusalem in the same oriental manner: "For Jerusalem shall be built up with sapphires, and emeralds, and precious stones; thy walls, and towers, and battlements, with pure gold. And the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with the beryl and carbuncle, and with stones of Ophir," Revelation 21:18-21 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Sapphire'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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