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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Gem

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אֶבֶן יָקְרָה or אֶבֶן חֵן, usually "precious stone"). The Hebrews, among whom, as among all Asiatic nations (see especially Heeren, Ideen, I, 1:118 sq.), gems constituted an essential and highly-prized ornament of kings (2 Samuel 12:30; Ezekiel 28:13), of the high-priest (Exodus 28:17), and of distinguished persons generally (Judith 10:21; 15:15), especially when set in rings (Song of Solomon 5:15), derived them chiefly from Arabia (see Ezekiel 27:22; 1 Kings 10:2) and India, by the overland as well as maritime traffic of the Phoenicians (Ezekiel 1.c.). In the time of Solomon they procured them themselves directly from Ophir (1 Kings 10:10 sq.). The art of cutting (engraving letters) and setting them was a highly respectable vocation (Exodus 35:33). In the Bible (especially Exodus 28:17 sq.; Exodus 39:10 sq.; Ezekiel 28:13; Revelation 21:19 sq.) the following names and kinds of gems chiefly occur (comp. Josephus, Ant. 3:7, 6; War, 5:5, 7; Epiphan. Opp. 2:225; see Hiller, Sysntagm. hermen. p. 83 sq.; De Dieu, on Exodus 28; Braun, De vestit. sacerd. Hebr. II, 8, page 497 sq.; Hartmann, Hebrderinn, 1:278 sq.; 3:27 sq.; Bellermann, Urim und Thummim, page 32 sq.; Eichhorn, De gemmis sculptis Hebr. in the Commentatt. Soc. Gotting. rec. 2; Rosenmuller, Alterth. IV, 1:28 sq.; Wetstein, N.T. 2:844 sq.). (See ENGRAVING).

1. O'dem, אֶֹדַם (Exodus 28:17; Exodus 39:10), according to the Sept. and Vulg., the Sardius (compare Revelation 21:20), i.e., carnelian, a well- known, mostly flesh-colored, semi-transparent gem, akin to the chalcedony, valued for its hardness, which, however, did not render it incapable of being cut. The most beautiful specimens come from Arabia (Niebuhr, Beschr. page 142). Josephus (War, 5:5, 7) assigns the above. meaning to the word; but elsewhere (Ant. 1.c.) he calls it the sardonyx. (For other significations, see Gesenius, Thes. Heb. page 26.) (See SARDIUS).

2. Pitdah', פַּטְרָה (Exodus 1.c.; Ezekiel 28:13; Job 28:19), according to most of the versions, the Topaz, τοπάζιον (Josephus τόπαζος, described by the Greeks as a gold-yellow stone (Strabo, 16:770; Diod. Siculus, 3:39), although Pliny (27:32) assigns it a green color. Hence moderns have regarded the topaz of the ancients as our chrysolite. The passage in Job describes the mineral in question as coming from Cush, and Pliny (6:34) mentions a topaz-island in the Red Sea (comp. Diod. Sic. 1.c.). The topaz now so called is a transparent, chiefly wine-colored or citron-yellow stone of the silicious species (Hoffmann, Minercil. 1:557 sq.; comp. Pareau, Comment. ad Job 28, page 333 sq.). (See TOPAZ).

3. Bare'keth, בָּרֶקֶת. (Exodus 28:17; Exodus 39:10; Ezekiel 28:13), according to the Sept.,Vulg., and Josephus, the Emerald (Revelation 21:19; Tobit 13:21, etc.), grass-green, very hard, transparent, with double refraction (Pliny, 37:16 sq.). The Hebrews obtained this stone almost entirely from Egypt (Pliny, 1.c.; comp. Braun, Vestit. page 517 sq.; yet see Theophr. Lapid. 24). (See CARBUNCLE).

4. No'phelk, נפֶךְ (Exodus 39:11; Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 28:13), according to the Sept. and Josephus, the ἄνθραξ Carbuncle. By this name the ancients (Theophr. Lapid. xviii sq.; Pliny, 37:25) mostly designate red (like glowing coals) brilliant stones ("a similitudine ignium appellati," Pliny, l.c.), as rubies and garnets. But their most valued carbuncles appear to have been the Oriental or Indian rubies. They were engraved (Theophr. Lapid. 21; comp. Eichhorn, ut sup. page 12), which is also the case with the ruby, although they had a great degree of hardness not greater, however, than the sapphire, which was likewise engraved. (See EMERALD).

5. Sappir', סִפַּיר (Exodus 24:10; Exodus 28:18; Exodus 39:11 Ezekiel 38:13), σάπφειρος Our Sapphire is sky blue (comp. Ezekiel 1:26; Exodus 24:10), transparent, and harder than the ruby. What the ancients so named must, according to the description (Pliny, 37:39; Theophr. Lapid. 23:37), be the lapis lazuli, azure-stone (Beckmann, Erfind. III, 1:182 sq.). This is opaque, often shading into dark blue (violet), and sometimes has gold- colored quartzose spots (Hoffinann, Mineral. 2:276 sq.; comp. 1:548). But as this stone is not so costly as to be justly estimated, as in Job 28:16, nor possessed of sufficient hardness ("inutile scalpturae," Pliny, 1.c.) to correspond with its use in Exodus 28, it is probable that the Hebrew term denotes the true sapphire, which occurs in notices of ancient gems. (See SAPPHIRE).

6. Yahalonm', יִהֲלֹם (Exodus 39:11; Ezekiel 28:13), by which most of the ancient versions and Josephus appear (if we can trace the order of the gems enumerated, see Bellermann, ut sup. page 47) to understand the Onyx (Luther, with some of the Rabbins, the Diamond), a kind of chalcedony, in resembling the human nail with the flesh showing through. The simply so-called onyx (of the ancients) has milk-white or brown streaks, and is non-transparent, but takes on, when polished, a mirror-like luster (Pliny, 36:12; 37:24). Eichhorn understands the Beryl. (See DIAMOND).

7. Le'shem, לֶשֶׁם (Exodus 28:19; Exodus 39:12), Sept., Josephus, Vulg. λιγύριον (ligure) or λιγκύριον, i.e., Jacinth (as in Revelation 21:20), a transparent, hard, usually hyacinthine stone, but sometimes shading into yellow or brown. In the fire it loses its color. Many ancient cut specimens are still extant. (See LIGURE).

8. Shebo', שְׁבוֹ (Exodus 28:19; Exodus 39:12), Sept., Vulg., and Josephus Agate (ἀχάτης ), a mixed sort of stone, consisting of quartz, chalcedony, carnelian, flint, jasper, and so forth, so that two kinds are usually compounded; hence agates have all possible ground-colors, with numerous streaks, spots, and even figures. The Oriental are finer than the European. In high antiquity they were very valuable, but later their value sank considerably (see Pliny, 37:54; Hoffmann, Mineral. 2:123 sq.). (See AGATE).

9. Achlanzah', אִחְלָמָה (Exodus 28:19), Sept., Vulg., Amethyst (ἀμέθυστος; comp. Revelation 21:20), a transparent, mostly violet- blue stone, usually found in a six-sided crystalline form, but sometimes pebbleshaped. The ancients prized it highly, especially the specimens from India. But Arabia and Syria also afforded amethysts (Pliny, 37:40). As the Greek name points to a superstitious attribute of the stone (dispelling intoxication; see Harduin, ad Plin. 2:783), so the Heb. designation refers to another property (q.d. "dream-stone;" see Simonis, Lex. page 331). (See AMETHYST).

10. Tarshish', תִּרְשַׁישׁ (Exodus 28:20; Exodus 39:13; Ezekiel 1:16; Daniel 10:6, etc.), according to the Sept. (in the Pentat.) and Josephus (comp. Revelation 21:20), the Chrysolite (χρυσόλιθος ). The stone now so called is generally found crystallized, and is, of a pale green color, wholly transparent, with double refraction. According to Pliny (37:42), the ancients appear to have had a yellow stone called the chrysolite, which would seem to have been our topaz (but compare Bellermann, ut sup. page 62). Bredow (Histor. Untersuch. page 295) would take the tarshish to be amber, as the name probably came from the place so called (See TARSHISH), whence the Phoenicians imported it; a not altogether unlikely view, inasmuch as electrum was well known in earliest antiquity, was highly prized, and bore an excellent polish (Pliny, 37:11). Nevertheless, the authority of the ancient versions must here prevail; and when our attention is once directed by the name to Spain, the statement of Pliny (37:43) makes it clear that the chrysolite was also produced there. (See BERYL).

11. Sho'ham, שֹׁהִם (Genesis 2:12; Exodus 28:9. Ezekiel 28:13; Job 28:16, etc.), according to the Sept., Vulg., and most others, as well as Josephus (War, ut sup.), the Beryl (Revelation 21:20), a pale green gem, passing at times into water-blue, at others into yellow, with a hexagonal crystallization, streaked longitudinally. The most esteemed specimens came from India (but comp. Dionays. Perieg. 1012), and were of a clear sea-green (Pliny, 37:20; see Hoffmann, Mineral. 1:604 sq.). The chrysoprase (λίθος πράσινος ), which the Sept. has in the passage in Genesis for shoham, may be the berql. Many versions (with Braun, Michaelis, Eichhorn, Pareau, Ewald, and others) understand the onyx (see Huaet, De situ paradisi, c. 11). Reland (following the Sept. in Exodus 28:9; Exodus 28:20) holds it to be emerald, on the ground that Havilah (q.v.) was a part of Scythia, whence emeralds were obtained (Pliny, 37:16 and 17). (See ONYX).

12. Yashephaeh', י שְׁפֵה or י שְׁפֶה (Exodus 28:20; Exodus 39:13; Ezekiel 28:13), according to the Sept., Vulg., and Josephus, the Jasper (comp. Revelation 21:19), a well-known opaque stone, sometimes of one, at others of many colors, of a shellay, compact fracture, granulous texture, often wrought hey the ancients into gems and ornaments (Pliny, 37:37; comp. Fuller, Miscell. 6:8). (See JASPER).

13. Kadkod', כִּדַכֹּד (Ezekiel 27:16; Isaiah 54:12), and 14. Ekdah', אֶקְדָּה (Isaiah ib.); both a red (fiery), brilliant, costly stone, like the ruby, garnet, etc. (see Hartmann, Hebrdaer. 3:91 sq.). The ancient versions give no definite clew to the identity (see Gesenius, Thes. page 660). (See AGATE); (See CARBUNCLE).

15. Chrysoprasen, χρυσόπρασος (Revelation 21:20), a pale green stone, inclining to yellow or brown, and transparent (Pliny, 37:20). (See CHRYSOPRASUS).

16. Chalcedony, χαλκηδών (Revelation 21:16), semi-transparent, sky- blue, with a dash of other colors (compare No. 8 above). (See CHALCEDONY).

17. Sardonyx, σαρδόνυξ (Revelation 21:20), a mixture of the agate and carnelian (comp. No. 6 above), veriy highly valued by the ancients, (Pliny, 37:23). (See SARDONYX).

18. Shaupir', שָׁמַיר (Jeremiah 17:1; Ezekiel 3:9; Zechariah 7:12), according to the Sept. (in Jeremiah) and Vulg., the Diamond, the hardest of minerals (Pliny, 37:15), hence compared with adamant (Pinder, Des adamante, Berl. 1829). Bochart (Hieroz. 3:843 sq.) compares the σμίρις or σμύρις (σμυρίτης λιθος, Job 41:7 or 15, Sept.; comp.Veltheim in Velthusen's Theolog. Magaz. 2:219 sq.), or emery (Diosc. 5:160), a quartzose earth mixed with calcined iron, used for polishing (Hoffmann, Mineral. 1:561 sq.); but the origin of this Greek word is not Shemitic (see Passow, s.v.). (See DIAMOND).

See generally Pliny, Hist Nat. 37:14 sq.; Theophrastus, Περὶ λίθων (in Opp. 4, ed. Schneider); Rau, Specim e. libris Achmed de gemmis (Uttr. 1784), Dutens, Pierres precieuses (Par. 1776, Lond. 1777); Mariotte, Pierres gravies (Par. 1750); Blum, Taschenbuch d. E lelsteenk. (2d ed. Steuttg. 1835); Hindmarsb, Precious Stones of Scripture (Lond. 1851); Anon. Gems, ancient and modern (Lond. 1852); King, Antique Gems (Lond. 1861); Thomson, Land and Book, 1:437 sq. (See MINERALOGY); (See STONES, PRECIOUS).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gem'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/g/gem.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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