What Were the Gemstones of the Breastplate of Aaron?
In Exodus, the breastplate of Aaron was said to hold 12 gems. However, the gemological identities of the stones, like jacinth and sapphire, are debatable.
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Answer: Matching the names ancient people used for gemstones to modern gem names can be difficult. We must contend not only with translations but also the fact that the ancients didn't identify gems the same way we do today.
What is Jacinth?
The name jacinth, or hyacinth, now refers usually to the orange-red and red-brown varieties of zircon. However, the classical Greek name huakinthos (Rev 21:20) appears to have been our blue sapphire. The Greeks generally referred to hyacinthus as blue. (However, the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder speaks of it as golden colored).
In the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version accounts of the breastplate of Aaron (Exodus 28:19; 39:12), hyacinth is used instead of the "ligure" of the King James Version for the Hebrew leshem. In these cases, the name apparently refers to a deep yellow gem, possibly our zircon. Nevertheless, the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, uses huakinthos for the Hebrew tekelet in all the descriptions of the Tabernacle furnishings. The English versions use blue. Since various ancient writers refer to hyacinthus as some shade of blue, there can be little question that jacinth is our sapphire.
Hope this helps,
The Identities of the Chrysolite and Sapphire of the Breastplate of Aaron
I must respectfully disagree with the original poster's identifications. It is my opinion that the "chrysolite" in the breastplate of Aaron is not chrysoberyl at all. Rather, it's another term for what we now call peridot.
One other item which may be of interest. The biblical term "sapphire" was not always the sapphire we know today. "Sapphire" in the Mediterranean and Middle East in biblical times was almost always what we now refer to as lapis lazuli.
I'm fascinated by the gemstones of the breastplate of Aaron as well as the foundation stones of the New Testament. Interesting subjects, aren't they?
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