And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
A sapphire - Not the stone now called the sapphire; the lapis-lazuli is most probably meant.
A diamond - There is no trace of evidence that the ancients ever acquired the skill to engrave on the diamond, or even that they were acquainted with the stone. The "diamond" here may possibly be some variety of chalcedony, or (perhaps) rock crystal.Job 28:6. The third stone of this row is the "diamond" or adamant; and that this stone is meant seems clear from its name Jahalom, which comes from a word which signifies to break; and from hence a hammer has its name, because this stone pierces, cuts, and breaks other stones, but cannot be broken itself. On these three stones were engraved, according to the Jerusalem Targum, the names of the three tribes of Judah, Issachar and Zebulun; but more truly, according to the Targum of Jonathan, the names of the tribes of Judah, Dan and Naphtali, and so Jarchi; for the names here, as on the onyx stones, were according to the order of their birth. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. an emerald] Heb. nôphek, ἄνθραξ, carbunculus [a red stone, called ἄνθραξ and carbunculus because in the sun-light it flashes like a burning ‘coal,’ Theophr. de Lap. 18]: Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 28:13. As is generally agreed, the red garnet, a species of carbuncle.
a sapphire] Heb. sappir, σάπφειρος, sapphirus: Exodus 24:10, Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 10:1; Ezekiel 28:13, Job 28:6; Job 28:16, Song of Solomon 5:14, Isaiah 54:11, Lamentations 4:7, Revelation 21:19. Not, however, our ‘sapphire,’ which was ‘almost unknown before Roman imperial times,’ but the opaque blue lapis lazuli (so Revelation 21:19 RVm.), as is shewn by the description of the Greek and Roman ‘sapphire’ by Theophrastus and Pliny as sprinkled with gold dust (ὥσπερ χρυσόπαστος, ‘inest ei et aureus pulvis’), with allusion to the particles of iron pyrites, easily mistaken by their colour and lustre for gold, frequently found in the lapis lazuli (cf. Sapphire in DB. and EB.; and Job 28:6 ‘And it hath dust of gold’).
a diamond] Heb. yahâlôm, ἴασπις, jaspis: Ezekiel 28:13. Ἴασπις, jaspis, seem so naturally to correspond to Heb. yâshepheh in v. 20, that many suppose an accidental transposition to have taken place in either the Heb. or the Greek text: if this be granted, yahălôm will be represented by ὀνύχιον here and Ezekiel 28:13, and by βηρύλλιον in Exodus 39:13. What the yashălôm was, is, however, uncertain. ‘Diamond’ has nothing to recommend it: there is no evidence that this stone was known to the ancients. RVm. sardonyx (cf. Revelation 21:20), a stratified stone, consisting of layers of red and white (hence the name, the ‘sard’ being red, and the ‘onyx’ whitish), and in ancient times often with a layer of dark brown as well; well adapted for engraving, on account of the variety produced by the different strata (EB. Sardonyx). For the symbolism attached to the three colours, see the quaint verses quoted in DB. s.v. Onyx.Verse 18. - The second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. Here all the names must be wrong, for none of these three stones could be cut by the ancient engravers. Probably, carbuncle (or garnet), lapis lazuli, and onyx are intended. Exodus 28:29). As a shoulder-dress, the ephod was par excellence the official dress of the high priest. The burden of the office rested upon the shoulder, and the insignia of the office were also worn upon it (Isaiah 22:22). The duty of the high priest was to enter into the presence of God and made atonement for the people as their mediator. To show that as mediator he brought the nation to God, the names of the twelve tribes were engraved upon precious stones on the shoulders of the ephod. The precious stones, with their richness and brilliancy, formed the most suitable earthly substratum to represent the glory into which Israel was to be transformed as the possession of Jehovah (Exodus 19:5); whilst the colours and material of the ephod, answering to the colours and texture of the hangings of the sanctuary, indicated the service performed in the sanctuary by the person clothed with the ephod, and the gold with which the coloured fabric was worked, the glory of that service.
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