A gem next in hardness and value to the diamond, and comprising, as varieties, all those precious stones known by the name of oriental gems, namely, the oriental ruby, oriental topaz, and oriental emerald, Joh 21:25. In general the name of sapphire is given to the blue variety, which is either of deep indigo blue, or of various lighter tints, Ex 24:10, and sometimes gradually passes into perfectly white or colorless, which, when cut, may also pass for a diamond, Ex 28:18; 39:11; Re 21:19.
Associated with diamonds (Ex 28:18) and emeralds (Eze 28:13); one of the stones in the high priest's breastplate. It is a precious stone of a sky-blue colour, probably the lapis lazuli, brought from Babylon. The throne of God is described as of the colour of a sapphire (Ex 24:10; comp. Eze 1:26).
One of the hyaline corundums; deep blue, hard, brilliant, and costly. Representing the hue of the divine throne. On the high-priest's breast-plate (Ex 28:18); some think the lapis lazuli is meant (Ex 24:10). Eze 1:26; 10:1; Job 28:6,16; Song 5:14, sapphire, sparkling in the girdle round Him; Isa 54:11; La 4:7, "their polishing was of sapphire," they were like beautifully cut and polished sapphires. The sapphires represent the blue veins of a beautiful person (Eze 28:13). The best sapphires came from Persia. Our sapphire is the azure or indigo blue, crystalline corundum; but the Latin and Greek sapphire was "refulgent with spots of gold, azure, never transparent, not suited for engraving when intersected with hard crystalline particles" (Pliny, H. N. 37:9); i.e. the lapis lazuli. The Hebrew lapis lazuli is transparent and suited for engraving; probably our sapphire.
sappir, ?????????. When Moses, and the elders, etc., went up into the mount to God "there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone." Ex 24:10. In Ezekiel's vision, above the firmament, was seen the "likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone." Eze 1:26. It was one of the stones in the breastplate, and one that garnished the foundation of the holy Jerusalem. It is symbolical of heavenly glory. Ex 28:18; Re 21:19. The word occurs in Job 28:6,16; Cant. 5:14; Isa 54:11; La 4:7; Eze 10:1; 28:13. Probably an azure or sky-blue stone. Some suppose it was the Lapis-lazuli, others identify it with the modern sapphire.
(Heb. sappir), a precious stone, apparently of a bright-blue color, set:
the second stone in the second row of the high priest's breastplate,
it was one of the precious stones that ornamented the king of Tyre.
The sapphire of the ancients was not our gem of that name, viz. the azure or indigo-blue, crystalline variety of corundum, but our lapis lazuli (ultra-marine).
SAPPHIRE, ????, Ex 24:10; 28:18; Job 28:6,16; Song 5:14; Isa 54:11; Eze 1:26; 10:1; 28:13, ?????????, Re 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, Eze 1:26; 10:1. Isa 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." Tobit, 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," Re 21:18-21.