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The Importance of Gemstones in the Bible: Mediating the Divine Sphere

Gemstones are high-value stones with divine significance. As such, these rocks are essential in mediating the celestial sphere, and the Bible puts intrinsic value on them, mentioning them quite severally. Gemstones in the Bible are the mainstay, and this holy book mentions 23 different types. But, what is the importance of these gemstones, and what do they signify?

Gemstones in the Bible carry significant symbolism and sometimes makes literal reference to situations in the old and new testaments. However, these stones indicated status and class and adorned castles and palaces more uniquely at that time. Most definitions and gemstone meanings are prophetic, while others are only literal to depict rank and accolades. 

This article mediates the divine sphere, explaining the importance of the gemstones in the Bible and what they symbolize.

The 12 Tribes of Israel Gemstones

The old testament quite sequentially references gemstones and ties them to specific events. And one more notable reference includes the chief high priests Aaron’s breastplate that God instructed him to put on. These gemstones are more ever mentioned in the book of Exodus as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. 

Specifically, God asked Aaron – the Israelites’ high priest – to put it on so that they could communicate, with two essential stones, the Thummim and Urim, determining God’s will. 

However, it’s pretty unfortunate that these gemstones in the Bible have quite varied definitions and translations across various bible versions. Perhaps, the knowledge of gemstones wasn’t so sharp at the time, and everyone stamped down their translation version. However, the most basic ideas remain. Here are some of the twelve gemstones in the Bible representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

Sard – This gemstone is a reddish brown beauty situated in the first position of the first row of the breastplate. This gemstone represented the son of Israel, Asher, and was the first tribe of Israel. This tribe settled in Canaan with Asher bearing four sons and a daughter, as the book of Genesis 49:20 states. 

sard gemstone

Sapphire – This gemstone in the Bible is yet another precious stone representing the tribe of Dan, Jacob’s second son. The tribe is one of the vast majority that failed to survive since the Assyrians later conquered and exiled it. This gemstone is beautifully bluish, and mineralogists also refer to it as the lapis lazuli. The stone was used for promoting constancy, virtue, and truth in the early times of the Bible. 

sapphire bezel set

Smaragdos – This gemstone is a bluish-green and “good for the eyes” gemstone with a mesmerizing touch and is one of the twelve stones of the breastplate. The gem represented the secular tribe of Levi that also didn’t survive or reach the promised land, as most scholars believe. 

Emerald Gemstone

Jasper – This gemstone translates as Amethystos and is subtly colored and represents the tribe of Benjamin. This tribe was one of the two remaining together with the tribe of Judah, represented by the emerald gemstone. 

red jasper

Chrysolite – this gemstone belonged to the tribe of Zabulon and is one of the twelve rocks forming the foundation of the wall of Jerusalem. It had a mystic significance in the Bible’s early times and was the key to helping people overcome the fear of the dark. 

chrysolite gemstone

Onyx – The onyx is a white, black, and sometimes brown breastplate gemstone belonging to Joseph’s tribe. While this tribe faced exiled, later on, it continued as the tribe of Ephraim, a direct descendant of Joseph. However, this gemstone is essential for its sturdy symbolism since it relates to marital happiness and prosperity.

Gemstones in the Bible carry significant symbolism and sometimes makes literal reference to situations in the old and new testaments. However, these stones indicated status and class and adorned castles and palaces more uniquely at that time.

Diamond – This stone is presently sought after but was one of the incredibly prized gemstones in the Bible. The stone represented the tribe of Naphtali, and the Bible severally mentions it in the book of Jeremiah 17:1, where the verse notes its hardness with the propensity to engrave other metals. It’s also evident that God promises to make his people jewels, and references to the diamond in the book of Malachi 3:17. 

diamond cuts

Ruby – Ruby is also a breastplate gemstone, reddish-orange, and resembles a colored diamond. The Holy Bible quite severally mentions this gemstone in the book of Isiah 54:12, Exodus 39:10, and 11. This gemstone represents the tribe of Reuben and symbolizes wisdom and beauty and the divinity of it. The Bible mentions this gemstone four times, including in the book of Exodus 28:17 when God instructed Aaron to position it on the breastplate. 

burmese ruby gemstone

Other gemstones of the 12 tribes of Israel include Pearl, Prase, Ruby, and Crystal. Most bible versions have further related these gemstone colors to the actions of these twelve sons of Jacob. The truth is, every translation is fitting, and every definition is acceptable.

Other Gemstones in The Bible and Their Significance

While the breastplate gems are the most essential in the Bible, it mentions other gems in the old and new Testaments. Here are the gemstones in the Bible apart from the popular types in both the old and new Testaments. 

Hyacinth – The book of revelations 21:20 highlights the stone hyacinth, but philosophers argue the intended stone should be sapphire. The reason for the controversy is that this gemstone in the Bible bears a similar streak as the latter and may be one of the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem. Regardless, this stone is usually reddish orange, and people in the early biblical times used to open their second sights. 

hyacinth gemstone

Pearl – Pearl may not entirely fit in the description of gemstones but is one of the most mentioned in the Bible. The book of revelation 21:21 states that the twelve gates were pearls, and each gate was made from a single pearl. This idea has become somewhat cliché in the modern world, with vivid descriptions curating the concept of pearly heaven gates. Also, the parable of the Pearl in Matthew 13 describes the intrinsic value of the kingdom of heaven.

colors of pearl birthstones
Set of beautiful shiny sea pearl in different colors.


The Bible mentions about 23 gemstones, but almost half are incredibly significant and carry massive symbolism and depictions. Virtually every gemstone in the Bible has meaning and utmost importance, some requiring vivid interpretation while others present literal meanings. Hopefully, this article will offer you answers on the essentiality of gemstones in the Bible.

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