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Gems and Minerals in the Bible

What does the Bible say about gems? 

The word "crystal" is used five times in the Bible.  It is used in Job 28:17 alongside gold.  Speaking of wisdom, Job says, "The gold and the crystal cannot equal it, and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold." Not only are crystal and gold mentioned in this passage, but other precious materials are listed here as well. "Crystal" is also used in the book of Revelation and describes parts of heaven.  Crystal in the Bible is clear and transparent, like glass.We find that precious stones are also significant in the Bible, and they are mentioned as early as Genesis, chapter two. "The name of the first (river) is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good, bdellium and the onyx stone are there." (NKJV) [emphasis added] (Genesis 2:11-12).Stones are very important in Scripture.  Here are just a few examples of stones being used in the Bible:

  • They are mentioned in Genesis chapter 2 when describing the Garden of Eden.

  • Gold is a precious metal, onyx is a semi-precious stone, and bdellium is considered a resin, though the Septuagint translates bdellium as a precious stone or crystal rather than a resin.

  • Stones are used as a witness.

  • Jacob anoints the stone he used as a pillow during his famous dream about the ladder reaching from heaven to earth as a witness that if God would keep him and feed him and that if he returned to his father's house again in peace, then he would give God a tenth of everything he had. Genesis 28:10-22

  • Jacob used stones as a witness when he made a covenant with Laban. Genesis 31:45-55

  • Moses and the elders saw the God of Israel in the wilderness, "And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of Heaven in his clearness."

  • The Ten Commandments were written on tablets of stone.  Exodus 24:12

Precious stones and gems were also used on the breastplate of Aaron, the high priest.  When the high priest went to minister before God, he wore the breastplate with twelve stones etched with the names of the twelve children of Israel. This was worn over his heart as a memorial to the Lord, showing that he, the high priest, was interceding on behalf of all the people. Each stone was different and represented each tribe of Israel.  The high priest also wore ephods with onyx on his shoulders. The stones in the high priest's breastplate were: sardius (ruby), topaz, carbuncle (emerald), turquoise, sapphire, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, Shoham (onyx), and Jasper. (Exodus 28:17-20)

Foundation Stones of the New Jerusalem

Crystal and precious stones (what we would call crystals today) are used in building the New Jerusalem.  Revelation 21:18-20 reads, "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.  The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx (sardonyx), the sixth sardius (carnelian), the seventh chrysolite (peridot), the eighth beryl (aquamarine), the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth (zircon), and the twelfth amethyst."


In the past century, it has been discovered that gems can be classified as either anisotropic or isotropic, and only recently have scientists discovered cross-polarized light, which can be used to identify whether a gem is anisotropic or isotropic. When viewed in crossed-polarized light (“pure” light), anisotropic stones produce a colorful array- reflecting all the colors of the rainbow, whereas isotropic stones lose all of their colors and appear black. In Revelation chapter 21 there are 12 gems mentioned to be inlaid for decoration of the New Jerusalem, and ALL of these 12 gems are anisotropic gems, (gems that can show colorful patterns under pure light...) ​

Neither diamonds, rubies nor garnets are mentioned, despite the fact that this group of gems is very common. The precious stones are generally considered to be diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. Because they are isotropic, when pure light passes through them, there is no beauty at all... 

"For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." (Proverbs 8:11)

Of the 28 stones that are normally regarded as gemstones, only 16 are anisotropic. God chose the stones for the foundation of the new temple, avoiding stones that would lose their color, and instead chose stones that disperse light to produce brilliant rainbow effects, even before we understood the unique feature of these stones.  

"...and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." (Revelation 4:3)

Believers are given white stones with a new name inscribed in them according to Revelation 2:17.There are many more instances when stones, including precious stones, are talked about in the Bible. These passages describe the throne room where God sits in Heaven and include being used as witnesses and memorials to agreements and covenants. 

Consider what Hannah said about God, "There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." And Deuteronomy 32:4 declares, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. "Peter had the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of the living God.  Jesus said he was going to build His church on the truth of the rock of this revelation. (Matthew 16:18). Many times in Scripture, God is referred to as our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. 

There is something pretty special about rocks, stones, and crystals if God uses them in His throne room, as a picture of His attributes, as a foundation for building His church, as a witness by people to keep their words and to speak the truth, as memorials, and more! Romans 1:20 tells us, "For since the creation of the world His invisible qualities have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, both His everlasting power and mightiness, for them to be without excuse."God created rocks, crystals, and gemstones.  He likens Himself to a rock, and He surrounds Himself with beautiful stones to show and demonstrate to us His beautiful qualities; who He is, and what He is like.  The use of crystals and rocks belongs to God first.  When believers use crystals, they can be used to glorify God.  They were created by Him.

When Christ entered Jerusalem, the Pharisees asked Him to silence the crowd that was praising Him, "He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out"?  (Luke 19:40) 

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