In the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, a different gemstone is listed for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. They are, in the 1st row, carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald; in the 2nd row, turquoise, sapphire, and amethyst; in the 3rd row, jacinth, agate, and crystal; in the 4th row, beryl, lapis lazuli, and jasper.
“The 12 stones are to correspond to the names of Israel’s sons. Each stone must be engraved like a seal, with one of the names of the 12 tribes.” Every time Aaron or his sons, or any future Levite put on the vestments with the breastplate, they would be reminded of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Emerald Birth Stone (Tribe of Judah)
The Breastplate (Exodus 28:10-30) – Worn over the Ephod was a square breastplate embroidered with gold. It held twelve precious stones set in gold filigree: sardius (ruby), topaz, carbuncle (garnet), emerald, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx and jasper.
Successive foundations of the wall of New Jerusalem were garnished with various precious stones. From the first foundation to the twelfth foundation, stones used were jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst respectively.
What was unique with Elijah’s altar was that God would ignite the offering with fire (or lightning) from heaven. The timing of this display made it the most spectacular religious event since the Exodus from Egypt. Hence, use of a Twelve-Stone monument became a form of marking a spectacular event.
Gemstones are mentioned in connection with the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel (Book of Exodus, xxviii, 17-20; xxxix, 10-13), the treasure of the King of Tyre (Book of Ezekiel, xxviii, 13), and the foundations of the New Jerusalem (Book of Tobit, xiii, 16-17, in the Greek text, and more fully, Book of
The tribe of Levi was represented by the agate, which is a type of beautiful, colorful stone with a ringed pattern. The descendants of the Levites are still responsible for religious leadership to some extent, as some founded synagogues after the destruction of the temple.
sardius. / (ˈsɑːdɪəs) / noun. Old Testament a precious stone, probably a ruby, set in the breastplate of the high priest. another name for sard.
A faceted stone is a type of gemstone cut where the stone has flat top, polished faces called facets across it and a pointed bottom. This cut refracts the light inside the gem and reflects light on the outside facets of the gemstone, maximising the stone’s brilliance and fire.
Exodus 28:18 describes the armour of the high priest (a person who acts as a priest ruler or who is at the head of a religious caste) and there, it is mentioned that the stone in the middle of the second row of his armour is called “Sappiyr” (Hebrew), according to Strong #H5601.
According to Christian legend, when Jesus Christ was crucified, the dripping blood stained the green jasper at his feet, and this was the origin of bloodstone. Bloodstone was widely used in sculptures representing flagellation and martyrdom, and was known at one time as ‘the martyr’s stone’.