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Sapphires In The Bible: Symbolism, Meaning, And More

In this article, we will take a look at sapphires in the Bible—what these beautiful blue gemstones symbolize, their Biblical references, meaning, and so much more. So, get your Bible, and let’s dig in…

There are many mentions of precious stones and metals in the Bible. Many of these are descriptions or historical accounts of actual items, like the gemstones in Aaron’s breastplate.

On other occasions, precious stones are used in prophesies or visions as a symbol of something. Diamonds, rubies, onyx, and emeralds are all mentioned in the Bible.

And if you are here, you are probably wondering about sapphires.

Sapphires are mentioned 12 times in the King James Version of the Bible. In fact, these beautifully polished blue stones were considered one of the most precious of the precious stones in Biblical times.

Sapphires are mentioned three times more than Diamonds in the Bible.   

In Biblical times, stones were named for their appearance rather than their chemical composition. Some consider some of the mentions of sapphires in the Bible to refer to lapis lazuli, a gemstone of similar color, which was also very popular in Biblical times.

Some of the more recent English Bible translations have, in fact, translated the original text as lapis lazuli rather than sapphire.

Sapphires in the Bible

What Does The Bible Say About Sapphires?

As I mentioned above, it is important to note that the same word translated to sapphire was also translated to lapis lazuli in some versions of the Bible.

Blue gemstones in the Bible

Although these two gemstones are not the same, people in Biblical times classified gemstones by their appearance, which will explain the confusion.

Of the 12 mentions of sapphires in the Bible, there are a few times that particularly stand out. Let take a look at them:

The Breastplate Of Aaron

breast plate of Aaron stones
Hindmarsh, Robert, 1759-1835, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In Exodus 18, God describes to Moses the design of the priest’s garments.

God was very specific about the garments that Aaron, as the High Priest, had to wear when doing duty in the Tabernacle. The breast piece was described in Exodus 18:15-30.

On it, Moses was to place 12 precious stones in four rows of three stones each. Each stone represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

The fifth stone on the breast piece of judgment was the sapphire. Exodus 28:17-20 reads:

“You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz and carbuncle shall be the first row; and the second row an emerald, a sapphire and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx and a jasper….”

Moses further had to have the names of the “twelve sons of Israel” engraved on these stones, one stone per tribe.

Although it is never specified in scripture which tribe was represented by the sapphire, it is commonly believed to have been either Dan, Israel’s fifth son, or Issachar, Israel’s fifth son from his wife, Leah.

Aaron had to wear the breast piece of judgment with the stones representing the twelve tribes on his heart,

“…when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD.” (Exodus 18:29).

This was a symbolic way for Aaron to have the judgment of the tribes of Israel on his heart whenever he appeared before God. 

Lucifer As The King Of Tyre

stone image of the king of Tyre
Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In Ezekiel 28:11-19, God commands the prophet to:

“raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre….” Ezekiel then goes on to describe Lucifer, created as “…an anointed guardian cherub.” (Ezekiel 28:14). He describes Lucifer as “…a signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” (Ezekiel 28:12).

Ezekiel 28:13 reads:

“You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared.”

In this vision, the gemstones that adorned Lucifer were a symbol of his beauty and stature as an anointed guardian and angel.

But, according to Ezekiel 28:17,

“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” 

Ezekiel then goes on to lament about Lucifer’s rebellion against God and his fall from grace, and his end.  

The New Jerusalem

In the Bible, gemstones were often used to describe someone’s or something’s beauty, characteristics, and glory. But they can also be literal.

In the case of Revelation 21:9-21, where an angel shows John “…the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” (Revelation 21:10). 

Verse 11 describes it as having the radiance of “a rarest jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”

The city’s walls were “…built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass.” (Revelation 21:18). The city also had twelve foundations, which were “…adorned with every kind of jewel.

The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald….”

The jewels mentioned here again could be literal gemstones or symbolic of the beauty and perfection of the New Jerusalem that God created.

Bible Verses about Sapphires

Below you will find all the references for Saphhires in the Bible. I used the New King James version as it’s sometimes easier to read than KJV.

and they saw the God of Israel. And [there was] under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in [its] clarity. – Exo 24:10 NKJV

“the second row [shall be] a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; – Exo 28:18 NKJV

the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; – Exo 39:11 NKJV

Its stones [are] the source of sapphires, And it contains gold dust. … It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, In precious onyx or sapphire. – Job 28:6, 16 NKJV

His hands [are] rods of gold Set with beryl. His body [is] carved ivory Inlaid [with] sapphires. – Sng 5:14 NKJV

“O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, [and] not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires. – Isa 54:11 NKJV

Her Nazirites were brighter than snow And whiter than milk; They were more ruddy in body than rubies, [Like] sapphire in their appearance. – Lam 4:7 NKJV

And above the firmament over their heads [was] the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne [was] a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. – Eze 1:26 NKJV

And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne. – Eze 10:1 NKJV

You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone [was] your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. – Eze 28:13 NKJV

The foundations of the wall of the city [were] adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation [was] jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, – Rev 21:19 NKJV

Biblical Symbolism Of Sapphires

In the Bible, gemstones are generally a symbol of beauty, perfection, and status. The sapphire, however, has its own special significance as a symbol in the Bible.

Sapphires Bible

Symbol Of Dan Or Issachar

In the breast piece of judgment worn by Aaron as the High Priest, the sapphire represented one of the sons of Israel.

It is uncertain which son of Israel it referred to, but the names of all twelve the sons of Israel appeared on the breast piece of judgment, in order to bring them to remembrance before God every time that Aaron performed his duties in the Holy Place.

Symbol Of Truth

Sapphires are believed to symbolize truth and honesty. At creation, before his fall, Lucifer was adorned with sapphires. However, when deceit was found in him, God cast him “…from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, o guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Sapphires also form part of the foundations of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, symbolizing that truth is part of the foundation.

In John 14:6, Jesus said: “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” He also said in John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” It is, therefore logical that truth would be part of the foundation of the city God created.

Symbol Of God’s Redemption

Precious stones are beautiful to look at and very expensive to buy. People often forget that many of these very rare and precious stones were made from some ordinary and mundane things.

Diamonds are made from carbon, while sapphires are made from aluminum, neither of which is rare on costly.

The use of sapphires in the Bible, something so beautiful, perfect and precious made from something ordinary, is therefore also a symbol of us as Christians today.

Through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, ordinary, filthy, sinful people have been given a chance to shine for God and to glorify Him.

God can change any ordinary, sinful person to someone who can work for him. Consider apostles like Peter and John who were lowly fishermen, Matthias who was a tax collector and Paul, who persecuted the church.

God redeemed every one of them and used them mightily to build His church. And God still does it today, using ordinary, sinful people to do extraordinary things.

Sapphires Are Blue – The Color Blue Symbolic Meaning

blue sapphires in the bible

The biggest characteristic of sapphires is the beautiful blue color they have. And if you have studied scripture, you will know that colors have a specific meaning. So, some of the symbolism and spiritual meaning of sapphires can also come from its color.

Here are some key information on blue from my article Blue in the Bible: Powerful Symbolism, Meaning and More

In the Bible, the color blue holds significant spiritual and symbolic meaning. It is mentioned 50 times in the Old Testament, often connected to fabrics, yarns, and clothing. Blue represents the heavens, the Holy Spirit, life, water, healing, prayer, royalty, high position, wealth, and God’s commandments.

The Hebrew word for blue is “tekhelet,” which is associated with fabric or yarn created from marine shellfish. Blue gemstones like sapphires, turquoise, and lapis lazuli are also connected to the color’s symbolism. In church history, blue is symbolic of purity and innocence, and it was used in expensive pigments for paint during the Renaissance.

In the Bible, gemstones are symbols of beauty, perfection, and status. Sapphires were one of the most precious stones in Biblical times and were often used in the Bible to symbolize truth.

There was also a sapphire on the breast piece of judgment that represented one of the tribes of Israel, while sapphires, made from ordinary aluminum, are a symbol of God’s redemption of men.

I hope you have enjoyed this article on sapphires in the Bible and that it has stirred up your faith to study the Bible more.

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