There are a few references in the Bible that mention precious stones. This short article will look at the references, the differences and the context in which these precious stones are mentioned. It is interesting that in each of these references the stones are mentioned by name. Two references mention twelve stones, and one mentions ten stones. Perhaps these may represent the twelve tribes of Israel.
There are three references in the Bible with precious stones:
- Exodus 28:17-20. This is the first time these precious stones are mentioned, and it was in the context of the tabernacle that God instructed Moses to build while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Four rows of stones are mentioned, and three stones for each row. First row – sarodin, topaz and emerald. Second row – carbuncle, sapphire, diamond. Third row – opal, agate, amethyst. Fourth row – chrysolite, onyx, jasper. These stones are according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve. These are repeated in Exodus 39:10-13 when they did the work of the tabernacle.
- Ezekiel 28:13. Here only ten were mentioned. Sardius can be another name for sarodin. Gold is mentioned here but not in Exodus, as one of the stones. The opal, agate and amethyst are missing here. This section dealt with the judgment on the king of Tyre, and Eden the garden of God is mentioned.
- Revelation 21:19-20. Twelve stones are mentioned here. This section adds chalcedony, sardonyx, beryl, chrysoprasus, and jacinth. Does not include the carbuncle, sarodin, agate, onyx, and diamond. In Revelation, this is the scene of the new heaven and new earth, and twelve gates in this section represented the twelve pearls. This number twelve could represent the twelve tribes of Israel, or the twelve apostles. These are two thoughts. No matter what the consensus on this is, the twelve stones represent God’s people.
In concluding, the first epistle of Peter has some things to say about stones in a spiritual sense. It is interesting that the name Peter means ‘stone’ and therefore it is fitting that he writes about all true believers as ‘living stones’. Peter writes his epistle to the ‘strangers scattered’, and these people are also ‘elect’. He may have been writing to the Israelites who were scattered throughout the region at the time of writing, but there are applications to each Christian person.
1 Peter 2:4-8 explains that Christ was the cornerstone that the builders (people of Israel) rejected. When we believe in Him and put our trust in Him as Saviour, He becomes to us as precious, and we are referred to as living stones. Christ is also referred to as the living stone, chosen of God and precious.
It is fitting to include the first verse of a well-known hymn here:
“Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord and precious,
binding all the church in one;
holy Zion’s help forever,
and her confidence alone.”
The words of the hymn are taken from http://www.hymnary.org. Translated by John M. Neale (1861). The hymn is originally Latin, written around the 6th or 7th century.