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Agate or Emerald - The Eighth Stone in Aaron's Breastplate

Updated on September 25, 2013
Marilynn Dawson profile image

Born-again Christian single mother of two grown kids. PC Tech, and Author of 18+ books in the non-fiction, personal/spiritual growth genres

One variant of the Agate
One variant of the Agate

The Agate, or Emerald

This eighth stone in Aaron's Breastplate is largely considered to be the Agate, although some say the Emerald as well. Interestingly, definitions of the agate vary widely while most sources agree that the color of the stone being referred to is a deep green colour. The Hebrew word for this stone is Shebo and in the Greek, Achates, from which it is surmised to have come to the word Agate. There is disagreement on what this stone actually looks like, but for the purposes of this study, we'll look at why it's been compared to the Emerald.

The High Priestly Robes with the Breastplate in place
The High Priestly Robes with the Breastplate in place
Emerald stones
Emerald stones

Make-up and Characteristics

The agate is an interesting precious stone. The layered nature in which it is formed lends itself to a wide variety of appearances and colour combinations. One of the outer formative layers is generally described as dark greenish. A quote from Wikipedia puts it this way:

"The first deposit on the wall of a cavity, forming the "skin" of the agate, is generally a dark greenish mineral substance, like celadonite, delessite or "green earth", which are rich in iron probably derived from the decomposition of the augite in the enclosing volcanic rock. This green silicate may give rise by alteration to a brown iron oxide (limonite), producing a rusty appearance on the outside of the agate-nodule."

This appears very similar to a quote taken from the 1911 Britannica which states:

"The first deposit on the wall of a cavity, forming the "skin" of the agate, is generally a dark greenish mineral substance, like celadonite, delessite or "green earth," which are hydrous silicates rich in iron, derived probably from the decomposition of the augite in the mother-rock. This green silicate may give rise by alteration to a brown oxide of iron (limonite), producing a rusty appearance on the outside of the agate-nodule."

This stone has a waxy lustre and ranks around 6.5 - 7 on the Mohs hardness scale.

The striped nature of the stone, in combination with the dark green hue that most scholars agree on, make the outer layer's coloration a candidate for this stone on Aaron's Breastplate.

The emerald stone, as is commonly understood, is green. The darker the hue, the richer the appearance of the stone. Not only is this stone found in Egypt and actually mined there, but is found in other places as well around the Mediterannean and beyond. Once again, we have a stone the Egyptians easily had in their possession, to give to the Hebrews as they fled the land. This stone, while on a level of hardness at 6.5-8 on the Mohs scale, is still considered fragile and not very tough, generally due to how the stone is formed. This would be in keeping with the color's reference to life, and that while life is enduring, it is also fragile.

Unfortunately, this particular gemstone gets imitated via synthetic means as often as the Sapphire.

Gad and John - Associations with the Stone

Gad's name means "a troop", "to overcome", "good fortune" or "fortunate". It is noted among scholars of the Tribes of Israel, that Gad would be the first to take land in the the Land of Canaan. We know from Exodus, that this land was rich and fertile. Gad overcame the inhabitants, obtaining the good fortune of their portion of the new Land of Israel.

Some scholars have referred to the green gem as beryl. When the Emerald is looked up, that is what is found, a member of the beryl mineral family. It is surmised that in ancient times, the beryl was used for "good fortune", one of the meanings of Gad's name.

John's name in the Greek comes from the Hebrew name "Yohanan" meaning "Yahweh is/has been gracious". We aren't really told which John is referred to in the Early Church's assignment of the stones to the 12 Apostles. It is hinted that this may have been John, the brother of James, sons of Zebedee. This is the John that gave us the Gospel of John, 1st and 2nd John, and Revelation in the New Testament. These two brothers were nicknamed "Sons of Thunder" by those who knew them in the time of Christ, more than likely because of their high-tempered ways of doing things. Their Mother didn't help much either, when she demanded they each have a place on Christ's throne when he ascended into Heaven. Boisterous seemed to be the manner of the day for these two according to Biblical and historical lore. But one thing was certain, John was part of Christ's inner circle, and was known as the Beloved Disciple, or The One that Jesus Loved.

What does this mean for the Bride of Christ?

For members of the Bride of Christ such as myself, this is an encouraging term of endearment. Not all of us are crafted at the finer points of interpersonal communication. Some of us are seen as proverbial "bulls in a china shop" when it comes to expressing strong opinion. But yet, we see in the Scriptures that Christ endeared Himself to such a disciple. Like the stones mentioned here, life for many Christians is banded and striped with the colours of life, sin, death and rebirth. But like the emerald and it's beryl mineral family, we can say with Gad that we have the good fortune of embracing eternal life at the death and resurrection of it's giver, Jesus Christ, our Lord. We may crumble under intense pressure, but the heavenly Bridegroom does not. Earthly life is fragile, but in Christ, the promise of Eternal Life is unbreakable!

Today we covered the Eighth Stone

Hebrew
Greek
Septuagint
King James
Breastplate Stone
Foundation Stone
Color
Tribe
Apostle
Odem
sardius/Carnelian
Sardius
Sardius
Ruby
Sard
Red
Reuben
Philip
Pitdah
Topaz
Topaz
Topaz
Topaz
Topaz
Tan
Simeon
Matthew
Bareketh
Emerald
Emerald
Carbuncle (Garnet)
Peridot
Chrysoprase
Yellow green (Golden)
Levi
Thaddaeus
Jophek
Anthrax
Anthrax(Garnet)
Emerald
Garnet
Jacinth
Reddish black
Judah
Simon
Sappir
Sapphire
Sapphire
Sapphire
Aqua-marine
Chalcedony
Light Blue
Issachar
Paul
Yahalom
Jasper
Jasper
Diamond
Fire Opal
Jasper
Orange
Zebulun
Peter
Leshem
Ligure
Ligure
Ligure
Sapphire
Lapis Lazuli
Royal Blue
Dan
Andrew
Shebo
Agate
Agate
Agate
Emerald
Emerald
Green
Gad
John

© 2013 Marilynn Dawson

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    • Marilynn Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilynn Dawson 

      23 months ago

      I'm not sure if I have. . . I only made note of the stones that would be similar to those found on Aaron's Breastplate according to the account in the book of Exodus. Sorry. . .

    • profile image

      Asr noosh 

      23 months ago

      have you ever seen an opaque gemstone which its hardness is very higher than ruby,also it is more durable than diamond?it is very similar to black diamond but has a white color.

      i have written to some gemologist about it but no one want to believe that this type of gemstone may be real!

    • Marilynn Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilynn Dawson 

      23 months ago

      Hi Asr Noosh, I've heard of the stone you mention and was actually shown pictures of it a year or so ago. The stone tends to have a look closer to ligure than to agate, meaning more yellowish brown or amber than a green. Most of the chalcedony stone varients have the colour blue rather than green as well, although some references to the stone I ran across while researching this article called chalcedony the name emerald. Emerald does have some blue in it, but it's largely green. The big problem is that the farther back you go in history trying to match everything up, the more wildly the stones get named. My spreadsheet on these stones is confusing enough even to me that it took me awhile to follow the research path even after I wrote it down to reach a point where I could write these articles. So while I've seen the stone you are talking about, it doesn't fit with the colouring mentioned in Scripture for that placement on the ephod. It might fit for one of the other stones possibly.

    • profile image

      asr noosh 

      23 months ago

      Hi,

      there is a green gemstone which is translucent from one direction and semitransparent from another,furthermore there is no fracture in it,but very dark tiny and narrow inclusion is seen inside it.its density is about2.54.whether it can be emerald?it is very similar to chrome chalsedony.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      3 years ago from the short journey

      Emeralds have always been a favorite of mine, perhaps my most favorite stone. I love the word itself, emerald rolls around the mind and off the tongue in a most pleasant manner. Also, I always thought it would be a beautiful girl's name, particularly as a middle name: Amelia Emerald, for instance, or Gracie Emerald. Though my fondness for this stone drew me to your post, I thank you for adding a new dimension to my thoughts on it. Enjoyed your hub very much.

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