Sapphires are blue precious stones that are believed to symbolize good fortune, virtue, wisdom, and royalty. In the olden days, Sapphires were thought to have supernatural power and were even believed to be antidotes for dangerous poisons. They were also used as charms to protect the wearer from fevers and other sicknesses. Today, Sapphires are commonly used in jewelry although they also find other scientific applications like making od impact resistant windows as well as making some components used in wristwatches.
Throughout the scriptures, sapphires are used as symbols of heavenly presence, divinity, or purity. The color blue symbolizes royalty and holiness and as such, the use of sapphires in various contexts in the Bible helps to create a sense of sacredness and splendor.
Sapphire mentions in the Bible and the corresponding symbolism
The Greek word for Saphire is sappheriros (Strong’s #G4552) or Sappiyr (Strong’s #H5601). Depending on the translation, these words are either translated to Sapphire or Lapis Lazuli. Even though the two stones are different, the names were used interchangeably in the Old Testament and they both referred to sapphire.
Most of the English comparison translations translate the word sappiyr as sapphires. However, the NIV, HCSB, and ESV translations use the word lapos lazuli. The NLT describes it even further by calling it the “blue lapis lazuli.” Let us have a look at some of the mentions of Saphire in the Old Testament and what it symbolizes.
Purity and perfection
The first mention of Sapphires in the Old Testament is in the book of Exodus. It was in relation the Moses’ assent to Mount Sinai and the presence of God that was likened to sapphires.
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. Exodus 24:10
This scripture describes the pathway of God that was made of a sapphire-like material. The usage of sapphire in this symbolism denotes purity and heavenly perfection.
In Revelation 21:21, John describes how the streets of heaven are paved with Gold. However, he goes ahead to say that the Gold was as transparent as glass. Since Gold is not transparent, there is a good chance that gold was used figuratively to refer to a precious stone that was unknown to the writer. And of since sapphire is transparent, there is a good chance that is the precious stone he saw on the streets of heaven. It would also be consistent with Exodus 24:10.
But sapphires also represented perfection in beauty. Here is an example from scripture:
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Ezekiel 28:13
In this verse, God is describing Lucifer (before his fall). As the scripture says, he was adorned with 10 different precious stones with sapphire as one of them. We can infer from context that these stones were used for ornamental purposes or more precisely, for the perfection of beauty.
Prophet Ezekiel refers to sapphires in his prophecies in relation to the throne of God. The scripture says,
“And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” Ezekiel 1:26
This can be interpreted as a symbol of the throne upon which God seats in the kingdom of heaven. There are many mentions of God’s throne and each time, the throne of God symbolizes God’s authority, divinity, and sovereignty. The use of Sapphires when talking about God’s throne can therefore be seen as a symbol of the divine presence.
Prosperity and stability
Sapphires are rare gemstones and as such, are very costly. In the olden times, they were adorned by royalty because they symbolized opulence and stability. Here are a couple of scripture references to sapphires as a sign of prosperity:
The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. Job 28:6,16
And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; Rev. 21:19
In both of the passages referenced above, Sapphire is used to denote wealth. Job 28 describes the wealth hidden in the earth while Revelation 21 describes the wealth of the kingdom of heaven (also referred to as the New Jerusalem).
But just as these gemstones symbolize prosperity, they also symbolize stability, For instance, in Revelation 21:19, the Bible says that the stones are used to garnish the foundations. This means they are used for decorative purposes but the strength of these gemstones (which come second only to diamonds) could also mean they are used to add stability. Here is another scripture that illustrates this point even better:
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors and lay thy foundations with sapphires. Isaiah 54:11
The foundation is what determines the stability of a building. God uses sapphires in the above scripture to illustrate the sure foundation that he would give his people. Sapphires are the perfect stones to illustrate prosperity and stability because they are not only strong but also precious.
Sapphires have all kinds of connotations in history and in modern life that may not always tally with their biblical significance. However, there is no contention that Sapphires are precious stones and so they are a symbol of wealth. But scripturally speaking, sapphires represent more than just wealth – they represent divinity, purity, and perfection.