Jade may not be as popular as diamonds and rubies but it is still one of the most cherished gemstones across different cultures. From ancient civilizations to modern times, jade holds a special place in society with some using it as a symbol of luxury and others using it for its religious connotations.
Jade Symbolism in the Bible
Jade is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. However, the descriptions of some of the stones in the Bible may allude to the presence of Jade. it was used to represent divinity meeting with humanity. For instance, it was used in the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the new Jerusalem.
The Mystique of Jade
With its verdant hues and captivating emerald, jade has captivated humans for centuries. It’s breathtaking translucence and luster is what distinguishes it from other gemstones. However, it is not just endeared due to its aesthetic beauty. Jade is also intertwined with traditions, myths, and beliefs across several societies. For instance, the ancient Chinese revered it as an imperial gem. They believed the stone possessed spiritual and earthly powers. And the mystique of jade goes beyond Asia with cultures from as far as New Zealand venerating it as a symbol of life, death, and rebirth.
Because of its rich relevance, this gemstone has long been associated with prestige and power. For instance, the ancient Mayans wore jade as religious jewelry because they regarded it as the conduit between humanity and divinity. This is the same reason why they used it to adorn the tombs of kings and nobles.
In 1272, Marco Poo, who was in China at the time came across a gemstone that he described as jasper and chalcedony that were taken for sale to Cathay. He noted how these gemstones were in so much abundance that they formed an integral part of the commerce in the region. However, it later emerged that what Marco Polo witnessed was actually jades. The gemstone he described as chalcedony was, in fact, white jade while the one he described as jasper was actually spinach jade both of which were and still are in abundance in Xinjiang province of China. The treason two gemstones are often referred to as chalkedon or jasper because they both come in greens and whites and are also suitable for carving.
In the Bible, jade may be interpreted in the wider context because it represented several minerals that had a tough compact texture and a dark green color that sometimes tended to be whitish. Jade was used for utensils (and is therefore comparable to present-day chinaware) or for utensils. Because it was used to refer to several minerals in the Bible, its presence will have to be inferred from the characteristics of the stones that are mentioned. There are two mineral categories that may qualify for this description. These are:
- Nephrite – this is a collective name for several fibrous amphiboles that could either be actinolite (green calcium-magnesium-iron silicate) or tremolite (whitish calcium-magnesium silicate).
- Jadeite- this is a green sodium-aluminum silicate of the pyroxene group. It could also be a dark green to nearly black kind of jadeite called chloromelanite.
So even though the name Jade may not appear in the Bible, the gemstone appears under different descriptions in numerous places in the Bible. Here are some examples:
And the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald Exodus 39:11
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. Ezekiel 28:13
Jade was most likely used in the Tabernacle of Moses and as demonstrated in Exodus 39:11, it was also one of the stones that represented one of the tribes of Israel. Jade also appears in John’s revelation. Here is the reference:
The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. Revelation 21:19-20
Either the emerald or the Jasper that is mentioned in the passage above refers to jade. It might even refer to the different types of Jade. In the passage, John the Revelator is describing the foundations of the New City of God and the presence of jade-like stones reveals the spiritual significance of this stone.
The Symbolism of Jade in the Bible
Jade-like stones were used extensively in the attire of the high priests. As such, these stones are viewed as symbols of divinity. They insinuate a bridge between man and God. The fact that they were also used in the tabernacle further cements this symbolism. That’s because the Tabernacle was the place where humanity would meet divinity.
The presence of jadelike stones in the new Jerusalem (as described by John in Revelation 21) also serves to demonstrate the symbolism of jade as a spiritual stone. It was used in the foundation of the new city not only for its aesthetics but also because it symbolizes that God was building the new city for his chosen people. Just like the priest who was adorned in jade represented man before God, the jade-like stones in the new Jerusalem are God’s way of welcoming his people into his holy city.
Although the Bible doesn’t directly mention jade, its presence is implied through descriptions of similar gemstones. Jade’s enduring appeal and cultural significance make it a symbol of divinity bridging humanity in various contexts. In the Bible, jade-like stones are linked to the divine connection between God and humanity. They’re found in the Tabernacle, high priest’s attire, and the foundation of the New Jerusalem, as described in Revelation 21. These stones represent a bridge between man and God, symbolizing God’s welcome to His chosen people.