By Elizabeth Prata
The Bible makes mention of many precious and semi-precious stones. I mean, who isn’t curious about the giant pearl as a gate to the heavenly city, said to be over 200 feet high? (Revelation 21:21). Or the foundation of the heavenly city studded with these:
The foundation stones of the city wall were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. (Revelation 21:19-20).
It’s glorious to try and imagine. The things we considered precious and sought after on earth, will simply be construction materials of the heavenly city! The REAL jewel of surpassing value is Jesus. Rubies are nothing compared to Him.
But in earthly economy, we do love jewels. They are beautiful and charming, and we seek after them. How often does the Bible talk about rubies, and in what manner?
In Exodus, the High Priest’s breastplate is studded with rows of gems. The top row is described as having a ruby. The gems were engraved with the names of the 12 tribes. Each gem represented a tribe. (Exodus 28:21, 39:14).
Did you know that before his fall, Lucifer was covered with every gemstone, including the ruby?
“You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.” (Ezekiel 28:13).
No gemstone can make the corrupt and the evil look any better. For God knows the heart. It is too bad the gems were wasted on Lucifer, his ugliness showed through soon after when he defied God.
The Bible describes “agates” which can be transparent, and “carbuncles”, which literally means sparking gem. If a carbuncle is held up to the sunlight, it glows like a burning coal. The Bible also mentions jewel-like items such as coral and pearls. As for rubies,
“A comparison is made between the value of wisdom and rubies (Job 28:18; Prov. 3:15; 8:11). The price of a virtuous woman is said to be “far above rubies” (Prov. 31:10).” Easton, M. G. (1893). In Illustrated Bible Dictionary
The King James Version & NIV mention that wisdom obtained is more precious than rubies, though other translations use pearls for the jewel, or just the word jewel.
She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. (Proverbs 3:15)
The same with Proverbs 31:10, describing an excellent wife-
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels (rubies)
The Hebrew and Greek use different words for the various jewels, including ruby. And the words change meaning so it’s hard to get a handle on which verse exactly mans ruby and which doesn’t.
“The exact meaning of the Hebrew word for ruby is uncertain. Some render it “red coral;” others, “pearl” or “mother-of-pearl” says Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.
As symbols used to compare various concepts, though, using jewels for the comparison is something to which we can all relate. We know that rubies are expensive, rare, and beautiful. To compare wisdom to it is a notion we can intuitively understand.
Do we seek wisdom as much or as cunningly as we seek a ruby for Christmas?
And the idea that gold will be street pavement and rubies are just one of many jewels studding the walls of new Jerusalem, is remarkable. Earth’s economy isn’t heaven’s economy. What is precious here will not be precious there. And why would it? Jesus is the MOST precious in the universe. His beauty the most astonishing. His rarity, the rarest.
Other essays in the series-
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about Jewel # 3: Rubies.