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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Topaz

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(τοπάζιον)

Topaz is the ninth foundation-stone of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:20). The topaz of modern mineralogy was almost unknown to the ancients, and the stone denoted by τοπάζιον was probably that variety of olivine which is now termed chrysolite or peridot. It was found in the τοπάζιος νῆσος of the Red Sea. Pliny (Historia Naturalis (Pliny) xxxvii. 8) speaks of it as held in very high estimation, ‘e virenti genere,’ and Strabo (XVI. iv. 6) says:

‘The topaz is a translucent stone, sparkling with a golden lustre. It is not easy to distinguish in the daytime, because it is outshone, but at night it is visible to those who collect it. Placing a vessel over the spot as a mark, they dig [the stones] up by day. A body of men is appointed and maintained by the kings of Egypt to guard the place where they are found, and to superintend the collection of them.’

This ancient topaz was soft and easily engraved: ‘eadem sola nobilium limam sentit’ (Pliny, loc. cit.). The modern topaz, on the contrary, is nearly as hard as a diamond.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Topaz'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/t/topaz.html. 1906-1918.

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