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In The Begining

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Amethyst is one of the oldest gems known to man with a name that has hardly changed since 300 B.C. Some of the earliest discoveries of Amethyst were excavated from the ancient Egyptian tomb of King Djer, who reigned in the 1st Dynasty, approximately 3000 B.C. The ancient Egyptians knew amethyst as 'Hemag,' this is attested to in the 'Book Of The Dead' dating from 1500 B.C., which mentions 'Hemag' formed into a heart
shape. 'The Book of the Dead' was a collection of spells, passwords and images to be used by the dead in the underworld. Two of these 'Hemag' heart-shaped amulets, excavated from these ancient burial sites, are on display at the Boulaq Museum today.

The first written references connected to the etymology of the word Amethyst, appears in the Septuagint's translation of the Old Testament, which dates from 300 B.C. The Septuagint, a group of seventy-two rabbis, was commissioned by the Pharaoh Ptolemy II to translate the ancient Hebrew Bible into Greek. The result of their work was the Old Testament, which was then included into the library of Alexandria. According to the Septuagint, the ancient Hebrew gem: 'Ahlamah,' derived from the word 'Halom' meaning 'Dream,' in Exodus chapter 28 was the Greek 'Amethystos.' However, before detailing this we must first get an overview of the translated Exodus passage, its time and its location.
Around 1444 B.C., Moses and the high priests were delivering the Hebrew slaves out of captivity under the Egyptian Pharaoh, Amunhotep II. One of the high priests called Aaron was commanded to make an ephod, a type of apron, and to attach a breastplate to it. Aaron was instructed to mount the breastplate, containing the mystical Urim and Thummim, with 12 gems in sequential order, each one representing one of the 12 Israelite tribes under his care. The gems in Hebrew and in their order were: 1). Odem 2). Pitdah 3). Bareketh 4). Nophak 5). Sappir 6). Yahalom 7). Leshem 8). Shebo 9). Ahlamah 10). Tarshish 11). Shoham 12). Yashpheh.
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Much later in 300B.C., 1000 years after the Exodus, the 'Septuagint' translated the 12 gems from Hebrew into Greek as these: 1). Odem = Sardion, 2). Pitdah = Topazion, 3). Bareketh = Smaragdos, 4). Nophak = Anthrax, 5). Sappir = Sappheiros, 6). Yahalom = Iaspis, 7). Leshem = Ligurion, 8). Shebo = Achates, 9). Ahlamah = Amethystos, 10). Tarshish = Chrysolithos, 11). Shoham = Beryllion and 12). Yashpheh =Onychion.
In 1611 A.D., 2000 years after the 'Septuagint's' Greek translation, the 12 gems were translated into English for 'The King James Version.' Executed at the behest of King James I of England, this is the modern translation by which we know the gems in the Old Testament. The 12 gemstones in Exodus chapter 28 of the 'King James Version' were translated into English as such: 1). Sardion = Sardius 2). Topazion = Topaz 3). Smaragdos = Carbuncle 4). Anthrax = Emerald 5). Sappheiros = Sapphire 6). Iaspis = Diamond 7). Ligurion = Ligure 8). Achates = Agate 9). Amethystos = Amethyst 10). Chrysolithos = Beryl 11). Beryllion = Onyx 12). Onychion = Jasper.

"And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment.
And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: The first row shall be a
(1) sardius, a (2*) topaz, and a (3) carbuncle: this shall be the first row.
And the second row shall be an
(4) emerald, a (5) sapphire and a (6) diamond.
And the third row a
(7) ligure, an (8) agate, and an (9) amethyst.
And the fourth row a
(10) beryl, and an (11) onyx, and (12) jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings."

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The chart above details each of the 12 gemstones changing identity through more than 3000 years: from the time of the Hebrew exodus in 1444B.C., passing by the Septuagint translation of 300 B.C., to the time of the King James translation in 1611 A.D.

In 300 B.C. the Septuagint had translated gem number 9: 'Ahlamah' as 'Amethystos' Then, in the 1611 'King James Version,' 'Amethystos' was translated as 'Amethyst'.

It is important to state that the etymological theories on these pages are speculative, and should not be taken as gospel.

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