Peridot In The Beginning


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Used as an item of adornment from more than 2300 years, Peridot has been called amongst others: Pitdah, Topazion, Topazos, Topaz, Chrysolite, Olivine, Evening Emerald and Gem of the Sun. All these pseudonyms make the task of finding Peridot’s exact etymological roots almost impossible. However, through a process of exploring these aliases and eliminating them one by one, we can get closer to learning the truth behind Peridot’s true origins.


The first written references connected to Peridot, appear in the Septuagint’s translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) dating from 300 B.C. The Septuagint, a group of seventy-two rabbis, was commissioned by the Pharaoh Ptolemy II to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek for inclusion into the library of Alexandria.
The First Greek (Hellenistic) Pharaoh Of Egypt Ptolemy I – Click Here For Unbeatable Value On Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry- Peridot Sterling Silver Earrings- Peridot Sterling Silver Pendants- Peridot Sterling Silver Rings And More All At Up To 80% Below Retail.
According to the Septuagint, the Hebrew word ‘Pitdah’featured in the Hebrew Bible, Exodus chapter 28 was translated into the Greek version as ‘Topazion:’ this as we shall learn was Greek for Peridot. This translation was mistaken, but before detailing this error, we must first get an overview of the original Exodus passage, and its subsequent translations through the ages.

The High Priest Aaron Wearing The Breastplate from De gemmarum lapidumq; pretiosorum formis. Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. – Click Here For Unbeatable Value On Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry- Peridot Sterling Silver Earrings- Peridot Sterling Silver Pendants- Peridot Sterling Silver Rings And More All At Up To 80% Below Retail.
Around 1444 B.C., Moses and the high priests were delivering the Hebrew slaves out of Egyptian captivity under Pharaoh Amunhotep II. One of the high priests, 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. The gems in Hebrew and 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.
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 interpretation, the 12 gems were translated again, this time into English in ‘The King James Version.’ Executed at the behest of King James I of England, this is the modern translation by which we know the Old Testament.

The High Priest Aaron Wearing The Breastplate from De gemmarum lapidumq; pretiosorum formis. Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. – Click Here For Unbeatable Value On Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry- Peridot Sterling Silver Earrings- Peridot Sterling Silver Pendants- Peridot Sterling Silver Rings And More All At Up To 80% Below Retail.

The 12 gemstones in Exodus chapter 28 in the ‘King James Version’ were translated 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.

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"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."

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

The Changing Identity Of The 12 Gems Through 3000 Years  Of History  – Click Here For Unbeatable Value On Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry- Peridot Sterling Silver Earrings- Peridot Sterling Silver Pendants- Peridot Sterling Silver Rings And More All At Up To 80% Below Retail.
In 300 B.C. the Septuagint had translated the Hebrew gem number 2: ‘Pitdah,’ as ‘Topazion’: Greek for Peridot: This was very unlikely, as Peridot wasn’t known at the time of the Exodus in 1444 B.C. Then in the later 1611 A.D.‘King James Version,’ ‘Topazion’ itself was translated, this time as ‘Topaz,’ this has led to the modern confusion of Pitdah as Topaz.

James 1 Of England Commisioned the 1611 Translation Of The Old Testament  – Click Here For Unbeatable Value On Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry- Peridot Sterling Silver Earrings- Peridot Sterling Silver Pendants- Peridot Sterling Silver Rings And More All At Up To 80% Below Retail.


Starting with the ‘King James Version’ translation of the Old Testament: three major flaws become very apparent in the interpretation of the 12 gemsand in particular the Pitdah:

1. Many of the gemstones appearing in the King James list were unknown to the Septuagint in 300B.C. So how could the impoverished Hebrew slaves of the exodus 1000 years earlier have had access to them?
2. The breastplate measured a span in each direction (approx 8-9 inches), which meant that the gems might have measured up to as much as 2 to 2 1/2 inches each. Where could the slaves have found gems such as these in such sizes?
3. The ‘Topaz' we know today was only officially recognized in the 17th century, 100 hundred years after the ‘King James Version.' In addition, at the time of the translation Topaz was used to describe a multitude of yellow to yellow-green transparent gemstones.

Relative to points 1 and 2 the ‘King James Version’ brings up the subject of expense. On this, the 16th Century Jesuit priest and philosopher Cornelis Cornelissen Van Den Steen surmises that the price of gems such as these would have been in excess of 100,000 gold crowns. Cornelis bids the question: “Whence could the poor Hebrews have obtained such a sum of money, and where could they have found such a diamond?” Cornelis gives another possible reason as to why such gems as these did not fit the circumstances: The tribes assigned such rare gems as diamond, ruby and sapphire in these sizes would have been the center of envy of the other tribes assigned less valuable gems. This he says may have caused dispute and dissension among the newly unified tribes.
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However, of all the above it's point 3 that is the clincher to the 'King James' misnomer of Topaz. Before the more exacting influences of modern science, most gemstones were not classed by specific properties like gravity, refractive indexes etc., but by their color. At this time, the term Topaz was generic, and used to denote many different yellow to green colored gems. In addition to this, there is the fact that the official Topaz gem type of today wasn't recognized by that name until the 1700's. From these points alone, the 1611 ‘King James' translation of Topaz being the Pitdah gem of the breastplate can be largely refuted as conjecture.

Having dispelled the Topaz translation of the ‘King James Version’ as erroneous, there still remains the question to the real identities of the earlier Septuagint Greek ‘Topazion,’ and its preceeding Hebrew name of 'Pitdah'…

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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