Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birthstones?

How many of us know about birthstones? Well, I started researching into the history of birthstones and found some interesting information.

As always, it all started with God and then man stepped in and diluted it....

When God gave Moses the instructions for building the tabernacle, He asked that they design a breastplate with 12 precious stones embedded in it because He wanted to always have the people of Israel presented to Him.

God was very clear in the purpose of the breastplate:
"So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them in continual remembrance before the Lord." (Ex 28:29)

The design of the breastplate was very clear in Exodus 28:17-20: "You shall set in it four rows of stones: a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle shall be the first row; The second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond [so called at that time]; The third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; And the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree." (Amplified Bible)

Then in Revelation 21:19-20, we have: "The foundation [stones] of the wall of the city were ornamented with all of the precious stones. The first foundation [stone] was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (or white agate), the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst." (Amplified Bible)

I guess jewellers will know more about the details of each of these gem stones but that's not the point...let's move on to see what my research turned up (emphasis mine)...

"The idea of birthstones - a gemstone assigned to each month of the year - is thought to be an ancient one, and scholars trace it back to the Breastplate of Aaron described in the Bible in the book of Exodus.

So how did we get from gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel to birthstones? The writings of Flavius Josephus (1st century AD) and St. Jerome (fifth century AD) made the connection between the 12 stones in the Breastplate and the 12 signs of the zodiac. The idea was proposed that each of the gemstones had special powers associated with the corresponding astrological sign, and that wearing these stones at the right time would have therapeutic or talismanic benefits."*

Another version: "The origin of the birthstone goes back thousands of years to the time of Moses. It was at his command that the Breast Plate of the High Priest was made with the twelve colors, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, and a corresponding gemstone was attributed to each color. Over the centuries, the number twelve developed mystical proportions. There were twelve tribes of ancient Israel, twelve apostles, twelve foundation stones of the Holy City, twelve months of the year and twelve signs of the zodiac. As time passed, people wanted to own all twelve stones of the sacred Breast Plate and began wearing one gemstone set into a piece of jewelry each month and changing it as the months changed. Eventually, in a quest for individuality, people began wearing only his or her stone of birth all year, giving birth to the twelve birthstones. Each birthstone supposedly represents a magical power"**

And then according to Wikipedia: "Early civilizations such as India and Babylon have attributed gemstones with magical properties. Over time, astrologers assigned gems of certain colors to the twelve signs of the zodiac to help people influence the planets in their favor."***

Interesting how man wanted a "piece of God" with them at all time and yet sad how men adulterate things? So there is no shadow of doubt, Christians are not to be involved in astrology or zodiac signs. God even warns us against it in Isaiah 47: 13-15
You have worn yourself out, asking for advice from those who study the stars and tell the future month after month. Go ask them how to be saved from what will happen. People who trust the stars are as helpless as straw in a flaming fire. No one can even keep warm, sitting by a fire that feeds only on straw. These are the fortunetellers you have done business with all of your life. But they don't know where they are going, and they can't save you. (Contemporary English Version)
Moving on, so what are the Birthstones?

January - Garnet

February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine
April - Diamond
May - Emerald
June - Moonstone/Pearl
July - Ruby
August - Peridot
September - Sapphire
October - Opal/Tourmaline
November - Citrine
December - Tanzanite


Did I just catch you looking at your finger or through your other jewellery? Indeed, it is so easy to feel condemned for wearing gemstones now that you know this - I can imagine how that feels considering that I like sapphires and diamonds. Did you notice that the list of birthstones is not exactly the same as the lists in the Bible? Well, the way I see it, to the pure, all things are pure (Titus 1:15), but we also need to be sensitive to others (Romans 14:14-20) and of course if your heart condemns you....don't wear them. One other liberating fact for me is that depending on which website you go to, the names of the "birthstones" and interpretation of what they stand for varies...isn't man's inconsistency so apparent?

The bottom line is, God has created all good things for us to enjoy irrespective of how some others abuse them. All I'd advise is if you catch yourself wearing a gemstone because you believe in birthstones, disconnect from that either in your spirit, if you can or physically discard that piece of jewellery. Hmm - I say that carefully knowing that your wedding ring or other significant emblems may have one of those gemstones. God weighs the motives of our hearts and judges us accordingly.

I suppose I'm walking on water on this one - so I leave you to decide; may God help us align our motives with our actions. Amen.

Sources:
*http://www.gemselect.com/other-info/birthstone-history.php
**http://www.kingsjewelry.com/learning_diamond_birthstones.shtml
***http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthstone

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