Gemstone Review – Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry Etymology Part II – The Pitdah In The First Temples Breastplate – agate gemstone
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Peridot Etymology: The True Identity Of The Pitdah
In 300B.C., the Septuagint rabbis translated the ancient Hebrew gem ‘Pitdah’ featured in Aaron’s breastplate as the Greek ‘Topazion,’ this was the word for Peridot. However, after considering that the ‘Pitdah’ denoted a gem in existence at the time of the exodus in 1444B.C., and that the Peridot was unknown prior to 300B.C., there can be little doubt that the Septuagint rabbis’ identification of the ‘Pitdah’ as ‘Topazion,’ (Peridot), was mistaken.
Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin and subsequent modern language strains such as French and English all share the same etymological roots coming from the first language: Proto-Indo-European (P.I.E.). This precursory language, dating back to the Neolithic Era circa 3,500 B.C., was the root of all languages from Europe to India. Aside from the European and western Asian languages, P.I.E. influenced the Indian language of Sanskrit. Sanskrit existed at the same time as the Hebrew and Aramaic languages from which the Septuagint translated the Old Testament.
The ancient Hebrew word ‘Pitdah’, the second gemstone appropriated to the Israelite tribe of Simeon in Aaron’s breastplate, shares the same (P.I.E.) roots as the Sanskrit word ‘Pita’: which means ‘Yellow’. From this common denominator, the Tiffany mineralogist G.F.Kunz surmises that the Septuagint’s translation of the original ‘Pitdah’ in the breastplate being ‘Topazion’ (Peridot) was inaccurate. Kunz, in his book on precious gems, states that the ‘Pitdah’ of Aaron’s original breastplate was probably a yellow or light green serpentine, a gem in common usage in ancient Egypt at the time of the exodus called ‘Meh’. In his book, the ‘Curious Lore Of Precious Stones’ written in 1913, Kunz proffers a more credible translation of all 12 gems of the breastplate based on their occurrence in Egypt at the time of the exodus:
12 Gems Of The Breastplate In Existence In Egypt Circa 1444 B.C.
——-Gems In—–Gems In—–Kunz’s Translation
——-Hebrew——Egyptian—–Of The 12 Gems
1). Odem——-Chenem——–Red Jasper
3). Bareketh——Uat———-Green Feldspar
4). Nophak——Nophek——-Almandine Garnet
5). Sappir——-Chesbet——-Lapis Lazuli
7). Leshem——Neshem——-Brown Agate
8). Shebo——-*******——–Banded Agate
10). Tarshish—-Thehen——Yellow Jasper
12). Yashpheh—Yashpu——-Green Jasper
So When Did Peridot First Appear In The Breastplate?
According to the Old Testament, after the exodus in 1444B.C., Aaron’s original breastplate made its way to Jerusalem. It was here, along with the Urim and Thummim, the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments that the breastplate was housed in Solomon’s Temple: also known as Jerusalem’s ‘First Temple’. The temple was destroyed and plundered by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., and its relics lost to history.
Later in the 5th Century B.C. the ‘Second Temple’, a reconstruction of the first, was built in Jerusalem. Sometime after that a second breastplate was also made, and it is believed that the gems included in this were of far greater value and durability than those of the original breastplate made at the time of the exodus.
In 70 A.D., 600 years after the creation of the ‘Second Temple,’ the Romans like the Babylonians before them destroyed Jerusalem after quelling the Jewish revolt. The Romans, led by Titus and Vespasian, plundered the ‘Second Temple’, taking its treasures including the second breastplate back to Rome. This fact is attested to in the writings of one of the Jewish leaders of the revolt taken prisoner by the Romans: the historian Josephus. Josephus was a 1st century Jewish historian of some rank, descended from a line of high priests, who in 90 A.D. attests to seeing ‘Topazion’ in the Second Temple’s breastplate, which he saw housed at the Temple of Concord built by Vespasian.
At the same time of Josephus there lived a Roman scholar called Pliny. Pliny was the author of the world’s first encyclopedia entitled ‘Natural History.’ In his encyclopedia (Book 37 Chapter 32) Pliny describes the gem ‘Topazion’ as seen by Josephus: “Topazion is a stone that is still held in very high estimation for its green tints: indeed, when it was first discovered, it was preferred to every other kind of precious stone.” In the passage, Pliny clearly states the ‘Topazion’ as being green, and not yellow.
In the same passage, Pliny makes a key statement relating to ‘Topazion’: “…When it was first discovered…” This, as we shall see is the key: Firstly to giving almost conclusive proof that the Septuagints’ 300 B.C. translation of ‘Pitdah’ as ‘Topazion’ was mistaken, and secondly to giving the real identity of the ‘Topazion’ gemstone.
Read Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry Etymology Part I – In the Beginning
Read Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry Etymology Part III – The Topazion In The Second Temples Breastplate
Read Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry Etymology Part IV – The Origins Of The Word Peridot
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– Peridot Sterling Silver Jewelry Etymology Part II – The Pitdah In The First Temples Breastplate
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