Friday, March 17, 2006

parshat Tetzaveh: Identifying the Stones: שֹׁהַם - šoham

šoham is the second stone on the fourth row - the stone of Yosef. What is this stone? JPS translates Shemot 28:20:
כ וְהַטּוּר, הָרְבִיעִי--תַּרְשִׁישׁ וְשֹׁהַם, וְיָשְׁפֵה; מְשֻׁבָּצִים זָהָב יִהְיוּ, בְּמִלּוּאֹתָם. 20 and the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be inclosed in gold in their settings.
thus translating it onyx. What this means?

According to Wikipedia:
Onyx is a banded variety of chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The colors of its bands are white and black.

Here is an image of black-banded onyx.

Midrash Rabba states: יוסף פראלוקין - that Yosef's stone was paralvakin. What is this? According to Jastrow (pg 1213): it means "whitish" and corresponds to Greek paraleukos (?? Josh: perhaps corresponding to LXX's "the leek-green stone" ??) or perhaps a corruption of beirullion, that is, beryl, as discussed in the previous entry.

I will not show a stone here, but will link to Wikipedia's entry on beryl.

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