The Sapphire (Heb. Sappeer)

Exodus 28:18  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The English word Sapphire is evidently taken from the Hebrew Sappeer; or from the Greek, which has the same sound. And the gem, known in modern times as the sapphire, is probably the same. The Hebrew word is derived from a verb signifying, to scratch or polish; and hence to write, and to number.
This precious stone, with its pure deep blue, formed the pavement under the feet of the God of Israel, as seen by the elders in Ex. 24:1010And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. (Exodus 24:10). And the throne of glory, gazed on by Ezekiel, (i. 26; and x. I,) had the appearance of a sapphire stone.
The Bride in her wonderful portraiture of her Beloved, speaks of his hands as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly as bright ivory overlaid with sapphites..(Cant. v. 14.) Here the word translated belly, is in most other passages more correctly rendered bowels; and is once called heart. Psa. 40:88I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8). " I delight to do thy will, 0 my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." The inward seat of the affections is thus expressed. A similar use of the same figure is often found in the New Testament, as, for instance, " I long after you in the bowels of Christ." Phil. 1:88For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:8). " If there be any bowels and mercies." ii. 1. " Put on bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness." Col. 3:1212Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12). " Shutteth up his bowels of compassion." 1 John 3:1717But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (1 John 3:17). There is yet one more allusion to the Sapphire, which may be quoted. Lam. 4.7. "Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk; they were more ruddy in body than rubies; their polishing was of sapphire." The word here translated polishing, would rather seem to have reference to the entire separation of the Nazarites from all defilement of the world. It is no where else translated polishing; but the verb from which it is derived means, " to cut off, or divide:" and in the description of the future division of the land of Israel, the same word is rendered " the separate place." Ezek. 41 and 42.
This precious stone of the breast-plate displayed the same heavenly color which stood first in the vail and in the ephod-the blue. This is the body of heaven in its clearness: for God dwells there, and God is love. The throne of glory, as seen by the prophet, exhibits this celestial color; for it is the throne of grace.
Love fills the heart of the Bridegroom, like precious sapphire gems. Love was the costly grace which He manifested, when upon the cross, the eye of God searched the inwards of that blessed victim. And those who would be Nazarites, separated off to God in their walk, and following the blessed footsteps of the. Nazarene, must have that heavenly grace, as the power of their separation. Their polishing must be as sapphires.
The name of Simeon was aptly inscribed on this most precious stone. The Lord had looked upon the affliction of the wife, and had given her Reuben. He had heard that she was hated, and given her the second son, whom she called Simeon, " hearing." So subsequently in the history of Israel, the Lord recalls these two names of the two first children, and says, " I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry." Ex. 3:77And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; (Exodus 3:7). Acts 7:3434I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. (Acts 7:34). Their misery stirred up the bowels of His compassion, and in full unmerited grace He came down to deliver them. Weakness, oppression, wretchedness, hard bondage-to be hated and despised-these are the attractions that win the compassion and pitifulness of God. He hears the cry of the desolate. Psa. 107 is from beginning to end, a Simeon history-God always hearing the cry of the distressed; but alas! man always forgetting the gracious hand of Him that has helped.-God's help a common occurrence; man's praise in return for His goodness, a rare sound.
And whilst God's ear is attentive to our cry-whilst one of His attributes is, that He hears; we have also to hear Him; to have the ear always open to a ceaseless sound of love and mercy. Love, that is shown us even in correction and rebuke; love, that has not spared His own Son, and which withholds nothing that can be given with His Son. Our great High Priest is able to present on His heart, the jewel inscribed with Simeon's name; because His ear was opened to hear and learn two great lessons from God. First, His ear was wakened morning by morning, that He might have the tongue of the learned, so as to speak a word in season to him that is weary. And also His ear was opened, so that He turned not back, but gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. He hid not His face from shame and spitting. Isa. 1. Wonderful instruction this, involving the knowledge, not only of the deep counsels of God, but of God Himself. The lips of the blessed Lord were open to pour forth grace, but He was dumb as a sheep before his shearers. He knew when to be silent and when to speak; for He ever waited on God. And now as our High Priest, He hearkens for us, and presents us as listeners to the voice of God. 0 may we have more of this grace of Christ, to bow the ear to wisdom: then shall we regard discretion, and our lips will keep knowledge.