THE GOLD OF THAT LAND: Biblical Minerals & Rocks  


3.     alabaster

Greek: alabastron, a perfume vial that was originally made of carved alabaster in the form of a miniature amphora or wine jar. Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37.

Probable Identification: biblical alabaster is travertine or "Egyptian alabaster."


Egyptian alabaster is a very fine grained variety of recrystallized Eocene limestone (calcite,CaCO3) whereas in modern usage alabaster is a fine-grained, massive variety of gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate, CaSO4.2H2O). Egyptian alabaster has a banded texture and ranges from white and translucent to honey-colored and pale brown. It is easy to work and takes a high polish, which made it useful as an ornamental building material, statuettes, and vessels of all sizes from sarcophagi to perfume vials. The best Egyptian alabaster came from Hatnub, 10 miles east of Amarna.

Biblical Background:

    The alabastron in the Gospels serves as a metaphor for the offering of our finest efforts to Jesus Christ.



Hurlbut, 1952, op. cit.; 264-288, 294.

Lucas & Harris, op. cit.; 391, 407-408.

Ralph, Jolyon, 1993-2004.

Romano, James F., 1995. Jewelry and Personal Arts in Ancient Egypt. in Sasson, Jack M., ed., 1995. Civilizations of the ancient Near East. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons; 1615.

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