THE GOLD OF THAT LAND: Biblical Minerals & Rocks  


5.     amethyst

Hebrew: 'achl‚m‚h, possibly derived from ch‚lam, "causing to dream:" therefore meaning a "dreamstone." Exodus 28:19; 39:12.

Greek: amethustos, derived from methuo, "to get drunk;" therefore meaning "not intoxicating" or preventing drunkenness. Revelation 21:20.

Probable Identification:

    Revelation 21:20 unmistakably means amethyst. It follows the Septuagint's example in translating 'achl‚m‚h as amethyst.


    Amethyst is a purple to violet variety of crystalline quartz, though not a distinct mineral species. Mineralogists used to attribute its distinctive tint to a trace of manganese, but it is now known to depend on a trace of irradiated iron.

    Cavities in lava flows of the ParanŠ Basin of Brazil are famous for their huge geodes with linings of amethyst crystals. Thin bands of chalcedony coat the outer walls of a typical geode, followed by layers of finely crystalline, clear or milky quartz. Large amethyst crystals form the inner layer of the geode. The Thunder Bay area of Ontario, Canada, supplies similar amethyst geodes.

Historical Background:

    The Egyptians mined a pale amethyst at Gebel Abu Dieiba near Abu Simbel and began using it early in the third millennium BC to make beads and scarabs. Amethyst reached its greatest popularity during the Middle Kingdom, and its use declined during the New Kingdom.

    Goblets made of amethyst supposedly protected tipplers from inebriation, a Greek belief which dates back to at least 400 BC. Amethyst intaglios were popular in Greek, Etruscan, and Roman times.

    Scripturally, the purple amethyst is a picture of the royal splendors in store for the children of God (John 14:1-6).



Hurlbut, 1952, op. cit.; 321.

Lucas & Harris, op. cit.; 388-389.

O'Donoghue, Michael, 1987. Quartz. London: Butterworth & Co.; 22-24.

Pittman, Holly, 1995. Cylinder seals and scarabs in the ancient Near East. in Sasson, op. cit.; 1589-1603.

Ralph, Jolyon, 1993-2004.

Schumann, op. cit.; 118-119.

       HOME            Introduction & Contents          List & Key        Appendices & References      News Items
 Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 by Richard S. Barnett, Virtual Curator of Biblical Geology.
All rights reserved. This site is authored by Richard S. Barnett.
All contents belong to Richard S. Barnett. Reproduction of this site, in whole or in part, is prohibited without written permission.

For problems or questions regarding this Web site contact [].
Last updated: 05/13/06.