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Pitdah

topaz, colour, xxviii and precious

PITDAH (rr)pp ; Sept. TorciPov), a precious stone ; one of those which were in the breastplate of the high-priest (Exod. xxviii. 17), and the origin of which is referred to Cush (Job xxviii. 19). It is, according to most ancient versions, the topaz (re Ircipop ; Joseph. Turrater), which most of the an cient Greek writers describe as being of a golden yellow colour (Strabo, xvi. p. ryryo ; Diod Sic. iii. 39) ; while Pliny (Hist. Nat. xxxvii. 32) states its colour to be green. Relying on this last authority, several modern authors have asserted that the an cient gem thus named was no other than the modern chrysolite. But this notion has been confuted by Bellarmann (Urim and Thummin, p. 39), who shows that the hues ascribed by the ancients to the topaz are found in the gem to which the moderns have applied that name. This is a precious stone, having a strong glass lustre. Its prevailing colour is wine-yellow of every degree of shade. The dark shade of this colour passes over into carnation red, and sometimes, although rarely, into lilac ; the pale shade of the wine-yellow passes into grayish ; and from yellowish-white into greenish-white and pale green, tincal and celadon-green. It may thus be difficult to determine whether the pitdah in the high-priest's breastplate was the yellow topaz ; but that it was a topaz there is little reason to doubt.

It is clear that the stone was highly prized by the Hebrews. Job declares that wisdom was more precious than the pitdah of Cush (Job xxviii. 19) ; and as the name Cush includes Southern Arabia, and the Arabian Gulf, the intimation coincides with the statement of Pliny and others, that the topazes known to them came from the Topaz Island in the Red Sea (Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxvii. 8 ; comp. vi. 29 ; Diod. Sic. iii. 30 ; Strabo, xvi. p. 770), whence it was probably brought by the Phoenicians. In Ezek. xxviii. 13, the pitdah is named among the precious stones with which the king of Tyre was decked.

It may be added that Von Bohlen seeks the origin of the Hebrew word in the Sanscrit language, in which pita means yellowish," pale ;' and, as Gesenius remarks, the Greek T 07rd POP itself might seem to come from the Hebrew MOD, by trans position into ill= (see Thesaurus, p. Hot ; Brannius, De Vesting, p. 5o8 ; Hofmann, Mineral., i. 337 ; Pareau, comment on gob, p. 333 ; Ritter, Erdkunde, ii. 675).óJ. K.