What Does Onyx Symbolize in the Bible

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/27/23 •  12 min read

The onyx stone holds great significance in the Bible, symbolizing various aspects that deepen our understanding of Christianity. Let’s delve into the rich symbolism behind this precious stone and uncover its role in biblical teachings.

In the Bible, the onyx stone is mentioned several times, most notably in the book of Exodus. When describing the breastplate of the high priest, Exodus 28:15-21 states, ‘Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod… Set in it four rows of precious stones: the first row shall contain carnelian, chrysolite, and beryl; the second row shall contain turquoise, lapis lazuli, and emerald; the third row shall contain jacinth, agate, and amethyst; and the fourth row shall contain topaz, onyx, and jasper.’

These twelve precious stones were representative of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each stone had the name of one of the tribes engraved on it. The onyx, in this context, symbolized the tribe of Joseph. This showcases the importance of the onyx stone as a symbol of unity and belonging within the Israelite community.

Furthermore, the onyx stone is associated with strength and resilience. Job 28:16 emphasizes its value, stating, ‘It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire.’ This verse highlights the rarity and preciousness of the onyx stone, making it a fitting symbol for the enduring faith and steadfastness of believers.

One fascinating story from the Bible that illustrates the significance of the onyx stone is found in the book of Genesis. It recounts the story of Jacob, who had twelve sons, each becoming the progenitor of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In Genesis 49:24, Jacob blesses his son Joseph, saying, ‘But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.’

This story emphasizes Joseph’s strength and blessings, and the onyx stone is mentioned as part of the blessings bestowed upon him. It symbolizes Joseph’s unwavering faith and his position as a leader among his brothers.

In conclusion, the onyx stone holds deep symbolism in the Bible. It represents unity, strength, and blessings. Its significance is evident in the breastplate of the high priest and the blessings bestowed upon Joseph. By understanding the symbolism behind the onyx stone, we gain a deeper insight into the teachings of Christianity and the profound messages conveyed in the Holy Bible.

Key Takeaways

Onyx in the Bible

In the Bible, onyx is mentioned several times and is associated with strength, protection, and divine power. One notable reference is found in the book of Exodus, where the onyx stone is mentioned as one of the twelve stones on the breastplate of the high priest.

Exodus 28:9-10 states, ‘Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth—six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel.’

This passage highlights the significance of onyx in the context of the religious practices of the Israelites. The onyx stones with the engraved names of the twelve tribes of Israel served as a symbol of divine protection and a reminder of God’s covenant with His chosen people.

Furthermore, the book of Job mentions onyx in the context of its beauty and value. Job 28:16 states, ‘It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx, or sapphire.’ This verse emphasizes the preciousness of onyx and its esteemed status in biblical times.

In addition to its protective qualities, onyx is also associated with wisdom and discernment. Proverbs 2:3-4 says, ‘Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.’ This verse suggests that seeking wisdom and understanding is akin to searching for valuable treasures like silver and hidden onyx.

Overall, the Bible portrays onyx as a symbol of strength, protection, and divine guidance. It is seen as a precious stone with special powers that can shield believers from harm and provide clarity in their faith. The stories and verses mentioned here offer a glimpse into the deeper meaning and significance of onyx in biblical contexts.

Meaning Behind the Onyx Stone

The Onyx stone holds great significance in biblical symbolism, as it is mentioned multiple times throughout the Bible. Its lustrous black and white stripes represent purity, strength, and endurance, making it a powerful and revered stone.

In the book of Exodus, the Onyx stone is mentioned as one of the precious stones adorning the breastplate of the high priest. Exodus 28:9-10 states, ‘Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel…six of their names on one stone and the remaining six on the other stone.’ This reference highlights the Onyx’s role in representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the unity of God’s chosen people.

The Onyx is also associated with purification and the removal of negative energy. In the book of Job, Job speaks of his righteousness and integrity, saying, ‘Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If my step has turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out. If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door; then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase. If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?’ (Job 31:6-15). In this passage, Job expresses his desire for purity and righteousness, using the metaphor of the Onyx stone to represent his integrity and freedom from negative influences.

Furthermore, the Onyx is believed to bring strength and grounding. In the book of Psalms, the psalmist writes, ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’ (Psalm 18:2). This verse emphasizes the strength and stability that the Onyx symbolizes, as it is compared to God, who is described as a rock and a fortress.

The Onyx is also seen as a symbol of endurance and perseverance. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John describes the heavenly city, saying, ‘The twelfth [foundation] was amethyst, the twelfth an onyx, and the twelfth a jasper’ (Revelation 21:20). This reference highlights the Onyx’s presence in the foundation of the eternal city, signifying its everlasting nature and endurance.

Uses of Onyx in the Bible

Onyx holds great significance in the Bible, with numerous references highlighting its associations with purity, strength, and endurance. Throughout scripture, onyx is often used to symbolize heavenly powers, particularly in relation to prophets. Let us explore some of these biblical references to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning and symbolism of onyx.

In the Book of Exodus, we come across the onyx stones that were set in the breastplate of the High Priest. These stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Exodus 28:20 states, ‘And the fourth row shall be a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.’ This passage signifies the importance of onyx as a representation of the unity and strength of the twelve tribes.

Moving forward, the Book of Ezekiel mentions onyx in relation to divine prophecy. In Ezekiel 28:13, it is written, ‘Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.’ This passage suggests that onyx holds a significant place among the precious stones associated with divine power and heavenly realms.

The Book of Revelations also mentions onyx, further emphasizing its importance in the Bible. In Revelations 21:20, it is described, ‘The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.’ This passage illustrates how onyx is used to represent heavenly powers and adds to the overall symbolism of the stone.

These biblical references clearly establish onyx as a powerful symbol of purity, strength, and endurance. It is closely associated with the heavenly power of prophets, emphasizing their connection to the divine. The stories and verses from the Bible provide us with a deeper understanding of the significance of onyx, reinforcing its meaningful presence in scripture.

Biblical References to Onyx

Throughout the Bible, onyx is referenced multiple times, providing deep insight into its symbolic meaning. Let’s explore the significance of onyx in Christianity and how it relates to God’s divine protection and strength.

Onyx is mentioned as a precious stone symbolizing strength and protection. In the book of Job, it is said, ‘The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold’ (Job 28:19). This verse emphasizes the unmatched value and strength of onyx.

Additionally, onyx is used for crafting religious artifacts and symbols. In Exodus 28:9-11, we learn that onyx stones were set in the ephod and breastplate of the high priest. This not only highlights the beauty and craftsmanship associated with onyx but also its sacredness in the service of God.

To understand the spiritual significance of onyx, let’s delve into a story from the Bible. In the book of Exodus, when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they faced numerous challenges and dangers. However, God provided them with protection and guidance. Similarly, onyx is seen as a powerful stone that safeguards against spiritual danger. Just as God protected the Israelites, onyx serves as a reminder that we can rely on God’s protection in times of trouble.

Courage and endurance are also symbolically associated with onyx. In the face of adversity, having the strength to endure and the courage to overcome challenges is crucial. In Joshua 1:9, the Lord says to Joshua, ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ This verse reminds us that God’s presence empowers us to face any situation with courage and endurance.

In the context of Christianity, onyx is not only a symbol of strength but also a source of spiritual power. It serves as a reminder that God’s divine protection is always available to us. Just as onyx is a precious and rare gem, God’s protection is invaluable and cannot be compared to anything else.

Significance of Onyx in Christianity

In Christianity, onyx holds great significance as it symbolizes strength, protection, courage, and endurance. The Bible provides us with insights into the spiritual meaning of onyx and how it can guide believers in their faith journey.

One of the stories that exemplifies the strength and endurance associated with onyx is the story of Job. Job was a righteous man who faced immense trials and tribulations, including the loss of his wealth, his children, and his health. Despite his suffering, Job remained steadfast in his faith and relied on God for strength. Job 28:16 says, ‘It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire.’ This verse highlights the preciousness and value of onyx, emphasizing its spiritual significance.

Furthermore, the Bible encourages believers to find strength in prayerful reflection. Psalm 62:7-8 states, ‘My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.’ This passage reminds us that through prayer, we can find solace and guidance from God, just as onyx provides spiritual guidance to believers.

Additionally, the Bible portrays onyx as a symbol of protection and courage. In Exodus 28:20, onyx stones were used as part of the breastplate worn by the high priest. This breastplate represented God’s protection for His people, and the onyx stones played a vital role in this divine safeguarding.

Another scripture that highlights the protective nature of onyx is Proverbs 18:10, which says, ‘The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’ This verse assures believers that when faced with adversity, they can find refuge and courage in the name of the Lord.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.