Leshem- A Stone Like Sapphire

Today I wanted to discuss more regarding the month of Tevet. Specifically, I wanted to discuss the month in relation to the tribe of Dan,  astrology, and gemology. I thought this might lead to an interesting recurring theme over this year. I began by looking up the gems that correspond to each month and tribe. I couldn’t find anything specific to the months but did find plenty of sites regarding the gems that correspond with the 12 Tribes of Israel. 

Anyone who knows anything about biblical history has heard of the Breastplate of the High Priest. The breastplate was set with 12 stones, each one corresponding to a particular tribe. In fact, the tribal name was inscribed on the corresponding stone. With each tribe corresponding to a month, the tribal stone would also correspond to the month. 

Easy enough, right? Well, not quite. You see, the names of the stones, as recorded in the Bible, are not the same names we use today. There are all kinds of thoughts on what the stones are/were. The stone associated with Dan was called Leshem. I have seen it said that Leshem is opal. I’ve also seen it said that it is jacinth, amber, and lapis. That’s a pretty broad spectrum in terms of gems! I decided to look to the Jewish sages to see if I could find anything out. 

According to Midrash- Numbers Rabbah, each tribe was set up with a standard, the color of which corresponded to the color of the stone. Numbers Rabbah goes on to list the colors of each tribe’s standard. For Dan, it says, “Dan’s banner had the color of sapphire, and an image of a serpent in its center.” Can we say, then, that Dan’s color is sapphire and that Leshem is sapphire? Not really because sapphire is traditionally seen as being the stone of Issachar. Numbers Rabbah says, “Issachar’s banner was blackish, and had in the center the picture of the sun and the moon.” Notice, it doesn’t say black, but blackish. Sapphire is said to be bluish-black. It is the stone from which the tablets were carved, and due to Issachar’s renown for Torah study, that gem has been associated with that tribe.  

What else can we glean from the sages? Dan’s banner (and therefore stone) was the color of sapphire. It’s not sapphire itself, but it’s the same color- blue. That rules out some of the speculations already. We are looking for a blue stone. Lapis fits, but so do many other stones. What other information can we find? In other reading, I learned that Leshem has streaks in the stone. Lapis does. Sodalite, which is similar in appearance to lapis, does as well. I decided to look at various blue stones and see if anything spoke to me. One stone that I personally never saw as a possibility for Leshem stood out. Kyanite is a blue stone with white streaking throughout. One sentence I came across really struck me. “The most desirable kyanite gemstones exhibit a sapphire-like blue color, but most stones will display noticeable light and dark color zoning, along with some white streaks or blotches.” Wow! Sapphire like blue color. Color of sapphire. 

I’ve narrowed my thoughts down to Leshem being one of three stones: lapis lazuli, sodalite, or kyanite. I turned to what I know of the spiritual and metaphysical properties of each stone to see if any of them resonate with the month of Tevet (since Dan corresponds to Tevet). 

Lapis Lazuli- known for wisdom and truth; corresponds to throat and third eye chakras

Sodalite- intuition; corresponds to the third eye and throat chakras 

Kyanite- corresponds to and aligns all seven chakras; strengthens will and vision

The month of Tevet is a month of anger and change. Last week I wrote about Tevet and change. Tevet is ruled by the liver which is seen as representing anger. Dan is seen as angry and immature but grows up to a man of maturity. Dan means “to judge”. Judgment corresponds to the evil eye, but when Dan grows up, the evil eye changes into the ayin tov. Speaking of ayin: the letter ayin means “eye”. You can read more about the meaning of Tevet here.

You could say that either any of these three stones are the biblical Leshem. After my research, I believe it to be kyanite specifically. Kyanite is a blue that looks like sapphire. It has white streaks in it. Kyanite balances all chakras (immaturity to maturity). But one last characteristic makes me think of Leshem as kyanite. Kyanite forms in blades. With Tevet being a month of hostility and change, and with Dan meaning judgment, it’s only fitting that Dan is represented by a blade. 

So there you have it. My opinion is that kyanite is the stone corresponding to Leshem. It is the stone of Dan- the stone of Tevet. With my birthday falling during Tevet, you could say that it is my birthstone. I’m ok with that. Kyanite has always been one of my favorites. 

Image attribution: By Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31148605 — Image size changed.

 

The Month of Tevet- Darkness to Light

We are currently in the Hebrew month of Tevet and the Gregorian month of January. Tevet began at the new moon in December and will end at the new moon in January. The lights of the last days of Chanukah are the brightest spot during Tevet, with the long, dark nights of winter making up the remainder of the month. Aside from those waning days of the Festival of Lights, there are no holidays during Tevet. 

 

Tevet is a month of spiritual darkness as well. The fast day, Asara B’Tevet (10th of Tevet), commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian exile when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem during the First Temple period. This was the beginning of an exile that still continues today despite the fact of the Second Temple period. Just like today, not all Jews live there and call it home. 

 

This month also marks the finality of the Septuagint- the translation of Torah into Greek ordered by Ptolemy. This 70-man translation was completed on the 8th of Tevet. We might ask why translating a holy book into a common language is a bad thing. As with everything else in life, the issue lies with intent. There would have been no problem had Ptolemy’s intention been to provide a translation so that more people could learn from the Holy Book. Instead, the sole purpose was to treat Jewish scripture as any other book- instead of elevating humanity to the scripture, he wanted to lower scripture to humanity. It doesn’t matter what scripture, if any, you follow. All scripture exists to bring humans to a loftier purpose far beyond our mere capacities. 

 

It’s all about change. Tevet marks a month of change. Change, however, doesn’t have to be bad. It can be, as we see from the 8th and 10th of Tevet. It’s also a catalyst for good. Tevet coincides with January which is a time of change. Many people use this time of the new year to make positive changes in their lives. The month is one of darkness, but we can transform that darkness into light. We can be aware of how change can create turmoil, but we can take that turmoil and chaos and transmute it for our good.