CRYSTAL. Both Hebrew and Greek terms can be translated “ice.” More likely it means rock crystal or crystallized quartz. The reason for the meaning “ice” is that the ancients believed that crystal was formed by the process of intense cold (Job.28.17; Rev.4.6; Rev.21.11; Rev.22.1). See also Minerals.

CRYSTAL, a body bounded by surfaces, usually flat, arranged on a definite plan which is an expression of the internal arrangement of the atoms. Crystals are formed by the process of crystalization during which minerals are formed from the gaseous or liquid state, or from solution.

The occurrence of the mineral quartz (silicon dioxide) in forms having a characteristic shape, bounded by flat surfaces, was observed by the ancient Greeks. Because of the transparency of the mineral (Rev 21:11) and its common occurrence in veins, it was thought to have been formed by freezing of water in the intensely cold Alps. It was known to the Greeks as krustallos, meaning clear ice (Ezek 1:22 NEB; Rev 4:6). Many other crystals, bounded by flat faces, were known to the ancients and to these the general term of crystal (Rev 22:1) was given. The similarity in appearance of glass (q.v.) to quartz and other transparent crystals was also known (cf. Job 28:17 NEB footnote).

Quartz crystals are usually hexagonal prisms determined by forms giving the appearance of a pyramid. The purest and transparent form is known as rock crystal and is sometimes used in jewelry. The presence of small amounts of manganese, or possibly organic matter, results in a violet or purple transparent variety called amethyst (q.v.) which is used as a precious stone (jewels and precious stones q.v.).


H. H. Read, Rutley’s Elements of Mineralogy, 26th ed. (1970), 73, 438-441.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See also STONES, PRECIOUS. F. K. Farr