A carbuncle // is an archaic name given to any red gemstone. The name applied particularly to red garnet. The word occurs in four places in most English translations of the Bible. Each use originates from the Vulgate's Latin translation of the Septuagint's Greek term Anthrax – meaning coal, in reference to the color of burning coal; in this sense, a carbuncle is usually taken to mean a gem, particularly a deep-red garnet, unfaceted and convex. In the same place in the masoretic text is the Hebrew word נופח or nofech (no'-fekh); however, the Hebrew definition is less definite and the precise color of the gems is not known.
The word is believed to have originated from the Latin: carbunculus, originally a small coal; diminutive of carbon-, carbo: charcoal or ember, but also a carbuncle stone, "precious stones of a red or fiery colour", usually garnets.
- Exodus 28:17 and 39:10 both refer to the carbuncle's use as the third stone in the breastplate of the Hoshen.
- Ezekiel 28:13 refers to the carbuncle's presence in the Garden of Eden.
- Isaiah 54:12 uses carbuncle to convey the value of the Lord's blessing [and promise to] His faithful barren woman servant: (KJV Is 54:1) "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child;") Her husband and Maker is God, "Thy Maker is thine husband." (Is 54:5 KJV)
- "And I will make thy her windows of agates, and thy her gates of carbuncles, and all thy her borders of pleasant stones."
- The gem is the stolen item in question in the Sherlock Holmes tale "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle."
- A carbuncle plays a mystic role in Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, "The Great Carbuncle."
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare refers to carbuncles in act 2 scene 2 line 401:
- "With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus..."
- In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Book 9, Satan's eyes are like carbuncles (line 500), an image Milton may have borrowed from the Roman de la Rose
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