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The Stones of Caphire

Author Stephen Pidgeon - Thursday, July 21, 2022


In the את Cepher Millennium Edition, we make use of the word caphire (pronounced the same as sapphire). Some of you may have questions concerning this, so let’s take a look and see what is going on in the Cepher.

We begin with the following:

Shemoth (Exodus) 24:9-10
Then went up Mosheh, and Aharon, Nadav, and Aviyhu, and seventy of the elders of Yashar’el: 10 And they saw את the Elohai of Yashar’el: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a caphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

The word that is translated here as sapphire is incorrectly set forth by Strong’s as cappiyr (סַפִּיר) Strong's H5601. However, the operative letter in this Ivriyt word is the letter pey/phey, the spelling of which would determine whether the letter is pronounced pey or phey. Pey is shown as (פ) whereas phey is shown as (). Unfortunately, in the latter case, the doubling dot or dagash also appears this way. So we have a choice: is this the letter phey (pronounced “ph”), or is this a doubling dot rendering two ps (pronounced “pp”)?

We believe that the overwhelming tide of evidence points to a proper pronunciation of the letter as phey (hence “ph”); therefore the word in question is pronounced as caphire and spelled accordingly.

(סַפִּיר) H5601 caphire; from H5608; Strong’s tells us this means “a gem (perhaps used for scratching other substances), probably the sapphire:—sapphire.”

Given that there is no double “p” in the word, and the word should be pronounced caphire (sapphire), one wonders how Strong’s determined that its meaning is as “a gem (perhaps used for scratching other substances), probably the sapphire." Perhaps? Probably??

The word has a root in the Ivriyt, which is (סָפַר) (H5608). This word means to score with a mark as a tally or record, i.e. (by implication) to inscribe, and also to enumerate; intensively, to recount, i.e. celebrate:—commune, (ac-) count; declare, to number, penknife, to reckon, scribe, shew forth, speak, talk, tell (out), writer.

5609 (סְפַר) çepher comes from a root corresponding to H5608 and means a book or scroll.

5610 (סְפָר) çephâr is also from H5608 and means a census:—numbering, means: a census, or numbering.

5612 (סֵפֶר) çêpher is also from H5608 and means a writing (the art or a document); by implication, a book: a bill, a book, evidence, a letter, a register, a scroll. It is found also in the feminine form as çiphrâh (סִפְרָה) (Ps 56:8 (H9). The masculine plural is cepheriym (ספרים); the feminine plural is cepher’oth (ספרות).

5613 (סָפֵר) çâphêr means: a scribe (Aramaic).

When we look at the word caphire in its totality, we then see in the meaning of the word a fixed stone which may include an enumerated writing scratched upon its surface.

Let’s look at the history:

Shemoth (Exodus) 19:19
And when the voice of the shofar sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Mosheh spoke, and Elohiym answered him by a voice.

What did they actually hear being said?

Shemoth (Exodus) 20:1-17
And Elohiym spoke את all these words, saying: 2 I am Yahuah Elohayka, which have brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, out of the house of bondage.

3 You shall have no other elohiym before me.

4 You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I, Yahuah Elohayka am a jealous El, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and guard my commandments.

7 You shall not bring the name of Yahuah Elohayka to naught; for Yahuah will not hold him guiltless את that brings his name to naught.

8 Remember the day of the Shabbath, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: 10 But the seventh day is the Shabbath of Yahuah Elohayka: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: 11 For in six days Yahuah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Yahuah blessed the day of Shabbath, and hallowed it.

12 Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which Yahuah Elohayka gives you.

13 You shall not kill.

14 You shall not break wedlock.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not lust after your neighbor's house, you shall not lust after your neighbor's woman, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's.

Shemoth (Exodus) 24:12
And Yahuah said unto Mosheh: Come up to me into the Mount and be there: and I will give you caphire stones, and a Torah, and commandments which I have written; that you may teach them.

Shemoth (Exodus) 34:28
And he was there with Yahuah forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the caphires את the words of the covenant, the Ten Devariym.

Devariym (Deuteronomy) 5:22
These words Yahuah spoke unto all your assembly in the Mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them on two caphire stones and delivered them unto me.

In this record, we see that an enumerated writing – the Ten Devariym – were set forth on stones.

In Devariym 5:22, we are told by Strong’s that two words can be found in the underlying Masoretic text, which in fact are not there. One word is natan (נתן), when the word actually found there is v’i’taniym (וַיִּתְּנֵם); the second is the word luach (לוח), when the word there is actually lach’oth (לֻחֹת). In the first instance, it doesn’t really change the meaning of the verse. But the second one is important, as it is the plural form of the word lach (לַח) (H3892), which means fresh or unused.

So in the passage that is translated as tablets of stone, we find the underlying Ivriyt to say:

עַל־שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים

Transliteration: Al-sheniy lach’oth ebeniym: upon two fresh (unused, uncut) stones.

In Exodus 34:28, do we see the Strong’s chosen word luach (לוח), or the word meaning fresh, i.e. lach’oth (לֻחֹת)? Applicable portion:

וַיִּכְתֹּב עַל־הַלֻּחֹת אֵת דִּבְרֵי

Transliteration: v’y’kathab al-ha’lach’oth eth devari: And he wrote on the fresh ones the word.

And in Exodus 24:12, we see the following:

אֶת־לֻחֹת הָאֶבֶן וְהַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר כָּתַבְתִּי לְהוֹרֹתָם׃

Eth lach’oth ha’eben v’ha’torah, v’ha’mitsvoth asher cathab’oth’i l’ha’y’ratham: The fresh stone, and the Torah, and the commandments, which writings to the binding thereof [Interlineated].

So, as we can see, the word tablets does not appear there at all! Rather it is lach’oth (fresh, or fresh ones [fem. Plural]).

Now the question becomes, which fresh stone was used to scratch this Torah, these commandments?  We return to where we started:

Shemoth (Exodus) 24:9-10
Then went up Mosheh, and Aharon, Nadav, and Aviyhu, and seventy of the elders of Yashar’el: 10 And they saw את the Elohai of Yashar’el: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a caphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

For these reasons, we use the word caphire to describe the etched fresh stones of the Ten Devariym.


This blog is an update from a previous blog posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

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