Ruby (only plur. פּנַינַי ם peninim; once [Proverbs 315, Kethib] פּנַיַּי ם, peniyim; Sept. λίθοι, or λίθοι πολυτελεῖς; Vulg. cunctoe opes, cuncta pretiosissima, gemmoe, de ultimis finibus, ebor antiquum), a gem concerning which there is much difference of opinion and great uncertainty. It occurs in the following passages: "The price of wisdom is above peninim" (Job 28:18; so also Pr 3:15; Pr 8:11; Pr 31:10); "A multitude of peninim" (20:15). In La 4:7, it is said, "the Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than peninim." Boote (Animad. Sac. 4, 3), on account of the ruddiness mentioned in the last passage, supposed "coral" to be intended, for which, however, there appears to be another Hebrew word. SEE CORAL. Michaelis (Suppl. p. 2023) is of the same opinion, and compares the Heb. פּנַנָּה; with the Arab. panah, "a branch." Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v.) defends this argument. Bochart (Hieroz. 3, 601) contends that the Hebrew term denotes pearls, and explains the "ruddiness" alluded to above by supposing that the original word (אָדמוּ) signifies merely "bright in color," or "color of a reddish tinge." This opinion is supported by Rosenmüller (Schol. in Thren.) and others, but opposed by Maurer (Comment.) and Gesenius. Certainly it would be no compliment to the great people of the land to say that their bodies were as red as coral or rubies, unless we adopt Maurer's explanation, who refers the "ruddiness" to the blood which flowed in their veins. SEE RUDDY. On the whole, considering that the Hebrew word is always used in the plural, we are inclined to adopt Bochart's explanation, and understand pearls to be intended. SEE PEARL.
The ruby is, however, generally supposed to be represented by the word כּ דכֹּד, kad-kod', which occurs in Eze 27:6, and Isa 54:12, where the A.V. renders it "agate" (q.v.). An Arabic word of similar sound (kadskadsat) signifies "vivid redness;" and as the Hebrew word may be derived from a root of like signification, it is inferred that it denotes the Oriental ruby, which is distinguished for its vivid red color, and was regarded as the most valuable of precious stones next after the diamond. This mode of identification, however, seems rather precarious. The Greek translator of Eze 27:16 does not appear to have known what it meant, for he preserves the original word; and although the translator of Isa 54:12 has jasper (Gr. iaspis, ἴασπις), he is not regarded as any authority in such matters when he stands alone. The ruby was doubtless known to the Hebrews, but it is by no means certain that kad-kod was its name. Some have supposed that the word ekdach, אֶקדָּח, which from its etymology should signify a sparkling, flaming gem, is to be regarded as a species of ruby. It occurs only in Isa 54:12; hence the Sept. and A.V. make it a "carbuncle" (q.v.).
The ruby of mineralogists is a red sapphire (q.v.) or spinel. It is a gem highly prized, and only inferior in value to the diamond. The finest are the Oriental, which are chiefly brought from Ceylon and Burmah. They are found in alluvial deposits. The ruby, like other gems, had a host of occult virtues attributed to it by the Cabalists. It was supposed to give valor to the soldier in battle; to decide and concentrate affection; to foretell evil by growing pale, and to indicate that the danger was past by recovering its vivid color. SEE GEM.