(Heb. gabish, Job 28:18 ; Gr. margarites, Matthew 7:6 ; 13:46 ; Revelation 21:21 ). The pearl oyster is found in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Its shell is the "mother of pearl," which is of great value for ornamental purposes ( 1 Timothy 2:9 ; Revelation 17:4 ). Each shell contains eight or ten pearls of various sizes.
(Heb. gabish ). The Hebrew word in ( Job 28:18 ) probably means "crystal." Pearls, however are frequently mentioned in the New Testament, ( Matthew 13:45 ; 1 Timothy 2:9 ; Revelation 17:4 ; 21:21 ) and were considered by the ancients among the most precious of gems, and were highly esteemed as ornaments. The kingdom of heaven is compared to a "pearl of great price." In ( Matthew 7:6 ) pearls are used metaphorically for anything of value, or perhaps more especially for "wise sayings." (The finest specimens of the pearl are yielded by the pearl oyster (Avicula margaritifera ), still found in abundance in the Persian Gulf and near the coasts of Ceylon, Java and Sumatra. The oysters grow in clusters on rocks in deep water, and the pearl is found inside the shell, and is the result of a diseased secretion caused by the introduction of foreign bodies, as sand, etc., between the mantle and the shell. They are obtained by divers trained to the business. March or April is the time for pearl fishing. A single shell sometimes yields eight to twelve pearls. The size of a good Oriental pearl varies from that of a pea to about three times that size. A handsome necklace of pearls the size of peas is worth $15,000. Pearls have been valued as high as $200,000 or $300,000 apiece.--ED.)