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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 21 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And the building of the wall of it. The material of which the wall was composed. This means the wall above the foundation, for that was composed of twelve rows of precious stones, Re 21:14; 19-20.

The height of the foundation is not stated, but the entire wall above was composed of jasper.

Was of jasper. See Barnes on "Re 4:3".

Of course, this cannot be taken literally; and an attempt to explain all this literally would show that that method of interpreting the Apocalypse is impracticable.

And the city was pure gold. The material of which the edifices were composed.

Like unto clear glass. The word rendered glass in this place— ualov—occurs in the New Testament only here and in Re 21:21. It means, properly, "anything transparent like water;" as, for example, any transparent stone or gem, or as rock-salt, crystal, glass.—Rob. Lex. Here the meaning is, that the golden city would be so bright and burnished that it would seem to be glass reflecting the sunbeams. Would the appearance of a city as the sun is setting, when the reflection of its beams from thousands of panes of glass gives it the appearance of burnished gold, represent the idea here? If we were to suppose a city made entirely of glass, and the setting sunbeams falling on it, it might convey the idea represented here. It is certain that, as nothing could be more magnificent, so nothing could more beautifully combine the two ideas referred to here—that of gold and glass. Perhaps the reflection of the sunbeams from the "Crystal Palace," erected for the late "industrial exhibition" in London, would convey a better idea of what is intended to be represented here than anything which our world has furnished. The following description from one who was an eye-witness, drawn up by him at the time, and without any reference to this passage, and furnished at my request, will supply a better illustration of the passage before us than any description which I could give: "Seen as the morning vapours rolled around its base—its far-stretching roofs, rising one above another, and its great transept, majestically arched, soaring out of the envelope of clouds—its pillars, window-bars, and pinnacles, looked literally like a castle in the air; like some palace, such as one reads of in idle tales of Arabian enchantment, having about it all the ethereal softness of a dream. Looked at from a distance at noon, when the sunbeams came pouring upon the terraced and vaulted roof, it resembles a regal palace of silver, built for some Eastern prince; when the sun at eventide sheds on its sides his parting rays, the edifice is transformed into a temple of gold and rubies; and in the calm hours of night, when the moon walketh in her brightness, the immense surface of glass which the building presents looks like a sea, or like throwing back in flickering smile the radiant glances of the queen of heaven."

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