The City the Holy
30th July 2008, hej
This Article: (7 Pages)
2) The City in Detail
Let us look closely at this city.
Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it was a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
The city is personified as being female with the use of 'her'. This is consistent with the city being “like a bride”. The most prominent feature of this city is the light. Many architects have said that architecture is made evident in light, one of the most quoted says architecture is “a magnificent play of forms in light” (Le. Corbusier, 1927, p. 202). But this light is not like the light that makes architecture evident, as it is a clear stone: A jasper stone. If this is a real city, a vision of something real, how can the light that shines on it be a stone? It must be that the light that comes from it is like that of a clear crystal. We could see this city from outside as shining like a huge crystal lamp.
But the city's light is surrounded. It has a
a great and high wall;
How can we see it from outside as 'clear' if it is surrounded by high walls? These walls, it turns out, are Jasper.
The construction of its wall was jasper.
So the city's walls glow like a clear crystal. Crystals are all solids. In some crystals light passes through the atomic structure, these include quartz (which is SiO2 with a hexagonal structure), Calcite and Fluorite. Jasper is a quartz. Thickness affects diaphenity, or transparency, where thicker specimens may become translucent.
Its wall is one hundred forty-four cubits, by the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.
All sources consulted indicated a cubit is approximately half a metre (18 to 21 inches), with the Roman cubit being a little less and the Hebrew and Babylonian a bit more. At 144 cubits the wall would be at least 75m thick. This is an incredibly thick wall. Also jasper has a red colour, due to impurities including Hematite which is opaque. At 75m thick, jasper would appear, at best, translucent. If the walls are jasper they can only be clear if they are thin. The surface may be shiny, but it would not be transparent, or 'clear'.
The wall is 75m thick. This is very thick, possibly due to its height.
He who spoke with me had for a measure, a golden reed, to measure the city, its gates, and its walls...The city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as its breadth. He measured the city with the reed, Twelve thousand twelve stadia. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
Sully (1929), based on the work of Hebrew scholars, concludes this reed is somewhere between 3.2m (10ft6inches) and 3.65m (12ft) Another source (www.eifiles.cn/ic.htm) says the reed length is 3.125 metres. This source, however, points out that the cube in Revelation is 12,000 stadia. They state a stadia is 60 reeds. This equates to a wall of 720,000 reeds square, or 2250 km. It is only 50km from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This cube would dwarf Israel. The shortest this wall of Jasper could be would make it extend well beyond the stratosphere at 50km. The total limit of the earth's atmosphere does not go much beyond 800km!
The huge size cannot be reduced. The reference to stadia cannot be ignored as we have a comparison.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away. (John 11:18 WEB)
We know how far this is- both Bethany and Jerusalem exist today and we know their ancient extents. This passage uses the same word and was penned also by John. There would be no reason to doubt the word 'stadia' refers to the same distance in both occurrences. Bethany was located approximately 2.8km (1 3/4 miles) East of Jerusalem. Therefore about 15 stadia is 2.8km and 12,000 stadia is 2240km. This confirms the finding above using the measurement of the reed.
It also allows us to pace out the city on the earth. It is 800 times the distance from Bethany to Jerusalem. Walking pace is for a fit person about 5km/h. Bethany to Jerusalem is a bit over half an hour at a very fast walk. But for a city 2240km wide it would take 448 hours or 2.6 weeks to walk across non stop. According to Peloubet (1952) there were three measures for a stadia, the Olympic at 192m, the Roman at 185m and the Attic at 177m. Even the shortest stadia makes this wall 2,130km square. If something this big is to come down as new Jerusalem it's going to cover an appreciable portion of the Earth's surface. The walls of this cube would extend from Istanbul to Tehran to Riyad in Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian border with Libya. The diameter of the whole earth is only 12,756.3 km. The site needed is actually more than the territory promised to the fathers of Israel, which was from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.
Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even to the hinder sea shall be your border. (Deut. 11:24)
This new Jerusalem is so big, the whole territory promised to the Fathers is lost in the centre. Israel is only about 700km long. And it is so high, over half of it is outside the earth's atmosphere.
At even the smallest wall length we have a curvature problem. The earth curves 0.078m over 1km. The cube at 2250km long would not be perfect. It's base would have a 100km bow upwards. There is to be a flat plain made at Jerusalem. Zechariah is quite specific.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:4-5)
The valley is to reach to a place called Azal. As this is the only mention of this place, we do not know the extent. However, Zechariah adds some more detail.
All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. (Zechariah 14:8-10)
This detailed description tells us the extent of the plain. Geba has been located and is 10km North of Jerusalem. There are two Rimmons. One was a priestly city in Zebulun (1Chron.6:77) and could not be the one referred to as it must be to the South of Jerusalem. The other was in the inheritance of Judah (Joshua 15:32). At the furtherest this is 40km away from Jerusalem. A great area of the earth is levelled by Zechariah's earthquake and a huge flat plain is made, but it is not big enough! What effects would there be if the earth is flattened by over 100km in depth over an area of 2250km square? The largest known crater in the solar system is South Pole-Aitken on the moon, which is 2250 km in diameter but it is only 12 km deep (Guinness).
If the curve of the base is a problem, the possible bending of the wall vertically is even more of an issue. Assuming the atmosphere exists and still has winds to ensure air circulation, there will be considerable horizontal load on this structure. The higher a wall is above the earth the greater the wind forces. This wall presents a large area and the wind will apply pressure on the face of the wall. A general thumb rule is that its thickness should be 1/40th of its height. If the wall is 2250 km high, the necessary thickness is 66 odd kilometres. The 75m wall thickness given in the vision is too thin! A building projecting out of the atmosphere, which is non existent at 1000km, has forces that cannot yet be appreciated in built form. The tallest tower yet to be built on earth is just over 500m, which is well and truly still in the troposphere. A cubic structure may help, but these walls are so long and thin a good 1000km length is liable to wobble at the top. There would need to be very deep buttresses. John does not mention he saw buttressing.
There is one more structural problem. Jasper has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale (diamond is 10), making it very hard. Glass is 5.5 on that scale. It would be difficult to make a building of it, but let's say it's specially made. It also is brittle. This means that a sudden force applied can shatter it. The impurities in glass make it a problem material to build with. Quartz is even worse. To build from large panels of quartz could lead to sudden and unpredictable collapse. To change its atomic properties is to change the material, the very atomic structure that makes it crystalline also makes it brittle. Diamond and glass are also brittle.
A section. A cube intersecting a sphere curves two ways. The radius at the walls is 6278km. A second iteration of the calculation shows the bow in the base due to the curvature of the earth is just over 101km.
If the walls are too big and too thin, the gates may be too small. It has 12 gates.
having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
And the gates are pearls
The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl.
Each gate is a single pearl. If this is the case some extraordinary oyster, clam or mollusk made it. The largest found to date is 6.4kg 9 1/2 inches long and 5 1/2 inches in diameter (tourism.gov.ph). And this was from a clam that is large enough to use as a human bath. It does not say the gates are like pearl, it says they are a pearl. If the pearl was big enough it would be a huge sphere. It is a poor choice of material for a gate as it is so heavy. It would be possible to make a gate with a very heavy sphere, like a stone that would roll to one side into a spherical cavity, but controlling it from rolling the wrong way would be a big problem.
The foundations of this wall, by implication carrying a load on the earth, are precious stones. There are 12 of them.
The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The foundations of the city's wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst.
Either they are huge or there are not enough of them. Somehow twelve stones have to distribute the load of a 75m wide wall that is about 2250 km high and 2250 km long. Quartz is 2643 kg/m3 (simetric.co.uk). Every square metre of wall would push down with a weight of 5,946,750 tonnes on the earth. To give an idea of the scale of this, most small cottages weigh 20 tonnes including the bricks. This is like stacking 360 thousand houses up on one metre by one metre. This would push deep into the earth.
We are told that once inside the city everything is of gold.
The city was pure gold, like pure glass.
The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
It is true that pure gold when flat and polished will reflect like glass. Gold is a poor material to chose for construction, it is prized precisely because it is rare and unsuitable for practical construction applications. It is rare being only 2.5 parts per billion of the earth's crust. Interestingly it is often found in quartz. It is very malleable with very little structural strength. It is easily scratched (which is good for engraving). This would make it hard to keep polished. So to make streets of it that look polished would mean that you would need a thick plate or apply it to a very solid substrate. You would then have to keep people off it, otherwise it would get scratched. Actually you'd want to keep people off it anyway. Anything polished is very slippery, glass being a distinct problem as a flooring material, as even without water it is slippery, with water on the smooth surface it is deadly. It says there will be no night there, but it would be better to say it would not rain there. However, Joel is specific. It will rain.
"Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before. ..You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else.. (Joel 2:23-27 WEB)
Rain and a glass-like finish to gold paving, make this a poor design for a real city for people.
The following completes the description we have:
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk in its light.
The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there), and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it so that they may enter. (Rev 21:9-26 WEB)
So, the nations do walk to it. Though, thankfully as it is so slippery it does not say they go into the city, it does say that they may enter it. This is a distinction that will be returned to.
A most interesting fact is that by its light the nations walk. If it's an illuminated cubic crystal of 2250 km, chances are that not only is there is no night there, but there is no night on half the earth. It would shed light so far it would prevent the stars from being seen for thousands of kilometres around. Sydney's brightness lights the sky 100 km away and the tallest building there is only 230m high.
We are not given much information, really, regarding this city. It is fully described in a few paragraphs. The information we are given describes a building that is impossible to build on this earth. The dimensions given establish that the holy city is approximately 2250km cube, give or take a few kilometres. It goes out of the atmosphere entirely. Knowing the wall is as high as the city is wide, the 75m thick wall is far too thin. But, it is too thick for jasper to be transparent as a crystal. The gates of one pearl will be too small, and if they were large enough for a person to enter they would be too heavy. The foundations must be huge precious stones, either very wide or very deep as the load on the earth's surface is huge. To top it all off, the city is made from the most pure but structurally useless material there is, and the city's streets of polished gold are a slip disaster waiting to happen. And though its light spillage at night would be horrendous, it is not enough to be a light for all the nations.
But this is a beautiful analogy.