Revelation 21:16 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
16. he measured the city ] It is doubtful whether this is the measurement of the side of the square, or of the whole circumference. The twelve-fold measure is in favour of the former view: thus from each gate to the next would be 1000 furlongs; the outmost gate on each side being 500 from the angle.
with the reed ] He has not, as in the parallel passages of Ezekiel and Zechariah, a line for the long measurements (like our “chains” and “poles”).
twelve thousand furlongs ] The construction is peculiar, but the sense clear. The measure would be about 1378 English miles, making the City 344 miles square, according to the lower computation.
the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal ] It seems inconsistent with the pictorial vividness of this book, to imagine that the City is described as forming a cube of over 300 miles each way; and we are told in the next verse that the wall was of a great but not unimaginable or disproportionate height. Yet no other interpretation has been proposed that seems fairly reconcileable with the words; and passages are quoted from the Rabbis, that seem to prove that this notion, of Jerusalem being elevated to an enormous height, did commend itself to Jewish habits of thought. Would it be admissible to suppose that the City, which almost certainly lies on a mountain, forms not a cube but a pyramid? The height of it, equal to one side of the base, may then be conceived to be measured along the slope, either at the angle, or at the centre of one side: the conception of vertical height is rather too abstruse to be looked for, and it could not be measured with the reed. The vertical height would on one view be about 2121 stadia, or 243 miles: on the other, about 2598 stadia, or 298 miles.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".