From the Book of Revelation:
And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their enclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.--Exodus 28: 15-21
PRECIOUS STONES AND JEWELRY: The only source specifying a mineralogical property is the description found in Midrash Rabbah (Num. R. 2:7):
There were distinguishing signs for each prince; each had a flag and a different color for every flag, corresponding to the precious stones on the breast of Aaron... Reuben's stone was odem and the color of his flag was red; and embroidered thereon were mandrakes. Simeon's was pitdah and his flag was of a yellow (or green) color... Levi's was bareqet and the color of his flag was a third white, a third black, and a third red... Judah's was nofekh and the color of his flag was like that of the sky... Issachar's was sappir and the color of his flag was black like stibium... Zebulun's was yahalom and the color of his flag was white... Dan's was leshem and the color of his flag was similar to sappir... Gad's ahlamah and the color of his flag was neither white nor black but a blend of black and white... Asher's was tarshish and the color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves... Joseph's was shoham and the color of his flag was jet black... Benjamin's was yashfeh and the color of his flag was a combination of all the 12 colors...
Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 75a
Rabbah said in the name of R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come make a banquet for the righteous from the flesh of Leviathan1... The rest [of Leviathan] will be spread by the Holy One, blessed be He, upon the walls of Jerusalem, and its splendour will shine from one end of the world to the other; as it is said: And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.2
[It is written]: And I will make thy pinnacles of kadkod3 R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: There is a dispute [as to the meaning of kadkod] between two angels in heaven, Gabriel and Michael. Others say: [The dispute is between] two Amoraim in the West.4 And who are they? Judah and Hezekiah the sons of R. Hiyya. One says: [Kadkod means] onyx; and the other says: Jasper. The Holy One, blessed be He, said unto them: Let it be as this one [says] and as that one.5
And thy gates of carbuncles6 [is to be understood] as R. Johanan [explained] when he [once] sat and gave an exposition: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come bring precious stones and pearls which are thirty [cubits] by thirty and will cut out from them [openings]7 ten [cubits] by twenty, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem. A certain student sneered at him: [Jewels] of the size of a dove's egg are not to be found; are [jewels] of such a size to be found? After a time, his ship sailed out to sea [where] he saw ministering angels engaged8 in cutting precious stones and pearls which were thirty [cubits] by thirty and on which were engravings of ten [cubits] by twenty. He said unto them: 'For whom are these?' They replied that the Holy One, blessed be He, would in time to come set them up in the gates of Jerusalem. [When] he came [again] before R. Johanan he said unto him: 'Expound, O my master; it is becoming for you to expound; as you said, so have I seen.' He replied unto him: 'Raca, had you not seen, would not you have believed? You are [then] sneering at the words of the Sages!' He set his eyes on him and [the student] turned into a heap of bones.
An objection was raised: And I will lead you komamiyuth,9 R. Meir says: [it means] two hundred cubits; twice the height of Adam.10 R. Judah says: A hundred cubits; corresponding to the [height of the] temple and its walls. For it is said: We whose sons are as plants grown up in their youth; whose daughters are as corner-pillars carved after the fashion of the Temple.11 R. Johanan speaks only of the ventilation windows.
Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The Holy One, blessed be He, will make seven canopies for every righteous man; for it is said: And the Lord will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be a canopy.12 This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, will make for everyone a canopy corresponding to his rank.13 Why is smoke required in a canopy? R. Hanina said: Because whosoever is niggardly towards the scholars in this world will have his eyes filled with smoke in the world to come. Why is fire required in a canopy? R. Hanina said: This teaches that each one will be burned by reason of [his envy of the superior] canopy of his friend. Alas, for such shame! Alas, for such reproach!
In a similar category is the following: And thou shalt put of thy honour upon him,14 but not all thy honour. The elders of that generation said: The countenance of Moses was like that of the sun; the countenance of Joshua was like that of the moon.15 Alas, for such shame! Alas for such reproach!16
R. Hama b. Hanina said: The Holy One, blessed be He, made ten canopies for Adam in the garden of Eden; for it is said: Thou wast in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone [was thy covering, the cornelian, the topaz and the emerald, the beryl, the onyx and the jasper, the sapphire, the carbuncle and the emerald and gold]17 etc. Mar Zutra says: Eleven; for it is said: Every precious stone.18 R. Johanan said: The least of all [these] was gold, since it is mentioned last. What is [implied] by the work of thy timbrels and holes? Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Hiram, the King of Tyre. '[At the creation] I looked upon thee, [observing thy future arrogance]19 and created [therefore] the excretory organs of man.20 Others say: Thus said [the Holy One, blessed be He].' I looked upon thee
Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 75b
and decreed the penalty of death over Adam'.1 What is implied by, and over her assemblies?2 Rabbah said in the name of R. Johanan: Jerusalem of the world to come will not be like Jerusalem of the present world. [To] Jerusalem of the present world, anyone who wishes goes up, but to that of the world to come only those invited3 will go.
Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The righteous will in time to come be called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He; for it is said: Every one that is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory. I have formed him, yea, I have made him.4
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Three were called by the name of the Holy One; blessed be He, and they are the following: The righteous, the Messiah and Jerusalem. [This may be inferred as regards] the righteous [from] what has just been said. [As regards] the Messiah it is written: And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness.5 [As regards] Jerusalem it is written: It6 shall be eighteen thousand reeds round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be 'the Lord is there.'7 Do not read, 'there' but 'its name'.8
R. Eleazar said: There will come a time when 'Holy' will be said before the righteous as it is said before the Holy One, blessed be He;9 for it is said: And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, 'shall be called Holy.'10
Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come lift up Jerusalem three parasangs high; for it is said: And she shall be lifted up, and be settled in her place.11 'In her place' means 'like her place.'12 Whence is it proved that the space it occupied was three parasangs in extent? Rabbah said: A certain old man told me, 'I saw ancient13 Jerusalem and it occupied14 [an area of] three parasangs.' And lest you should think the ascent will be painful, it is expressly stated: Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their cotes.15 R. Papa said: Hence it may be inferred that a cloud rises three parasangs. R. Hanina b. papa said: The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to give to Jerusalem a [definite] size; for it is said: Then said I 'Whither goest thou?' And he said unto me: 'To measure Jerusalem. to see what is the breadth thereof and what is the length thereof.'16 The ministering angels said before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Lord of the Universe, many towns for the nations of the earth hast thou created in thy world, and thou didst not fix the measurement of their length or the measurement of their breadth, wilt thou fix a measurement for Jerusalem in the midst of which is Thy Name, Thy sanctuary and the righteous?' Thereupon, [an angel] said unto him: 'Run speak to this young man, saying: Jerusalem shall be inhabited without walls, for the multitude of men and cattle therein.'17
Resh Lakish said: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come add to Jerusalem a thousand18 gardens, a thousand18 towers, a thousand18 palaces and a thousand18 mansions;19 and each [of these] will be as big as Sepphoris in its prosperity. It has been taught: R. Jose said: I saw Sepphoris in its prosperity, and it contained a hundred and eighty thousand markets for pudding20 dealers.
[It is written]: And the side chambers were one over another, three and thirty times.21 What is meant by three and thirty times? R. Levi in the name of R. Papi in the name of R. Joshua of Siknin said: If [in time to come] there will be three Jerusalems,22 each [building] will contain thirty dwellings one over the other; if there will be thirty Jerusalems, each [building] will contain three dwellings one over the other.
Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 100a
R. Jeremiah sat before R. Zera and declared: The Holy One, blessed be He, will bring forth a stream from the Holy of Holies, at the side of which shall be all kinds of delicious fruits, as it is written, And by the river upon that bank thereof on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit, according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.1
Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 100a
What is meant by and the leaf thereof li-terufah [for medicine]? R. Isaac b. Abudimi and R. Hisda differ therein: One maintained, to unlock the upper mouth;1 the other, to unseal the lower mouth.2 it has been said likewise. Hezekiah said: To free the mouth of the dumb; Bar Kappara said: To open the mouth3 of barren women. R. Johanan said: Literally for a medicine. What does this mean? R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: To give a comely countenance to scholars.4
This lengthy excerpt is from Jerusalem in Prophecy by Randall Price:
...the rabbis tell us, "Not only on the face of this earth is there a Jerusalem, called in Hebrew Yerushalayim Shel Matta ('Jerusalem the Lower'), but also in heaven is there such a city: Yerushalayim Shel Maalah ('Jerusalem the Upper')."
...according to the Judaism of the Second Temple and the Talmudic periods, the New Jerusalem appears as both present and future. Yet, while it exists at the present time and exerts an influence, it will not be realized completely until the age in which the Jerusalem on earth has fully attained its redemption...in Jewish theology, this is still not the final age. The final age is what is called 'Olam ha-Ba' ("the World to Come") and sometimes compared to gan ha-'eden ("the Garden of Eden")...
The Jewish Talmud records that the heavenly city, which would not be realized until the Age of Redemption, could already be seen by the righteous in moments of grace (and they could receive inspiration from it as well). It was depicted as positioned directly above earthly Jerusalem, with the earthly and heavenly Holy of Holies in direct alignment...
What does the New Jerusalem look like?
...The New Jerusalem's dimensions are 1,500 miles equally in every direction,
or as one engineer has figured, an area of 2,250,000 square miles...The New Jerusalem is laid out as a square with connecting planes of equal size that apparently form a cube. This has long been recognized as the exact shape of the Holy of Holies, although 240,000 times as big!
...The archetype of the Garden of Eden is also present in the city, complete with "a river of the water of life" and "the tree of life" (Rev 22:1-2).
The New Jerusalem and the Temple
The city of New Jerusalem is described with the Shekinah glory of God present (Rev 21:11), but with no Temple (Rev 21:22)! Such a statement would be startling to those accustomed to viewing the Temple as the place of the divine presence. For this reason, Ezekiel uses historic detail to depict the return of the Shekinah glory to the Millennial Temple (Eze 43:1-7).
But, in my opinion, John's description of the New Jerusalem has been built with allusions to Ezekiel, in order to continue a ceremonial connection with the new earth through the New Jerusalem as a "Temple-city."
But how can the New Jerusalem be considered a Temple-city if there is no Temple in it?
Let's remember that when John first introduced the New Jerusalem in Rev 3:12 he spoke of believers in the New Jerusalem as "a pillar in the temple of My God." In the ancient Greek world, it was customary to place a pillar in a temple in order to honor a dignitary. Thus John is not in contradiction to the later statement omitting a Temple; rather, he may be implying that the New Jerusalem is something of a Temple itself. By comparison with all earthly Temples, including the Millennial Temple, the New Jerusalem is unique. Earthly Temples had restrictions, even for the righteous, and hid the Shekinah in an innermost chamber away from all human sight. The New Jerusalem is exceptional in that it has no such limitations, but goes beyond them just as an archetype exceeds the model. For example, in the New Jerusalem, God's bond-servants "shall see His face" (Rev 22:4). This clearly indicates a new access without the previous restrictions given in Exo 33:20: "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" The text explains that the reason this is possible is because the New Jerusalem cannot be defiled from within by sin because there is no curse there (Rev 22:3), nor from without, since no unclean person can enter (Rev 21:27)...
Another contrast is that the New Jerusalem is not an earthly structure, as is the case with Israel's past and future Temples, but a structure transferred from heaven. Based on the parallels between the description of this city and the Garden of Eden and Ezekiel's Temple, we may conjecture a common source, namely the archetypal heavenly Temple that John depicted in his heavenly throne visions. Thus, the New Jerusalem is a heavenly Temple transferred to the new earth, and it will be an inviolable and eternal structure where God can be served by His redeemed creation.
From Willmington's Guide to the Bible:
The size of this city. and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs (Rev. 21:16).
According to our present-day measurements this city would be roughly 1400 miles long, high, and wide. If placed in America, it would reach from New York City to Denver, Colorado, and from Canada to Florida!
How big is a city this size? Our earth has approximately 120 million square miles of water surface and 60 million square miles of land surface. If one multiplies 1400 by 1400 by 1400 (the dimensions of the New Jerusalem), he arrives at the total cubic miles of the city, a staggering figure of 2 billion, 700 million. This is some fifteen times the combined surface of the entire earth, including both land and water area! It has been estimated that approximately 40 billion people have lived on our planet since the creation of Adam. Of this number, over 4 billion [actually we are closer to 6 billion now] are living today. Density studies of city populations assure us that every single one of these 40 billion could easily be accommodated upon just the first foundational floor of this marvelous 1400-layered metropolis.
Also from Wilmington's Guide to the Bible:
The location. The New Jerusalem is pictured as a stationary city floating above the earth in space. The new earth will thus become a satellite planet encircling this starry capital, from which earth will receive its light (Rev. 21:24, 26).
From the International Standard Bible Encylopedia:
Foursquare, meaning equal in length and breadth, not round, is the translation of "rabha" ... it occurs in the description of the altar of burnt offering (Ex 27:1; 38:1); of the altar of incense (Ex 30:2; 37:25); of the breastplate of the high priest (Ex 28:16; 39:9); of the panels of the gravings upon the mouth of the brazen or molten sea in Solomons temple (1 Ki 7:31); of the inner court of Ezekiels temple (Ezek 40:47); of the holy oblation of the city of Ezekiels vision (Ezek 48:20, , fourth); of the new Jerusalem of Johns vision (Rev 21:16, , ), and conveys the idea of perfect symmetry. In the King James Version margin of 1 Ki 6:31, we have five-square, square being formerly used for equal-sided, as it still is in Three-square file. W. L. WALKER
Miscellaneous musings from a list member:
The Most Holy Place in the tabernacle in the wilderness was a cube of 10 cubits (15 feet) either way.
The Most Holy Place in Solomon's temple was also a cube, but the dimensions were doubled, i.e. 20 cubits (30 feet). These dimensions were the same for Zerubbabel's and Herod's Temple. Commentators point out that it thought that these figures were too sacred to change (Ezek 41:4).
Accordingly, the dimensions of the Most Holy Place in Ezekiel's vision of the temple is also 20 cubits.
Interestingly, some see the City of New Jerusalem shaped as a cube as well:
(Rev 21:16 KJV) And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
"That the dimensions are equal on all sides indicates that the city is shaped like a cubelike the holy of holies in the Old Testament temple (1 Kings 6:20), indicating that the presence of God would always be with them in its fullest intensity." (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
Comparing the volume of space in the Most Holy Place between the tabernacle and Solomon's Temple we see the following:
Tabernacle = 10 X 10 X 10 = 1,000 cubits
The volume of the Most Holy Place in Solomon's Temple was increased by a factor of 8.
The Taj Mahal has been described as the most beautiful building in the world. It is a testament to the love of one man for his deceased wife--or is it? Scholars are starting to question the basic assumption that it was built purely as a resting place for Shah Jahan's beloved wife Arjumand Banu aka Mumtaz Mahal aka Taj Mahal ("Crown of the Palace").
Shah Jahan's true motive for building the Taj Mahal complex seems to have been lost in the romanticised version that circulates to this day. Yes, he and his wife enjoyed an extraordinary relationship as is attested to by the fact that she alone of his harem bore all of his 14 children; she went everywhere with him and was even consulted in matters of state. But was that enough to inspire him to such a feat? History records quite a different Shah Jahan than the grief stricken, love-sick man driven to commemorate the great love of his life.
His name means "King of the World" and he claimed descent from Genghis Khan and his successors. Architecture was a means for him to show off his greatness and rival God in creation. Fueled by the notion that he was somehow meant for greatness because he was born in the 1,000th year of Islam, his megalomania reached to the very heavens and he set out to build paradise on earth, complete with the throne of God. Only a great man could accomplish such a task, therefore, he dubbed himself "Lord of the Age," "Shadow of God," and "August Representative of God on Earth" which were Sufic [mystic branch of Islam] titles used to describe "the perfect man."
Armed with a copy of "Revelations of Mecca," Shah Jahan set out to replicate a diagram contained in the book. "The Plain of Assembly on the Day of Judgment" shows a heavenly paradise set out in a rectangular design. The grand gate-way, the trees, water and Taj Mahal building itself are all placed in a specific pattern to this end and all Koranic verses within the compound reflect the themes of the day of judgment and paradise. The notion that heaven is like a set of beautiful gardens, the Gardens of Paradise, is seen everywhere throughout the complex. Shah Jahan was obsessed with emblems of power, especially thrones, and the throne of God, the Taj Mahal building, within the garden of his paradise was the greatest symbol of his nobility and lives on today as one of the best examples of Mohammedan architecture that the world has ever known.
This seems to be Shah Jahan's and Islam's version of the New Jerusalem with its carnelian from Iraq, green jade from China, lapis lazuli and sapphire from Sri Lanka, jasper, malachite and turqoise from Tibet, and agate and amethyst from Yemen and Persia. The marble domes were once covered with pure gold and studded with jewels furnished from the royal treasury. Every aspect of the garden tomb of the Taj Mahal seems to be a counterfeit to that heavenly city found in the Bible's book of Revelation.
What happened to Shah Jahan himself? He became ill and his sons fought for his decadent kingdom. One of his sons killed 3 others and took over, throwing his father into prison for the last eight years of his life. Not that he was lonely as he was allowed to bring his court with him, but his freedom was curtailed. The new ruler's next order of business was to purge the palace of rampant orgies and alcohol abuse permitted by his father's regime. The "perfect" Shah Jahan died on January 31, 1666 at age 74 of a massive overdose of aphrodisiacs. His love story lives on, but the real questions are: "Where is the spirit of Shah Jahan now? Is he enjoying the delights of Paradise? Has he seen God? What did they say to each other?"