Isaiah 54:12
And I will make your windows of agates, and your gates of carbuncles, and all your borders of pleasant stones.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
54:11-17 Let the people of God, when afflicted and tossed, think they hear God speaking comfortably to them by these words, taking notice of their griefs and fears. The church is all glorious when full of the knowledge of God; for none teaches like him. It is a promise of the teaching and gifts of the Holy Spirit. All that are taught of God are taught to love one another. This seems to relate especially to the glorious times to succeed the tribulations of the church. Holiness, more than any thing, is the beauty of the church. God promises protection. There shall be no fears within; there shall be no fightings without. Military men value themselves on their splendid titles, but God calls them, Wasters made to destroy, for they make wasting and destruction their business. He created them, therefore he will serve his own designs by them. The day is coming when God will reckon with wicked men for their hard speeches, Jude 1:15. Security and final victory are the heritage of each faithful servant of the Lord. The righteousness by which they are justified, and the grace by which they are sanctified, are the gift of God, and the effect of his special love. Let us beseech him to sanctify our souls, and to employ us in his service.And I will make thy windows - The word rendered here 'windows' is rendered by Jerome propugnacula - 'fortresses,' bulwarks, ramparts; and by the Septuagint, Επαλξεις Epalcheis - 'Bulwarks,' or rather, pinnacles on the walls. The Hebrew word שׁמשׁות shı̂mâshôt) is evidently derived from שׁמשׁ shemesh (the sun); and has some relation in signification to the sun, either as letting in light, or as having a radiated appearance like the sun. Gesenius renders it, 'notched battlements, the same as sun, or rays of the sun.' Faber (Hebrew Archaeol., p. 294) supposes that the name was given to the turrets or battlements here referred to, because they had some resemblance to the rays of the sun. I think it prob able that the prophet refers to some radiated ornament about a building, that had a resemblance to the sun, or to some gilded turrets on the walls of a city. I see no evidence in the ancient versions that the word refers to windows.

Of agates - Agates are a class of silicious, semi-pellucid gems, of many varieties, consisting of quarts-crystal flint, horn-stone, chalcedony, amethyst, jasper, cornelian, etc., variegated with dots, zones, filaments, ramifications, and various figures. They are esteemed the least valuable of all the precious stones. They are found in rocks, and are use, for seals, rings, etc. (Webster.) The Hebrew word כדכד kadekkod, from כדד kâdad, to beat, to pound, and then to strike fire, seems to denote a sparkling gem or ruby. It is not often used. It is rendered by Jerome, Jaspidem. The Septuagint, Ιασπιν Iaspin - 'Jasper,' a gem of a green color. It may be observed that it is not probable that such a stone would be used for a window, for the purpose of letting in light.

And thy gates - See Revelation 21:21 - 'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl.' The gates of the city would be made of most precious stones.

Of carbuncles - The carbuncle is a beautiful gem of a deep red color, with a mixture of scarlet, called by the Greeks anthrax, found in the East Indies. It is usually about a quarter of an inch in length. When held up to the sun it loses its deep tinge, and becomes exactly the color of a burning coal (Webster). Hence, its name in Greek. The Hebrew name אקדח 'eqeddâch is derived from קדח qâdach, "to burn," and denotes a flaming or sparkling gem. The word occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible.

And all thy borders - All thy boundaries; or the whole circuit of thy walls. See Revelation 21:18 - 'And the building of the wall of it was of jasper.' The idea is, that the whole city would be built in the most splendid manner. Its foundations and all its stones would be laid in the most precious cement; its turrets, towers, battlements, gates, and the circuit of its walls, would be made of the most precious gems. In general, there can be no doubt that this is designed to represent the future glory of the church under the Redeemer, and perhaps also to furnish an emblematic representation of heaven (compare Revelation 21:2). Kimchi supposes that this may possibly be taken literally, and that Jerusalem may be yet such as is here described. Abarbanel supposes that it may refer to the time when the Oriental world, where these gems are principally found, shall be converted, and come and join in rebuilding the city and the temple.

But the whole description is one of great beauty as applicable to the church of God; to its glories on earth; and to its glory in heaven. Its future magnificence shall be as much greater than anything which has yet occurred in the history of the church, as a city built of gems would be more magnificent than Jerusalem was in the proudest days of its glory. The language used in this verse is in accordance with the Oriental manner. The style of speaking in the East to denote unexampled splendor is well illustrated in the well-known Oriental tale of Aladdin, who thus gives his instructions: 'I leave the choice of materials to you, that is to say, porphyry, jasper, agate, lapis lazuli, and the finest marble of the most varied colors. But I expect that in the highest story of the palace, you shall build me a large hall with a dome, and four equal fronts; and that instead of layers of bricks, the walls be made of massy gold and silver, laid alternately: and that each front shall contain six windows, the lattices of all which, except one, which must be left unfinished and imperfect, shall be so enriched with art and symmetry, with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, that they shall exceed everything of the kind ever seen in the world' (Pictorial Bible).

12. windows—rather, "battlements"; literally, "suns"; applied to battlements from their radiated appearance.

agates—rather, "rubies."

carbuncles—literally, "sparkling gems"; the carbuncle when held to the sun becomes like a burning coal.

all thy borders—rather, "thy whole circuit," consisting of precious stones. The glory of the Church on earth, when the Hebrew Church, according to the original design, shall be the metropolis of Christendom.

Agates; one kind of which stones was transparent like glass, as Pliny writes in his Natural History, b. 37. ch. 10. But some render this word crystal, and the LXX., and some other of the ancients, translate it jasper. But the proper signification of the Hebrew names of precious stones is unknown to the Jews themselves, as hath been noted before. It may suffice us to know that this was some very clear, and transparent, and precious stone.

Thy borders; the utmost parts or walls. The church is here evidently compared to a building, whose foundation, pavement, gates, and windows were named before. And I will make thy windows of agates,.... Some sort of which stones, Pliny (x) says, were valued for their clearness like glass; but the stone which bears this name with us is not clear and lucid enough to make windows of. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "of jasper", a stone more fit for that purpose; and it is interpreted of the jasper in the Talmud (y); so "the light" of the New Jerusalem is said to be like unto the "jasper stone", Revelation 21:11. Some take the crystal to be meant, which suits well with windows; the word (z) for which has its name from the sun, because by means of them the rays and light of the sun are let into a house, and illuminate it; these in a figurative sense may design the ministers of the Gospel, who are the lights of the world, especially of the church; and the word and ordinances administered by them, by means of which the light of spiritual knowledge, joy, and comfort, is let into the churches, and into the souls of men, from Christ, the sun of righteousness. The phrase signifies, that in the latter day their ministrations should be very clear and bright, and be greatly owned, and be very successful: "and thy gates of carbuncles"; precious stones so called from their fiery flaming colour. The gates of the New Jerusalem are said to be so many pearls, Revelation 21:21 which there, as here, signify the entrance into the church of God, which is through Christ, who is the door into it, and through faith in him, which works by love; these gates will be open in the latter day to receive many, who will come in great numbers, and are called "praise", Isaiah 60:11, which will be expressed in very warm and lively strains of love and affection, of which the carbuncle may be a symbol:

and all thy borders of pleasant stones; true believers, called "lively stones", and who are pleasant in the sight of God and Christ, and are taken pleasure in by one another; see Psalm 102:14. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "thy wall", which agree with Revelation 21:18, where the wall of the New Jerusalem is said to be of jasper.

(x) Nat. Hist l. 37. c. 10. (y) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1.((z) "a radice, quae solem significat", Sanctius,

And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. thy windows] Rather as R.V. pinnacles. The word is derived from that for “sun,” and appears to denote those parts of the building which glitter in the sun’s rays. (Comp. the Arab. “minaret,” used primarily of a lantern or a lighthouse.)

agates] (Ezekiel 27:16) “sparkling” stone, perhaps rubies (so R.V.).

carbuncles] (only here) “fiery” stones; although the LXX. renders “stones of crystal.”

all thy borders] R.V. border, perhaps the outer wall (the περίτειχος, see on ch. Isaiah 26:1).Verse 12. - I will make thy windows of agates. Most moderns translate, "I will make thy battlements," or "thy pinnacles of rubies." The exact meaning is very doubtful. Thy gates of carbuncles. In the Revelation of St. John the gates are each of them composed of one pearl (Revelation 21:21) - the pearl betokening purity, the carbuncle the glow of devotional feeling. We must not expect consistency in descriptions which are entirely allegorical. All thy borders of pleasant stones; or, all thy boundaries. An enclosing wall seems to be meant (comp. Revelation 21:17). And this relation He now renews. "For Jehovah calleth thee as a wife forsaken and burdened with sorrow, and as a wife of youth, when once she is despised, saith thy God." The verb קרא, which is the one commonly used in these prophecies to denote the call of grace, on the ground of the election of grace, is used here to signify the call into that relation, which did indeed exist before, but had apparently been dissolved. קראך is used here out of pause (cf., Isaiah 60:9); it stands, however, quite irregularly for the form in ēkh, which is the one commonly employed (Judges 4:20; Ezekiel 27:26). "And as a wife:" ואשׁת is equivalent to וּכאשׁת. The hypothetical תמּאס כּי belongs to the figure. Jehovah calls His church back to Himself, as a husband takes back the wife he loved in his youth, even though he may once have been angry with her. It is with intention that the word נמאסה is not used. The future (imperfect) indicates what partially happens, but does not become an accomplished or completed fact: He is displeased with her, but He has not cherished aversion or hatred towards her.
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