Revelation 21:17
And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) And he measured the wall thereof . . .—Better. And he measured its wall by an hundred and forty-four cubits (i.e., in height), man’s measure, which is angel’s. The measurement is in man’s measure, but the reed was handled by an angel; the measure is true for men and true for angels; it may mean that the angel used the ordinary human measure, but may it not imply that the vision is true for all, for the earthly and for the heavenly? it is man’s measure, it is angel’s measure; the human will not find the picture untrue, though the city is not literal: it is figurative, but not mere figure. The recurrence of the number hundred and forty-four recalls us to the figurative character of the description. (Comp. Note on Revelation 7:4.)

Revelation 21:17-18. And he measured the wall thereof — That is, Lowman thinks, the height of the wall; one hundred and forty-four cubits — The square of twelve: about seventy-two yards high, according to the lesser cubit, or about eighty-six yards according to the greater, a height sufficient to express the most perfect security against all attempts of any surprise by an enemy. Doddridge understands these cubits of the thickness of the wall, with the same view, namely, to signify the great strength of the city, and that it might defy all assailants. According to the measure of a man — A measure common among men; that is, of the angel — For such was the measuring-rod, made use of by the angel. And the building of the wall was of jasper — The wall appeared to be built with unparalleled strength and magnificence, not of brick, or squared and polished stones, but of some precious stone, as solid, firm, and beautiful as a jasper. And the city was of pure gold — Namely, its houses and other buildings, separate from the wall; like unto clear glass — Or crystal. It seems it is the city in general, and not the gold, which is represented as shining like glass or crystal. It is not easy to understand how pure gold should shine like crystal: but a city adorned with crystal, set in gold, may easily be supposed to shine in that manner.21:9-21 God has various employments for his holy angels. Sometimes they sound the trumpet of Divine Providence, and warn a careless world; sometimes they discover things of a heavenly nature of the heirs of salvation. Those who would have clear views of heaven, must get as near to heaven as they can, on the mount of meditation and faith. The subject of the vision is the church of God in a perfect, triumphant state, shining in its lustre; glorious in relation to Christ; which shows that the happiness of heaven consists in intercourse with God, and in conformity to him. The change of emblems from a bride to a city, shows that we are only to take general ideas from this description. The wall is for security. Heaven is a safe state; those who are there, are separated and secured from all evils and enemies. This city is vast; here is room for all the people of God. The foundation of the wall; the promise and power of God, and the purchase of Christ, are the strong foundations of the safety and happiness of the church. These foundations are set forth by twelve sorts of precious stones, denoting the variety and excellence of the doctrines of the gospel, or of the graces of the Holy Spirit, or the personal excellences of the Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven has gates; there is a free admission to all that are sanctified; they shall not find themselves shut out. These gates were all of pearls. Christ is the Pearl of great price, and he is our Way to God. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The saints in heaven tread gold under foot. The saints are there at rest, yet it is not a state of sleep and idleness; they have communion, not only with God, but with one another. All these glories but faintly represent heaven.And he measured the wall thereof - In respect to its "height." Of course, its length corresponded with the extent of the city.

An hundred and forty and four cubits - This would be, reckoning the cubit at eighteen inches, two hundred and sixteen feet. This is less than the height of the walls of Babylon, which Herodotus says were three hundred and fifty feet high. See the introduction to chapter 13 of Isaiah. As the walls of a city are designed to protect it from external foes, the height mentioned here gives all proper ideas of security; and we are to conceive of the city itself as towering immensely above the walls. Its glory, therefore, would not be obscured by the wall that was thrown around it for defense.

According to the measure of a man - The measure usually employed by men. This seems to be added in order to prevent any mistake as to the size of the city. It is an "angel" who makes the measurement, and without this explanation it might perhaps be supposed that he used some measure not in common use among people, so that, after all, it would be impossible to form any definite idea of the size of the city.

That is, of the angel - That is, "which is the measure employed by the angel." It was, indeed, an angel who measured the city, but the measure which he employed was that in common use among people.

17. hundred … forty … four cubits—twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared. The wall is far beneath the height of the city.

measure of a man, that is, of the angel—The ordinary measure used by men is the measure here used by the angel, distinct from "the measure of the sanctuary." Men shall then be equal to the angels.

This could not be the measure of the compass, (it was for that much too little), nor of the height or breadth, (for either of them it was much too great), from whence Dr. Potter concluded, it must be the square measure; so as the height and breadth of it was twelve cubits, for twelve times twelve make one hundred and forty-four.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; as men use to measure, and as this angel measured, who appeared as a man in this action. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits,.... The root of which is twelve, for twelve times twelve is a hundred and forty four; which number is mystical and apostolical, and suited to the perfect state of this church: hence twelve gates, and twelve angels at them, and the names of the twelve tribes on them, and twelve foundations of the wall, and twelve thousand furlongs, the measure of the city.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; who talked with John, and measured the city, gates, and wall, and who appeared in the form of a man; and his reed might be, as some have supposed, the length of a man, six cubits, or six feet, as in Ezekiel 40:5 and may denote that this business requires the utmost wisdom and understanding of a man, and even of an angel, to look into, and find out; see Revelation 13:18 and also may signify the angelic state of the saints at this time, when the children of the resurrection will be like the angels of God, for immortality and glory.

And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the {c} angel.

(c) He adds this, because the angel had the shape of a man.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. he measured the wall] We should naturally understand, the height of it. The walls of the historical Babylon are differently stated as having been 200, 300, or nearly 340 feet high. But we are told that they were about 80 feet in breadth (Hdt. I. 178:5: cf. Jeremiah 51:58): so if we do admit that the City here is conceived as 340 miles high, there is a sort of proportion in making its walls not less than 73 yards thick.

according to … the angel] Rather, of an angel. Angels use, he means, a cubit of the same length as men—viz. the average length of the forearm, from the elbow to the finger-tip. It is perhaps implied, that angels are not of superhuman stature.Revelation 21:17. Καὶ ἐμέτρησε τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς, ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων μέτρον ἀνθρώπου ὅ ἐστιν ἀγγέλου) After ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων many have added πηχῶν:[233] but we have shown in the Apparatus, see Ed. ii. on this passage, that more than one ancient witness is without this word. It is certain that they are not walls, but the measures of one wall, which are noticed: and even reeds might be understood. The 12,000 stadia show the height also of the city; the 144 either reeds or cubits give the height of the wall, which is not much less than the height of the city, or rather equal to it. For height is especially regarded in walls, as the epithets even of the Greek and Latin poets prove. The 12,000 stadia, since they are mentioned absolutely, were those in use among men: the 144 either cubits or reeds were not those of men, but angelico-human, much greater than those of men. Whether there were 144 reeds or cubits, the comparison of the 12,000 stadia exhibits the same height of wall. But yet there is a strong argument which advises us rather to take them as reeds. For it is not shown how many cubits a reed contains: and it might contain four cubits, because four cubits measure the stature of a man; or six cubits, as in Ezekiel 40:5. Therefore, if the wall was of 144 cubits, it would not be known of how many reeds also it was: and therefore the golden reed, which is called the measure, would be an unknown, that is, no measure in reality. The height of the wall was ascertained, the angel applying his reed 144 times. The measure of the reed is frequently noticed in Ezekiel in a similar argument, and by ellipsis; and in one instance, ch. Ezekiel 42:17, just as here in the Apocalypse. The Greeks have inserted πήχεις. See Meyer de Ultimis Ezech. p. 26, etc. The Hebrews often construe the numeral adjective and the substantive in the plural and singular number; for instance, וארבעת אלפים מדה, Ezekiel 48:30; Ezekiel 48:33. And thus John, ἙΚΑΤῸΝ ΤΕΣΣΑΡΆΚΟΝΤΑ ΤΕΣΣΆΡΩΝ ΜΈΤΡΟΝ. John ἈΝΘΡΩΠΟΕΙΔῶς ἘΘΕΏΡΗΣΕ, saw in human appearance, as Andreas of Cæsarea says, the angel measurer: therefore “that measuring pole,” says Grotius, “was of the same size as the stature of the human form, in which the angel appeared, and therefore the cubits also were according to that measure.” Grotius might have spared the clause respecting the cubits.

[233] So AB Vulg. But h omits πηχῶν; there is no other very old authority for the omission.—E.Verse 17. - And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits. (For the signification of the number, see on Revelation 7:4.) The parallel between the shape of the city as just related and the holy of holies (vide supra) almost seems to have insensibly suggested the transition from stadia to cubits. The discrepancy between the height of the city, which is twelve thousand furlongs (ver. 16), and the height of the wall, which is a hundred and forty-four cubits, has led to the suggestion that in the height of the city is included the hill on which it stands (Alford). Others understand that the wall is purposely described as of small height, because the writer wishes to indicate that "the most inconsiderable wall is sufficient to exclude all that is impure" (Dusterdieck). According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; of an angel. That is, the measure here used by the angel is that used by men (cf. "the number of a man," Revelation 13:18). Cubits (πηχῶν)

The word originally means that part of the arm between the hand and the elbow-joint, the forearm. Hence a cubit or ell, a measure of the distance from the joint of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, i.e., about a foot and a half. The precise length, however, is disputed. Cubit is from the Latin cubitus the elbow, on which one reclines (cubat). Some take the one hundred and forty-four cubits as representing the height of the wall; others the thickness. If the height, then they must be interpreted as equal to the twelve thousand furlongs, since the length and the breadth and the height of the city are equal (Revelation 21:16). It is to be noted, however, that there is a distinction between the measure of the city and the measure of the wall. "The most inconsiderable wall" remarks Dsterdieck, "is sufficient to exclude all that is impure."

The measure of a man, that is, of the angel

"It is to be the dwelling-place of men; and even, therefore, when an angel measures it, he measures it according to the measure of a man" (Milligan).

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