REVELATION’S CUBE

2014 05 14 Revelation's cube - three rows by three columns

Is the cube a math puzzle?

I was astonished to find a cube in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.  (This after proposing a cube in my Sower’s Puzzle.)

You might miss the cube the first time you read through Revelation as I did.  Take a look at the dimensions of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem.  The city measures 12,000 stadia or according to a footnote in the TNIV, it is approximately 1,400 miles long.  It is as wide and high as it is long (Revelation 21:16 (TNIV)).  Who ever heard of a city that is 1,400 miles high?  Unheard of now and certainly, unheard of when Revelation was written.  (See also Revelation 21:2 and 10-27 and 22:1-5 (TNIV))

A city that is as wide and high as it is long is shaped like a cube.  Aside from mystical interpretations, can this cube be understood at some level as a math puzzle?

I got the notion that Revelation’s Cube might have features like a Rubik’s cube.  Of course any cube has six faces.  A typical Rubik’s cube has three columns and three rows, that is, nine cells on each face.  I don’t know the history of the Rubik’s cube, but I suppose it is possible it has roots in antiquity.

Why three columns and three rows for Revelation’s Cube?  The biblical text has “three gates” on each side of the city, north, south, east, and west, (total 12 gates), and twelve foundations.  But are these “foundations” like basements?  The Catholic CE says, “the wall of the city has twelve foundation stones” (21:14); so either there are 12 basements under the wall OR the wall is composed of 12 stone slabs which are the foundations for the decorations of precious stones.  I believe the “foundations” are 12 facades that are decorated.  These 12 facades may correspond to 12 columns on the cube.   It makes more sense to say the cube has 12 facades, rather than the cube has 12 basement supports – who would put decorations on a basement?  So the author means that the facades served as foundations for decorations.

Anyway, I figured that if there are three columns on each side, there might also be three rows, and therefore, the cube might have spaces for 54 numbers on its faces (9 x 6 = 54).  Rows could be indicated by the layers of “gates with angels, names of tribes, names of apostles” (21:12, 14).

This part of Revelation has a “measuring rod” (21:15) and so maybe is linked to another chapter with measuring (Revelation 11:1-4) which says, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers.  But exclude the outer court; do not measure it. . .” (TNIV)  How to do these measurements?  Well, the verses right before that are reminiscent of Ezekiel, written six centuries before Revelation, and the TNIV footnote references Ezekiel 3:3.  So I decided to look at Ezekiel for some measurements.

Wasn’t I intrigued to find out that when I examined Ezekiel in the Catholic CE that there were headings of “temple” and “altar,” and there were numerous measures of cubits, perhaps even the right amount for three cubes of 27 cells each (see chapters 40-43).   Here I have not included measures of reeds and believe “half” is not a number.  Certainly there are scads of numbers in Ezekiel and who knows really which ones to pick or even if Ezekiel is the place to look for numbers?  I am mindful that I need to “avoid the outer court” as instructed (Revelation 11:1-4) when gathering numbers.

Can someone discover a valid puzzle and its valid solution?  Not necessarily.  But maybe have some fun.  I took down the Ezekiel cube I had posted here on this page, because now with a different translation than above, I have had second thoughts.

My intuition is telling me that the list of 12 precious stones (Revelation 21:19-20) on the foundation-facades might figure in the puzzle in some way, especially when I read the TNIV footnote that the “identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.”  So the spelling is off??  Since Greek numerals at that time were written with letters, it seems that the spelling of the stones may have been altered to correspond to certain numbers.

Why hasn’t the math solution to this passage on Revelation’s Cube been handed down over the ages?  I’d like to know the answer – to the math and to question of how the solution got lost.  I presume it’s lost.  Is there some remnant of the original organization that crafted the NT that remembers still?

There’s got to be some number puzzle.  Don’t tell me to measure and hand me a cube and expect me to believe there’s no math associated with it.

Would it be unusual to find a block of numbers as in Ezekiel that might yield the right amount of numbers to populate three cubes?  It seems to me the outcome could be entirely predictable if the author Ezekiel intentionally built his temple measurements around some cubes.

Even if Ezekiel created cubes inadvertently, it seems like Revelation’s author cannot resist pointing to them with broad hints to “measure temple and altar,” obvious references to Ezekiel, and the appearance of a mysterious cube-city extending to heaven.

Why put math into sacred texts?  Maybe just to make the reader linger longer while trying to solve the puzzle.  I never expected to spend so much time in Revelation.

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