The jasper and the sardine stone are the first and last of these twelve stones [representing the tribes of Israel]. The jasper represented Reuben, the first of the tribes, since Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob. The sardine stone represented Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. In other words, the two stones represented the first and the last and therefore may be regarded as including all the other stones in between, that is, the whole of the covenanted people.4Most see the references to precious stones here (and in Eze. 28) as a description of brilliant colored lights which radiate from God and His throne (Eze. 1:26-28): “We need not find symbolism in each element of the vision; it is enough to allow the archetypical imagery to create the impression of transcendent glory.”5 a rainbow around the throne
As the rainbow was first reflected on the waters of the world’s ruin, and continues to be seen only when a cloud is brought over the earth, so another deluge, namely, of fire, shall precede the new heavens and earth: the Lord, as here, on His throne, whence (Rev. 4:5+) proceed “lightnings and thunderings,” shall issue the commission to rid the earth of its oppressors.6The rainbow is around the throne implying a full circle like a halo.7 A rainbow adorns the head of the mighty angel whose cry precedes the seven thunders (Rev. 10:1-3+).like an emerald
1 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 342.
2 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 4:2.
3 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 90.
4 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), 104.
5 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 4:3.
6 Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Rev. 4:3.
7 Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 343.
8 Mounce observes: “Ex. 28:17-21 lists the twelve stones, each inscribed and representing a tribe in Israel. Note that the jasper and the carnelian (sardius) are the last and the first (Benjamin and Reuben; cf. Gen. 49:3-27). On this basis the emerald (no. 4) would stand for the tribe of Judah.”—Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 134. But in the list of stones given by Exodus 28:17, the emerald is listed as the third stone—the last in the first row of three—and would represent the tribe of Levi, not Judah.