ויראו. במראה נבואה. כמו ראיתי את ה' יושב על כסא. AND THEY SAW THE GOD OF ISRAEL. In a prophetic vision. It is similar to I saw the Lord sitting on His throne (I Kings 22:19; II Chron. 18:18).
אמר הגאון כי ספיר לבן. ראייתו לבנת הספיר. ואיננו רק אדום. והעד כי מנהג הלשון לכפול הטעם במלות שונות. והנה כתוב זכו נזיריה משלג צחו מחלב. והנה הטעם כפול. אדמו עצם מפנינים ספיר גזרתם. והנה ספיר כמו פנינים. ועוד אם לבנת הספיר הוא לובן מה טעם לומר כמעשה.היה ראוי לומר כמראה. והנכון כי לבנת מגזרת לבנה. כמו חשכת מים. מגזרת חשכה. והנה לבנת הספיר. כאבן ספיר שראה יחזקאל במראות הנבואה שהוא דמות כסא: [A PAVED WORK OF SAPPHIRE STONE.] Saadiah Gaon says that the sappir (sapphire) is white.22That is, sapphire stones have a white color. He offers the phrase livnat ha-sappir as proof.23According to Saadiah Gaon the word livnat (paved of) means whiteness of. Compare, lavan (white). Thus according to the Gaon the meaning of livnat ha-sappir is the whiteness of sapphire. However, this is not the case. The sappir comes in no color but red.24The usual color of sapphires is blue. However, white and yellow sapphires are also quite common. They never come naturally in red. I.E. either did not identify the sappir stone with sapphires, or he did not know what a sapphire was. The fact that it is the style of Scripture to repeat itself in different words proves this. Now it is written, Her princes were purer than snow, They were whiter than milk (Lam. 4:7). We thus see that Scripture repeats itself in different words. The verse continues, They were more ruddy in body than rubies, Their polishing was as of sapphire (sappir) (Ibid.). The term sappir thus has the same connotation as rubies.25They both allude to the color red. Furthermore, if livnat ha-sappir means like the whiteness of sapphire what reason is there for Scripture to say, like a work?26Scripture reads, ki-ma’aseh livnat ha-sappir, which according to Saadiah Gaon means like a work of the whiteness of stone. It should have read, like the appearance of.27The whiteness of sapphire. In other words, Scripture should have read, kimareh livnat ha-sappir rather than ki-ma’aseh livnat ha-sappir. Actually, the word livnat is etymologically related to the word levanah (brick). It is like the word cheshkat (darkness of)28Both words are in the construct and are similarly vocalized. in Darkness of waters (Ps. 18:12), which is etymologically related to the word chashekhah (darkness) (Gen. 15:12). Now the paved work of sapphire stone (livnat ha-sappir) was similar to the vision of the sapphire stone which had the form of a throne29See Ezek. 10:1: Then I looked, and, behold, upon the firmament that was over the head of the cherubim, there appeared above them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. seen by Ezekiel in his prophetic vision (Ezek. 1:26; 10:1).
וטעם וכעצם השמים לטוהר. תחת לבנת הספיר והוא הרקיע שהוא כעין הקרח שהוא נטוי על ראשי החיות שראה יחזקאל. והנה כתוב ויראו את אלהי ישראל. ושם כתוב היא החיה אשר ראיתי תחת אלהי ישראל כי תפש דרך קצרה כי היא תחת רקיע. גם הוא תחת הכסא. והכל תחת השם הנכבד: AND THE LIKE OF THE VERY HEAVEN FOR CLEARNESS. Its meaning is, beneath the paved work of sapphire stone there was the likeness of the very heaven. The latter refers to the ice-like firmament that was stretched over the heads of the beasts Ezekiel saw in his vision (Ezek. 1:22). Now our verse reads, and they saw the God of Israel. However, in Ezekiel Scripture reads, This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel (Ezek. 10:20).30I.E.’s point is that in Ezekiel, God is described as sitting on a throne which was upon a platform held up by four beasts. However, here the throne and the creatures are omitted. Scripture was being brief.31Here. In other words, we must transpose elements of Ezekiel’s vision to complete the account of the vision described in our verse. The creature was under the firmament, and the firmament was under the throne of glory. All of this was under God the revered.32That Moses and the elders saw God sitting upon a throne. God’s throne was upon an icy firmament held up by four creatures.