||Moses then went up, along with Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy of Israel's elders.
Vaya'al Moshe ve'Aharon Nadav va'Avihu veshiv'im mizikney Yisra'el.
||They saw a vision of the God of Israel, and under His feet was something like a sapphire brick, like the essence of a clear [blue] sky.
Vayir'u et Elohey Yisra'el vetachat raglav kema'aseh livnat hasapir uche'etsem hashamayim latohar.
|saw a vision|
(Ibn Ezra; Emunoth VeDeyoth 2:12). See 1 Kings 22:19, 2 Chronicles 18:18, Isaiah 6:1.
|under His feet|
Just as feet come in contact with the ground, so allegorically, God's 'feet' are the attribute that comes in contact with the level below. They are therefore seen as the means of prophecy (Zohar 2:104b; 2:169b, 3:53b, 3:68a). Others say that God's 'feet' denote the ultimate essence of creation (Moreh Nevukhim 1:28). Others say that their vision consisted of the feet of the Throne of Glory (Targum; Emunoth VeDeyoth 2:9). See Isaiah 6:1, Ezekiel 1:26.
See Exodus 28:18. The Throne of Glory was seen as made of sapphire (Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1). The sapphire is blue, and it may be that they saw a vision of the sky as being below God. Others say that the sapphire mentioned here is ultimately transparent (Sforno; see Yad, Yesodey HaTorah 3:1). This stone is related to wisdom (Bachya on Exodus 28:18), and the Hebrew word sappir is related to sefer, a book (Tzioni). It is also related to vision (Bachya loc. cit.). Some say that this 'sapphire' is like a 'third eye,' through which mystical vision is attained (Raavad on Sefer Yetzirah 1:1), and indeed, this third eye is associated with a sapphire blue color. It involves meditating on a single point (Tikkuney Zohar 7a) and complete quietness of mind (cf. Likutey Moharan 6:5).
(Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Ramban; Septuagint). According to some, this brick showed God's closeness to Israel, since the brick symbolized that He had in mind the bricks that the Israelites had been forced to make (Targum Yonathan; Rashi). According to others, this was the brick out of which the Tablets of the Law would be carved (Sifri, BeHaAlothekha 101). Some say that they saw brickworking tools (Yerushalmi, Sukkah 4:3).
Others translate this verse, 'something like the whiteness of sapphire' (Saadia, Ibn Janach; cf. Ibn Ezra; Rashbam; Chizzkuni; Lekach Tov), or 'transparency of sapphire' (Sforno; Moreh Nevukhim 1:28; see note, this verse, 'sapphire'). See Joshua 19:26. Their vision may have been that of pure empty space (Ralbag), the primeval formless matter or hyle (Maaseh HaShem, Maaseh Torah 10), or a pure spiritual essence (Avodath HaKodesh 3:36; Abarbanel).
|like the essence...|
(Rashbam; Bekhor Shor). Or, like the essence of heaven in purity;' or, 'transparent as the sky itself.'