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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 15

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary


The Second Cycle—Chapters 8-19

THE second cycle (ch. Ezekiel 8:1 to Ezekiel 19:14) is separated from the first by an interval of a year and two months. The date is here the sixth year after the captivity of Jehoiachin, the sixth month, the fifth day, about five years before the destruction of Jerusalem. A vision here also forms the introduction, a song the close in ch. Ezekiel 19, in the midst of prophetic discourses that elucidate the vision, obviate objections, and form a bridge between it and the mind. The historical starting-point and the tendency also are similar. The prophet here also strives against the political dreams, represents the destruction as inevitable, and points to repentance as the only way of safety.

The vision is here far more comprehensive than in the first cycle. It occupies four whole chapters. It gives a complete representation of the sins of the people; and here accordingly is unfolded what in the first vision is only indicated concerning the punishment. Common to both visions is the delineation of the theophany itself, and in particular the description of the cherubim. The former delineation is supplemented by that here given only in details.

Ch. Ezekiel 8 contains the exposition of the guilt—the delineation of the four abominations of Jerusalem; ch. Ezekiel 9, the first punishment—Jerusalem filled with dead bodies; ch. Ezekiel 10, the second punishment—Jerusalem burnt; ch. Ezekiel 11:1-12, the third—God’s vengeance follows the survivors of the catastrophe. The close consists of comfort for the captives, who are already in exile with Ezekiel, and on whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem proudly look down; of these will God Himself take care, after the total disappointment of all human hopes (vers. Ezekiel 11:13-21). The prophet then sees still (vers. Ezekiel 11:22-23) how the glory of the Lord leaves the temple; and then the ecstasy comes to an end (vers. Ezekiel 11:21, Ezekiel 11:25).

Verses 1-8

Ezekiel 15. Israel the vine of the Lord—this was an occasion of false security, a shield which was held up against the prophet’s threat of punishment, with an appeal probably to Psalms 80, the classic passage, where Israel appears under the developed image of the vine. [75] The contradiction runs thus: Israel by his guilt is no longer a true vine; he is become mere wood, and the barren wood must be burned.

[75] Compare, in reference to the other passages of the O. T., my comm. on Isaiah 15:1.

Ezekiel 15:1-8. Ezekiel 15:1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, what is the wood of the vine more than any tree, the vine-branch which is among the trees of the forest? 3. Shall wood be taken thereof to make any work? Or will a man take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? 4. Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; both its ends the fire consumes, and its middle is scorched. Is it fit for any work? 5. Behold, when it was whole, it was not made into any work; much less, when the fire hath consumed it, and it is scorched, shall it be made into any work. 6. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 7. And I will set my face against them; they came out of the fire, and the fire shall consume them: and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them. 8. And I will make the land a desolation, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord Jehovah.

“What is the wood of the vine more than any tree?” ( Ezekiel 15:2); what advantage has it over any other tree? The vine is nobler than the other trees, because it yields the most precious fruit. If it, however, degenerate, bear either no fruit or bad grapes ( Isaiah 5:2), and thus come into account merely for its wood, it has no advantage at all over the other trees. “The vine-shoot, which is [76] among the trees of the wood,” is the vine which corresponds with the forest-trees in barrenness, as it is mere wood. It is not the wild vine that is meant. [77] This would not suit here. As the degenerate vine denotes Israel, so the trees of the wood the remaining nations, and the heathen nations, as there is none else besides Israel. In Ezekiel 15:2 the dead vine is no better than the trees of the forest; in Ezekiel 15:3 it is even worse. One can make nothing of it, while the wood of the other trees serves for many uses. The application is this: a people or an individual, to whom God makes Himself known, and who turns His grace into lasciviousness, sinks far beneath those who have not known God ( Hebrews 6:4-8). A heathen nation may have still much good and a future; degenerate Israel, that dwells at present in Jerusalem (this limitation is given by Ezekiel 15:6 and by the nature of the thing), is utterly miserable, and must perish without remedy. The vine is Israel from the first, as the vineyard in Isaiah 5 and Matthew 21:33; and the relation of Ezekiel 15:1-5 to Ezekiel 15:6-8 would be understood incorrectly, if it were thus defined: first the relation of the unfruitful natural vine to the other trees, then the application to Israel. The correct relation is this: in Ezekiel 15:6-8 it is expressly said that Ezekiel 1-5 is a parable, and that by the vine Israel is there to be understood. That this relation is to be so understood, appears very clearly from Ezekiel 15:4, in which is presented that which does not suit the natural vine. The phrase “it is cast” leads us to a historical situation. The process of burning has already begun in the withered vine of Israel. Only a little of its ancient glory remains. How could anything come of such a people? How could it have a future? What has already taken place in the beginning of the end? The wrath of God already entered into activity will not rest until it has completed its work. Hitherto, as has been remarked, there has been an interchange of figure and reality: Israel appeared under the form of a degenerate vine. In Ezekiel 15:6 figure and reality are separated. “Which I give to the fire for fuel:” the Lord of nature has so constituted the vine, that, when it withers, it is fit for nothing but to be burned. “Out of the fire are they come” ( Ezekiel 15:7): the fire of the divine wrath has already wrought great desolations under Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin.

[76] היה ; the masculine is used, because the vine, according to the foregoing, comes into account only for its wood. It does not bear fruit. The masc. also in Ezekiel 15:3-5 refers to the wood of the vine.

[77] The wild vine, which never occurs in Scripture, cannot be denoted by זמורה . The name itself, from זמר , to cleanse ( Leviticus 25:3; Leviticus 25:1), points to the vine as a cultivated plant (comp. Isaiah 15:2).

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ezekiel 15". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/ezekiel-15.html.
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