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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 47

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-23

(2) The Holy Land and the Holy City (Ezekiel 47, 48).

Ch. 47. 1 And he brought me back to the opening of the house, and, behold, waters issued from below the threshold of the house eastward: for the front [the face] of the house is toward the east, and the waters came down 2 from under, from the right side of the house, south of the altar. And he brought me forth the way of the north gate, and made me go round the way without to the outer gate, the way of the eastward-looking [gate]; and, behold,3 waters came purling out from the right side. When the man went forth to the east, there was a measuring-line in his hand. And he measured a thousand cubits, and made me pass through in the water—waters to the ankles 4 And he measured a thousand, and made me pass through in the water—waters to the knees [they reached]. And he measured a thousand, and made me pass 5 through—waters to the loins. And he measured a thousand—a river [was it then] which I could not pass through, because the waters rose up, waters of swimming, a river that could not be waded. 6And he said unto me, Hast thou seen, son of man ? And he led me, and brought me back to the bank 7 of the river. When I returned, behold, on the bank of the river very many 8 trees, on this side and on that. And he said unto me, These waters, going out as they do to the east boundary, then flow down over the steppe, and come to the sea, brought forth [they come] to the sea, and the waters are healed. 9 And it cometh to pass that every living thing which shall creep, whithersoever the double stream shall come, shall live; and very many fish are there, for these waters come thither, and they shall be healed; and everything 10 liveth to which the river cometh. And it cometh to pass that fishers shall stand on it [shall place themselves over it], from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim there shall be a spreading-place for nets; as to their kind, their fishes shall be as 11 the fishes of the great sea, very many. Its mire [its swamps] and its pools [holes], 12 these shall not be healed; they are given to salt. And [yet] on the river there shall rise up, on its bank, on this side and on that, every kind of tree for food; its leaf [foliage] shall not fade, nor its fruit cease; according to its months it bears first-fruits, for its waters flow forth from the sanctuary; and its fruit is for food and its leaf [foliage] for healing. 13Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: The territory itself, the land which ye shall take to you for an inheritance, 14 [shall be] for the twelve tribes of Israel; for Joseph [two] portions. And ye inherit it, every one as his brother, which I lifted up My hand to give to 15 your fathers; and [so] this land falleth to you for inheritance. And this is the border of the land on the north side, from the great sea on the way to Hethlon, to come to Zedad; 16Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazar the middle, which is on the border of Hauran. 17And the border from the sea is from Hazar-Enon, the border of Damascus, and [in the] north northward there is the border 18 of Hamath; and [this] as the north side. And as to the east side, from between Hauran, and Damascus, and Gilead, and the land of Israel, is the Jordan; from the border ye shall measure to the east sea; and [this] as 19 the east side. And as to the south side, to the right; from Tamar to the waters of Meriboth-Kadesh is the inheritance [to the river] to the great sea; and 20 [this] as the side to the right southward. And with respect to the west side, the great sea from the border to over against the way to Hamath; this is the 21 west side. And ye divide this land for you according to the tribes of Israel. 22 And it cometh to pass that ye shall allot [divide] it as an inheritance to you and to the strangers sojourning in your midst, who have begotten children in your midst; and they are to you as the native among the children of Israel; 23 with you shall they share in the inheritance among the tribes of Israel. And it cometh to pass, that in the tribe with which the stranger sojourns, there shall ye give him his inheritance. Sentence of the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 47:1. Sept.: Κ. εἰσηγαγεν με ἐπι τα προθυρα ... ἀπο του κλιτους του θεξιου�.

Ezekiel 47:2. ...το ὑδωρ κατεφερετο—Vulg.: … aquæ redundantes

Ezekiel 47:3. κκωθς ἐξοδος�. Κ. μητρον ... κ. διηγθεν ἐν ... ὑδωρ�. Vulg.: … et traduxit me per aquam

Ezekiel 47:4. … κ. διηλθεν ... ὑδωρ ἑως των μηρων ... ἑως ὀσφυος—

Ezekiel 47:5. … χειμαῤῥους, κ. οὐκ ἠδυνατο ... ἐξυβριζεν ... ὑδωρ ὡς ῥοιζος χειμαῤῥου ὁ οὐ διαβησοντα. Another reading: לא יןכל, Syr., Arabs.)

Ezekiel 47:6. Sept.: … ἐπι το χειλος του ποταμου (7) ἐν τ. ἐπιστροφη μου.

Ezekiel 47:8. … εἰς την Γαλιλαιαν την προς� ... ἐπι την Ἀραβιαν . . . θαλασσαν ἐπι το ὑδωρ της ἐκβολης— Vulg.: … quæ egrediuntur ad tumulos sabuli orientalis … ad plana deserti, intrabunt mare et exibunt—(Another reading: הגָלילה, Syr., Chald., Arabs, in hexaplis Origenes.)

Ezekiel 47:9. … πασα ψυχη των ζωων των ἐκζεοντων . . . ὁ ποταμος . . . ὑγιασει κ. ζησεται παν . . . ἐκει ζησεται.

Ezekiel 47:10. … ψυγμος σαγηνων ἐσται, κατʼ αὐτην ἐσται κ. ὡς οἰ—Vulg.: … plurimæ species erunt piscium ejus, sicut—(Another reading: דיגים.)

Ezekiel 47:11. … ἐν τη διεκβ ολη αὐτου κ. ἐν τ. ἐπιατροφη αὐτου κ. ἐν τ. ὑπεραρει αὐτου—Vulg.: In littoribus autem … in salinas dabuntur. (Another reading: ובבאיו, et in redditibus suis. Sept., Syr.)

Ezekiel 47:12. … παν ξυλον βρωσιμον οὐ μ πσλσιωθη ἐπʼ αὐτου, οὐδε μη ἐκλειπη ὁ καρπος αὐτου της καινοτνος αὐτου πρωτοβολησει . . . κ. ἡ�. Vulg.: … afferet primitiva

Ezekiel 47:13. … Ταυτα τα ὁρια κκτακληρονομησετε της, ταις δωδεκα . . . προσθεσις σχοινισματος. Vulg.: Hic est terminus in quo possidebitis terram in … quia Joseph duplicem funiculum habet. (Another reading: זה, גיא.)

Ezekiel 47:15. … της μεγαλης τ. κκταβαινουσης κ. πεισχιζουσης, της εἰσοδου Ἡμαθελδαμ.

Ezekiel 47:16. Μαωσθηρας, Ἐφραμηλειαμ, ἀνα μεσον τ. ὁριων Ἠμαθ . . . Δαμασκου, Εὐναν κ. του εὐναν, αἱ εἰσιν ἐπανω—Vulg.: … et confinium Emath, domus Tichon quæ est

Ezekiel 47:17. … ἀπο τ. αὐλης του Αἱναν. (Another reading: זאת פאת.)

Ezekiel 47:18. … ἀνα μεσον της Ὠρκνιτιδος . . .ὁ Ἰορδανης θιοριζει ἐπι τ. θαλασσαν τ. προς�—Vulg. … de medio Auran … Jordanis disterminans ad mare orientale; metiemini etiam plagam—(Another reading: זאת פאת ׃עד הים, etiam, Ezekiel 47:19.)

Ezekiel 47:19. … προς νοτον κ. λοβα�. Φοινικωος ἑως ὑδατος Μαριμωθ Καδης, παρεκτεινον ἐπι—Vulg.: Plaga autem australis meridiana … aquas contradictions Cades, et torrens usque—(Another reading: מריבַת, Vulg., Syr., Chald.)

Ezekiel 47:20. Τουτο το μερος νοτος κ. λιΨ, τουτο το μερος της θαλασσης τ. μεγαλης διοριζει, ἑως κατεναντι της εἰσοδου Ἠμαθ, ἑως εἰσοδου αὐτου—Vulg.: … a confinio per directum, donec venias—(Another reading: ואת פאת־ים.)

Ezekiel 47:22. Sept: Βαλειτε αὐτην ἐν κληρω . . .προσηλυτοις . . . μεθ’ ὑμως φαγονται ἐν κληρονομια—Vulg.: … vobiscum divident possessionem

Ezekiel 47:23. … ἐν φυλη προσηλυτων ἑν τοις προσηλυτοις μετ’ κὐτων. Ἐκει δωσετε . . .αὐτοις—


As the entrance of the glory of the God of Israel (Ezekiel 43, 44) forms the centre for the first section of this closing vision of the glory of Jehovah’s kingdom, namely, for the temple and its service, so the waters of life from the temple give the key-note for the second section,—the holy land and the holy city,—and at the same time furnish the interpretation of the second and there by of the first section.

Ezekiel 47:1-12. The Waters of Life.1


[“It is necessary to take the first part of this chapter apart from the second, which relates to a different subject, the new division of the land, and which ought to have formed part of Ezekiel 48:0. The vision contained in the first twelve verses of this chapter is a thing by itself, although it stands in close connection with what precedes, and springs naturally out of it. The prophet has been exhibiting, by means of a variety of detailed representations, the blessed results to the Lord’s people of His re-occupying His temple. The way now stands open to them for a free and elevating communion with the Lord; and the work proceeds, on their part, by the regular employment of all spiritual privileges and the faithful discharge of holy ministrations. God is duly glorified in His people, and His people are blessed in the enjoyment of His gracious presence and the benefit of His fatherly administration. But what is to be the nature of the kingdom in this new form, in respect to the world without? Is it to be of a restrictive or expansive character? Is the good it discloses and provides for a regenerated people to be confined, as of old, to a select spot, or is it to spread forth and communicate itself abroad for the salvation of the world at large? In an earlier prophecy (Ezekiel 17:0), when speaking of the future Head of the divine kingdom under the image of a little twig, plucked from the top of a cedar in Lebanon, and planted upon a lofty mountain in Israel, the prophet had represented this not only as growing and taking root there, but as winning the regard of all the trees of the field, and gathering under its ample foliage beasts of every kind and birds of every wing. The kingdom of God, as thus exhibited, seemed to carry a benign and diffusive aspect toward the entire world. And should it be otherwise now, when presented under the different but more detailed and variegated form of a spiritual house, with the living God Himself for the glorious Inhabitant, and a royal priesthood for its ministering servants? No; it is for humanity, mankind as a whole, that God was thus seen dwelling with men; and though everything presents itself, according to the relations then existing, as connected with a local habitation and circumscribed bounds, yet the good in store was to be confined within no such narrow limits; it was to flow forth with healthful and restorative energy, even upon the waste and dead places of the earth, and invest them with the freshness of life and beauty.

“This fine idea is presented by the prophet under a pleasing natural image. He is brought back by the angel from the outer court, where he was standing, to the door of the temple on the east; and there he sees a stream of water gushing from beneath the threshold, and running in the direction of south-east, so as to pass the altar on the south. He is then brought outside by the north gate, and carried round to where the waters appeared beyond the temple-grounds, that he might witness the measurements that were to be made of them, and the genial effects they produced.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 489–491.—W. F.]

The bringing back of the prophet in Ezekiel 47:1 is explained from the circumstance that he had tarried (Ezekiel 46:21) in the outer court; latterly, at the sacrificial kitchens for the people. The opening of the house is the temple gate, where the entrance into the holy place of the temple opens.—מִתַּחַת stands first by itself, both times parallel to each other, to describe the very first impression, namely, that the waters (Häv.: “in particular, living spring water is often in Scripture a symbol of the divine blessings, Isaiah 41:17 sq., Ezekiel 44:3”) came forth from below, and so did not pour down from the heavens, but issued from the depth of the sacred foundation upon the mountain; and this is without doubt to be thought of in connection with the filling of the house with the glory of Johovah (Ezekiel 43, 46). What Tacitus observes (Hist. v. 12) about “a never-drying fountain, whole mountains hollowed out below the surface, and ponds and cisterns for keeping the rain water;” or when Robinson does not doubt that there is in the rock “an artificial well at a depth of some 80 feet below the Haram,”—all this serves for understanding the prophet only by way of contrast;—he means and intends to describe nothing of the kind. [W. Kraft (Topographie von Jerusalem) thinks that the prophetic contrast refers to the spring known only to the priests as hidden, and whose water served only for the outward cleansing of the people.]—The מִשְּׂתַּן הַבַּיִת that follows subjoins the more exact definition of the first מִתַּחַת, as: below the threshold of the door of the temple, מִתַּחַת without a ל, so that we have to seek the fountain-head not at this threshold, but farther in in the house.—The reason for saying eastward is the “eastern” position of the temple front; the waters which issued from below the house flowed toward the place where the glory of the Eternal had entered the house. Even Hitzig’s dictum, which makes קָדִימָה to mean: “in the east,” does not destroy the very expressive causal nexus of the two sections of these concluding chapters of Ezekiel; but W. Neumann acutely observes: “The circumstance that the water flows east appears significant to the seer, and yet again, on the other hand, natural; for, says he, the front of the house is toward the east. According to Ezekiel 47:12, the spring is the bearer of the mysteries of the sanctuary, and consequently the means of bearing along its ideal substance; and to this the פָּנִים [properly: ‘the constantly changing multiform aspects or manifestations of the soul through the exterior, the complex unity of which we call the countenance,’ Stier] corresponds; because the soul of the temple looks to the east, the gushing stream flows in the same direction.”—This already indicates the farther course of the water as to its direction immediately after its gushing forth under the threshold of the door of the temple. But before treating of this direction, mention is again made of this so characteristic gushing forth. While, however, after the first מִתַּחַת, to avoid repeating the מ before מִפְתַּן, it is merely said: מִתַּחַת מִפְתַּן הַבַּיִת, there now follows after the second מִתַּחַת the more exact statement: מִכֶּחֶף הַבַּיִת׳, from the “shoulder” of the house, i.e. the right one. מִתַּחַת means here neither: in the south = beneath (Judges 7:8), which is sufficiently expressed by מִנֶּגֶב, nor: downwards (Hitzig), which is sufficiently expressed by יֹרְדִים What is meant to be described is a stream of water flowing from the temple, not one conducted into the temple; hence the brook Etham cannot be supposed, from which Lightfoot brings the water by means of subterranean channels for washing the victims and cleansing the house. (Comp. also the combination of Judah Leo in Lundius, die alten jüd. Heiligth.) Dereser infers from יֹרְדִים that the fountain “fell into the earth on the south side of the altar of burnt-offering in the court of the priests, and flowed on under it until it reappeared outside of the courts of the temple.” יָרַד is employed to accord both with Ezekiel 47:8, and also in general with, the view current in Israel, according to which that which tends towards the abode of the Highest ascends, and hence that which comes out from it will descend. Keil: “because the temple lay higher than the inner court.”—הַיְמָנִית. After the repeatedly marked eastern direction, there can be no doubt which right side is meant; a person looking to the east has the south on his right, as also מִנֶּגֶב plainly indicates. This מִנֶּגֶב has its signification in reference to the altar of burnt-offering, which stood before the porch of the temple (Ezekiel 40:47): לַמִּזְבֵּח, the right (south) side of the house, the south part of the east side. The fact that the water issued “from the south end of the threshold,” Hengst. explains from the circumstance that “the altar of burnt-offering lay immediately before the east door of the sanctuary; the water must therefore issue not from the middle of the threshold, if it was not to meet with an immediate hindrance; it must first come forth where the altar no longer stood in the way.” This is quite natural. Neumann speaks of “the prominence given to the right side as the side of good fortune and power.” He says: “If even in the feasts of the Bedouins the cupbearer must hand the cup to the drinker from the right, to prevent complaint of want of respect, how could that which was here commanded by a heavenly hand for healing (Ezekiel 47:8) come from another quarter?” [Klief.: “But the temple had two thresholds, one before the flight of steps at the door of the fore-porch, and one at the west end of the porch, before the temple gate. If, then, Ezekiel 47:1 speaks in the outset of the door of the temple, that shows us that we have to understand the latter threshold. If the temple is the body, and its fore-porch the head, then its right shoulder is in the angle which the south wall of the temple porch forms with the east wall of the temple. The threshold of the door of the temple abutted with its south end on this corner, and thence under the threshold the fountain gushed out and ran down into the inner court.”] “The water,” says Häv., “comes from the sanctuary;” that is to say, “it is the fulness of blessing which is poured out over the community from the new manifestation of God. Without this going before, the people cannot serve the Lord in the new manner; and the service of God, again, is itself a grace and a gift from Him. If the fountain proceeding from God is simply a testimony to His revelation of Himself, then it cannot be a mere material fountain.”

Ezekiel 47:2. In the court, surrounded with buildings and walls, Ezekiel cannot descry the farther course of the waters. For this he is brought forth through the north gate, for the outer east gate is always shut, and to go out through the south gate the prophet would be obliged to cross over the waters. [Neumann infers, from comparing Ezekiel 40:35; Ezekiel 44:4, that the guide had a preference for the north gate (but see Ezekiel 46:9), and seeks the reason in the significance of the north in the prophecies.] He proceeds on the outside along the wall of the outer court, the way to the east gate, as the outer gate is more exactly designated. [Neumann erroneously, because against the prophet’s uniform mode of expression, refers the epithet eastward-looking to the way.] The thrice repeated דֶּרֶךְ thus emphasizes and depicts the circuit which Ezekiel had to take, because the aim of the prophet’s going—the regaining a view of the waters—is the main matter. Whether the waters flowed forth over or under the courts is not expressly stated; at all events they ran under the surrounding walls, and doubtless under the stone pavement of the outer court.—וְהִנֵּה־מַיִםresumes verbally, when the waters were seen again, the וְהִנֵּה־מַיִם of Ezekiel 47:1, so that the מַיִם without the article occasions no difficulty whatever; no other waters can be imagined than those which the prophet had seen before.—מְפַכִּים (Piel particip. of פָּכָה) only in this passage, thus a unique and not less pictorial expression. Ges.: “to trickle;” and Umbreit adduces its affinity with בָּכָה, so that he gets “weeping” waters, which would portray such an “insignificant commencement of the issue” as does not harmonize with Ezekiel 47:1. How can that be thought of as trickling here which has already flowed through the courts? The affinity of the expression with בָּקַק, “to pour out,” likewise observed by Gesenius, would lead to a signification such as: to gush out. Hitzig goes back to פָּכַך, a word which does not exist; and Meier to בָּכַך, “to burst forth” (?). Hengst thinks of פַּךְ “a bottle,” and supposes a “gurgling,” like the “sound which the emptying bottle makes,” which, however, does not correspond to the “character of fulness and livingness” which, according to him, the waters in themselves must have; he translates, indeed: “gushed out.” Neumann assumes a radical signification: “to break up,” “to set free;” hence: פָּכָה, “to break forth.” To translate it with Keil: “to purl,” very probably comes nearest the figure.—מִן־הַכָּתֵף הַיְמָנִית; Hitzig: “not the south side of the whole temple-circuit, but: the southern half of the east front;” Neum.: “on the beholder’s right hand, when he has come out here from the north;” Hengst.: “the right side is here also the south-east, the south side of the east gate, where the water comes forth only because it has taken its rise oh the south-east side of the temple;” Klief.: “the angle which the eastern outer gate formed with the wall of the outer court is meant.” At all events this is meant to be expressed, that the waters which Ezekiel here saw again were the waters which came from the sanctuary.

Ezekiel 47:3. Hengstenberg translates: “When the man went forth to the east with the measuringline in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits,” etc. Ezekiel’s guide is, in distinction from Ezekiel 47:2 (וַיּוֹץִיאֵנִי), now considered by himself(בְּץֵאת־הָאִישׁ). He had קָו (Ezekiel 40:3 : פָּתִיל)—from קָוָה, according to Gesenius: “to twist;” according to Meier: “to bring together”—in his hand, which is remarked because of what follows, where not merely the farther course of the waters, but still more their peculiarities during the course, are set forth. Following the waters in an eastern direction, the man measured a thousand cubits.—מֵי אַפְסָיִם give the experience of the prophet, whom the man makes to wade in the water from one bank to the other; hence it is not appositional to בַּמַּיִם, but an independent clause, the meaning of which many attempts have been made to distort, when yet it must contain a statement corresponding to the following increments. Kimchi, making use of Genesis 47:15, interprets it: “water of vanishing” = little water. The dual form: אַפְסָיִם, certainly does not refer to an abstraction, but, as uniformly, denotes things paired naturally or artificially; in the connection here, without doubt, a corporeal duality, but not, as Genesius: “foot-soles” (“shallow water which only wets the soles”); against which Hitzig justly observes that the water reached to the foot-soles in the very beginning. אֶפֶם is not exactly the same as פַּם, that is, “extension,” flat of the hand, and hence also flat of the foot, foot-sole, but אַפְםָיִם rather suggests כֻּתֹּנֶת פַּסִּים, a garment extended so as to reach to the ankles. [Neumann thinks that “waters of the foot-soles” probably were waters of only the depth of the sandals, which the prophet had put off(!) in the court of the priests, and again put on; and that, in conformity with the phrase: אַפְסֵי אֶרֶץ, we cave to think of the two ends, the two lower extremities of the body, that is, the feet: waters of the extremities were waters which scarcely covered the feet.]—בָּאַמָּה, measured by the measure, which was a cubit-measure.

Ezekiel 47:4. After the second measuring of a thousand cubits, i. e. of distance along the course of the waters, the result of the waters becoming always deeper is מַיִם בִּרְכָּיִם, an ungrammatical form, so much the more striking, as we have the stat. constr. מֵי before and after. See Hitzig’s explanation, which, however, is a mere conjecture, while the supposition of a separate clause (waters, to the knee they reach) is easier, and at the same time more emphatic. After a third measuring, we have waters to the loins. But after the fourth measuring of another thousand cubits, i. e. in all, at a distance of four thousand cubits, it is

Ezekiel 47:5—a river! נַחַל looks like an exclamation of Ezekiel’s surprise on seeing what reminds him of the impetuous rush of a mountain torrent. The going through, hitherto possible, is no longer so, for the waters גָאוּ, “swelled,” “grew in height” (Job 8:11; Job 10:16; comp. also Exodus 15:1) to מֵי־שָׂחוּ, in which swimming was possible, yea, necessary, if one were to cross from bank to bank—to a river which cannot be waded. The prophet describes the increasing volume of water by the two parallel clauses: “waters of swimming,” “a river that could not be waded.”

The question in Ezekiel 47:6 indicates the halting-place in the vision, whereby what had been already seen, that is, the out-flow and on-flow of the waters in gradually increasing strength, is, in passing over to what follows, marked off as a thing apart by itself. Yet it is specially the continuous increase of the waters to which the prophet’s attention is called. Keil: “A natural brook cannot in so short distances have increased so mightily, unless brooks fell into it on all sides, which was not the case here.” Hengst.: “The Messianic salvation crescit eundo, while the streams of worldly enterprise dry up after a brief course—are streams whose waters lie (Isaiah 58:11; Job 6:15 sq.). Comp. the supplement through the person of the Mediator of salvation in Ezekiel 17:22-23; and in the New Testament, the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. The same progress which is exhibited in its efficacy among the nations shows itself also in the life of individuals, making them become great out of small, fathers in God out of children.” Neum. calls attention to the Messianic element in the designation: son of man, and observes that “the seer was thereby reminded that his vision was for mankind, that this swelling stream flowed on to the days of the completion of the human race.” The וַיּוֹלִכֵנִי taken by itself may be a mere recording here of what had taken place before,—“a wading in to the neck” (Isaiah 8:8), as Hengst. expresses it,—in order to get the knowledge indicated in Ezekiel 47:5; or, according to others, it is to be taken in conjunction with וַיְשִׁבֵנִי׳, as defining it more exactly: he brought me back to come up again out of the water.—עַל־שְׂפַת׳, to the bank (up to the bank), etc. Neumann, Kliefoth, and Keil understand it thus: And he made me go, namely, away from the last-mentioned place, and brought me back to the bank of the river (Ewald, too, in his last edition: “and made me go and return on the bank of the stream”). According to this, the prophet was led on the bank, in order to learn the depth of the waters,—but he was rather led through three times, and hence the fourth time probably just in and out again!—and brought back to the bank, to see that it was covered with trees. It seems, however, to agree better with the end intended, to understand עַל׳ as stating the purpose; for, as Hengst. says, the attention is now to be turned to the bank, to observe it, and not as hitherto the waters in their bed. [Hitzig makes the guide measure at a distance from the water, and the prophet, after his last vain attempt, come to the guide; whereupon the latter put his question to the prophet, and returned with him to the bank of the river, and during the time that Ezekiel’s back was turned to the river, its bank became adorned with trees. Häv.: “from the end, from the point where the river flows into the Dead Sea(!), the prophet returned once more to its bank.”]

Ezekiel 47:7. בְּשׁוּבֵנִי, literally: “when I turned myself back.” Hitzig disputes the transitive signification of the verb, but indisputably the objective suffix נִי is attached to the infinitive; whereas Hitzig takes the suffix as genitive of possession: “when he came back with me.” On the return of the prophet (בְּשׁוּבֵנִי seems to comprehend the וַיּוֹלִכֵנִי וַיְשִׁבֵנִי of Ezekiel 47:6)—who would probably have followed the course of the water still farther had it depended on him, but is obliged to return to the edge of the bank, just because he has to notice the bank of the river, and that (as Ezekiel 47:8 shows) as far back as the sanctuary—that is realized which was intended with a וְהִנֵּה, as in Ezekiel 47:1-2; it is the third stage in the vision. How much the matter treated of refers to the brink of the river, the repeated mention of it shows. But the fact that “so long as the beholder followed the measurer, he saw nothing of the trees oh the bank,” arises from the nature of the process in the vision. The looking forward gave Ezekiel the knowledge of the progressive fulness and depth of the waters; not until he looks back does he come to know—with a view to what follows—the fertilizing, enlivening effect of these waters. עֵץ, as the words: very many, show, is collective (Genesis 1:11 sq., Ezekiel 2:9), and in accordance with Ezekiel 47:12 is to be understood of fruit-bearing trees. (The phrase: on the brink of the river, indicates the cause. It has been said that Ezekiel interchanges עַל and אֶל; but when the bringing of the prophet out of the water and on to the bank was referred to, עַל was employed in Ezekiel 47:6; here, where the reference is to the trees growing on and overshadowing the bank, we have simply אֶל.) But it confuses the meaning of the waters when Hengst. finds here “the need of salvation denoted by hungering as well as by thirsting.” Nothing has been said of this in connection with the waters. It is not the case that “life or salvation is here represented in the shape of the fruit-tree, as before by the water”(for which Hengst. compares Isaiah 55:1 sq.).—It cannot with strictness be said that “the trees have here no independent import, but come into account only for their fruit,” for there is not the slightest mention here of their fruit. It would be better, with Hitzig, to call to mind Ezekiel 36:35, and to think of the restoration, cultivation, and fertilization of the land in general, as a blessed dwelling-place for Israel. The trees are not very “great,” but very “many,”—not one tree, as in Ezekiel 17:22 sq.; Daniel 4:7 [10] sq. “That this stream here depends on the four streams watering the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:0), and this forest on the tree of life, is a gratuitous assertion. Nothing is said of the immortality-giving power of the trees, and the waters no more bear fish of paradise on their waves than do the rivers in Psalms 1:3” (Neum.).

Ezekiel 47:8. Corresponding to the twofold direction of the prophet’s observation, the interpretation, which now begins, tells us regarding the course of the waters and the effects they shall produce. Had the prophet desired to follow the water farther, this desire would have been met by the saying: “these waters go out;” in other words, as they come out from the sanctuary, Ezekiel 47:1-2 (יֹצְאִים, Ezekiel 47:1), i.e. take their departure thence, so their progress is directed out “toward,” “to” (אֶל), etc.—The statement: הַגְּלִילָה הַקַּדְמוֹנָה, is no such “general” determination of the region in which the waters are to prove themselves effectual as Hengstenberg supposes. At any rate, what is thereby designated is not—as the exegesis of the Fathers, following the Sept., delighted to maintain, in view of Jesus’ residence there—הַנָּלִיל of Joshua 20:7;, the גְּלִיל הַגּוֹיִם of Isa. 8:23 [Isaiah 9:1]; the northern district in the tribe of Naphtali, called הַגָּלִילָה in 2 Kings 15:29—the later Galilee. On the contrary, הַקַּדְמוֹנָה expressly distinguishes it from that Galilee. The very word גְּלִילָה, the feminine formation from גָּלִיל, evidently denotes with the article a definite district; there were several גְּלִילוֹת׳, Joshua 13:2 (Joel 4:4 [Joel 3:9]), Joshua 22:10 sq. Derived as it is from גָּלַל, “to break off,” “to roll off,” a “section,” something “bounded off,” is to be understood; and because it is here in the east, the border-land there, lying opposite the centre of the land, would be meant, as distinguished from every other border district.—After the statement of the direction (יָצָא אֶל), there follows the account of the course of the waters, as also it is said in the outset in Ezekiel 47:1 (יֹרְדִים) that the waters, namely, came down (וְיָרְדוּ) “flowed down,” עַל, that is, over.—הָעֲרָבָה, defined by the article, is to be interpreted by the context. From the intransitive עָרַב, to be “contracted,” hence to be “arid,” “dry,” heath, wilderness, steppe is meant.—Geographically, the Arabah is the whole valley of the Jordan, extending even beyond the Dead Sea; comp. our Comment. on Deuteronomy 1:0.; but in accordance with the previous definition, we find ourselves in that part of the Ghor which lies above the Dead Sea.—After יָצָא and יָרַד, we have now בּוֹא, the coming to the goal. How much stress is laid upon this goal, as that which is to be defined in respect to the course of the waters, is shown by the repetition of אֶל־הַיָּמָּה after הַיָּמָּה. As the Dead Sea is called in Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49, יָם הָעֲרָבָה, so in Ezekiel 47:18 of our chapter it is designated the “east sea;” and thus we cannot with other expositors understand here the western, the Mediterranean Sea, which, moreover, is distinguished in Ezekiel 47:10 as “the great sea.” If the Arabah, the μεγα πεδιον of Josephus, which he names ἐρημιαν, is an unhealthy plain “full of salt clay,” then this is only the fitting introduction to the Dead Sea, with its well-known peculiarity.—הַמּוּצָאִים (particip. Hoph.) אֶל־הַיָּמָּה has, following the Sept., been translated: “into the sea of the mouths,” inasmuch as the Jordan falls into it, and, according to Gadow (in the Journal of the German Oriented Society, 1848, 1 p. 61), forms “a slimy delta.” [Ewald: “into the sea, into the sea of the muddy waters;” מוּצָא, “muddy,” “foul” !] The comparison of Zechariah 14:8 and the dual form in Ezekiel 47:9 have led others to suppose a dividing of the waters, so that יָמָּה refers one time to the east, but afterwards also to the west. “The prophet,” says Umbreit, “sets out first and specially from the Dead Sea; he does not, however, confine himself to it, but makes the waters flow also into the great west and world sea. For the sea of the wilderness appears, indeed, as the most fitting symbol of the death of sin (‘the Lord hath no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he should turn and live’); but until now there is no water altogether healthy, and for this very reason there is a flowing forth of the fountain of life still farther into the world of sin and of death.” [According to the Midrashim, the river divides itself into twelve waters, which flow to the twelve tribes; it is even said to flow on so far as to Calabria and into Barbary.] It only remains that, in accordance with the stress laid upon the issuing forth of the waters in question in Ezekiel 47:1-2, and again in Ezekiel 47:12, we understand the expression: brought forth, used of the waters on their way to the sea, as an emphasizing again of the fact that they proceeded from the temple, and that this is done just here in order to pass on to the purpose effected by them when they have reached their goal. (Hengst.: reference “to the higher hand, which executes, according to deliberate counsel, the plan of salvation.” Neum.: “waters that well forth from the threshold of the temple, that come to the Dead Sea. Not only that, but, moreover, having arrived at the Dead Sea, they are brought forth; thus the sanctuary of the blessing expressly connects itself with the doomed domain of the curse.”)—The waters of which it is said that they are healed are self-evidently (2 Kings 2:22) the waters of the Dead Sea, as is shown also by what follows. The spiritual signification of the waters is now told to the prophet: healing of the dead, which accordingly means only sick unto death, is the aim of their being brought forth from the sanctuary to the Dead Sea, to the east boundary; that is, we might say, from Israel into the world, which is thereby auspiciously symbolized as in the east, consequently with a reference to the rising of the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 3:20 [Ezekiel 4:2]). [Grotius explains וְנִרְפּאוּ in this way, that the waters flowing in continue wholesome, notwithstanding their flowing through.] The character of the water of the Dead Sea has already been correspondingly described by Diodorus: ἐχει διαπικρον και καθ’ ὑπωρβολη δυσωδες. Comp. Tacitus, Hist. v. 6. Jerome calls it mare amarissimum, quod Græce λιμνη�, id est, stagnum bituminis vocatur. Comp. von Schubert (Reise in d. Morgenl. 3 p. 85), who remarks on the deceptive appearance for thirsty persons of the “clear and pure” water. Comp. moreover, von Raumer’s Palästina, p. 61 sq.; Robinson’s Physical Geography of the Holy Land, p. 209 sq. [Hengst.: “The wilderness is in Scripture a figure of ungodliness (?), and so a fitting emblem of the world estranged from God and excluded from His kingdom, Psalms 107:5. In Joel, the valley of the acacias, the tree of the wilderness, corresponds to the Arabah here. Comp. also Isaiah 35:6. As a symbol of the corrupt world lying in wickedness (1 John 5:19), the Dead Sea is the more appropriate, as it owes its origin to a judgment on the corrupt world, and the spiritual eye discerns under its waves the figure of Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezekiel 16:0).”]

The transition is now made to the effects of the waters flowing to the Dead Sea. Very impressively Ezekiel 47:9 begins first of all with the prophetic וְהָיָה (Neum.: “it has then come to pass, then the fact lies open to observation”): what manifests itself in consequence of the healing of the water, in reference to the water itself, as an effect of the healing waters of the sanctuary.—But what of כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ חָיָּה? Is there, then, any living thing in the Dead Sea? There is not, although Prince Pückler asserts that he ate there fishes taken living from the Dead Sea. The Jordan carries in some, or “they voluntarily accompany its waves” (von Schubert), but “they must soon pay with their life for their love of travel, because they die in the salt brine, or because this brine thrusts out their light bodies to the shore.” A fish seen by Robinson, and said to have been caught in the Dead Sea, was found near the mouth of the Jordan, and dying in a state of exhaustion. “Neither fishes nor snails live in this very salt lake” (von Schubert). “Some herons,” Gadow relates, “sought the little fishes washed into the sea, that died instantly in the sharp lye; I myself observed some wrestling with death. Sea fishes which Marshal Marmont at Alexandria cast into water taken from the Dead Sea, died in two or three minutes.” Thus “living things” can only be spoken of in respect to the Dead Sea as things that were alive and then died there, or that live but must die when they come thither. But the mode of expression employed is rather a prophetic anticipation, picturing as it does in the healed water, in contrast to the death dominating it, life already preserved,—life, too, which, through אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁרֹץ, significantly alludes to Genesis 7:21; Genesis 8:17 (death and preservation), and Genesis 1:21 (creation). Quite as readily could a contrast to the Jordan carrying the living to death in the Dead Sea be found in the following words: everything whithersoever the double stream shall come shall live. Hitzig: “which creeps in every place to which rivers (נְחָלִים, pointed as plural) come.” (Ewald: נַחְלָם.) Keil: “which swarms wherever the brook comes.”—נַחֲלַיִם. What is the meaning of the dual, where hitherto we have always had נַחַל? Keil thinks the best solution is that of Hengstenberg, who, referring to Jeremiah 1:2, explains “two rivers” as equivalent to strong river, remarking that the doubled often stands for the distinguished (Job 11:6; Isaiah 61:7). He might have known that already Umbreit translates it: “two rivers,” and in doing so refers to “the fulness of the water.” The aualis emphaticus, too, of Stier (Lehrgeb. p. 218) comes to the same thing, as he also cites for it Jeremiah 1:0. The original “waters” (מַיִם) have grown in Ezekiel 47:5 to a נַחַל; may they not now, when they have mixed with the waters of the Dead Sea, when הַמַּיִם הָאֵלֶה and the healed הַמָּיִם have been expressly named side by side in Ezekiel 47:8, be very appropriately (not indeed as Maurer: because of the similarity with מַיִם) expressed succinctly by the dual form נַחֲלַיִם, and by נַחֲלַיִם indefinitely, because of their rushing streams sweeping away death and opening up the way to life? Thus, as Neum.: “We see it at once, the result of the flowing in is manifest in the sea itself; the river is not lost in it, but neither does the river swallow up the sea; it impenetrates it with its living power, and wherever the eye follows these united streams, it beholds the swarming newly produced life,” etc. Klief.: “When the waters of the river shall come into the waters of the sea, they will divide themselves,” etc.—יִחְיֶה, to retain life and to enjoy life, in pregnant contrast to the dying of which this sea is suggestive. Keil: “to revive, to come to life.” [Hitzig, too, remarks on the masculine construction of נֶפֶשׁ (יִחְיֶה and יִשְׁרֹץ), so that חַיָּה appears as a substantive in the genitive dependent on נֶפֶשׁ. Neum.: “Thus everything, that in the power of life bears in itself the germ of life, shall unfold this germ; the view which underlies is not that of the feminine, of what is upheld by the Spirit, but of what breathes independently.”]—The description of this life accords with the nature of the water, the healthy vital power of which finds expression in its fulness and the multitude of its fishes. But we have first “everything that creeps and moves quickly, שָׁרַץ, said of every kind of animal mobility” (Neum.), in order primarily to give pictorial expression to life in general in the all-sided manifold swarm. The following clause adds the more special: and there are very many הַדָּגָה (a collective, expressing at the same time the most different kinds), a feminine form of דָּג, which, from דָּגָה, “to become thick,” denotes first of all, as here too in accordance with the context, the strong large sea-fish, and then fish in general. (Umbr.: “to live and multiply most abundantly.”)—The cause of this, which was formerly incorporated in the general description, is now taken by itself, in order to explain the special case of the fishes: for these waters come thither and they shall be healed, i.e., as this repetition from Ezekiel 47:8 clearly shows, the waters of the Dead Sea, to which שָׁמָּה also points.—But the description reaches its full height of expression of life with the clause: and everything liveth, etc. First, everything, etc.; then, the many fishes of various kinds in particular—in other words, the Dead Sea in its piscine life; finally, the whole Dead Sea as such. Hence formerly שָׁם, whereas the two following times שׁמָּה; as also the preceding וְיֵרָפְאוּ (imperf. Niphal) is illustrated by וָחָי כֹּל׳, and therefore also we have הַנָחַל, from Ezekiel 47:5 sq., in antithesis to the waters of the Dead Sea. “The Dead Sea has become a sea of life” (Neum.). [Ewald: every one that draws water out of it. Calmet: every land, however unfruitful, provided only the river waters it, shall be at once made most fruitful. Dereser: “all the regions of the Dead Sea, to which the water penetrates, shall swarm with fish.”]

Ezekiel 47:10. וְהָיָה again. [“Out of death there arises, by the omnipotence and grace of God, a rich life. The new community is numerous, innumerable as the fishes of the sea,” Häv.] Because not only the life of the sea, but the (Dead) Sea itself as alive is exemplified in the abundance of fish, this abundance is described partly as to the employment it occasions, and partly as to the numerous kinds of fish. In the former respect, יעָמְדוּ עָלָיו (Qeri: עָמְדוּ, “they have placed themselves,” one sees them standing), “fishers place themselves over it” (the river, not the Dead Sea, but also not the whole length of the river on its banks, but where the Dead Sea touches it, because the filling of it with fish-life is the subject in hand). With this agrees also the statement as to locality given: מֵעֵין גֶּדִי וְעד־עֵין עֶגְלַיִם, which has given occasion to so many disquisitions. These must be two points lying near each other, as the same expression: עֵין׳ and עֵין׳, and not less the difference, which is simply that between a “kid” and “two calves,” seems designed to show. Hengst. thinks that perhaps עֶגְלַיִם is a dual, such as that in Ezekiel 47:9 : “the double calf in parallelism with the kid.” He supposes “the fountains are named after the finders,” “the calf had distinguished itself by the discovery” (!). Seriously, however, En-gedi (“kid’s fountain,” which reminds Sepp of the ibex, seldom pursued here by a hunter) is “Ain-Didi,” on the west bank of the Dead Sea, the southmost point inhabited by the Israelites, with an Egyptian climate and Egyptian products; and regarding En-eglaim (“two-calves’ fountain”), Jerome says that it is situated at the beginning of the Dead Sea, where the Jordan flows in, that is, northward. Since the death of living things occurs at the entrance into the Dead Sea, we feel certain that this is the right place. Hengst. finds “En-gedi obliquely over against the Eglaim mentioned in Isaiah 15:8;” for, “as obviously the whole compass of the sea is intended, En-eglaim is to be looked for on the east side.” Ewald: “the whole present stretch along the Dead Sea.” Neum. disregards any geographical basis: “Two fountains (עין) flow now into the Dead Sea, both of them living and full of fish, into the dark depths of death; but in those days of salvation, a river of life shall flow from the one to the other. No longer shall there be only small and quickly-dying fishes moving here and there before the mouths of the fountains; the whole intervening water, now waste and dead, shall then become alive, and swarm with the fishes of the great sea,”—מִשְׁטוֹחַ [Ewald: “a casting-place for nets”] is distinguished by Neumann from מִשְׁטָח in Ezekiel 26:5; Ezekiel 26:14. Gesenius holds both forms to have the same signification: place of spreading out. In order, however, to suppose the act of spreading out, we must with Neumann take the fishers as a spreading out of the nets; they will be quite absorbed in that occupation, will be nothing else; and this is not so inadmissible as Kliefoth supposes; while Rosenmüller’s interpretation of the יִהְיוּ, as referring to the places, that they shall be places for spreading out the nets, can quite well be extracted out of the phrase: from En-gedi even unto, etc., although it is not so obvious.—לַחֲרָמִים, whether for the take, or, after the take, for drying, which, however, is done as fresh preparation for new labour, for a new take. [Hengst.: “The question is not of fishers who will arrange after their kind the fish caught, but only of those who catch fish of different kinds.”] By the nets is characterized not only the fulness, but also the manifoldness, the various kinds of fishes that may be or are caught.—לְמִינָהּ, “as to the kind” (collective), intentionally (as Raphe shows) without Mappiq, means at bottom the same as with ה: “in respect to their kind;” care is always taken to express the variety of kinds corresponding to the דָּגָה here and in Ezekiel 47:9. “Life is depicted with far more significance not by multitudes alone, but by the variegated mixture of the most different kinds, which are commingled together” (Neum.).—“Allusion to the account of creation (comp. also Ezekiel 47:9): the new community, a similar creation of God’s” (Häv.).—דְּגָתָם, not: of the healed מַיִם of the sea, nor of the נַחֲלַיִם of Ezekiel 47:9, nor of the banks between En-gedi and En-eglaim, but of the fishers, or the nets.—The comparison with the fishes of the great sea, said to be very many, is connected, as Hitzig observes, with the לְמִינָה: there shall live in it the many kinds of fish of the great sea, and many of each kind,—as the fishes, sq., is proverbial for this—and not merely the few kinds of small fresh-water fish. The fish of the Mediterranean thus compared are, moreover, conceived of as living, so that this too shows that the Mediterranean cannot have been spoken of previously. [Hengst.: “The sea is a symbol of the world; accordingly men appear as the living creatures in the sea, as the fishes (Revelation 8:9). Hitherto there were only dead fishes, only unspiritual, unsaved men. Thus the meaning of the fishers cannot be doubtful: the fishes are the men who have attained to life through the Messianic salvation; the fishers are the messengers of this salvation, who gather those who are quickened into the kingdom of God, introduce them into the fellowship of the Church,’ Luke 5:11; Matthew 13:47, etc.]

Ezekiel 47:11. בִּצֹּאת (Qeri: בצאתיו) is singular; the plural of the Qeri appears to be put because of the following plural, וּגְבָאָיו. Gesenius: בִּצֹּאתָיו, incorrectly written for בִּצּוֹתָיו. בִּצָּה is a moist place. Rashi: marais (marsh). One might perhaps make the distinction to be what is turned into swamp by the natural recession of the sea from the bank, and the artificially constructed salt-pits (Zephaniah 2:9). These form the exception from the rule of healing and quickening; they are the places in which the healing waters produce no effect. “We have just observed the fishers placing themselves from one fountain to the other, that the life of the sea may become conspicuous through them; but here in the pools is death” (Neum.). “The waters even which the river brought to them,” thinks Hitzig, “would become corrupt, if left standing along with the whole mass of water without any fresh inflow.” J. D. Michaelis: “Palestine would lose much were it to lose this salt, got without labour, and were the Dead Sea to become quite fresh; hence this gift of nature is to remain.” Hitzig’s view and reasons, even if satisfactory for the וְלֹא יֵרָפְאוּ, are certainly not so for the לְמֶלַח נִתָּנוּ; which clause, moreover, is not to be explained on the ground of utility (as is done by Michaelis), it is the expression of a judgment. “Those districts,” says Hävernick, “in which the salt-deposits proper were formerly found, shall also henceforth be such waste places. The thought is this: only those who bar themselves against the gracious stream of divine love, and are unwilling to regain health, are henceforth to be given over to the curse, continuing to exist as monuments thereof (Zechariah 14:17).” Around the sea of death there lingers on a death which abides: this is the second death, the death unto death. What is given to salt is entirely forfeited to death. Klief.: “They shall be made into salt.” Hengst.: “The salt comes into consideration here not as seasoning, as frequently, but as the foe of fertility, life, and prosperity (Job 39:6). A contrast to deliverance from the corrosive power of the salt, which would be effected by the waters from the sanctuary were access afforded to them; they remain given over to salt: he that believeth not the Son of God shall not see life, etc., John 3:36.”—In Ezekiel 47:12, that of which the seer obtained merely a general view in Ezekiel 47:7 is now more exactly particularized to him, as the conclusion of the entire section. After the contrast (Ezekiel 47:11) to the healing effect of the waters of the sanctuary (Ezekiel 47:8), there comes in what follows something antithetical, and therefore parallel to Ezekiel 47:9 sq.: the quickening effects as regards the banks of the river, and so back to the source of the waters, form a parallel to the quickening effects as regards the goal, in relation to the Dead Sea. In fine, viewed forward or backward, they are the waters of life; as on the one hand they sustain life, so on the other they produce fruit.—הַנַּחַל, as the waters since Ezekiel 47:5, on their way to the Dead Sea, and considered in contrast thereto (Ezekiel 47:9), have been designated, so that the reference is to their course from their coming out of the temple walls.—The description: on the river, is amplified thus: “on its bank on both sides.” The “rising up” forms also, no doubt, an antithetical pendant to the former deepening and deepening and descending of the waters.—מַאֲכָל, “what is edible” (Hengst.: “all fruit-bearing trees;” Hitzig: “every tree of edible fruit”). Klief.: “they shall bear edible fruits of all sorts.” Their described quality, however, is not this alone, that they are trees of food, and hence yield food—not wild, acid, hard fruit; but an abiding freshness of life and vigour distinguishes this growth of trees (which is elsewhere expressed by ever-flowing, never-failing waters), both as to the leaf (נָבַל, Psalms 1:3, “to fade,” “to fall off,” cognate with נָפַל) and the fruit (תָּמַם). In respect to the latter it is said: according to its months, that is, as these change (Hitzig: distributively), יְנַכֵּר, said of the “first commencement,” of the “first of a thing;” hence בִּכּוּרִים, the first-fruits, signify, according to Hitzig, that the trees produce fresh fruit every month; and this, according to Hengst., “indicates the uninterrupted enjoyment of salvation;” or the fruit is as eagerly desired and hailed with as much joy as early first-fruits, or generally as superior fruit, which can claim, as it were, the right of the first-born (Deuteronomy 21:16). Comp. Revelation 22:2. Neum.: “The thought in fact is: what used to delight the heart every year, will henceforth be furnished every month. According to Horapollo, the palm puts forth a new branch with every new moon. The month is looked on as the property of the trees, because the change of the moon always enables them to put forth in similar change the life welling up in them.” We are not to compare here the enchanted gardens of Alcinous (Odyss. vii. 114 sq.). The reason assigned, too, which makes the leading thought the active principle of the effects, accords with the closing character of the verse: its (not: the stream’s, as Neumann, but: the trees’, this forest’s) waters, namely, the waters “proceeding from the sanctuary.” Hitzig: “from the dwelling-place of Him who is the Author of all life and fertility.” Neum.: “a deep disclosure regarding what the temple of his God was to the prophet. With Him is the fountain of life, and in His light we see light, Psalms 36:10 [9]. But this is just the sanctuary; because its source is holy, therefore the flood of the river produces fruitful germs. And קָדוֹשׁ is not moral purity, but sublime, transcendent purity, which sheds its enlightening beams over all the dark places of the earth. Hence the lofty praise of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3.”—As formerly the fishes were for the nets of the fishers, so now the fruit of the trees is for food, etc. וְהָיוּ (Qeri: וְהָיָה, which is unnecessary), for פִּרְיוֹ is not necessarily the fruit of each and every tree, but can be taken collectively with the plural. As we have here a reference to paradise and the first creation (Genesis 2:9), so we have also to redemption, the future salvation, in the phrase and its (the forest’s) leaf, לִתְרוּפָה—Hitzig: “for medicine;” on which he remarks: “doubtless for external application, since the leaf is laid upon wounds as soft and cooling, apart from its special healing virtue; תְּרוּפָה is derived from רָפָא.” In this too, the thought of mending and of healing is united and conjoined in this closing clause, so that in this sense “medicine” is by no means “a very unsuitable disharmony in these figures of perfection,” as Neumann says, whose thoughts run on “the blessed salvation enlivened by a sweet life of rapture,” and on “adorning life with fragrant chaplets.” This last would as mere ornament be altogether out of place here. Hengst.: “Salvation must present itself for the terribly sick heathen world, above all, in the form of saving grace. Besides the nourishing fruits, therefore, are named also the healing leaves.” Häv.: “The trees are trees of life, with allusion at the same time to Psalms 1:0; the figure of the fishes refers to the extent, the greatness of the community; and this figure of the trees to its nature, in so far as the divine grace transforms it into truly living members, who themselves bear rich fruit, and thereby become a means of life and recovery to others also.” [Philippson says of the entire section: “This description answers to no fountain actually existing in Jerusalem, and contains suppositions which no actually existing fountain could fulfil. Hence it belongs to the realm of those prophetic intuitions of the future land, in which this land appeared, altered in its nature, endowed with the most glorious fertility and wonderful virtues. We have to consider this section as a poetical resting-point of the prophet, in which, between dry narration and representation, the prophet’s enraptured soul expatiated on the prospects of his people.” According to this, the hope of the Jews of the present should finally be æsthetics.]

Ezekiel 47:13-23. The Fixing of the Boundaries in the Holy Land

Hengstenberg, in accordance with his view of the concluding portion of Ezekiel, makes the prophet return from the distant Messianic future, the prospect into which, according to him, suddenly opened in Ezekiel 47:1-12, to the lower salvation, the temple and city of the future, which formed the presupposition of the higher salvation. According to Hitzig, “the previous section forms the transition to this, inasmuch as in that section Ezekiel first of all, following the course of the river, turns himself away from the temple and the idea of the Terumah; in other words, it still remains to treat of the land itself from which that Terumah was selected.” It would be an entire break in these closing chapters, which hang so closely together, were Ezekiel 47:1-12 an insertion of essentially different character, meaning, and signification from that which precedes them, and that which follows them. But if Ezekiel 47:1-12 are decidedly symbolical, and their contents specially Messianic, then we have in them the key for everything in these chapters, both what precedes and what follows, not merely “the transition” to what follows. Then the temple is a symbol of the new revelation of God among Israel in their own land; then the partly indicated, partly instituted worship as to acts, persons, and times, symbolizes the future worshipping in spirit and in truth; then the blessing, which abolishes even the Dead Sea in its character of curse, cannot leave the Holy Land untouched, but only with the fixing of its boundaries and the division of the enclosed territory among the tribes (Ezekiel 48:0) will the theocracy of the future he complete. We cannot say, with Ewald, that “the whole book might have been perfectly well concluded with the last great figure in Ezekiel 47:1-12.” Ewald himself is compelled to admit that “the position of the sanctuary and its immediate environs in Ezekiel 47:1-8 is not yet explained with sufficient clearness;” but what still follows finds its explanation less by reference to this, than by the fact that in Ezekiel 45:1 the division of the land by inheritance is presupposed, without our having up to this point heard anything regarding it, except the prophecy of the return of Israel into their again reviving land (Ezekiel 34:25 sq., Ezekiel 36:8 sq., Ezekiel 37:21 sq.). Only by what follows from Ezekiel 47:13 to the end of the book do the people of God attain to rest, as the glory of God came to its rest by its re-entrance into the sanctuary (Ezekiel 43:0). In the sense of such a connection, comp. Revelation 21:3 : και σκηνωσει μεταὐτων, και αὐτοι λαοι αὐτου ἐ σονται; the sanctuary with its environs still continues in Ezekiel 48:0. the main point of view. Not merely, as Häv. says, “does the whole representation take its departure from the sanctuary, and so naturally also returns thither,” but the close of Ezekiel’s book is intended to depict the glory of God by the glory of His kingdom (Introd. § 5). Thus neither the incidental presupposition of the division of the land by inheritance, nor the oblation to be set apart as defined in Ezekiel 45:0., nor, in particular, the city—which, it is true, is to belong to Israel as a whole (Ezekiel 45:6)—can suffice; but all Israel must in their tribes colonize the land, in order, after everything has been bounded off externally and internally, to see the glory of Jehovah in the sanctuary, as the foundation of the glory of Israel in their own land, brought to full expression. “Hence,” as Hävernick observes, “this impresses also upon the whole land a new aspect, a more glorified conformation.”

Ezekiel 47:13. A solemn introduction marks off the following section (comp. Ezekiel 46:1; Ezekiel 46:16). נֵּה, Gesenius: “unquestionably a false reading for זֶה (as Ezekiel 47:15). So read also the Sept., Vulg., Chald., and fourteen manuscripts.” This is easy to say, also easy to imagine, but the analogy of בַּג for בַּז, after Ezekiel 25:7 (which see), cannot be applied here. Although we can hardly say, with Hengstenberg, that it “would almost seem as if Ezekiel wished to tease scribes and critics, and to put them to the test” (!!), still, the propagation of such a clerical error as גֵּה for זֶה in Ezekiel 47:13 is so much the more difficult to imagine, as the matter is really different in Ezekiel 47:15, where we have זֶה, from what it is here. Hengst. makes נֵּה to be of similar import with גֵּהָה in Proverbs 17:22, which word, occurring only there, signifies, according to him, “the inwards”! He translates thus: “(this is) the inside of the border,” and observes on it: “The stem is גָּהָה or גָּוָה; cognate is גּו, middle (in Chald. גּו), נֵּיא, valley, as the interior enclosed by mountains.” All this might be allowed; but that גּוֹי, “people,” is “the interior, the centre, in antithesis to individuals as the periphery,” is so far from correct, that the direct opposite would be nearer the mark. The stem signifies: to draw together; and hence גּוֹי (people) and גֵּו (body) refer to “connection.” A signification such as: body, suits the גֵּהָה of Proverbs 17:22 in its parallelism there with גֵּרֶם, and a similar signification would be the suitable one here in Ezekiel. For the question in Ezekiel 47:13 is not concerning גְבוּל in the sense of “border,” as in Ezekiel 47:15, but concerning the territory itself, whose borders are first defined in Ezekiel 47:15 sq. Ezekiel 47:13-14, introductory to the fixing of the boundaries, and Ezekiel 47:22-23, which conclude it, give us to understand that the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel is the dominating design; only with reference to this, that is to say, preparatively, are the boundaries of the land to be treated of.—אֶת־הָאָרֶץ explains גּה גְּבוּל sufficiently; אֲשֶׁר is accusative.—לִשְׁנֵי׳ is, according to Hitzig, distributive, and denotes the point of view which is to obtain in the division of the land, since all Israel, the re-united people of God, shall return to their land (Ezekiel 37:0.); from which point of view, also, the curt יוֹסֵף חֲבָלִים = Joseph shall receive of it (plural) “inheritances” (measured off portions of land), is directly explained, without our needing, with Ewald, to punctuate dual חֶבְלַיִם, although two portions are meant, in accordance with the ancient prophetic injunction of Jacob, the patriarch of the tribes (Genesis 48:5). The more exact determination is so much the more presupposed as understood; “as Levi is to have no other portion of land except that in the sacred Terumah, the tribes can only be made twelve in number when (as always) the tribe of Joseph is counted and treated as two, Ephraim and Manasseh” (Klief.). Comp. Joshua 17:14 sq. [The Sept. translate the nom. pr. יוֹסֵף.] Already Eusebius has observed in the Prœp. ev., that Plato, too, divides his ideal state into twelve parts, and the capital likewise.

After the determination concerning the point of view of the number twelve for the division of the land, as it has been in Ezekiel 47:13 first stated generally, and then specialized in Joseph, Ezekiel 47:14 lays down the second principle for the division of the land: into equal parts. What was said regarding Joseph is not in contradiction with this principle, as Hitzig maintains, for, as Keil justly replies, the words: ye inherit it, אִישׁ כְּאָחִיו, only affirm that of the twelve tribes which Israel numbers in relation to נַחֲלָה, the one shall receive as much as the other. Comp. the opposite principle in Numbers 26:54; Numbers 33:54; and comp. Ezekiel 48:1 sq. There is no reason for supposing that אֲשֶׁר signifies: “inasmuch as,” or: “because.” Comp. Ezekiel 20:28; Ezekiel 20:42.—The symbolical character of these introductory regulations, which the very norm of the symbolical number twelve leaves scarcely questionable, must be beyond all question, unless the principle of equality in division here laid down should go on the strange supposition that each tribe would comprehend the same number of individual members, or, in contrast to the first division of the land, the new division, with all its appearance of justice, should yet in fact and reality be practically unjust, namely, because treating the more populous tribe exactly as the weaker. This Philippson also admits, when he remarks “that this would be more contradictory to the Mosaic law than all the other deviations of the prophet taken together;” but he gets over the difficulty by saying that only the same direction from east to west is given for the tribal portions, and that the equal division among the individual Israelites is spoken of. Bunsen, on the contrary, maintains “the ideal nature of the plan.” The number twelve of the tribes of Israel expresses the whole of the people, but it does so according to their idea, and thus in a spiritual manner; but still more does the equal share of each tribe in the common inheritance make the land of promise become a symbol of something else than the earthly Canaan. (Comp. 2 Peter 1:1; Psalms 37:11; Psalms 37:29.) The seed now has come to whom the land was promised by Jehovah (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 17:8; Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:16).

Ezekiel 47:15. We have here the fixing of the boundaries, which (as in Numbers 34:0., Joshua 15:0) is done with reference to the four cardinal points; but here, instead of south, west, north, and east, the order is north, east, south, west, just as also in Ezekiel 48:0. the several tribes follow from north to south. Hengst. explains the difference “from this circumstance, that in ancient times Israel came from the south into the land; here, on the contrary, the return is from the land of the north.” Klief.: “We must so understand this deviation that the Holy Land will in that future be indeed the same as the old Holy Land, but yet in a certain sense opposed to the old, the counterpart of the old Canaan.”.—After that גֵּה has preceded with Ezekiel 47:13-14, it can now be said with וְ of the boundaries proper: וְזֶה גְּבוּל׳.—The north boundary begins from the Mediterranean Sea (as in Numbers 34:7 sq.), hence in the west, and proceeds on the way to Hethlon, to come to Zedad (לְבוֹא, of the direction whither). Since צְּדָד or צָדָד with ה locale helps also to determine the boundary in Numbers 34:8, doubtless on the north-east, as the antithesis to the point of departure on the west naturally suggests, so certainly no other Zedad is to be thought of. Robinson holds it to be Sudud, four hours from Hasia, on the west entrance of the wilderness, east of the road which leads from Damascus to Emesa; Keil declares himself against this. Hethlon is unknown. Gesenius places it in Syria of Damascus.

Ezekiel 47:16. A more detailed account, by means of several other places, of the north boundary as compared with the other boundaries.—Hamath, of which Keil says: not the city on the Orontes, but the kingdom whose south border forms the north border of Canaan; while Gesenius takes it for this important Syrian city (Epiphania), and compares Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8. Hitzig denies that here at the beginning the land of the city could be meant, and therefore, appealing to the Sept., he takes it as a gloss (from Ezekiel 48:1) to Zedad, the word before it.—בֵּרוֹתָה is, according to Gesenius = בֵּרוֹתַי (2 Samuel 8:8), a city in the kingdom of Aram-Zobah; is it perhaps the seaport of Berytus in Phœnicia?—סִבְרַיִם (identical with זִפְרֹן in Numbers 34:9?) is further defined by the clause: which is between, etc., without thereby becoming clearer.—The closer definition: which is on, or: “toward” the border of Hauran (חַוְרָן), brings the middle Hazer (חָצֵר הַתִּיכוֹן, “middle court”) into relation with the transjordanic Auranitis, without, however, defining the latter more exactly.

Ezekiel 47:17 “states the north border for the third time,” says Klief. (without, however, being able to solve the difficulty of the double Hamath in Ezekiel 47:16), “but so that it, after Ezekiel 47:16 has named the series of Israelitish border places, defines the boundary by border places outside of Israel.” His view is, that “Damascus and Hamath are the boundaries on the north, in this way, that the north-east Damascene border place opposite the north-east Israelitish border place, Zedad, is Hazar-Enon, while on the north side the land of Hamath extends itself.”—The point of departure from the Mediterranean Sea is once more repeated; hence this must be the most western point of the north border.—חֲצר עֵינוֹן (עֵינָן), “fountain court” (Numbers 34:9), Keil sets down as “the fountain of Lebweh in the Beca, on the watershed between the Orontes and Leontes. The calling of Hazar-Enon the border from the sea, indicates that it forms the most eastern boundary-point for the north border drawn from the sea, as it is added: the border of Damascus, that is: the border place from Damascus, or: “on the border,” etc. (Hengst.), or: toward the border, etc.—וְצָפוֹן צָפוֹנָה, according to Hengst., “denotes first the north border, to which all the places named belong,” and then “northward” gives the “special in the general;” for “the north border Was no straight line, but had its more northern and less northern points; the most northern was Hamath.” Häv.: “The repetition strengthens the conception: northward and northward.”—וְאֵת פְּאַת׳, doubtless as accusative, with: looks to, or: measures off, understood. Hävernick finds “the boundary-line drawn here with still greater exactness than in Numbers 34:0, partly to indicate the still sharper and more definite fixing of the limits of the new Canaan than of the old, and partly to express here too the thought that the new community shall obtain the fullest possible possession of the promised land.” However unknown the various places named may be, thus much seems certain, that the only design of the many names is to draw the boundary with full sufficiency.

Ezekiel 47:18 defines as the east border briefly the Jordan, agreeing in this with Numbers 34:10 sq., only with different local colouring. Hauran, Damascus, and Gilead are put on the east, and the land of Israel on the west side. Keil makes the remarkable sequence: Hauran, Damascus, Gilead, to have arisen through regard to the Jordan, which does not reach so far as Damascus; if it had, the sequence must have been Damascus, Hauran, Gilead. While Klief. insists on this, that Numbers 34:0 gives in addition the district east of the Jordan conceded to the transjordanic tribes, whereas, according to the statement here, the Holy Land of the future shall no longer have any portion not fully incorporated; Hengst., on the contrary, maintains the continuance of the frontier land, referring for this to Psalms 40:0.; Micah 7:14; Jeremiah 1:19; Zechariah 10:10 : also in Numbers 32:30; Numbers 33:51; Joshua 22:9, the, land of Canaan lying west of Jordan is in the same way set over against, e.g., Gilead.—The border from which they are to measure is the above-defined north border. The east sea is the Dead Sea, in distinction from the west, the Mediterranean Sea.

Ezekiel 47:19. The south border. The nearer definition of the direction by תֵימָנָה marks only the transition to the place where the determination of the southern boundary begins. Tamar, says Hengst., “does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament;” it is, according to him, to be sought for “in the extreme south-east, at the end of the Dead Sea.” Robinson’s conjecture in favour of Thamara, that is, Kurnub, lies open to many objections. On the other hand, the waters of Meriboth-Kadesh, that is, the waters of strife, are those known of old. Hengst. observes: “Only instead of the singular in Numbers 27:14, the plural Meriboth is put, to point to this, that the strife there involves in it a whole fulness of rebelliousness,—a solemn nota bene for those who, like their fathers, were still to the present day a house of rebelliousness.” These waters of Kadesh (Numbers 20:0) in the wilderness of Zin were near Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 34:4).—נַחֲלָה, accented as “inheritance,” is retained by Hengstenberg: “the inheritance (reaches) to the great sea,” who cites for this the oldest translators, Sept., Jonathan, and the Syriac. The possession here (according to him) corresponds to the border of the land in the case of the first two sides. On the other hand, already Hävernick (Vulg.) thinks of the “river of Egypt,” the Wady el Arish, which appears throughout in the Old Testament as the extreme south-western boundary of Palestine; also Numbers 34:5 is (in his view) decisive for this acceptation, and consequently for a change of the punctuation into נַחְלָה. Comp. Joshua 15:4. Hitzig: “in the direction of the river to the great sea;” and for this he urges in addition that Ῥινα κοροῦρα is also called simply Νεελ, that is, נַהַל, with the omission of the genitive.—The Mediterranean Sea is given as boundary-point on the south-west.

Ezekiel 47:20. The west border, with which the fixing of the boundaries concludes. As it is formed by the Mediterranean Sea, only the terminating points south and north have to be noticed. In the former respect stands מִגְּבוּל, that is, from the south border defined in Ezekiel 47:19; in the latter, עַד־נֹכַח לְבוֹא חֲמָת, that is, to over against the place where one comes into the territory of Hamath, which was set down in Ezekiel 47:17 as the north boundary; comp. Numbers 34:6. Klief. further observes: “The Philistine coast district is here, as with Moses, included in the Holy Land; the fact that it was not conquered by the Israelites happened against the will of God: the Holy Land of the future shall be the real, entire, full Holy Land.”

Ezekiel 47:21. A concluding clause referring back to Ezekiel 47:13, as well as preparing for Ezekiel 47:22 sq.

Ezekiel 47:22. Like a codicil to a will; Ewald: “and with the genuine prophetic innovation, that the protected should have quite as many rights as the ancient sons of the soil.” וְהָיָה, comp. Ezekiel 47:9-10.—Häv.: “The prophet’s perspective extends itself beyond the borders of Israel to those of the Gentile nations. Israel arrived at the goal of its development forms at the same time a fresh point of connection for the Gentiles. He who connects himself with the true, perfect Church, enjoys the same privileges and blessings as Israel itself. That which the Old Testament contains in the weak type in relation to strangers passes here into complete fulfilment.” Hitzig: The prophet draws here the inference from Leviticus 19:34; the limitation and exception in Deuteronomy 23:3-4 is here omitted. For this he gives as reasons: inasmuch as “residence in a strange land could even weaken an exclusive disposition,” and “the lessening of the population of Israel made them wish for and favour the accession of strangers.” Hengst., on the contrary, holds that what is here said does not primarily refer to “strangers in general,” but to those who have begotten children in your midst, hence to those “who have been naturalized in Israel in the times of affliction,” as similarly Abarbanel. Hengst. urges against “the hosts of the heathen,” “the boundaries of the land confined between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.” (Might we not imagine we perceived here the rationalismus vulgaris?) The question, too, “concerns only the strangers already naturalized in Israel.” He says: the exception which the Ammonites and Moabites make (Deuteronomy 13:0) in regard to the reception of born heathen into the community of God serves only to confirm the rule. “Already, in the state in which Moses found the people, there was a considerable foreign element, the whole posterity of the servants who went down to Egypt with Jacob. A fresh accession took place in Egypt at the time of the exodus (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4). In 1 Chronicles 2:34-35 we have an example that these Egyptian strangers were considered in the partition of the land, and, indeed, in the territory of the tribe to which they had attached themselves. Further, Moses gives in Numbers 10:29 sq. the friendly invitation to his Midianitish brother-in-law to share with his tribe the lot of Israel. Hobab, says Knobel, shall accordingly have a share in the land. Hobab consented, and we find his race afterward in the Hebrew land. Comp. Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11; Jeremiah 35:0. Only apparently at variance with Ezekiel is the conduct of Ezra toward the heathen wives (Ezra 9:10), and that of Nehemiah (Ezekiel 13:0.) toward the heathen men who had settled among the Israelites. Ezekiel speaks of those who had attached themselves to Israel by inward inclination at a time when it had no form nor comeliness, and when there was nothing in it to desire but the true God; Ezra and Nehemiah are zealous against the attempt to give heathendom equal rights in the midst of Israel, and to break down the partition-wall so necessary in the pre-Christian times. Both the attraction which Ezekiel commends, and the repulsion for which Ezra and Nehemiah are zealous, arise rather from the same principle; it is the true God who here binds and there severs.”—Hitzig remarks on the clause: who have begotten children, etc., that for their sake the fathers received a landed possession, but the childless proselyte did not. Keil understands it of permanent settlement in Israel, in contrast to temporary or transitory residence there. “Here too there is, analogous to Isaiah 56:3 sq., attached to the promise a condition, the idea of which is already involved in Deuteronomy 23:7-8 (that Edomites and Egyptians shall only in the third generation enter into the congregation of the Lord). This involves the close, firm, and faithful attaching of oneself to the congregation, whereby one has to the utmost removed and excluded himself from the national communion of heathens. Comp. also Leviticus 25:45.” Certainly not testifying to an already very prevalent custom, but in a prophetic mode of expression, Ezekiel 47:23 adds again a וְהָיָה. The more general sense of this specializing Hävernick expresses to the following effect: “Heathendom forms no new church alongside of Israel, no proper tribe alongside of the twelve families of Israel. It is absorbed into Israel as God’s holy ordinance, which continues unalterable, as an ensign for the Gentiles, into the one true Church, which has existed from the beginning and shall exist for ever.” Very rightly does Kliefoth point out the connection of our prophetic passage with the prediction in Ezekiel 36:36; Ezekiel 37:9; Ezekiel 37:28; only he wrongly adduces Ezekiel 44:9, which compare. “There shall henceforth be no distinction between the members of God’s people born of the seed of Abraham and those born of the Gentiles.”


On Ch. 47

Ezekiel 47:1 sq. “Before his view stands a paradise of the nation returned to God, from whom the fountain of life flows forth in richest effusion, filling the land and all waters with healing virtues,—behold in this the word of God in its vigour of heavenly life, destroying disease and death!” (Umbreit.)—“From the restored temple issues finally salvation for the whole world” (Hengst.).—“For this is the most intrinsic characteristic of these waters, that they spread through the world the consecration of the most holy place” (Neum.).—The waters of life in their significance, whence they come, and whither they flow.—“Water, which makes the unfruitful land fruitful, and affords refreshing drink to the thirsty, is in Scripture a figure of the blessing and salvation which already in paradise are represented as a watering of the ground (Genesis 13:10). Comp. in Isaiah 12:3 the wells of salvation, and in Isaiah 44:3 the Spirit as the blessing, for the root of disease is sin” (Hengst.).—“In the Church of the New Covenant there is a river of living water, the rich gifts of the Holy Ghost, which flow out into it. Only we must come and taste this water, that we may be made whole, John 7:37 sq.”(Tüb. Bib.)—“The watering of Canaan implies a great spiritual fruitfulness” (Lampe).—“The gospel is no invention of man, but an outflow from God in Christ” (Starck).—The Eastern and the Western Church.—“The water is the fatherly kindness and compassion of God, out of whose treasury innumerable benefits flow to us. The water turns at once to the altar of Christ, because we behold in Christ the love of God, and from Him flow upon mankind the spiritual streams of blessing which are to quicken and give health to the world, John 13:10; John 4:10” (Heim-Hoff.).—“By this water is signified the preaching of the gospel, which offers to us grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ. Water cleanses so do God’s word and grace (John 13:0), of which baptism is the symbol. Also the course of the gospel, as the course of these waters, no one can stop” (Lavater).—“It is the water of life, which Oriental mysticism in vain seeks for in other places” (Umbreit).

Ezekiel 47:2. “The kingdom of God cometh not with outward show (Luke 17:20); at first it has even an insignificant appearance, but soon it grows and increases mightily (Matthew 13:31-32)” (W.).—“That the waters at first flow out so gently is meant to intimate how entirely different is the process in the kingdom of grace from that in the course of worldly things. For whatever glorious or great thing takes place in the kingdoms of the world creates great wonder and surprise in its very beginning; but the kingdom of God cometh not so (Luke 17:20). In the kingdom of God, things proceed from little to great: in the kingdoms of the world, often from great to little; Satan, as Luther says, begins his things with lofty impetuosity, but finally they end in nothing, and everything comes to disgrace” (Hafenreffer).—“At first it appeared an insignificant work, with a few disciples in Judea; then it was preached in Samaria, and soon after in the whole world” (Lavater).

Ezekiel 47:3 sq. “Faith has always to do with the water here, namely, because it is constantly occupied with consideration of the word of God” (Starck).—“No one has learned so much, that there is not more to learn still. Christianity is prefigured in the water through which Ezekiel was brought. Experience teaches that the longer Christians exercise themselves in godliness, the less value they set on themselves; they confess finally that they cannot reach the bottom: they can depend upon nothing that is theirs, but must submit themselves simply and solely to the grace and mercy of God” (Scriver).—To him that hath shall be given, that he may have abundance.—“The mysteries of the gospel are like a deep river, which finally becomes so deep that one cannot sound it, Ephesians 3:18” (Tüb. Bib.).—“When reason cannot fathom the divine mysteries because of their depth, the faith which trusts to the truth and wisdom of God, as it were, swims across, Luke 1:34 sq.” (Starck).—“We find here a twofold figure; the one is the four measurements of a thousand cubits each, the other is the four depths of the waters. The one refers to the exceeding great extension of the kingdom of Christ toward all the four quarters of the globe; the other to the different degrees in the measure of the Spirit to which the nations called to the kingdom of Christ shall gradually attain,” etc. (Meyer.)—“The four world-kingdoms in Daniel are like a shadow of the four great epochs in space and time, through which the waters of life diffuse their fulness over the world, gradually transforming it until its peace shall become as a river, and its righteousness as the waves of the sea (Isa. 47:18); until the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea,” Isaiah 11:9 (Neum.).—“So the books, too, of the Holy Scriptures are, as to their contents, like these waters, of dissimilar depth. Some come only to the ankles, others to the knees, or even to the loins, and some are altogether unfathomable, like these last nine chapters of our prophet” (Pfeiffer).—“At first the word of God seems to us like water which reaches only to the ankles; one thinks it is not so deep, one will easily wade through. But when a man reflects diligently with heartfelt prayer, then his understanding is more and more opened in the divine illumination; then it already reaches his knees—he acquires a far higher esteem for it (Psalms 119:129). When he advances farther, he gets always deeper into the hidden wisdom, and Holy Writ is to him a water which comes to his loins; he is so captivated therewith, that he finds in it his highest satisfaction, and forgets over it everything else in the world. Finally, it becomes a water over which he must swim; he cannot fathom the mysteries” (Glassius).—“The river of life, which is at first small, always grows in volume, because the grace and knowledge of Christ should always increase in us; and the divine love and mercy should appear to us always greater, more glorious, and more worthy of admiration, the more attentively we consider them. For who can comprehend their height and depth? Who is so void of understanding as not to be astonished, when he considers that the God of immortality interests Himself in poor mortal man, yea, in the sinner, who so often rises up against Him and breaks His word, imparts to him heavenly treasures, makes him immortal and a partaker of the divine nature? Of this spiritual blessing more and more is always imparted to believers. Here we have sprinkling, cleansing, the taking away of the heart of stone, and the impartation of the new heart, and the anointing with the Holy Ghost. In such measure does the water of life increase” (Heim-Hoff.).—“Friends of missions behold here a glorious emblem of missions, particularly of the most blessed missionary activity proceeding from Israel” (Richter).

Ezekiel 47:6. “In this life we see darkly and through means of the word, hereafter face to face, 1 Corinthians 13:12” (Starck).

Ezekiel 47:7. The gospel makes fruitful trees on all sides.—“How wholesome, how fruitful is the living water of the gospel, and of the gifts of the Spirit which it gives us! They restore health, they bring forth fruits of blessedness which endure unto eternity, John 4:14” (Tüb. Bib.).—Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:7 sq.).—“Believers are trees planted by the rivers of water (Psalms 1:0); they flourish to the glory of God (Isaiah 61:0), and produce rich and ripe fruit (Psalms 92:13 sq.)” (Starke).

Ezekiel 47:8. First urbi, and then orbi, holds good of the Messiah.—Salvation is of the Jews, but it is a salvation for the world.—“Covered with loose pebbles and wild rifted rocks, furrowed by dry torrent-beds, enclosed and obscured at the sides by lofty chains of mountains, the Arabah exhibits only here and there traces of fertility in the growth of herbs and plants, where fountains and streams flow down from the mountains; it is the evening gloom of the wilderness-night, the land in which is the darkness of evening (Isaiah 24:11; Jeremiah 2:6). The steppe a world in the bonds of death, where the mystery moulders below in silence, and shoots up in roses of the grave” (Neum.).—God’s sanctuary a well-spring of life for the Dead Sea of the world (Psalms 87:7).—The Dead Sea in the darkness of nature, in the light of the promise.—God’s thoughts of peace over the abysses of the world’s wretchedness.—Judgment and grace.—The world is a desert and a Dead Sea.—“Oh the greatness of the grace of God, which desires not the death of the sinner, but his healing!” (Starck.)—By conversion we lose our former salt.—“In other cases a clear and wholesome stream, which flows into a muddy and putrid lake like this, becomes corrupt; it is otherwise with the gospel, which brings recovery and health to the earthly-minded heart” (Starke).—“The gospel is a word of life to them who believe in it (John 6:68); and its spiritual rivers are living waters to them who drink thereof (John 4:10)” (Tüb. Bib.).—“It is a power of God, but man will not let the power work, Hebrews 4:2” (Starke).

Ezekiel 47:9. “The sea, the restlessly swelling depth, an emblem of disquiet (Isaiah 57:20), unfruitful (Isaiah 23:3), boiling up with violent impetuosity (Job 7:12; Psalms 46:4 [3]), even in its most glorious aspect only darkling night, like phosphorescent gleams around a corrupt tree, awakening a painful desire and longing for launching forth on distant voyages (Deuteronomy 30:13), and down even to the shady abyss (Lamentations 2:13), unfathomable and dark, the most natural expression of the dark and destructive power of death (Jeremiah 51:42; Micah 7:19), its harshness increased by the flood supersaturated with salt,” etc. (Neum.).—“In the Dead Sea of the world there arises just such a gladsome swarm of those who have become partakers of life from God, as formerly of ordinary fishes in the natural sea at the creation. The salvation is for all, without distinction of nation, rank, or age” (Hengst.).—“From death into life, from the service of sin into the glorious liberty of the children of God, come rich and poor, young and old, bond and free, Jews and Greeks, who receive into them the law of the spirit of life. For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Heim-Hoff.).—“The fishes in the water and the drops in a river are innumerable; so also the multitude of believers shall be amazing, Isaiah 60:7” (Starke).—“The two rivers are the two Testaments, the two sacraments” (Starck).

Ezekiel 47:10. “The ministers of the Church are compared to fishers, because of the contempt with which they are regarded by the rich and powerful of this world; because of their labour by day and by night, in heat and in cold; because of the fruitlessness of their labour at times, when they say with Peter, We have caught nothing; because, too, of the dangers they incur in stormy weather; because of their confidence, which, as in the case of the husbandman, must rest on God; because of the various kinds of implements which they use, nets, hooks, etc., preaching, inviting, admonishing, etc. And they rescue souls from the abyss” (Starck).—Nets and fishers everywhere, this is the appearance which the world in Christ presents.—“The world is the sea, the fishes are the men; so long as the fishes swim freely hither and thither at their own will, they profit no one, but when caught they are profitable. In the same May, so long as men walk according to their own lusts and pleasures, they are of no real use either to God or their neighbour; but when they are caught or converted by the gospel net, then they are profitable to God and their neighbour, Philemon 1:11” (Starke).

Ezekiel 47:11. “In the Dead Sea of the world the marshes and swamps are originally of the same nature as the main sea; the only difference is, that they shut themselves off from the healing waters, which flow from the sanctuary. Comp. the saying: Ye would not, and the drawing of the Father (John 6:44), which comes to meet the longing of the soul. It is, however, sufficient punishment for the world that lieth in wickedness that it continues as it is” (Hengst.).—“The mud-puddles probably indicate separatist, self-contained parties, which do not receive those streams of salvation, and consequently cannot be healed. To these belong Gog’s adherents, Ezekiel 38:0.” (Richter.)—“Such, too, are those who entrench themselves against the truth and craftily wrest the Scriptures throughout; people of this kind are not easily brought to the knowledge of the truth” (Berl. Bib.).—“Over the figures of light there comes once more a dark shadow. Yea, nothing can rescue from death that which is his own (Isaiah 26:14). All transformation is only the fruit of a ripening, during which there is constant need of being put in mind of the day of wrath, which comes on the earth, as here on Israel” (Neum.).—He who will not have Christ wills to have eternal death.—No salvation out of Christ.—“The eyes of God regard him who opposes Christ as a morass, because he prefers the wilderness of sin to eternal salvation, John 3:19” (Starck).—“He who, in case of conversion, still seeks to retain bypaths and bosom sins, is not upright before God. Divided allegiance is of no avail here, Matthew 6:24” (Starke).—“The ungodly, who despise God’s word, or do not persevere in the path of life, remain dry and unfruitful. Blessed, on the contrary, is the godly man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night (Psalms 1:0). He is always flourishing, always alike; he walks in the ways of the Lord, and edifies and elevates others” (Heim-Hoff.).

Ezekiel 47:12. The blessed growth close by the river of life.—Evergreen leaves, yet not leaves merely, but also fruit! Thus it is with life from God’s sanctuary.—Hypocrisy and true piety.—“The never-fading of the leaves implies the perseverance of believers in temptations, in persecutions, in death” (Starck).—“The works of believers, which in other respects are done even by unbelievers, are fragrant of faith and love, and are therefore fitted for converting the heathen” (Berl. Bib.).—“Would that all men knew how well it is with him who is included in the number of Christians, of true members of Jesus! Then one always goes onward (and never backward) in his happiness; he is in the path of life, and always receives grace for grace” (Rothe).—Healing and sanctification.—“A pleasant figure of the blessing imparted to mankind from the dwelling among us of the Godman. His word flows forth from Him, swelling through all lands with ever-increasing power, and always more and more disclosing its fulness. He who holds to it and is rooted in it brings forth fruit continually, and it has power to quicken even what has long been lifeless, and to turn the curse into a blessing. In Christ we have this as a matter of daily experience; Ezekiel in vision saw it in the future; his prophecies have respect to us” (Diedrich).

Ezekiel 47:13 sq. “In the community of God every one has his place and his share according to his gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:28” (Tüb. Bib.).—“Who can define the boundaries of the Church, especially in the last days? But as here the boundaries of Canaan are defined, so the boundaries of the Church are faith and life in the Scriptures of the apostles and prophets, which accordingly no one is to overpass, Galatians 6:16” (Starke).—The Church of God has her boundaries within and without. The inheritance of the saints in light (1 John 3:1 sq.).—“God gives to His children very differently; from him to whom a double portion has been given, a corresponding return is required” (Starck).—“In the New Covenant the same grace is offered to all men. God is not a respecter of persons. It is one and the same Christ, one Spirit for all, Galatians 3:26” (Starck).

Ezekiel 47:22 sq. “Oh what comfort it is that the Gentiles are no longer to be strangers and foreigners from the promise, but citizens, and of the household of God! Ephesians 2:19” (Starke).—“It is not birth, but the new birth, that makes men children of God” (Starck).—“Here, under earthly figures, the Jerusalem that is above, with her children, is typified, and the calling of the Gentiles from east and west and the utmost bounds of the earth is described; for many shall come from the east and from the west, and sit down to eat with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, Ps. 47:10 [Psalms 47:9]”(Heim-Hoff.).—“God here opens to all the holy gates of His Church, and prescribes to the Church herself the commandment of meekness, love, and brotherly kindness” (Hafenreffer).—“Those who were formerly strangers shall then be heirs of the whole world. In Christ, in faith, in the New Covenant, the alien disappears. Those who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and far off, and they who are nigh, are made one; the two are made one new man, Ephesians 2:12. For he who is in Christ is through faith Abraham’s seed, and an heir and possessor of his promise, Galatians 3:28-29. The incorporation of believers into Christ makes a complete unity, and a new spiritual body, consisting of all true members without distinction, for in the new creation all members prosper alike before God, etc.” (Berl. Bib.)—Right and title in the faith.


[1]W. Neumann: The Waters of Life. An Exegetical Disquisition on Ezekiel 47:1-12. Berlin, 1848. Somewhat hyperbolical, but written with intelligent and hearty appreciation, in the spirit of the language and faith of the prophets of Israel.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 47". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ezekiel-47.html. 1857-84.
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