Daniel 2:43
And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not join one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(43) Seed of men.—The great obscurity of this verse is partially cleared by a reference to Jeremiah 31:27. Daniel appears to be contrasting what man is endeavouring to accomplish by his own efforts with that which the God of heaven (Daniel 2:44) will carry out. Man will form his plans for uniting the discordant parts of this empire, by encouraging marriages between the royal families that rule the various component kingdoms. (Comp. Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:17, Notes.)

2:31-45 This image represented the kingdoms of the earth, that should successively rule the nations, and influence the affairs of the Jewish church. 1. The head of gold signified the Chaldean empire, then in being. 2. The breast and arms of silver signified the empire of the Medes and Persians. 3. The belly and thighs of brass signified the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander. 4. The legs and feet of iron signified the Roman empire. The Roman empire branched into ten kingdoms, as the toes of these feet. Some were weak as clay, others strong as iron. Endeavours have often been used to unite them, for strengthening the empire, but in vain. The stone cut out without hands, represented the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which should be set up in the kingdoms of the world, upon the ruins of Satan's kingdom in them. This was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is become the head stone of the corner. Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign, not only to the end of time, but when time and days shall be no more. As far as events have gone, the fulfilling this prophetic vision has been most exact and undeniable; future ages shall witness this Stone destroying the image, and filling the whole earth.And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men - Various explanations have been given of this verse, and it certainly is not of easy interpretation. The phrase "seed of men," would properly denote something different from the original stock that was represented by iron; some foreign admixture that would be so unlike that, and that would so little amalgamate with it, as to be properly represented by clay as compared with iron. Prof. Stuart interprets this of matrimonial alliances, and supposes that the idea expressed is, that, "while the object of such alliances was union, or at least a design to bring about a peaceable state of things, that object was, in a peculiar manner, defeated." The word rendered "men" (אנשׁא 'ănâshâ') is employed in Hebrew and in Chaldee to denote men of an inferior class - the lower orders, the common herd - in contradistinction from the more elevated and noble classes, represented by the word אישׁ 'ı̂ysh. See Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:15; Proverbs 8:4.

The word here used also (from אנשׁ 'ânash) - to be sick, ill at ease, incurable), would properly denote feebleness or inferiority, and would be aptly represented by clay as contrasted with iron. The expression "seed of men," as here used, would therefore denote some intermingling of an inferior race with the original stock; some union or alliance under the one sovereignty, which would greatly weaken it as a whole, though the original strength still was great. The language would represent a race of mighty and powerful men, constituting the stamina - the bone and the sinew of the empire - mixed up with another race or other races, with whom, though they were associated in the government, they could never be blended; could never assimilate. This foreign admixture in the empire would be a constant source of weakness, and would constantly tend to division and faction, for such elements could never harmonize.

It is further to be remarked, that this would exist to a degree which would not be found in either of the three previous kingdoms. In fact, in these kingdoms there was no such intermingling with foreign nations as to destroy the homogeneousness of the empire. They were, in the main, Orientals; with the language, the manners, the customs, the habits of Orientals; and in respect to energy and power - the point here under consideration - there was no marked distinction between the subjected provinces and the original materials of the monarchy. By the act of subjection, they became substantially one people, and readily blended together. This remark will certainly apply to the two first of these monarchies - the Babylonian and the Medo-Persian; and though with less force to the Macedonian, yet it was not true of that, that it became so intermingled with foreign people as to constitute heterogeneous elements as it was of the Roman. In that monarchy, the element of "strength" was "infused" by Alexander and his Greeks; all the elements of weakness were in the original materials of the empire.

In the Roman, the element of strength - "the iron" - was in the original material of the empire; the weak, the heterogeneous element - "the clay" - was what was introduced from the foreign nations. This consideration may perhaps do something to show that the opinion of Grotius, Prof. Stuart, and others, that this fourth monarchy was what immediately succeeded Alexander is not well founded. The only question then is, whether, in the constitution of the Roman empire, at the time when it became the successor of the other three as a universal monarchy, there was such an intermingling of a foreign element, as to be properly represented by clay as contrasted with the original and stronger material "iron." I say, "at the time when it became the successor of the other three as a universal monarchy," because the only point of view in which Daniel contemplated it was that. He looked at this, as he did at the others, as already such a universal dominion, and not at what it was before, or at the steps by which it rose to power.

Now, on looking at the Roman empire at that period, and during the time when it occupied the position of the universal monarchy, and during which the "stone cut out of the mountain" grew and filled the world, there is no difficulty in finding such an intermingling with other nations - "the seed of men" - as to be properly described by "iron and clay" in the same image that could never be blended, The allusion is, probably, to that intermingling with other nations which so remarkably characterized the Roman empire, and which arose partly from its conquests, and partly from the inroads of other people in the latter days of the empire, and in reference to both of which there was no proper amalgamation, leaving the original vigour of the empire substantially in its strength, but introducing other elements which never amalgamated with it, and which were like clay intermingled with iron.

(1) from their conquests. Tacitus says, "Dominandi cupido cunctis affectibus flagrantior est" - the lust of ruling is more ardent than all other desires; and this was eminently true of the Romans. They aspired at the dominion of the world; and, in their strides at universal conquest, they brought nations under their subjection, and admitted them to the rights of citizenship, which had no affinity with the original material which composed the Roman power, and which never really amalgamated with it, anymore than clay does with iron.

(2) This was true, also, in respect to the hordes that poured into the empire from other countries, and particularly from the Scandinavian regions, in the latter periods of the empire, and with which the Romans were compelled to form alliances, while, at the same time, they could not amalgamate with them. "In the reign of the emperor Caracalla," says Mr. Gibbon, "an innumerable swarm of Suevi appeared on the banks of the Mein, and in the neighborhood of the Roman provinces, in quest of food, or plunder, or glory. The hasty army of volunteers gradually coalesced into a great and permanent nation, and as it was composed of so many different tribes, assumed the name of Allemanni, or "allmen," to denote their various lineage, and their common bravery." No reader of the Roman history can be ignorant of the invasions of the Goths, the Huns, and the Vandals, or of the effects of these invasions on the empire.

No one can be ignorant of the manner in which they became intermingled with the ancient Roman people, or of the attempts to form alliances with them, by intermarriages and otherwish, which were always like attempts to unite iron and clay. "Placidia, daughter of Theodosius the Great, was given in marriage to Adolphus, king of the Goths; the two daughters of Stilicho, the Vandal, were successively married to Honorius; and Genseric, another Vandal, gave Eudocia, a captive imperial princess, to his son to wife." The effects of the intermingling of foreign people on the character and destiny of the empire cannot be stated perhaps in a more graphic manner than is done by Mr. Gibbon, in the summary review of the Roman History, with which he concludes his seventh chapter, and at the same time there could scarcely be a more clear or cxpressive commentary on this prophecy of Daniel. "During the four first ages," says he, "the Romans, in the laborious school of poverty, had acquired the virtues of war and government: by the vigorous exertion of those virtues, and by the assistance of fortune, they had obtained, in the course of the three succeeding centuries, an absolute empire over many countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last three hundred years had been consumed in apparent prosperity and internal decline. The nation of soldiers, magistrates, and legislators, who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman people, was dissolved into the common mass of mankind, and confounded with the million of servile provincials who had received the name without adopting the spirit of Romans. A mercenary army, levied among the subjects and barbarians of the frontier, was the only order of men who preserved and abused their independence.

By their tumultuary election, a Syrian, a Goth, or an Arab was exalted to the throne of Rome, and invested with despotic power over the conquests and over the country of the Scipios. The limits of the Roman empire still extended from the Western Ocean to the Tigris, and from Mount Atlas to the Rhine and the Danube. To the undiscerning eye of the common, Philip appeared a monarch no less powerful than Hadrian or Augustus had formerly been. The form was still the same, but the animating health and rigor were fled. The industry of the people was discouraged and exhausted by a long series of oppression. The discipline of the legions, which alone, after the extinction of every other virtue, had propped the greatness of the state, was corrupted by the ambition, or relaxed by the weakness of the emperors. The strength of the frontiers, which had always consisted in arms rather than in fortifications, was insensibly undermined, and the fairest provinces were left exposed to the rapaciousness or ambition of the barbarians, who soon discovered the decline of the Roman empire." - Vol. i. pp. 110, 111; Harper's Edit. (N. Y.) 1829.

Compare the notes at Revelation 6:1-8. The agency of the Roman empire was so important in preparing the world for the advent of the Son of God, and in reference to the establishment of his kingdom, that there was an obvious proriety that it should be made a distinct subject of prophecy. We have seen that each of the other three kingdoms had an important influence in preparing the world for the introduction of Christianity, and was designed to accomplish an important part in the "History of Redemption." The agency of the Roman empire was more direct and important than any one or all of these, for

(a) that was the empire which had the supremacy when the Son of God appeared;

(b) that kingdom had performed a more direct and important work in preparing the world for his coming;

(c) it was under authority derived from that sovereignty that the Son of God was put to death; and

(d) it was by that, that the ancient dispensation was brought to an end; and

continued...

41-43. feet … toes … part … clay … iron—explained presently, "the kingdom shall be partly strong, partly broken" (rather, "brittle," as earthenware); and Da 2:43, "they shall mingle … with the seed of men," that is, there will be power (in its deteriorated form, iron) mixed up with that which is wholly of man, and therefore brittle; power in the hands of the people having no internal stability, though something is left of the strength of the iron [Tregelles]. Newton, who understands the Roman empire to be parted into the ten kingdoms already (whereas Tregelles makes them future), explains the "clay" mixture as the blending of barbarous nations with Rome by intermarriages and alliances, in which there was no stable amalgamation, though the ten kingdoms retained much of Rome's strength. The "mingling with the seed of men" (Da 2:44) seems to refer to Ge 6:2, where the marriages of the seed of godly Seth with the daughters of ungodly Cain are described in similar words. The reference, therefore, seems to be to the blending of the Christianized Roman empire with the pagan nations, a deterioration being the result. Efforts have been often made to reunite the parts into one great empire, as by Charlemagne and Napoleon, but in vain. Christ alone shall effect that. With the seed of men, i.e. by marriage; but they shall never solder well together, because ambition is of stronger force than affinity and consanguinity in rulers. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay,.... That is, iron among the clay; otherwise iron and clay will not mix and cement together, as is affirmed in the latter part of the verse; but as some of these toes were of iron, and others of clay, or some part of them were iron, and some part of them of clay,

they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; the Romans shall mix with people of other and many nations that shall come in among them, and unite in setting up kingdoms; or these kingdoms set up shall intermarry with each other, in order to strengthen their alliances, and support their interests: thus France, Spain, Portugal, and other nations; those of the royal families marry with each other, with such views:

but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay; and yet these ties of marriage and of blood shall not cause them to cleave to and abide by one another; but ambition and worldly interests will engage them to take part with each other's enemies, or to go to war with one another, to the weakening and hurting each other; and thus the potsherds of the earth will dash one another to pieces; and those who are more powerful, like the iron, will trample the weaker like miry clay under their feet.

And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with {y} the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

(y) They will be marriages and affinities think to make themselves strong: yet they will never by united in heart.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
43. shall be mingling themselves by the seed of men] i.e. will contract matrimonial alliances. By ‘seed of men’ are meant probably children of the monarchs ruling at the time.

is not mixed with clay] doth not mingle with clay. The allusion in this verse is to matrimonial alliances contracted between the Ptolemies and the Seleucidae (cf. Daniel 11:6; Daniel 11:17), which did not, however, succeed in producing permanent harmony or union between them.The River of Water of Life

When Jehovah shall have judged all the heathen in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and shall dwell as King of His people upon Zion His holy mountain, then will the mountains trickle with new wine, and the hills run with milk, and all the brooks of Judah flow with water; and a spring will proceed from the house of Jehovah, and water the Acacia valley. With these figures Joel (Joel 4:18) has already described the river of salvation, which the Lord would cause to flow to His congregation in the time when the kingdom of God shall be perfected. This picture of the Messianic salvation shapes itself in the case of our prophet into the magnificent vision contained in the section before us.

(Note: Compare W. Neumann, Die Wasser des Lebens. An exegetical study on Ezekiel 47:1-12. Berlin, 1848.)

Ezekiel 47:1. And he led me back to the door of the house, and, behold, water flowed out from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the front side of the house was toward the east; and the water flowed down from below, from the right shoulder of the house on the south of the altar. Ezekiel 47:2. And he led me out by the way of the north gate, and caused me to go round about on the outside, to the outer gate of the way to the (gate), looking toward the east; and, behold, waters rippled for the right shoulder of the gate. Ezekiel 47:3. When the man went out toward the east, he had a measuring line in his hand, and he measured a thousand cubits, and caused me to go through the water-water to the ankles. Ezekiel 47:4. And he measured a thousand, and caused me to go through the water-water to the knees; and he measured a thousand, and caused me to go through-water to the hips. Ezekiel 47:5. And he measured a thousand-a river through which I could not walk, for the water was high, water to swim in, a river which could not be forded. Ezekiel 47:6. And he said to me, Hast thou seen it, son of man? and he led me back again by the bank of the river. Ezekiel 47:7. When I returned, behold, there stood on the bank of the river very many trees on this side and on that. Ezekiel 47:8. And he said to me, This water flows out into the eastern circle, and runs down into the plain, and reaches the sea; into the sea is it carried out, that the waters may become wholesome. Ezekiel 47:9. And it will come to pass, every living thing with which it swarms everywhere, whither the double river comes, will live, and there will be very many fishes; for when this water comes thither they will become wholesome, and everything will live whither the river comes. Ezekiel 47:10. And fishermen will stand by it, from Engedi to Eneglaim they will spread out nets; after their kind will there be fishes therein, like the fishes of the great sea, very many. Ezekiel 47:11. Its marshes and its swamps, they will not become wholesome, they will be given up to salt. Ezekiel 47:12. And by the river will all kinds of trees of edible fruit grow on its bank, on this side and on that; their leaves will not wither, and their fruits will not fail; every moon they will bear ripe fruit, for its water flows out of its sanctuary. And their fruits will serve as food, and their leaves as medicine.

From the outer court, where Ezekiel had been shown the sacrificial kitchens for the people (Ezekiel 46:21.), he is taken back to the front of the door of the temple house, to be shown a spring of water, flowing out from under the threshold of the temple, which has swollen in the short course of four thousand cubits from its source into a deep river in which men can swim, and which flows down to the Jordan valley, to empty itself into the Dead Sea. In Ezekiel 47:1 and Ezekiel 47:2, the origin and course of this water are described; in Ezekiel 47:3 and Ezekiel 47:5, its marvellous increase; in Ezekiel 47:6, the growth of trees on its banks; in Ezekiel 47:7-12, its emptying itself into the Arabah and into the Dead Sea, with the life-giving power of its water. - Ezekiel 47:1. The door of the house is the entrance into the holy place of the temple, and מפתּן הבּית the threshold of this door. קדימה, not "in the east" (Hitzig), for the following sentence explaining the reason does not require this meaning; but "toward the east" of the threshold, which lay toward the east, for the front of the temple was in the east. מתּחת is not to be connected with מכּתף, but to be taken by itself, only not in the sense of downwards (Hitzig), but from beneath, namely, down from the right shoulder of the house. ירד, to flow down, because the temple stood on higher ground than the inner court. The right shoulder is the part of the eastern wall of the holy place between the door and the pillars, the breadth of which was five cubits (Ezekiel 41:1). The water therefore issued from the corner formed by the southern wall of the porch and the eastern wall of the holy place (see the sketch on Plate I), and flowed past the altar of burnt-offering on the south side, and crossed the court in an easterly direction, passing under its surrounding wall. It then flowed across the outer court and under the pavement and the eastern wall into the open country, where the prophet, on the outside in front of the gate, saw it rippling forth from the right shoulder of that gate. That he might do this, he was led out through the north gate, because the east gate was shut (Ezekiel 44:1), and round by the outside wall to the eastern outer gate. דּרך חוּץ is more minutely defined by אל־שׁער החוּץ, and this, again, by דּרך הפּונה קדים, "by the way to the (gate) looking eastwards." The ἁπ. λεγ. ּרך̓̀ינבל;, Piel of פּכה, related to בּכה, most probably signifies to ripple, not to trickle. מים has no article, because it is evident from the context that the water was the same as that which Ezekiel had seen in the inner court, issuing from the threshold of the temple. The right shoulder is that portion of the eastern wall which joined the south side of the gate. - Ezekiel 47:3-5. The miraculous increase in the depth of the water. A thousand cubits from the wall, as one walked through, it reached to the ankles; a thousand cubits further, to the knees; a thousand cubits further, to the hips; and after going another thousand cubits it was impossible to wade through, one could only swim therein. The words מי אפסים are a brief expression for "there was water which reached to the ankles." אפס is equivalent to פּס, an ankle, not the sole of the foot. In 1 Chronicles 11:13, on the other hand, we have פּס דּמּים for אפס דּמּים . The striking expression מים בּרכים for מי ברכים may possibly have been chosen because מי ברכים had the same meaning as מימי רגלים in Isaiah 36:12 (Keri). The measuring man directed the prophet's attention (Ezekiel 47:6) to this extraordinary increase in the stream of water, because the miraculous nature of the stream was exhibited therein. A natural river could not increase to such an extent within such short distances, unless, indeed, other streams emptied themselves into it on all sides, which was not he case here. He then directed him to go back again על שׂפת, along the bank, not "to the bank," as he had never left it. The purpose for which he had been led along the bank was accomplished after he had gone four thousand cubits. From the increase in the water, as measured up to this point, he could infer what depth it would reach in its further course. He is therefore now to return along the bank to see how it is covered with trees. בּשׁוּבני cannot be explained in any other way than as an incorrect form for בּשׁוּבי, though there are no corresponding analogies to be found.

In Ezekiel 47:8-12 he gives him a still further explanation of the course of the river and the effect of its waters. The river flows out into הגּלילה הקּדמונה, the eastern circle, which is identical with גּלילות היּרדּן htiw lacitne, the circle of the Jordan (Joshua 22:10-11), the region above the Dead Sea, where the Jordan valley (Ghor) widens out into a broad, deep basin. הערבה is the deep valley of the Jordan, now called the Ghor (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 1:1), of which Robinson says that the greater part remains a desolate wilderness. It was so described in ancient times (see Joseph. Bell. Jude 3.10. 7, iv. 8. 2), and we find it so to-day (compare v. Raumer, Pal. p. 58). היּמּה is the Dead Sea, called היּם הקּדמוני in Ezekiel 47:18, and the sea of the Arabah in Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49. We agree with Hengstenberg in taking the words אל־היּמּה המּוּצאים as an emphatic summing up of the previous statement concerning the outflow of the water, to which the explanation concerning its effect upon the Dead Sea is attached, and supply בּאוּ from the clause immediately preceding: "the waters of the river that have been brought out (come) to the sea, and the waters of the Dead Sea are healed." There is no need, therefore, for the emendation proposed by Hitzig, namely, אל היּם הם מוּצאים. So much, however, is beyond all doubt, that היּמּה is no other than the Dead Sea already mentioned. The supposition that it is the Mediterranean Sea (Chald., Ros., Ewald, and others) cannot be reconciled with the words, and has only been transferred to this passage from Zechariah 14:8. נרפּא signifies, as in 2 Kings 2:22, the healing or rendering wholesome of water that is injurious or destructive to life. The character of the Dead Sea, with which the ancients were also well acquainted, and of which Tacitus writes as follows: Lacus immenso ambitu, specie maris sapore corruptior, gravitate odoris accolis pestifer, neque vento impellitur neque pisces aut suetas aquis volucres patitur (Hist. v. c. 6), - a statement confirmed by all modern travellers (cf. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 61ff., and Robinson, Physical Geography of the Holy Land), - is regarded as a disease of the water, which is healed or turned into wholesome water in which fishes can live, by the water of the river proceeding from the sanctuary. The healing and life-giving effect of this river upon the Dead Sea is described in Ezekiel 47:9 and Ezekiel 47:10. Whithersoever the waters of the river come, all animated beings will come to life and flourish.

In Ezekiel 47:9 the dual נחלים occasions some difficulty. It is not likely that the dual should have been used merely for the sake of its resemblance to מים, as Maurer imagines; and still less probable is it that there is any allusion to a junction of the river proceeding from the temple at some point in its course with the Kedron, which also flows into the Dead Sea (Hvernick), as the Kedron is not mentioned either before or afterwards. According to Kliefoth, the dual is intended to indicate a division which takes place in the waters of the river, that have hitherto flowed on together, as soon as they enter the sea. But this would certainly have been expressed more clearly. Hengstenberg takes the expression "double river" to mean a river with a strong current, and refers to Jeremiah 50:21 in support of this. This is probably the best explanation; for nothing is gained by altering the text into נחלם (Ewald) or נחלים (Hitzig), as נחל does not require definition by means of a suffix, nor doe the plural answer to the context. is to be taken in connection with אשׁר ישׁרץ: "wherewith it swarms whithersoever the river comes;" though אל does not stand for על after Genesis 7:21, as Hitzig supposes, but is to be explained from a species of attraction, as in Genesis 20:13. יחיה is a pregnant expression, to revive, to come to life. The words are not to be understood, however, as meaning that there were living creatures in the Dead Sea before the health-giving water flowed into it; the thought is simply, that whithersoever the waters of the river come, there come into existence living creatures in the Dead Sea, so that it swarms with them. In addition to the שׁרץ, the quantity of fish is specially mentioned; and in the second hemistich the reason is assigned for the number of living creatures that come into existence by a second allusion to the health-giving power of the water of the river. The subject to וירפאוּ, viz., the waters of the Dead Sea, is to be supplied from the context. The great abundance of fish in the Dead Sea produced by the river is still further depicted in Ezekiel 47:10. Fishermen will spread their nets along its coast from Engedi to Eneglaim; and as for their kind, there will be as many kinds of fish there as are to be found in the great or Mediterranean Sea. עין גּדי, i.e., Goat's spring, now Ain-Jidi, a spring in the middle of the west coast of the Dead Sea, with ruins of several ancient buildings (see the comm. on Joshua 15:62, and v. Raumer, Pal. p. 188). עין עגלים has not yet been discovered, though, from the statement of Jerome, "Engallim is at the beginning of the Dead Sea, where the Jordan enters it," it has been conjectured that it is to be found in Ain el-Feshkhah, a spring at the northern end of the west coast, where there are also ruins of a small square tower and other buildings to be seen (vid., Robinson's Palestine, II pp. 491, 492), as none of the other springs on the west coast, of which there are but few, answer so well as this. למינה is pointed without Mappik, probably because the Masoretes did not regard the ה as a suffix, as the noun to which it alludes does not follow till afterwards. - Ezekiel 47:11 introduces an exception, namely, that notwithstanding this the Dead Sea will still retain marshes or pools and swamps, which will not be made wholesome (בּצּאת for בּצּות, pools). An allusion to the natural character of the Dead Sea underlies the words. "In the rainy season, when the sea is full, its waters overspread many low tracts of marsh land, which remain after the receding of the water in the form of moist pools or basins; and as the water in these pools evaporates rapidly, the ground becomes covered with a thick crust of salt" (Robinson's Physical Geography, p. 215). למלח נתּנוּ, they are given up to salt, i.e., destined to remain salt, because the waters of the river do not reach them. The light in which the salt is regarded here is not that of its seasoning properties, but, in the words of Hengstenberg, "as the foe to all fruitfulness, all life and prosperity, as Pliny has said (Hist. Nat. xxxi. c. 7: Omnis locus, in quo reperitur sal, sterilis est nihilque gignit") (cf. Deuteronomy 29:22; Jeremiah 17:6; Zephaniah 2:9; Psalm 107:34). - In Ezekiel 47:12 the effect of the water of the river upon the vegetation of the ground, already mentioned in Ezekiel 47:7, is still further described. On its coast grow all kinds of trees with edible fruits (עץ מאכל, as in Leviticus 19:23), whose leaves do not wither, and whose fruits do not fail, but ripen every month (בּכּר, or produce first-fruits, i.e., fresh fruits; and לחדשׁים distributive, as in Isaiah 47:13), because the waters which moisten the soil proceed from the sanctuary, i.e., "directly and immediately from the dwelling-place of Him who is the author of all vital power and fruitfulness" (Hitzig). The leaves and fruits of these trees therefore possess supernatural powers. The fruits serve as food, i.e., for the maintenance of the life produced by the river of water; the leaves as medicine (תּרוּפה from רוּף equals רפא, healing), i.e., for the healing of the sick and corrupt (εἰς θεραπείαν, Revelation 22:2).

In the effect of the water proceeding from the sanctuary upon the Dead Sea and the land on its shores, as described in Ezekiel 47:8-12, the significance of this stream of water in relation to the new kingdom of God is implied. If, then, the question be asked, what we are to understand by this water, whether we are to take it in a literal sense as the temple spring, or in a spiritual and symbolical sense, the complete answer can only be given in connection with the interpretation of the whole of the temple vision (Ezekiel 40-48). Even if we assume for the moment, however, that the description of the new temple, with the worship appointed for it, and the fresh division of Canaan, is to be understood literally, and therefore that the building of an earthly temple upon a high mountain in the most holy terumah of the land set apart for Jehovah, and a renewal of the bleeding sacrifices in this temple by the twelve tribes of Israel, when restored to Palestine from the heathen lands, are to be taken for granted, it would be difficult to combine with this a literal interpretation of what is said concerning the effect of the temple spring. It is true that in Volck's opinion "we are to think of a glorification of nature;" but even this does not remove the difficulties which stand in the way of a literal interpretation of the temple spring. According to Ezekiel 47:12, its waters posses the life-giving and healing power ascribed to them because they issue from the sanctuary. But how does the possession by the water of the power to effect the glorification of nature harmonize with its issuing from a temple in which bullocks, rams, calves, and goats are slaughtered and sacrificed? - Volck is still further of opinion that, with the spiritual interpretation of the temple spring, "nothing at all could be made of the fishermen;" because, for example, he cannot conceive of the spiritual interpretation in any other way than as an allegorical translation of all the separate features of the prophetic picture into spiritual things. But he has failed to consider that the fishermen with their nets on the shore of the sea, once dead, but now swarming with fish, are irreconcilably opposed to the assumption of a glorification of nature in the holy land, just because the inhabitants of the globe or holy land, in its paradisaically glorified state, will no more eat fish or other flesh, according to the teaching of Scripture, than the first men in Paradise. When once the wolf shall feed with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the cow with the bear, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, under the sceptre of the sprout from the stem of Jesse, then will men also cease their fishing, and no longer slaughter and eat either oxen or goats. To this the Israelites will form no exception in their glorified land of Canaan. - And if even these features in the vision before us decidedly favour the figurative or spiritual view of the temple spring, the necessity for this explanation is placed beyond the reach of doubt by a comparison of our picture with the parallel passages. According to Joel 4:18, at the time when a spring issues from the house of Jehovah and the vale of Shittim is watered, the mountains trickle with new wine, and the hills run with milk. If, then, in this case we understand what is affirmed of the temple spring literally, the trickling of the mountains with new wine and the flowing of the hills with milk must be taken literally as well. But we are unable to attain to the belief that in the glorified land of Israel the mountains will be turned into springs of new wine, and the hills into fountains of milk, and in the words of the whole verse we can discern nothing but a figurative description of the abundant streams of blessing which will then pour over the entire land. And just as in Joel the context points indisputably to a non-literal or figurative explanation, so also does the free manner in which Zechariah uses this prophecy of his predecessors, speaking only of living waters which issue from Jerusalem, and flow half into the eastern (i.e., the Dead) sea, and half into the western (i.e., the Mediterranean) sea (Zechariah 14:8), show that he was not thinking of an actual spring with earthly water. And here we are still provisionally passing by the application made of this feature in the prophetic descriptions of the glory of the new kingdom of God in the picture of the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1 and Revelation 22:2).

The figurative interpretation, or spiritual explanation, is moreover favoured by the analogy of the Scriptures. "Water," which renders the unfruitful land fertile, and supplies refreshing drink to the thirsty, is used in Scripture as a figure denoting blessing and salvation, which had been represented even in Paradise in the form of watering (cf. Genesis 13:10). In Isaiah 12:3, "and with joy ye draw water from the wells of salvation," the figure is expressly interpreted. And so also in Isaiah 44:3, "I will pour water upon the thirsty one, and streams upon the desert; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:" where the blessing answers to the water, the Spirit is named as the principal form in which the blessing is manifested, "the foundation of all other salvation for the people of God" (Hengstenberg). This salvation, which Joel had already described as a spring issuing from the house of Jehovah and watering the dry acacia valley, Ezekiel saw in a visionary embodiment as water, which sprang from under the threshold of the temple into which the glory of the Lord entered, and had swollen at a short distance off into so mighty a river that it was no longer possible to wade through. In this way the thought is symbolized, that the salvation which the Lord causes to flow down to His people from His throne will pour down from small beginnings in marvellously increasing fulness. The river flows on into the barren, desolate waste of the Ghor, and finally into the Dead Sea, and makes the waters thereof sound, so that it swarms with fishes. The waste is a figure denoting the spiritual drought and desolation, and the Dead Sea a symbol of the death caused by sin. The healing and quickening of the salt waters of that sea, so fatal to all life, set forth the power of that divine salvation which conquers death, and the calling to life of the world sunk in spiritual death. From this comes life in its creative fulness and manifold variety, as shown both by the figure of the fishermen who spread their nets along the shore, and by the reference to the kinds of fish, which are as manifold in their variety as those in the great sea. But life extends no further than the water of salvation flows. Wherever it cannot reach, the world continues to life in death. The pools and swamps of the Dead Sea are still given up to salt. And lastly, the water of salvation also possesses the power to produce trees with leaves and fruits, by which the life called forth from death can be sustained and cured of all diseases. This is the meaning, according to the express statement of the text, of the trees with their never withering leaves, upon the banks of the river, and their fruits ripening every month.

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