Daniel 2:45
For as much as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
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(45) The stone cut out of the mountain.—The mountain was not mentioned in Daniel 2:34. In the language of prophecy, it must mean Mount Zion, which appears in other passages to be closely connected with the Messiah and His Kingdom, e.g., Isaiah 2:2; Psalm 1:2. The stone is set free from this mountain, and as it rolls on in its destructive course, overthrows all the kingdoms of the world, and becomes a mountain which fills the whole earth. The Messiah is elsewhere spoken of under the figure of a stone (Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42). The phrase “cut without hands” refers to the supernatural agency by which the stone accomplishes its work. The stone is now rolling, as the kingdom of God spreads further and further day by day. The image is still standing, the stone has not yet fallen upon it. When that moment arrives, and not till then, “the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

Throughout the vision we must notice one great contrast. There is on the one hand the image, which, of course, was weak, by reason of being formed of such incongruous elements, composed of the most precious metals at the top, while the lower parts ended in “miry clay “—in fact, the image was top-heavy. On the other hand, there is the stone, an emblem of strength and solidity, single, notwithstanding the countless atoms which unite in forming it, growing in strength, as it continues its historic course till it becomes a mountain, the type of all that is solid and indestructible. And one further point of contrast must be noted. While one earthly empire passes into another as insensibly as the head yields to the trunk of the body, and as this passes into arms, legs, hands, and feet, without any discontinuity—that is, as empire after empire passes away, while the history of the world remains continuous—such is not the case with the stone. The work that it does is instantaneous. The moment it falls on the feet of the image the whole collapses, or, in other words, the history of the world comes to an end. Such is the relation in which the kingdom of God stands to the kingdoms of this world. They are all transient, in spite of their apparent strength, and their history will cease, as soon as the “stone shall fall and grind them to powder” (Matthew 21:44).

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.Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone ... - On the meaning of the language employed here, see the notes at Daniel 2:34-35. The word "forasmuch" may be taken either in connection with what precedes, or with what follows. In the former method, there should be a period at the word "gold" in this verse; and then the sense is, "In those days shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, etc., "forasmuch," or "because" thou sawest a stone," etc., that is, that was a certain indication of it. According to the other method, the meaning is, "Forasmuch as thou sawest the stone cut out and demolish the image, the great God has made known the certainty of it;" that is, that is a certain indication that it will be done. The Vulgate is, "According to what thou sawest, that the stone was cut out without hands, and reduced the clay, etc., the great God has shown to the king what will be hereafter." The difference in the interpretation is not very material.

Cut out of the mountain - This is not inserted in the statement in Daniel 2:34. It seems, however, to be implied there, as there is mention of the stone as "cut out." The representation is evidently that of a stone disengaged from its native bed, the side of a mountain, without any human agency, and then rolling down the side of it and impinging on the image.

The great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter - Margin, the same as the Chaldee, "after this." The meaning is simply, in time to come; in some future period. Daniel claims none of the merit of this discovery to himself. but ascribes it all to God.

And the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure - That is, it is no vain and airy phantom; no mere working of the imagination. The dream was all that the monarch had supposed it to be - a representation of coming events, and his solicitude in regard to it was well-founded. Daniel speaks with the utmost assurance also as to its fulfillment. He knew that he had been led to this interpretation by no skill of his own; and his representation of it was such as to satisfy the monarch of its correctness. Two circumstances probably made it appear certain to the monarch, as we learn from the next verse it did: one, that Daniel had recalled the dream to his own recollection, showing that he was under a Divine guidance; and the other, the plausibility - the verisimilitude - the evident truthfulness of the representation. It was such a manifest "explanation" of the dream that Nebuchadnezzar, in the same manner as Pharaoh had done before him when his dreams were explained by Joseph, at once admitted the correctness of the representation.

Having now gone through with the "exposition" of this important passage respecting the stone cut from the mountain, it seems proper to make a few remarks in regard to the nature of the kingdom that would be set up, as represented by the stone which demolished the image, and which so marvelously increased as to fill the earth. That there is reference to the kingdom of the Messiah cannot be reasonably doubted. The points which are established in respect to that kingdom by the passage now under consideration are the following:

I. Its superhuman origin. This is indicated in the representation of the stone cut out of the mountain "without hands;" that is, clearly not by human agency, or in the ordinary course of events. There was to be a superhuman power exerted in detaching it from the mountain, as well as in its future growth. What appeared so marvelous was, that it was cut from its orginal resting place by some invisible power, and moved forward to the consummation of its work without any human agency. That this was designed to be significant of something there can be no reasonable doubt, for the result is made to turn on this. I do not see that any special significancy is to be attached to the idea of its being cut from "a mountain," nor that it is required of us to attempt to refine on that expression, and to ascertain whether the mountain means the Roman kingdom, out of which the gospel church was taken, as many suppose; or the Jewish nation, as Augustine supposed; or that "the origin of Christ was sublime and superior to the whole world," as Calvin supposes; or to the mountainous country of Judea in which the Messiah was born, as many others have maintained; or to the tomb of Joseph, as a rock from which the Messiah sprang to life and victory, as others have imagined.

All this belongs to a system of interpretatation that is trifling in the extreme. The representation of the mountain here is merely for the sake of verisimilitude, like the circumstances in a parable. If a stone was "cut out without hands," it would be natural to speak of it as cut from the mountain or parent-rock to which it was attached. The eye is not here directed to the "mountain" as having anything significant or marvelous about it, but to the "stone" that so mysteriously left its bed, and rolled onward toward the image. The point of interest and of marvel, the mysterious thing that attracted the eye, was that there was no human agency employed; that no hands were seen at work; that none of the ordinary instrumentalities were seen by which great effects are accomplished among men. Now this would properly represent the idea that the kingdom of the Messiah would have a supernatural origin. Its beginnings would be unlike what is usually seen among men. How appropriately this applies to the kingdom of the Messiah, as having its origin not in human power, need not here be stated. Nothing is more apparent; nothing is more frequently dwelt on in the New Testament, than that it had a heavenly origin. It did not owe its beginning to human plans, counsels, or power.

II. Its feebleness in its beginning, compared with its ultimate growth and power. At first it was a stone comparatively small, and that seemed utterly inadequate to the work of demolishing and pulverizing a colossal statue of gold, silver, brass, and iron. Ultimately it grew to be itself of mountain-size, and to fill the land. Now this representation would undoubtedly convey the fair impression that this new power, represented by the stone, would at first be comparatively small and feeble; that there would be comparative weakness in its origin as contrasted with what it would ultimately attain to; and that it would seem to be utterly inadequate to the performance of what it finally accomplished. It is hardly necessary to say that this corresponds entirely with the origin of the Messiah's kingdom. Everywhere it is represented as of feeble beginnings, and, as a system, to human view, entirely inadequate to so great a work as that of bringing other kingdoms to an end, and subduing it to itself. The complete fulfillment of the prophetic statement would be found in such circumstances as the following:

(1) The humble origin of the head of this new power hlmself - the Messiah - the King of Sion. He was, in fact, of a decayed and dilapidated family; was ranked among the poor; was without powerful friends or political connections; possessed no uncommon advantages of learning, and was regarded with contempt and scorn by the great mass of his countrymen. No one would have supposed that the religion originated by one of so humble an origin would have power to change the destiny of the kingdoms of the earth.

(2) The feebleness of the beginning of his kingdom. His few followers - the little band of fishermen; the slow progress at first made; these were circumstances strikingly in accordance with the representation in Daniel.

(3) The absence in that band of all that seemed requisite to accomplish so great a work. They had no arms, no wealth, no political power. They had nothing of what has commonly been employed to overthrow kingdoms, and the band of fishermen sent forth to this work seemed as little adequate to the undertaking as the stone cut from the mountain did to demolish the colossal image.

(4) All this feebleness in the beginning was wonderfully contrasted with the ultimate results, like the stone, when cut from the mountain, contrasted with its magnitude when it filled the earth. The Saviour himself often referred to the contrast between the feeble origin of his religion, and what it would grow to be. At first it was like a grain of mustard-seed, smallest among seeds; then it grew to be a tree so large that the fowls of the air lodged in the branches. At first it was like leaven, hidden in meal; ultimately it would diffuse itself through the mass, so that the whole would be leavened, Matthew 13:31-33.

III. It would supplant all other kingdoms. This was clearly indicated by the fact that the "stone" demolished the image, reducing it to powder, and filled the place which that occupied, and all the land. This has been explained (see the notes at Daniel 2:34-35), as meaning that it would not be by sudden violence, but by a continued process of comminution. There would be such an action on the kingdoms of the earth represented by gold, and silver, and brass, and iron, that they would disappear, and the new power represented by the "stone" would finally take their place. As this new power was to be humble in its origin, and feeble to human view; as it had nothing which, to outward appearance, would seem adequate to the result, the reference would seem to be to the "principles" which would characterize it, and which, as elements of power, would gradually but ultimately secure the changes represented by the demolition of the colossal statue.

The only question then would be, whether the principles in the kingdom of the Messiah had such originality and power as would gradually but certainly change the modes of government that existed in the world, and substitute another kind of reign; or, what is the influence which it will exert on the nations, causing new methods of government, in accordance with its principles, to prevail on the earth. Though apparently feeble, without arms, or wealth, or civil alliances, it has elements of "power" about it which will ultimately subdue all other principles of government, ard take their place. Its work was indeed to be a gradual work, and it is by no means accomplished, yet its effect has been mighty already on the principles that rule among the nations and will still be more mighty until "the laws of the kingdom of the Messiah shall prevail in all the earth." This seems to be the idea which it is designed to express by this prophetic image. If one were asked "in what respects" it is to be anticipated that these changes will be wrought, and "in what respects" we can discern the evidences of such changes already, we might say in such points as the following:


45. without hands—(See on [1086]Da 2:35). The connection of the "forasmuch," &c. is, "as thou sawest that the stone," &c., this is an indication that "the great God," &c., that is, the fact of thy seeing the dreams as I have recalled it to thy recollection, is a proof that it is no airy phantom, but a real representation to these from God of the future. A similar proof of the "certainty" of the event was given to Pharaoh by the doubling of his dream (Ge 41:32). This verse notes,

1. The small beginning of Christ’s kingdom visibly.

2. The different rise of Christ from all other; his conception by the Holy Ghost, like as Melchizedek, without father and mother, respectively as to his two natures.

Who shall declare his generation? His name shall be called Wonderful, Isaiah 9:6.

3. This stone, as a heavy rock, tumbling down from the mountain, brake the image in pieces, which it could not be said any other did.

4. Christ is a stone that grinds to powder those it falls on. He is the precious foundation and chief corner-stone of his church for ever.

5. He is a growing stone, even to a mountain, mid therefore will fill the earth, 1 Corinthians 15:24. God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter, i.e. the great God bath shown all this, who is above all the kings of the earth, and only knows, and decrees, and effects future things, who only doth great and wondrous things.

The dream is certain, i.e. this dream is no ordinary dream, but an oracle of God; it is sent from heaven, and gives a perfect scheme and prophetical history of things to come, about the special providence of God in changing governors and governments, with particular regard to his church under them; and above all, about the kingdom of Christ, and the growth of it, maugre all the enterprises of pagan and antichristian Rome.

The interpretation thereof sure; it is not a conjectural guess of the magicians and wise men of Babylon, who use to prepare lying words, because they have no knowledge of the true God, and therefore are; wholly unacquainted with his secrets, which he revealeth to his prophets by the Spirit of prophecy; which he hath now signally imparted to me; this I have faithfully made known unto thee, O King. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands,.... See Gill on Daniel 2:34.

and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; of which the image was made he had seen in his dream; and which represented the several monarchies of the world in succession, and described their nature, condition, and circumstances, and the ruin of them; See Gill on Daniel 2:35.

the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; after his own death, and in his own monarchy; and what will be the fate of succeeding ones; what will come to pass in each of the ages of time, and what will be done in the last days; what an everlasting kingdom there will be, when the kingdoms of this world shall be no more; and this the "great" God, who is great in knowledge as well as power, made known to him, which none else could; and by which he appears to be great, and above all gods, as Nebuchadnezzar afterwards owns; and which Daniel here suggests to him; see Isaiah 45:21,

and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure; this is certainly the dream the king had dreamed, for the truth of which he appeals to him; and the interpretation of it given would be most surely and faithfully accomplished, on which he might depend; for since the dream had been so distinctly related to him, he had no room to doubt of the true interpretation of it.

Forasmuch as thou sawest that the {a} stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

(a) Meaning Christ, who was sent by God, and not set up by man, whose kingdom at the beginning would be small and without beauty to man's judgment, but would at length grow and fill the whole earth, which he calls a great mountain, as in Dan 2:35. And this kingdom, which is not only referred to the person of Christ, but also to the whole body of his Church, and to every member of it, will be eternal: for the Spirit that is in them is eternal life; Ro 8:10.

45. Forasmuch as thou hast seen in thy dream this colossal image preternaturally destroyed (Daniel 2:34-35), a great God hath let thee see behind the veil of the future, and made known to thee what will come to pass hereafter (cf. Genesis 41:28).

a great God] the original is indefinite, not definite: Daniel speaks from the standpoint of the heathen king.

the dream is certain, &c.] an asseveration of the truth of what has been stated, in the apocalyptic style: cf. Daniel 8:26, Daniel 10:1, Daniel 11:2; Revelation 21:5; Revelation 22:6.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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