Daniel 2:47
The king answered to Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing you could reveal this secret.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(47) God of gods.—He does not acknowledge Jehovah as the true God, but deems Him worthy of a place in the Babylonian Pantheon.

Daniel 2:47-48. Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods — Such a God as there is no other; above all gods in dignity, over all gods in dominion. And a Lord of kings — From whom they derive their power, and to whom they are accountable: the supreme Governor of the world, and Ruler of all the kings and kingdoms in it. And a revealer of secrets — One who sees and can bring to light what is most secret; seeing thou couldest reveal this secret — Couldest discover a matter, which it would have been impossible for thee to discover, if God had not revealed it to thee. Then the king made Daniel a great man — Or magnified him, as the original expression means. God made Daniel a great man indeed, when he took him into such intimate communion with himself, a much greater man than Nebuchadnezzar could make him; but because God had honoured him, therefore the king honoured him too. And gave him many great gifts — Which Daniel had no reason to refuse, since they put him into the greater capacity of doing good to his brethren in captivity. These gifts were no more than grateful returns from the king for the good services Daniel had done him, and were not desired or aimed at by Daniel, as the rewards of divination were by Balaam. And made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon — Which, no doubt, had a mighty influence upon the other provinces; and chief of the governors over all the wise men — Constituted him the chief ruler and inspector of them who were students and professors of learning and wisdom. We are not to suppose that this holy prophet, in the exercise of the office now assigned him, would give any countenance or encouragement to any who practised unlawful arts and divinations: rather he would do all in his power to abolish all such practices, and would instruct those of whom he had the oversight in the knowledge of the one living and true God, and in that wisdom which has him for its author and its end. 2:46-49 It is our business to direct attention to the Lord, as the Author and Giver of every good gift. Many have thoughts of the Divine power and majesty, who do not think of serving God themselves. But all should strive, that God may be glorified, and the best interests of mankind furthered.The king answered unto Daniel - Answered either what he had said in the interpretation of the dream, or "possibly" something that he had said in regard to the impropriety of offering this homage to him. Compare the notes at Daniel 2:46. It is certain that, for some cause. whatever might have been the homage which he was disposed to render to Daniel, his thoughts were soon turned from him to the true God, and to an acknowledgment of him as superior to all other beings. He seems, at least, instantly to have reflected on what Daniel had himself said Daniel 2:30, and to have remembered that religious homage was due, not to Daniel, but to the God who had communicated the secret to him.

Of a truth it is - It is truly so. This had been shown by the manner in which this secret was disclosed.

That your God is a God of gods - Is superior to all other gods; is supreme over all. Compare Revelation 17:14; 1 Timothy 6:15. The idea is, that whatever subordinate beings there may be, He is supreme.

And a Lord of kings - Supreme over kings. They are all inferior to him, and subject to his control.

And a revealer of secrets - One of the attributes of divinity. See the notes at Daniel 2:28.

Seeing thou couldest reveal this secret - A secret which the wisest men of the realm had sought in vain to disclose. The fact that a professed servant of God had been able to do this showed that God was himself supreme, and worthy of adoration. We have here, then, an instance in which a proud and haughty pagan monarch was brought to an acknowledgment of the true God, and was constrained to render him homage. This was a result which it was evidently intended to reach in the whole transaction; in the dream itself; in the fact that the wise men of Babylon could not interpret it; and in the fact that an acknowledged servant of the Most High had been enabled to make the disclosure. The instance is instructive, as showing to what extent a mind clearly not under the influence of any genuine piety - for subsequent events showed that no "permanent" effects were produced on him, and that he was still an idolater Daniel 3, and a most proud and haughty man Daniel 4 - may be brought to acknowledge God. See the remarks at the end of the Daniel 7.

47. Lord of kings—The world power shall at last have to acknowledge this (Re 17:14; 19:16); even as Nebuchadnezzar, who had been the God-appointed "king of kings" (Da 2:37), but who had abused the trust, is constrained by God's servant to acknowledge that God is the true "Lord of kings." A God of gods; the greatest and supreme God of all the world, above Baal, or Bel, and above all other gods.

A Lord of kings; the word is Maron or Maran, which in the Syriac signifies Lord, or high Lord, seeing he is the highest King of all the earth. He makes, overrules, and pulls down whom he will, 1 Timothy 6:15 Revelation 17:14 19:16: by this he gathers that God is a

revealer of secrets, Isaiah 48:3,5-8. A revealer of secrets; is supreme God, because he knows, and foreknows, and decrees all things future.

Seeing thou couldest reveal this secret; therefore Daniel had it from God, who revealed it to him, which here the king confesseth. The king answered unto Daniel,.... By which it appears that Daniel interposed and expostulated with the king, and prevented the oblation to him as a god, and instructed him in the knowledge of the true God he ought to worship; as the following confession of the king more clearly shows:

and said, of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods; the God of Daniel and his companions, and of the people of the Jews, to whom they belonged, is above all gods that are named and worshipped by men: this appeared at this time for the present, though it did not last long, as the following chapter shows, a most glaring truth; that the God of Israel was above all his gods, and whom his magicians and people worshipped, and above all others:

and a Lord of kings; that rules over them, and disposes of them; sets them up and pulls them down at his pleasure; and transfers their kingdoms from one to another, as he learned by the interpretation of his dream, to which he may in this refer:

and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret; of the dream, and the interpretation of it; which he could never have done, had not his God been a revealer of secrets, and revealed it to him.

The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your {c} God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

(c) This confession was but a sudden motion, as it was also in Pharaoh, Ex 9:28, but his heart was not touched, as appeared soon afterwards.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
47. a God … a Lord] the Godthe Lord. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the supremacy of Daniel’s God over all other gods, and His sovereignty over all kings. ‘Lord of lords’ (bêl bêlê), and ‘Lord of gods’ (bêl ilâni), are titles often given by the Babylonian kings (including Nebuchadnezzar) to Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon; but it is doubtful whether the terms here used were chosen with allusion to the fact. ‘God of gods,’ as Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:2; ch. Daniel 11:36.

a revealer of secrets] as Daniel had averred, Daniel 2:28; cf. Daniel 5:22.

couldest] better, hast been able to.Verse 47. - The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a Revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. The versions do not exhibit any important variation from the Massoretic text. We must observe the plural form of the pronoun "your," implying the Hebrew nation as a whole, or at all events the three youths along with Daniel. It must be noted that the titles are not in the emphatic state, but are simply absolute, implying that Nebuchadnezzar simply placed the God of heaven, the God of Daniel, in his pantheon, as one of the superior gods. The historical difficulty that some have seen in Nebuchadnezzar making this confession to God, and yet straightway framing a golden image, is due to a failure to understand the attitude of a polytheist to his gods. To the heathen his god is a person he is afraid of, much more powerful than he is himself, able to do him much ill, or, on the other hand, able to bestow upon him much good, but able to be deceived, cajoled, and flattered. In worshipping his deities the heathen feels that any breach of sacred etiquette in regard to any deity is far more certain of bringing down the vengeance of the aggrieved power than any crime, however heinous. He would be most potent in prayer who could go over all the deities of the pantheon, and give to each his or her appropriate title. Thus the Hindus tell tales of fakirs whose power over the gods was due to this. One of the forms of this religious etiquette was to address each deity as if he were the supreme god who alone deserved worship. Lenormant ('Los Premieres Civilizations,' 2:159) gives an address to the god Hourki, or Sin, in which he is called "prince of the gods of heaven and earth, the good god, the great god, lather of gods and men, the lord who extends his power over heaven and earth" In the same work (p. 178) there is an address to Marduk (Merodach), the favourite deity of Nebuchadnezzar, in which he is called "god of gods, king of heaven and earth." A little further on in the same work (p. 18t) Nebu is called "the supreme intelligence, scribe of the universe, who bears the supreme sceptre, the interpreter of the celestial spheres." In p. 189 Nergal is addressed as "great prince of the greatest gods, who has brought up the greatest gods." In his ' La Magie,' p. 175, he gives an address to Silik-mulu-ki, regarded as an Accadian name of Marduk, in which he is called "god of gods." In his ' Hibbert Lecture,' pp. 97-104, Professor Sayce, on the contrast between the religion of Babylon and that of Persia in this respect, says that Nebuchadnezzar calls Merodach "lord of all," yet declares him the "son of the gods." The same titles are given to Merodach and to Samas, and yet Samas is distinct from Merodach - he is his comrade in the struggle with the assailants of Otis, the moon-god. At the same time, we must observe the limitations of Nebuchadnezzar's praise - it is simply as the Revealer of secrets that he praises and honours the God of Daniel. 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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