Daniel 3:1
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
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(1) An image.—If this image was made after the manner described (Isaiah 44:9-20), the body was formed of wood, and the whole, when properly shaped, was covered with thin plates of gold. As the height of the whole is disproportionate to the width, it is probable that the height of the pedestal on which the image stood is included under the sixty cubits.

Plain of Dura.—The older commentators identified this place with various sites, some north, some east of Babylon. Recent discoveries place it nearer to Babylon, in a place still called by a similar name.

Daniel 3:1. Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold — How soon this image was erected, after the dream in his second year, is uncertain. The Greek and Arabic interpreters suppose it to have been in the eighteenth year of his reign, and Dr. Prideaux agrees with them. But whether it was then, or, as some think, later, the design of it probably was, to frustrate the exposition, and defeat the end of the dream: on which account, perhaps, the image was made wholly of gold, and not of different metals, to make an ostentatious display of the abundance of his wealth, and to obviate the jealousies of his people, excited by his favours to Daniel and his friends. Some or all of these motives might influence this haughty and inconstant monarch to desert the true God, whom he had so lately acknowledged, and to yield again to the force of those inveterate habits, from which he had been so miraculously recovered: see Wintle. The height thereof was threescore cubits — The proportion of the height of this image seems very unequal to the breadth, unless the pedestal, on which it was placed, be included therein. Houbigant, and some others, on account of this disparity, think it was rather a column or pyramid than an image of the human form: but Diodorus, lib. 2. § 9, giving an account of the plunder Xerxes had taken out of the temple of Belus, mentions an image of massy gold that was forty feet high, which Prideaux conjectures to have been this statue made by Nebuchadnezzar. The statue of Jupiter also, made by Lysippus, at Tarentum, is said to have been forty cubits high. It is probable that the plain of Dura, here mentioned, was some extensive plain near Babylon, and that the image set up in it was erected in honour of Bel, the chief idol of the Babylonians.3:1-7 In the height of the image, about thirty yards, probably is included a pedestal, and most likely it was only covered with plates of gold, not a solid mass of that precious metal. Pride and bigotry cause men to require their subjects to follow their religion, whether right or wrong, and when worldly interest allures, and punishment overawes, few refuse. This is easy to the careless, the sensual, and the infidel, who are the greatest number; and most will go their ways. There is nothing so bad which the careless world will not be drawn to by a concert of music, or driven to by a fiery furnace. By such methods, false worship has been set up and maintained.Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold - The time when he did this is not mentioned; nor is it stated in whose honor, or for what design, this colossal image was erected. In the Greek and Arabic translationns, this is said to have occurred in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. This is not, however, in the original text, nor is it known on what authority it is asserted. Dean Prideaux (Consex. I. 222) supposes that it was at first some marginal comment on the Greek version that at last crept into the text, and that there was probably some good authority for it. If this is the correct account of the time, the event here recorded occurred 587 b.c., or, according to the chronology of Prideaux, about nineteen years after the transaction recorded in the previous chapter. Hales makes the chronology somewhat different, though not essentially. According to him, Daniel was carried to Babylon 586 b.c., and the image was set up 569 b.c., making an interval from the time that he was carried to Babylon of seventeen years; and if the dream Daniel 2 was explained within three or four years after Daniel was taken to Babylon, the interval between that and this occurrence would be some thirteen or fourteen years.

Calmet makes the captivity of Daniel 602 years before Christ; the interpretation of the dream 598; and the setting up of the image 556 - thus making an interval of more than forty years. It is impossible to determine the time with certainty; but allowing the shortest-mentioned period as the interval between the interpretation of the dream Daniel 2 and the erection of this statue, the time would be sufficient to account for the fact that the impression made by that event on the mind of Nebuchadnezzar, in favor of the claims of the true God Daniel 2:46-47, seems to have been entirely effaced. The two chapters, in order that the right impression may be received on this point, should be read with the recollection that such an interval had elapsed. At the time when the event here recorded is supposed by Prideaux to have occurred, Nebuchadnezzar had just returned from finishing the Jewish war.

From the spoils which he had taken in that expedition in Syria and Palestine, he had the means in abundance of rearing such a colossal statue; and at the close of these conquests, nothing would be more natural than that he should wish to rear in his capital some splendid work of art that would signalize his reign, record the memory of his conquests, and add to the magnificence of the city. The word which is here rendered "image" (Chaldee צלם tselēm - Greek εἰκόνα eikona), in the usual form in the Hebrew, means a shade, shadow; then what shadows forth anything; then an image of anything, and then an "idol," as representing the deity worshipped. It is not necessary to suppose that it was of solid gold, for the amount required for such a structure would have been immense, and probably beyond the means even of Nebuchadnezzar. The presumption is, that it was merely covered over with plates of gold, for this was the usual manner in which statues erected in honor of the gods were made. See Isaiah 40:19.

It is not known in honor of whom this statue was erected. Grotius supposed that it was reared to the memory of Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, and observes that it was customary to erect statues in this manner in honor of parents. Prideaux, Hales, the editor of the "Pict. Bible," and most others, suppose that it was in honor of Bel, the principal deity worshipped in Babylon. See the notes at Isaiah 46:1. Some have supposed that it was in honor of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and that he purposed by it to be worshipped as a god. But this opinion has little probability in its favor. The opinion that it was in honor of Bel, the principal deity of the place, is every way the most probable, and this derives some confirmation from the well-known fact that a magnificent image of this kind was, at some period of his reign, erected by Nebuchadnezzar in honor of this god, in a style to correspond with the magnificence of the city.

The account of this given by Herodotus is the following: "The temple of Jupiter Belus, whose huge gates of brass may still be seen, is a square building, each side of which is two furlongs. In the midst rises a tower, of the solid depth and height of one furlong; upon which, resting as upon a base, seven other lesser towers are built in regular succession. The ascent is on the outside; which, winding from the ground, is continued to the highest tower; and in the middle of the whole structure there is a convenient resting place. In the last tower is a large chapel, in which is placed a couch, magnificently adorned, and near it a table of solid gold; but there is no statue in the place. In this temple there is also a small chapel, lower in the building, which contains a figure of Jupiter, in a sitting posture, with a large table before him; these, with the base of the table, and the seat of the throne, are all of the purest gold, and are estimated by the Chaldeans to be worth eight hundred talents.

On the outside of this chapel there are two altars; one is gold, the other is of immense size, and appropriated to the sacrifice of full-grown animals; those only which have not yet left their dams may be offered on the golden altar. On the larger altar, at the anniversary festival in honor of their god, the Chaldeans regularly consume incense to the amount of a thousand talents. There was formerly in this temple a statue of solid gold twelve cubits high; this, however, I mention from the information of the Chaldeans, and not from my own knowledge." - Clio, 183. Diodorus Siculus, a much later writer, speaks to this effect: "Of the tower of Jupiter Belus, the historians who have spoken have given different descriptions; and this temple being now entirely destroyed, we cannot speak accurately respecting it. It was excessively high; constructed throughout with great care; built of brick and bitumen. Semiramis placed on the top of it three statues of massy gold, of Jupiter, Juno, and Rhea. Jupiter was erect, in the attitude of a man walking; he was forty feet in height; and weighed a thousand Babylonian talents: Rhea, who sat in a chariot of gold, was of the same weight. Juno, who stood upright, weighed eight hundred talents." - B. ii.

The temple of Bel or Belus, in Babylon, stood until the time of Xerxes; but on his return from the Grecian expedition, he demolished the whole of it, and laid it in rubbish, having first plundered it of its immense riches. Among the spoils which he took from the temple, are mentioned several images and statues of massive gold, and among them the one mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, as being forty feet high. See Strabo, lib. 16, p. 738; Herodotus, lib. 1; Arrian "de Expe. Alex." lib. 7, quoted by Prideaux I. 240. It is not very probable that the image which Xerxes removed was the same which Nebuchadnezzar reared in the plain of Dura - compare the Introduction to this chapter, Section I. VII. (a); but the fact that such a colossal statue was found in Babylon may be adduced as one incidental corroboration of the probability of the statement here. It is not impossible that Nebuchadnezzar was led, as the editor of Calmet's "Dictionary" has remarked (Taylor, vol. iii. p. 194), to the construction of this image by what he had seen in Egypt. He had conquered and ravaged Egypt but a few years before this, and had doubtless been struck with the wonders of art which he had seen there.

Colossal statues in honor of the gods abounded, and nothing would be more natural than that Nebuchadnezzar should wish to make his capital rival everything which he had seen in Thebes. Nor is it improbable that, while he sought to make his image more magnificent and costly than even those in Egypt were, the views of sculpture would be about the same, and the "figure" of the statue might be borrowed from what had been seen in Egypt. See the statues of the two celebrated colossal figures of Amunoph III standing in the plains of Goorneh, Thebes, one of which is known as the Vocal Memnon. These colossi, exclusive of the pedestals (partially buried), are forty-seven feet high, and eighteen feet three inches wide across the shoulders, and according to Wilkinson are each of one single block, and contain about 11,500 cubic feet of stone. They are made of a stone not known within several days' journey of the place where they are erected. Calmet refers to these statues, quoting from Norden.

Whose height was threescore cubits - Prideaux and others have been greatly perplexed at the "proportions" of the image here represented. Prideaux says on the subject (Connections, I. 240, 241), "Nebuchadnezzars golden image is said indeed in Scripture to have been sixty cubits, that is, ninety feet high; but this must be understood of the image and pedestal both together, for that image being said to be but six cubits broad or thick, it is impossible that the image would have been sixty cubits high; for that makes its height to be ten times its breadth or thickness, which exceeds all the proportions of a man, no man's height being above six times his thickness, measuring the slenderest man living at the waist. But where the breadth of this image was measured is not said; perchance it was from shoulder to shoulder; and then the proportion of six cubits breadth will bring down the height exactly to the measure which Diodorus has mentioned; for the usual height of a man being four and a half of his breadth between the shoulders, if the image were six cubits broad between the shoulders, it must, according to this proportion, have been twenty-seven cubits high, which is forty and a half feet."

The statue itself, therefore, according to Prideaux, was forty feet high; the pedestal fifty feet. But this, says Taylor, the editor of Calmet, is a disproportion of parts which, if not absolutely impossible, is utterly contradictory to every principle of art, even of the rudest sort. To meet the difficulty, Taylor himself supposes that the height referred to in the description was rather "proportional" than "actual" height; that is, if it had stood upright it would have been sixty cubits, though the actual elevation in a sitting posture may have been but little more than thirty cubits, or fifty feet. The breadth, he supposes, was rather the depth or thickness measured from the breast to the back, than the breadth measured from shoulder to shoulder. His argument and illustration may be seen in Calmet, vol. iii. Frag. 156. It is not absolutely certain, however, that the image was in a sitting posture, and the "natural" constructsion of the passage is, that the statue was actually sixty cubits in height.

No one can doubt that an image of that height could be erected; and when we remember the one at Rhodes, which was 105 Grecian feet in height (see art. "Colossus," in Anthon's "Class. Dict."), and the desire of Nebuchadnezzar to adorn his capital in the most magnificent manner, it is not to be regarded as improbable that an image of this height was erected. What was the height of the pedestal, if it stood on any, as it probably did, it is impossible now to tell. The length of the "cubit" was not the same in every place. The length originally was the distance between the elbow and the extremity of the middle finger, about eighteen inches. The Hebrew cubit, according to Bishop Cumberland and M. Pelletier, was twenty-one inches; but others fix it at eighteen. - Calmet. The Talmudists say that the Hebrew cubit was larger by one quarter than the Roman. Herodotus says that the cubit in Babylon was three fingers longer than the usual one. - Clio, 178. Still, there is not absolute certainty on that subject. The usual and probable measurement of the cubit would make the image in Babylon about ninety feet high.

And the breadth thereof six cubits - About nine feet. This would, of course, make the height ten times the breadth, which Prideaux says is entirely contrary to the usual proportions of a man. It is not known on what "part" of the image this measurement was made, or whether it was the thickness from the breast to the back, or the width from shoulder to shoulder. If the "thickness" of the image here is referred to by the word "breadth," the proportion would be well preserved. "The thickness of a well-proportioned man," says Scheuchzer (Knupfer Bibel, in loc.), "measured from the breast to the back is one-tenth of his height." This was understood to be the proportion by Augustine, Civi. Dei, 1. xv. c. 26. The word which is here rendered "breadth" (פתי pethay) occurs nowhere else in the Chaldean of the Scriptures, except in Ezra 6:3 : "Let the house be builded, the height thereof threescore cubits, and the "breadth" thereof threescore cubits." Perhaps this refers rather to the "depth" of the temple from front to rear, as Taylor has remarked, than to the breadth from one side to another. If it does, it would correspond with the measurement of Solomon's temple, and it is not probable that Cyrus would vary from that plan in his instructions to build a new temple. If that be the true construction, then the meaning here may be, as remarked above, that the image was of that "thickness," and the breadth from shoulder to shoulder may not be referred to.

He set it up in the plain of Dura - It would seem from this that it was set up in an open plain, and not in a temple; perhaps not near a temple. It was not unusual to erect images in this manner, as the colossal figure at Rhodes shows. Where this plain was, it is of course impossible now to determine. The Greek translation of the word is Δεειρᾷ Deeira - "Deeira." Jerome says that the translation of Theodotion is "Deira;" of Symmachus, Doraum; and of the Septuagint. περίβολον peribolon - which he says may be rendered "vivarium vel conclusum locum." "Interpreters commonly," says Gesenius, "compare Dura, a city mentioned by Ammian. Marcel. 25. 6, situated on the Tigris; and another of like name in Polyb. 5, 48, on the Euphrates, near the mouth of the Chaboras." It is not necessary to suppose that this was in the "city" of Babylon; and, indeed, it is probable that it was not, as the "province of Babylon" doubtless embraced more than the city, and an extensive plain seems to have been selected, perhaps near the city, as a place where the monument would be more conspicuous, and where larger numbers could convene for the homage which was proposed to be shown to it.

In the province of Babylon - One of the provinces, or departments, embracing the capital, into which the empire was divided, Daniel 2:48.


Da 3:1-30. Nebuchadnezzar's Idolatrous Image; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego Are Delivered from the Furnace.

Between the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in the second chapter and that of Daniel in the seventh, four narratives of Daniel's and his friends' personal history are introduced. As the second and seventh chapters go together, so the third and sixth chapters (the deliverance from the lions' den), and the fourth and fifth chapters. Of these last two pairs, the former shows God's nearness to save His saints when faithful to Him, at the very time they seem to be crushed by the world power. The second pair shows, in the case of the two kings of the first monarchy, how God can suddenly humble the world power in the height of its insolence. The latter advances from mere self-glorification, in the fourth chapter, to open opposition to God in the fifth. Nebuchadnezzar demands homage to be paid to his image (Da 3:1-6), and boasts of his power (Da 4:1-18). But Belshazzar goes further, blaspheming God by polluting His holy vessels. There is a similar progression in the conduct of God's people. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refuse positive homage to the image of the world power (Da 3:12); Daniel will not yield it even a negative homage, by omitting for a time the worship of God (Da 6:10). Jehovah's power manifested for the saints against the world in individual histories (the third through sixth chapters) is exhibited in the second and seventh chapters, in world-wide prophetical pictures; the former heightening the effect of the latter. The miracles wrought in behalf of Daniel and his friends were a manifestation of God's glory in Daniel's person, as the representative of the theocracy before the Babylonian king, who deemed himself almighty, at a time when God could not manifest it in His people as a body. They tended also to secure, by their impressive character, that respect for the covenant-people on the part of the heathen powers which issued in Cyrus' decree, not only restoring the Jews, but ascribing honor to the God of heaven, and commanding the building of the temple (Ezr 1:1-4) [Auberlen].

1. image—Nebuchadnezzar's confession of God did not prevent him being a worshipper of idols, besides. Ancient idolaters thought that each nation had its own gods, and that, in addition to these, foreign gods might be worshipped. The Jewish religion was the only exclusive one that claimed all homage for Jehovah as the only true God. Men will in times of trouble confess God, if they are allowed to retain their favorite heart-idols. The image was that of Bel, the Babylonian tutelary god; or rather, Nebuchadnezzar himself, the personification and representative of the Babylonian empire, as suggested to him by the dream (Da 2:38), "Thou art this head of gold." The interval between the dream and the event here was about nineteen years. Nebuchadnezzar had just returned from finishing the Jewish and Syrian wars, the spoils of which would furnish the means of rearing such a colossal statue [Prideaux]. The colossal size makes it likely that the frame was wood, overlaid with gold. The "height," sixty cubits, is so out of proportion with the "breadth," exceeding it ten times, that it seems best to suppose the thickness from breast to back to be intended, which is exactly the right proportion of a well-formed man [Augustine, The City of God, 15.26]. Prideaux thinks the sixty cubits refer to the image and pedestal together, the image being twenty-seven cubits high, or forty feet, the pedestal thirty-three cubits, or fifty feet. Herodotus [1.183] confirms this by mentioning a similar image, forty feet high, in the temple of Belus at Babylon. It was not the same image, for the one here was on the plain of Dura, not in the city.Nebuchadnezzar setting up an image commandeth all persons to worship it, Daniel 3:1-7. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are accused of disobeying the command, Daniel 3:8-12. The king threateneth them; their resolute answer, Daniel 3:13-18. They are cast into the fiery furnace, Daniel 3:19-23. God delivereth them unhurt out of it, which Nebuchadnezzar seeing blesseth God, and acknowledgeth his power, Daniel 3:24-29. Their advancement, Daniel 3:30.

This daring sin of Nebuchadnezzar was aggravated many ways, by the greatness of the kingdom and majesty God had given him, by the late discovery made to him when Daniel interpreted his dream, by his conviction and confession upon it of that great God and his sovereign power: this is the height of ingratitude, arguing his carriage before to be only a fit of astonishment, without the least change upon his heart.

The vast proportion of the statue, or idol, was to show his greatness by the height and bulk of it, and his pride and magnificence in the richness of it, seeing it was of gold, and to be a monument to posterity of his famous exploits. Some give this reason, that he might seem hereby to avert the fate of his empire, foretold by Daniel, and declare himself sole monarch of the world, or head of gold, because he made it of gold, whether massy, or plated, or gilded, matters not. Likewise that he might seem no ways to be inclined to the Jews, or their religion, whereof the Chaldeans might be jealous, seeing he had owned their God to be greatest, and had preferred Daniel and his friends to great honours. Nebuchadnezzar assured his wise men and nobles that he would still maintain the old established religion, without innovation or mixture: so Mald, Menochius, Geierus: that they had a spite against the Jews is clear, Daniel 3:8,12.

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold,.... Not of solid gold; but either of a plate of gold, and hollow within; or of wood overlaid with gold; for otherwise it must have took up a prodigious quantity of gold to make an image of such dimensions as follow; this be ordered his statuaries or workmen to make for him; whether this image was for himself, or his father Nabopolassar, or for his chief god Bel, or as a new deity, is not easy to say; however, it was made for religious worship: the reasons that moved him to it cannot be ascertained; it might be out of pride and vanity, and to set forth the glory and stability of his monarchy, as if be was not only the head of gold, but as an image all of gold; and to contradict the interpretation of his dream, and avert the fate of his empire signified by it; or to purge himself from the jealousies his subjects had entertained of him, of relinquishing the religion of his country, and embracing the Jewish religion, by his praise of the God of Israel, and the promotion of Jews to places of trust and honour; or this might be done by the advice of his nobles, to establish an uniformity of religion in his kingdom, and to prevent the growth of Judaism; and it may be to lay a snare for Daniel and his companions; of which we have an instance of the like kind in chapter six. When this image was made is not certain; some think in a short time after his dream before related; if so, he soon forgot it, and the God that had revealed it. The Septuagint and Arabic versions place it in the eighteenth year of his reign; and some are of opinion that it was after his victories over the Jews, Tyre, Egypt, and others; and that being flushed therewith, in the pride of his heart, ordered this image to be made; and out of the spoils he brought with him from the various countries he had conquered. Mr. Whiston (u) places this fact in the year of the world 3417 A.M., and before Christ 587; and so Dr. Prideaux (w), who makes it to be in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, agreeably to the above versions. Mr. Bedford (x) puts it in the year before Christ 585:

whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits; a common cubit being half a yard, it was thirty yards high, and three yards broad; but Herodotus (y) says the king's cubit in Babylon was three fingers larger than the usual one; and, according to that, this image must be thirty five yards high, and three yards and a half broad; but since there is so great a disproportion between the height and breadth, some have thought that the height includes the pedestal on which it stood; and, allowing twelve cubits for that, the height of the image was forty six cubits. Diodorus Siculus (z) makes mention of a statue of gold in the temple of Belus, which Xerxes demolished, which was forty feet high, and contained a thousand Babylonish talents of gold, which, at the lowest computation, amounts to three millions and a half of our money; which image Doctor Prideaux (a) conjectures was this image of Nebuchadnezzar's; but this seems not likely, since the one was between thirty and forty yards high, the other but thirteen or fourteen; the one in the plain of Dura, the other in the temple of Bel:

he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon; that so it might be seen of all, and there might be room enough for a vast number of worshippers together. The Septuagint version calls this place the plain of Deeira, which some take to be the Deera of Ptolemy (b); but that is in the province of Susiana; rather this is Duraba (c), which he places near the river Euphrates, in the province of Babylon. Aben Ezra says, this is the place where the children of Ephraim fell, and where the Chaldeans slew the Jews when they came into captivity. In the Talmud (d) it is said,

"from the river Eshal unto Rabbath is the valley of Dura;''

in Arabic, "dauro" signifies "round"; it was a round valley. The Jews have a notion that this was the valley in the land of Shinar where the tower of Babel was built; and observe, that

"although the design of that generation was not accomplished, yet after their times their punishment was made manifest, in that they said, "let us make us a name", Genesis 11:4 for Nebuchadnezzar having wasted and subverted many kingdoms, and destroyed the sanctuary, thought it possible to put in execution the wicked design of the age of the dispersion; hence it is said, Daniel 3:1, "King Nebuchadnezzar made an image, &c. and set it up", , "in the valley of generation", in the province of Babylon, which is the valley spoken of in Genesis 11:2 what therefore they could not do, he attempted to do; hence he gathered all the people to worship the image, which agrees with Genesis 11:4, for he put a certain vessel of the vessels of the temple on the mouth of it (the image), on which was engraven the divine name, that he might render ineffectual the intention of the dispersed generation but the Scripture says, Jeremiah 51:44, "and I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up, and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him"; for Daniel came and caused that vessel that was swallowed to be taken out of the mouth of the image, whence it fell, and was broke to pieces, which is the same as that in Genesis 11:4 (e).''

(u) Chronological Tables, cent. 10. (w) Connexion, &c. par 1. B. 2. p. 87. (x) Scripture Chronology, p. 709. (y) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 178. (z) Bibliothec. Hist. I. 2. p. 98. Ed. Rhod. (a) Connexion, &c. par. 1. B. 2. p. 103. (b) Geograph. l. 6. c. 3.((c) lbid. l. 5. c. 20. (d) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 2.((e) Kabala Denudata, par. 1. p. 671.

Nebuchadnezzar the king made {a} an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

(a) Under pretence of religion, and holiness in making an image to his idol Bel, he sought his own ambition and vain glory: and this declares that he was not touched with the true fear of God before, but that he confessed him on a sudden motion, as the wicked when they are overcome with the greatness of his works. The Greek interpreters write that this was done eighteen years after the dream, and as may appear, the King feared lest the Jews by their religion should have altered the state of his commonwealth: therefore he meant to bring all to one type of religion, and so rather sought his own peace than God's glory.

1. Nebuchadnezzar] Sept., Theod., Pesh. prefix ‘In the eighteenth year,’ which would be the year before Jerusalem was finally taken by the Chaldaeans (2 Kings 25:8). Sept. also has an addition stating the occasion on which the image was erected: it was while he was ‘organizing (διοικῶν) cities and countries, and all the inhabitants of the earth, from India to Ethiopia.’ The addition is probably nothing but a Midrashic embellishment: we at least know nothing from any other source of Nebuchadnezzar’s empire as extending to the limits named, or of his conducting military expeditions except in the direction of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt (exclusive of Ethiopia).

made an image of gold, &c.] The expression does not mean necessarily that it was of solid gold; it might be used of an image that was merely (in the ancient fashion) overlaid with gold: the ‘altar of gold’ of Exodus 39:38 was in reality only overlaid with gold (Exodus 30:3). It is not expressly stated what the image represented; it is not however described as the image of a god, so in all probability it represented Nebuchadnezzar himself. It was a common practice of the Assyrian kings to erect images of themselves with laudatory inscriptions in conquered cities, or provinces, as symbols of their dominion, the usual expression in such cases being ṣa-lam šarrû-ti-a (šur-ba-a) ipu-uš, “a (great) image of my royalty I made”; see KB[216] i. 69, l. 98 f.; 73, l. 5; 99, l. 25; 133, l. 31; 135, l. 71; 141, l. 93; 143, l. 124; 147, l. 156; 155, l. 26, &c. (all from the reigns of Asshur-naṣir-abal, b.c. 885–860, and Shalmaneṣer II., b.c. 860–825). Jastrow (Relig. of Bab. and Ass., 1898, p. 669) remarks that, inasmuch as in the inscriptions the victories of the armies were commonly ascribed to the help of the gods, a homage to some deity would be involved in the recital, though no instance is at present known of divine honours being paid to such statues.

[216] B. Eb. Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek (transliterations and translations of Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions), 1889–1900.

threescore cubits, &c.] The image was thus some 90 feet high, and 9 broad. The disproportion of height and breadth—in the human figure the proportion is commonly 5–6 to 1—has not been satisfactorily explained. The dimensions themselves, also, are greater than are probable: but the ‘India House Inscription,’ by its descriptions of the decorations of temples, testifies to the amount of gold that was at Nebuchadnezzar’s disposal; and Oriental monarchs have always prided themselves on the immense quantities of the precious metals in their possession.

set it up] “ ‘to set up an image’ (the same words in the Aram.) is the usual phrase in the heathen inscriptions of Palmyra and the Ḥaurân” (Bevan); see e.g. de Vogué, Syrie Centrale (1868), Nos. 4, 5, 7, 10, 11.

plain] properly a broad ‘cleft,’ or level (Isaiah 40:4 end) plain, between mountains (see on Amos 1:5).

Dura] An inscription cited by Friedrich Delitzsch (Paradies, p. 216) mentions in Babylonia three places called Dûru. According to Oppert (Expéd. en Mésopotamie, i. 238 f.; cf. the chart of the environs of Babylon in Smith, DB., s.v. Babel), there is a small river called the Dura, flowing into the Euphrates from the S., 6 or 7 miles below Babylon; and near this river, about 12 miles S.S.E. of Ḥillah, there are a number of mounds called the Tolûl (or Mounds of) Dûra. One of these, called el-Mokhaṭṭaṭ, consists of a huge rectangular brick structure, some 45 ft. square and 20 ft. high, which may, in Oppert’s opinion, have formed once the pedestal of a colossal image.

1–7. Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation regarding the image.Verses 1-30. - THE GOLDEN IMAGE, AND THE FIERY FURNACE. Verse 1. - Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof air cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. The Septuagint Version is full of redundance and interpolation, "In the eighteenth year King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled cities and countries, and all those dwelling (in them)over the earth from India even to Ethiopia, made a golden image; the height of it was sixty cubits, and the breadth of it six cubits, and set it up in a plain within the boundary of the province of Babylon." The reason for translating Dura "boundary, is natural enough, for the word. means something approximate to this. Theodotion begins in the same way, giving the date "the eighteenth year;" the place is ἐν πεδίῳ Δεειρᾷ, As for the rest, it is in agreement with the text of the Massoretes. The Peshitta follows a text that must have been identical with the Massoretic, as also does the Vulgate. The date inserted into the Greek Version is improbable. At that time, if we take the chronology of 2 Kings 25:8, Nebuchadnezzar was engaged in the siege of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was taken in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, after a two years' siege. In Jeremiah 52:29 we are told, however, that Nebuchadnezzar took eight hundred and thirty-two captives in his eighteenth year, and the difference between Babylonian and Jewish chronology suggests that the eighteenth year of Jeremiah 52. may be the nineteenth of 2 Kings 25 Against this is the fact that the month of the year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar is given (2 Kings 25:8), and this implies the adoption of the Babylonian chronology. It is certainly not to be expected that Nebuchadnezzar would traverse the long distance that separated him from his capital merely to erect a statue or obelisk. At the same time, we are told (Jeremiah 52:29), as we have mentioned above, that in the eighteenth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar took eight hundred and thirty-two persons captive. This may be that he sent these prisoners by a convoy, for it is clear that a larger number of captives were taken when Jerusalem was captured than eight Hundred and thirty-two. They may have been taken during the progress of the siege, in sallies, etc. The number of prisoners taken in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar does not suggest the great numbers that are implied in Ezekiel to be dwelling on the Chebar, otherwise we might be inclined to regard these differences from the received chronology as due to a different mode of reckoning. Even though the date given in Jeremiah 52:29 were the date of the capture of Jerusalem, it is not at all likely that the capture of an obscure city in the hill country of Judaea was an event on account of which a special thanksgiving would be given. The description of the empire of Nebuchadnezzar in the Septuagint is borrowed from Esther 1:1. In regard to this image, the statement that it is "golden" does not mean that it was solid gold, any more than the golden altar (Numbers 4:11) was entirely of gold (Exodus 30:1-3; Exodus 37:25, 26); that it was an "image" (tzelem) does not necessarily imply that it was a statue in the form of a human being. In Ezekiel 16:17 there are references to tzalmee zakar, which seem naturally to be phallus images. Hegel's opinion ('Æsthetik') was that the obelisk was really a modified phallus image. If that is so, then the proportions of this tzele are not extravagant for an obelisk. Moreover, these numbers, "sixty" and "six," are evidently round numbers, their mnemonic character maintaining their place. The real numbers might be anything near the number given; instead of "sixty," the real number might be not much over "fifty" cubits, and the "six" cubits the number given as the breadth, might be, without intentional deception, seven or eight cubits. The proportion, at all events, in the extreme case of fifty and eight cubits, would not be extraordinary, even for a statue. It might be a gilded statue on a lofty column. One other note may be added: 6 and 60, multiplied together, give 360, the number of the days in the Babylonian year. The division of the circle into 360 degrees is probably due to this Babylonian division of the year. In the plain of Dura. There are several places in Babylonia which may be identified with this (Schrader, 'Keilin-schriften,' 430). While it may be outside the wall of the city, this Dura may also have been within it; the Septuagint rendering favours thistly - ἐν πεδίῳ περιβόλου, It is remarked by Professor Fuller that districts within the city of Babylon have at times "Dun" as part of the name. Thus, "in Esarhaddon's inscriptions, Duru-suanna-ki is that part of Babylon which is elsewhere called Imgur-Bel, or wall of Babylon." This would confirm the view - Quatremere's - that Duru was within the city wall. Archdeacon Rose ('Speaker's Commentary,' ad loc.) refers to Oppert as having found near a spot named Duair the pedestal of a colossal statue, but gives no reference. On the fiat plains of Mesopotamia, this obelisk of a hundred feet high would be seen for nearly thirteen miles in every direction, and the gleam from its gilded top would be visible even further. What was the occasion of this image being set up? We have no means of even conjecturing. Certainly it was not merely to seduce the Jews again into idolatry. From the way Marduk (Merodach) is glorified in the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, the probability is that it was erected in his honour. Bishop Wordsworth ('Com. Daniel') thinks the statue was of Nebuchadnezzar himself, and quotes Lenormant ('Manuel d'Histoire Ancienne,' 1:237, trans, 1:486). Lenormaut, in the passage referred to, quotes an ins,,ription in which Nebuchadnezzar calls himself "the begotten of Marduk" From this Lenormant comes to the conclusion that, like Caligula in later times, Nebuchadnezzar demanded worship to be given to himself as a god. But when we turn back in this same book ('Manuel d'Histoire Ancienne,' vol. 1. p. 484, Engl. trans.), we find a number of statements of a similar kind which invalidate the emphasis which Lenormant would give to this. He calls Bilit Larpanit, "the mother who bore me;" Sin, "who inspires me with judgment;" Shamash, "who inspires my body with the sentiment of justice:" and so on. In saying he was begotten of Marduk, it is not as claiming the personal possession of the characteristics of divinity that Nebuchadnezzar made this statement, but as regarding himself to be the special instrument and favourite of the gods - a posture of mind quite compatible with the deepest and most real humility. Hippolytus and Jerome maintain the same view as Lenormant on a priori evidence. There is no contradiction between Nebuchadnezzar's ascription of praise to Jehovah as a God of gods and a Revealer of secrets, in Daniel 2:47, and his erection of this image to Merodaeh That Jehovah was a God of gods did not prevent Merodach being that also, and even greater. 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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