Ezekiel 15:2
Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
15:1-8 Jerusalem like an unfruitful vine. - If a vine be fruitful, it is valuable. But if not fruitful, it is worthless and useless, it is cast into the fire. Thus man is capable of yielding a precious fruit, in living to God; this is the sole end of his existence; and if he fails in this, he is of no use but to be destroyed. What blindness then attaches to those who live in the total neglect of God and of true religion! This similitude is applied to Jerusalem. Let us beware of an unfruitful profession. Let us come to Christ, and seek to abide in him, and to have his words abide in us.The vine ... - The image is grounded on a well-known figure Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5. The comparison is not between the vine and other trees, but between the wood of the vine and the wood of other trees. 2, 3. What has the vine-wood to make it pre-eminent above other forest-wood? Nothing. Nay, the reverse. Other trees yield useful timber, but vine-wood is soft, brittle, crooked, and seldom large; not so much as a "pin" (the large wooden peg used inside houses in the East to hang household articles on, Isa 22:23-25) can be made of it. Its sole excellency is that it should bear fruit; when it does not bear fruit, it is not only not better, but inferior to other trees: so if God's people lose their distinctive excellency by not bearing fruits of righteousness, they are more unprofitable than the worldly (De 32:32), for they are the vine; the sole end of their being is to bear fruit to His glory (Ps 80:8, 9; Isa 5:1, &c.; Jer 2:21; Ho 10:1; Mt 21:33). In all respects, except in their being planted by God, the Jews were inferior to other nations, as Egypt, Babylon, &c., for example, in antiquity, extent of territory, resources, military power, attainments in arts and sciences.

or than a branch—rather, in apposition with "the vine tree." Omit "or than." What superiority has the vine if it be but a branch among the trees of the forest, that is, if, as having no fruit, it lies cut down among other woods of trees?

The house of Israel is often compared to a vine, which when barren or fruitless is very contemptible and unprofitable. This the prophet minds them of to humble them, and awaken them to fruitfulness; Will you boast yourselves of this?

Than a branch which is among the trees of the forest; one single branch of a tree in the forest is of more use and worth than the whole vine tree is, except for its fruit.

Son of man, what is the vine tree more than any tree,.... Or, "the wood of the vine than any wood" (b); it is not better than other wood; it is not so good as any other wood; nay, it is good for nothing. The fruit of the vine tree is good, but its wood is of no use: a vine tree, if it bears fruit, is valuable; but if it does not, it is of no account. The people of the Jews are often compared to a vine, who, while they brought forth good fruit, were in esteem; but, when they became like an empty and fruitless vine, were rejected as good for nothing, Psalm 80:8; they were originally no better than others; what they had were owing to the grace and goodness of God; and when they degenerated, they were the worst of all people:

or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest? a vine tree that bears fruit is better than a tree of the forest, or than a branch of one that is unfruitful; but a vine tree that does not bear fruit is not so good; because the wood of the one may be useful when the other is not; though the words may be better rendered, even "the branch of a wild vine which is among the trees of the forest" (c); and so it explains what vine tree is spoken of; not a fruitful one in the vineyards, but a wild and barren one in the forest. So Jarchi paraphrases the words,

"not of the vine in the vineyards, which bears fruit, speak I unto thee; but of the branch of the vine which grows in the forests;''

and so Kimchi,

"I do not ask thee of the vine tree which beareth fruit, for that is valuable; but of the branch (of the wild vine) which is among the trees of the forest, and is as they that do not bear fruit, concerning that I ask thee; for even it is not as the trees of the forest; for the trees of the forest, though they do not bear fruit, they are fit to do work of them, to make vessels of them, and to floor houses with them; but the wood of this vine is not so.''

(b) "lignum vitis prae omni ligno", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Starckius. (c) "surculus", Cocceius; "surculus vitis", Starckius; "vitis sylvestris", Munster. So Ben Melech interprets the branch, of a vine.

Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the {a} trees of the forest?

(a) Which brings forth no fruit, no more than the other trees of the forest do: meaning that if Jerusalem, which bore the name of his Church, did not bring forth fruit it would be utterly destroyed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. or than a branch] Perhaps: the vine-branch which is,—the words taking up “the vine tree” of previous clause. Owing to the verb the natural sense is: what shall be made of the wood of the vine among all wood, the vine branch that is among the trees of the forest? Cf. Ezekiel 15:3. With the comparative sense the accents should be disregarded: what is the wood of the vine more than any wood of the branch which is &c. On Israel as the vine cf. Genesis 49:22; Isaiah 5:1; Deuteronomy 32:32; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 17:5; Ezekiel 19:10; Psalms 80; Hosea 10:1.

Verse 2. - What is the vine tree, etc.? The prophet's mind had apparently been dwelling, after the close of his previous utterance, on the imagery of earlier writers, in which Israel had appeared as the vine of Jehovah (Genesis 49:22; Psalm 80:9; Hosea 10:1; Isaiah 5; Deuteronomy 32:32; Jeremiah 2:21), and to which he himself refers again in Ezekiel 19:10. He saw how men might pervert that image to their own destruction. And he expands the parable, as our Lord does in John 15. Men might dwell, perhaps were actually dwelling, on the thought that they were branches of the true vine, and therefore could not perish. He exposes the groundlessness of that hope in tones of scornful sarcasm. If the vine did not bear fruit, or if it only brought forth wild grapes, then its special excellence was gone, and it challenged comparison with other trees only as a timber tree, and what was its worth as such? If Israel was not true to its vocation, it was poorer and weaker than the heathen nations round it. So far the general thought is clear. In dealing with details, we note that the words in italics, "or than," should disappear, and that the words should stand as in the Revised Version, What is the vine more than any tree, the vine branch which is among the trees of the forest? Ezekiel 15:2And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 15:2. Son of man, what advantage has the wood of the vine over every wood, the vine-branch, which was among the trees of the forest? Ezekiel 15:3. Is wood taken from it to use for any work? or do men take a peg from it to hang all kinds of vessels upon? Ezekiel 15:4. Behold, it is given to the fire to consume. If the fire has consumed its two ends, and the middle of it is scorched, will it then be fit for any work? Ezekiel 15:5. Behold, when it is uninjured, it is not used for any work: how much less when the fire has consumed it and scorched it can it be still used for work? Ezekiel 15:6. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As the wood of the vine among the wood of the forest, which I give to the fire to consume, so do I give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 15:7. And direct my face against them. They have gone out of the fire, and the fire will consume them; that ye may learn that I am Jehovah, when I set my face against them. Ezekiel 15:8. And I make the land a desert, because they committed treachery, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - Israel is like the wood of the wild vine, which is put into the fire to burn, because it is good for nothing. From Deuteronomy 32:32-33 onwards, Israel is frequently compared to a vine or a vineyard (cf. Psalm 80:9.; Isaiah 5; Hosea 10:1; Jeremiah 2:21), and always, with the exception of Psalm 80, to point out its degeneracy. This comparison lies at the foundation of the figure employed, in Ezekiel 15:2-5, of the wood of the wild vine. This wood has no superiority over any other kind of wood. It cannot be used, like other timber, for any useful purposes; but is only fit to be burned, so that it is really inferior to all other wood (Ezekiel 15:2 and Ezekiel 15:3). And if, in its perfect state, it cannot be used for anything, how much less when it is partially scorched and consumed (Ezekiel 15:4 and Ezekiel 15:5)! מה־יּהיה, followed by מן, means, what is it above (מן, comparative)? - i.e., what superiority has it to כּל־עץ, all kinds of wood? i.e., any other wood. 'הזמורה אשׁר וגו is in apposition to עץ הנּפן, and is not to be connected with מכּל־עץ, as it has been by the lxx and Vulgate, - notwithstanding the Masoretic accentuation, - so as to mean every kind of fagot; for זמורה does not mean a fagot, but the tendril or branch of the vine (cf. Ezekiel 8:17), which is still further defined by the following relative clause: to be a wood-vine, i.e., a wild vine, which bears only sour, uneatable grapes. The preterite היה (which was; not, "is") may be explained from the idea that the vine had been fetched from the forest in order that its wood might be used. The answer given in Ezekiel 15:3 is, that this vine-wood cannot be used for any purpose whatever, not even as a peg for hanging any kind of domestic utensils upon (see comm. on Zechariah 10:4). It is too weak even for this. The object has to be supplied to לעשׂות למלאכה: to make, or apply it, for any work. Because it cannot be used as timber, it is burned. A fresh thought is introduced in Ezekiel 15:4 by the words 'את שׁני ק. The two clauses in Ezekiel 15:4 are to be connected together. The first supposes a case, from which the second is deduced as a conclusion. The question, "Is it fit for any work?" is determined in Ezekiel 15:5 in the negative. אף כּי: as in Ezekiel 14:21. נחר: perfect; and יחר: imperfect, Niphal, of חרר, in the sense of, to be burned or scorched. The subject to waויּחר is no doubt the wood, to which the suffix in אכלתהוּ refers. At the same time, the two clauses are to be understood, in accordance with Ezekiel 15:4, as relating to the burning of the ends and the scorching of the middle. - Ezekiel 15:6-8. In the application of the parable, the only thing to which prominence is given, is the fact that God will deal with the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the same manner as with the vine-wood, which cannot be used for any kind of work. This implies that Israel resembles the wood of a forest-vine. As this possesses no superiority to other wood, but, on the contrary, is utterly useless, so Israel has no superiority to other nations, but is even worse than they, and therefore is given up to the fire. This is accounted for in Ezekiel 15:7 : "They have come out of the fire, and the fire will consume them" (the inhabitants of Jerusalem). These words are not to be interpreted proverbially, as meaning, "he who escapes one judgment falls into another" (Hvernick), but show the application of Ezekiel 15:4 and Ezekiel 15:5 to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Out of a fire one must come either burned or scorched. Israel has been in the fire already. It resembles a wild vine which has been consumed at both ends by the fire, while the middle has been scorched, and which is now about to be given up altogether to the fire. We must not restrict the fire, however, out of which it has come half consumed, to the capture of Jerusalem in the time of Jehoiachin, as Hitzig does, but must extend it to all the judgments which fell upon the covenant nation, from the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes to the catastrophe in the reign of Jehoiachin, and in consequence of which Israel now resembled a vine burned at both ends and scorched in the middle. The threat closes in the same manner as the previous one. Compare Ezekiel 15:7 with Ezekiel 14:8, and Ezekiel 15:8 with Ezekiel 14:15 and Ezekiel 14:13.
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