Ezekiel 47:12
And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Be consumed.—Better, fail. The fruit is to be eaten, but shall not fail to grow as it is wanted. These trees with their supernatural virtues are represented as produced by the waters because “they issued out of the sanctuary,” thus presenting a most effective image of the life-giving power of those spiritual influences which come from God upon men.

It has been objected to the spiritual interpretation of this vision, that under it nothing can be made of the fishermen of Ezekiel 47:10, and that, therefore, the whole is to be considered as a glorification of nature in the future Palestine. But this is to forget that in every figure and parable there are, and must be, details necessary to the figure which have nothing answering to them in the thing signified, and that it is the habit of Ezekiel to carry out such details very far. In this case, the mention of the fishermen greatly heightens the imagery of the life-giving power of the waters; while, if the whole were to be literally understood, they would really have no place, because there would be no such fishermen in the supposed glorified condition of the land.

Ezekiel 47:13-23, which, as already said, properly belong to Ezekiel 48, give the boundaries of the land to be divided among the tribes, together with provision for the inheritance of strangers living among them. The tracing of the boundary itself is introduced by some general statements in Ezekiel 47:13-14, concerning the distribution.

Ezekiel 47:12. And by the river, upon the bank thereof, shall grow all trees for meat — See the note on Ezekiel 47:7. By these trees may be understood, “the plenteous provisions of the gospel, the precious promises of the sacred word, and the privileges of believers, as communicated to their souls by the quickening Spirit. These abound on each side of the river, wherever the gospel is successfully preached; they afford nourishment and delight to the souls of men; they never fade or wither; they are various, according to the variety of circumstances and occasions in the experience of Christians; (as if a tree should yield a succession of different kinds of fruit, through the months of the year;) and even the leaves serve as medicines to their souls. The warnings and reproofs of the word, and the salutary corrections of their Father’s rod, though generally less valued, and always less pleasant, than divine consolations, yet tend to cure their maladies, and restore them to holiness and happiness.” — Scott.

Most expositors, however, consider these trees as emblematical of true, spiritual Christians, termed by Isaiah, trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, Isaiah 61:3, set by the rivers of water, the waters of the sanctuary, Psalm 1:3, grafted into Christ, the tree of life, and, by virtue of their union with him, made trees of life too, rooted in him, Colossians 2:7. There is a great variety of these trees, through the diversity of gifts with which they are endued by that one Spirit which works all in all. They grow on the bank of the river, for they keep close to holy ordinances, and through them derive sap and virtue from Christ. They are fruit-trees, designed, as the fig-tree and the olive, to honour with their fruits both God and man, Jdg 9:9. The fruit thereof shall be for meat, for the lips of the righteous feed many, and the fruits of their righteousness are many ways beneficial. The very leaves of these trees are for medicine, or, as the margin has it, for bruises and sores. True Christians, with their good discourses, the leaves of the trees of righteousness, as well as with their beneficent actions, which are their fruits, do good to those about them: they strengthen the weak, and bind up the broken-hearted. Their cheerfulness does good like a medicine, not only to themselves, but to others also. And their leaf shall not fade — They shall be enabled, by the grace of God, to persevere in their piety and usefulness, having not only life in their root, but sap in all their branches. Therefore their profession shall not wither, nor their discourse lose its healing, strengthening virtue. Neither shall their fruit be consumed — That is, they shall not cease to bear fruit, retaining still the principles of their fruitfulness; but shall bring it forth even in old age. Or, the reward of their fruitfulness shall abide for ever; they shall produce fruit that shall abound to their account at the appearing of Jesus Christ, fruit to life eternal. They shall bring forth new fruit according to their months — Some in one month and others in another; or, each one of them shall bring forth fruit monthly; which signifies a constant disposition, desire, resolution, and endeavour to bear fruit, and that they shall never be weary of well-doing. And the reason of this extraordinary fruitfulness is, because their waters issue out of the sanctuary — It is not to be ascribed to their own wisdom, power, or goodness, or to any thing in themselves, but to the continual supplies of divine grace, with which they are watered every moment, Isaiah 27:3. For, whoever may be the instrument of planting them, it is divine grace which gives the increase.

The reader will observe, that this part of Ezekiel’s vision is evidently referred to and almost copied by St. John, Revelation 22:2, who applies it to the salvation of Christ, begun on earth, and perfected in heaven. This whole passage, from Ezekiel 47:1-12 inclusive, as Bishop Newcome observes, “is one of the most striking allegories in the Hebrew Scriptures,” and must so necessarily have a mystical and spiritual meaning, that from thence we are compelled to conclude that all the other parts of the vision, from the beginning of the xlth to the cud of the xlviiith chapter, must have such a meaning also; and that whatever allusion the prophet’s description of the temple, its courts. &c., and the division of the land to the prince, priests, and tribes, might have to Solomon’s temple, or to that built after the return of the Jews from Babylon, and the former divisions of the country; yet that the vision was principally intended of the spiritual temple of the Christian Church, and of its great extent, prosperity, and glory in the latter days, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and all Israel shall be saved.

47:1-23 These waters signify the gospel of Christ, which went forth from Jerusalem, and spread into the countries about; also the gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost which accompanied it, by virtue of which is spread far, and produced blessed effects. Christ is the Temple; and he is the Door; from him the living waters flow, out of his pierced side. They are increasing waters. Observe the progress of the gospel in the world, and the process of the work of grace in the heart; attend the motions of the blessed Spirit under Divine guidance. If we search into the things of God, we find some things plain and easy to be understood, as the waters that were but to the ankles; others more difficult, which require a deeper search, as the waters to the knees, or the loins; and some quite beyond our reach, which we cannot penetrate; but must, as St. Paul did, adore the depth, Ro 11. It is wisdom to begin with that which is most easy, before we proceed to that which is dark and hard to be understood. The promises of the sacred word, and the privileges of believers, as shed abroad in their souls by the quickening Spirit, abound where the gospel is preached; they nourish and delight the souls of men; they never fade nor wither, nor are exhausted. Even the leaves serve as medicines to the soul: the warnings and reproofs of the word, though less pleasant than Divine consolations, tend to heal the diseases of the soul. All who believe in Christ, and are united to him by his sanctifying Spirit, will share the privileges of Israelites. There is room in the church, and in heaven, for all who seek the blessings of that new covenant of which Christ is Mediator.The exception, which reserves for sterility places to which the living water does not reach, probably indicates that the life and health are solely due to the stream which proceeds from beneath the throne of God. Compare Isaiah 57:20-21. 12. Instead of the "vine of Sodom and grapes of Gomorrah" (De 32:32), nauseous and unwholesome, trees of life-giving and life-restoring virtue shall bloom similar in properties to, and exceeding in number, the tree of life in Eden (Re 2:7; 22:2, 14).

leaf … not fade—expressing not only the unfailing character of the heavenly medicine of the tree of life, but also that the graces of the believer (as a tree of righteousness), which are the leaves, and his deeds, which are the fruits that flow from those graces, are immortal (Ps 1:3; Jer 17:8; Mt 10:42; 1Co 15:58).

new fruit—literally, "firstlings," or first fruit. They are still, each month afresh, as it were, yielding their first-fruit [Fairbairn]. The first-born of a thing, in Hebrew idiom, means the chiefest. As Job 18:13, "the first-born of death," that is, the most fatal death.

By the river; all along this river, which way soever it runs, it shall make its banks so fruitful, that on both sides thereof it shall be abundantly planted with best trees. Shall grow; take root, flourish, and be fruitful, as trees that like their soil.

Trees for meat; they shall not be as trees that are set only for pleasure, their fruit shall be for food.

Shall not fade; ever green and flourishing, as trees in the spring and in their prime.

Neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; never be so little as to be consumed and spent, never rot and decay, there shall always be fruit and enough.

According to his months: these trees have, as the tree of life, their fruit every month, Revelation 22:2.

Their waters; called so because watered by this stream.

Issued out of the sanctuary; and so carried a blessing with them; these waters came from the temple, and were indeed a spell against barrenness.

The leaf thereof: there are many herbs of a healing property, none like the leaves of these trees.

For medicine; healing the nations, as Revelation 22:2. These trees most likely were palmetto trees, whence the balm that healeth, the fruit that feedeth, and juice that refresheth, and allays our thirst. Thus the letter, the mystery I do not insist on, it is no hard matter for private Christians to accommodate it to themselves.

And by the river on the banks thereof, on this side and on that side,.... On each side of the river, on the banks of it:

shall grow all trees for meat; such as bear fruit, that may be eaten, and is good for food: by these "trees" are meant truly gracious souls, converted persons, real Christians, true believers in Christ; who like trees have a root, are rooted in the love of God, in the person and grace of Christ, and have the root of the matter in them, the grace of the blessed Spirit; and who also is their sap, of which they are full, and so grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ; grow up in him, and grow upwards and heavenwards in their affections and desires, and in the exercise of faith and hope: they are the trees of the Lord, trees of righteousness, good trees, that bring forth good fruit; and are often in Scripture compared to trees the most excellent, as palm trees, cedars, olives, myrtles, &c. and wherever the Gospel comes, these trees arise, and are watered and made fruitful by it; sometimes in lesser, and sometimes in greater numbers, as in the first times of the Gospel, and as they will in the latter day; see Psalm 92:12,

whose leaf shall not fade; as the leaves of trees in autumn do, and drop off and fall; to which some professors of religion are compared, who bear no fruit, only have the leaves of a profession, and this they drop when any trouble or difficulty arises, Jde 1:12, but true believers, as they take up a profession on principles of grace, they hold it fast without wavering; their root, seed, and sap, remain, and so never wither and die in their profession; see Psalm 1:3,

neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; which are the graces of the Spirit, and good works flowing from them: the graces of the Spirit are abiding ones, as faith, hope, and love; these never die, are an incorruptible seed, a well of water springing up unto everlasting life; and good works, which are fruits meet for repentance, and evidences of faith, and by which trees are known to be good, always continue to be wrought by believers, in the strength and grace of Christ, from whom they have all their fruits of every kind, Hosea 14:8,

it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months; or, "first fruits" (o); that is, everyone of these trees, or every true believer, shall be continually in the exercise of grace, and the performance of duty; they shall be constant and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; they shall never cease from yielding fruit, or doing good; they shall still bring it even in old age; see Psalm 92:14,

because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary; because the waters, which issued out of the sanctuary, ran by these trees, and watered them, and made them fruitful, and therefore called their waters: the fruitfulness of these trees, true believers, is not owing to themselves, to their free will and power; to their own industry, diligence, and cultivation; but to the supplies of grace they receive by means of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; which bring forth, or cause to bring forth fruit, wherever they come with power, Colossians 1:6,

and the fruit thereof shall be for meat; not for saints themselves, who live not, neither on their graces, nor their works; though indeed they do eat the fruits of their doings, Isaiah 3:10, that is, enjoy good things, consequent on their works, through the free favour and good will of God; but for meat for others; for their fruit, which appears in their words and actions, are very beneficent to others; their fruit is a tree of life, Proverbs 11:30 and their lips feed many, Proverbs 10:21, with knowledge and understanding; with the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; and with the comfortable experience they have of its truths and promises: yea, their fruit are meat and food for Christ himself; who comes into his garden, and eats his pleasant fruits, feeds and feasts, and delights himself with his own grace in his people, and the exercise of it, Sol 4:9,

and the leaf thereof for medicine; or, "for bruises" (p); for the healing of them, which is only done by the blood of Christ; who is the only physician, the sun of righteousness, that rises with healing or pardon in his wings; and the whole language of this passage is borrowed from hence by John, and applied to Christ the tree of life, Revelation 22:2 and the Gospel professed by true believers directs to him for healing, or for the remission of sin, and is the means of applying it, Psalm 107:20 and a cheerful constant profession of Christ and his Gospel, which is the Christian's leaf, does good like a medicine, both to the Christian himself, and to others; who are animated and encouraged thereby to go on with pleasure in the ways of God.

(o) "afferet primitiva", V. L. Vatablus; "primogenita", Starckius. So Ben Melech. (p) "ad contritionem, vel ad sanitatem contritionis", Vatablus; "ad fractionem sanandam", Pagninus. So Ben Melech.

And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. according to his months] every month. For issued, issue. The fruit of these trees shall not “be consumed” i.e. fail; it shall renew itself every month, and the leaves shall be ever green and possess a healing virtue. Psalm 1:3; Revelation 22:2.

This beautiful representation of the healing stream, issuing from the temple and fertilizing the desert as well as changing the bitter waters of the Dead Sea into sweet, so that they yield abundant sustenance to men, rests on some natural and some spiritual conceptions common in Ezekiel’s days. One natural fact was this, that there was a fountain connected with the temple-hill, the waters of which fell into the valley east of the city and made their way towards the sea; and long ere this time the gentle waters of this brook, that flowed fast by the oracle of God, had furnished symbols to the prophets (Isaiah 8:6). Such waters in the east are the source of every blessing to men. The religious conceptions are such as these: that Jehovah himself is the giver of all blessings to men, and from his presence all blessings flow. He was now present in his fulness and for ever in his temple. Hence the prophet sees the life-giving stream issue from the sanctuary. Another current idea was that in the regeneration of men, when the tabernacle of God was with them, external nature would also be transfigured. Then every good would be enjoyed and there would be no more evil nor curse. The desert would blossom like the rose, and the field that aforetime was thought fruitful should be accounted no better than bush. The barren land toward the east and the bitter waters of the sea were a contradiction to the ideal of an external nature subservient in all her parts to man in the fellowship of God. Therefore the desert shall be fertilized and the waters of the sea healed, and all things minister to man’s good. But “good” to the Israelite was not exclusively spiritual, it was also material. It would be an error to regard this fertilizing, healing stream in the light of a mere symbol for blessings which we call “spiritual.” It is well fitted in other connexions to be such a symbol; but to take it so here would be to overstep the limits of the Old Testament and anticipate a later revelation. As yet the Israelite had no conception of a transcendent sphere of existence for men in the fellowship of God, such as we name heaven. Man’s final abode even in his perfect state was considered to be still on the earth. God came down and dwelt with men; men were not translated to abide with God. But God’s presence with men on earth gave to earth the attributes of heaven. Yet man’s needs remained, and God’s presence was the source of all things necessary to supply them. When he had the needful blessings the Israelite saw in them the tokens and the sacraments of God’s favour and presence with him; and conversely when God was near him he was assured that he should want no good thing (Psalm 34:9).

Verse 12. - The effect of the river upon the vegetation growing on its banks is the last feature added to the prophet's picture. Already referred to in ver. 7, it is here developed at greater length. The "very many trees" of that verse become in this all trees, or every tree for meat, i.e. every sort of tree with edible fruit (comp. Leviticus 19:23), whose leaf should not fade or wither, and whose fruit should not be consumed or finished, i.e. should not fail, but continue to bring forth new fruit, i.e., early or firstfruits (Revised Version margin), according to his (or, its) months; or, every month; the לְ in לָךחדָשִׁים being taken distributively, as in Isaiah 47:13 (compare לַיום, "every day," in Ezekiel 46:13). This remarkable productivity, the prophet saw, was due, not so much to the fact that the tree roots sucked up moisture from the stream, as to the circumstance that the waters which they drank up issued out of the sanctuary. To the same circumstance were owing the nutritive and medicinal properties of their fruit and leaves respectively. The picture in this verse is unmistakably based on Genesis 2:9, and is as clearly reproduced by the Apocalyptic seer in Revelation 22:2. On this whole vision the remarks of Thomson, in 'The Land and the Book' (pp. 660-663), are worthy of being consulted. Ezekiel 47:12The 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.

Links
Ezekiel 47:12 Interlinear
Ezekiel 47:12 Parallel Texts


Ezekiel 47:12 NIV
Ezekiel 47:12 NLT
Ezekiel 47:12 ESV
Ezekiel 47:12 NASB
Ezekiel 47:12 KJV

Ezekiel 47:12 Bible Apps
Ezekiel 47:12 Parallel
Ezekiel 47:12 Biblia Paralela
Ezekiel 47:12 Chinese Bible
Ezekiel 47:12 French Bible
Ezekiel 47:12 German Bible

Bible Hub








Ezekiel 47:11
Top of Page
Top of Page