Ezekiel 47:15
And this shall be the border of the land toward the north side, from the great sea, the way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) This shall be the border of the land.—The boundaries are essentially the same as those given in Numbers 34:1-15, only that there the southern boundary is given first to the Israelites coming up from Egypt, while here the northern is first described for the people supposed to be returning from Babylon. There is also more detail given in Numbers, and as the points mentioned here are the same, it is fair to fill out this description from the earlier one. It is remarkable that in both cases the eastern boundary is the Jordan. The inheritance of the tribes on the east of that river having been a modification of the original allotment, and not being taken into consideration at all here, portions are assigned on the west of the river to the two and a half tribes who had lived all through Israel’s history on the east.

The way of Hethlon.—The boundary begins at the Mediterranean, but at what precise point cannot be determined; for although it is evident that the lines between the tribes were straight and parallel, yet it does not appear whether they were perpendicular to the Jordan, which would be substantially parallel to the lines of latitude, or perpendicular to the Mediterranean, which would make a small angle with them. Hethlon is mentioned only here and in Ezekiel 48:1, and has not been identified. It was probably a place of little importance, as its situation is described “as men go to Zedad.” The latter place is mentioned in Numbers 34:8 as one of the points in the original northern border of the land. It is clear from the passage in Numbers that it lay eastward of the “entrance to Hamath,” and has been identified by some writers with the modern village of Sadad, but this is thirty miles from “the entrance of Hamath,” which seems quite too far. Ezekiel may have passed through it when carried captive to Babylon.

Ezekiel 47:15-17. This shall be the border toward the north — The northern border of the land was to begin from the west point, on which side lay the Mediterranean sea, and to go on northward toward Hethlon, a place between Tyre and Damascus, and so forward to Zedad, mentioned Numbers 34:8, Hamath, and other places here mentioned in these verses.

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 borders of the land follow closely Numbers 34, where they begin from the south, as the people came up from Egypt; in Ezekiel, they begin from the north, as they might return from Babylon. The occupation is ideal, but is grounded, as usual, on an actual state of things.

The border of the land toward the north - Names of places in the actual northern border are given (marginal references) not to mark exact geographical position, but to show that the original promise will be fulfilled.

The way of Hethlon, was probably the defile between the ranges of Libanus and Anti-libanus, from the sea to Hamath. "Hamath" Amos 6:2, at the foot of Mount Hermon, on the Orontes. was the ancient capital of the Hittites. Its Scripture history may be traced in Genesis 10:18; 2 Samuel 8:9; 2 Kings 18:34. It was never included in the possessions of Israel. The border ran considerably south of the town at the "entrance of Hamath," the northern opening of Coele-Syria.

15. Zedad—on the north boundary of Canaan. In bounding the land, the prophet is informed what is the north border first. The great sea; called so, not that it is the greatest, for it is the Mediterranean here spoken of, but with respect to the Jews; this to them was the greatest they knew or traded on: from this sea doth the measuring of the land begin, from the west point along to Hethlon.

Hethlon is called Hethalon by Adrichmius, in the tribe of Asher, at the foot or near the Mount Herman or Senir, as Ezekiel 27:5 calls that mount: this city was in the north-east of Asher’s lot, and on the north-west of Naphtali’s lot, in the old division of the land.

Zedad is Sedada, a small town under the same hill, and near the head of the river Eleutherus, anciently Gebat.

And this shall be the border of the land toward the north side,.... The description of the borders of the land begins on the north side; because the Gospel, and the interest of Christ, would be, as they now are, chiefly in the northern part of the world, before the latter day glory takes place, and from thence spread into the other parts of it:

from the great sea, the way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad; the line of this border shall begin at the Mediterranean sea, commonly called the great sea, and so proceed to Hethlon, a city in Syria Damascene, and from thence to Zedad; of which see Numbers 34:8, the description is taken all along from the places which were on the border of Canaan, or in countries adjacent to it, which plainly point out the enlargement of it.

And this shall be the border {k} of the land toward the north side, from the great sea, the way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad;

(k) By the land of promise he signifies the spiritual land of which this was a figure.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. The northern border. The two ends of the line of delimitation on the N. are the great sea on the west and Hazar Enon on the east. The line passes from west to east, bending, towards its termination at least, towards S.E. In its way it skirts the territory of Hamath and that of Damascus.

as men go to Zedad] In Ezekiel 47:20 and Ezekiel 48:1 the reading is “as one goeth to Hamath,” a frequent phrase, sometimes rendered “the entering into Hamath” (Joshua 13:5), or “the entering in of Hamath” (Jdg 3:3; 1 Kings 8:65), or “the entrance of Hamath” (Numbers 34:8). In 1 Kings 8:65 the phrase seems to mean the southern boundary of Hamath. Unfortunately the point on the western sea from which the line starts is not specified, as the situation of Hethlon is unknown. The entrance to Hamath must be either the mouth of the Bukâ’, the great plain between the Libanus on the W. and the Anti-libanus on the E., by which one goes N. to Hamath, or it must be the plain between the North end of the Libanus and the Nusairîyeh mountains, opening from the sea and running east. This would throw the boundary-line north of Tripoli, and south of Arvad. In Joshua 13:5, the land of the Giblites, i.e. Gebal (Byblus) to the N. of Beirut, is regarded as part of Israel’s possession. In Numbers 34:8, where the northern boundary is described, the reading is the “entrance of Hamath,” Zedad being mentioned afterwards. Except in 1 Chronicles 5:9 the phrase is only used of Hamath. Following Ezekiel 48:1, and Numbers 34:8, the place of Zedad and Hamath may be changed, as LXX. also seems to have read Hamath before Zedad.—15 “And this shall be the boundary of the land: on the N. side, from the great sea by the way of Hethlon, where the way goeth unto Hamath, by Zedad, 16 Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath, even unto Hazar-hattikon, which is by the border of Hauran.” If we could suppose the entry to Hamath not the southern one by the plain of Cœle Syria, but the western one from the sea to the N. of Tripoli, Hethlon might be the modern Heitela (Robinson’s Map, 1852). Zedad has been supposed to be Sadad, S. of Emesa (Homs) and not far from Riblah. With Berotha, cf. Berothai, 2 Samuel 8:8. In Numbers 34:9 Ziphran seems to occupy the place of Sibraim here. In Numb, the line appears to run E. as far as Zedad, and then to change its direction to the S. till it ends at Hazar Enan.

Verse 15. - The north boundary. And this shall be the border of the land toward the north side. The Revised Version follows Kliefoth and Keil in detaching the last clause from the preceding words, and reading. This shall be the border of the land: on the north side. From the great sea, the Mediterranean, by the way of Hethlon, as men go to (or, unto the entering in of) Zedad. The former of these places (Chethlon), which is again mentioned in Ezekiel 48:1, has not yet been identified, though Currey suggests for the "way," "the defile between the ranges of Lebanus and Antilibanus, from the sea to Hamath." The latter (Zedad) Wetstein and Robinson find in the city of Sadad (Sudud), east of the road leading from Damascus to Humo (Emesa), and therefore west of Hamath; but as Hamath in all probability lay to the east of Zedad, this opinion must be rejected. Ezekiel 47:15Boundaries of the Land to be Divided among the Tribes of Israel.

Ezekiel 47:13. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, This is the boundary according to which ye shall divide the land among you for an inheritance, for Joseph portions. Ezekiel 47:14. And ye shall receive it for an inheritance, one as well as another, because I lifted up my hand to give it to your fathers; and thus shall this land fall to you for an inheritance. Ezekiel 47:15. And this is the boundary of the land: toward the north side, from the great sea onwards by the way to Chetlon, in the direction of Zedad; Ezekiel 47:16. Hamath, Berotah, Sibraim, which is between the boundary of Damascus and the boundary of Hamath, the central Hazer, which is on the boundary of Haruan. Ezekiel 47:17. And the boundary from the sea shall be Hazar-Enon, the boundary town of Damascus; and as for the north northwards, Hamath is the boundary. This, the north side. Ezekiel 47:18. And the east side between Hauran and Damascus and Gilead and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan; from the boundary to the eastern sea ye shall measure. This, the east side. Ezekiel 47:19. And the south side toward the south; from Tamar to the water of strife, Kadesh, along the brook to the great sea. This, the south side toward the south. Ezekiel 47:20. And the west side; the great sea from the boundary to Hamath. This, the west side. Ezekiel 47:21. This land shall ye divide among you according to the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel 47:22. And it shall come to pass, ye shall divide it by lot among yourselves for an inheritance, and among the foreigners who dwell in the midst of you, who have begotten sons in the midst of you; they shall be to you like natives born among the sons of Israel; they shall cast lots with you for an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel 47:23. And it shall come to pass, in the tribe in which the foreigner dwells, there shall ye give him his inheritance, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah.

The fixing of the boundary of the land which Israel was to divide in future according to its twelve tribes is commenced (Ezekiel 47:13 and Ezekiel 47:14) and concluded (Ezekiel 47:22 and Ezekiel 47:23) with certain general statements concerning the distribution. The introductory statements are attached to the heading "this is the boundary," which is therefore repeated in Ezekiel 47:15. גּה is evidently a copyist's error for זה, which is adopted by all the older translators, contained in some Codd., and demanded by וזה in Ezekiel 47:15. גּבוּל stands here for the whole of the boundary of the land to be distributed; and אשׁר which follows is an accusative, "according to which." - "According to the twelve tribes," - for all Israel is to return and dwell as one people of God under one prince in its own land (Ezekiel 36:24., Ezekiel 37:21.). But the division among the twelve tribes is more precisely defined immediately afterwards by the clause abruptly appended, "Joseph portions," i.e., two portions for Joseph. There can be no doubt that this is the meaning of the words in accordance with Genesis 48:22 and Joshua 17:14, Joshua 17:17. Hence the notice-like form of the expression, which should not be obliterated by pointing חבלים as a dual, חבלים. If the land was to be divided by lot according to twelve tribes, and the tribe of Levi was to receive its portion from the terumah which was set apart, Joseph must necessarily receive two hereditary portions for his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, in accordance with the appointment of the patriarch in Genesis 48:22. The commencement of Ezekiel 47:14 is not at variance with this, as Hitzig imagines; for the words, "ye shall receive it for an inheritance, one as another," simply affirm, that of the twelve tribes reckoned by Israel in relation to the נחלה, all were to receive equal shares, the one as much as the other. As the reason for this command to divide the land, allusion is made to the oath with which God promised to give this land to the fathers (cf. Ezekiel 20:28).

The definition of the boundaries commences with Ezekiel 47:15. In form it differs in many points from Numbers 34:1-5, but in actual fact it is in harmony with the Mosaic definition. In Numbers 34 the description commences with the southern boundary, then proceeds to the western and northern boundaries, and closes with the eastern. In Ezekiel it commences with the northern boundary and proceeds to the east, the south, and the west. This difference may be explained in a very simple manner, from the fact that the Israelites in the time of Moses came from Egypt i.e., marching from the south, and stood by the south-eastern boundary of the land, whereas at this time they were carried away into the northern lands Assyria and Babylon, and were regarded as returning thence. Again, in Ezekiel the boundaries are described much more briefly than in Numbers 34, the northern boundary alone being somewhat more circumstantially described. The course which it takes is represented in a general manner in Ezekiel 47:15 as running from the great sea, i.e., the Mediterranean, by the way to Chetlon, in the direction toward Zedad. In Ezekiel 47:16 and Ezekiel 47:17 there follow the places which formed the boundary. The starting-point on the Mediterranean Sea can only be approximately determined, as the places mentioned, Chetlon and Zedad, are still unknown. Not only Chetlon, but Zedad also, has not yet been discovered. The city of Sadad (Sudud), to the east of the road leading from Damascus to Hums (Emesa), which Robinson and Wetzstein suppose to be the same, lies much too far toward the east to be used in defining the boundary either here or in Numbers 34:8 (see the comm. on Numbers 34:8). Among the names enumerated in Ezekiel 47:16, חמת is not the city of Hamah on the Orontes, which lay much too far to the north, but the kingdom of Hamath, the southern boundary of which formed the northern boundary of Canaan, though it cannot be given with exactness. Berothah is probably identical with Berothai in 2 Samuel 8:8, a city of the king of Zobah; but the situation of it is still unknown. Sibraim may perhaps be identical with Ziphron in Numbers 34:9, which has also not yet been discovered, and is not to be sought for in the ruins of Zifran, to the north-east of Damascus, near the road to Palmyra; for that place could not form the boundary of Damascus and Hamath. The situation of the "central Hazer" has also not yet been determined. Hauran, on the boundary of which it stood, is used here in a more comprehensive sense that ̓Αυρανῖτις in Josephus and other Greek authors, and includes the later Auranitis, together with Gaulanitis (Golan) and Batanaea (Bashan), and probably also Ituraea, as only Damascus and Gilead are named in Ezekiel 47:18 in addition to Hauran, on the east side of the Jordan; so that the whole tract of land between the territory of Damascus and the country of Gilead is embraced by the name Hauran. חורן, Arab. Hawrân, is derived from the number of caves (חור, חוּר) in that district, to which Wetzstein (Reiseber. p. 92) indeed raises the objection that with the exception of the eastern and south-eastern Hauran, where no doubt most of the volcanic hills have been perforated by troglodytes, the dwellings in caves are by no means common in that region. But the name may have originated in this eastern district, and possibly have included even that portion of Gilead which was situated to the north of the Jabbok, namely, Erbed and Sut, the true cave-country. For further remarks concerning these districts, see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:4 and Deuteronomy 3:10. The statement in Ezekiel 47:17, "the boundary from the sea shall be Hazar-Enon, the boundary of Damascus," cannot have any other meaning than that the northern boundary, which started from the Mediterranean Sea, stretched as far as Hazar-Enon, the frontier city of Damascus, or that Hazar-Enon formed the terminal point on the east, toward the boundary of Damascus, for the northern boundary proceeding from the sea. חצר עינון or חצר עינן (Numbers 34:9), i.e., spring-court, we have endeavoured to identify in the comm. on Numbers 34:3 with the spring Lebweh, which lies in the Beka at the watershed between the Orontes and the Leontes; and the designation "the boundary of Damascus" suits the situation very well. Ezekiel 47:17 has been aptly explained by Hitzig thus, in accordance with the literal meaning of the words, "and as for the north north-wards, Hamath is the boundary," which he further elucidates by observing that צפונה is intended as a supplementary note to the boundary line from west to east, which is indicated just before. ואת פּאת צפון is a concluding formula: "this, the north side." But ואת (here and Ezekiel 47:18 and Ezekiel 47:19) is not to be altered into זאת after Ezekiel 47:20 and the Syriac version, as Hitzig supposes, but to be explained, as Ezekiel 47:18 clearly shows, on the supposition that Ezekiel had תּמודּוּ, "ye shall measure," floating before his mind, to which 'ואת פ, "and that the northern boundary," would form a correct logical sequel.

The eastern boundary is defined in v. 18 in the same manner as in Numbers 34:10-12, except that in the latter it is more minutely described above the Lake of Gennesaret by the mention of several localities, whereas Ezekiel only names the Jordan as the boundary. - פּאת , with supplementary remarks, is not to be taken as the predicate to the subject היּרדּן, as Hitzig has correctly observed; for the meaning of פּאה does not allow of this. The explanation is rather this: as for the east side, between Hauran, etc. and the land of Israel, is the Jordan. Hauran, Damascus, and Gilead lie on the east side of the Jordan, the land of Israel on the west side. The striking circumstance that Ezekiel commences with Hauran, which lay in the middle between Damascus and Gilead, - Hauran, Damascus, and Gilead, instead of Damascus, Hauran, and Gilead, - may probably be explained from the fact that the Jordan, which he names as the boundary, for the sake of brevity, did not extend so far upwards as to the territory of Damascus, but simply formed the boundary of the land of Israel between Hauran and Gilead. מגּבוּל points back to the northern boundary already mentioned. From this boundary, the eastern terminal point of which was Hazar-Enon, they are to measure to the eastern sea, i.e., to the Dead Sea.

Ezekiel 47:19. The southern boundary toward the south is to proceed from Tamar to the water of strife, Kadesh, (and thence) along the brook to the great (i.e., Mediterranean) sea. Tamar, a different place from Hazazon-tamar, called Engedi in Ezekiel 47:10 (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:2), is supposed to be the Thamara (Θαμαρά),

(Note: The statement runs thus: λέγεται δέ τις Θαμαρά κώμη διεστώσα Μάψις ἡμέρας ὁδόν, ἀπιόντων ἀπὸ Χεβρὼν εἰς Αἰλάμ, ἥτις νῦν φρούριόν ἐστι τῶν στρατιωτῶν. In Jerome: est et aliud castellum, unius diei itinere a Mampsis oppido separatum, pergentibus Ailiam de Chebron, ubi nunc romanum praesidium positum est. But on account of the Μάψις (Mampsis), which is evidently a corruption, the passage is obscure. Robinson's conjecture concerning Thamara is founded upon the assumption that the reading should be Μάλις, and that this is the Malatha mentioned by later writers as the station of a Roman cohort.)

which was a day's journey on the road from Hebron to Aelam (Aelath, Deuteronomy 2:8; 1 Kings 9:26), according to Eusebius in the Onomast. ed. Lars. p. 68, and had a Roman garrison; and Robinson (Pal. III pp. 178 and 186ff.) accordingly conjectures that it is to be found in the ruins of Kurnub, which lie six hours' journey to the south of Milh, toward the pass of es-Sufh. But this conjecture is bound up with various assumptions of a very questionable character, and the situation of Hurnub hardly suits the Tamar of our passage, which should be sought, not to the west of the southern point of the Dead Sea, but, according to the southern boundary of Canaan as drawn in Numbers 34:3-5, to the south of the Dead Sea. The waters of strife of Kadesh (Numbers 20:1-13), in the desert of Zin, were near Kadesh-barnea, which was in the neighbourhood of the spring Ain Kades, discovered by Rowland to the south of Bir-Seba and Khalasa by the fore-courts of Jebel Helal, i.e., at the north-west corner of the mountain land of the Azazimeh (see the comm. on Numbers 10:12; Numbers 12:16, and Numbers 20:16). Instead of מריבות we have the singular מריבת in Ezekiel 48:28, as in Numbers 27:14 and Deuteronomy 32:51. נחלה is to be pointed נחלה, from נחל with ה loc.; and the reference is to the brook of Egypt; the great wady el-Arish ( ̔Ρινοκορουρα), along which the southern boundary of Canaan ran from Kadesh to the Mediterranean Sea (see the comm. on Ezekiel 34:5). - Ezekiel 47:20. The Mediterranean Sea formed the western boundary. מגּבוּל, i.e., from the southern boundary mentioned in Ezekiel 47:19 till opposite (עד) to the coming to Hamath, i.e., till opposite to the point at which one enters the territory of Hamath (Hitzig), i.e., the spot mentioned in Ezekiel 47:20 (? 17) as the commencement of the northern boundary in the neighbourhood of the promontory of esh-Shkah between Byblus (Gebal) and Tripolis. - Ezekiel 47:21. This land they are to divide among them according to their tribes. With this remark, which points back to Ezekiel 47:13, the definition of the boundaries is brought to a close. There is simply added in Ezekiel 47:22 and Ezekiel 47:23 a further regulation concerning the foreigners living in Israel. The law of Moses had already repeatedly urged upon the Israelites affectionate treatment of them, and in Leviticus 19:34 the command is given to treat them like natives in this respect, and to love them. But the full right of citizenship was not thereby conceded to them, so that they could also acquire property in land. The land was given to the Israelites alone for an hereditary possession. Foreigners could only be incorporated into the congregation of Israel under the limitations laid down in Deuteronomy 23:2-9, by the reception of circumcision. But in the future distribution of the land, on the contrary, the גּרים were to receive hereditary property like native-born Israelites; and in this respect no difference was to exist between the members of the people of God born of Abraham's seed and those born of the heathen. At the same time, this right was not to be conferred upon every foreigner who might be only temporarily living in Israel, but to those alone who should beget sons in the midst of Israel, i.e., settle permanently in the holy land. The Kal יפּלוּ is not to be altered into the Hiphil תּפּילוּ, as Hitzig proposes, but is used in the sense of receiving by lot, derived from the Hiphil signification, "to apportion by lot."

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