Ezekiel 47:1-23 . VISION OF THE TEMPLE WATERS. BORDERS AND DIVISION OF THE LAND.
The happy fruit to the earth at large of God's dwelling with Israel in holy fellowship is that the blessing is no longer restricted to the one people and locality, but is to be diffused with comprehensive catholicity through the whole world. So the plant from the cedar of Lebanon is represented as gathering under its shelter "all fowl of every wing" ( Ezekiel 17:23 ). Even the desert places of the earth shall be made fruitful by the healing waters of the Gospel (compare Isaiah 35:1 ).
1. waters--So Revelation 22:1 , represents "the water of life as proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." His throne was set up in the temple at Jerusalem ( Ezekiel 43:7 ). Thence it is to flow over the earth ( Joel 3:18 , Zechariah 13:1 , 14:8 ). Messiah is the temple and the door; from His pierced side flow the living waters, ever increasing, both in the individual believer and in the heart. The fountains in the vicinity of Moriah suggested the image here. The waters flow eastward, that is, towards the Kedron, and thence towards the Jordan, and so along the Ghor into the Dead Sea. The main point in the picture is the rapid augmentation from a petty stream into a mighty river, not by the influx of side streams, but by its own self-supply from the sacred miraculous source in the temple [HENDERSON]. (Compare Psalms 36:8 Psalms 36:9 , 46:4 , Isaiah 11:9 , Habakkuk 2:14 ). Searching into the things of God, we find some easy to understand, as the water up to the ankles; others more difficult, which require a deeper search, as the waters up to the knees or loins; others beyond our reach, of which we can only adore the depth ( Romans 11:33 ). The healing of the waters of the Dead Sea here answers to "there shall be no more curse" ( Revelation 22:3 ; compare Zechariah 14:11 ).
7. trees--not merely one tree of life as in Paradise ( Genesis 3:22 ), but many: to supply immortal food and medicine to the people of God, who themselves also become "trees of righteousness" ( Isaiah 61:3 ) planted by the waters and ( Psalms 1:3 ) bearing fruit unto holiness.
8. the desert--or "plain," Hebrew, Arabah ( Deuteronomy 3:17 , 4:49 , Joshua 3:16 ), which is the name still given to the valley of the Jordan and the plain south of the Dead Sea, and extending to the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea.
the sea--the Dead Sea. "The sea" noted as covering with its waters the guilty cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah. In its bituminous waters no vegetable or animal life is said to be found. But now death is to give place to life in Judea, and throughout the world, as symbolized by the healing of these death-pervaded waters covering the doomed cities. Compare as to "the sea" in general, regarded as a symbol of the troubled powers of nature, disordered by the fall, henceforth to rage no more, Revelation 21:1 .
9. rivers--in Hebrew, "two rivers." Hence Hebrew expositors think that the waters from the temple were divided into two branches, the one emptying itself into the eastern or Dead Sea, the other into the western or Mediterranean. So Zechariah 14:8 . However, though this probably is covertly implied in the Hebrew dual, the flowing of the waters into the Dead Sea only is expressed. Compare Ezekiel 47:8 , "waters . . . healed," which can apply only to it, not to the Mediterranean: also Ezekiel 47:10 , "fish as the fish of the great sea"; the Dead Sea, when healed, containing fish, as the Mediterranean does.
10. En-gedi . . . En-eglaim--En-gedi (meaning "fountain of the kid"), anciently, Hazazon-Tamar, now Ain-Jidy; west of the Dead Sea; David's place of refuge from Saul. En-eglaim means "fountain of two calves," on the confines of Moab, over against En-gedi, and near where Jordan enters the Dead Sea ( Isaiah 15:8 ). These two limits are fixed on, to comprise between them the whole Dead Sea.
fish . . . according to their kinds--JEROME quotes an ancient theory that "there are a hundred fifty-three kinds of fishes," all of which were taken by the apostles ( John 21:11 ), and not one remained uncaptured; signifying that both the noble and baseborn, the rich and the poor, and every class, are being drawn out of the sea of the world to salvation. Compare Matthew 13:47 , the gospel net; the apostles being fishermen, at first literally, afterwards spiritually ( Matthew 4:19 ).
11. marshes--marshy places. The region is known to have such pits and marshes. The Arabs take the salt collected by evaporation in these pits for their own use, and that of their flocks.
not be healed--Those not reached by the healing waters of the Gospel, through their sloth and earthly-mindedness, are given over ( Revelation 22:11 ) to their own bitterness and barrenness (as "saltness" is often employed to express, Deuteronomy 29:23 , Psalms 107:34 , Zephaniah 2:9 ); and awful example to others in the punishment they suffer ( 2 Peter 2:6 ).
12. Instead of the "vine of Sodom and grapes of Gomorrah" ( Deuteronomy 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 ( Revelation 2:7 , Revelation 22:2 Revelation 22:14 ).
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 ( Psalms 1:3 , Jeremiah 17:8 , Matthew 10:42 , 1 Corinthians 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.
13. The redivision of the land: the boundaries. The latter are substantially the same as those given by Moses in Numbers 34:1-29 ; they here begin with the north, but in Numbers they begin with the south ( Numbers 34:3 ). It is only Canaan proper, exclusive of the possession of the two and a half tribes beyond Jordan, that is here divided.
Joseph . . . two portions--according to the original promise of Jacob ( Genesis 48:5 Genesis 48:22 ). Joseph's sons were given the birthright forfeited by Reuben, the first-born ( 1 Chronicles 5:1 ). Therefore the former is here put first. His two sons having distinct portions make up the whole number twelve portions, as he had just before specified "twelve tribes of Israel"; for Levi had no separate inheritance, so that he is not reckoned in the twelve.
15. Zedad--on the north boundary of Canaan.
16. Hamath--As Israel was a separate people, so their land was a separate land. On no scene could the sacred history have been so well transacted as on it. On the east was the sandy desert. On the north and south, mountains. On the west, an inhospitable sea-shore. But it was not always to be a separate land. Between the parallel ranges of Lebanon is the long valley of El-Bekaa, leading to "the entering in of Hamath" on the Orontes, in the Syrian frontier. Roman roads, and the harbor made at Cæsarea, opened out doors through which the Gospel should go from it to all lands. So in the last days, when all shall flock to Jerusalem as the religious center of the world.
Berothah--a city in Syria conquered by David ( 2 Samuel 8:8 ); meaning "wells."
Hazar-hatticon--meaning "the middle village."
Hauran--a tract in Syria, south of Damascus; Auranitis.
17. Hazar-enan--a town in the north of Canaan, meaning "village of fountains."
19. Tamar--not Tadmor in the desert, but Tamar, the last town of Judea, by the Dead Sea. Meaning "palm tree"; so called from palm trees abounding near it.
22. to the strangers--It is altogether unprecedented under the old covenant, that "strangers" should have "inheritance" among the tribes. There would not be room locally within Canaan for more than the tribes. The literal sense must therefore be modified, as expressing that Gentiles are not to be excluded from settling among the covenant-people, and that spiritually their privileges are not to be less than those of Israel ( Romans 10:12 , Galatians 3:28 , Ephesians 3:6 , Colossians 3:11 , Revelation 7:9 Revelation 7:10 ). Still, "sojourneth," in Ezekiel 47:23 , implies that in Canaan, the covenant people are regarded as at home, the strangers as settlers.