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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Ezekiel 47

Verse 1

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

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 (cf. Isaiah 35:1 ).

Behold, waters issues out from under the threshold of the house eastward - so Revelation 22:1 represents "the water of life as proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." His throne shall have been set up in the temple at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:7 ). From His earthly throne-that is, the temple at Jerusalem-the waters are to flow over the earth ( Joel 3:18; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:8). Messiah is the temple and the door.

He brought me again unto the door of the house. 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. Also there may be allusion in the words "waters issued out from under the threshold" to the subterranean receptacles of the waters which were poured out for the purpose of washing away the blood of the victims. Aristoeas (in 'Poli Synopsis') attests that he saw these receptacles of large size, penetrating throughout the circuit of the temple to the extent of five furlongs; leaden pipes descended into them from every quarter of the temple, in order to cleanse away every impurity. The waters flow eastward - i:e., toward the Kedron, and thence toward 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 36:8-9 ; Psalms 46:4 ; Isaiah 11:9 ; Habakkuk 2:14.)

Verse 2

Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 3-5

And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ancles. When the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ancles. Again he measured a thousand ... the waters were to the loins. Afterward ... it was a river that I could not pass over ... waters to swim in. Searching into the things of God, we find some easy to understand, as the water up to the ancles; 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 ).

Verse 6

And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 7

Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

Behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees - not merely one tree of life, as in Paradise ( Genesis 2:1-25), 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.

Verse 8

Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert - or plain; Hebrew, "Arabah" (Deuteronomy 3:17 , "the sea of the plain;" Deuteronomy 4:49 ; Joshua 3:16 , "the salt sea"). Arabah, or 'the plain,' 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, "there was no more sea" (Revelation 21:1 ). The healing of the waters of the Dead Sea here answers to "there shall be no more curse" ( Revelation 22:3: cf. Zechariah 14:11).

Verse 9

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

Whithersoever the rivers shall come - in Hebrew, 'two rivers.' Hence, Hebrew expositors think that the waters from the temple are to be 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, "the waters shall be healed," which can apply only to it, not to the Mediterranean; also Ezekiel 47:10, "their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea;" i:e., the Dead Sea, when healed, shall contain fish, as the Mediterranean does.

Verse 10

And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.

The fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto 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.

Their fish shall be according to the kinds. Jerome quotes an ancient theory that 'there are 153 kinds of fish,' all of which were taken by the apostles (John 21:11), and not one remained uncaptured; signifying that both the noble and base-born, 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, afterward spiritually (Matthew 4:19).

Verse 11

But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

The marishes ... shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt - "marishes," marshes. 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 to their own bitterness and barrenness (as "saltness" is often employed to express, Deuteronomy 29:23; Psalms 107:34, "barrenness" - margin, saltness; Zephaniah 2:9; Revelation 22:11, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still;" an awful example to others in the punishment they suffer; 2 Peter 2:6).

Verse 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.

By the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat. 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 ).

Whose leaf shall 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 ).

It shall bring forth new fruit - literally, firstlings, or first-fruit. They are still, each mouth, afresh, as it were, yielding their first-fruit (Fairbairn). It shall have fresh and ripe fruit in all seasons: literally, early ripe fruit [yªbakeer ( H1069)]. The first-born of a thing, in Hebrew idiom, means the chiefest. As Job 18:13, "the first-born of death" - i:e., the most fatal death.

Because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary - `because the waters thereof (namely, that watered the trees) issued forth from the sanctuary' (Henderson).

Verse 13

Thus saith the Lord GOD; This shall be the border, whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions.

This shall be the border whereby ye shall inherit the land, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. The re-division 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 34:1-29 they begin with the south. It is only Canaan proper, exclusive of the possession of the two and a half tribes beyond Jordan, that is here divided.

Joseph shall have two portions - according to the original promise of Jacob to Joseph (Genesis 48:5; Genesis 48:22). Joseph's sons were given the birthright, forfeited by Reuben the first-born because he defiled his father's bed ( 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.

Verse 14

And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another: concerning the which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers: and this land shall fall unto you for inheritance.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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;

Toward the north side ... as men go to Zedad - on the north boundary of Canaan.

Verse 16

Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazar-hatticon, which is by the coast of Hauran.

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 were 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, north of the Holy Land. Roman roads, and the harbour made at Cesarea, 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.

Verse 17

And the border from the sea shall be Hazar-enan, the border of Damascus, and the north northward, and the border of Hamath. And this is the north side.

The border from the sea shall be Hazar-enan - a town in the north of Canaan, meaning 'village of fountains.'

Verse 18

And the east side ye shall measure from Hauran, and from Damascus, and from Gilead, and from the land of Israel by Jordan, from the border unto the east sea. And this is the east side.

From the land of Israel by Jordan, from the border unto the east sea - the Dead Sea. The border is to go down straight to it by the valley of the Jordan. So Numbers 34:11-12 .

Verse 19

And the south side southward, from Tamar even to the waters of strife in Kadesh, the river to the great sea. And this is the south side southward.

The south side southward, from 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.

Verses 20-21

The west side also shall be the great sea from the border, till a man come over against Hamath. This is the west side.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 22

And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.

Ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers. It is altogether unprecedented under the old covenant that "strangers" should have "inheritance" among the tribes. There would not be locally room 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 7:9-10, "Lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb," etc. This follows in immediate connection with the sealing of the 144,000 of Israel). Still, "sojourneth," in Ezekiel 47:23, implies that in Canaan the covenant-people are regarded as at home, the strangers as settlers.


(1) The "waters" that, in Ezekiel's vision, "issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward," represent the waters of life which the Lord Jesus gives His people, and which are in them as a "well of water springing up into everlasting life" ( John 4:14). They flow from Jesus, who is at once the true "temple" (John 2:19; John 2:21), and "the door" (John 10:9). "The place of His throne" (Ezekiel 43:7) is to be to be hereafter in the temple at Jerusalem; and from Him as the fountain, and from the temple as the earthly locality of the fountain, the living waters shall not only spring up, but flow out, and flow forth, no longer restricted to Palestine, but diffusing life, health, and beauty throughout the whole earth. An earnest of that period of universally diffused vital Christianity is already given us in the almost universal "preaching of the Gospel in all the world, for a witness unto all nations" (Matthew 24:14), and in the gathering out of the elect from all lands which is going on now, and will go on until the full number of the elect is accomplished.

(2) The Gospel of "the glory of God came from the way of the east" (Ezekiel 43:2), from Jerusalem, and so hereafter "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:4). Since it was not by the influx of side streams, but by its own secret supply from the fountain-head in the temple, that the waters progressively increased, so it is the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, resembling living waters ( John 7:37-39 ), which, accompanying the preached Gospel, has made it in all past times, and shall make it in all times to come, the mighty power of God to the salvation, peace, and joy of countless millions.

(3) From being a small stream, the waters rapidly gained increase of volume as they advanced onward, until they swelled into a deep, unfathomable, and mighty river ( Ezekiel 47:3-5). Such is the progress of the Gospel We are not able to define what are the successive periods of time symbolized by the first thousand cu bits measured, when the water reached the ancles, the second thousand cubits, when the water reached to the knees, and the third thousand, when the water reached to the loins, and the fourth thousand, when the water became a "river that could not be passed over." But we know that the coming thousand years of the Millenium, foretold Revelation 20:1-15 , are the times when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas" ( Isaiah 11:9). "A thousand" represents the world pervaded with the divine influence, as ten is the world number raised to the third power, and three is the number of God. There shall have been a series of such periods marked by successive stages of increase in the diffusion of the Gospel before the full consummation is attained, and the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).

(4) Holy Scripture and its revelations also resemble these sacred waters, in that whosoever searches into them will find some parts-namely, those setting forth the way of salvation-intelligible to all who sincerely desire to know it. Other parts require a deeper investigation; others, a deeper still; and others are beyond our depth; and in respect to these we can only adore the infinitude of God's unsearchable wisdom, and humbly wait for His own time of revealing their now hidden meaning.

(5) The growth of grace in the individual soul similarly is a progressive work, beginning with but a small stream from the fountain-head, but sure to go on increasing until it is expanded into the boundless and unfathomable river of heavenly pleasures (Psalms 36:8 ) which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man," but "which God hath prepared for them that love him" ( 1 Corinthians 2:9).

(6) The "very many trees" of life "at the bank of the river, on the one side and on the other" (Ezekiel 47:7), symbolize the immortal sustenance, invigoration, and enjoyment which those who drink of the waters of life shall be supplied with from the Lord in the coming state of blessedness. Believers themselves shall then be "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord" ( Isaiah 61:3 ), and as being "planted by the waters," they shall "bring forth" the due fruit "in its season" ( Psalms 1:3 ). Moreover, alike the fruit and the leaf shall never cease. Fruit ever new and varied shall be produced each month as it comes. And as the fruit shall be for meat, so the very leaf shall be for medicine (Ezekiel 47:12 ). So the believer's inward graces, derived from the divine fountain-head, which are the "leaves," and his words and works, which are the "fruits," shall everlastingly bloom, and shall be the means to him of ever-renewed immortality and heavenly vigour.

(7) The living waters flowing eastward to the Dead Sea, and then southward along the plain south of the Dead Sea, shall dispel death and diffuse life wheresoever they go (Ezekiel 47:8-9). As Elisha healed the waters for the men of the city (2 Kings 2:21 ), saying, "Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not he from thence anymore death or barren land;" so death is everywhere to give place to life in the regenerated world. It is probable that, as the physical and moral worlds correspond, great physical changes in respect to the Dead Sea and the waters of the Holy Land shall accompany the great spiritual and national restoration of the ancient people of God, so that exuberant fertility, loveliness, and salubrity shall prevail throughout the land. Here again, from the tendency of all prophecy to hasten to the consummation, the prophet seems to use language which, in its fullest sense, applies to the perfect state beyond the Millennium-namely, the state when not only the world of nations, but the world of nature also, the earth and its atmosphere, shall be finally regenerated. For the language as to the waters of life and the tree of life is that which is employed in Revelation (Ezekiel 22:1-2 ), of the final and perfect state.

(8) The apostles, whose business as literal fishermen was laid aside for that of spiritual fishers, were the instruments of drawing into the Gospel net "a very great multitude of fish according to their kinds" ( Ezekiel 47:9-10), the learned and unlearned, the rich and poor, the vile and the respectable members of society. As the bad are cast away when the net is drawn to shore (Matthew 13:47-48 ), so it is said here that the miry place and the marshes shall not be healed ( Ezekiel 47:11). Those whom the Gospel waters of life do not reach, through their own indolence and carnality, shall be given over to everlasting barrenness; nor can anymore awful punishment be imagined than that the sinner should be given up to the unrestricted and everlasting workings of his own sin, bitterness, and filthiness.

(9) But the godly shall have their allotted portions severally in the heavenly land of promise ( Ezekiel 47:13-21 ). Israel, though having her own proper and special portion, shall not have it to the exclusion of the Gentile sojourner (Ezekiel 47:22-23 ). We Christians of the nations shall be "fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of God's promise in Christ by the Gospel" (Ephesians 3:6 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 47". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.