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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 47


The vision of the holy waters, Ezekiel 47:1-5. The virtue of them, Ezekiel 47:6-12. The borders of the land, Ezekiel 47:13-21. The division of it by lot, Ezekiel 47:22,Ezekiel 47:23.

Verse 1

After that the temple was measured, and the ordinances of it were settled, and what pertained to prince and people assigned, &c., he brought me; the angel, or the Spirit of God, Ezekiel 1:3 Ezekiel 1:3:22. The house; the temple itself. Waters issued out: some do observe that there were aqueducts laid under ground, which from some fountain were conveyed to cleanse and purge away the blood of sacrifices poured fourth, and the excrements of the slain beasts, of which some would remain after the greatest care. However, they would need much water about their temple services, and this was conveyed in pipes from the fountain Etare, as Dr. Lightfoot observes from their rabbins, and from Aristaeus an eye-witness; these gave. occasion or ground of this vision. From under the threshold; the fountain lay to the west, the conduit pipes were laid to bring the water to the temple, and so must run eastward, and perhaps one main pipe might be laid under the east gate of the temple. From the right side; on the south side of the temple, for so the south is to a man whose face looketh toward the east. At, or towards, the south side of the altar, for so it seems they were conveyed to run, till they came to the altar, and were conveyed by the right side of it into a room they called the well room. The spiritual meaning I refer to the private meditations of Christians; thus far of the aqueducts.

Verse 2

Then brought he me out of the inmost court, where he saw the waters running under the threshold, and by the south side of the altar.

The way of the gate northward: the east gate being shut, the prophet in this vision is led to the north gate, out of which he goeth into the next court, and so through them all, till he comes to the north gate of the outmost court.

Led me about; caused him to go about from that gate to the east gate of the same court.

The way without; not on the inside of the wall, but round on the outside of the wall, which will appear presently, and the reason why.

The utter gate; the outmost north gate in the wall, that compassed the whole mountain of the Lord’s house.

The way that looketh eastward; when the prophet was come quite out of all the courts, and is on the outside of the last wall, he is turned from the north gate towards the east gate, and walks up to that gate.

And, behold, there he found the watercourse.

On the right side; that is, on the south side. See Ezekiel 47:1.

Verse 3

The man: this is he who accompanied the prophet as his guide all along, and of whom already hath been spoken in several notes.

The line, mentioned in Ezekiel 40:3, but hitherto not used, for the reed and cubit hitherto were used only, at least only mentioned.

Eastward; from the gate directly east, with whom the prophet goeth.

He measured, by the line in his hand.

A thousand cubits; almost the third part of an English mile; it wanted about eighty yards of a third part.

Through the waters; went before him, as his guide, and the prophet followed; all this in vision.

To the ankles; some five or six inches deep.

Verse 5

This was all done in vision, and these waters thus increased were visional waters; there was no such natural course of waters in the place, nor is it imaginable, that in three miles or thereabouts, which was the most of the current, the waters should so rise; but it is emblematical, and hath a deep mysterious meaning, and includes spiritual things, and their wonderful growth from small beginnings, and these from the temple also. But I refer this still to private meditations.

Verse 6

He said, i.e. the man with measuring line in hand.

Seen this; observed and considered this; hast thou well seen this?

Caused me to return: it is not said whether he was gone from the bank, though it be said he returned to the brink, or perhaps it is, he caused me to return along by the brink of the river.

Verse 7

In his first coming he observed no trees, and no mention is made of any, but it seems he found them on his return: though they do not really so soon grow, they might be visionally there.

At the bank of the river, where usually, for delight and ornament, and for profit too, men plant trees. Very many trees; the kinds are not mentioned, though (he excellency of them is commended, Ezekiel 47:12, but the multitude of them is mentioned, and the growth intimated, in the Hebrew; and perhaps the uniformity of them, which seemed as of one tree, for so it is, the singular number, in the Hebrew.

On the one side and on the other; on the north and south sides, for the river ran from east to west.

Verse 8

Then said he: see Ezekiel 47:6.

The east country; some read it as a proper name, and so render it, they did run toward Galilee in the east, and the Hebrew bears it indeed, as to the sound of the word; but it cannot be the meaning of the place, for neither the Upper nor Lower Galilee were east, but north-west from Jerusalem toward Tyre: our translation doth therefore better render it the east country, or border, as the Hebrew properly.

Into the desert; to Arabia, say the Seventy in their Greek version: if this were the course of the waters, they-did run a course quite contrary to that of Galilee, which lay north and by west from Jerusalem, whereas Arabia lay south and by east from Jerusalem. It is then the champaign, plain country, or the desert, as we read it, and may literally be understood of the desert of Maon, or Kadesh, or Ziph, which lay on the Dead Sea; and this suits well enough with En-gedi, and En-eglaim, mentioned as bordering on these waters, Ezekiel 47:10.

Into the sea; the sea of Tiberias, say some; others, the sea called the Dead Sea, or lake of Sodom, which needed healing.

Being brought forth: when they run into this sea, or fall it, to it, (which is our usual phrase,) the waters of the sea shall be healed, made wholesome. Where the grace of God from his temple and altar flows, as this water, it heals the corrupt, vicious nature of man, and renders barren, horrid, and terrible deserts as a land of waters and gardens; so represented here, and so promised by the Lord, Isaiah 35:1,Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 43:19,Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 51:3. Once more, to this verse let me add, that as the Hebrew doctors do, so we may take it here, that these flowing waters do divide themselves, and that some flow toward one sea, i.e. the sea of Tiberias, toward Galilee, other parts flow toward Arabia the Desert, and so in their way take their course by En-gedi, the desert of Ziph, and into the Dead Sea.

Verse 9

That liveth; as fish, so this universal is to be limited. Which moveth in the waters; so in Genesis 1:20 this kind of living creatures are described.

The rivers shall come; these rivers flow: by this it appears the Hebrew doctors have some ground for their interpreting the running of these waters in two channels.

Shall live; be preserved alive, or nourished, and thrive, whereas no fish can live in the Dead Sea, as all reports assure us, and to which this of the prophet alludeth.

A very great multitude of fish; before none, now innumerable fish here.

These waters; these temple waters, which have in them a healing virtue.

They shall be healed; the poisonous waters of the Dead Sea shall be made wholesome for fish.

Shall live; thrive and multiply in the virtue of the healing streams of this temple water. Thus enigmatically is the fruitfulness of the grace of God in the church set forth.

Verse 10

The fishers; men whose trade is to fish for livelihood and profit.

Shall stand; shall dispose of themselves about these waters; either on the shore along the river-side, or in boats on the sea, to take the fish.

Upon it; the sea, whose waters healed become fruitful.

From En-gedi; which lay on the south-west of the lake of Sodom, so near, that it is reported there are the trees which bring forth fruit beautiful to the eye, but touched with the hand fall into ashes; yet on those parts more remote from this sea, En-gedi affords excellent vines, Song of Solomon 1:14, or gardens of balsam trees.

Unto En-eglaim; a city on the north-east of the Dead Sea, near which place Jordan runs into it, and they say it is a boundary town of Moab. Others will have it no proper, but a common name, and signifying the confluence of waters in any place; if so, it will be likeliest to be understood of that part of the Red Sea where Jordan and two lesser rivers run into it, at the north and north-east end of this sea.

A place to spread forth nets, all along on the west side of this sea, to dry them and fit them again.

According to their kinds; of all sorts.

As the fish of the great sea; for number, growth, and goodness for use.

Exceeding many, or great, of exceeding great bigness in their several kinds. All this is mystical, and fulfilled since Christ hath made his ministers, as he made his apostles, fishers of men.

Verse 11

Miry places; unsound, rotten parts, that are neither sea nor yet sound ground, a proper emblem of hypocrites. The marishes; low land, sopped with the overflowings of unhealthful waters, neither fit to breed fish as the sea, nor bear trees as the land.

Shall not be healed; these waters find them and leave them corrupt and noxious.

Given to salt; left to their barrenness, or used as salt to season, by being made examples to others.

Verse 12

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.

Verse 13

The border; the utmost bounds of the whole land.

Shall inherit; that is, shall divide for inheritance to the tribes of Israel.

According to the twelve tribes: as it was at first divided into twelve portions, so now again.

Joseph; that is, the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, and this pursuant of their adoption by Jacob, as well as in fulfilling the will of Jacob, who gave Joseph a double share.

Verse 14

One as well as another; by equal right, each tribe and each family shall inherit their assigned portion, by right of children descended from a father whose it was by letters patent from heaven.

Concerning the which I lifted up mine hand; which by oath I bound myself, saith God, to give to you. See this form of oath Ezekiel 20:5; Ezekiel 36:7.

Unto your fathers; first to Abraham, Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; next to Isaac, Genesis 26:3; next to Jacob, Genesis 28:13; and all three are frequently mentioned, as those to whom the Lord sware in this thing, Exodus 33:1; Deuteronomy 1:8; Deuteronomy 6:10, &c.

Shall fall; so we speak of the inheritance which is sure and firm by indefeasible right, and comes into actual possession; it may also refer to the dividing by lot, which God will guide, that each may have their own.

Unto you, returned captives, who were carried away and used as if nothing were your own, and as if you never should have any thing; but in their sight you shall inherit.

Verse 15

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.

Verse 16

Hamath; very near to the head of Eleutherus, or Gebat, and to Sedada: it is likely to be that mentioned Isaiah 10:9, situate about the middle of the north boundary of the land, called sometime Epiphania, from Antiochus Epiphanes, who repaired it, and some say now called Enimas.

Berothah; Berotha, a small and inconsiderable town or village lying east of Sedada. Sibraim, or Sabarim, a place of no further note than the former, known thus by being a boundary. It lay between these two, Hamath to the west of it, and Damascus to the east by north, somewhat nearer to Hamath than to Damascus.

Hazar-hatticon; though we render it as a proper name, some render it otherwise. The small villages between them two, (so the French,) i.e. between Hamath and Hauran.

Hauran, or Auran, some miles beyond Jordan, eastward from Hamath, which also gives name to the country called Auranitis.

Verse 17

The border; the utmost northern bounds.

From the sea: see Ezekiel 47:15.

Hazar-enan; the village Enan, or Enon, near Sedada.

The north northward; a line drawn from west to east, that shall distinguish the most northern boundaries of Israel from the most southern of Syria Damascena.

Verse 18

From Hauran; that was the north-east bound, where we must begin to measure the east side.

From Damascus: this was more northward than the city Hauran, but the country Auranitis, for aught I know, might reach to Damascus, or near it, and so this more particularly direct the measuring: begin at Damascus, draw the line through Auranitis, and so on southerly to Gilead.

Gilead; a famous mountain about fifty miles in length from south to north, where it joins Mount Libanus at the east end of it, and hath many particular names in particular places, and seems to end its southern progress at the rock Arnon.

From the land of Israel by Jordan; from the outside of the land of Israel, which lay beyond Jordan.

Unto the east sea; thence to the

east sea, or Dead Sea, which lay on the east of Jerusalem. Thus a line drawn from Damascus through Auranitis, Gilead, the land of Israel beyond Jordan, to the east sea, made the eastern frontier.

Verse 19

The south side shall begin at that point which first vergeth southward from the east sea toward Tamar, which is near En-gedi, and known by the addition Hazezon-tamar; and so some place the lake of Sodom, that the greatest part will be this southern frontier.

To the waters of strife; from Tamar a line drawn to Meribah in Kadesh, of which Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14.

The river, called the river of Egypt, was on the south of Judah, and lay directly in the way to Egypt from Jerusalem.

To the great sea; to the south-west part of the Mediterranean Sea near Gaza. This is the southern frontier.

Verse 20

This boundary begins where the river falls into the Mediterranean, a little south of Gaza; this the south point of the western boundary, and the line runs all along the seashore northward, till you come in a straight line to Hamath; and this is the northern point of the west frontier, over right Sidon, or little differing.

Verse 21

This land, now bounded.

According to the tribes of Israel; into twelve parts or tribes, to which all, but what is allotted to prince, priests, Levites, and the city. This, as holy, must be reserved; and when reserved, a very fair portion is left to the twelve tribes, if you measure the holy portion by cubits, and not by reeds.

Verse 22

It shall come to pass: this directs what they should do, as well as foretells the event that shall be.

Ye shall divide it by lot; so it was divided before, so it must again, for thus all controversies shall be prevented; thus he will choose their inheritance for them, for the disposition of the lot is of the Lord.

Unto you, that are the natural seed of Abraham.

To the strangers that sojourn among you: foreigners never had such privilege before; though they might dwell and trade among the Jews, yet they were excluded all hereditary right, could not purchase nor possess inheritances. But now the constitution is altered; and by this temporal external incorporating them, a spiritual and heavenly is signified, no doubt; they are put into capacity of inheriting with Israel in both Cananus, in this below, in that above.

Which shall beget children among you; who from their birth should be invested with this right of inheriting.

Among the children of Israel; equally with the children of Israel in point of right, and with that very tribe ill which they sojourn.

Have inheritance; possess and enjoy, as well as you.

With you: this speaks the equal title or privilege.

Among the tribes: this directs where the inheritance of these strangers born among them, or that first came with them when they came out of Babylon, should be assigned them, viz. in that very tribe where they sojourned, which is fully expressed in the next verse.

Verse 23

It shall come to pass: see Ezekiel 47:22. In what tribe; whether by choice or chance the stranger fixed in that tribe. No stranger shall be excluded out of the tribe’s inheritance, among whom he hath sojourned and begotten children.

The stranger; every proselyte or Gentile that joins himself to the people of God.

There shall ye give him; neither the Jew might thrust a stranger out into another tribe, nor might the stranger by choice go to another.

His inheritance; it is called his, for so much as he had a right preceding the assignation.

Saith the Lord God: all this confirmed by Divine authority.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 47". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.