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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 15


By the unfitness of the vine-branch for any work, is shewed the rejection of Jerusalem.

Before Christ 593.

Verse 2

Ezekiel 15:2. What is the vine-tree Houbigant renders it, What hath the wood of the vine above other branching woods which are amid the trees of the wood? The comparison is here made between the trees of the forest and the wild vine; not the fruitful and generous vine, as appears from the words, among the trees of the forest; for this vine then produced nothing but sour and bitter grapes: so that Israel could no longer glory in this, that God had frequently called them his vine. It is upon this point, says Houbigant, that the present allegory wholly turns. Infidels object, that they cannot understand why God should prefer so perverse and rebellious a people to all others. One reason is, that it was for the sake of their forefathers, and to fulfil the promise made to the patriarchs; but others are not wanting, and those very agreeable to the ideas that we have of infinite wisdom; such, for instance, as this: that the extraordinary providences by which they were protected might become the more visible and illustrious; for, had they been endowed with the shining qualities of the more polished nations of the present day, the effects of that Providence might have been ascribed to their own power or wisdom. Their impotence and inability, when left to themselves, is finely represented in this chapter by the similitude of a vine-tree: for, as the vine, which by culture and support is the most valuable of all trees, becomes the most worthless when left neglected in its own natural state; so the Jews, after they made such a superior figure under the protection of God, became the weakest and most contemptible of all tributary nations, when for their sins that protection was withdrawn. See the Divine Legation, vol. 4: and Calmet.

Verse 3

Ezekiel 15:3. Shall wood be taken thereof It is observable, that the wood of the vine is of no use in building, or in making any piece of furniture or domestic utensil. Bishop Lowth observes, that it is the chief excellence of a parable to consist of an image which is known and proper to the subject, and whose end is plain and determined by custom; the necessary consequence of which is perspicuity, wherein the chief beauty of an allegory consists. The prophets frequently make use of this kind of images, by way of comparison or illustration; and this of the useless vine, by which these ungrateful people are more than once described, is an image of this sort. See his 10th Prelection.

Verse 4

Ezekiel 15:4. The fire devoureth, &c.— A very apt representation of the state of Judea, when both its extremities were consumed by the ravages of the destroyer; and the middle of it, where the capital city stood, was threatened every moment with destruction from the enemy. Instead of, The midst of it is burned, Houbigant reads very properly, The middle of it is scorched; "is now, as it were, just about to catch fire, and to be burned. If therefore that middle should be snatched out of the fire, would it be of any use? Certainly not; for if it was useless before it was scorched, how much more, &c." See the next verse.

Verse 7

Ezekiel 15:7. They shall go out from one fire, &c.— "That is, (says Calmet,) if they escape the sword, they shall perish by famine; if they escape the famine, they shall be taken captive by the enemy; they shall fall from one calamity into another." See Psalms 66:12. But Houbigant, displeased with the addition of one and another made to the text, renders it, Shall they escape from the fire? Certainly the fire shall devour them, and ye shall, &c.

Verse 8

Ezekiel 15:8. Because they have committed a trespass Because they have grievously trespassed. The Vulgate and Chaldee have it, Because they have been prevaricators. "They are not mere sinners," says St. Jerome, "like other nations, but have been guilty of prevarication;" for it is one thing to neglect what a person is ignorant of, and another to contemn what we should worship.

REFLECTIONS.—Jerusalem in her beauty was the joy of the whole earth; but now that sin has defiled her, the flames are kindling to devour her palaces.

1. She is compared to a wild and barren vine, the most unprofitable and useless tree in the forest; unfit for any work, and only suited for fuel to the fire. And if when flourishing it be not fit for any service, how much less when reduced to ashes.
2. The application of this similitude to Jerusalem follows. This city, with the inhabitants thereof, as the unprofitable vine, is doomed to the flames, because of their great provocations. God's wrath is kindled; and his face, as an implacable enemy, set against them; they were wholly unprofitable, brought him no glory: yea, noxious as the plants of a wild vine; therefore their land shall be desolate, the fire devour them, and one calamity on another pursue them, till they are utterly consumed, and God terribly made known to them, in the judgments that he would execute upon them. Note; Wrath pursues impenitent sinners, till it is perfected in the everlasting burnings.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 15". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.