Ezekiel 47
Clarke's Commentary
The vision of the holy waters issuing out of the temple, and their virtue; an emblem of the power of God's grace under the Gospel, capable of healing all but the incorrigibly impenitent, represented by the marshy ground that cannot be healed, Ezekiel 47:1-12. Also a description of the several divisions of the Holy Land indiscriminately shared betwixt Jews and proselytes; to denote that in after times the privileges now enjoyed by the Jews should be also extended to the Gentiles, Ezekiel 47:13-23.

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.
Behold, waters issued out from under the threshold - Ezekiel, after having made the whole compass of the court of the people, is brought back by the north gate into the courts of the priests; and, having reached the gate of the temple, he saw waters which had their spring under the threshold of that gate, that looked towards the east; and which passing to the south of the altar of burnt-offerings on the right of the temple, ran from the west to the east, that they might fall into the brook Kidron, and thence be carried into the Dead Sea. Literally, no such waters were ever in the temple; and because there were none, Solomon had what is called the brazen sea made, which held water for the use of the temple. It is true that the water which supplied this sea might have been brought by pipes to the place: but a fountain producing abundance of water was not there, and could not be there, on the top of such a hill; and consequently these waters, as well as those spoken of in Joel 3:18, and in Zechariah 14:8, are to be understood spiritually or typically; and indeed the whole complexion of the place here shows, that they are thus to be understood. Taken in this view, I shall proceed to apply the whole of this vision to the effusion of light and salvation by the outpouring of the Spirit of God under the Gospel dispensation, by which the knowledge of the true God was multiplied in the earth; and have only one previous remark to make, that the farther the waters flowed from the temple, the deeper they grew.

With respect to the phraseology of this chapter, it may be said that St. John had it particularly in view while he wrote his celebrated description of the paradise of God, Revelation 22. The prophet may therefore be referring to the same thing which the apostle describes, viz., the grace of the Gospel, and its effects in the world.

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.
There ran out waters - מים מפכים mayim mephaccim, the waters seem to have been at first in small quantity; for the words imply that they oozed or dropped out. They were at first so small that they came guttatim, drop by drop; but they increased so, that they became a river in which one could swim.

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.
He measured a thousand cubits - the waters were to the Ankles; a thousand more, - the waters were to the Knees; a thousand more, - they became a River that could not be forded. The waters were risen, and they were waters to Swim in.

I. This may be applied to the gradual discoveries of the plan of salvation, -

1. In the patriarchal ages.

2. In the giving of the law.

3. In the ministry of John the Baptist. And,

4. In the full manifestation of Christ by the communication of the Holy Ghost.

II. This vision may be applied also to the growth of a believer in the grace and knowledge of God. There is -

1. The seed of the kingdom.

2. The blade from that seed.

3. The ear out of that blade. And,

4. The full corn in that ear.

III. It may be applied to the discoveries a penitent believer receives of the mercy of God in his salvation. He is -

1. A little child, born of God, born from above, and begins to taste the bread of life, and live on the heavenly food.

2. He grows up and increases in stature and strength, and becomes a young man.

3. He becomes matured in the Divine life, and has his spiritual senses exercised so as to become a father in Christ. In other words, the grace of God appears to come drop by drop; it is given as it can be used; it is a seed of light, and multiplies itself. The penitent at first can scarcely believe the infinite goodness of his Maker; he however ventures to follow on with the conducting angel, the minister of the Gospel, in his descriptions of the plenitude of that salvation, provided in that living Temple in which alone the well-spring of life is to be found.

4. In thus following on to know the Lord he finds a continual increase of light and life, till at last he is carried by the streams of grace to the ocean of eternal mercy; then

"Plunged in the Godhead's deepest sea, And lost in his immensity."

IV. These waters may be considered as a type of the progress which Christianity shall make in the world.

1. There were only a few poor fishermen.

2. Afterwards many Jews.

3. Then the Gentiles of Asia Minor and Greece.

4. The continent and isles of Europe. And,

5. Now spreading through Africa, Asia, and America, at present these waters are no longer a river, but an immense sea; and the Gospel fishers are daily bringing multitudes of souls to Christ.

Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.
Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.
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.
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.
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.
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.
Every thing - whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live - Life and salvation shall continually accompany the preaching of the Gospel; the death of sin being removed, the life of righteousness shall be brought in.

There shall be a very great multitude of fish - On the above plan this must refer to genuine converts to the Christian faith; true believers, who have got life and salvation by the streams of God's grace. The apostles were fishers of men; converts were the fish caught. See below. As the waters flow into the Dead Sea, where no fish, it is said, can live, its waters must be healed, that is, made capable of preserving life; and so its nature be thus far most surprisingly altered.

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 - On the above plan of interpretation these must mean -

1. The apostles of our Lord Jesus.

2. The preachers of the everlasting Gospel. See Matthew 4:19.

From En-gedi - At the southern extremity of the Dead Sea.

Unto En-eglaim - At the northern extremity of the same.

Their fish shall be according to their kinds - Every kind of fish, and the fish all excellent of their kinds. All nations, and kindreds, and people shall be called by the Gospel; it shall not be an excluding system like that of Judaism, for its Author tasted death for every man.

But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.
The miry places - "Point out," says Calmet, "the schismatics and heretics who do not live by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, but separate from his Church; and the evil Christians who dishonor that Church, of which they are corrupt members." A description applicable to the Roman Catholic Church, that is both schismatic and heretic from the Church of Jesus Christ, which is built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; for the Church of Rome, leaving this foundation, is now built on the foundation of councils and traditions, and lying miracles; the popes in their succession being its only corner stones.

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.
Shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade - A description that suits the righteous, who are still producing -

1. The fruits of faith.

2. The fruits of the Spirit.

3. The fruits of love to God, obedience to his holy will, and love to all men. Benevolence, mercy, charity, kindness, etc.

The leaf thereof for medicine - See Revelation 22:1-5. Even the leaves, the holy profession of the righteous, is a spiritual medicine. Righteousness is thus encouraged in the world. The profession points out the salvation, as it shows the nature and sufficiency of that salvation; for a just creed contains all the articles of the Christian faith.

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.
Joseph shall have two portions - That is, In Ephraim and Manasseh, his two sons, who each had a separate inheritance.

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.
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;
The way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad - Probably Hethlon is the same as Cuthlon, a city of Syria, between Antioch and Laodicea, according to Antoninus. Some of these places are not known; but see the same kind of division, Numbers 34:7-12.

Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazarhatticon, which is by the coast of Hauran.
Hamath - Emesa or Amesa, in Syria. - Calmet.

Berothah - Berytus, now Baruth or Beeroth, which David took from Hadarezer, king of Syria, 2 Samuel 8:8; but these things are very uncertain.

Sibraim - Sabarim or Sepharvaim, according to the Syriac, between Hamath and Damascus.

Hazar-hatticon - The middle Hazar; or middle village, as the margin.

Hauran - The city Aurana, and the district Auranitis, are in the north-east limit of the Holy Land.

And the border from the sea shall be Hazarenan, the border of Damascus, and the north northward, and the border of Hamath. And this is the north side.
The border from the sea - The north border eastward is ascertained Ezekiel 47:15, Ezekiel 47:16; here it is shown how far it extends itself northward.

Hazar-enan - The village of Enan, Numbers 34:9, placed to the north of Caesarea Philippi. Ziphron, see Numbers 34:9, called Zaphion by the Syriac.

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.
The east sea - The same as the Dead Sea.

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.
Tamar - Called Hazazon Tamar, or Engedi, 2 Chronicles 20:2.

The river - Besor, which runs into the sea near Gaza.

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

From the border - The southern border, mentioned Ezekiel 47:19.

So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel.
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.
And to the strangers that sojourn - In former divisions of the land, no place was given to strangers; but in this division, (which seems to have no other reference than to the Gospel, for literally such a division never took place), the strangers are to have an inheritance; intimating the calling of the Gentiles into the Church of Christ, to an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Glory be to God for his unspeakable gift! Amen. Amen.

And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD.
Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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