For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

47:1.  “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.”


Ezekiel was then led back to the door of the temple, where he saw waters flowing eastward from under the south end of the threshold of the temple.  Since water is used in Scripture to represent the Word of God, this river is generally taken to represent the universal preaching of the Gospel in the Millennium.  Its flowing eastward is related to the fact that the east always speaks symbolically of sin and departure from God, and in the Millennium the Word of life will go out abundantly to the unconverted, for it is to be remembered that the children born in the Millennium will be just like the children of any other generation: they will be born sinners, and will need the Savior to fit them for God’s presence in the eternal state that will follow the Millennium.


This river, incidentally, is also mentioned in Joel 3:18, and Zech 14:8, the latter indicating that the river will divide into two, Ezekiel dealing only with the branch that flowed to the Dead Sea.  “And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem: half of them toward the former sea (the Dead Sea), and half of them toward the hinder sea (the Mediterranean): in summer and in winter shall it be.”


47:2.  “Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter (outer) gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.”


The prophet was then led through the northern gate, and taken by an outside path to the outer gate on the east side of the court, and there he saw water running out on the right, i.e., the south side.


47:3.  “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 ankles.”


The man with the measuring line then led Ezekiel eastward for a thousand cubits from the east gate, and then across the river where it was ankle-deep.


47:4.  “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”


The man then measured a further thousand cubits, and led the prophet through the water, which had then become knee-deep; and again he measured a thousand cubits, and led Ezekiel through the water which then reached up to his loins.


47:5.  “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.”


47:6.  “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.”


The question seems to imply the need of Ezekiel’s having this experience indelibly imprinted on his memory, though no explanation is given relative to the significance of his activity at the river.


The ever increasing volume of the river represents the super abundance of the Gospel, which presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior Whose vicarious death has made salvation available to the whole world, sinners being required simply to trust Him as personal Savior in order to be cleansed from sin, and to receive God’s priceless gift of eternal life.


47:7.  “Now when he had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.”


Upon emerging from the river he discovered that both banks had become forested.


47:8.  “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.”


His angelic guide explained that the waters of the river would flow eastward through the desert into the Dead Sea, which would then be purged of its saltiness and become instead fresh.


47:9.  “And it shall come to pass, that everything 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.”


The plural “rivers” indicates that the river will have many branches which will fructify the whole region that has always been desert; while the Dead Sea, now lifeless because of its extreme saltiness, will become a fresh-water lake teeming with fish, the rivers also being full of fish.  This continues to present the abundance of spiritual and temporal blessing that will pervade the whole millennial earth.


47:10.  “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.”


Engedi is located at the mid point of the western shore of the Dead Sea just opposite the River Arnon on the eastern side; and Eneglaim, known also as the City of Salt, is situated on the northern extremity of the western shore.


There will be not only an abundance of fish, but also the same variety as is found in the great sea, i.e., the Mediterranean.  The variety of fish may point symbolically to the many national groups that will inhabit the millennial earth.


47:11.  “But the miry places (swamps) thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.”


The swamps and marshes, however, will undergo no change: they will remain in their salt condition, no reason being given for their being left unchanged; though it may be that they represent those who in the Millennium will spurn the Gospel.


47:12.  “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.”


On both sides of the river bank will grow trees bearing fruit every month, and whose leaves will never fade, their phenomenal productivity being due to the fact that the water of the river beside which they grow will have its source in the sanctuary.


The fact that the leaves will be for medicine indicates that there will be at least some sickness in the Millennium.


47:13.  “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 section begins the description of the division of the land among the tribes.  Joseph, represented by his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, will have a double portion, possibly because Levi the priestly tribe will have no portion except that exceptional one which is described in chapter 45.


47:14.  “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.”


The uplifted hand is synonymous with swearing by an oath, so that what is sworn to is thus immutable.  It was by such an oath that God had promised the land to Israel in the beginning, but their disobedience has delayed the fulfillment through countless generations, the terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation finally producing a repentant believing remnant, the new Israel that will pass out of the Tribulation into the enjoyment of the long-forfeited millennial blessing.


47:15.  “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;”


Hethlon is unknown, but thought to have been in the area of Aram, north-east of Canaan, Zedad being a town in Aram.  The northern border therefore will run from the Mediterranean to the eastern border of the land which will be the Euphrates, see Gen 15:18.


47:16.  “Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazar-hatticon, which is by the coast of Hauran.”


These towns will lie on the northern border of the land from the Mediterranean to Syria, of which Damascus will still be the capital.  Hauran was a land whose western border lay about forty miles east of the Sea of Galilee.  It seems that it will continue to exist in the Millennium.


47:17.  “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 sea will still be the Mediterranean, so that the northern border will stretch from it through Damascus, and eastward to the Euphrates.


The RSV renders this verse, “So the boundary shall run from the sea to Hazar-enon, which is on the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north ...”


47:18.  “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 (Dead Sea).  And this is the east side.”


Millennial Israel’s eastern border will run from Hauran, through Damascus, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, the Jordan being only a part of that border which will extend beyond it north and east to the Euphrates.


47:19.  “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.”


Tamar is generally taken to be Hazezon-tamar located a few miles south of the western end of the Dead Sea; and Kadesh is Meriboth-kadesh, south-west of the Dead Sea in the Negeb.  The river is the small River of Egypt which is the boundary between Egypt and Canaan, and which flows into the “great sea” i.e., the Mediterranean Sea.  This will be the southern boundary of millennial Canaan.


47:20.  “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 Mediterranean Sea will be the western border from north to south of the land.


47:21.  “So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel.”


47:22.  “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.”


47:23.  “And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.”


The division of the land will be according to the directions recorded in chapter 48; strangers who have children, and who dwell amongst the Israelites, being given land within the territory of the tribe with whom they dwell.

[Ezekiel 48]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough