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before us, we have a very particular description of this future wonder. Ezekiel was shown it in the vision:—
"And he brought me to the door of the house, and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house, eastward: for the fore front of the house stood towards the east; and the waters came down from under the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar."
So that the fountain will arise in the precincts of the temple, and, flowing through its spacious courts, will issue forth ibeneath the eastern entrance of the temple, into what is now the valley of Jehoshaphat watered by the torrent of Kedron, but which is then, as we have learned, to form part of an extensive plain.
"Then he brought me out by the way of the gate, northward, and led me round by the way without unto the outer gate, by the way that looketh eastward, and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side."
The reason of the angel's thus conducting the prophet out at the north gate, and taking him round to the outside of the eastern gate, is explained above; the eastern gate being, except on one particular occasion, alwavs to remain shut. As they stood in the east gate, the right will mean the south.
"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. 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. Afterwards, 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."
Among the figurative interpreters of these Scriptures, this passage has long served as a metaphor of the increase of religion, or of the church: a metaphor, it must he acknowledged, in a style unlike the simple conciseness of Scripture in general: but nothing can be more perspicuous than the description of a real river, traced from its head, or chief fountain, and gradually increasing in depth and breadth as it proceeds. At every thousand cubits, in length about the third of a mile, the prophet is made to try its depth, and to mark its regular increase from a very shallow stream to'*a deep impassable river. And this, I think, seems to explain the otherwise inexplicable prediction of the prophet Isaiah: — "a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass that way." For it is obvious from the above description, that, though by means of these two rivers, a communication is opened between the seas, yet it appears they would not be navigable for the smallest vessels, within a certain distance from the holy mount.
Ezekiel speaks but of one stream: we know from another Scripture that there are two, one flowing to the east, the other to the west. * The prophet is led along that which flows eastward: we are left to conclude that which takes the opposite direction will be of a similar kind. For more than a mile, the prophet is led along this stream; we may say, as far as where the village of Bethphage once stood; but the Mount of Olives is no more; all has been turned into a plain. It was here the prophet tried, «in his vision, to ford it, and was unable. The angel bid him remark it, and then led him back to the margin of the river.
"And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and made me return to the brink of the river."
7. "Now, when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river, very many trees on the one tide, and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out towards 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."
The sea here intended is evidently the Dead Sea; the healing of its waters is well illustrated by the present quality of the waters of this lake, rendered by their extreme saltness deleterious to most species of fish. But, by this copious supply of fresh water, it is rendered suddenly most productive: nature receives new life and
"And it shall come to pass, that every living thing that moveth, whithersoever the streams shall come, shall be quickened: and there shall be a great multitude of fish, when these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed, and every thing shall live •whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto En-eglaim; 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."
We do not know for certain the position of these two places, but supposing them to be the same as the places written in the map, Engaddi and Aigaleim, it points out a line across the Dead Sea from near its northern extremity, into the plain of Moab to the south-east. It may mean fishers shall be seen standing on the banks of this river till it joins the lake at Engaddi, and then they shall be .seen spreading out their nets across the sea in its utmost breadth. But I rather infer from Joel, iii. 18, .some further change is denoted; and a way is opened for the new river across the plain of Moab into the Deserts of Arabia, and so into the Southern Sea, or into the Persian Gulf—which, accordingly, is by some supposed to be what is meant by the former sea in the fourteenth of Zechariah.
11. " But the miry places thereof — of the Dead Sea — and the marshes thereof, shall not be healed, they shall be given to salt."
We know, from what has gone before, what idea we are to attach to the healing of the waters. It appears some particular tracts of the Dead Sea are to be left in their original saltness, for the purpose of supplying, perhaps, that necessary article to the surrounding countries.
12. " And by the river, upon the bank thereof, on this side, and on that side, shall be every tree for food. Their leaf shall not fade, neither shall they finish bearing fruit; every month shall they commence bearing afresh,1 because their waters are those which proceed from the sanctuary: and their fruit shall be for food, and their leaf for medicine;"'
— shall have a medicinal quality; — shall refresh, perhaps, by their grateful odour, and invigorate the constitution. Such is the description given us of this most grateful change in the face of the country: the bounties of Paradise seem again restored to this favoured spot, and every creature-comfort is vouchsafed to the inhabitants of this happy land. There is no difficulty in understanding all this literally, nor will its literal fulfilment be at all unsuitable to the other parts of the prophecies; and no
1 T33. venlu lato esuberavit, unde nsnn,
5 " nsvin, Sanatto, live curatio propr. Ittut provcntut frondit,
«ui — vcl commoditus, jucundilas, adeoq. verna amarnitat inde re
recreatio: a rad. tfn, s. i_jLpro- dundans."—Six, Lex.
conclusive reason can be assigned why we must understand it as an allegory: and on that supposition, indeed, how much of its minute description must be irrelevant and useless!
Concluding Remarks on the last Chapters of Ezekiel.
It appears then, from what we have read, that the house or city of Jehovah is to occupy a high mountain, situated where Zion and Jerusalem now stand, affording an area of about a mile square. This mountain is to be situated in a large plain, about forty miles or more in breadth and in length; occupying, as is probable, all the space included between the Mediterranean on the west, the Dead Sea and the course of Jordan on the east; and a line of latitude drawn not far from the meridian of Jaffa on the north, nor from that of Hebron on the south —" from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem." All this country, called the "Offering," is to be devoted to religious or to public purposes. What is left out on the east, and on the west, when a square, called the Holy Oblation, of about forty miles or more, is completed, is the land allotted to the prince for the support of his family and of his government. Within the square, or Oblation, twofifths is assigned to the priests, in which portion the temple, or " city of Jehovah" stands: an equal portion is allotted to the Levites: and the remaining fifth is assigned for the site and support of the civil metropolis of the tribes of Israel.
This city occupies a space of about eight miles Vol. i. p p