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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Ezekiel 15

 

 

Verses 1-8

4. The Parable of the Vine Tree for the Burning ( Ezekiel 15.)

1And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 2Son of Prayer of Manasseh, what shall the wood of the vine be more than any wood? the vine-branch which was 3 among the trees of the forest! Is wood taken thereof to do any work? Or do they take a peg of it to hang any vessel thereon? 4Behold, it is [was] given to the fire for fuel [food]; its two ends the fire consumed, and its middle 5 is scorched; is it fit for any work? Behold, in its uninjured state, it will not do for any work; how much less, when the fire hath devoured it, and it Isaiah 6 scorched, will it still do for any work? Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As the wood of the vine among the wood of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so have I given the inhabitants of Jerusalem 7 And I have set My face against them; from the fire they went out, and the fire shall consume them; and ye know that I am Jehovah, when I set My 8 face against them. And I have made the land a desolation [a wilderness], because they have committed treachery: sentence of the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 15:2. Sept.: ... τι ἀν γενοιτο—Vulg.: … quid flet.

Eze 15:4. Παρεξ πνρι δεδοται... την χατʼ ἐνιαντον κκθαρσιν ἀντης αν̓αλισχει—

Ezekiel 15:6. For בעץ there is a plural reading: בעצי.

EXEGETICAL REMARKS

A figure ( Ezekiel 15:1-5) and its application ( Ezekiel 15:6-8). The former is carried out in detail; the latter follows in the shape of interpretation. With much plausibility, Neteler (comp. Ezekiel 15:7 with Ezekiel 14:22 sq.) refers what follows specially to “the remnant left over,” in support of which the connection with what precedes might be pleaded; but it must not be forgotten that this remnant are the justification of the judgment on the whole; and hence, that the reference generally to Judah and Jerusalem is to be maintained.

Ezekiel 15:2. The figure of the vine or vineyard is in current use for Israel ( Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 5; Hosea 10; Jeremiah 2:21; Psalm 80:9, 8]; Matthew 21:33 sq.) in manifold shades of meaning,—sometimes the noble vine, sometimes the degenerate, sometimes the wild vine. The latter is perhaps the idea lying at the foundation, no stress, however, being laid upon it; but the vine in general, as compared with other wood, is meant to be spoken of, so that the figure of the vine furnishes merely, as it were, the customary title of Israel. What superiority has Israel, although the Song of Solomon -called “vine,” as a nation over other nations? Culture makes the vine a vine, just as it causes it to bear noble fruit. Now, however, instead of the despised culture, there manifests itself the judgment of God! Hence, also, עֵץ׳: the wood of the vine.—מַה־יִהְיֶה, not so much: what superiority has it? as rather: what will be its fate? how will it fare with it? as judgment is hinted at.—מכָּל־עֵץ. Every other wood can be made use of; the vine, on the contrary, is of no service except for its fruit. The answer supposed for the question, therefore, not merely denies the claim to a better fate, but even makes the wood of the vine inferior to other wood, that is to say, when it fails of its aim. This is the intermediate thought, which the apposition (corresponding as it does with the accents): הַוְּמוֹרה אֲשֶׁר׳, explains. Differently the Sept. and Vulg. זְמוֹרָה (commonly so called from paring or pruning; according to others, from intertwining; or, “that which shoots;” זָמַר is used to express a process—that of nipping off—derived from vine-culture) is the plant of the vine ( Isaiah 17:10), which accordingly has been removed from its original habitat in the wilderness, in order to be planted, to be cultivated. The masc. הָיָה refers to wood, as being the connection in which the זְמוֹרָה is thought of. So also in what follows. If it has not repaid the planting, and this is the case here—but it is not expressly said that it had become degenerate, had borne no fruit at all or bad fruit (Hengst.: “the vine-shoot which is among the trees of the forest” = the vine which corresponds with the forest-trees in barrenness, as it is mere wood; the wild vine does not occur at all in Scripture),—the questions that follow naturally suggest themselves in this connection.

Ezekiel 15:3. For use its diameter even unfits it (Hitzig); while its appearance is too paltry for ornament, and it is too weak to bear anything except fruit.

Ezekiel 15:4. Useless as wood, because it is of service merely for its fruit, it falls of right to the fire ( John 15:6; Matthew 7:19). But still less is to be thought of it, and therefore, just as at the beginning ( Ezekiel 15:2) a question was put as to its fate, the question is renewed in view of the effect of the fire. The two ends are in the application perhaps not so much the kingdom of the ten tribes and Judah, as rather those tribes of Israel on the one side and on the other; so that the middle piece, which may still come in question, is Judah with Jerusalem, or the latter alone. נָחָר partic. Niph. of חָרַר. Figure and reality running into one another. What is in prospect is in part realized fact, on the ground of which a further question is put ( Matthew 3:10; Hebrews 6:8).

Ezekiel 15:5. הִנֵּה resumes the parallel הִכֵּה of Ezekiel 15:4. What could not even be in its uninjured state, can much less be when the case stands with it as in Ezekiel 15:4.

The carrying out of the figure already indicated its reference generally; the application now interprets it expressly of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 15:6. אֲשֶׁר־נְתַתִּיו, such a destiny as has just been made to take effect. Hengst.: “which I give” by a law of nature with regard to the vine.

Ezekiel 15:7. Ezekiel 14:8.—From the fire, etc, that is to say, in the sense of Ezekiel 15:4-5. Already burnt, they would have required to be on their guard against the fire. But in this way that is only “the beginning of the end” (Hengst.). Many expositors point specially to the experiences of the divine wrath under Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin. But comp. on Ezekiel 15:4-5. (Grot. proverbially: coming out of the one, the other will fall upon them.)— Ezekiel 5:4; Ezekiel 10:2.

Eze 15:8. Eze 14:15-16; Eze 14:13.

DOCTRINAL REFLECTIONS

1. The temple of Herod even was decked off with the “distinguishing mark” of Israel, the vine and its clusters (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5:64).

2. What is here called the “wood,” Paul would express by the words: “after the flesh.”

3. “The chosen people of God, if they deny and profane the Holy Spirit of heavenly fruitfulness, who works in them, are, as regards the barren wood of their original stock, less than all other nations” (Umbreit).

4. “A nation or an individual to whom God has made Himself known, and who turns His grace into lasciviousness, sinks far beneath those who have not known God. Hebrews 6:4 sq.” (Hengst.)

5. “The Church is not to be a wilderness, but a vineyard; is not to bear flowers only, or leaves and twigs merely, but fruit. She is not an apple-tree or fig-tree, but a vine. Wine cheers, inspirits, enlivens. Outwardly insignificant, there is the noblest power within. The grace of Christ working through poor apostles” (a Lapide).

HOMILETIC HINTS

Ezekiel 15:2 sq. The question as to superiority was called forth by the vainglory and self- complacency of Israel. They boasted of being superior, and therefore what they are to become is held up before them; for it is not what we seem to ourselves to be that constitutes our superiority over others, but it is what has come out of us that will ultimately show whether we are to go to the right hand or to the left. The end decides the matter. It is not: the beginning good, everything good.—“Our faith constitutes our superiority; proving itself as it does in our conduct and edifying others” (Starck).—If thou hast, why boastest thou thyself, seeing thou hast received it? Keep what thou hast, that no man rob thee of thy crown.—“The intention of the prophet is to humble the foolish self-confidence of the people, who boasted themselves of the gifts of God’s grace, as if they were mere natural excellences. On the ground of His benefits they took a stand against God” (Calv.).—“The comparison with plants and trees is in many respects a suitable one for man” (Starck).—“Believers have but a mean appearance before the world; but in Christ, the True Vine, they are fruitful, John 15.” (Starke.)—“He who looks at the vine as regards its wood will scarce reckon it among the trees. It lies at the feet of the trees of the forest. Their wood far surpasses its wood. But because God had planted Israel, he came forth from the wilderness of all the nations. Out of Egypt God brought him ( Psalm 80:9, 8]sq.). Other nations, on the contrary, flourished by means of arts, riches, population, capacity for war, etc. These were lofty forest trees, which drew the eyes of all upon them. Israel stood and fell with God’s grace” (Calv.).—To the Jews the law was given very much as a vine-dresser’s knife, that they might bring forth more fruit.

Ezekiel 15:6 sq. “God is always punishing; but the punishment is unto destruction when He sets His face against the sinner” (Luther).—“The fact that one evil is past makes men secure without reason, for another comes after it” (Starck).—“Let us learn from this chapter to beware of fleshly security” (Luther).

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 15:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ezekiel-15.html. 1857-84.

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