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Ezekiel 19:10-12

10. Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful, and full of branches by reason of many waters.

10. Mater tua tanquam vitis in sanguine tuo super aquas plantata fuit: fructifera et ramosa 247247     Or, “leafy,” as some translate it. — Calvin. fuit ob aquas multas.

11. And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.

11. Et fuerunt illi virgae roboris 248248     That is, “strong or robust.” — Calvin. ad sceptra dominantium: et elevata fuit statura ejus supra, 249249     That is, “on high among the boughs or vine-branches.” — Calvin. et apparuit in altitudine sua, in multitudine ramorum suorum.

12. But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.

12. Et evulsa fuit in furore, 250250     Or, “burning wrath.” — Calvin. terram projecta: et ventus Orientalis arefecit fructum ejus discerpti sunt, 251251     Or, “broken up.” — Calvin et arefacti; virga robusta, 252252     “Its twigs were broken up and withered.” — Calvin. ignis voravit eas.


Here Ezekiel places before our eyes the twofold state of the Jews, that they may acknowledge themselves fallen into extreme misery, because they had provoked God. For they did not sufficiently consider their present state, unless the former dignity and happiness with which they were adorned was brought to their remembrance. Now, in some way they had grown callous to all evils: although scarcely anything remained safe but Jerusalem, they did not look back, but were just as wanton as when their affairs were prosperous. Since they had not yet been humbled by so many slaughters, the Prophet, therefore, on the one hand, reminds them of their former condition, and then shows them how they had fallen. This comparison, then, thought to prick their consciences sharply, that they may at length feel that God was hostile to them. We now understand the Prophet’s intention in saying, that the people’s mother was at first like a flourishing and fruit-bearing vine. It is not surprising that he says, the vine was planted near the waters: for there the vines do not require lofty and dry situations, as in cold climates, but rather seek their nourishment from water, as we gather from many passages of Scripture. The Prophet, therefore, stays, that the people at, the beginning was like a vine planted in a mild and choice situation. He says, that the vine was flourishing, or branching, and fruitful, since it drew its juices from the waters.

Respecting the word “blood,” I think those who take it for vigor are mistaken; it rather refers to birth: he says, the mother of the people in her blood, that is, in bringing forth the people. Thus Ezekiel recalls the Jews to their first origin, as we previously saw the word used in this sense. When you was in thy blood, meaning, when you was born, as we know this to be the state of the young offspring, as the metaphor was explained in the sixteenth chapter. Live in thy blood, said God, (Ezekiel 16:6,) since the Jews were still defiled through not being cleansed from pollution. In fine, blood is taken for birth, as if it had been said, that the Jews, when first brought to light, were planted so as to take root, since God led them into the land of Canaan. Here he says they were brought to light when God restored them. He omits the intervening space of time which we saw elsewhere, because he passes directly from the end to the beginning. On the whole, he means that the Jews at their nativity were placed in the land of Canaan, which was very fruitful, so that they should bring forth their own fruit, that is, spend their time happily, and enjoy an abundance of all things. Now we understand the meaning of the phrase, the mother of the people was planted near the waters, as a flourishing and fruitful vine

He adds, she had branches, that is, vine twigs, for the scepters of those who bear rule. Those who translate with or above the scepters of rulers do not seem to me to comprehend the Prophet’s meaning. I have no doubt he intends that scepters were gathered from these vine branches, or rather that they were so formed as to be like royal scepters. Although this translation seems rather rough, yet the sense is not doubtful; because the Prophet means that kings were taken from the people just as branches from the vine, as God chose king’s from David to Zedekiah. In this sense he says that the vine branches became scepters of the rulers. He afterwards adds, her stature was conspicuous, that she was remarkable for her loftiness even in the multitude of the vine branches. This is extended to the whole body of the people. Since mention is made of the king, there is no doubt that God commends his grace towards the whole people, whose safety and happiness were placed in the king, as we saw elsewhere. But he asserts more clearly that the people had increased, so that they excelled in population, power, and wealth. On the whole, the Prophet teaches that the Jews were adorned from the beginning with all kinds of advantages, since God’s best gifts shone forth there, and their dignity was conspicuous, and their opulence great, since he unites the multitude of the boughs or vine branches with their height.

Let us come now to the second clause. He says that the vine was torn away in wrath, thrown on the ground, and dried by the east wind, and that its boughs were broken off and withered, and consumed by fire. I have now briefly explained the Prophet’s meaning. As the Jews had grown stupid in their calamity, and were not humbled so as suppliantly to fly to God’s mercy, the Prophet corrects their torpor when he shows them their origin. He now says that they were reduced to extreme wretchedness by a sudden assault; for a change which took place in a short space of time ought to affect them to the quick; but if they had been slowly diminished, the change had not been so remarkable: but when the vine was struck by lightning, torn up, withered, and burnt, that instantaneous slaughter, as I have said, showed that it was not by chance, but by the evident wrath of God. For this reason he says that the vine was violently torn up, and cast upon the ground. If the vine had been dried up by degrees, it, would not have been so wonderful; but its sudden tearing up ought to have made them sensible of the wrath of God, towards which they had grown callous. This is the reason why the Prophet adds one simile to another. The plucking up would have been sufficient; but he adds, it was cast upon the ground, that it should wither away completely. He adds, the east wind, which destroys both fruits and trees, as is sufficiently evident from many passages; and not only so, but he says that the boughs were broken, or plucked off, and withered: lastly, they were consumed with fire In fine, the hand of God appeared visibly in that horrible slaughter of the people, when they were torn up, cut off, withered, and burnt. It follows —

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