Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Waters. These waters are not to be understood literally, (for there were none such that flowed from the temple) but mystically of the baptism of Christ, and of his doctrine and his grace; the trees that grow on the banks are Christian virtues; the fishes are Christians, that spiritually live in and by these holy waters; the fishermen are the apostles, and apostolic preachers; the fenny places, where there is no health, are such as by being out of the Church are separated from these waters of life. (Challoner) — It is not probable that real water or fishes were found, ver. 9. But this must be explained of the Church and of baptism, in a higher and more proper sense. (Worthington) — Joel, (iii. 18.) before the captivity, and Zacharias, (xiv. 8.) after that event, speak of fountains as still to appear, and of course not in either temple, though Pilate made aqueducts for the purpose, (Josephus, Jewish Wars ii. 13.) which Tacitus, (An. v.) Maundrel, (p. 148.) and others mention. But the prophets allude not to them, but to Christ, the fountain of water springing up unto life eternal, John iv. 14., and vii. 38. (Calmet) — Villalpand understands it of waters brought into the temple to wash the victims; but it seems to refer more to the grace and doctrine of Christ. (Menochius)
Ver. 2. East. This gate was shut, and therefore he went out at the north gate. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. The. Hebrew, “the east country,” (Protestants; Haydock) or “the frontiers (Gelilah) eastward,” by which some improperly suppose that one rivulet went to the sea of Galilee. — And shall. Hebrew, “the sea of the going out,” where the Jordan River empties itself into the Dead Sea; or, the second rivulet ran into the Mediterranean, Zacharias xiv. 8. But this passage relates to the Dead Sea alone, (ver. 18.) and Gelilah is a place near it, where the Israelites erected an altar of union, Josue xxii. 10. (Calmet) — Healed. No fish can live in the sea of Sodom. (Solin xxxviii.) — Yet, let the place be ever so noxious, this water shall cure it; (see 4 Kings ii. 19.; Calmet) which must be taken in a mystical sense. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Engallim, or “the fountain of Gallim,” in the tribe of Benjamin, Isaias xxv. 44.
Ver. 11. Salt, or bitumen pits. Schismatics and bad Christians, who do not live by the spirit of Christ, are meant. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. First-fruits, or most excellent. (Haydock) — St. John saw such (Worthington) a tree of life, Apocalypse xxii. (Haydock) — The doctrine of the gospel, and the study of the sacred books, have the most salutary effects; while the very leaves, or the example of the saints, heal the soul. No more shall the deceitful fruits near Sodom be seen (Calmet) beautiful, but full of nothing but ashes. (Tacitus, An. v.) — Where Christ instructs, a torrent of grace and glory is presently formed. Like the mustard seed growing into a large tree, in which the birds rest, its origin is mean; yet its progress is grand and astonishing.
Ver. 13. Double portion. Literally, “cord.” (Haydock) — His two sons would each have a share, as Levi was better provided for. (Worthington) — He had no portion of the land assigned to him by Josue, but here one part is appointed (Calmet) for the sacred ministers and the prince, chap. xlv. 1.
Ver. 14. Brother. The seven tribes to the north have each an equal share, as the five who lay to the south of the Levites had with respect to each other, though their portion must have been only about half of what the former possessed, according to the map, chap. xlv. 1. (Haydock) — Under Josue, the numbers of each tribe were considered. The present mysterious equality shews, perhaps, that there is no distinction of Jew or Gentile in the Church, and that Christ would come to redeem all. (Calmet) — Lifted. People taking an oath acted in this manner. (Menochius)
Ver. 15. Sedada. These places are not well known. They seem to be near the highest mountain specified, (Numbers xxxiv. 7.) west of Emesa.
Ver. 16. Berotha, conquered by David, 2 Kings viii. 8.
Ver. 17. Emath was about the middle of the northern limits, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River.
Ver. 18. Auran. Hence a line must be drawn through Damascus over Mount Galaad to the eastern or Dead Sea, to form the eastern borders. (Calmet) — The Jordan River flowing from Genesareth to Sodom marked out this side, (Menochius) or rather was in this division; though the land as far as Galaad was to belong to Israel, as it had been before the captivity. Protestants, “by Jordan from the border unto,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 19. Thamar. Engaddi is sometimes understood: but it lay near Jericho, as this (Calmet) Thamar was to the south of the Dead Sea. (Ptolemy) — Torrent Besor. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Emath, not that it was on the sea: but a line was to be drawn over against this city, eastward from the Mediterranean Sea. Septuagint, “to opposite the entrance of Emath, as far as its entrance.” But the territory extended farther, Numbers xxxiv.
Ver. 22. Strangers. This was never done by the Jews. It signifies that Christ would give an inheritance, in the true land of promise [in heaven], (Calmet) to all nations which should practice his religion, Romans x. 12. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The vision of the holy waters issuing out from under the temple: the borders of the land to be divided among the twelve tribes.
1 And he brought me again to the gate of the house, and behold waters issued out from under the threshold of the house toward the east: for the forefront, of the house looked toward the east: but the waters came down to the right side of the temple, to the south part of the altar.
2 And he led me out by the way of the north gate, and he caused me to turn to the way without the outward gate, to the way that looked toward the east: and behold there ran out waters on the right side.
3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went out towards the east, he measured a thousand cubits: and he brought me through the water up to the ancles.
4 And again he measured a thousand, and he brought me through the water up to the knees.
5 And he measured a thousand, and he brought me through the water up to the loins. And he measured a thousand, and it was a torrent, which I could not pass over: for the waters were risen so as to make a deep torrent, which could not be passed over.
6 And he said to me: Surely thou hast seen, O son of man. And he brought me out, and he caused me to turn to the bank of the torrent.
7 And when I had turned myself, behold on the bank of the torrent were very many trees on both sides.
8 And he said to me: These waters that issue forth toward the hillocks of sand to the east, and go down to the plains of the desert, shall go into the sea, and shall go out, and the waters shall be healed.
9 And every living creature that creepeth whithersoever the torrent shall come, shall live: and there shall be fishes in abundance after these waters shall come thither, and they shall be healed, and all things shall live to which the torrent shall come.
10 And the fishers shall stand over these waters, from Engaddi even to Engallim there shall be drying of nets: there shall be many sorts of the fishes thereof, as the fishes of the great sea, a very great multitude:
11 But on the shore thereof, and in the fenny places they shall not be healed, because they shall be turned into salt pits.
12 And by the torrent on the banks thereof, on both sides, shall grow all trees that bear fruit: their leaf shall not fall off, and their fruit shall not fail: every month shall they bring forth first-fruits, because the waters thereof shall issue out of the sanctuary: and the fruits thereof shall be for food, and the leaves thereof for medicine.
13 Thus saith the Lord God: This is the border, by which you shall possess the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: for Joseph hath a double portion.
14 And you shall possess it, every man in like manner as his brother: concerning which I lifted up my hand to give it to your fathers: and this land shall fall unto you for a possession.
15 And this is the border of the land: toward the north side, from the great sea by the way of Hethalon, as men go to Sedada.
16 Emath, Berotha, Sabarim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Emath, the house of Tichon, which is by the border of Auran.
17 And the border from the sea even to the court of Enon, shall be the border of Damascus, and from the north to the north: the border of Emath, this is the north side.
18 And the east side is from the midst of Auran, and from the midst of Damascus, and from the midst of Galaad, and from the midst of the land of Israel, Jordan making the bound to the east sea, and thus you shall measure the east side.
19 And the south side southward is from Thamar, even to the waters of contradiction of Cades: and the torrent, even to the great sea: and this is the south side southward.
20 And the side toward the sea, is the great sea, from the borders straight on, till thou come to Emath: this is the side of the sea.
21 And you shall divide this land unto you by the tribes of Israel:
22 And you shall divide it by lot for an inheritance to you, and to the strangers that shall come over to you, that shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as men of the same country born among the children of Israel: they shall divide the possession with you in the midst of the tribes of Israel.
23 And in what tribe soever the stranger shall be, there shall you give him possession, saith the Lord God.