PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Jerusalem Like A Useless Vine||The Outcast Vine||Allegory of the Vine||A Parable About A Vine||A Parable of the Vine|
READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:15:1-8
1Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2"Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any wood of a branch which is among the trees of the forest? 3Can wood be taken from it to make anything, or can men take a peg from it on which to hang any vessel? 4If it has been put into the fire for fuel, and the fire has consumed both of its ends and its middle part has been charred, is it then useful for anything? 5Behold, while it is intact, it is not made into anything. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it still be made into anything! 6Therefore, thus says the Lord God, 'As the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so have I given up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; 7and I set My face against them. Though they have come out of the fire, yet the fire will consume them. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I set My face against them. 8Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have acted unfaithfully,'" declares the Lord God.
15:1 "how is the wood of the vine better" The vine is often used as a symbol of Israel (cf. 19:10; Ps. 80:8-16; Isa. 5:1-7; Hosea 10:1; Rom. 11:17-22). In this brief parable Judah and Jerusalem are given to Babylon for the burning (cf. 19:12; 23:25; Jer. 21:10; 32:28-29; 39:8; 52:13; II Chr. 36:19). Grapevines are not good fuel for cooking because they burn too hot and too quickly! It is also too soft to be used for furniture or construction. One cannot even make a tent peg out of vine wood! It is useless except for producing fruit, but Israel did not produce (cf. Deut. 32:32; Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21)!
The prophets often symbolized idolatry as an imported vine (cf. Isa. 17:10; Ezek. 8:17).
The personification of trees is not unusual in the OT. Note Jdgs 9:7-15! Parables and riddles are common ways for eastern people to express themselves. In reality chapters 15, 16, and 17 form this genre of literature. See Special Topic: The Bible as Eastern Literature at 12:3.
15:4 "fuel. . .consumed" There are two terms (the noun, lit. "food," BDB 38 and the verb, BDB 37, KB 46) which form a wordplay found only in Ezekiel (cf. 15:4,6; 21:32).
▣ "fire" See Special Topic at 1:4.
15:6 "give" The verb (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect) is used twice in this verse and again in vv. 7 and 9. YHWH's judgment of Jerusalem is sure.
15:7 "I set (lit. "give") My face against them" See note at 14:8. This phrase also appears in the Levitical passage on covenant disobedience (cf. Lev. 26:17), which is alluded to three times in this chapter (and often in Ezekiel).
▣ "Though they have come out of the fire, yet fire will consume them" If they (i.e., the inhabitants of Jerusalem) escape one of the four judgments of YHWH, another will get them (cf. I Kgs. 19:17; Isa. 24:18; Amos 9:1-4).
It is possible that this refers to the first two groups of Judeans who were exiled in 605 and 597 b.c. and who were currently in Babylon. They are the potential repentant remnant that YHWH will begin again with (cf. 6:7-9; 14:22-23).
15:8 "I will make the land desolate" This (BDB 1031) is a recurrent threat in Jeremiah (15 times) and Ezekiel (21 times). This threat is first stated in Lev. 26:33 and reiterated by Isaiah (6 times).
▣ "acted unfaithfully" This verb (BDB 591, KB 612, Qal perfect) is first used in 14:13 (see note there) and 17:20; 18:24; 20:27; 39:29. The term is mentioned specifically in the penalties for covenant disobedience in Lev. 26:40. It does not appear in Isaiah or Jeremiah. In 20:27 the covenant people had a history of disobedience starting from the Exodus (i.e., Exodus 32; Neh. 9:16-32) and continuing.
This parable's imagery sets the literary stage for Jesus' condemnation of Israel in His day (cf. Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19)!
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