Ezekiel 15

Burning a Useless Vine

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, of all the woody branches among the trees of the forest, what happens to the wood of the vine?
Most modern translations take the statement as a comparison (“how is vine wood better than any forest wood?”) based on the preposition מִן (min). But a comparison should have a word as an adjective or stative verb designating a quality, i.e., a word for “good/better” is lacking. The preposition is translated above in its partitive sense.
Comparing Israel to the wood of the vine may focus on Israel’s inferiority to the other nations. For the vine imagery in relation to Israel and the people of God, see Ps 80:8–13; John 15:1–7; Rom 11:17–22.
Can wood be taken from it to make anything useful? Or can anyone make a peg from it to hang things on? No!
The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) draws one’s attention to something. Sometimes it may be translated as a verb of perception; here it is treated as a particle that fits the context (so also in v. 5, but with a different English word).
It is thrown in the fire for fuel; when the fire has burned up both ends of it and it is charred in the middle, will it be useful for anything?
Indeed! If it was not made into anything useful when it was whole, how much less can it be made into anything when the fire has burned it up and it is charred?

“Therefore, this is what the sovereign Lord says: Like the wood of the vine is among the trees of the forest which I have provided as fuel for the fire – so I will provide the residents of Jerusalem as fuel.
The words “as fuel” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.
I will set
The word translated “set” is the same Hebrew word translated as “provide” in the previous verse.
my face against them – although they have escaped from the fire,
This escape refers to the exile of Ezekiel and others in 597 b.c. (Ezek 1:2; 2 Kgs 24:10–16).
the fire will still consume them! Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them.
I will make
The word translated “make” is the same Hebrew word translated as “provide” in v. 6.
the land desolate because they have acted unfaithfully, declares the sovereign Lord.”

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