God told us, “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers” Gen 2:10. Natural rivers are formed when many streams and tributaries merge into a single flow of water, but this one supernatural river in Eden fed four life-giving rivers. “The name of the first is Pishon;… it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold” Gen 2:11. In Hebrew, havilah means “sandy land,” which suggests that the Pishon meanders through a land without God’s living water. The gold reminds us of Rabbi Yeshua‘s, “You cannot serve God and mammon” Mt 6:24. “The name of the second river is Gihon” Gen 2:13. “The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria” Gen 2:14. The Tigris, the eastern river that defined Mesopotamia, brings water to some of the region where Eastern Catholic civilizations once lived. “And the fourth river is the Euphrates” Gen 2:14. The Euphrates, the western river, gave water to ancient Israel. Its drying up would be a sign of the end times Rev 16:12.
Israel has only one main river, the Jordan, which flows south from Mt. Hermon to the Dead Sea, about 20 miles east of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is in a mountainous region high above the Judean hills, no river can flow uphill to it. It has survived for more than five thousand years as a city because God provided a life-giving spring which emerges from an aquifer at the bottom of the Temple Mount. The spring is called Gihon, the name of the second river of Eden Gen 2:13. Gihon means “bubbling” or “bursting forth.” The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea.
This second river from Eden, Gihon, rivets our attention. Gihon is the water spring that has kept Jerusalem alive as a city for more than five thousand years; pottery fragments around the Gihon, dated 4500-3300 BC, are the first evidence of human activity anywhere near Jerusalem.
During the Assyrian siege, around 800 BC, King Hezekiah built a tunnel aqueduct and a pool 2 Kings 20:20 to capture the Gihon water. If a man steps into the tunnel when the spring begins to flow the water is up to his ankles. If he waits, the water rises to his knees, and finally to his waist. There it stops. Then, 45 minutes later, it bursts forth again.
That aqueduct and pool made it possible for Jerusalem to support the population needed for the ancient Temple when, a century later, King Josiah’s high priest Hilkiah found Moses’ long-lost Deuteronomy in the Temple and discovered Deut 12:5–6, which made Pesakh, Shavuot, and Sukkot into pilgrimage festivals. On these three pilgrim festivals every Jewish man had to travel from wherever he lived in the world to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel’s Vision of the Living Water
In the year 753 BC, on Yom Kippur, God gave Ezekiel a vision of living water:
“Behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east) … and the water was coming out on the south side, … led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep.… and it was knee-deep … and it was up to the loins … and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” … And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arava; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes” Ezek 47:1–9.
The water of Ezekiel‘s vision was miraculous. Water flowing east from the Temple would flow down into the Kidron Valley, which runs all the way from Jerusalem through the Arava desert to the Dead Sea at Qumran. In Israel’s bone-dry summer climate, fresh water flowing through the Kidron Valley deep enough that it could not be passed through would be an unimaginable torrent. The Dead Sea has nine times more salt concentration than the Earth’s major oceans. Even that torrent would have to be miraculous to make the waters of the Dead Sea fresh enough that all kinds of aquatic life would flourish there. The mayim khayim, living water from the Temple, refreshes our souls in preparation for abundant life in heaven Rev 7:17.
Ezekiel’s reference to “very many fish” Ezek 47:9 reminds us of Rabbi Yeshua‘s call, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Mt 4:19. Rabbi Kefa brought 153 fish up from darkness to light in Rabbi Yeshua‘s presence Jn 21:11. At that time there were said to be 153 known species of fish. Rabbi Kefa’s 153 fish remind us that Rabbi Yeshua told Rabbi Kefa to “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” Lk 5:4 and opened his Church to men from every nation Acts 10:34–35.
In Ezekiel’s vision the Temple faced east. The water was coming out on the south side, which when facing east is the right side. Rabbi Yeshua had declared that he was the new and eternal Temple Jn 2:19, 21. When the Roman soldier pierced Rabbi Yeshua‘s right side with a spear, “There came out blood and water” Jn 19:34. The water bursting forth from his right side reminds us of the life-giving Gihon. The blood is his new and eternal covenant with us Mt 26:27–28.
In Catholic tradition the waters of baptism are living water because they flow from Rabbi Yeshua, the fountain of living water Rev 21:6. “Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God, and of the Lamb” Rev 22:1. During each Easter season, as an entrance antiphon, many Catholic parishes sing the hymn , “I saw water flowing from the right side of the Temple …” 3:53 Ezek 47:8.
Rabbi Yeshua told the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God … he would have given you living water” Jn 4:10. Rabbi Yeshua told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jn 3:5. On the last day of one Sukkot, Rabbi Yeshua stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’” Jn 7:38.
The national revelation that announced Rabbi Yeshua as God’s Mashiakh, and also the destruction in AD 70 of the Temple of stone are strong evidence for the eternal Temple Jn 2:21 as the source of living water Ezek 47:8–9. Rabbi Yeshua told Rabbi Kefa, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” Lk 5:4.
God led Israel across the Red Sea to depart from Egypt Ex 14:22, and then across the Jordan River to enter the promised land Josh 3:17. Rabbi Yeshua‘s followers would have to cross living water to reach the Promised Land. He told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” Jn 3:5. The Catechism comments: § 1213 “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.
Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me Mt 10:34–38.
In the eternal election the entire Jewish nation was to witness to God in the world. By ha-b’rit bein ha-betarim, the covenant between the pieces, all of Abraham’s descendants in the covenant were to proclaim him as God’s Mashiakh, but the Jewish authorities refused, and so once again the Jewish nation suffered the fate of the animals by being cut in two. Many Jews followed Rabbi Yeshua, many others did not follow.
When Rabbi Yeshua began to preach, he fulfilled this covenant in the flesh and the Mosaic Covenant Ex 24:8 with a new and eternal covenant. “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished Mt 5:17–18.
Rabbi Yeshua brought his flock into the eternal election with his words at Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thine, be done” Lk 22:42. He will reunite all Israel. He told the Jewish authorities that the Temple would be destroyed: “Behold, your house is forsaken” Lk 13:35. Yet his next words prophesied for the Jews who did not follow, “And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Lk 13:35, as the Jews who followed welcomed him into Jerusalem Mt 21:7.
Following Rabbi Yeshua, after he rose from the tomb, Rabbi Paul said, “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” Rom 11:12. He repeated the prophecy for emphasis. “For if [the Jewish authorities’] rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? Rom 11:15. Rabbi Yeshua was certainly rejected by the Jewish authorities Acts 8:1, which opened the way for him to offer His revelation to the whole world. Rabbi Yeshua told his shlikhim, “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8. Then we focus on Rabbi Paul’s words, “How much more will their full inclusion mean!” This classic Hebrew kal v’khomer, “How much more,” used in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, indicates that something will occur § 674.