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“I Threw It”—Zarakti

December 1, 2010

by: Tom Brimmer, Israel Tour Guide

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In this verse, we have a promise and a prophecy from God’s own mouth. In biblical Hebrew, there is an unusual way of changing the text to make sure we understand that it is God talking: we reverse the time tense of the verbs. In this case, instead of it saying that God threw something, it means that He will throw something. Most Bible translations, like the New King James Version above, states that God will “sprinkle” water. That sounds like a nice gentle spring rain, doesn’t it? However, the Hebrew word that has been translated “sprinkle” is zarakti.

We gain a better understanding of the passage if we use the more accurate translation of zarakti. Then we see that God is going to “throw” pure water on His people to clean them up and, in the process, purify the world. God used water to clean the world once in the past. Noah and his family were the only humans to survive that cleansing. God promised Noah that He would never send a flood again and gave us the rainbow as a sign of His promise. So, how should we understand this promise that God is going to throw water at His people and cleanse them?

Remember that water canon we mentioned above? It can be aimed at a group of trouble-making people and, at the same time, completely miss the police who are there to restore order. Maybe we can understand two things. First, we can see that God is not random but rather is capable of taking aim and distinguishing between targets. We can also know that God is not always gentle. After all, God can throw lightning too!

Clean, Pure Water

In the Ezekiel verse, we read that God will throw clean, pure water. In the New Testament, we can see that sometimes water is compared to the Bible itself. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ [Messiah] also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25–26). So perhaps what we really need to see here is that God will throw revelations of His Word like a drenching and forceful blast of cleansing, purifying water. Ezekiel says He will do it to cleanse Israel from filthiness and from idols. It will be impossible to ignore it when God starts throwing water!

Mount Hermon www.israelimages.com / Karen Benzian


Another word in the same Ezekiel verse is worth noticing. The water is “pure.” The word for “pure” is tahorim (טהורים). This is the same kind of pure water as you get from a mountain spring. At the time this was written, the best source of water in Israel was the springs on Mount Hermon, where Israel, Syria and Lebanon meet in the north. That water is filtered through the limestone rock of an entire mountain. As a matter of fact, it is still the best water in Israel. So what kind of water will God throw at Israel?  Water filtered through the rock.

The great rabbi, called Rashi, says that this means that God will grant atonement and remove uncleanness, even the highest degree of defilement. He compares the defilement to being defiled by death. He adds that when God gives a new heart, it will be an inclination which is renewed for the better. He notes Ezekiel 36:31: “..and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight.”  This means that you will melt in your own eyes from shame over the evil.

In Numbers 19:9–18, we find the commandment concerning the ashes of the red heifer. When there was a person who needed cleansing from defilement from touching the dead, the ashes were mixed with water, and a clean person sprinkled it on the defiled person. However, in this case, the word for “sprinkle” is not zarakti. It is a gentle sprinkle from a branch of hyssop that is dipped in the water. When God sprinkles, He won’t miss. It won’t be gentle, and it will be effective. The people to be cleansed don’t have a choice in the matter. It isn’t optional, nor is it avoidable. Nobody is going to be able to ignore it when God starts throwing water!

 Great Blessing

Dative linguistic study of zarakti (how it grammatically relates to its object) produces an interesting additional piece of information. If God will throw water “on Israel,” it means that Israel will then possess the water! God will cause Israel to possess what He throws. It’s not optional, and it’s not conditional. God will do exactly what He wants to do. No wonder that the results are both profound and dramatic.

When Israel is in possession of the water, things are going to change. The changes are imposed by God. They are not harmful, nor are they imposed as a punishment, but rather, they are what will bring Israel great blessings.

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