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Isaiah 56:3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely exclude me from his people." And let no eunuch complain, "I am only a dry tree."

What's a dry tree?

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Horizontally, a dry tree is a metaphor for being barren and fruitless since a eunuch cannot have children. Spiritually speaking, we have in Deuteronomy 23:

1 No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord.

They could not be part of God's assembly. Isaiah promised something better in Isaiah 56:

4 For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.

Eunuchs can join the assembly of the Lord. They can also inherit eternal life like normal people. Sons and daughters last only as long as they in turn reproduce. Eternal life lasts forever for the eunuchs themselves. They will no longer be like a dry tree.

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  • Great answer; +1. In your last paragraph, did you mean to say "Not only can Eunuchs join . . . ? As written it appears to assert that Eunuchs won't be the only ones in the assembly--but I don't think that's what you meant. – Polyhat May 14 at 17:56
  • Thanks. I modified. – Tony Chan May 14 at 18:04
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A tree was a common metaphor for people:

  • Ps 1:3 - green trees flourish
  • Jer 17:8 - Trees must grow and produce fruit
  • Matt 3:8-10 - trees must produce fruit - more seeds for more trees, else they will be cut down
  • Matt 12:33 - a tree is known by its fruit (see also Luke 6:44)

Thus, when Isaiah 56:3 used the well-known metaphor of a "dry tree" incapable of growth and producing seed and fruit, to teach about a eunuch, it was well understood. The Torah excluded such from God's people (Deut 23:1).

However, by Isaiah's time, some people had been made eunuch's by foreign powers (2 Kings 20:18, Isa 39:7) and Isaiah's revelations said that, despite the prohibitions of the Torah, eunuch's would flourish in God's eternal kingdom - a wonderful promise for these people indeed!

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