|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-10 Mighty conquerors are aptly likened to birds or beasts of prey, but their destructive passions are overruled to forward God's designs. Those who depart from God, only vary their crimes by changing one carnal confidence for another, and never will prosper.
Verse 5. - The seed of the land is Zedekiah, who was made king by Nebuchadnezzar in Jeconiah's place. The imagery of the willow (the Hebrew word occurs here only) seems suggested by Ezekiel's surroundings. No tree could stand out in greater contrast to the cedar of Lebanon than the willows which he saw growing by the waters of Babylon (Psalm 137:2, though the word is different). The choice of the willow determined the rest of the imagery, and the fruitful field and the great or "many" (Revised Version) waters represent Judah, possibly with reference to its being in its measure a "land of brooks of waters," of "fountains and depths," of "wheat and barley and wine" (Deuteronomy 8:7-9; Deuteronomy 11:10-12). The kingdom of Zedekiah, i.e., was left with sufficient elements for material prosperity. That prosperity is indicated in ver. 6 by the fact that the willow became a vine. It was of "low stature," indeed, trailing on the ground. It could not claim the greatness of an independent kingdom. Its branches turned toward the planter (ver. 6); its roots were under him. It acknowledged, that is, Nebuchadnezzar's suzerainty, and so, had things continued as they were, it might have prospered.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He took also of the seed of the land,.... Of the land of Judea, a native of it, not a stranger; not one of another country, a Babylonian; not one of his own nobles or princes, did Nebuchadnezzar, the eagle, take and set upon the throne of Judea, but one of their own, even one of the king's seed, of the blood royal, as it is explained, Ezekiel 17:13, Mattaniah, the uncle of Jeconiah, whom the king of Babylon called Zedekiah, and made him king in his room:
and planted it in a fruitful field; in the land of Judea, and in Jerusalem the royal city:
he placed it by great waters; many people, Revelation 17:15; over whom he ruled, and by whom he was supported in his royal dignity:
and set it as a willow tree; which loves moist places, and grows up thick: unless it should be rendered, "he set it with great circumspection" (s); took a great deal of care and caution in placing him upon the throne; he made a covenant with him, took an oath of him, and hostages for the performance of it, Ezekiel 17:13. The Targum is,
"a planted vine he set it,''
to make it agree with what follows; but the word in the Chaldee and Arabic languages signifies a kind of willow, as we render it, as Ben Melech observes (t).
(s) "circumspectissime posuit illud, Junins & Tremellius, Polanus; "cum magna circumspectione", Piscator; "circumspecte, Cocceius, Starckius. (t) And so it does; see Castel, col. 3220, 3221. and in this way Jarchi and Kimchi interpret the word, in which they are followed by many; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 73. 1. nevertheless, the sense of it here is disapproved of by Castel, who observes, what has a willow to do with a vine? col. 3222. and commends the Greek version, which renders it, "conspicuous", to be seen; and so others translate it, "in superficie", V. L. Grotius; yet the "safsaf" of the Arabs is a tree by which they understood the "abeile" or poplar tree; see Shaw's Travels, p. 432. Ed. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. seed of the land—not a foreign production, but one native in the region; a son of the soil, not a foreigner: Zedekiah, uncle of Jehoiachin, of David's family.
in a fruitful field—literally, a "field of seed"; that is, fit for propagating and continuing the seed of the royal family.
as a willow—derived from a Hebrew root, "to overflow," from its fondness for water (Isa 44:4). Judea was "a land of brooks of water and fountains" (De 8:7-9; compare Joh 3:23).
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