And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,Ezekiel, after describing by a figure the circumstances and conditions of the Jews and Zedekiah, the vassal of the Assyrian monarch, warns them of the delusive character of their hopes of help from Egypt, protests against the perfidy which must accompany such alliance, and points out that the restoration of the people of God will be effected by a very different son of David. The close of this chapter is a striking prediction of the kingdom of the Messiah.
Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:A great eagle ... - Probably the golden eagle, whose plumage has the variety of color here depicted. The eagle (the king of birds) is a natural representative of monarchs (compare, Jeremiah 48:40), and was an Assyrian emblem.
With great wings, Iongwinged - literally, "great of wing, long of pinion," because he has swept victoriously over widely distant lands - of divers colors, because his subjects are of various races and tongues. Jerusalem is here called "Lebanon" because Lebanon is the proper home of the cedar. The "highest branch" or "topshoot" is Jeconiah, the rightful king of Jerusalem, the "young twigs" are his children and the princes carried by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon.
He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants.A land of traffick - The land of Babylon.
He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree.He took also of the seed of the land - Zedekiah the king's uncle, not a Babylonian satrap, was made king.
And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs.Spreading - On the ground, not trained to a pole, that it might have no other prop but Nebuchadnezzar. As a vine it was less majestic than a cedar Ezekiel 17:3; but compare Psalm 80:10.
Whose branches ... - Rather, in order that her branches should turn unto him, and that her roots should be under him.
There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation.Another great eagle - This is the king of Egypt, mighty indeed but not like the first.
By the furrows of her plantation - From the beds, where it was planted to bring forth fruit for another, it shot forth its roots to him that he might water it. Zedekiah was courting the favor of Egypt while he owed his very position to the bounty of Assyria.
It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine.
Say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof.Her spring - Rather, her growth.
Even without ... - Translate; and not with great power or with much people is it to be raised up from its roots again.
Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon;
And hath taken of the king's seed, and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him: he hath also taken the mighty of the land:
That the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant it might stand.
But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?
As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die.
Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons:To cast up mounts and build forts - was the business not of the relieving but of the besieging army. Translate it: when men cast up mounts and build forts to destroy many persons.
Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head.
And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me.
And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:A contrast between the dealings of Nebuchadnezzar and of Yahweh. Nebuchadnezzar "cut off," Yahweh will "set up" the topshoot; Nebuchadnezzar "carried it into a land of traffic," Yahweh will "plant it in the mountain of the height of Israel." Nebuchadnezzar set his favorite as a "vine, lowly" though not poor, in the place where such trees as the humble "willow" grow and thrive. Yahweh's favorite is like the "lofty cedar, eminent upon a high mountain."
The highest branch of the high cedar - The rightful representative of the royal house of David, the Messiah.
In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.In the mountain of the height of Israel - The parallel passage Ezekiel 20:40 points to the mountain on which the temple stood. But it is not here the actual Mount Moriah so much as the kingdom of which that mountain was the representative, the seat of the throne of the anointed Son of God (Psalm 2:6; compare Psalm 40:2).
All fowl of every wing - (or, of every kind) are those who flock from all lands to this kingdom. Compare Matthew 13:32.
The prophet brings prominently forward the future exaltation of the king; and he furnishes us thereby with hope, encouragement, and consolation, at such times as we see the Church of Christ in like depression.
And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.The trees fo the field - The kingdoms of the world as contrasted with the kingdom of God. The truth here enunciated is a general one. God gives the promise, God fulfils it.