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 does such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Shall he escape that doeth such things?—The faithlessness of Zedekiah and his court to his own sworn covenant was an act, in addition to all his other wickedness, especially abominable to God. The sanctity of an oath had always been most strongly insisted upon in Israelitish history. It must be remembered that even when, as in the case of the Gibeonites (Joshua , 9), the oath had been obtained by fraud, and centuries had passed since it was given, God yet sorely punished the land for its violation (2Samuel 21:1-2); and in this case the king had been more than once Divinely warned through the prophet Jeremiah of the danger of his treachery. As Zedekiah’s intrigues with Egypt were just now going on, it was particularly important that they should be exposed, and their result foretold to the captives who were yet trusting in the safety of Jerusalem.Ezekiel 17:15. But he rebelled in sending into Egypt, that they might give him horses — Egypt was a country abounding in horses, of which there was great scarcity in Judea. This was not only a violation of his oath and covenant, but likewise a breach of that part of the Jewish law which forbade their king to fetch horses out of Egypt, or strengthen himself with the alliance of that nation. Shall he escape that doeth such things? — Shall not the divine vengeance overtake such ingratitude and perfidy? Shall he break the covenant and be delivered? — Can perjury and covenant- breaking be the way to any man’s deliverance? Can such notorious sinning end in any thing but misery? From what is said on this occasion we learn, that an oath ought not to be violated though it was taken under unfavourable circumstances, and though the things to which a man bound himself by it were very disagreeable to him.
horses—in which Egypt abounded and which were forbidden to Israel to seek from Egypt, or indeed to "multiply" at all (De 17:16; Isa 31:1, 3; compare Isa 36:9). Diodorus Siculus [1.45] says that the whole region from Thebes to Memphis was filled with royal stalls, so that twenty thousand chariots with two horses in each could be furnished for war.
Shall he prosper?—The third time this question is asked, with an indignant denial understood (Eze 17:9, 10). Even the heathen believed that breakers of an oath would not "escape" punishment.But Zedekiah rebelled; endeavoured to cast off the dominion of the conqueror Nebuchadnezzar, who had advanced him and obliged him.
Sending his ambassadors is called bending his roots toward the second eagle.
Egypt; an old bitter enemy, and an impotent and false friend.
That they might give him horses: beside the perjury, here was a cursed trusting to an arm of flesh, of which Isaiah 31:1.
Much people; Zedekiah had not men to set upon his hired horses; Egypt must help here too. How sottishly doth this unhappy Zedekiah act to run himself on the charge and hazard of a new war, in which, whoever is the gainer, he and his are sure to be the losers!
Shall he prosper? see Ezekiel 17:9,10. Can it be likely vengeance should not overtake such ingratitude? Can perjury be the way for any man’s deliverance? Can such notorious sinning end in any thing but misery?
in sending his ambassadors into Egypt; to form an alliance with the king of it, and obtain help from him to break off the Babylonian yoke; this is signified by the vine "bending its roots, and shooting forth its branches towards another great eagle", the king of Egypt, Ezekiel 17:7;
that they might give him horses and much people; with both which Egypt abounded, 1 Kings 10:28; but in Judea there was a scarcity, as of horses, so of men, by means of the multitude of captives which the king of Babylon had carried away; wherefore Zedekiah sent to Egypt for both, for recruits of men; and for horses to form a cavalry, to free himself from the king of Babylon, and defend himself and people against him:
shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? that is guilty of breaking an express law of God, which forbids the kings of Israel multiplying horses, and sending to Egypt for them, Deuteronomy 17:16; and placing confidence in an arm of flesh, Isaiah 31:1; and of such base ingratitude to the king of Babylon, who had set him upon the throne, and put him in a comfortable and flourishing condition: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?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. Cf. 2 Kings 24:20. The king of Egypt referred to was Pharaoh Hophra, Jeremiah 44:30; Jeremiah 37:5 seq. The indignation of Ezekiel against Zedekiah arises greatly from his regarding the subjection of Jerusalem to Babylon as a thing determined by Jehovah. Hence the covenant broken by Zedekiah is not merely the covenant of the king of Babylon but that of Jehovah (Ezekiel 17:19). The prophet follows Jeremiah. He had possibly read the words of the latter spoken in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, ch. Ezekiel 27:9-17, “serve the king of Babylon and live;” and probably he had heard his words to the same effect spoken in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, ch. 25. His advice to the exiles also was no doubt known to him, ch. Ezekiel 29:4.Verse 15. - That they might give him horses. The "chariots and horses" of Egypt seem, throughout its whole history, to have been its chief element of strength. See for the time of Moses (Exodus 14:7), of Solomon (1 Kings 10:28, 29), of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:3), of Hezekiah (Isaiah 31:1: 36:9). Shall he prosper? What had been asked in the parable is asked also, in identical terms, in the interpretation. Ezekiel presses home the charge of perfidy as well as rebellion. Like Jeremiah, he looks on Nebuchadnezzar as reigning by a Divine right.
Ezekiel 17:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 17:2. Son of man, give a riddle, and relate a parable to the house of Israel; Ezekiel 17:3. And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, A great eagle, with great wings and long pinions, full of feathers of variegated colours, came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar: Ezekiel 17:4. He plucked off the topmost of its shoots, and brought it into Canaan's land; in a merchant-city he set it. Ezekiel 17:5. And he took of the seed of the land, and put it into seed-land; took it away to many waters, set it as a willow. Ezekiel 17:6. And it grew, and became an overhanging vine of low stature, that its branches might turn towards him, and its roots might be under him; and it became a vine, and produced shoots, and sent out foliage. Ezekiel 17:7. There was another great eagle with great wings and many feathers; and, behold, this vine stretched its roots languishingly towards him, and extended its branches towards him, that he might water it from the beds of its planting. Ezekiel 17:8. It was planted in a good field by many waters, to send out roots and bear fruit, to become a glorious vine. Ezekiel 17:9. Say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Will it thrive? will they not pull up its roots, and cut off its fruit, so that it withereth? all the fresh leaves of its sprouting will wither, and not with strong arm and with much people will it be possible to raise it up from its roots. Ezekiel 17:10. And, behold, although it is planted, will it thrive? will it not wither when the east wind touches it? upon the beds in which it grew it will wither.
The parable (mâshâl, corresponding exactly to the New Testament παραβολή) is called chīdhâh, a riddle, because of the deeper meaning lying beneath the parabolic shell. The symbolism of this parable has been traced by many commentators to Babylonian influences working upon the prophet's mind; but without any tenable ground. The figure of the eagle, or bird of prey, applied to a conqueror making a rapid descent upon a country, has as little in it of a specifically Babylonian character as the comparison of the royal family to a cedar or a vine. Not only is Nebuchadnezzar compared to an eagle in Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22, as Cyrus is to a bird of prey in Isaiah 46:11; but even Moses has described the paternal watchfulness of God over His own people as bearing them upon eagle's wings (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11). The cedar of Lebanon and the vine are genuine Israelitish figures. The great eagle in Ezekiel 17:3 is the great King Nebuchadnezzar (compare Ezekiel 17:12). The article is simply used to indicate the species, for which we should use the indefinite article. In Ezekiel 17:7, instead of the article, we have אחד in the sense of "another." This first eagle has large wings and long pinions; he has already flown victoriously over wide-spread countries. אשׁר־לו , literally, which is to him the variegated ornament, i.e., which he has as such an ornament. The feathers of variegated ornamental colours point to the many peoples, differing in language, manners, and customs, which were united under the sceptre of Nebuchadnezzar (Hitzig, etc.); not to the wealth and splendour of the conqueror, as such an allusion is altogether remote from the tendency of the parable. He came to Lebanon. This is not a symbol of the Israelitish land, or of the kingdom of Judah; but, as in Jeremiah 22:23, of Jerusalem, or Mount Zion, with its royal palace so rich in cedar wood (see the comm. on Habakkuk 2:17 and Zechariah 11:1), as being the place where the cedar was planted (compare the remarks on Ezekiel 17:12). The cedar is the royal house of David, and the top of it is King Jehoiachin. The word tzammereth is only met with in Ezekiel, and there only for the top of a cedar (compare Ezekiel 31:3.). The primary meaning is doubtful. Some derive it from the curly, or, as it were, woolly top of the older cedars, in which the small twigs that constitute their foliage are only found at the top of the tree. Others suppose it to be connected with the Arabic dmr, to conceal, and understand it as an epithet applied to the foliage, as the veil or covering of the tree. In v. 4, tzammereth is explained to be ראשׁ רניקותיו, the topmost of its shoots. This the eagle plucked off and carried אל־ארץ כּנען, an epithet applied to Babylonia here and in Ezekiel 16:29, as being a land whose trading spirit had turned it into a Canaan. This is evident from the parallel עיר רכלים, city of traders, i.e., Babylon (compare Ezekiel 17:12). The seed of the land, according to Ezekiel 16:13, is King Zedekiah, because he was of the land, the native king, in contrast to a foreign, Babylonian governor.
קח, for לקח, after the analogy of קחם in Hosea 11:3, and pointed with Kametz to distinguish it from the imperative. לקח אל is used as in Numbers 23:27. The ἁπ. λεγ.צפצפה signifies, in Arabic and the Talmud, the willow, probably so called because it grows in well-watered places; according to Gesenius, it is derived from צוּף, to overflow, literally, the inundated tree. This meaning is perfectly appropriate here. "He set it as a willow" means he treated it as one, inasmuch as he took it to many waters, set it in a well-watered soil, i.e., in a suitable place. The cutting grew into an overhanging vine, i.e., to a vine spreading out its branches in all directions, though not growing very high, as the following expression שׁפלת קומה more clearly shows. The object of this growth was, that its branches might turn to him (the eagle), and its roots might be under him (the eagle). The suffixes attached to אליו and תּחתּיו refer to נשׁר. This allusion is required not only by the explanation in Ezekiel 17:14 (? Ezekiel 17:14, Ezekiel 17:15), but also by Ezekiel 17:7, where the roots and branches of the vine stretch to the (other) eagle. In Ezekiel 17:6, what has already been affirmed concerning the growth is briefly summed up again. The form פּארה is peculiar to Ezekiel. Isaiah has פּארה sah h equals פּארה in Ezekiel 10:33. The word signifies branch and foliage, or a branch covered with foliage, as the ornament of a tree. - The other eagle mentioned in Ezekiel 17:7 is the king of Egypt, according to Ezekiel 17:15. He had also large wings and many feathers, i.e., a widely spread and powerful kingdom; but there is nothing said about pinions and variegated colours, for Pharaoh had not spread out his kingdom over many countries and peoples, or subjugated a variegated medley of peoples and tribes. כּפן, as a verb ἁπ. λεγ.., signifies to yearn or pine after a thing; in Chaldee, to hunger. להשׁקות, that he (the eagle-Pharaoh) might give it to drink, or water it. The words מערגות מטּעהּ are not connected with להשׁקות, but with שׁלחה and כּנפה, form the beds of its planting, i.e., in which it was planted; it stretched out roots and branches to the other eagle, that he might give it to drink. The interpretation is given in Ezekiel 17:15. The words להשׁקות אותהּ, which are added by way of explanation, do not interrupt the train of thought; nor are they superfluous, as Hitzig supposes, because the vine had water enough already (Ezekiel 17:5 and Ezekiel 17:8). For this is precisely what the passage is intended to show, namely, that there was no occasion for this pining and stretching out of the branches towards the other eagle, inasmuch as it could thrive very well in the place where it was planted. The latter is expressly stated once more in Ezekiel 17:8, the meaning of which is perfectly clear, - namely, that if Zedekiah had remained quiet under Nebuchadnezzar, as a hanging vine, his government might have continued and prospered. But, asks Ezekiel in the name of the Lord, will it prosper? תּצלח is a question, and the third person, neuter gender. This question is answered in the negative by the following question, which is introduced with an affirmative הלוא. The subject to ינתּק and יקוסס dna is not the first eagle (Nebuchadnezzar), but the indefinite "one" (man, they). In the last clause of v. 9 משׂאות is a substantive formation, used instead of the simple form of the infinitive, after the form משּׂא in 2 Chronicles 19:7, with the termination ות, borrowed from the verb ה'ל (compare Ewald, 160b and 239a), and the construction is the same as in Amos 6:10 : it will not be to raise up equals it will not be possible to raise it up (compare Ges. 132, 3, Anm. 1). To raise it up from its root does not mean to tear it up by the root (Hvernick), but to rear the withered vine from its roots again, to cause it to sprout again. This rendering of the words corresponds to the interpretation given in Ezekiel 17:17. - In Ezekiel 17:10 the leading thought is repeated with emphasis, and rounded off. The east wind is peculiarly dangerous to plants on account of its dryness (compare Genesis 41:6, and Wetstein on Job 27:21 in Delitzsch's Commentary); and it is used very appropriately here, as the Chaldeans came from the east.
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