Ezekiel 17:22
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:
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(22) I will also take.—In what has passed all has been done according to God’s will, but yet through human instrumentality: Israel has been punished, Jehoiachin has been, and Zedekiah is about to be, carried into captivity, as God designed; yet Nebuchadnezzar has done it all for his own purposes. Now God Himself directly interposes, and takes a scion of the same “high cedar,” the royal house of David. In accordance with the allegory, this can only be an his tropical personage, and from the description which follows, this person can only be the Messiah. So it has been understood by nearly all interpreters, Jewish and Christian.

A tender one.—This epithet is used of the Messiah in reference to the lowliness of His immediate human origin and condition. (Comp. Isaiah 53:2.) David applies the same expression to himself (2Samuel 3:39), and to Solomon (1Chronicles 22:5; 1Chronicles 29:1), in reference to their want of strength for the work required of them as the heads of Israel. This figure of the Messiah as a scion of the royal tree of David, though naturally growing out of the allegory here, had been used by the prophets long before, as in Isaiah 11:1, and the name “the Branch” had almost become a distinctive title for Him (Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5, &c).

Ezekiel 17:22-23. I will also take of the highest branch, &c. — God, having spoken of Jerusalem, in the first part of this chapter, under the figure of a cedar, and the king of it as the highest branch of the cedar, here carries his view to farther scenes, and, after having acquainted his prophet with the fate of Zedekiah, informs him, that as Nebuchadnezzar had taken of the seed of the land, (or the king,) and planted it, so he himself would take of the highest branch of the cedar and set it, &c. This appears plainly to be a prediction of the restoration of the royal family of David; and it was in some degree fulfilled at the return from the captivity, when Zerubbabel, of the lineage of David, had a shadow of kingly authority among the Jews, and by his means their state was again restored. But if the words be properly examined, the expressions will be found to be such as, in their full sense, can only belong to Christ and his kingdom, which shall be extended over all the world. I will crop off from the young twigs a tender one — This may fitly be applied to our Saviour, in respect to the low estate to which the family of David was then reduced, and the meanness of Christ’s outward condition and appearance: see Isaiah 53:2. And will plant it upon a high mountain — Upon mount Zion, a type of the gospel church; and eminent — Not for outward splendour, but for spiritual advantages. In the mountain of the height of Israel — In Jerusalem, the capital city of my people, will I plant it — I will make him ruler of my church. He alludes to the temple placed on mount Moriah, a part of mount Zion, thence styled God’s holy mountain; which expression is often used in the prophets to denote the Christian Church, which is described as a city set on a hill, and conspicuous to all the world. And it shall bring forth boughs — Have many members and subjects; and bear fruit — Do much good. The living members of the church are often compared to fruitful trees and flourishing branches. And be a goodly cedar — The most happy society in the world, Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 144:15. And under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing — Persons of all nations shall become members of it. A powerful, especially if it be a mild government, is a shelter and security to all its subjects: compare Ezekiel 31:6; Daniel 4:12. Such shall the kingdom of Christ be to all that submit themselves to his laws.

17:22-24 The unbelief of man shall not make the promise of God of none effect. The parable of a tree, used in the threatening, is here presented in the promise. It appears only applicable to Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah of God. The kingdom of Satan, which has borne so long, so large a sway, shall be broken, and the kingdom of Christ, which was looked upon with contempt, shall be established. Blessed be God, our Redeemer is seen even by the ends of the earth. We may find refuge from the wrath to come, and from every enemy and danger, under his shadow; and believers are fruitful in him.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.

Tender one - The Messiah. This prophecy rests upon Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10.

22. When the state of Israel shall seem past recovery, Messiah, Jehovah Himself, will unexpectedly appear on the scene as Redeemer of His people (Isa 63:5).

I … also—God opposes Himself to Nebuchadnezzar: "He took of the seed of the land and planted it (Eze 17:3, 5), so will I, but with better success than he had. The branch he plucked (Zedekiah) and planted, flourished but for a time, to perish at last; I will plant a scion of the same tree, the house of David, to whom the kingdom belongs by an everlasting covenant, and it shall be the shelter of the whole world, and shall be for ever."

branch—the peculiar title of Messiah (Zec 3:8; 6:12; Isa 11:1; 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15).

a tender one—Zerubbabel never reigned as a universal (Eze 17:23) king, nor could the great things mentioned here be said of him, except as a type of Messiah. Messiah alone can be meant: originally "a tender plant and root out of a dry ground" (Isa 53:2); the beginning of His kingdom being humble, His reputed parents of lowly rank, though King David's lineal representatives; yet, even then, God here calls Him, in respect to His everlasting purpose, "the highest … of the high" (Ps 89:27).

I … will plant it upon an high mountain—Zion; destined to be the moral center and eminence of grace and glory shining forth to the world, out-topping all mundane elevation. The kingdom, typically begun at the return from Babylon, and the rebuilding of the temple, fully began with Christ's appearing, and shall have its highest manifestation at His reappearing to reign on Zion, and thence over the whole earth (Ps 2:6, 8; Isa 2:2, 3; Jer 3:17).

Whereas the judgments threatened might seem to threaten the utter extirpation of the seed of David, now the Lord is pleased to assure its continuance, and the raising of the Messiah from that house according to promise. Nebuchadnezzar took and planted, and I will also take and plant, saith the Lord, of the royal seed of the house of David, of the highest branch that is heir to the throne, in the type Zorobabel, in the antitype Messiah.

And will set it; both set or plant, and give increase to his kingdom, that from a tender one he should grow up to great strength, victory, and glory.

Upon an high mountain; upon Mount Zion, Psalm 2:6, or as Isaiah 2:2,3. Eminent, not for outward splendour, but for spiritual advantages above other nations in the church.

Thus saith the Lord God,.... Lest it should be thought, by the above prophecies, that the tribe of Judah should be utterly lost, and the family of David extinct, and the promise to him void, that he should have one of his seed to sit upon his, throne for evermore, Psalm 132:11; it is here in a figurative manner signified, that of his seed the Messiah should be raised up, by whom the church and kingdom of God would be brought into a flourishing state and condition:

I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar; Nebuchadnezzar had took one of the family of David, and set, him upon the throne, signified by taking of the seed of the land, and planting it, Ezekiel 17:5; but without success; wherefore the Lord here promises that he will "also", take one and plant it, which should thrive and prosper: by the "high cedar" is meant the Jewish nation, which the Lord chose and set on high above all nations of the earth distinguishing it with peculiar blessings and favours; for which reason it may be compared to the high and spreading cedar; see Numbers 24:5; and by "the highest branch" of it the tribe of Judah, who prevailed above his brethren, because from him came the chief ruler, 1 Chronicles 5:2; and from whence the Messiah was to come, and did, Genesis 49:10, Revelation 5:5;

and set it; namely, the slip taken from the highest branch of the high cedar; or one that should descend from the Jewish nation, and particularly from the tribe of Judah, more fully described in the next clause:

I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one; and by the "top" and "young twigs" of the highest branch of the cedar, or of the chief tribe in Israel, are meant the house and family of David, the royal family, and the descendants of it, the chief of the tribe of Judah; and by the "tender one" is designed the Messiah; and so Jarchi interprets it; and which interpretation is mentioned by Kimchi, though he would have Zerubbabel intended; and owns it to be the sense of the Targum, which is this,

"I will bring one of the kingdom of the house of David, which is like to a high cedar, and I will raise him up an infant from his children's children;''

and so Abendana observes, that from Shealtiel, the son of Jeconiah, comes forth the King Messiah, who shall rule over all the world, and under whom every bird of wing shall dwell. The Messiah is often called a "branch" in prophecy, Isaiah 4:2; and here a "tender twig" or branch, as in Isaiah 53:2; a "tender plant"; which is expressive of the meanness of his descent, David's family being very low at the time of his birth, and of the contemptible appearance he made in the form of a servant; having also all the sinless infirmities of the human nature on him, as well as was attended with poverty, griefs, and sorrows of various kinds; and so made a very unpromising appearance of being the great Prophet, Priest, and King in Israel: and now by the "cropping off" of this tender twig seems to be designed not the incarnation of the Messiah, but his sufferings and death; whereby he was cut off, not for himself, but for the sins of his people, and in which his divine Father had a considerable hand, Isaiah 53:8; and to which is owing the great fruitfulness of his kingdom and interest, John 12:24; moreover, this may respect not only the person of the Messiah, and his mean appearance in the world; but also his church and interest, which were at first like a little stone cut out of the mountain, and like a grain of mustard seed, the least of all seeds, Daniel 2:34; the Gospel, which was the instrument of raising the church of God, was very contemptible, because of its subject, a crucified Christ; and the first preachers of it were mean and illiterate persons; those that received it were the poor of this world, and those but a few, and they the offscouring of all things;

and will plant it on a high mountain and eminent; which may be expressive not of the incarnation of Christ, but rather of his ascension to heaven after his death, and resurrection from the dead; and the constitution of him upon that as Lord and Christ, or the setting of him up as King over God's holy hill of Zion, the church of God: and no doubt but there is an allusion to Mount Zion, and to Jerusalem, from whence the Gospel first went forth, and where the first Gospel church was planted; and being said to be on a mountain high and eminent, may note both the visibility and stability of the church of Christ.

Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch {n} of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the {o} top of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

(n) This promise is made to the Church which will be as a small remnant, and as the top of a tree.

(o) I will trim it, and dress it.

22. I will also take] I will take—“I” emphatic. The figure refers to the house of David, cf. Ezekiel 17:2-3; Isaiah 53:2.

high mountain] This belongs partly to the figure of the cedar, but indicates also the conspicuousness to the eyes of the nations of this great cedar; Isaiah 2:2.

22–24. Promise of a new and universal Messianic kingdom in Israel

The attempt of the king of Babylon to set up a kingdom in Israel miscarried; he who set up the kingdom took it away. The shoot planted by him was smitten by the east wind and withered. But Jehovah himself will plant a shoot of the high cedar, the Davidic house, on a high mountain that all nations may see it (Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 11:10), even on the height of the mountain land of Israel, and it shall become a great cedar, so that all the fowls of heaven shall lodge in the branches of it. This kingdom shall be imposing and universal, and all peoples shall find protection under it. And then shall it be known that Jehovah is king among the nations, that kingdoms are in his hand, to set one up and pull another down; that he can make the green tree wither and the dry tree blossom and bear fruit.

Verse 22. - From the message of deserved chastisement the prophet passes to the promise of restoration. The cedar of Israel is not dead. Jehovah would, in his own time, take the highest branch, tender and slender though it might be, the true heir of David's house, and deal with it far otherwise than the Chaldean conqueror had done. The latter had carried off the branch to the "land of traffick" - sc. had brought Jeconiah to Babylon. Jehovah would plant his branch upon the "mountain of the height of Israel" (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1). It was not to be as a willow in a low place, but to flourish, true to its origin as a cedar, so that "all fowl of every wing" should dwell in the shadow of its branches (comp. Ezekiel 31:3-9, where the same imagery is used of Assyria; and Matthew 13:32). As with like prophecies in Isaiah 11:1 and Isaiah 53:2 (where the "tender one" finds a parallel), the words paint an ideal never historically realized, but finding a partia1 fulfilment in Zerubbabel and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, merging in the still unfulfilled vision of the kingdom of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel. To Ezekiel, as to other prophets, it was not given to know the times and the seasons, or even the manner of the fulfilment of his hopes; and when he uttered the words, the vision may have seemed not tar off, but nigh at hand. Ezekiel 17:22The Planting of the True Twig of the Stem of David

Ezekiel 17:22. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, And I will take from the top of the high cedar, and will set it; from the topmost of its shoots will I pluck off a tender one, and will plant it upon a high and exalted mountain. Ezekiel 17:23. On the high mountain of Israel will I plant it, and it will put forth branches, and bear fruit, and become a splendid cedar, so that all the birds of every plumage will dwell under it. In the shade of its branches will they dwell. Ezekiel 17:24. And all the trees of the field will learn that I Jehovah have lowered the lofty tree, lifted up the low tree, made the green tree wither, and the withered tree become green. I Jehovah have said it, and have done it. - Although the sprout of David, whom Nebuchadnezzar had made king, would lose the sovereignty because of his breach of faith, and bring about the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, the Lord would not let His kingdom be destroyed, but would fulfil the promise which He had given to the seed of David. The announcement of this fulfilment takes its form from the preceding parable. As Nebuchadnezzar broke off a twig from the top of the cedar and brought it to Babel (Ezekiel 17:13), so will Jehovah Himself also pluck off a shoot from the top of the high cedar, and plant it upon a high mountain. The Vav before לקחתּי is the Vav consec., and אני is appended to the verb for the sake of emphasis; but in antithesis to the acting of the eagle, as described in Ezekiel 17:3, it is placed after it. The cedar, which it designated by the epithet râmâh, as rising above the other trees, is the royal house of David, and the tender shoot which Jehovah breaks off and plants is not the Messianic kingdom or sovereignty, so that Zerubbabel could be included, but the Messiah Himself as "a distinct historical personage" (Hvernick). The predicate רך, tender, refers to Him; also the word יונק, a sprout (Isaiah 53:2), which indicates not so much the youthful age of the Messiah (Hitzig) as the lowliness of His origin (compare Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 53:2); and even when applied to David and Solomon, in 2 Samuel 3:39; 1 Chronicles 22:5; 1 Chronicles 29:1, expresses not their youthfulness, but their want of strength for the proper administration of such a government. The high mountain, described in Ezekiel 17:23 as the high mountain of Israel, is Zion, regarded as the seat and centre of the kingdom of God, which is to be exalted by the Messiah above all the mountains of the earth (Isaiah 2:2, etc.). The twig planted by the Lord will grow there into a glorious cedar, under which all birds will dwell. The Messiah grows into a cedar in the kingdom founded by Him, in which all the inhabitants of the earth will find both food (from the fruits of the tree) and protection (under its shadow). For this figure, compare Daniel 4:8-9. צפּור כּל־כּנף, birds of every kind of plumage (cf. Ezekiel 39:4, Ezekiel 39:17), is derived from Genesis 7:14, where birds of every kind find shelter in Noah's ark. The allusion is to men from every kind of people and tribe. By this will all the trees of the field learn that God lowers the lofty and lifts up the lowly. As the cedar represents the royal house of David, the trees of the field can only be the other kings or royal families of the earth, not the nations outside the limits of the covenant. At the same time, the nations are not to be entirely excluded because the figure of the cedars embraces the idea of the kingdom, so that the trees of the field denote the kingdoms of the earth together with their kings. The clauses, "I bring down the high tree," contain a purely general thought, as in 1 Samuel 2:7-8, and the perfects are not to be taken as preterites, but as statements of practical truths. It is true that the thought of the royal house of David in its previous greatness naturally suggests itself in connection with the high and green tree, and that of Jehoiachin in connection with the dry tree (compare Jeremiah 22:30); and these are not to be absolutely set aside. At the same time, the omission of the article from עץ and the objects which follow, is sufficient to show that the words are not to be restricted to these particular persons, but are applicable to every high and green, or withered and lowly tree; i.e., not merely to kings alone, but to all men in common, and furnish a parallel to 1 Samuel 2:4-9, "The bows of the mighty men are broken; and they that stumbled are girded with strength," etc.

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