Ezekiel 17:23
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) In the mountain of the height of Israel, i.e., Mount Zion, called in the parallel passage (Ezekiel 20:40) “mine holy mountain.” Similar prophecies are also to be found in Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3; Psalm 2:6. No point is made more clear in the prophecies of the Christian dispensation than that it is to have its roots in the Jewish, that the “law shall go forth from Zion,” and that the new covenant shall yet be a covenant with God’s people of old. This mountain is to be understood as the representative of the centre and seat of the kingdom of Israel, and not to be confined too literally to the actual hill of Zion itself.

Be a goodly cedar.—Not like the vine of low stature; this shall grow into a strong and great tree, under whose shadow all the inhabitants of the earth shall find sustenance and protection. A similar figure is used by the contemporary prophet Daniel (Daniel 4:20-21), and by our Lord Himself in the parable (Matthew 13:32). The universality of the blessings of the Christian dispensation, in contrast with the narrowness of the Jewish, is one of its features most frequently dwelt upon both in prophecy and in the New Testament, and shall still enter into the burden of the songs of the redeemed (Revelation 5:9). The last clause of the verse repeats and emphasises the permanence of the connection of the believer with Christ.

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.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.

23. under it … all fowl—the Gospel "mustard tree," small at first, but at length receiving all under its covert (Mt 13:32); the antithesis to Antichrist, symbolized by Assyria, of which the same is said (Eze 31:6), and Babylon (Da 4:12). Antichrist assumes in mimicry the universal power really belonging to Christ. In the mountain; either the church or Jerusalem, whence the law of Christ was to be published, and where the preachers of the gospel were to continue till furnished with abilities for that work. Like a tree that taketh root, and spreadeth forth into branches, so the kingdom of Christ should grow, and be fruitful in good works, not flourishing in boughs and leaves only, but much more in excellent fruits of holiness, justice, and temperance, and in joy, peace, and love.

A goodly cedar; the goodliest that ever grew, most excellent and most durable.

All fowl, all nations, the Gentiles as well as the Jews, shall build, breed, and multiply under the kingdom of Christ; it shall be no more confined to the Jews, but extend to the Gentiles also. There they shall find peace and safety; and this repeated confirms the certainty of the promise. In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it,.... In the highest part of the land of Israel, as Jerusalem is said to be by the Jewish writers; the land of Israel, they say, particularly Kimchi upon the place, was higher than all other lands, and Jerusalem was the highest part of that land; here the Messiah preached and wrought his miracles, even in the mountain of the Lord's house, the temple; and here the first Christian church was planted and established:

and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar; that is, the tender twig or branch cropped off, set and planted as before described: by the "boughs" or "branches" it brings forth may be meant believers, who are as branches in Christ; are of the same nature with him, united to him; have a communication of life and grace from him; are supported and strengthened by him; and so, abiding in him, persevere to the end; see John 15:4; and the same may be said of particular churches; and by "fruit" it is said to bear may be designed the persons of the chosen, redeemed, and called; who are the fruit of Christ's death, and of the ministration of his Gospel, John 12:24; or the blessings of grace which are in him, come from him, and are communicated by him; even fill spiritual blessings, as justification, pardon, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life; in short, both grace and glory; and thus he becomes and appears to be a "goodly cedar", in his person, office, and grace, to his people, to whom he is altogether lovely; being full of grace and truth, Sol 5:16; and in his kingdom and interest, especially in the latter day, when the kingdoms of this world shall become his:

and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell; by whom are designed converted sinners of all sorts, and of all nations, Jews and Gentiles; compared to birds, because weak, defenceless, and timorous; exposed to danger; and wonderfully delivered; are subject to wander and go astray; and for their chirping and warbling notes: now these may be said to "dwell" under the "shadow" of the "branches" of this "goodly cedar", Christ and his church; that is, under the ministration of the word and ordinances, which is a very delightful and refreshing shadow, a very safe and fruitful one, Sol 2:3; and here saints choose to dwell, and determine to abide and continue, as it is their interest and happiness so to do; and what a flocking and tabernacling of these birds here will there be in the latter day, where they will chirp and sing in the height of Zion? Isaiah 66:4; compare with this Matthew 13:32; where our Lord is thought by some to allude to this passage.

In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a well favoured cedar: and under it shall dwell all {p} fowl of every wing; in the shadow of its branches shall they dwell.

(p) Both the Jews and Gentiles will be gathered into it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. mountain of the height] Cf. ch. Ezekiel 20:40, Ezekiel 40:2.

fowl of every wing] As fowls flock to a great tree so all peoples will put their trust in the shadow of this great monarchy in the land of Israel; ch. Ezekiel 31:6; Daniel 4:12; Matthew 13:32.The Parable

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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