Ezekiel 19:2
And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Thy mother.—Mother stands for the whole national community—the theocracy, as is plain from Ezekiel 19:10. This was represented, since the captivity of the ten tribes, by Judah; and her “princes,” of the line of David, were the legitimate kings of the whole nation. The figure of the lion is a common one in Scripture (see Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24; Numbers 24:9), and was also familiar in Babylonia.

19:1-9 Ezekiel is to compare the kingdom of Judah to a lioness. He must compare the kings of Judah to a lion's whelps; they were cruel and oppressive to their own subjects. The righteousness of God is to be acknowledged, when those who have terrified and enslaved others, are themselves terrified and enslaved. When professors of religion form connexions with ungodly persons, their children usually grow up following after the maxims and fashions of a wicked world. Advancement to authority discovers the ambition and selfishness of men's hearts; and those who spend their lives in mischief, generally end them by violence.Thy mother - The people represented by Judah. Compare Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24. 2. thy mother—the mother of Jehoiachin, the representative of David's line in exile with Ezekiel. The "mother" is Judea: "a lioness," as being fierce in catching prey (Eze 19:3), referring to her heathenish practices. Jerusalem was called Ariel (the lion of God) in a good sense (Isa 29:1); and Judah "a lion's whelp … a lion … an old lion" (Ge 49:9), to which, as also to Nu 23:24; 24:9, this passage alludes.

nourished … among young lions—She herself had "lain" among lions, that is, had intercourse with the corruptions of the surrounding heathen and had brought up the royal young ones similarly: utterly degenerate from the stock of Abraham.

Lay down—or "couched," is appropriate to the lion, the Arab name of which means "the coucher."

What resemblance shall I use to set out the nature, deportment, and state of the mother of these princes? an unhappy mother of unhappy children! Or, Alas! thy mother, &c.

Thy; one of these was upon the throne at once, and therefore the prophet speaks to one at a time, in the singular number. Mother; the land of Judea and Jerusalem, the chief city of it, the royal family of David.

A lioness; though chosen of God to execute justice, defend the poor, to be his vicegerents, and to delight in mercy; yet once advanced, they soon degenerated into the fierce and ravening nature of the lioness, and as violently seized the prey.

She lay down; associated, couched, and grew familiar with, by leagues, commerce, and intermixture of marriages with neighbour kings, called here lions: thou didst learn their manners, and grewest fierce and bloody, as they.

She nourished: the Hebrew includes both her bringing forth many, and her advancing them to greatness: the royal family of flat nation had many kings, and some very great, but the time the prophet points now at in particular was after Josiah, whose character, given Jeremiah 22:16, is, that he judged the poor and needy, but his successors were of another temper, as Jeremiah 22:13-15,17.

Her whelps, i.e. her sons, successors to the crown, which could be called nothing else, to keep the decorum of the parable.

Among young lions; either foreign princes and kings, or else some of the fiercer, unjuster, aspiring, and tyrannizing princes at home; for such there were in these, as well as in Rehoboam’s times, who would have the son’s finger thicker than the father’s loins.

And say, what is thy mother?.... That is, say so to the then reigning prince, Zedekiah, what is thy mother like? to what is she to be compared? by whom is meant, not the royal family of David only, or Jerusalem the metropolis of the nation, but the whole body of the people; and so the Targum interprets it of the congregation of Israel. The answer to the question is,

a lioness; she is like to one, not for her strength and glory, but for her cruelty and rapine; for her want of humanity, mercy, and justice:

she lay down among lions; that is, kings, as the Targum interprets it Heathen princes, the kings of the nations about them, as of Egypt and Babylon, Jeremiah 50:17; so called for their despotic and arbitrary power, tyranny, and cruelty: now this lioness, the people of the Jews, lay down among them, joined with them in leagues and marriages, and learned their manners, and became of the same temper and disposition:

she nourisheth her whelps among young lions; princes, as the Targum explains it; either the princes of Judah, who were become like young lions, fierce and cruel; or the princes of other nations, among whom the children of the royal family were brought up; or, however, they were trained up in the principles of such, even of arbitrary and despotic power, and were taught to oppress their subjects, and not execute justice and mercy among them.

And say, What is thy {b} mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.

(b) That is Jehoahaz's mother, or Jerusalem.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 2. - What is thy mother? etc.; better, with the Vulgate, LXX., and Keil, Why did thy mother, a lioness, lie down among lionesses? The image may have been suggested by Genesis 49:9 and Numbers 23:24, or perhaps also by Nahum 2:11, 12. The lioness is Israel, the kingdom idealized and personified. The lionesses among whom she had lain down are the heathen kingdoms. The question asks why she had become as one of them and adopted their cruelty and ferocity. Ezekiel 19:2Capture and Exile of the Princes

Ezekiel 19:1. And do thou raise a lamentation for the princes of Israel, Ezekiel 19:2. And say, Why did thy mother, a lioness, lie down among lionesses; bring up her whelps among young lions? Ezekiel 19:3. And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and he learned to take prey; he devoured man. Ezekiel 19:4. And nations heard of him; he was caught in their pit, and they brought him with nose-rings into the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 19:5. And when she saw that her hope was exhausted, overthrown, she took one of her whelps, made it a young lion. Ezekiel 19:6. And he walked among lionesses, he became a young lion, and learned to take prey. He devoured man. Ezekiel 19:7. He knew its widows, and laid waste their cities; and the land and its fulness became waste, at the voice of his roaring. Ezekiel 19:8. Then nations round about from the provinces set up against him, and spread over him their net: he was caught in their pit. Ezekiel 19:9. And they put him in the cage with nose-rings, and brought him to the king of Babylon: brought him into a fortress, that his voice might not be heard any more on the mountains of Israel.

The princes of Israel, to whom the lamentation applies, are the king (נשׂיא, as in Ezekiel 12:10), two of whom are so clearly pointed out in Ezekiel 19:4 and Ezekiel 19:9, that there is no mistaking Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin. This fact alone is sufficient to protect the plural נשׂיאי against the arbitrary alteration into the singular נשׂיא, proposed by Houbigant and Hitzig, after the reading of the lxx. The lamentation is not addressed to one particular prince, either Zedekiah (Hitzig) or Jehoiachin (Ros., Maurer), but to Israel as a nation; and the mother (Ezekiel 19:2) is the national community, the theocracy, out of which the kings were born, as is indisputably evident from Ezekiel 19:10. The words from מה to רבצה form one sentence. It yields no good sense to separate מה אמּך from רבצה, whether we adopt the rendering, "what is thy mother?" or take מה with לביּא and render it, "how is thy mother a lioness?" unless, indeed, we supply the arbitrary clause "now, in comparison with what she was before," or change the interrogative into a preterite: "how has thy mother become a lioness?" The lionesses, among which Israel lay down, are the other kingdoms, the Gentile nations. The words have no connection with Genesis 49:9, where Judah is depicted as a warlike lion. The figure is a different one here. It is not so much the strength and courage of the lion as its wildness and ferocity that are the points of resemblance in the passage before us. The mother brings up her young ones among young lions, so that they learn to take prey and devour men. גּוּר is the lion's whelp, catulus; כּפיר, the young lion, which is old enough to go out in search of prey. ותּעל is a Hiphil, in the tropical sense, to cause to spring up, or grow up, i.e., to bring up. The thought is the following: Why has Israel entered into fellowship with the heathen nations? Why, then, has it put itself upon a level with the heathen nations, and adopted the rapacious and tyrannical nature of the powers of the world? The question "why then?" when taken with what follows, involves the reproof that Israel has struck out a course opposed to its divine calling, and will now have to taste the bitter fruits of this assumption of heathen ways. The heathen nations have taken captive its king, and led him away into heathen lands. ישׁמעוּ אליו, they heard of him (אליו for עליו). The fate of Jehoahaz, to which Ezekiel 19:4 refers, is related in 2 Kings 23:31. - Ezekiel 19:5-7 refer to Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, and not to Zedekiah, as Hitzig imagines. For the fact that Jehoiachin went out of his own accord to the king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:12), is not at variance with the figure contained in Ezekiel 19:8, according to which he was taken (as a lion) in a net. He simply gave himself up to the king of Babylon because he was unable to escape from the besieged city. Moreover, Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin are simply mentioned as examples, because they both fell into the hands of the world-powers, and their fate showed clearly enough "what the end must inevitably be, when Israelitish kings became ambitious of being lions, like the kings of the nations of the world" (Kliefoth). Jehoiakim was not so suitable an example as the others, because he died in Jerusalem. נוחלה, which has been explained in different ways, we agree with Ewald in regarding as the Niphal of יחל equals חוּל, in the sense of feeling vexed, being exhausted or deceived, like the Syriac ̀ewaḥel, viribus defecit, desperavit. For even in Genesis 8:12, נוחל simply means to wait; and this is inapplicable here, as waiting is not equivalent to waiting in vain. The change from חוּל to יחל is established by Judges 3:25, where חוּל or חיל occurs in the sense of יחל. In Judges 3:7, the figurative language passes into a literal description of the ungodly course pursued by the king. He knew, i.e., dishonoured, its (Israel's, the nation's) widows. The Targum reads וירע here instead of וידע, and renders it accordingly, "he destroyed its palaces;" and Ewald has adopted the same rendering. But רעע, to break, or smash in pieces, e.g., a vessel (Psalm 2:9), is never used for the destruction of buildings; and אלמנות does not mean palaces (ארמנות), but windows. There is nothing in the use of the word in Isaiah 13:22 to support the meaning "palaces," because the palaces are simply called ̀almânōth (widows) there, with a sarcastic side glance at their desolate and widowed condition. Other conjectures are still more inadmissible. The thought is as follows: Jehoiachin went much further than Jehoahaz. He not only devoured men, but laid hands on defenceless widows, and laid the cities waste to such an extent that the land with its inhabitants became perfectly desolate through his rapacity. The description is no doubt equally applicable to his father Jehoiakim, in whose footsteps Jehoiachin walked, since Jehoiakim is described in Jeremiah 22:13. as a grievous despot and tyrant. In Ezekiel 19:8 the object רשׁתּם also belongs to יתּנוּ: they set up and spread out their net. The plural מצדות is used in a general and indefinite manner: in lofty castles, mountain-fortresses, i.e., in one of them (cf. Judges 12:7).

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