And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)It became a young lion.—There can be no doubt (see Ezekiel 19:4) of the reference of this to Jehoahaz. After the death of Josiah, “the people of the land took Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah . . . and made him king” (2Kings 23:30). In Ezekiel 19:6 Jehoiachin is also spoken of particularly. These two are mentioned as examples of all the other kings after Josiah. Jehoiakim and Zedekiah are simply passed over, although it may be that the prophet looked upon them as creatures of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar rather than as legitimate kings of Israel. Jehoiakim, moreover, died in Jerusalem, and Zedekiah was at this moment still upon the throne.
It devoured men.—This at once keeps up the figure, and has also its special justification in the evil courses of Jehoahaz (2Kings 23:32). He is represented as growing up and being like the heathen kings around. See also, in Ezekiel 19:2, Israel as a whole is represented as going aside from her high calling as a theocracy, and making herself “like the nations round about.”Ezekiel 19:3-4. And she brought up one of her whelps — This seems to be spoken of Jehoahaz, who, we are told, followed not the good example of his father Josiah, but the evil practices of the wicked kings his predecessors; and though we have no further account of his acts, yet, from this, there is sufficient reason to suppose that he was rapacious and injurious to his neighbours, and tyrannical and cruel; which possibly was the reason why Pharaoh-necho deposed him after he had reigned only three months, and placed his brother on the throne in his room. The nations also heard of him — The king of Egypt, hearing of his character, and probably some of his subjects having been used ill by him, deprived him of his kingly office, put him in bands, and carried him into Egypt, 2 Kings 23:32; 2 Kings 23:34. He was taken in their pit — This expression alludes to those pit-falls and snares which are made to take wild beasts; and as Jehoahaz is spoken of here as a young lion, the expression was quite applicable to signify his being taken prisoner.Ezekiel 19:3.
Brought up; not as a nurse, the word is of other import, but advanced, promoted, or caused him to take the throne after the slaughter of Josiah.
One of her whelps; this was Jehoahaz, the second son of Josiah, of whom it is said, 2 Kings 23:30 2 Chronicles 36:1, the people made him king; for God had not made him so by primogeniture, and right of succession. They looked upon him as a warlike prince, fitter for sustaining the troubles of those martial times than his eldest. brother, and therefore strain a point of law and right.
It became a young lion; soon showed his fierce, haughty, cruel, and bloody disposition, as appears 2 Kings 23:30-32, though he continued but three months, and some odd days, wherein to play his pranks.
Learned; had tutors and counsellors that showed him the method; and he, an apt scholar in an evil school, learnt apace.
To catch the prey; to seize first, and then to tear the prey, by frauds and violence to hunt, take, and devour that he took, as lions use.
Devoured; eat up, as the word notes, lived upon.
Men; man, Adam, the weaker sort; or it may be in those divided times Adam may imply such as were crushed because they were not of the tyrannizing faction: at that time Pharaoh had some that inclined to him, and perhaps these were used hardly by Jehoahaz. 2 Kings 23:30;
it become a young lion; that is, a king, as the same Targum explains it, and a tyrannical and arbitrary one:
and it learned to catch the prey; being instructed by evil counsellors, he soon learned to oppress his subjects, to get their substance from them, and do many evil things, as he is said to do, 2 Kings 23:32;
it devoured men; or a man, Adam, the people of Israel, so called, Ezekiel 34:31; as the Jews frequently observe; it ate up and destroyed their liberties, privileges, and property.And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 3. - The whelp, as ver. 4 shows, is Jehoahaz, also known as Shallum (Jeremiah 22:11), who "did evil" in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 23:32), the words that follow pointing to cruelty and oppression like that of Zedekiah. The passage finds a somewhat striking parallel in AEschylus, 'Agam.,' 695-715. Ezekiel 18:21. But if the wicked man turneth from all his sins which he hath committed, and keepeth all my statutes, and doeth right and righteousness, he shall live, and not die. Ezekiel 18:22. All his transgressions which he hath committed, shall not be remembered to him: for the sake of the righteousness which he hath done he will live. Ezekiel 18:23. Have I then pleasure in the death of the wicked? is the saying of Jehovah: and not rather that he turn from his ways, and live? Ezekiel 18:24. But if the righteous man turn from his righteousness, and doeth wickedness, and acteth according to all the abominations which the ungodly man hath done, should he live? All the righteousness that he hath done shall not be remembered: for his unfaithfulness that he hath committed, and for his sin that he hath sinned, for these he shall die. Ezekiel 18:25. And ye say, "The way of the Lord is not right." Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? Ezekiel 18:26. If a righteous man turneth from his righteousness, and doeth wickedness, and dieth in consequence, he dieth for his wickedness that he hath done. - The proof that every one must bear his sin did not contain an exhaustive reply to the question, in what relation the righteousness of God stood to the sin of men? For the cases supposed in vv. 5-20 took for granted that there was a constant persistence in the course once taken, and overlooked the instances, which are by no means rare, when a man's course of life is entirely changed. It still remained, therefore, to take notice of such cases as these, and they are handled in Ezekiel 18:21-26. The ungodly man, who repents and turns, shall live; and the righteous man, who turns to the way of sin, shall die. "As the righteous man, who was formerly a sinner, is not crushed down by his past sins; so the sinner, who was once a righteous man, is not supported by his early righteousness. Every one will be judged in that state in which he is found" (Jerome). The motive for the pardon of the repenting sinner is given in Ezekiel 18:23, in the declaration that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but desires his conversion, that he may live. God is therefore not only just, but merciful and gracious, and punishes none with death but those who either will not desist from evil, or will not persevere in the way of His commandments. Consequently the complaint, that the way of the Lord, i.e., His conduct toward men, is not weighed (יתּכן, see comm. on 1 Samuel 2:3), i.e., not just and right, is altogether unfounded, and recoils upon those who make it. It it not God's ways, but the sinner's, that are wrong (Ezekiel 18:25). The proof of this, which Hitzig overlooks, is contained in the declarations made in Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 18:26, - viz. in the fact that God does not desire the death of the sinner, and in His mercy forgives the penitent all his former sins, and does not lay them to his charge; and also in the fact that He punishes the man who turns from the way of righteousness and gives himself up to wickedness, on account of the sin which he commits; so that He simply judges him according to his deeds. - In Ezekiel 18:24, ועשׂה is the continuation of the infinitive שׁוּב, and וחי is interrogatory, as in Ezekiel 18:13.
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