Ezekiel 19:3
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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(3) 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.

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.Compare the marginal reference. The short reign of Jehoahaz was marked by violence and idolatry, and was closed by Pharaoh-Necho's carrying him captive into Egypt. 3. young lion—Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, carried captive from Riblah to Egypt by Pharaoh-necho (2Ki 23:33). See 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.

And she brought up one of her whelps,.... Or sons, as the Targum: or, "made him to ascend" (t), as the word signifies; to mount the throne; this was Jehoahaz, whom the people of the land took and anointed him, and made him king in the stead of Josiah his father, 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.

(t) "et ascendere fecit", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version.

And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.
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 19:3Capture 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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