Ezekiel 31:10
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;
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(10) Among the thick boughs.—The clouds, as in Ezekiel 31:3; Ezekiel 31:14, and Ezekiel 19:11. As Ezekiel 31:3-9 have described Assyria’s greatness, so Ezekiel 31:10-14 speak of her fall. This was now a past event, yet is in part poetically spoken of in the future (Ezekiel 31:11; Ezekiel 31:13), making the whole more graphic and effective. The future may also have been used because the object of this parable is not Assyria, but Egypt, whose fall was still to come. At the outset Assyria is directly addressed in the second person in the vividness of the description, but the third person is used afterwards. The ground of the judgment upon Assyria is its pride, on which 2Kings 18:32-35 may be considered a commentary.

Ezekiel 31:10-14. Because thou hast lifted up thyself — Because thy pride hath still increased with thy prosperity. I have delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen — Or, the mighty one of the nations, as the word גויםis rendered in the next verse. The word אל, eel, here rendered mighty one, though generally spoken of God, yet is sometimes applied to heroes, (see Ezekiel 32:21,) sometimes to angels, as excelling in strength, as Psalm 89:6. So God here says, he delivered the Assyrian into the hand of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, who, joining his forces with those of the king of Media, made himself master of Nineveh, and of the king of Assyria, whose seat it was. And the terrible of the nations have cut him off — The armies of the kings of Babylon and Media shall utterly destroy him and his empire, and leave him without life or power. Upon the mountains, &c., his branches are fallen — As the limbs of a tree are broken by the fall, and those that rested under its shadow are frighted away and forsake the place, so the Assyrian’s power was overthrown in all the places of his dominion. Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, &c. — As the birds sit upon the boughs of a tree cut down, and the beasts browse upon its branches, so his dominions shall be a prey to the conquerors: or, his armies that are slain shall become meat to the birds and beasts. To the end that none of all the trees exalt themselves — That his destruction may be a warning to other kings and potentates, to deter them from priding themselves in the time of their prosperity. For they are all delivered unto death — The mighty men of the Assyrians were delivered to death as well as those of the meaner sort. The fall of the Assyrian was thus largely spoken of to convince the king of Egypt, if he would be instructed, that no human power, however great, was able to secure its possessor from the wrath of God and his judgments, or to maintain itself against his attacks.

31:10-18 The king of Egypt resembled the king of Assyria in his greatness: here we see he resembles him in his pride. And he shall resemble him in his fall. His own sin brings his ruin. None of our comforts are ever lost, but what have been a thousand times forfeited. When great men fall, many fall with them, as many have fallen before them. The fall of proud men is for warning to others, to keep them humble. See how low Pharaoh lies; and see what all his pomp and pride are come to. It is best to be a lowly tree of righteousness, yielding fruit to the glory of God, and to the good of men. The wicked man is often seen flourishing like the cedar, and spreading like the green bay tree, but he soon passes away, and his place is no more found. Let us then mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.Assyria's fall.10. thou … he—The change of persons is because the language refers partly to the cedar, partly to the person signified by the cedar. Now you shall hear the sin and the fall of this great kingdom of Assyria. His mind could not longer bear so great prosperity, he lifts up himself, and in his pride forgets God who lifted him up and will cast him down. You have a specimen of it in that of Isaiah 10:7-20 Isaiah 36:9,15,18. This, as other best framed politics, degenerated into pride and violence against neighbours, subjects, friends, as well as against enemies; though it was too much to despise man, yet it was intolerably more insolent to reproach God. It is but time to lop, nay, cut down this cedar, as Isaiah 10:33, with Isaiah 37:36,38.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God,.... Having described the greatness of the Assyrian monarch; now follows the account of his fall, and the cause of it, pride:

because thou hast lifted up thyself in height; this is either an address to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who, though he did not rise up so high as the Assyrian monarch in glory and grandeur; yet he lifted up himself, and thought himself superior to any; which reason he must be brought down: or the words are directed to the Assyrian monarch, by a change of person frequent in Scripture; who, though he was raised by the Lord to the height of honour and dignity he was, yet ascribed it to himself:

and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs; the multitude of provinces over which he became head and governor; See Gill on Ezekiel 31:3,

and his heart is lifted up in his height; with pride, insolence, and contempt of God and men; of which see the instances in Isaiah 10:8.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;
10. the thick boughs] the clouds.

10–14. Because of his pride in his height he shall be cut down. Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty one of the nations, shall hew him to the ground, and the beasts shall feed on him. Such judgment must overtake any great tree that exalts itself into the heavens

Verses 10, 11. - Because thou hast lifted up thyself. The second and third persons are curiously mixed; probably the former was in the nature of a warning addressed to the King of Egypt, while the latter continues the parable of the history of Assyria. For boughs read clouds, as in Ver. 3. Ezekiel writes as with the feeling which led Solon to note that the loftiest trees are those which are most exposed to the strokes of the thunderbolts of Zeus (Herod., 7:10). The Assyrian's heart was "lifted up with pride" (Isaiah 10:5), and therefore he was delivered to the mighty one of the nations; sc. to Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel 31:10The Felling of this Cedar, or the Overthrow of Asshur on Account of Its Pride

Ezekiel 31:10. Therefore thus said the Lord Jehovah, Because thou didst exalt thyself in height, and he stretched his top to the midst of the clouds, and his heart exalted itself in its height, Ezekiel 31:11. I will give him into the hand of the prince of the nations; he shall deal with him: for his wickedness I rejected him. Ezekiel 31:12. And strangers cut him down, violent ones of the nations, and cast him away: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his shoots fell, and his boughs were broken in pieces into all the deep places of the earth; and all the nations of the earth withdrew from his shadow, and let him lie. Ezekiel 31:13. Upon his fallen trunk all the birds of the heaven settle, and all the beasts of the field are over his branches: Ezekiel 31:14. That no trees by the water may exalt themselves on account of their height, or stretch their top to the midst of the clouds, and no water-drinkers stand upon themselves in their exaltation: for they are all given up to death into hell, in the midst of the children of men, to those that go into the grave. - In the description of the cause of the overthrow of Asshur which commences with יען אשׁר, the figurative language changes in the third clause into the literal fact, the towering of the cedar being interpreted as signifying the lifting up of the heart in his height, - that is to say, in his pride. In the first clause the tree itself is addressed; but in the clauses which follow, it is spoken of in the third person. The direct address in the first clause is to be explained from the vivid manner in which the fact presented itself. The divine sentence in Ezekiel 31:10 and Ezekiel 31:11 is not directed against Pharaoh, but against the Assyrian, who is depicted as a stately cedar; whilst the address in Ezekiel 31:10, and the imperfect (future) in Ezekiel 31:11, are both to be accounted for from the fact that the fall of Asshur is related in the form in which it was denounced on the part of Jehovah upon that imperial kingdom. The perfect אמר is therefore a preterite here: the Lord said...for His part: because Asshur has exalted itself in the pride of its greatness, I give it up. The form ואתנהוּ is not to be changed into ואתנהוּ, but is defended against critical caprice by the imperfect יעשׂה which follows. That the penal sentence of God is not to be regarded as being first uttered in the time then present, but belongs to the past, - and therefore the words merely communicate what God had already spoken, - is clearly shown by the preterites commencing with גּרשׁתּיהוּ, the historical tenses ויּכרתהוּ and ויּטּשׁהוּ, and the preterite נפלוּ, which must not be turned into futures in violation of grammar. גּבהּ בּקומה does not mean, to be high in its height, which would be a tautology; but to exalt itself (be proud) in, or on account of, its height. And in the same way is רוּם also affirmed of the heart, in the sense of exultation from pride. For the fact itself, compare Isaiah 10:5. אל גּוים does not mean God, but a powerful one of the nations, i.e., Nebuchadnezzar. אל is a simple appellative from אוּל, the strong one; and is neither a name of God nor a defective form for איל, the construct state of איל, a ram. For this defective form is only met with once in the case of איל, a ram, namely, in Job 42:8, where we have the plural אלים, and nowhere else; whereas, in the case of אל, אלים, in the sense of a strong one, the scriptio plena very frequently alternates with the defectiva. Compare, for example, Job 42:8, where both readings occur just as in this instance, where many MSS have איל (vid., de Rossi, variae lectt. ad h. l.); also Exodus 15:15 and Ezekiel 17:13, אילי, compared with אלי in Ezekiel 32:21, after the analogy of נירי, 2 Samuel 22:29, and גּירים, 2 Chronicles 2:16. עשׂו is not a relative clause, "who should treat him ill," nor is the w relat. omitted on account of the preceding עשׂו, as Hitzig imagines; but it is an independent sentence, and יעשׂה is a forcible expression for the imperative: he will deal with him, equivalent to, "let him deal with him." עשׂה ל, to do anything to a person, used here as it frequently is in an evil sense; compare Psalm 56:5. בּרשׁעו-or כּרשׁעו, which Norzi and Abarbanel (in de Rossi, variae lectt. ad. h. l.) uphold as the reading of many of the more exact manuscripts and editions - belongs to גּרשׁתּיהוּ: for, or according to, his wickedness, I rejected him.

In Ezekiel 31:12 the figure of the tree is resumed; and the extinction of the Assyrian empire is described as the cutting down of the proud cedar. זרים עריצי גּוים as in Ezekiel 28:7 and Ezekiel 30:11-12. ויּטּשׁהוּ: they cast him away and let him lie, as in Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 32:4; so that in the first sentence the idea of casting away predominates, and in the second that of letting lie. By the casting away, the tree became so shattered to atoms that its boughs and branches fell upon the mountains and on the low ground and valleys of the earth, and the nations which had sat under its shadow withdrew. ויּרדוּ (they descended) is to be explained from the idea that the three had grown upon a high mountain (namely Lebanon); and Hitzig is mistaken in his conjecture that ויּרדוּ was the original reading, as נדד, to fly, is not an appropriate expression for עמּים. On the falling of the tree, the birds which had made their nests in its branches naturally flew away. If, then, in Ezekiel 31:13, birds and beasts are said to settle upon the fallen trunk, as several of the commentators have correctly observed, the description is based upon the idea of a corpse, a מפּלת (Judges 14:8), around which both birds and beasts of prey gather together to tear it in pieces (cf. Ezekiel 32:4 and Isaiah 18:6). היה אל, to come towards or over any one, to be above it. The thought expressed is, that many nations took advantage of the fall of Asshur and rose into new life upon its ruins. - Ezekiel 31:14. This fate was prepared for Asshur in order that henceforth no tree should grow up to the sky any more, i.e., that no powerful one of this earth (no king or prince) should strive after superhuman greatness and might. למען אשׁר is dependent upon גּרשׁתּיהוּ in Ezekiel 31:11; for Ezekiel 31:12 and Ezekiel 31:13 are simply a further expansion of the thought expressed in that word. עצי מים are trees growing near the water, and therefore nourished by water. For 'לא , see Ezekiel 31:10. The words 'ולא יעמדוּ are difficult. As אליהם, with Tzere under א, to which the Masora calls attention, cannot be the preposition אל with the suffix, many have taken אליהם to be a noun, in the sense of fortes, principes, or terebinthi (vid., Isaiah 61:3), and have rendered the clause either ut non perstent terebinthi eorum in altitudine sua, omnes (ceterae arbores) bibentes aquam (Vatabl., Starck, Maurer, and Kliefoth), or, that their princes may not lift themselves up in their pride, all the drinkers of water (Hvernick). But both renderings founder on the simple fact that they leave the suffix הם in אליהם either unnoticed or unexplained. As only the trees of the water have been spoken of previously, the suffix must be taken as referring to them. But the water-trees have neither terebinths nor princes; on the contrary, these are what they must either be, or signify. Terebinths, or princes of the water-trees, would be senseless ideas. Ewald has therefore taken אליהם as the object, and rendered it thus: "and (that) no water-drinkers may contend with their gods in their pride." He has not proved, however, but has simply asserted, that עמד is to endure equals to contend (!). The only remaining course is to follow the lxx, Targum, and many commentators, and to take אליהם as a pronoun, and point it אליהם. עמד אל: to station oneself against, or upon equals עמד על (Ezekiel 33:26), in the sense of resting, or relying upon anything. The suffix is to be taken in a reflective sense, as in Ezekiel 34:2, etc. (vid., Ewald, 314c), and precedes the noun to which it refers, as in Proverbs 14:20 for example. בּגבהם, as in Ezekiel 31:10, referring to pride. כּל־שׁתי מים, the subject of the sentence, is really synonymous with כּל־עצי מים, except that the figure of the tree falls into the background behind the fact portrayed. The rendering of the Berleburg Bible is very good: "and no trees abounding in water stand upon themselves (rely upon themselves) on account of their height." The water-drinkers are princes of this earth who have attained to great power through rich resources. "As a tree grows through the moisture of water, so men are accustomed to become proud through their abundance, not reflecting that these waters have been supplied to them by God" (Starck). The reason for this warning against proud self-exaltation is given in Ezekiel 31:14 in the general statement, that all the proud great ones of this earth are delivered up to death. כּלּם, all of them, the water-drinkers or water-trees already named, by whom kings, earthly potentates, are intended. ארץ תּחתּית equals ארץ תּח (Ezekiel 26:20). בּתוך בּני אדם: in the midst of the children of men, i.e., like all other men. "Thus the prophet teaches that princes must die as well as the people, that death and decomposition are common to both. Hence he takes all ground of proud boasting away" (Starck).

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