Ezekiel 31:12
And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Gone down.—Because the cedar is represented as growing upon the height of Lebanon. Yet “the people of the earth” is literal.

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.More accurately: Therefore I will deliver him, etc ... he shall surely deal with him. I have driven him out, etc.12. from his shadow—under which they had formerly dwelt as their covert (Eze 31:6). Strangers; foreigners, who regard neither justice nor mercy, such were those who made up his army of Arbaces the Mede.

The terrible; so these were for their strength and valour much, but for their numbers and barbarity more, to be dreaded.

Have cut him off; not shall, for it was done before Ezekiel’s time, about the time Hezekiah was born, and about two hundred and forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonish captivity.

Left him; revolted or forsaken Sardanapalus.

Upon the mountains: as a tree, growing on the mountains which hang over the valleys, when it falls breaks, and its branches are scattered in the lower ground, on the banks of rivers that run in the bottom; so is this mighty cedar, this king and kingdom, fallen from highest power and honour into deepest contempt and impotence, not able to repel his adversaries or escape out of their hands.

Have left him; all that were tributary to him have withdrawn their tribute, and rejected his dominion; and such as were his allies, and depended on his patronage, have quit their leagues and dependences, and left his shadow.

And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off,.... Cut off the boughs and branches of this cedar, and cut him down to the ground; that is, utterly destroyed him, his empire and monarchy: these "strangers" were the Medes, who lived in a country distant from Assyria; and "the terrible of the nations", the cruel and merciless Chaldeans, the soldiers of the king of Babylon's army; see Ezekiel 30:11,

and have left him upon the mountains, like a tree cut down there, and its boughs and branches lopped off, which roll down from thence into the valleys, and by the rivers of water signifying his depression from a high and exalted state to a very low one, as follows:

and in all the valley his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; signifying that many provinces and countries under his dominion were broken off, and by force taken away from him; or they broke off and revolted of themselves, and either set up for themselves, and recovered their former power and authority; or gave up themselves to the conqueror. The Targum is,

"and in all valleys his army fell, and his auxiliaries were scattered by all the rivers of the land:''

and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him: those that joined themselves to his empire, put themselves under his protection, or sought his friendship and alliance, now withdrew themselves from him, and left him alone to shift for himself; as frightened birds and beasts will do, when a tree is cut down and fallen, in the boughs or under the shadow of which they dwelt. The Targum paraphrases it,

"from the shadow of his kingdom.''

And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are {f} broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth have gone down from his shadow, and have left him.

(f) By this is signified the destruction of the power of the Assyrians by the Babylonians.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. The tenses in Ezekiel 31:12-13 are perfects of threatening: the fut. would be plainer in Ezekiel 31:12 as A.V. Ezekiel 31:13. On “terrible” cf. Ezekiel 28:7.

have left him] cast him down, ch. Ezekiel 32:4; Amos 5:2. His great trunk covers the land and fills the watercourses. The nations who dwelt under his shadow, seeking his protection, have fled away from him (Daniel 4:11). For people, peoples.

have left him] and (or, for) they have cast him down. The words seem emphatic repetition from the beginning of the verse.

Verse 12. - Strangers, the terrible of the nations. We note the recurrence of the phrase of Ezekiel 30:11, as pointing, here as there, to the Chaldean invaders. The branches of the tree were broken, the people of the earth no longer dwelt under its shadow (Daniel 4:11). Ezekiel 31:12The 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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