Ezekiel 31:14
To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered to death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the middle of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Stand up in their height.—The original is more closely followed by the margin, stand upon themselves for their height, and the thought is that the trees (princes) shall no longer rely on their own strength and be infatuated by the prosperity which has been given them.

All that drink water is only a poetical expression for the trees. (Comp. Ezekiel 31:16.) In the constant mention of water and rivers throughout this parable there may be a covert allusion to Egypt, made fertile by the irrigation of the Nile.

To the nether parts of the earth.—See Note on Ezekiel 26:20. In the latter part of this verse the figurative is again exchanged for literal language.

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.Their trees - Rather, as in the margin, "standing unto themselves" meaning "standing in their own strength." The clause will then run thus: "Neither all that drink water stand up" in their own strength. "All that drink water" means mighty princes to whom wealth and prosperity flow in. The Egyptians owed everything to the waters of the Nile. The substance is, that Assyria's fall was decreed in order that the mighty ones of the earth might learn not to exalt themselves in pride or to rely on themselves, seeing that they must share the common lot of mortality. 14. trees by the waters—that is, that are plentifully supplied by the waters: nations abounding in resources.

stand up in their height—that is, trust in their height: stand upon it as their ground of confidence. Fairbairn points the Hebrew differently, so as for "their trees," to translate, "(And that none that drink water may stand) on themselves, (because of their greatness)." But the usual reading is better, as Assyria and the confederate states throughout are compared to strong trees. The clause, "All that drink water," marks the ground of the trees' confidence "in their height," namely, that they have ample sources of supply. Maurer, retaining the same Hebrew, translates, "that neither their terebinth trees may stand up in their height, nor all (the other trees) that drink water."

to … nether … earth … pit—(Eze 32:18; Ps 82:7).

To the end; all this is designed to be a warning to mortals.

All the trees, i: e. the emperors, potentates, kings, or rich flourishing states.

By the waters; planted most commodiously, and furnished most abundantly with power and wealth.

Exalt themselves; grow proud, because they are high, shoot out tops above all the thick boughs, their neighbours. This caution against pride and self-exalting is three times repeated, that all, especially great men, and this proud king of Egypt, to whom this parable is propounded, should be humble.

For they are all delivered unto death; for if by office they are gods, yet by nature they are men, and by the decree of God, who cannot die, these gods must, as men, die, be laid in the grave, forgotten like other men, like the children of mean men, for death and the grave make no distinction.

Be not proud, God will pull down such; be humble, you must die. To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height,.... The end proposed by the Lord in the destruction of the king of Assyria, and the use to be made of it, is this; that the kings of the earth take warning hereby, who rule over a multitude of people, comparable to waters, and who abound in riches and wealth; that they are not elated with pride and vanity, because of their exalted estate, their grandeur, and dignity; and do not behave insolently against God, on whom they depend; nor haughtily and in an oppressive manner towards their own subjects, over whom they rule:

neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs; affect universal monarchy, as he did; and set up themselves over all kingdoms and states, as he had over them, and make all subject to them:

neither their trees stand up in their height, that drink water; that is, kings and potentates, who rule over the people, and are supplied and supported by them in their exalted stations, by the tribute and taxes they pay them and so abound in riches and power, should not trust in the height of honour and power they are raised to, and treat contemptuously God and man; but consider what they are, that they are but men, and are in slippery places, where there is no standing long, and especially when death comes, as follows:

for they are delivered unto death in the nether parts of the earth; they are mortal by nature, as other men; they are appointed to die, and will be delivered into the hands of death, when the time is come, who will not spare them because of their crowns and sceptres; and when they will be laid in the grave, in the lowest parts of the earth, who used to sit upon elevated thrones of state:

in the midst of the children of men, with those that go down to the pit; the grave, where they are upon a level with the poorest and meanest of their subjects. The Targum is,

"that all the kings of the east might not be lifted up with their strength, nor exercise tyranny over the kingdoms; nor all that hold a kingdom lift up themselves in their own strength, for all are delivered unto death, &c.''

To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. The downfall of Pharaoh is a chastisement for his pride and a warning.

for their height] Or, in their. It is not merely pride of heart because of the height, it is the height itself, the shooting up their top among the clouds—aspiring to a greatness belonging only to heaven—that is the sin.

thick boughs] the clouds.

neither their trees stand up] Rather: and that their mighty ones (those of the nations) stand not up (or, forward, i.e. display themselves) in their height. The phrase “all that drink water” is a circumlocution for “trees,” fed by water.

nether parts of the earth] i.e. Sheòl, the place of the dead, deep down in the earth, or under it.

the children of men] i.e. men in general, common men. The meaning is hardly that expressed in Psalm 49:10, that all die, the wise as well as the fool and the brutish, and that the “mighty ones” have no privilege over common men in this respect; the death referred to here is rather the violent death, the death of them slain with the sword, attended with no funeral honours. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 32:17 seq.

them that go down] them that are gone down to the pit. So everywhere. The allegory of the tree here passes over into the reality.Verse 14. - To the end that none, etc. With a characteristic amplitude of style, Ezekiel preaches the great lesson of the mutability of earthly greatness. This was the lesson that the history of Assyria ought to have taught the nations of the earth, and it was just that lesson that they refused to learn. They are all delivered to death. The scenery of the parable passes from Eden to Sheol, the Hades of the nations, and the prophet gives the first stroke of the imagery afterwards more fully developed in Ezekiel 32:17-32. Announcement of the judgment upon Egypt and its allies. - Ezekiel 30:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 30:2. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Howl ye! Woe to the day! Ezekiel 30:3. For the day is near, the day of Jehovah near, a day of cloud, the time of the heathen will it be. Ezekiel 30:4. And the sword will come upon Egypt, and there will be pangs in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and they take her possessions, and her foundations are destroyed. Ezekiel 30:5. Ethiopians and Libyans and Lydians, and all the rabble, and Chub, and the sons of the covenant land, will fall by the sword with them. - In the announcement of the judgment in Ezekiel 30:2 and Ezekiel 30:3, Ezekiel rests upon Joel 1:13, Joel 1:15, and Joel 2:2, where the designation already applied to the judgment upon the heathen world by Obadiah, viz., "the day of Jehovah" (Obadiah 1:15), is followed by such a picture of the nearness and terrible nature of that day, that even Isaiah (Isaiah 13:6, Isaiah 13:9) and Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah 1:14) appropriate the words of Joel. Ezekiel also does the same, with this exception, that he uses ההּ instead of אההּ, and adds to the force of the expression by the repetition of קרוב יום. In Ezekiel 30:3, the words from יום ענן to יהיה are not to be taken together as forming one sentence, "a day of cloud will the time of the nations be" (De Wette), because the idea of a "time of the nations" has not been mentioned before, so as to prepare the way for a description of its real nature here. יום ענן and עת גּוים contain two co-ordinate affirmations concerning the day of Jehovah. It will be a day of cloud, i.e., of great calamity (as in Joel 2:2), and a time of the heathen, i.e., when heathen (גּוים without the article) are judged, when their might is to be shattered (cf. Isaiah 13:22). This day is coming upon Egypt, which is to succumb to the sword. Ethiopia will be so terrified at this, that it will writhe convulsively with anguish (חלחלה, as in Nahum 2:11 and Isaiah 21:3). לקח המנהּ signifies the plundering and removal of the possessions of the land, like נשׂא המנהּ in Ezekiel 29:19. The subject to לקחוּ is indefinite, "they," i.e., the enemy. The foundations of Egypt, which are to be destroyed, are not the foundations of its buildings, but may be understood in a figurative sense as relating to persons, after the analogy of Isaiah 19:10; but the notion that Cush, Phut, etc. (Ezekiel 30:9), i.e., the mercenary troops obtained from those places, which are called the props of Egypt in Ezekiel 30:6, are intended, as Hitzig assumes, is not only extremely improbable, but decidedly erroneous. The announcement in Ezekiel 30:6, that Cush, Phut, etc., are to fall by the sword along with the Egyptians (אתּם), is sufficient of itself to show that these tribes, even if they were auxiliaries or mercenaries of Egypt, did not constitute the foundations of the Egyptian state and kingdom; but that, on the contrary, Egypt possessed a military force composed of native troops, which was simply strengthened by auxiliaries and allies. We there interpret יסדותיה, after the analogy of Psalm 11:3 and Psalm 82:5, as referring to the real foundations of the state, the regulations and institutions on which the stability and prosperity of the kingdom rest.

The neighbouring, friendly, and allied peoples will also be smitten by the judgment together with the Egyptians. Cush, i.e., the Ethiopians, Phut and Lud, i.e., the Libyans and African Lydians (see the comm. on Ezekiel 27:10), are mentioned here primarily as auxiliaries of Egypt, because, according to Jeremiah 46:9, they served in Necho's army. By כּל־הערב, the whole of the mixed crowd (see the comm. on 1 Kings 10:15 - πάντες οἱ ἐπίμικτοι, lxx), we are then to understand the mercenary soldiers in the Egyptian army, which were obtained from different nations (chiefly Greeks, Ionians, and Carians, οἱ επίκουροι, as they are called by Herodotus, iii. 4, etc.). In addition to these, כּוּב ,eseht (ἁπ λεγ.) is also mentioned. Hvernick connects this name with the people of Kufa, so frequently met with on the Egyptian monuments. But, according to Wilkinson (Manners, etc., I 1, pp. 361ff.), they inhabited a portion of Asia farther north even than Palestine; and he ranks them (p. 379) among the enemies of Egypt. Hitzig therefore imagines that Kufa is probably to be found in Kohistan, a district of Media, from which, however, the Egyptians can hardly have obtained mercenary troops. And so long as nothing certain can be gathered from the advancing Egyptological researches with regard to the name Cub, the conjecture that כּוּב is a mis-spelling for לוּב is not to be absolutely set aside, the more especially as this conjecture is naturally suggested by the לוּבים of Nahum 3:9 and 2 Chronicles 16:8, and the form לוּב by the side of לוּבים is analogous to לוּד by the side of לוּדים in Jeremiah 46:9, whilst the Liby-Aegyptii of the ancients, who are to be understood by the term לוּבים (see the comm. on Genesis 10:13), would be quite in keeping here. On the other hand, the conjecture offered by Gesenius (Thes. p. 664), viz., נוּב, Nubia, has but a very weak support in the Arabic translator; and the supposition that לוּב may have been the earlier Hebrew form for Nubia (Hitzig), is destitute of any solid foundation. Maurer suggests Cob, a city (municipium) of Mauretania, in the Itiner. Anton. p. 17, ed. Wessel. - The following expression, "sons of the covenant land," is also obscure. Hitzig has correctly observed, that it cannot be synonymous with בּעלי , their allies. But we certainly cannot admit that the covenant land (made definite by the article) is Canaan, the Holy Land (Hitzig and Kliefoth); although Jerome writes without reserve, de filiis terrae foederis, i.e., de populo Judaeorum; and the lxx in their translation, καὶ τῶν υιῶν τῆς διαθήκης μου, undoubtedly thought of the Jews, who fled to Egypt, according to Theodoret's exposition, along with Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem and the murder of the governor Gedaliah, for fear of the vengeance of the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 42-43, and 44). For the application of the expression "land of the covenant" to the Holy Land is never met with either in the Old or New Testament, and cannot be inferred, as Hitzig supposes, from Psalm 74:20 and Daniel 11:28, or supported in any way from either the epithet "the land of promise" in Hebrews 11:9, or from Acts 3:25, where Peter calls the Jews "the children of the prophets and of the covenant." We therefore agree with Schmieder in regarding ארץ as signifying a definite region, though one unknown to us, in the vicinity of Egypt, which was inhabited by a tribe that was independent of the Egyptians, yet bound to render help in time of war.

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