Ezekiel 31:8
The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) The garden of God.—See Ezekiel 31:9; Ezekiel 31:16; Ezekiel 31:18; also Ezekiel 28:13. This is not a representation of Assyria as being in the garden of God, as in the case of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:13, but only a further expression of its greatness by a comparison of the tree representing it with the trees of Paradise. Yet this comparison may have been suggested by the fact that the traditionary site of Eden was within the bounds of the Assyrian Empire. Fir trees are generally understood to be cypresses, and chestnut to be plane-trees.

31:1-9 The falls of others, both into sin and ruin, warn us not to be secure or high-minded. The prophet is to show an instance of one whom the king of Egypt resembled in greatness, the Assyrian, compared to a stately cedar. Those who excel others, make themselves the objects of envy; but the blessings of the heavenly paradise are not liable to such alloy. The utmost security that any creature can give, is but like the shadow of a tree, a scanty and slender protection. But let us flee to God for protection, there we shall be safe. His hand must be owned in the rising of the great men of the earth, and we must not envy them. Though worldly people may seem to have firm prosperity, yet it only seems so.Garden of God - Paradise. 8. cedars … could not hide him—could not outtop him. No other king eclipsed him.

were not like—were not comparable to.

garden of God—As in the case of Tyre (Eze 28:13), the imagery, that is applied to the Assyrian king, is taken from Eden; peculiarly appropriate, as Eden was watered by rivers that afterwards watered Assyria (Ge 2:10-14). This cedar seemed to revive in itself all the glories of paradise, so that no tree there outtopped it.

The cedars; kings, the greatest and most magnificent.

In the garden of God; either in the most fruitful gardens, or in Judah and Israel; not David, not Solomon, Jehoshaphat, or Hezekiah, could top and shade him.

The fir trees; a meaner sort of trees, emblem of lesser kings and kingdoms; these were but like his boughs, though they grow to great height and bulk. The chesnut trees; the same in another allusion. Kings, like chesnut trees, great when by themselves, yet, compared with this Assyrian, were but as branches of his boughs; all which see in Isaiah’s words, Ezekiel 10:7,8. There was some truth, though more pride, in this speech of the Assyrian, which the prophet reports.

Nor any tree in the garden of God; all summed up, none like him in all the kingdoms of the world.

The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him,.... That is, could not rise so high as this cedar, and overtop him, and obscure his glory; even those that were most excellent, which grew in Eden, near to which Babylon stood, and where a mighty king dwelt. The sense is, that the greatest kings and potentates in the whole world, which is like a garden planted by the Lord, were not equal to the king of Assyria, and much less exceeded him in grandeur, wealth, and power:

the fir trees were not like his boughs: lesser kings and princes, comparable to fir trees for the beauty, regularity, order, and flourishing condition of their kingdoms; yet these were but petty states, and not to be compared even with the provinces of the king of Assyria:

and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; lesser states still: which, though well set, and well spread, and full of people, yet not answerable to some countries that were in the provinces that belonged to the Assyrian empire:

not any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty; no king, prince, or potentate whatever in the whole world, was to be compared to him for royal majesty and greatness. The Targum is,

"mighty kings could not prevail against him, because of the strength of his power, which he had from the Lord; rulers could not stand before his army, and mighty men could not prevail against his auxiliaries, because of the strength of power he had from the Lord; there is none like to him in his strength.''

The cedars in the garden {d} of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; not any tree in the garden of God was like him in his beauty.

(d) Signifying that there was no greater power in the world than his was.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. could not hide him] Probably: equal him, compare with him (cf. the common particle “over against” or “alongside of,” Ezekiel 1:20, Ezekiel 48:13, &c.).

chesnut trees] Probably: plane trees, Genesis 30:37; cf. Psalm 104:16; Numbers 24:6. The trees in the garden of God are naturally the most lofty.

Verse 8. - The cedars in the garden of God. As in Ezekiel 28:13, the thoughts of the prophet dwell on the picture of Eden in Genesis 2:8. Far above all other trees, the cedar of Assyria rose high in majesty. All the trees that were in the garden of God envied him. The trees specially chosen for comparison are

(1) the fir tress - probably, as in Ezekiel 27:5, the cypresses; and

(2) the chestnut trees, for which the Revised Version, following the Vulgate and the LXX. of Genesis 30:97, gives the "plane," which held a high place in the admiration of Greek and Roman writers. Of this we have a special instance in the story of Xerxes, who decorated a plane tree near the Meander with ornaments of gold (Herod., 7:31; 'AElicon,' 5:14; also comp. Ecclus. 24:14; Virg., 'Georg.,' 4:146; Cicero, 'De Ont.,' 1:7, 28). Ezekiel 31:8The might of Pharaoh resembles the greatness and glory of Asshur. - Ezekiel 31:1. In the eleventh year, in the third (month), on the first of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 31:2. Son of man, say to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and to his tumult, Whom art thou like in thy greatness? Ezekiel 31:3. Behold, Asshur was a cedar-tree upon Lebanon, beautiful in branches, a shadowing thicket, and its top was high in growth, and among the clouds. Ezekiel 31:4. Water brought him up, the flood made him high, its streams went round about its plantation, and it sent its channels to all the trees of the field. Ezekiel 31:5. Therefore its growth became higher than all the trees of the field, and its branches became great, and its boughs long from many waters in its shooting out. Ezekiel 31:6. In its branches all the birds of the heaven made their nests, and under its boughs all the beasts of the field brought forth, and in its shadow sat great nations of all kinds. Ezekiel 31:7. And he was beautiful in his greatness, in the length of his shoots; for his root was by many waters. Ezekiel 31:8. Cedars did not obscure him in the garden of God, cypresses did not resemble his branches, and plane-trees were not like his boughs; no tree in the garden of God resembled him in his beauty. Ezekiel 31:9. I had made him beautiful in the multitude of his shoots, and all the trees of Eden which were in the garden of God envied him. - The word of God is addressed to King Pharaoh and to המונו, his tumult, i.e., whoever and whatever occasions noise and tumult in the land. We must not interpret this, however, as Hitzig has done, as signifying the ruling classes and estates in contrast with the quiet in the land, for no such use of המון is anywhere to be found. Nor must we regard the word as applying to the multitude of people only, but to the people with their possessions, their riches, which gave rise to luxury and tumult, as in Ezekiel 30:10. The inquiry, whom does Pharaoh with his tumult resemble in his greatness, is followed in the place of a reply by a description of Asshur as a glorious cedar (Ezekiel 31:3-9). It is true that Ewald has followed the example of Meibom (vanarum in Cod. Hebr. interprett. spec. III p. 70) and J. D. Michaelis, and endeavours to set aside the allusion to Asshur, by taking the word אשּׁוּר in an appellative sense, and understanding אשּׁוּר ארז as signifying a particular kind of cedar, namely, the tallest species of all. But apart altogether from there being no foundation whatever for such an explanation in the usage of the language, there is nothing in the fact to justify it. For it is not anywhere affirmed that Pharaoh resembled this cedar; on the contrary, the question, whom does he resemble? is asked again in Ezekiel 31:18 (Hitzig). Moreover, Michaelis is wrong in the supposition that "from Ezekiel 31:10 onwards it becomes perfectly obvious that it is not Assyria but Egypt itself which is meant by the cedar-tree previously described." Under the figure of the felling of a cedar there is depicted the overthrow of a king or monarchy, which has already taken place. Compare Ezekiel 31:12 and Ezekiel 31:16, where the past is indicated quite as certainly as the future in Ezekiel 31:18. And as Ezekiel 31:18 plainly designates the overthrow of Pharaoh and his power as still in the future, the cedar, whose destruction is not only threatened in Ezekiel 31:10-17, but declared to have already taken place, can only be Asshur, and not Egypt at all.

The picture of the glory of this cedar recalls in several respects the similar figurative description in Ezekiel 17. Asshur is called a cedar upon Lebanon, because it was there that the most stately cedars grew. חרשׁ מצל, a shade-giving thicket (מצל is a Hiphil participle of צלל), belongs to יפה ענף as a further expansion of ענף, corresponding to the further expansion of גּבהּ קמה by "its top was among the clouds." If we bear this in mind, the reasons assigned by Hitzig for altering חרשׁ into an adjective הרשׁ, and taking מצל as a substantive formation after the analogy of מסב, lose all their force. Analogy would only require an adjective in the construct state in the event of the three statements 'יפה ע, 'הרשׁ מ, and 'גּבהּ גּבהּ ק being co-ordinate with one another. But what is decisive against the proposed conjecture is the fact that neither the noun מצל nor the adjective הרשׁ is ever met with, and that, in any case, מצל cannot signify foliage. The rendering of the Vulgate, "frondibus nemorosus," is merely guessed at, whilst the Seventy have omitted the word as unintelligible to them. For עבתים, thicket of clouds, see the comm. on Ezekiel 19:11; and for צמּרת, that on Ezekiel 17:3. The cedar grew to so large a size because it was richly watered (Ezekiel 31:4). A flood poured its streams round about the place where the cedar was planted, and sent out brooks to all the trees of the field. The difficult words את־נהרתיה וגו' are to be taken literally thus: as for its (the flood's) streams, it (the flood) was going round about its plantation, i.e., round about the plantation belonging to the flood or the place situated near it, where the cedar was planted. את is not to be taken as a preposition, but as a sign of the accusative, and את־נהרתיה dna , as an accusative used for the more precise definition of the manner in which the flood surrounded the plantation. It is true that there still remains something striking in the masculine הלך, since תּהום, although of common gender, is construed throughout as a feminine, even in this very verse. But the difficulty remains even if we follow Ewald, and take הלך to be a defectively written or irregular form of the Hiphil הוליך; a conjecture which is precluded by the use of הוליך, to cause to run equals to cause to flow away, in Ezekiel 32:14. מטּעהּ, its (the flood's) plantation, i.e., the plantation for which the flood existed. תּהום is used here to signify the source of starting-point of a flood, as in Deuteronomy 8:7, where תּהמות are co-ordinate with עינות. - While the place where the cedar was planted was surrounded by the streams of the flood, only the brooks and channels of this flood reached to the trees of the field. The cedar therefore surpassed all the trees of the field in height and luxuriance of growth (Ezekiel 31:5). fגּבהאheb>, an Aramean mode of spelling for גּבהה heb>; and asרעפּתheb>, ἁπ. λεγ.., an Aramean formation with ר inserted, for סעפת, branches. For פּארת, see the comm. on Ezekiel 17:6. בּשׁלּחו cannot mean "since it (the stream) sent out the water" (Ewald); for although תּהום in Ezekiel 31:4 is also construed as a masculine, the suffix cannot be taken as referring to תּהום, for this is much too far off. And the explanation proposed by Rosenmller, Hvernick, Kliefoth, and others, "as it (the tree) sent them (the branches) out," is open to this objection, that בּשׁלּחו would then contain a spiritless tautology; since the stretching out of the branches is already contained in the fact of their becoming numerous and long. the tautology has no existence if the object is left indefinite, "in its spreading out," i.e., the spreading not only of the branches, but also of the roots, to which שׁלּח is sometimes applied (cf. Jeremiah 17:8). By the many waters which made the cedar great, we must not understand, either solely or especially, the numerous peoples which rendered Assyria great and mighty, as the Chaldee and many of the older commentators have done. It must rather be taken as embracing everything which contributed to the growth and greatness of Assyria. It is questionable whether the prophet, when describing the flood which watered the cedar plantation, had the description of the rivers of Paradise in Genesis 2:10. floating before his mind. Ewald and Hvernick think that he had; but Hitzig and Kliefoth take a decidedly opposite view. There is certainly no distinct indication of any such allusion. We meet with this for the first time from Ezekiel 31:8 onwards.

In Ezekiel 31:6-9 the greatness and glory of Asshur are still further depicted. Upon and under the branches of the stately tree, all creatures, birds, beasts, and men, found shelter and protection for life and increase (Ezekiel 31:6; cf. Ezekiel 17:23 and Daniel 4:9). In כּּל־גּוים רבּים, all kinds of great nations, the fact glimmers through the figure. The tree was so beautiful (ויּיף from יפה) in its greatness, that of all the trees in the garden of God not one was to be compared with it, and all envied it on that account; that is to say, all the other nations and kingdoms in God's creation were far inferior to Asshur in greatness and glory. גּן אלהים is the garden of Paradise; and consequently עדן in Ezekiel 31:9, Ezekiel 31:16, and Ezekiel 31:18 is also Paradise, as in Ezekiel 28:13. There is no ground for Kliefoth's objection, that if עדן be taken in this sense, the words "which are in the garden of God" will contain a superfluous pleonasm, a mere tautology. In Genesis 2:8 a distinction is also made between עדן and the garden in Eden. It was not all Eden, but the garden planted by Jehovah in Eden, which formed the real paradisaical creation; so that the words "which are in the garden of God" give intensity to the idea of the "trees of Eden." Moreover, as Hvernick has correctly pointed out, there is a peculiar emphasis in the separation of בּגן אלהים from ארזים in Ezekiel 31:8 : "cedars...even such as were found in the garden of God." Not one even of the other and most glorious trees, viz., cypresses and planes, resembled the cedar Asshur, planted by God by many waters, in its boughs and branches. It is not stated in so many words in Ezekiel 31:8 and Ezekiel 31:9 that the cedar Asshur stood in the garden of God; but it by no means follows from this, that by the garden of God we are to understand simply the world and the earth as the creation of God, as Kliefoth imagines, and in support of which he argues that "as all the nations and kingdoms of the world are regarded as trees planted by God, the world itself is quite consistently called a garden or plantation of God." The very fact that a distinction is made between trees of the field (Ezekiel 31:4 and Ezekiel 31:5) and trees of Eden in the garden of God (Ezekiel 31:8 and Ezekiel 31:9), shows that the trees are not all regarded here as being in the same sense planted by God. If the garden of God stood for the world, where should we then have to look for the field (השּׂדה)? The thought of Ezekiel 31:8 and Ezekiel 31:9 is not that "not a single tree in all God's broad earth was to be compared to the cedar Asshur," but that even of the trees of Paradise, the garden in Eden, there was not one so beautiful and glorious as the cedar Asshur, planted by God by many waters.

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