Matthew Poole's Commentary
Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,A lamentation for the princes of Israel, under the parable of lions’ whelps taken in a pit, Ezekiel 19:1-9; and for Jerusalem, under the parable of a wasted vine, Ezekiel 19:10-14.
Moreover, Heb. And.
Take up a lamentation; son of man, Ezekiel, declare what a lamentable state the princes of Israel are falling into, propound it by parable. It was usually expressed in verse, as Jeremiah did in his lamentations, and as appears 2 Chronicles 35:25; but the prophet is here directed to a hieroglyphic, as Ezekiel 19:2.
The princes of Israel; though they were kings, yet, because subject to Babylon or Egypt, they are, by a diminutive, lessening term, called
princes, and these were Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Though they had but the two tribes under them, yet because some of Israel that escaped the captivating power of Shalmaneser were joined with the two tribes, they are called by the name of Israel.
And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.What resemblance shall I use to set out the nature, deportment, and state of the mother of these princes? an unhappy mother of unhappy children! Or, Alas! thy mother, &c.
Thy; one of these was upon the throne at once, and therefore the prophet speaks to one at a time, in the singular number. Mother; the land of Judea and Jerusalem, the chief city of it, the royal family of David.
A lioness; though chosen of God to execute justice, defend the poor, to be his vicegerents, and to delight in mercy; yet once advanced, they soon degenerated into the fierce and ravening nature of the lioness, and as violently seized the prey.
She lay down; associated, couched, and grew familiar with, by leagues, commerce, and intermixture of marriages with neighbour kings, called here lions: thou didst learn their manners, and grewest fierce and bloody, as they.
She nourished: the Hebrew includes both her bringing forth many, and her advancing them to greatness: the royal family of flat nation had many kings, and some very great, but the time the prophet points now at in particular was after Josiah, whose character, given Jeremiah 22:16, is, that he judged the poor and needy, but his successors were of another temper, as Jeremiah 22:13-15,17.
Her whelps, i.e. her sons, successors to the crown, which could be called nothing else, to keep the decorum of the parable.
Among young lions; either foreign princes and kings, or else some of the fiercer, unjuster, aspiring, and tyrannizing princes at home; for such there were in these, as well as in Rehoboam’s times, who would have the son’s finger thicker than the father’s loins.
And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.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.
The nations also heard of him; he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt.The Egyptians heard and considered what he did, they had intelligence of Jehoahaz’s rigours against them, and all that abetted their interest; this made them (as neighbours do when a lion is reported to waste their flocks) gather together against him. He was taken in their pit; or, in their net, as hunters in those parts dig pits and spread nets, into which they drive the hunted lion, or bear: so here. Or else thus, This lion was taken at last, though he did some mischief first to the Egyptians; so the word may bear.
They brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt; the story of it you have 2 Kings 23:33; these barbarous conquerors used him as men use a lion, put and keep him in chains; carried him captive into Egypt, where he died, Jeremiah 22:10-12, with 2 Kings 23:34.
Now when she saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost, then she took another of her whelps, and made him a young lion.Upon the ill success of Jehoahaz, Jerusalem and the Jews in the land fell from their hopes under great disappointments, for Jehoahaz is taken, deposed, carried captive by the Egyptians, instead of shaking off the Egyptian yoke. She took another; yet it is said, 2 Chronicles 36:4 2 Kings 23:34, that the king of Egypt made the next king: both true; the Jews with Pharaoh’s liking, or Pharaoh with the Jews’ consent, advance him, whether it were Jehoiakim or Jehoiachin.
Made him a young lion; king, and infused the lion-like maxims for his rules.
And he went up and down among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men.He, Jehoiakim,
went up and down: it is said of him, because he continued eleven years on the throne, and so many years, as a lion, tore and devoured; whereas Jehoahaz was taken as soon almost as he first ventured out to hunt the prey.
Among the lions; carried it after the manners and usages of the heathen kings, those barbarous tyrants, with whom he entered leagues, as he saw good, and laid aside the law of God, which was to guide king and people.
Became a young lion; grew strong, fierce, ravenous, unsaltable: see Ezekiel 19:3 where the rest is explained.
Devoured men; either his neighbours the Ammonites and Moabites, or he devoured his own subjects, impoverished and eat out their estates, spared not the prophets, or their prophecy, and Urijah he slew, Jeremiah 26:23: what Jehoiakim was appears Jeremiah 22:13-15,17.
And he knew their desolate palaces, and he laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring.He,
Jehoiakim, knew their desolate palaces, on view; not only heard of them, but setting on them violently, and taking them, he came to know their palaces, which are here called, what he made them, desolate; so the word Isaiah 13:22.
Palaces; or it may be rendered widows, and then it will refer to such whose husbands this lion devoured, and thereby occasioned their petitioning to him, and thus he knew them, whom he made desolate; but the former best suits what follows.
Laid waste their cities; pilling, polling, and by exactions driving the inhabitants out by his cruelty and tyranny.
The land was desolate; the whole land, or the country, sped as ill as the cities, and so it was emptied of men, riches, and strength.
By the noise of his roaring; by the perpetual violent threats of this cruel king, which are called his roaring, and so Proverbs 19:12, which terrified his neighbours in the three years’ revolt which are mentioned 2 Kings 24:1,2.
Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit.The nations which were feudatory to Nebuchadnezzar, and were bound to assist him in his wars.
Set against him; by order of the king of Babylon gathered together to hunt this lion, to make war on this revolting king.
On every side; surrounded him that he might not escape.
The provinces which belonged to the Babylonish kingdom, and were governed by presidents, or petty kings, vassals to Nebuchadnezzar.
Spread their net over him; soon got him into their toils, as huntsmen get a lion, or other wild beast, into their net.
He was taken in their pit: see Ezekiel 19:4.
And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.They, the armies of the several nations, or the chief commanders of those armies,
put him in ward, in grates, or a great cage, as wild beasts are conveyed.
In chains; it is reported they put an iron collar on his neck, and fastened an iron chain to it.
And brought him; he was carried that long journey in chains, enough to change his roaring lion-like into the roarings of a desperate, miserable captive.
To the king of Babylon, wherever he was, for some dispute it whether now in Babylon, or elsewhere with some of his armies; however, this unhappy king was carried to Nebuchadnezzar, or died on the way perhaps, by command of Nebuchadnezzar so used that hard usage killed him, and then they cast him out unburied, as Jeremiah 22:18,19, foretold.
Brought him into holds; kept him safe that he should not escape, or brought him to Babylon, which, though one city, yet so large, and had so great and many forts about it, that it seemed to be made up of many strong holds.
That his voice should no more be heard; that he might never more either affright, or kill, or devour any of his people and subjects in the land of Israel.
On the mountains of Israel: in a comely observance of the parable the kingdom is the mountains, when the king is the lion that rangeth and roareth on them. Two more lions of the same temper, and alike miserable in their end, I doubt not, are included in this emblem; and by these the Jews might know what would become of Jeconiah, called also Jehoiachin, and of Zedekiah, who was called Mattaniah.
Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.The 10th verse begins the second part of the chapter.
Thy mother, O thou prince of Israel: see Ezekiel 19:2.
Is like a vine; frequently so compared, Psalm 80:8,14,15 Isa 3:14 5:2 27:2.
In thy blood; either when thou wast first born, as Ezekiel 16:6; or, the royal line, thy kingly race; or, in the rigour of thy strength.
Planted by the waters, in a very fruitful soil.
She was fruitful, and accordingly she did thrive, and brought forth much fruit: see Ezekiel 17:8. Though she lost many thousands carried away, yet more were born, bred up, and trained up to useful arts and employments, say some; but this too general. The royal family did spring like a vine well watered.
Full of branches; full of children; when Josiah died he left four behind him, beside other branches of the royal line.
And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.Strong rods; many excellent persons endowed with qualifications befitting kings, that they might sway the sceptre, and rule the people with equity.
Her stature; the grandeur of the kings and kingdom.
Exalted among the thick branches; exalted above the ordinary majesty of other kingdoms.
The thick branches; the goodly cedars and their thick branches; i.e. this kingdom equalled, if not excelled, the greatest neighbour kingdoms, and her kings, as David, Solomon, &c. exceeded all their neighbour kings in riches and power.
She appeared in her height; like a mighty tree, that overtops all the forest, so did this goodly kingdom over all kingdoms, and it was seen and noted, according to God’s promise that it should be the head, and not the tail, and to that Deu 4:6-8.
But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.This flourishing vine first degenerated, brought forth fruit to itself, not to God, and grew proud, abused God’s mercies to all manner of sin.
She was plucked up in fury; was violently, suddenly, and totally rooted out, tore up by the roots; so was the once flourishing kingdom of the Jews overthrown.
She was cast down to the ground; had she been again set, there might have been some hope, but plucked up root and branch together it is perished for ever. To hasten the utter destruction hereof, an east wind, that blasting, piercing wind, blows upon her; the king of Babylon with all his power, raised of God to pull up this sinful kingdom.
Dried up her fruit; blasted all her fruit; deposed her king, captivated him, his family, and the whole kingdom.
Her strong rods, all the choice men, the counsellors, warriors, artificers, all that were like to be the strength of the kingdom, were broken; by Nebuchadnezzar’s hand plucked away, and removed into Babylon, where they lay as withered branches.
The fire consumed them; called fury in the former part of the verse. God’s displeasure for their sins, their adversaries’ rage, and their own animosities, burnt them up; their houses and palaces, their city and temple, all burnt, yea, and some persons with this fire were consumed also, beside some that the conqueror roasted.
And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.And now; at this present time.
She is planted; but, alas! how unlike what she was! a brand pulled out of the burnings, a few of the branches of the last pruning, or a few smaller roots taken up by the provident hand of the Lord of the vineyard, a remnant that might be a nursery, a seedplot; but the much greater part of the vine is, as said, destroyed. It is not said who planted them, but it is easy to conjecture Nebuchadnezzar planted them in policy and for his advantage, they planted themselves out of necessity, and God planted them there in just correcting mercy, and will give them root, and make them thrive, and transplant them after seventy years, and set them on the mountains of Israel again.
In the wilderness; so it was to the Jews, a forlorn, dangerous, and necessitous state: though Babylon was in a very fruitful place, yet the savage cruelty and the insulting pride of the Babylonians made it to the Jews as terrible as a wilderness; besides, there were some barren places of this kingdom, to which some of the Jews might be carried and confined.
Dry: this and the other expression are a description of the nature of a wilderness, and illustrate what the prophet had spoken, or may be paraphrased by that of David, Psalm 63:1; it was dry and thirsty, where no one stream ran from that river which made glad the city of God, Psalm 46:4.
And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.This verse gives you account of the immediate cause of this hasty, furious, total pulling up of this vine.
And fire, of rebellion, will be kindled by a rod of her branches, Zedekiah, who is of the blood royal, made king by Nebuchadnezzar, and who swore allegiance to him.
Hath devoured her fruit; brought the land, city, king’s palaces, and God’s temple to utter desolation. She hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule; the regal dignity is ceased, and shall no more rise, you shall never have a crowned head to rule you more.
This is a lamentation; this I have told you is the subject of my mournful thoughts.
And shall be for a lamentation; my the execution of these things which shall be much more terrible, shall make you lament at sight of them, and at remembrance of them, as long as you live.