A parable lamenting the ruin of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. (1-9) Another describing the desolation of the people. (10-14)
Verses 1-9 Ezekiel is to compare the kingdom of Judah to a lioness. He must compare the kings of Judah to a lion's whelps; they were cruel and oppressive to their own subjects. The righteousness of God is to be acknowledged, when those who have terrified and enslaved others, are themselves terrified and enslaved. When professors of religion form connexions with ungodly persons, their children usually grow up following after the maxims and fashions of a wicked world. Advancement to authority discovers the ambition and selfishness of men's hearts; and those who spend their lives in mischief, generally end them by violence.
Verses 10-14 Jerusalem was a vine, flourishing and fruitful. This vine is now destroyed, though not plucked up by the roots. She has by wickedness made herself like tinder to the sparks of God's wrath, so that her own branches serve as fuel to burn her. Blessed be God, one Branch of the vine here alluded to, is not only become a strong rod for the sceptre of those that rule, but is Himself the true and living Vine. This shall be for a rejoicing to all the chosen people of God throughout all generations.
Ezekiel 19:1-14 . ELEGY OVER THE FALL OF DAVID'S HOUSE.
There is a tacit antithesis between this lamentation and that of the Jews for their own miseries, into the causes of which, however, they did not inquire.
1. princes of Israel--that is, Judah, whose "princes" alone were recognized by prophecy; those of the ten tribes were, in respect to the theocracy, usurpers.
2. thy mother--the mother of Jehoiachin, the representative of David's line in exile with Ezekiel. The "mother" is Judea: "a lioness," as being fierce in catching prey ( Ezekiel 19:3 ), referring to her heathenish practices. Jerusalem was called Ariel (the lion of God) in a good sense ( Isaiah 29:1 ); and Judah "a lion's whelp . . . a lion . . . an old lion" ( Genesis 49:9 ), to which, as also to Numbers 23:24 , 24:9 , this passage alludes.
nourished . . . among young lions--She herself had "lain" among lions, that is, had intercourse with the corruptions of the surrounding heathen and had brought up the royal young ones similarly: utterly degenerate from the stock of Abraham.
Lay down--or "couched," is appropriate to the lion, the Arab name of which means "the coucher."
3. young lion--Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, carried captive from Riblah to Egypt by Pharaoh-necho ( 2 Kings 23:33 ).
4. The nations--Egypt, in the case of Jehoahaz, who probably provoked Pharaoh by trying to avenge the death of his father by assailing the bordering cities of Egypt ( 2 Kings 23:29 2 Kings 23:30 ).
in their pit--image from the pitfalls used for catching wild beasts ( Jeremiah 22:11 Jeremiah 22:12 ).
chains--or hooks, which were fastened in the noses of wild beasts
5. saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost--that is, that her long-waited-for hope was disappointed, Jehoahaz not being restored to her from Egypt.
she took another of her whelps--Jehoiakim, brother of Jehoahaz, who was placed on the throne by Pharaoh ( 2 Kings 23:34 ), according to the wish of Judah.
6. went up and down among the lions--imitated the recklessness and tyranny of the surrounding kings ( Jeremiah 22:13-17 ).
catch . . . prey--to do evil, gratifying his lusts by oppression ( 2 Kings 23:37 ).
7. knew . . . desolate palaces--that is, claimed as his own their palaces, which he then proceeded to "desolate." The Hebrew, literally "widows"; hence widowed palaces ( Isaiah 13:22 ). VATABLUS (whom FAIRBAIRN follows) explains it, "He knew (carnally) the widows of those whom he devoured" ( Ezekiel 19:6 ). But thus the metaphor and the literal reality would be blended: the lion being represented as knowing widows. The reality, however, often elsewhere thus breaks through the veil.
fulness thereof--all that it contained; its inhabitants.
8. the nations--the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moab, and Ammon ( 2 Kings 24:2 ).
9. in chains--( 2 Chronicles 36:6 , Jeremiah 22:18 ). Margin, "hooks"; perhaps referring to the hook often passed through the nose of beasts; so, too, through that of captives, as seen in the Assyrian sculptures
voice--that is, his roaring.
no more be heard upon the mountains--carrying on the metaphor of the lion, whose roaring on the mountains frightens all the other beasts. The insolence of the prince, not at all abated though his kingdom was impaired, was now to cease.
10. A new metaphor taken from the vine, the chief of the fruit-bearing trees, as the lion is of the beasts of prey (see Ezekiel 17:6 ).
in thy blood--"planted when thou wast in thy blood," that is, in thy very infancy; as in Ezekiel 16:6 , when thou hadst just come from the womb, and hadst not yet the blood washed from thee. The Jews from the first were planted in Canaan to take root there [CALVIN]. GROTIUS translates as the Margin, "in thy quietness," that is, in the period when Judah had not yet fallen into her present troubles. English Version is better. GLASSIUS explains it well, retaining the metaphor, which CALVIN'S explanation breaks, "in the blood of thy grapes," that is, in her full strength, as the red wine is the strength of the grape. Genesis 49:11 is evidently alluded to.
many waters--the well-watered land of Canaan ( Deuteronomy 8:7-9 ).
11. strong rods--princes of the royal house of David. The vine shot forth her branches like so many scepters, not creeping lowly on the ground like many vines, but trained aloft on a tree or wall. The mention of their former royal dignity, contrasting sadly with her present sunken state, would remind the Jews of their sins whereby they had incurred such judgments.
stature--( Daniel 4:11 ).
among the thick branches--that is, the central stock or trunk of the tree shot up highest "among its own branches" or offshoots, surrounding it. Emblematic of the numbers and resources of the people. HENGSTENBERG translates, "among the clouds." But Ezekiel 31:3 Ezekiel 31:10 Ezekiel 31:14 , supports English Version.
12. plucked up--not gradually withered. The sudden upturning of the state was designed to awaken the Jews out of their torpor to see the hand of God in the national judgment.
13. planted--that is, transplanted. Though already "dried up" in regard to the nation generally, the vine is said to be "transplanted" as regards God's mercy to the remnant in Babylon.
dry . . . ground--Chaldea was well-watered and fertile; but it is the condition of the captive people, not that of the land, which is referred to.
14. fire . . . out of a rod of her branches--The Jews' disaster was to be ascribed, not so much to the Chaldeans as to themselves; the "fire out of the rod" is God's wrath kindled by the perjury of Zedekiah ( Ezekiel 17:18 ). "The anger of the Lord" against Judah is specified as the cause why Zedekiah was permitted to rebel against Babylon ( 2 Kings 24:20 ; compare Judges 9:15 ), thus bringing Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem.
no strong rod . . . sceptre to rule--No more kings of David's stock are now to rule the nation. Not at least until "the Lord shall send the rod of His strength ("Messiah," Psalms 110:2 , Isaiah 11:1 ) out of Zion," to reign first as a spiritual, then hereafter as a literal king.
is . . . and shall be for a lamentation--Part of the lamentation (that as to Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim) was matter of history as already accomplished; part (as to Zedekiah) was yet to be fulfilled; or, this prophecy both is a subject for lamentation, and shall be so to distant posterity.