Ezekiel 17


This chapter begins with a new allegory or parable, 1-10;

to which an explanation is immediately subjoined, 11-21.

In the remaining verses the prophet, by a beautiful metaphor,

makes an easy and natural transition to the Messiah, and

predicts the security, increasing prosperity, and ultimate

universality of his kingdom, 22-24.

From the beauty of its images, the elegance of its composition,

the perspicuity of its language, the rich variety of its

matter, and the easy transition from one part of the subject to

another, this chapter forms one of the most beautiful and

perfect pieces of its kind that can possibly be conceived in so

small a compass; and then the unexpected change from objects

that presented nothing to the view but gloom and horror, to a

prospect of ineffable glory and beauty, has a most happy

effect. Every lowering cloud is dispelled, and the fields again

smile in the beams of midday. The traveller, who this moment

trembled as he looked around for shelter, now proceeds on his

way rejoicing.


Verse 2. Son of man, put forth a riddle] Riddle, [Anglo-Saxon] or

[A.S.], Anglo-Saxon, from [A.S.] to divine; a thing that must be

curiously investigated and sifted, to find out the meaning; and

hence, riddle, a sort of coarse sieve to clean corn, to separate

coarse chaff and straws from the pure grain. An instrument

formerly used for divination. This is not far removed from the

Hebrew chidah, from chad, to penetrate; not that

which penetrates the mind, but which we must penetrate to find

out the sense.

Verse 3. A great eagle] Nebuchadnezzar. See Jer 48:40; 49:22;

Da 7:4. And see here, Eze 17:12, where it is so applied.

Great wings] Extensive empire.

Long-winged] Rapid in his conquests.

Full of feathers] Having multitudes of subjects.

Divers colours] People of various nations.

Came unto Lebanon] Came against Judea.

The highest branch] King Jehoiachin he took captive to Babylon.

The cedar] The Jewish state and king.

Verse 4. The top of his young twigs] The princes of Judah.

A land of traffic] Chaldea.

A city of merchants] Babylon; for which this city was the most

celebrated of all the cities of the east. Its situation procured

it innumerable advantages; its two rivers, the Tigris and

Euphrates, and the Persian Gulf, gave it communication with the

richest and the most distant nations.

Verse 5. The seed of the land] Zedekiah, brother of Jehoiachin.

Planted it in a fruitful field] Made him king of Judea in place

of his brother.

Placed it by great waters] Put him under the protection of

Babylon, situated on the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates.

And set it as a willow tree] Made him dependent on this city of

great waters, as the willow is on humidity.

Verse 6. A spreading vine of low stature] The Jewish state

having then no height of dominion, it must abide under the wings

or branches of the Chaldean king.

Whose branches turned toward him, and the roots-under him]

Zedekiah was wholly dependent on Nebuchadnezzar, both for his

elevation to the throne, and his support on it.

Verse 7. Another great eagle] Pharaoh-hophra, or Apries, king of


With great wings] Extensive dominion.

And many feathers] Numerous subjects.

Did bend her roots] Looked to him for support in her intended

rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar.

Verse 8. It was planted in a good soil] Though he depended on

Babylon, he lived and reigned as Nebuchadnezzar's vicegerent in

the land of Judea.

Verse 9. Shall it prosper?] Shall Zedekiah succeed in casting

off the yoke of the king of Babylon, to whom he had sworn fealty?

Shall he not pull up the roots] Nebuchadnezzar will come and

dethrone him.

And cut off the fruit] The children of Zedekiah.

The leaves] All the nobles; all shall perish with Zedekiah.

Verse 10. Shall-utterly whither] The regal government shall be

no more restored. Zedekiah shall be the last king, and the

monarchy shall finally terminate with him.

Verse 12. Know ye not what these things mean?] They are

explained in this and the following verses.

Verse 14. That the kingdom might be base] Have no political

consequence, and at last sink into a miserable government under


Verse 15. Sending his ambassadors into Egypt] Zedekiah must have

sent his ambassadors into Egypt, between the sixth month of his

sixth year, and the fifth month of his seventh year. Compare

Eze 8:1, with Eze 20:1.-See


Verse 16. In the midst of Babylon he shall die.] His eyes were

put out; he was carried to Babylon, and never returned.

Verse 18. Seeing he despised the oath] This God particularly

resents. He had bound himself by oath, in the presence of Jehovah,

to be faithful to the covenant that he made with Nebuchadnezzar,

and he took the first opportunity to break it; therefore he shall

not escape.

Verse 20. I will spread my net upon him]

See Clarke on Eze 12:13.

Verse 21. All his fugitives] All who attempted to escape with

him, and all that ran to Egypt, &c., shall fall by the sword.

Verse 22. I will also take of the highest branch of the high

cedar] I will raise up another monarchy, which shall come in the

line of David, namely, the Messiah; who shall appear as a tender

plant, as to his incarnation; but he shall be high and eminent;

his Church, the royal city, the highest and purest ever seen on

the face of the earth.

Verse 23. In the mountain of the height of Israel] He shall make

his appearance at the temple, and found his Church at Jerusalem.

Shall bring forth boughs] Apostles, evangelists, and their

successors in the Gospel ministry.

And bear fruit] Multitudes of souls shall be converted by their


And under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing] All the nations

of the earth shall receive his Gospel.

In the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.] Trust

in him alone for salvation, and be saved in their trusting.

Verse 24. All the trees of the field shall know] All the people

of Israel and of Chaldea.

I the Lord have brought down the high tree] Have dethroned


Have exalted the low tree] Put Zedekiah, brother of Jehoiachin,

in his place.

Have dried up the green tree] Zedekiah, who had numerous

children, but who were all slain before his eyes at Riblah.

And have made the dry tree to flourish] Have raised up a rod out

of the stem of Jesse, the family of David being then apparently

dried up and extinct. This was the promised Messiah, of the

increase and government of whose kingdom and peace there shall be

no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order

and establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth,


The high and green tree, says Newcome, refers to

Nebuchadnezzar; the low and the dry tree, to the Jews.

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