Ezekiel 17

A Parable of Two Eagles and a Vine

1The word of the Lord came to me: 2“Son of man, offer a riddle,
The verb occurs elsewhere in the OT only in Judg 14:12–19, where Samson supplies a riddle.
and tell a parable to the house of Israel.
3Say to them: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:
The parable assumes the defection of Zedekiah to Egypt and his rejection of Babylonian lordship.

“‘A great eagle
The great eagle symbolizes Nebuchadnezzar (17:12).
with broad wings, long feathers,
Hebrew has two words for wings; it is unknown whether they are fully synonymous or whether one term distinguishes a particular part of the wing such as the wing coverts (nearest the shoulder), secondaries (mid-feathers of the wing) or primaries (last and longest section of the wing).

with full plumage which was multi-hued,
This term was used in 16:10, 13, and 18 of embroidered cloth.

came to Lebanon
In the parable Lebanon apparently refers to Jerusalem (17:12).
and took the top of the cedar.
4 He plucked off its topmost shoot;
he brought it to a land of merchants
and planted it in a city of traders.
5 He took one of the seedlings
Heb “took of the seed of the land.” For the vine imagery, “seedling” is a better translation, though in its subsequent interpretation the “seed” refers to Zedekiah through its common application to offspring.
of the land,
placed it in a cultivated plot;
Heb “a field for seed.”

a shoot by abundant water,
like a willow he planted it.
6 It sprouted and became a vine,
spreading low to the ground;
Heb “short of stature.”

its branches turning toward him,
That is, the eagle.
its roots were under itself.
Or “him,” i.e., the eagle.

So it became a vine; it produced shoots and sent out branches.
7 “‘There was another great eagle
The phrase another great eagle refers to Pharaoh Hophra.

with broad wings and thick plumage.
Now this vine twisted its roots toward him
and sent its branches toward him
to be watered from the soil where it was planted.
8 In a good field, by abundant waters, it was planted
to grow branches, bear fruit, and become a beautiful vine.
9 “‘Say to them: This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“‘Will it prosper?
Will he not rip out its roots
and cause its fruit to rot
The Hebrew root occurs only here in the OT and appears to have the meaning of “strip off.” In application to fruit the meaning may be “cause to rot.”
and wither?
All its foliage
Heb “all the טַרְפֵּי (tarpey) of branches.” The word טַרְפֵּי occurs only here in the Bible; its precise meaning is uncertain.
will wither.
No strong arm or large army
will be needed to pull it out by its roots.
Or “there will be no strong arm or large army when it is pulled up by the roots.”

10 Consider! It is planted, but will it prosper?
Will it not wither completely when the east wind blows on it?
Will it not wither in the soil where it sprouted?’”
11 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 12“Say to the rebellious house of Israel:
The words “of Israel” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation as a clarification of the referent.
The book of Ezekiel frequently refers to the Israelites as a rebellious house (Ezek 2:5, 6, 8; 3:9, 26–27; 12:2–3, 9, 25; 17:12; 24:3).
‘Don’t you know what these things mean?’
The narrative description of this interpretation of the riddle is given in 2 Kgs 24:11–15.
Say: ‘See here, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took her king and her officials prisoner and brought them to himself in Babylon.
13He took one from the royal family,
Or “descendants”; Heb “seed” (cf. v. 5).
made a treaty with him, and put him under oath.
Heb “caused him to enter into an oath.”
He then took the leaders of the land
14so it would be a lowly kingdom which could not rise on its own but must keep its treaty with him in order to stand. 15But this one from Israel’s royal family
Heb “he”; the referent (the member of the royal family, v. 13) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
rebelled against the king of Babylon
Heb “him”; the referent (the king of Babylon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
by sending his emissaries to Egypt to obtain horses and a large army. Will he prosper? Will the one doing these things escape? Can he break the covenant and escape?

16 “‘As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, surely in the city
Heb “place.”
of the king who crowned him, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke – in the middle of Babylon he will die!
17Pharaoh with his great army and mighty horde will not help
Heb “deal with” or “work with.”
him in battle, when siege ramps are erected and siege-walls are built to kill many people.
18He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Take note
The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates being aware of or taking notice of something.
– he gave his promise
Heb “hand.” “Giving one’s hand” is a gesture of promise (2 Kgs 10:15).
and did all these things – he will not escape!

19 “‘Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will certainly repay him
Heb “place it on his head.”
for despising my oath and breaking my covenant!
20I will throw my net over him and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylon and judge him there because of the unfaithfulness he committed against me. 21All the choice men
Some manuscripts and versions read “choice men,” while most manuscripts read “fugitives”; the difference arises from the reversal, or metathesis, of two letters, מִבְרָחָיו (mivrakhyv) for מִבְחָריו (mivkharyv).
among his troops will die
Heb “fall.”
by the sword and the survivors will be scattered to every wind. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken!

22 “‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“‘I will take a sprig
The language is analogous to messianic imagery in Isa 11:1; Zech 3:8; 6:4 although the technical terminology is not the same.
from the lofty top of the cedar and plant it.
The LXX lacks “and plant it.”

I will pluck from the top one of its tender twigs;
I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
23 I will plant it on a high mountain of Israel,
and it will raise branches and produce fruit and become a beautiful cedar.
Every bird will live under it;
Every winged creature will live in the shade of its branches.
24 All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord.
I make the high tree low; I raise up the low tree.
I make the green tree wither, and I make the dry tree sprout.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it!’”
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