Ezekiel 19

Lament for the Princes of Israel

“And you, sing
Heb “lift up.”
a lament for the princes of Israel,
and say:

“‘What a lioness was your mother among the lions!
She lay among young lions;
Lions probably refer to Judahite royalty and/or nobility. The lioness appears to symbolize the Davidic dynasty, though some see the referent as Hamutal, the wife of Josiah and mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah. Gen 49:9 seems to be the background for Judah being compared to lions.
she reared her cubs.
She reared one of her cubs; he became a young lion.
He learned to tear prey; he devoured people.
Heb “a man.”

The nations heard about him; he was trapped in their pit.
They brought him with hooks to the land of Egypt.
The description applies to king Jehoahaz (2 Kgs 23:31–34; Jer 22:10–12).

“‘When she realized that she waited in vain, her hope was lost.
She took another of her cubs
The identity of this second lion is unclear; the referent is probably Jehoiakim or Zedekiah. If the lioness is Hamutal, then Zedekiah is the lion described here.
and made him a young lion.
He walked about among the lions; he became a young lion.
He learned to tear prey; he devoured people.
He broke down
The Hebrew text reads “knew,” but is apparently the result of a ר-ד (dalet-resh) confusion. For a defense of the emendation, see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:284. However, Allen retains the reading “widows” as the object of the verb, which he understands in the sense of “do harm to,” and translates the line: “He did harm to women by making them widows” (p. 282). The line also appears to be lacking a beat for the meter of the poem.
their strongholds
The Hebrew text reads “widows” instead of “strongholds,” apparently due to a confusion of ר (resh) and ל (lamed). L. C. Allen (Ezekiel [WBC], 1:284) favors the traditional text, understanding “widows” in the sense of “women made widows.” D. I. Block, (Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:602) also defends the Hebrew text, arguing that the image is that of a dominant male lion who takes over the pride and by copulating with the females lays claim to his predecessor’s “widows.”
and devastated their cities.
The land and everything in it was frightened at the sound of his roaring.
The nations – the surrounding regions – attacked him.
They threw their net over him; he was caught in their pit.
They put him in a collar with hooks;
Or “They put him in a neck stock with hooks.” The noun סּוּגַר (sugar), translated “collar,” occurs only here in the Bible. L. C. Allen and D. I. Block point out a Babylonian cognate that refers to a device for transporting prisoners of war that held them by their necks (D. I. Block, Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:597, n. 35; L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:284). Based on the Hebrew root, the traditional rendering had been “cage” (cf. ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

they brought him to the king of Babylon;
they brought him to prison
The term in the MT occurs only here and in Eccl 9:12 where it refers to a net for catching fish. The LXX translates this as “prison,” which assumes a confusion of dalet and resh took place in the MT.

so that his voice would not be heard
any longer on the mountains of Israel.
10  “‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,
The Hebrew text reads “in your blood,” but most emend to “in your vineyard,” assuming a ב-כ (beth-kaph) confusion. See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:284. Another attractive emendation assumes a faulty word division and yields the reading “like a vine full of tendrils, which/because…”; see D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:607, n. 68.
planted by water.
It was fruitful and full of branches because it was well-watered.
11  Its boughs were strong, fit
The word “fit” does not occur in the Hebrew text.
for rulers’ scepters; it reached up into the clouds.
It stood out because of its height and its many branches.
Heb “and it was seen by its height and by the abundance of its branches.”

12  But it was plucked up in anger; it was thrown down to the ground.
The east wind
The east wind symbolizes the Babylonians.
dried up its fruit;
its strong branches broke off and withered –
a fire consumed them.
13  Now it is planted in the wilderness,
in a dry and thirsty land.
This metaphor depicts the Babylonian exile of the Davidic dynasty.

14  A fire has gone out from its branch; it has consumed its shoot and its fruit.
The verse describes the similar situation recorded in Judg 9:20.

No strong branch was left in it, nor a scepter to rule.’
This is a lament song, and has become a lament song.”

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