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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 31

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-18



Verses 1-18:

Verses 1, 2 affirm that a prophetic message came from the Lord, to Ezekiel, to deliver to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in June, two months after that prophecy related Ezekiel 30:20. He was directed to address Pharaoh and his Egyptian multitudes, making clear to them, in rhetorical language, to whom they were likened or compared. They were doomed to captivity, like Assyria had fallen before Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, some twenty years earlier. Assyria’s fall was a picture of their own future doom. The announced doom of Egypt was designed to take from Judah any false hope of help from Egypt.

Verse 3 describes the former glory of the king of Assyria that was like a mighty, spreading cedar of Lebanon on the highest mountain, very visible from afar, Nahum 3:18; Zephaniah 2:13. Her boughs or limbs reached far out to entwine with limbs of other trees near her. Such seems to describe the once temporary might and visibility of the Assyrian empire, now crumbled in the dust, Daniel 4:20-22; See also a similar image, Ezekiel 17:3; Ezekiel 23:24; Daniel 4:37; Revelation 7:1.

Verses 4, 5 state that ample rivulets of water, underground streams of water, fed the growth of Lebanon’s trees until her highest tree was spread in proud glory over all the trees of the field, by virtue of the rivers of water. Such a comparison reflected the arrogant pride of Assyria’s former king in his conquering glory, Isaiah 10:7; Isaiah 10:11; Isaiah 10:13; Daniel 4:11. But his former glory now lay in ashes of destruction. As the Tigris and her feeder streams and canal conduits once irrigated the fertile crescent area of Assyria, but was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, so should the pride and glory of Egypt be destroyed, Jeremiah 51:36.

Verses 6, 7 further describe Assyria’s former glory, v. 3. Both fowl and beast once gloried in the branches and shadows of her tall evergreen cedars as they reared their young in their security. And all nations rested secure under the boughs of her greatest cedar (her king). His roost, so well watered, had now dried up, Ezekiel 17:23; Daniel 4:12.

Verses 8, 9 tell of the excellence of this mighty cedar among the trees of the garden of God, of God’s trees; For all souls and men belong to God, by reason of creation and this daily sustaining of all men, Ezekiel 18:4-5. This tree was more fair than any other existing tree, then in God’s garden of Eden. Neither the fir, chestnut, nor any other tree, was like this "tree-king" in beauty and splendor, Exodus 28:13; Genesis 2:8; Genesis 13:10. All other kings were inferior to him; None eclipsed him in beauty or power, Exodus 9:16; Psalms 75:6; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 2:37-38; Daniel 4:22-24; Daniel 5:20-23.

Verses 10, 12 describe the abject fall of this mighty Assyrian king, because of his self-exaltation, pride, and disregard for God. God Himself therefore declared that He had delivered him into the "mighty one of the heathen," then ruler of Babylon, destroyer of Nineveh. Where pride rules the heart of king or peasant, there the will of God is trampled under foot, 2 Kings 17:24; 2 Chronicles 25:25; Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 16:25; Proverbs 18:12; James 4:6; 1 Samuel 15:33.

Verse 12 mirrors this once mighty king’s desertion by his former followers and helpers, both national and international. Like birds of prey that had once perched in his cool branches, these heathen, "fair-weather" foul-fowls, had now flown away, when trouble came their way, v. 5. His former helpers had deserted him and fled, as "fair weather" friends and "good time" lovers, Numbers 32:23; Ezekiel 28:7; Ezekiel 32:5.

Verse 13 explains his permanent Assyrian doom. The fowls of heaven (heathen rulers) would light upon his ashes of ruin. All the beasts of the field (wild, unruly beasts) should walk across and stretch upon his fallen branches, as dead trees in a forest, Ezekiel 32:4; Isaiah 18:6. Or they would eat the fallen fruit of the trees in which they once found rest.

Verse 14 further states that not one of those trees,. by the waters, that once proudly supported the mighty Assyrian cedar-king, should support or identify with him or his empire any more, Psalms 82:7. For they too had been delivered to death, subjection and ruin, with and as, those who "go down to the pit," to rise no more, to be doomed forever, Ezekiel 32:18; Job 3:9. National greatness does not assure permanency.

Verse 15 states that when the "cedar-king" of Assyria fell, went down to the grave, God Himself caused a mourning for him and caused the rivers that once supplied his life and glory, and that of his consorts, to be dried up, so that a dire mourning covered the land, Habakkuk 2:5.

Verses 16, 17 declare that it was God who shook the nations at the fall of the Assyrian king, when he was cast down with him, Isaiah 14:9-15. But all those trees of Lebanon, pleasant as those in the garden of Eden, were comforted at his just judgment fall with his armed allies, Ezekiel 32:3; Nahum 2:3; Haggai 2:7; Hebrews 12:26; Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 14:15; Habakkuk 2:17; Lamentations 4:20; Mark 4:32.

Verse 18 concludes that Pharaoh, king of Egypt, too shall soon fall to lie in death and destruction among the uncircumcised or heathen, an object of derision, like other fallen trees of Eden, Ezekiel 28:10; Ezekiel 32:19; Ezekiel 32:21; Ezekiel 32:24. The mighty do fall, Hebrews 9:27.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 31". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ezekiel-31.html. 1985.
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