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Ezekiel 17. The Perfidious King.— Jerusalem, as we have seen, is to be punished for her guilty past and her perfidious people ( Ezekiel 17:16), but no less for her guilty present and her perfidious king. This truth is driven home in another allegory, here called a “ riddle” and “ parable,” set forth in Ezekiel 17:1-10 and expounded in Ezekiel 17:11-21; and thus for the second time ( Ezekiel 12:1-16) Ezekiel shatters the illusion of the stability of the king and the monarchy. For a second time, too, the figure of Israel as a vine is presented ( Ezekiel 17:15)— but from a different point of view.
Here is the allegory and the interpretation thereof. A magnificent eagle (Nebuchadrezzar) swooped down upon a stately cedar (Judah), plucked off the top of it (the aristocracy of Judah), and the topmost twig of all (king Jehoiachin), and carried them to a land of traffic (Babylon: reference is to first deportation, with which Ezekiel went in 597 B.C.). But the eagle took seed of the land (king Zedekiah), and planted it in Judah, which he intended should develop as a vine, luxuriant and prosperous, but twining with lovely branches towards him (to signify the humble dependence of Judah upon Babylon). But there was another eagle (Egypt), great too, but less magnificent than the former: and to this eagle the vine turned for nurture, though it was already being richly nurtured in the soil in which Babylon had planted it— the reference is to Zedekiah’ s revolt from Babylon, and appeal to Egypt. Of such perfidy the only end would be destruction: the eagle (Nebuchadrezzar) would tear up the vine by the roots, like the scorching east wind he would wither it, and the expected support of Egypt would prove to be a delusion. In plain words, the kingdom would be shattered, Zedekiah captured, many exiled, and many slain. The indignant passion that breathes through this oracle is roused by the fact that Zedekiah’ s perfidy towards Nebuchadrezzar was in reality perfidy towards Yahweh, whose name he had solemnly invoked when he took the oath of allegiance ( Ezekiel 17:19). (The passage finely interprets Nebuchadrezzar’ s political intentions, which were at first not to crush Judah, but to have in her a flourishing, grateful, humble, dependent.)
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 17". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
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