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A.M. 3411. B.C. 593.
The scope of this chapter, like that of the seventeenth, is to foretel and bewail the ruin of the house of David, in the calamitous exit of Josiah’s sons, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, and his grandson Jehoiachin, in whom that illustrious line of kings was cut off, which the prophet is here ordered to lament, 1. This he doth by similitudes.
(1,) The kingdom of Judah and house of David are here compared to a lioness, and these princes to young lions, fierce and ravenous, but hunted down and taken in nets by the Egyptians and Chaldeans, Ezekiel 19:2-9 .
(2,) That kingdom and family are compared to a vine, and these princes to branches which had been strong and flourishing, but either were, or soon would be, broken off and burned, Ezekiel 19:10-14 .
Ezekiel 19:1-2. Take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel The expression alludes to the mournful songs sung at funerals. Such a lamentation the prophet is directed to apply to the mournful condition of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. And say, What is thy mother? What resemblance shall I use to express the nature, deportment, and state of the mother of these princes, namely, Judea, or the Jewish nation? The prophet proposes a question that may be applied to each prince distinctly. A lioness Here is an allusion, says Grotius, to Genesis 49:9, where Judah is represented under the emblem of a lion, and Judea was among the nations like a lioness among the beasts of the forest; she had strength and sovereignty. And the young lions which she produced are the princes, Josiah’s successors, whose life and disgraces the prophet here points out. She lay down among the lions She remained in grandeur and security in the neighbourhood of many powerful kings. She nourished her whelps among lions She multiplied and increased in power, notwithstanding the envy of all the neighbouring nations.
Ezekiel 19:3-4. And she brought up one of her whelps This seems to be spoken of Jehoahaz, who, we are told, followed not the good example of his father Josiah, but the evil practices of the wicked kings his predecessors; and though we have no further account of his acts, yet, from this, there is sufficient reason to suppose that he was rapacious and injurious to his neighbours, and tyrannical and cruel; which possibly was the reason why Pharaoh-necho deposed him after he had reigned only three months, and placed his brother on the throne in his room. The nations also heard of him The king of Egypt, hearing of his character, and probably some of his subjects having been used ill by him, deprived him of his kingly office, put him in bands, and carried him into Egypt, 2 Kings 23:32; 2 Kings 23:34. He was taken in their pit This expression alludes to those pit-falls and snares which are made to take wild beasts; and as Jehoahaz is spoken of here as a young lion, the expression was quite applicable to signify his being taken prisoner.
Ezekiel 19:5-9. When she saw that she had waited This seems to signify that the Jews waited some time before they thought of setting another king over them, hoping, probably, that the king of Egypt would restore unto them Jehoahaz, whom he had taken prisoner; but when they saw their hopes disappointed in this, and that there was no longer any room to expect it, then they, by the consent, and probably, direction of the king of Egypt, elected Jehoahaz’s brother, Eliakim, king in his stead, his name being changed to Jehoiakim. And he went up and down among the lions He imitated the kings his neighbours, and became rapacious and cruel like them. And learned to catch the prey, &c. He learned and practised all the methods of tyranny and oppression. And he knew their desolate palaces Dr. Waterland and Houbigant render it, He destroyed their palaces; and Bishop Newcome, He brought evil upon their palaces. The meaning seems to be, that Jehoiakim made himself master of the riches and pleasant seats of the great men of the land. And the land was desolate, &c., by the noise of his roaring His cruelty and oppression caused many of the inhabitants of Judea to remove out of it, and go and settle in other places, where they could live more secure. Then the nations set themselves against him, &c. He was attacked by the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites, and at last the king of Babylon took him prisoner, and carried him in fetters to Babylon: see 2 Chronicles 36:6. That his voice should no more be heard, &c. That he should be no more a terror to the land of Israel. For Jehoiakim being compared, in the foregoing verses, to a lion, whose voice, or roaring, strikes men with terror; by saying that his voice should no more be heard, is signified that he should be no longer a terror to any in the country.
Ezekiel 19:10-14. Thy mother is like a vine Here another similitude is made use of, and the Jewish nation is compared, as it frequently is in other places, to a vine. In thy blood So the Hebrew and Vulgate; but the LXX. read, ως ανθος εν ροα , as a flower on a pomegranate-tree; and Bishop Newcome, who supposes the LXX. to have read כרמן , and not בדמךְ , renders the clause, like a pomegranate, planted by the waters, &c. “The Jewish nation, whence the royal family had their original, was like a fruitful vine in a very flourishing condition.” And she had strong rods, &c. From her sprung valiant princes, fit to sway the sceptre. A rod or sceptre is an emblem of authority. Her stature was exalted among the thick branches Among the neighbouring kings and princes: see 2 Chronicles 32:23. The increase of the nation’s power is expressed by this. But she was plucked up in fury God, in his anger, removed her out of her own land. She was cast down to the ground She was reduced to a contemptible state. The east wind dried up her fruit The Chaldean forces ravaged and depopulated the country; her strong rods were broken Her kings and princes were subdued, and made captives. The fire consumed them The divine anger brought them to destruction, as fire consumes the branches of a tree when it is withered. And now she is planted in the wilderness A great part of her people are carried captive, where their condition is as much different from what it was formerly, as the condition of a tree is when it is removed out of a rich soil into a dry and barren ground. The Jews suffered several captivities before that final one which ended in the destruction of their temple and government. And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches This is spoken of Zedekiah’s breaking his oath of fidelity to the king of Babylon, which was the occasion of the destruction of the royal family, and the entire ruin of the government. This is a lamentation, &c. This is matter of present lamentation, and shall be so to after ages.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 19". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19