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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 31

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

Eze 31:1. The present message is dated in the same year that the one against Tyrus has, and it means the eleventh year after Ezekiel was taken to Babylon.

Verse 2

Eze 31:2. Speak unto Pharaoh. I do not take this to mean that the prophet was to make a personal contact with the Egyptian king. Ezekiel was in Babylon when he wrote this which is several hundred miles from Egypt and personal communications would be difficult if not impossible except, by some miraculous performance. Furthermore, a like expression is found regarding the Ammonites and Tyrus, and we would not suppose that separate documents were sent to those places. The phrase could better be understood in lhe sense of “speak (or write) concerning Pharaoh." The whole book of Ezekiel was to become a unit in the Bible and the instruction of prophecy and its fulfillment was to be for the benefit of the world. Whom art thou like is in question form, but the thought is that the Lord announces He is going to make a comparison.

Verse 3

Eze 31:3. Care should be taken not to lose our "bearing" through the most of this chapter. It will be stating some things that actually happened to the Assyrians, but the purpose is to liken the case to Pharaoh, The Assyrians were a proud and cruel people and boasted of their strength, yet they were brought down in spite of their greatness. The parable as a whole is concerning Assyria and Egypt, hence, while the verses are directly applied to the former, some of the illustrations will be drawn from the conditions in the land of Egypt, since that country is really the one the Lord is denouncing at present. The illustration of a cedar is used because of the nature of that tree. Strong defines the original, "A cedar tree (from the tenacity of its roots).’’ We shall see the appropriateness of the illustration as we proceed in our study of the chapter. The top in a kingdom is the king and the thick boughs refers to the citizens of the nation, especially the princes and other leading men. This describes the position that the king of Assyria had in the day of his power (and of course is true of Pharaoh at the time the prophet is writing this).

Verse 4

Eze 31:4. The king of Assyria had a strong background in the day of his greatness, growing with the roots in the waters. (See Psalms 1.) The reference to waters is made because Egypt (which is the aclual subject of this parable) depended upon the Nile with its canals and smaller channels.

Verse 5

Eze 31:5. The exaltation of Assyria is still being used to illustrate the pride of Pharaoh, And since he is the one who is actually the object of God’s fury, the terms are those connected with a body of water such as the Egyptians possessed.

Verse 6

Eze 31:6. As a large tree would support and shelter many fowls, so the Assyrian Empire included in its folds many people of the world. This fact caused the king of Assyria to be filled with pride, just as Pharaoh was puffed up over his gains by the support from the Nile in its resources for irrigation.

Verse 7

Eze 31:7. A tree that lacks moisture will not be fair (beautiful.), while one that can dally drink from "earth’s sweet flowing breast” will leaf out and put on growth of foliage and shoots for new life.

Verse 8

Eze 31:8. The king of Assyria is still being compared to a tree that excels all others. Carrying out this imagery it ts said that the trees in the garden of God (garden of Eden) could not hide (“over-shadow"-Strong) him. This comparison is very appropriate, for the trees in that first garden are spoken of as very desirable (Genesis 2; Genesis 9). Other trees are mentioned also as being inferior to this one of Assyria.

Verse 9

Eze 31:9. I have made him fair. It was the will of God that the king of Assyria (likewise the king of Egypt) should have great power (See Dan 2:37; Dan 4:17; Dan 5:18; Rom 13:1) provided he would use it right. Trees . . . envied him will be understood to be figurattve and is another way of stating the superiority of Assyria (and Egypt for whose sake the comparison is being made) over other kingdoms.

Verse 10

Eze 31:10. True greatness is not to he condemned, but it is wrong for a man to exalt himself, or to become proud over any greatness that he really possesses. The king of Assyria did this and provoked the Lord to wrath.

Verse 11

Eze 31:11. The king of Assyria (who was Saracus at this time) was a “heathen” as well as were others, but the original means "nations” also, and the prediction means he was delivered into the hands of other heathen. The mighty one was Nabopalassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar. At this place I believe it will be well to make a quotation from history. This will give information from a secular source that will help the reader. There will be items that are related to the present verse and also some others to follow, therefore I urge the reader to give close attention and thus be prepared to refer to it. as occasion may suggest. "Saracus, who came to the throne towards the end of the seventh century B. C,, was the last of the long line of Assyrian kings. For nearly or quite six centuries the Ninevite [capital of Assyria] kings had now lorded it over the East. There was scarcely a state in all Western Asia that during this time had not, in the language of the royal inscriptions, ‘borne the heavy yoke of their lordship’; scarcely a people that had not suffered their cruel punishments, or tasted the bitterness of enforced exile. But now swift misfortunes were bearing down upon the oppressor from every quarter. Egypt revolted and tore Syria away from the empire; from the mountain defiles on the east issued the armies of the recent-grown empire of the Aryan Medes, led by the renowned Cyaxares; From the southern lowlands, anxious to aid in the overthrow of the hated oppressor, the Babylonians joined the Medes as allies, and together they laid close siege to Nineveh. The city was finally taken and sacked [plundered], and dominion passed away forever from the proud capital (606 B. C.)"-Myers Ancient History, page 66, “Nabopolassar (625-605 B. C.) was the founder of what is known as the Chaldean Empire. At first a vassal king [subject or dependent king], when troubles and misfortunes began to thicken about the Assyrian court, he revolted and became independent.” -Myers Ancient History, page 72.

Verse 12

Eze 31:12. This verse will be the better understood after a glance at the historical quotation just made in the preceding paragraph. Strangers in the Bible means people from the outside or of another nation. This was fulfilled by the various foreigners who invaded Assyria and undermined her.

Verse 13

Eze 31:13. Fowls and beasts are figurative terms and refer to the nations who attacked the land of Assyria. Remain is an allusion to the continual ruin that was the lot of Assyria after being invaded by the hostile peoples.

Verse 14

Eze 31:14. To the end means the purpose of this revolution was to humble the king and country of Assyria from their position of pride. Trees and K-aters, etc., are figures used because, while Assyria is the one immediately in the mind of the Lord, it is for a comparison to Egypt which did boast of her River Nile with its canals and ditches.

Verse 15

Eze 31:15. The imagery of trees and water is being maintained throughout this passage because the chief subject is against Pharaoh and his country. And it is true literally that they boasted of their power as a nation, and that power was due to this great stream frequently mentioned. The grave means the national ruin of the country, and the mourning is the general state of regret that such a powerful empire would be brought so low after having been a great governing force so many years.

Verse 16

Eze 31:16. His fall refers to the downfall of Assyria which caused the reactions that are described in figurative terms. The nations all wondered at such a remarkable revolution, and all of them had a feeling of relief because they had stood in awe of such a powerful and heartless empire. Hell is from SHEOL and pit is from Down, Both are used figuratively in this place and mean that Assyrian greatness was to be buried and forgotten.

Verse 17

Eze 31:17. They refers to the allies of Assyria as is Indicated by the words dwelt under his shadow. The Bible teaches that if one person associates with another who is evil, or if he sympathizes with and approves of his conduct, he Is held responsible and must share in his fate. (See Rom 1:32; 1Co 15:33.)

Verse 18

Eze 31:18. The key to the entire com-parison of this chapter is in the words this is Pharaoh. All of the things said of the king of Assyria were actually true and were known to be so, although they had taken place several years previously. The Lord used that great upheaval in history to compare with the fate which He was soon to bring upon Egypt. The first phrase of the verse is in the form of a question but it is really an assertion as if it were worded “to whom thou art like.” If the reader will connect this statement with the one underlined above, he will have the thought the prophet has been getting ready for in the wonderful parable or comparison. God had predicted most of the things that happened to Assyria and they came true, which ought to be a warning that His predictions against Pharaoh will likewise be fulfilled.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 31". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/ezekiel-31.html. 1952.
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