This chapter is somewhat difficult to understand since Ezekiel takes
actual events of his own time and uses them as a framework to hint at the
future but the message is somewhat obscure. Do not expect a coherent explanation
(at this stage) of the chapter but rather a few ideas explaining some of
the verses.As background, two eagles are spoken of. One eagle represents
Nebuchadnessar of Babylon and the other represents Pharoah of Egypt. Nebuchadnessar
deposed Yehoyacin and exiled him to Babylon along with the cream of Judean
society. Nebuchadnessar made Matanyah, the uncle of Yehoyacin, king in place
of Yehoyacin and renamed him Zedekiah. After a few years Zedekiah made a
pact with Pharaoh and rebelled against Nebuchadnessar who came down, destroyed
the temple and Jerusalem, and took Zedekiah and all the people back to Babylon
[Ezekiel 17:1] AND THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME, SAYING,
[Ezekiel 17:2] SON OF MAN, PUT FORTH A RIDDLE, AND SPEAK A PARABLE UNTO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL;
[Ezekiel 17:3] AND SAY, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; A GREAT EAGLE WITH GREAT
WINGS, LONGWINGED, FULL OF FEATHERS, WHICH HAD DIVERS COLOURS, CAME UNTO
LEBANON, AND TOOK THE HIGHEST BRANCH OF THE CEDAR:
The first eagle is Nebuchadnessar. Lebanon is the country of Lebanon
though it can sometimes also represent Jerusalem or the Temple. Lebanon can
also mean "Albion" which is another name for Britain.
[Ezekiel 17:4] HE CROPPED OFF THE TOP OF HIS YOUNG TWIGS, AND CARRIED IT INTO A LAND OF TRAFFICK; HE SET IT IN A CITY OF
<<A LAND OF TRAFFICK>>: in Hebrew "Eretz Canaan" which
usually means "The Land of Israel". "Canaan" can also mean "merchant".Compare
also the use of the term "Canaan" in Hosea:
<HE IS A MERCHANT [Hebrew: "Canaan"], THE BALANCES OF DECEIT ARE IN HIS HAND: HE LOVETH TO OPPRESS.
<AND EPHRAIM SAID, YET I AM BECOME RICH, I HAVE FOUND ME OUT SUBSTANCE:
IN ALL MY LABOURS THEY SHALL FIND NONE INIQUITY IN ME THAT WERE SIN> [Hosea
[Ezekiel 17:5] HE TOOK ALSO OF THE SEED OF THE
LAND, AND PLANTED IT IN A FRUITFUL FIELD; HE PLACED IT BY GREAT WATERS, AND
SET IT AS A WILLOW TREE.
Mixed metaphors: first the highest branch of the cedar (17:3) which
then becomes a willow tree (17:5) and then a vine (17:6). In the same way
as the metaphors swiftly change from one image to another so too, does the
subject matter that is being represented.
[Ezekiel 17:6] AND IT GREW, AND BECAME A SPREADING
VINE OF LOW STATURE, WHOSE BRANCHES TURNED TOWARD HIM, AND THE ROOTS THEREOF
WERE UNDER HIM: SO IT BECAME A VINE, AND BROUGHT FORTH BRANCHES, AND SHOT
[Ezekiel 17:7] THERE WAS ALSO ANOTHER GREAT EAGLE WITH GREAT WINGS AND MANY
FEATHERS: AND, BEHOLD, THIS VINE DID BEND HER ROOTS TOWARD HIM, AND SHOT
FORTH HER BRANCHES TOWARD HIM, THAT HE MIGHT WATER IT BY THE FURROWS OF HER
The second eagle is supposed to represent the King of Egypt who incited the King of Judah to rebel against Nebuchadnessar.
[Ezekiel 17:8] IT WAS PLANTED IN A GOOD SOIL BY GREAT
WATERS, THAT IT MIGHT BRING FORTH BRANCHES, AND THAT IT MIGHT BEAR FRUIT,
THAT IT MIGHT BE A GOODLY VINE.
[Ezekiel 17:9] SAY THOU THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; SHALL IT PROSPER? SHALL
HE NOT PULL UP THE ROOTS THEREOF, AND CUT OFF THE FRUIT THEREOF, THAT IT
WITHER? IT SHALL WITHER IN THE ENTIRE LEAVES O HER SPRING, EVEN WITHOUT GREAT
POWER OR MANY PEOPLE TO PLUCK IT UP BY THE ROOTS THEREOF.
[Ezekiel 17:10] YEA, BEHOLD, BEING PLANTED, SHALL
IT PROSPER? SHALL IT NOT UTTERLY WITHER, WHEN THE EAST WIND TOUCHETH IT?
IT SHALL WITHER IN THE FURROWS WHERE IT GREW.
[Ezekiel 17:11] MOREOVER THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ME, SAYING,
[Ezekiel 17:12] SAY NOW TO THE REBELLIOUS HOUSE, KNOW
YE NOT WHAT THESE THINGS MEAN? TELL THEM, BEHOLD, THE KING OF BABYLON IS
COME TO JERUSALEM, AND HATH TAKEN THE KING THEREOF, AND THE PRINCES THEREOF,
AND LED THEM WITH HIM TO BABYLON;
[Ezekiel 17:13] AND HATH TAKEN OF THE KING'S SEED, AND MADE A COVENANT WITH
HIM, AND HATH TAKEN AN OATH OF HIM: HE HATH ALSO TAKEN THE MIGHTY OF THE
[Ezekiel 17:14] THAT THE KINGDOM MIGHT BE BASE,
THAT IT MIGHT NOT LIFT ITSELF UP, BUT THAT BY KEEPING OF HIS COVENANT IT
[Ezekiel 17:15] BUT HE REBELLED AGAINST HIM IN SENDING HIS AMBASSADORS INTO
EGYPT, THAT THEY MIGHT GIVE HIM HORSES AND MUCH PEOPLE. SHALL HE PROSPER?
SHALL HE ESCAPE THAT DOETH SUCH THINGS? OR SHALL HE BREAK THE COVENANT, AND
Nebuchadnessar had bound Zedekiah by oath and set him up as king. Zedekiah
was supposed to maintain a low profile, govern Judah, and remain faithful
to Babylon. Zedekiah broke his oath and brought disaster on himself and on
[Ezekiel 17:16] AS I LIVE, SAITH THE LORD GOD, SURELY
IN THE PLACE WHERE THE KING DWELLETH THAT MADE HIM KING, WHOSE OATH HE DESPISED,
AND WHOSE COVENANT HE BRAKE, EVEN WITH HIM IN THE MIDST OF BABYLON HE SHALL
[Ezekiel 17:17] NEITHER SHALL PHARAOH WITH HIS MIGHTY ARMY AND GREAT COMPANY
MAKE FOR HIM IN THE WAR, BY CASTING UP MOUNTS, AND BUILDING FORTS, TO CUT
OFF MANY PERSONS:
[Ezekiel 17:18] SEEING HE DESPISED THE OATH BY BREAKING THE COVENANT, WHEN,
LO, HE HAD GIVEN HIS HAND, AND HATH DONE ALL THESE THINGS, HE SHALL NOT ESCAPE.
[Ezekiel 17:19] THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD;
AS I LIVE, SURELY MINE OATH THAT HE HATH DESPISED, AND MY COVENANT THAT HE
HATH BROKEN, EVEN IT WILL I RECOMPENSE UPON HIS OWN HEAD.
[Ezekiel 17:20] AND I WILL SPREAD MY NET UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL BE TAKEN
IN MY SNARE, AND I WILL BRING HIM TO BABYLON, AND WILL PLEAD WITH HIM THERE
FOR HIS TRESPASS THAT HE HATH TRESPASSED AGAINST ME.
[Ezekiel 17:21] AND ALL HIS FUGITIVES WITH ALL HIS BANDS SHALL FALL BY THE
SWORD, AND THEY THAT REMAIN SHALL BE SCATTERED TOWARD ALL WINDS: AND YE SHALL
KNOW THAT I THE LORD HAVE SPOKEN IT.
That was the end of Zedekiah's monarchical days.
[Ezekiel 17:22] THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD; I WILL
ALSO TAKE OF THE HIGHEST BRANCH OF THE HIGH CEDAR, AND WILL SET IT; I WILL
CROP OFF FROM THE TOP OF HIS YOUNG TWIGS A TENDER ONE, AND WILL PLANT IT
UPON AN HIGH MOUNTAIN AND EMINENT:
Ezekiel is now extending his tale and expanding it into a parable of Messianic significance.
[Ezekiel 17:23] IN THE MOUNTAIN OF THE HEIGHT OF ISRAEL
WILL I PLANT IT: AND IT SHALL BRING FORTH BOUGHS, AND BEAR FRUIT, AND BE
A GOODLY CEDAR: AND UNDER IT SHALL DWELL ALL FOWL OF EVERY WING; IN THE SHADOW
OF THE BRANCHES THEREOF SHALL THEY DWELL.
I would understand this to hint that the future Messiah Son of David is to appear at some time in the Land of Israel.
[Ezekiel 17:24] AND ALL THE TREES OF THE FIELD SHALL
KNOW THAT I THE LORD HAVE BROUGHT DOWN THE HIGH TREE, HAVE EXALTED THE LOW
TREE, HAVE DRIED UP THE GREEN TREE, AND HAVE MADE THE DRY TREE TO FLOURISH:
I THE LORD HAVE
SPOKEN AND HAVE DONE IT.
King Yehoyacin (Jehoiacin) had been deposed and taken to Babylon and
his uncle Matanyah (renamed Zedekiah) had been made king in his place. Before
going into exile Jehoiacin had no children but later he did have. He was
the dry tree who was made to flourish. Through him would the House of David be greatly increased.