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Ezekiel 19:1 Moreover, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel- Chapters 17-22 form an ABABAB structure. Chapters 17,19 and 21 speak of Babylon, and chapters 18,20 and 22 of Judah's sins which warranted the Babylonian involvement.

Ezekiel 19:2 And say, What was your mother? A lioness: she couched among lions, in the midst of the young lions she nourished her cubs- The lions represent the leaders or princes; the lioness is the state of Judah or perhaps the Jerusalem leadership specifically (Lam. 1:1; Gal. 4:25), who "couched among [the other] lions" of the nations, one with them through making alliances with them. And she raised her cubs, the princes of Judah, amongst the lions of the surrounding nations, with their mentality. Babylon and Assyria are both likened to lions; although Jerusalem was "the lion of God" in Is. 29:1 (also Gen. 49:9; Num. 23:24; 24:9). But she was to 'couch among' the good pastures of Israel as a repentant sheep rather than as a lion once she had repented (Ez. 34:14,15; Zeph. 3:13). The mother however may refer to Hamutal, the literal mother of the princes mentioned, and whose unGodly ambitions for her sons led them to tragic ends.

Ezekiel 19:3 She brought up one of her cubs: he became a young lion, and he learned to catch the prey; he devoured men- The reference is to Jehoahaz, son of Josiah [called Shallum in Jer. 22:11], taken captive from Riblah to Egypt (:4) by Pharaoh-necho (2 Kings 23:33). His devouring others must refer to an aggressive kind of behaviour simply called doing evil in the Lord's eyes (2 Kings 23:32),just like his father. He was raised in this way and continued; and Ezekiel was appealing to the young people of the royal family and Jerusalem leadership to not go in the way of their fathers.

Ezekiel 19:4 The nations also heard of him; he was caught in their pit; and they brought him with hooks to the land of Egypt- The aggression of Jehoiachin was to such an extent that he was seen as a threat and somehow entrapped by the Egyptians.

Ezekiel 19:5 Now when she saw that she had waited and her hope was lost, then she took another of her cubs and made him a young lion- This could refer to Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:15), although it could also be Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:6,7); both were taken to Babylon (:9). The stress on the same mother (:2,3,5) would then highlight how the mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah had raised them in such a way that led both of them to make dishonest alliances as part of a crazy bid for power, which ended both of them in captivity.

Ezekiel 19:6 He went up and down among the lions; he became a young lion and he learned to catch the prey; he devoured men- He didn't learn from the mistakes and judgment of Jehoahaz. Sometimes parallel people are brought into our lives from whom we are intended to learn, and avoid the path they took.

Ezekiel 19:7 He knew their palaces- This is s.w. "widows", hence RVmg. and Keil "he knew, i.e. outraged, the widows of Israel". He knew (i.e. eyed with satisfaction) his palaces" from which he had ejected their former owners (Jer. 22:15). If we stay with "palaces", then the idea would be that he visited the palaces of the local rulers of the nations. But he hardly "laid waste their cities". Perhaps his plan to do so was counted as having been as good as done, which is why the nations saw him as a threat.

And laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and its fullness, because of the noise of his roaring- The idea may be that the land was made desolate because of his singular failures, just as was to happen with Zedekiah (see on :14). But the idea may be that he wasted the land for his own benefit, and therefore the land was to be desolated by the invaders.

Ezekiel 19:8 Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces; and they spread their net over him; he was caught in their pit- He was seen as a dangerous lion, a potential threat, and caught. The nations are called "the provinces" to stress that Babylon was the empire to which they all belonged. They used their own limited autonomy in order to depose the aggressive princes of Judah.

Ezekiel 19:9 They put him in a cage with hooks and brought him to the king of Babylon; they brought him into strongholds, that his voice should no more be heard on the mountains of Israel- And Ezekiel in captivity in Babylon was prophesying to him and his family.

Ezekiel 19:10 Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard planted by the waters. It was fruitful and full of branches because of the many waters- This is the language already used in Ez. 17. It uses the prophetic perfect tense, talking of that which was yet to happen as if it has happened. They had wasted all the potential to become a fruitful vine by seeking to establish the kingdom in their own strength. The chapter at least from :here onwards is a funeral dirge (:17). It could have been for Hamutal the mother of Zedekiah who died in Babylon (Jer. 29:2), or perhaps for Zedekiah himself. Part of the reason her sons made the alliances they did was due to her ambitions, which were clearly not based upon faith in God.

Ezekiel 19:11 It had strong rods for the sceptres of those who bore rule, and their height was exalted among the thick boughs, and they were seen in their height with the multitude of their branches- We perhaps have an intensive plural here, referring to Zedekiah; or perhaps all 22 of the kings of Judah from David to Zedekiah are in view. And yet if the reference is to Zedekiah, we note that he appears to have been weak and under the control of Babylon, and finally his sons were slain before his eyes. The strength therefore refers to the potential strength and possibility there was to become the rulers of God's revived Kingdom- if they had totally repented.

Ezekiel 19:12 But it was plucked up in fury, it was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up its fruit. Its strong rods were broken off and withered; the fire consumed them- The vine was not completely destroyed; only its branches were. It was plucked up by the Babylonians, but replanted in Babylon. The imagery reflects God's grace in not totally destroying the vine. The east wind refers to the Babylonian invasion from the north east, and how the royal family withered to nothing in Babylon.

Ezekiel 19:13 Now it is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land- The "dry ground" is Babylon, and the new "planting" indicates the deportation of Jehoiachin and the chief men of Judah. It was out of this dry ground that a Messianic figure could have arisen, as predicted in Is. 53. But Zerubbabel and others failed in this, and so the predictions were reapplied to the Lord Jesus.

Ezekiel 19:14 Fire is gone out of the rods of its branches, it has devoured its fruit, so that there is in it no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule- This is the same figure as in Jud. 9:15; Zedekiah's refusal to repent at Jeremiah's preaching brought forth the fire of destruction upon the entire vine. Just one man's repentance could have averted so much damage.

Ez. 17:22,23 had spoken of how at the restoration, Babylon would fall and a “tender one” arise, who would grow into a tree under whose branches all the birds would find shelter. This is the very language of the Kingdom of Jesus in Mt. 13:32. The Kingdom of Babylon- also likened in Daniel to a tree with birds beneath it- could have been replaced with God’s Kingdom when it fell soon after the restoration of Judah. But no Messiah figure arose (see on Ez. 37:25- Zerubbabel could have fulfilled it), and so the prophecy had a changed fulfilment- the tree that was abased and then lifted up could have been Israel, but it was re-applied to the Lord Jesus, the ultimate “servant” of Yahweh. Ezekiel 19:13,14 help us perceive this more clearly- Judah in Babylon were as it were “planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground”. She had “no [Messianic] strong rod to be a sceptre to rule”, and this was “for a lamentation”. But the prophecy was fulfilled in another way- for the Lord Jesus was the root out of a dry ground who sprang up and did fulfil God’s intention (Is. 53:1).

This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation- The chapter at least from :10 onwards is therefore a funeral dirge. It could have been for the literal mother of Zedekiah who died in Babylon (Jer. 29:2), or perhaps for Zedekiah himself. Part of the reason her sons made the alliances they did was due to her ambitions, which were clearly not based upon faith in God.