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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 19: A lament over Israel's princes


[Preliminary Comment: This is the first lament in Ezekiel [next is 27:2 over Tyre], a song or poem of sorrow or grief over what has taken place. Although no kings are actually named, as the notes will show below, they must be the last three kings of Judah.]



v.1-4 The first of the last kings in Jeremiah's day taken to Egypt


v.1  ‘Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel

v.2  and say:

‘“What a lioness was your mother
    among the lions!
She lay down among them
    and reared her cubs.
v.3  She brought up one of her cubs,
    and he became a strong lion.
He learned to tear the prey
    and he became a man-eater.
v.4  The nations heard about him,
    and he was trapped in their pit.
They led him with hooks
     to the land of Egypt.


[Notes: The ‘lioness' was probably Israel. In Jeremiah's time, the king taken to Egypt was Jehoahaz [see 2 Chron 36:2-4] after only lasting three months before being taken there. Subsequent kings were taken to Babylon.]



v.5-9 Jehoiakim, the next king but taken to Babylon


v.5  ‘“When she saw her hope unfulfilled,
    her expectation gone,
she took another of her cubs
    and made him a strong lion.
v.6  He prowled among the lions,
    for he was now a strong lion.
He learned to tear the prey
    and he became a man-eater.
v.7  He broke down their strongholds
    and devastated their towns.
The land and all who were in it
    were terrified by his roaring.
v.8  Then the nations came against him,
    those from regions round about.
They spread their net for him,
    and he was trapped in their pit.
v.9  With hooks they pulled him into a cage
    and brought him to the king of Babylon.
They put him in prison,
    so his roar was heard no longer
    on the mountains of Israel.


[Notes: Jehoahaz was followed by Jehoiakim and Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon after a reign of eleven years – see 2 Chron 36:5-7. The extent of his activity in that eleven years probably fits the lines of the poem and when he is replaced by Jehoiachin, he would have had little time for things to be written about him in his three months' reign, and he is probably omitted from the poem.]



v.10-14 Zedekiah is the last of the kings


v.10  ‘“Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard
    planted by the water;
it was fruitful and full of branches
    because of abundant water.
v.11  Its branches were strong,
    fit for a ruler's sceptre.
It towered high
    above the thick foliage,
conspicuous for its height
    and for its many branches.
v.12  But it was uprooted in fury
    and thrown to the ground.
The east wind made it shrivel,
    it was stripped of its fruit;
its strong branches withered
    and fire consumed them.
v.13  Now it is planted in the desert,
    in a dry and thirsty land.
v.14  Fire spread from one of its main branches
    and consumed its fruit.
No strong branch is left on it
    fit for a ruler's sceptre.”

‘This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.'


[Notes: When Jehoiakim was replaced by Jehoiachin, after his three months he was replaced by Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar, although he subsequently rebelled and was likewise taken to Babylon – see 2 Chron 36:10-13 & 2 Kings 25:7]



Continue to Chapter 20