EZEKIEL CHAPTER 19.
Lament over the Rulers of Israel.
OVER THE KINGS. — V. 1. Moreover, take thou up a lamentation, an elegy, for the princes of Israel, evidently the kings then living, namely, Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin, V. 2. and say, What is thy mother? the address here referring to the house of David in general, specifically to Jerusalem, as capital of the nation. A lioness, royal, powerful, with the nature of a lion; she lay down among lions, as the equal of all the mighty nations round about; she nourished her whelps among young lions, instilling into them all the cruelty of a beast of prey. V. 3. And she brought up one of her whelps, namely, Jehoahaz, son of Josiah; it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men, having developed in kingly power until he abused it to the detriment of his people. V. 4. The nations also heard of him, their attention being called to him by his increasing daring and by his depredations; he was taken in their pit, in this case in that of Egypt, and they brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt, for Pharaoh deposed him and led him into captivity in Egypt, where he died. Cp. 2 Kings 23, 33. 34. V. 5. Now, when she saw that she had waited and her hope was lost, that is, “while she waited, her hope had perished,” so far as this one whelp was concerned, then she took another of her whelps and made him a young lion, in this instance Jehoiachin, for Jehoiakim hardly comes into consideration. V. 6. And he went up and down among the lions, trying to imitate the recklessness and the tyranny of the surrounding kings; he became a young lion and learned to catch the prey and devoured men, thus following in the footsteps of other rulers of Judah who chose their own way. V. 7. And he knew their desolate palaces, or, “he defiled their widows,” taking advantage of their helplessness, and he laid waste their cities, so that his tyrannical behavior ruined his own country; and the land was desolate and the fullness thereof, that is, all it contained, by the noise of his roaring, as he pursued his cruel course. V. 8. Then the nations set against him on every side, chiefly the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moab, and Ammon, 2 Kings 24, 2, from the provinces, marching tip against Judah with their armies, and spread their net over him, like a hunter capturing an animal; he was taken in their pit. V. 9. And they put him in ward in chains, 2 Chron. 36, 10, and brought him to the king of Babylon; they brought him into holds, into one of the fortresses or strongholds of the country, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel, so that he could not continue his insolent and cruel tactics. The Lord has ways by which He curbs the pride of man’s heart, if necessary, by measures of the most strenuous kind.
CONCERNING THE MOTHER OF KINGS. — V. 10. Thy mother, that of the royal family and of Israel and Jerusalem in general, is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters, or “planted in peaceful security”; for this was originally Israel’s condition. She was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters, in a position where the richest and strongest growth was possible, for Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey, and Israel had the Lord’s promise of blessings. V. 11. And she had strong rods, powerful branches, for the scepters of them that bare rule, assuring all members of the royal race a safe position as long as they adhered to the Word of the Lord; and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, or “to the heavy clouds above,” and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches, occupying a mighty position among the nations. V. 12. But she was plucked up in fury, the prophecy representing the punishment as having been accomplished, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit, the figure, of course, referring to the overthrow of Judah by the power of Babylon; her strong rods were broken and withered, namely, when her best citizens were carried into captivity; the fire consumed them, in the Lord’s judgment of condemnation. V. 13. And now, when the exile has begun, she is planted in the wilderness, in a condition in which Israel would not be able to prosper, in a dry and thirsty ground, far from the blessings of the mother country. V. 14. And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, literally, “of its boughs,” the destruction proceeding from within, which hath devoured her fruit, ruining all the blessings which had been vouchsafed to Israel and Judah by the Lord, so that she hath no strong rod to be a scepter to rule, no more kings of the house of David were now to rule the nation. This is a lamentation, the elegy presenting the conditions as they now produced sorrow in the heart of the prophet, and shall be for a lamentation, namely, by the further fulfillment of the Lord’s threats. It is a matter of true wisdom to heed the Lord’s warnings in time, lest the proper appreciation of His seriousness come too late.