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Zedekiah’s treachery (17:1-21)
Another detailed illustration showed the exiles the significance of political developments in Jerusalem. Much had happened since they were taken from the city in 597 BC.
In Ezekiel’s illustration a giant eagle broke off the top branches of a young cedar tree and carried them into a land of trade (17:1-4). (In 597 BC Babylon captured Jehoiachin, the Judean king, along with all the best of the people of Jerusalem, and carried them into Babylon; see 2 Kings 24:10-16.) Back in the land of the cedar tree, the eagle planted a native seed that grew into a vine, but it was low-spreading and was obedient to the eagle (5-6). (Back in Jerusalem, Babylon appointed another member of the Judean royal family, Zedekiah, king instead of Jehoiachin. Zedekiah was allowed only a limited independence, and had to remain submissive to Babylon; see 2 Kings 24:17.)
Then another giant eagle, equally as impressive as the first, appeared on the scene, whereupon the vine transferred its allegiance from its former master to this new eagle (7-8). (Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon by entering into an anti-Babylon military treaty with Egypt; see 2 Kings 24:20b; Jeremiah 37:2-10.) The first eagle will therefore pull up the vine and cut off its branches, leaving it to wither and die (9-10). (Babylon will destroy Jerusalem and take Zedekiah into humiliating exile in Babylon, where he will die; see 2 Kings 25:1-12; Jeremiah 37:8-10.)
Ezekiel’s interpretation of the illustration gives special emphasis to Zedekiah’s treachery in breaking his treaty with Babylon. Zedekiah had sworn an oath of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar in the name of Yahweh (11-14), but he broke that oath in seeking Egypt’s aid. In punishment he was taken captive to Babylon (15-18). Because he swore the oath in God’s name, God dealt with Zedekiah’s treachery as if it were against himself (19-21).
God’s promise (17:22-24)
Returning to the former illustration, Ezekiel shows that God, not an eagle, will now take a branch from the top of the cedar tree. He will plant it on the top of a mountain, where it will grow into a huge and magnificent tree, bringing benefits to birds and animals of all kinds (22-23). (From the Davidic line of kings God will take one, the Messiah, and through him establish a kingdom that will bring blessing to the whole world.) High trees will be made low and green trees will dry up, but God’s tree will flourish (24). (Nations such as Babylon and Egypt will perish, but God’s kingdom will be exalted.)
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 17". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent