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This chapter is a lamentation (Ezekiel 19:1) that Ezekiel is to take up. In doing so, he expresses God’s sorrow for Jerusalem. The lamentation has two parts. In the first part (Ezekiel 19:2-1 Samuel :) the mother of the princes of Judah is compared to a lioness. It is about the fate of the last kings of Judah. In the second part (Ezekiel 19:10-2 Chronicles :), the princes of Israel are represented in the familiar picture of a vine. In it we hear the lamentation over the fall of those princes.
The lamentation is to be taken up “for the princes of Israel” by which is meant the kings Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (Ezekiel 19:1). They are indeed kings of Judah, but since Judah alone is left – and people from Israel also went to Judah over time – their kingship applies to all Israel.
The “mother”, the “lioness” (Ezekiel 19:2), represents the royal tribe of Judah. The Lord Jesus is “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). In a direct sense, it is about Hamutal, the mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23:31; 2 Kings 24:18; Jeremiah 13:18). “The lions” between which the “mother” lies are the nations surrounding Israel. “The young lions” are the princes of those nations. “Her cubs” are her sons Jehoahaz and Zedekiah. “One of her cubs” (Ezekiel 19:3) whom she reared and who becomes a young lion is Jehoahaz. His short reign is wicked (2 Kings 23:30-Jonah :). He is a bloodthirsty king, one who is guilty of violence. He exploits the people, he eats them.
The surrounding nations hear about him (Ezekiel 19:4). Following the imagery of how one catches lions – in pits camouflaged with branches – Pharaoh Neco captures Jehoahaz. Neco brings Jehoahaz as an exile to Egypt, where he dies (2 Kings 23:33-Nahum :; Jeremiah 22:10-2 Kings :).
“She”, the mother, Hamutal, takes Zedekiah, “another of her cubs”, and makes him king (Ezekiel 19:5). She does this after the capture and taking away of Jehoahaz. Zedekiah may have been made king by Nebuchadnezzar, but it may have been done through the intercession of Hamutal. She puts all her hope in him. It is a great evil when we put our hope in something or someone other than the Lord. This chapter is the chapter of false hope.
This Zedekiah goes around proudly among the surrounding peoples (Ezekiel 19:6). He, the young lion, let not himself to be impressed by the other young lions. The same testimony sounds of him as of Jehoahaz (Ezekiel 19:3).
Zedekiah is also a morally reprehensible man who has sexual intercourse with widows (Ezekiel 19:7). His life bears the character of violence and destruction. His reign of terror, which is compared to the roar of a lion, paralyzes the land. Led by the king of Babylon, the surrounding nations come to him and take him captive (Ezekiel 19:8). Like Jehoahaz, he is imprisoned (Ezekiel 19:9). Jehoahaz goes into exile in Egypt and Zedekiah goes into exile in Babylon. Thus his voice, the roar of the lion Zedekiah, comes to an end.
The Withered Vine
In the second parable, Israel, “your mother”, is compared to a vine (Ezekiel 19:10; Jeremiah 2:21). It is a lush vine. The “strong branches” recall mighty rulers who have reigned on the throne of David (Ezekiel 19:11). Zedekiah is the branch that rises up among the many branches. He is lifted up to king over the princes of the house of David who surround him and shines in the midst of them. He seems to have a future because of the sons born to him, “the mass of his branches”.
However, the fury of the LORD ignites against him because of his wickedness (Ezekiel 19:12). Therefore, he is taken away from kingship with wrath. This is done by “the east wind”, which is the Babylonians, who are the instrument of the fury of God. That “east wind” causes all the fruit of the vine to dry up, that is, all the prosperity of the land to disappear.
The remnant of Israel is “planted in the wilderness”, that is, it is taken away to Babylon, “a dry and thirsty land” (Ezekiel 19:13). Babylon is a fertile land at that time, but for the Israelite it is figuratively a land without fruit.
The fire that goes out from the branch (Ezekiel 19:14) is an allusion to Zedekiah’s rebellion. That fire, however, consumes himself and those under his influence, “its shoots [and] fruit”. The result is that it is over and done with the reign of the house of David: there is “not … a strong branch” left in it.
Ezekiel sings this lamentation when judgment has not yet come upon Zedekiah. However, he sees in faith this end of the kingship and has deeply lamented over it. The course of events confirms his prophetic outlook and makes this lamentation in faith – “this is a lamentation” – become a lamentation about reality – “and has become a lamentation”.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent