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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Ezekiel 19

Ezekiel 19:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Lament for the Princes of IsraelIsrael DegradedTwo LamentsA Song of SorrowA Lament for the Queen-Mother and the Princes of Israel
Ezekiel 19:1-14Ezekiel 19:1-9Ezekiel 19:1-14Ezekiel 19:1-14Ezekiel 19:1-14
(vv. Ezekiel 19:2-4)(vv. Ezekiel 19:2-9)(vv. Ezekiel 19:2-9)
(vv. Ezekiel 19:5-9)
Ezekiel 19:10-14(vv. Ezekiel 19:10-14)(vv. Ezekiel 19:10-14)

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 19:1-14 1”As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel 2and say, 'What was your mother? A lioness among lions! She lay down among young lions, She reared her cubs. 3'When she brought up one of her cubs, He became a lion, And he learned to tear his prey; He devoured men. 4Then nations heard about him; He was captured in their pit, And they brought him with hooks To the land of Egypt. 5When she saw, as she waited, That her hope was lost, She took another of her cubs And made him a young lion. 6And he walked about among the lions; He became a young lion, He learned to tear his prey; He devoured men. 7He destroyed their fortified towers And laid waste their cities; And the land and its fullness were appalled Because of the sound of his roaring. 8Then nations set against him On every side from their provinces, And they spread their net over him; He was captured in their pit. 9They put him in a cage with hooks And brought him to the king of Babylon; They brought him in hunting nets So that his voice would be heard no more On the mountains of Israel. 10Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, Planted by the waters; It was fruitful and full of branches Because of abundant waters. 11And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers, And its height was raised above the clouds So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches. 12But it was plucked up in fury; It was cast down to the ground; And the east wind dried up its fruit. Its strong branch was torn off So that it withered; The fire consumed it. 13And now it is planted in the wilderness, In a dry and thirsty land. 14And fire has gone out from its branch; It has consumed its shoots and fruit, So that there is not in it a strong branch, A scepter to rule.'“

This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.

Ezekiel 19:1 “take up” The VERB (BDB 669, KB 724, Qal IMPERATIVE) literally means “to lift” or “to carry.” Here it is used in an idiom for “speak loudly” or “make heard.”

It is surprising that this chapter does not start with “the word of the LORD came to me saying” (cf. Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 6:1; Ezekiel 7:1; Ezekiel 11:14; Ezekiel 12:1, Ezekiel 12:8, Ezekiel 12:17, Ezekiel 12:21, Ezekiel 12:26; Ezekiel 13:1; Ezekiel 14:2, Ezekiel 14:12; Ezekiel 15:1; Ezekiel 16:1; Ezekiel 17:1; Ezekiel 18:1; Ezekiel 20:2, Ezekiel 20:45; Ezekiel 21:1, Ezekiel 21:8, Ezekiel 21:18; Ezekiel 22:1; etc.). Does this imply that chapters 18 and 19 form a literary unit? I think not since chapter 19 is a poetic lamentation.

“lamentation” This term (BDB 884) refers to a specific type of funeral song (cf. Ezekiel 2:10; Ezekiel 19:1, Ezekiel 19:14; Ezekiel 26:17; Ezekiel 27:2, Ezekiel 27:32; Ezekiel 28:12; Ezekiel 32:2, Ezekiel 32:16). It becomes a literary marker for a new topic (genre, cf. Isaiah 14:3-21; Amos 5:1-3). In prophetic literature there are several standard oracle forms.

1. promise oracle

2. court terminology

3. funeral dirge

A good brief discussion of funeral rites in Israel can be seen in Roland DeVaux's Ancient Israel, vol. 1, pp. 57-61.

“the princes of Israel” This (BDB 672) title (prince) is used in Ezekiel to refer to several groups.

1. King Zedekiah, Ezekiel 7:27; Ezekiel 12:10, Ezekiel 12:12; Ezekiel 21:25

2. leaders of Judah, Ezekiel 21:12; Ezekiel 22:6; Ezekiel 45:8, Ezekiel 45:9

3. future Davidic kings, Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:25; Ezekiel 44:3; Ezekiel 45:7, Ezekiel 45:16, Ezekiel 45:17, Ezekiel 45:22; Ezekiel 46:2, Ezekiel 46:4, Ezekiel 46:8, Ezekiel 46:10, Ezekiel 46:12, Ezekiel 46:16, Ezekiel 46:17, Ezekiel 46:18; Ezekiel 48:21, Ezekiel 48:22

4. foreign kings, Ezekiel 26:16; Ezekiel 27:21; Ezekiel 30:13; Ezekiel 32:29; Ezekiel 38:2, Ezekiel 38:3; Ezekiel 39:1, Ezekiel 39:18

The term implies members of a royal family. Here, because it is PLURAL, it refers to the king and others of his extended family in places of leadership.

Ezekiel 19:2-9 This section of the lamentation refers to the kings of Judah, from the death of Josiah until the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.).

1. Jehoahaz (Shallum, cf. Jeremiah 22:11), 2 Kings 23:31-33, who was Josiah's son and successor, but exiled by Pharaoh Neco II after three months and replaced by

2. Jehoiakim (Eliakim), 2 Kings 23:34-7; 2 Kings 23:34-7, who was also a son of Josiah. He reigned eleven years and died. He was replaced by

3. Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah), 2 Kings 24:8-17, who reigned three months and was exiled to Babylon (cf. 2 Kings 19:9, 597 B.C.) by Nebuchadnezzar II and replaced with

4. Zedekiah, 2 Kings 24:18-20; 2 Kings 24:18-20, who was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar II. He rebelled and was captured, blinded, and exiled to Babylon.

Ezekiel 19:2 “your mother” This refers to national Israel (cf. Ezekiel 19:10) producing a line of Davidic kings (cf. Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24; Revelation 5:5). This ceased with Zedekiah's exile. In a sense Zerubbabel (Sheshbazzar, Ezra 1:8) continued the Davidic line (cf. Haggai 2:23; Zechariah 4:0).

Ezekiel 19:7

NASB“destroyed” NKJV“knew” NRSV, JPSOA“ravaged” TEV“wrecked” NJB“tore down”

The MT has “knew” (וידע, BDB 393), but most English translations assume an emendation “destroyed” (וירע), following the Targums. With it, this poetic line is parallel to Ezekiel 19:7b. However, the UBS Hebrew OT Project gives the emendation a “C” rating.

NASB“fortified towers” NKJV“desolate places” NRSV“strongholds” TEV“forts” NJB“palaces” JPSOA“windows”

The MT has “windows” (אלמנותינ, BDB 48), but most English translations use an emendation “citadel” or “strongholds” (ארמנותינ, BDB 74), which is primarily a change of the second consonant from “L” to “R.” The MT is understandable in context as it is. The UBS Hebrew OT Project gives it an “A” rating.

Ezekiel 19:10-14 These verses change the metaphor describing Judah's royal family not as a lion pride but a huge, tall grapevine. They also change time frames back to the beginnings of a unified kingdom (i.e., Saul, David, Solomon). The vine is described as

A. Positive

1. planted by waters, Ezekiel 19:10

2. fruitful, Ezekiel 19:10

3. full of strong branches, Ezekiel 19:10-11

4. tall above the clouds, Ezekiel 19:11

B. Negative

1. plucked up in fury, Ezekiel 19:12

2. cast down to the ground, Ezekiel 19:12

3. east wind dried up its fruit, Ezekiel 19:12

4. strong branch torn off, Ezekiel 19:12

5. planted in a wilderness, Ezekiel 19:13

6. planted in a dry land, Ezekiel 19:13

7. burned, Ezekiel 19:14

The royal family was decimated (similar to chapter 17).

The lion metaphor for Judah may refer to Jacob's prophecies about his children (esp. Judah, cf. Genesis 49:9). Balaam also used this imagery to describe Israel (cf. Numbers 23:24; Numbers 24:9).

Ezekiel 19:10

NASB, NRSV“vineyard” NKJV“bloodline” TEV“grapevine” (Targums and LXX, “vine”) NJB--omitted-- Peshitta, JPSOA“in your blood”

The MT has “blood” (בדמך, BDB 196).The UBS Text Project (p. 58) gives it a “C” rating (considerable doubt). Most English translations have an emendation.

1. “to be like” (תדמה)

2. “height”

3. “vineyard” (בכרמ)

4. omit the phrase (cf. REB).

The Ancient Near East often used the metaphor of a giant tree to describe world powers (e.g., Ezekiel 17:3, Ezekiel 17:22-24; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Ezekiel 31:2-18; Daniel 4:4-17, Daniel 4:19-27; and possibly Amos 2:9).

Ezekiel 19:11

NASB, NKJV, TEV“branches” NRSV, NJB“stem”

There is a wordplay between “branches” (BDB 641), which can mean “staff,” and “scepter” (BDB 986), also notice the same play in Ezekiel 19:14.

NASB, TEV“the clouds” NKJV, NRSV, NJB“the thick branches”

NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 310, reads “In Ezekiel 19:11; Ezekiel 31:3, Ezekiel 31:10, Ezekiel 31:14 one should read 'clouds' from 'âb, rather than 'branches' from 'âbôt.” The UBS Hebrew OT Project gives “clouds” an “A” rating.

Ezekiel 19:12 “the east wind” This term (construct BDB 924 and 870) is used in Ezekiel many times (over fifty), but most often in chapters 40-48 simply as “the east.” It denotes (1) the direction of the rising sun or (2) a metaphor for destruction (i.e., desert wind), often with the added theological connotation of being sent by YHWH to accomplish His purposes.

1. Genesis 41:6, Genesis 41:23, Genesis 41:27

2. Exodus 10:13; Exodus 14:21(positive)

3. wisdom literature, Job 27:21; Job 27:21; Job 38:24; Psalms 48:7; Psalms 78:26 (representative sample)

4. Isaiah 27:8

5. Jeremiah 18:17

6. Ezekiel 17:10; Ezekiel 19:12; Ezekiel 27:26

7. Hosea 13:15

8. Jonah 4:8

9. Habakkuk 1:9

The hot desert wind (Arabic, “sirocco” wind), like the rain, is at YHWH's disposal! Wind (BDB 924, ruah) is often associated with YHWH's power (i.e., Spirit) in the OT.

Ezekiel 19:14 Fire is YHWH's instrument of judgment (cf. Ezekiel 15:4; Ezekiel 20:47-48, see Special Topic at Ezekiel 1:4). There will be no Davidic king after the exiled Zedekiah. Even Zerubbabel (Sheshbazzar, Ezra 1:8) was only a prince of the line, not a direct son. The direct son of 2 Samuel 7:0 will be the Messiah.

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 19". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-19.html. 2021.