For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

19:1.  “Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel.”


Ezekiel was to lament for the princes (kings) of Israel, because God foreknew that that generation would not repent, and must therefore perish by the sword of the Babylonians, the survivors being led into captivity in that country.


19:2.  “And say, What is thy mother?  A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.”


The language is metaphoric, “thy mother” being a poetic description of the forebearers of that generation; and “lioness” describing her power, the female declaring symbolically that she was dependant upon God as the Source of her power.  Her lying down “among lions” describes her as being a nation amongst the nations.


19:3.  “And she brought up one of her whelps: It became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.”


The whelp obviously represents a Jewish king, most commentators believing him to have been Jehoahaz whom the people made king following the death of his father the good king Josiah, see 2 Ki 23:29-34.


19:4.  “The nations also heard of him: he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains into the land of Egypt.”


This is generally understood to refer to Pharaoh-nechoh’s deposing Jehoahaz, and taking him prisoner to Egypt where he died, see 2 Ki 23:32-34.


19:5.  “Now when she saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost, then she took another of her whelps, and made him a young lion.”


Jehoahaz was succeeded by Jehoiakim, but the opinion of most scholars is that he Jehoiakim is not mentioned in this chapter because he died while still on the throne of Judah, the chapter dealing only with those kings who were deposed either by Egypt or by Babylon.  This next king mentioned, therefore is Jehoiakin.


19:6.  “And he went up and down among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men.”


He is notorious for the havoc he wrought in Israel until his deposition by Nebuchadnezzar who took him prisoner to Babylon where he remained for thirty-seven years until his release by the Babylonian king Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar, following which he remained in Babylon till the day of his death.


19:7.  “And he knew their desolate palaces, and he laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring.”


This describes briefly the devastation wrought by Jehoiachin.  In a wild orgy of destruction he ravaged the whole land, until Nebuchadnezzar carried him prisoner to Babylon.


19:8.  “Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit.”


“... the nations” were Babylon and the allied countries who joined her in deposing Jehoiachin.


19:9.  “And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.”


Other translations of this verse are, “They put him in a cage with hooks ... and flung him into prison,” and thus ended his evil reign.


19:10.  “Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.”


The prophet here and through verse 14 addresses king Zedekiah directly, Israel being “the vine” of his blood line or family tree.  In the past she had been fruitful like a vine with many branches, flourishing literally because of abundant water, and spiritually because of God’s blessing.


19:11.  “And she had strong rods for the scepters of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.”


The nation had produced many kings, the “strong rods for the scepters” referring to the enablement God had given these men to bear rule; while her strength and glory are depicted in “the thick branches” and “in her height.”


19:12.  “But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.”


Because of her disobedience God, metaphorically speaking, had torn her up by the roots and thrown her on the ground; “her strong rods” i.e., her rulers being deposed, their power cut off, by His almighty hand.


The east is always scripturally associated with evil, being the direction invariably indicative of sin and departure from God.  Since the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the east wind speaks of His activity in judgment.  All that had been admirable in Israel had been consumed by the fire of Divine anger because of her sin.


19:13.  “And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.”


The reference may be literal, having reference to her captivity in Babylon, which, without extensive irrigation ditches, is largely desert; or it may refer to her spiritual condition, her sin having cut off God’s blessing.


19:14.  “And the fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod to be a scepter to rule.  This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.”


The fire going out of a rod of her branches and devouring her fruit, is generally considered to have been the judgment incurred by the wickedness of Zedekiah.  He was the last king of the guilty nation, nor has Israel since then had any king of the Davidic line; nor will she until the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in the Millennium.  This is the meaning of “she hath no strong rod to be a scepter to rule.”


What is written in this chapter was a lament, and will remain so as a testimony to Israel’s wickedness as long as the Word of God endures, i.e., for ever.

[Ezekiel 20]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough