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Lecture Fifty-First

WE began yesterday to explain the saying of the Prophet, that an eagle came to mount Lebanon, and there cropped off the top of a cedar, that is, the highest bough. Some interpreters seem to me to labor in vain about the word Lebanon. They think it means Jerusalem, and cite the passage in Zechariah where it is said, Open thy gates, O Lebanon. (Zechariah 11:1.) But Zecharia does not speak of the city here, but of the temple, because it was built of a great mass of cedar. But here Ezekiel means the land, and names Lebanon rather than other places, not only because that mountain was the remarkable ornament of the region on account of its lofty cedars, and balsam and aromatic trees, but because this was needful to complete his allegory. If he had said that an eagle had come to a city, it would have been absurd. Hence we see that the word Lebanon is taken for that part of Judea in which the most beautiful trees spring up and flourish. But he says, that it plucked off a bough, from the top of the cedars, because Nebuchadnezzar, who is intended by the eagle took away King Jeconiah as we said yesterday. Hence King Jeconiah is compared to a very lofty bough of a cedar, because at that time all thought that the kingdom was superior to every danger; for the Jews boasted that they were under God’s protection, and that the city was impregnable: hence that occurrence was incredible. Now the Prophet adds, that the eagle plucked off the head or summit of the boughs, as the Hebrews call the tender shoots; and here the word means the tender branches: and it means, as we shall afterwards see, the elders who were dragged away into exile. It took away the head into the land of the merchant We said that this was a mere appellative here, chnaan, because it follows a little afterwards in the plural number: בציר רכלימ שמו, begnir-reklim shemo, in the city of merchants he set it: he says, then, that the boughs were placed in a city of merchants. This name was given to Babylon, not only because it was a celebrated mart of trade, but because it was a firm and strong place of custody through the multitude of inhabitants, so that it was not easy to draw captives from it. For any one could easily be rescued from a solitude without resistance; but in a great concourse it is not so easy to plan or attempt anything. I do not doubt, therefore, that the Prophet means that the higher classes of the kingdom, together with Jeconiah, were shut up in firm custody that they should not escape. It follows —

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