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a Bible passage
31. A Cedar in Lebanon
1And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, say unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude: Whom art thou like in thy greatness? 3Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a forest-like shade, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs. 4The waters nourished it, the deep made it to grow: the rivers thereof ran round about its plantation; and it sent out its channels unto all the trees of the field. 5Therefore its stature was exalted above all the trees of the field; and its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long by reason of many waters, when it shot them forth. 6All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; and under its branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young; and under its shadow dwelt all great nations. 7Thus was it fair in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its root was by many waters. 8The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it; the fir-trees were not like its boughs, and the plane-trees were not as its branches; nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto it in its beauty. 9I made it fair by the multitude of its branches, so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied it. 10Therefore thus said the Lord Jehovah: Because thou art exalted in stature, and he hath set his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; 11I will even deliver him into the hand of the mighty one of the nations; he shall surely deal with him; I have driven him out for his wickedness. 12And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the watercourses of the land; and all the peoples of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him. 13Upon his ruin all the birds of the heavens shall dwell, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches; 14to the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves in their stature, neither set their top among the thick boughs, nor that their mighty ones stand up on their height, even all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit. 15Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: In the day when he went down to Sheol I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the rivers thereof; and the great waters were stayed; and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him. 16I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to Sheol with them that descend into the pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the nether parts of the earth. 17They also went down into Sheol with him unto them that are slain by the sword; yea, they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the nations. 18To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord Jehovah.
Eze 31:1-18. The Overthrow of Egypt Illustrated by That of Assyria.
Not that Egypt was, like Assyria, utterly to cease to be, but it was, like Assyria, to lose its prominence in the empire of the world.
1. third month—two months later than the prophecy delivered in Eze 30:20.
2. Whom art thou like—The answer is, Thou art like the haughty king of Assyria; as he was overthrown by the Chaldeans, so shalt thou be by the same.
3. He illustrates the pride and the consequent overthrow of the Assyrian, that Egypt may the better know what she must expect.
with a shadowing shroud—with an overshadowing thicket.
top … among … thick boughs—rather [Hengstenberg], "among the clouds." But English Version agrees better with the Hebrew. The top, or topmost shoot, represents the king; the thick boughs, the large resources of the empire.
4. waters … little rivers—the Tigris with its branches and "rivulets," or "conduits" for irrigation, the source of Assyria's fertility. "The deep" is the ever flowing water, never dry. Metaphorically, for Assyria's resources, as the "conduits" are her colonies.
5. when he shot forth—because of the abundant moisture which nourished him in shooting forth. But see Margin.
6. fowls … made … nests in … boughs—so Eze 17:23; Da 4:12. The gospel kingdom shall gather all under its covert, for their good and for the glory of God, which the world kingdoms did for evil and for self-aggrandizement (Mt 13:32).
8. cedars … could not hide him—could not outtop him. No other king eclipsed him.
were not like—were not comparable to.
garden of God—As in the case of Tyre (Eze 28:13), the imagery, that is applied to the Assyrian king, is taken from Eden; peculiarly appropriate, as Eden was watered by rivers that afterwards watered Assyria (Ge 2:10-14). This cedar seemed to revive in itself all the glories of paradise, so that no tree there outtopped it.
9. I … made him—It was all due to My free grace.
10. thou … he—The change of persons is because the language refers partly to the cedar, partly to the person signified by the cedar.
11. Here the literal supersedes the figurative.
shall surely deal with him—according to his own pleasure, and according to the Assyrian's (Sardanapalus) desert. Nebuchadnezzar is called "the mighty one" (El, a name of God), because he was God's representative and instrument of judgment (Da 2:37, 38).
12. from his shadow—under which they had formerly dwelt as their covert (Eze 31:6).
13. Birds and beasts shall insult over his fallen trunk.
14. trees by the waters—that is, that are plentifully supplied by the waters: nations abounding in resources.
stand up in their height—that is, trust in their height: stand upon it as their ground of confidence. Fairbairn points the Hebrew differently, so as for "their trees," to translate, "(And that none that drink water may stand) on themselves, (because of their greatness)." But the usual reading is better, as Assyria and the confederate states throughout are compared to strong trees. The clause, "All that drink water," marks the ground of the trees' confidence "in their height," namely, that they have ample sources of supply. Maurer, retaining the same Hebrew, translates, "that neither their terebinth trees may stand up in their height, nor all (the other trees) that drink water."
15. covered the deep—as mourners cover their heads in token of mourning, "I made the deep that watered the cedar" to wrap itself in mourning for him. The waters of the deep are the tributary peoples of Assyria (Re 17:15).
fainted—literally, were "faintness" (itself); more forcible than the verb.
16. hell—Sheol or Hades, the unseen world: equivalent to, "I cast him into oblivion" (compare Isa 14:9-11).
shall be comforted—because so great a king as the Assyrian is brought down to a level with them. It is a kind of consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery.
17. his arm, that dwelt under his shadow—those who were the helpers or tool of his tyranny, and therefore enjoyed his protection (for example, Syria and her neighbors). These were sure to share her fate. Compare the same phrase as to the Jews living under the protection of their king (La 4:20); both alike "making flesh their arm, and in heart departing from the Lord" (Jer 17:5).
18. Application of the parabolic description of Assyria to the parallel case of Egypt. "All that has been said of the Assyrian consider as said to thyself. To whom art thou so like, as thou art to the Assyrian? To none." The lesson on a gigantic scale of Eden-like privileges abused to pride and sin by the Assyrian, as in the case of the first man in Eden, ending in ruin, was to be repeated in Egypt's case. For the unchangeable God governs the world on the same unchangeable principles.
thou shall lie in … uncircumcised—As circumcision was an object of mocking to thee, thou shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, slain by their sword [Grotius]. Retribution in kind (Eze 28:10).
This is Pharaoh—Pharaoh's end shall be the same humiliating one as I have depicted the Assyrian's to have been. "This" is demonstrative, as if he were pointing with the finger to Pharaoh lying prostrate, a spectacle to all, as on the shore of the Red Sea (Ex 14:30, 31).