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The Two Eagles and the Vine


The word of the L ord came to me: 2O mortal, propound a riddle, and speak an allegory to the house of Israel. 3Say: Thus says the Lord G od:

A great eagle, with great wings and long pinions,

rich in plumage of many colors,

came to the Lebanon.

He took the top of the cedar,


broke off its topmost shoot;

he carried it to a land of trade,

set it in a city of merchants.


Then he took a seed from the land,

placed it in fertile soil;

a plant by abundant waters,

he set it like a willow twig.


It sprouted and became a vine

spreading out, but low;

its branches turned toward him,

its roots remained where it stood.

So it became a vine;

it brought forth branches,

put forth foliage.



There was another great eagle,

with great wings and much plumage.

And see! This vine stretched out

its roots toward him;

it shot out its branches toward him,

so that he might water it.

From the bed where it was planted


it was transplanted

to good soil by abundant waters,

so that it might produce branches

and bear fruit

and become a noble vine.

9 Say: Thus says the Lord G od:

Will it prosper?

Will he not pull up its roots,

cause its fruit to rot and wither,

its fresh sprouting leaves to fade?

No strong arm or mighty army will be needed

to pull it from its roots.


When it is transplanted, will it thrive?

When the east wind strikes it,

will it not utterly wither,

wither on the bed where it grew?

11 Then the word of the L ord came to me: 12Say now to the rebellious house: Do you not know what these things mean? Tell them: The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and its officials, and brought them back with him to Babylon. 13He took one of the royal offspring and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath (he had taken away the chief men of the land), 14so that the kingdom might be humble and not lift itself up, and that by keeping his covenant it might stand. 15But he rebelled against him by sending ambassadors to Egypt, in order that they might give him horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Can one escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant and yet escape? 16As I live, says the Lord G od, surely in the place where the king resides who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant with him he broke—in Babylon he shall die. 17Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in war, when ramps are cast up and siege walls built to cut off many lives. 18Because he despised the oath and broke the covenant, because he gave his hand and yet did all these things, he shall not escape. 19Therefore thus says the Lord G od: As I live, I will surely return upon his head my oath that he despised, and my covenant that he broke. 20I will spread my net over him, and he shall be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treason he has committed against me. 21All the pick of his troops shall fall by the sword, and the survivors shall be scattered to every wind; and you shall know that I, the L ord, have spoken.

Israel Exalted at Last

22 Thus says the Lord G od:

I myself will take a sprig

from the lofty top of a cedar;

I will set it out.

I will break off a tender one

from the topmost of its young twigs;

I myself will plant it

on a high and lofty mountain.


On the mountain height of Israel

I will plant it,

in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,

and become a noble cedar.

Under it every kind of bird will live;

in the shade of its branches will nest

winged creatures of every kind.


All the trees of the field shall know

that I am the L ord.

I bring low the high tree,

I make high the low tree;

I dry up the green tree

and make the dry tree flourish.

I the L ord have spoken;

I will accomplish it.

An explanation of the allegory is now added. The figure being dropped, God shows what he had hitherto set forth enigmatically. We said the object of the allegory was to induce the Jews to apply their minds more diligently to the Prophet’s destruction; for if he had used common and ordinary language, we know how carelessly they were accustomed to despise all rebukes and threatenings; but a riddle, while it held them in suspense, at the same time roused them, and so they were prepared for receiving the instruction which now follows. God says, therefore, that the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem. This reason has induced some to think that Lebanon is metaphorically called Jerusalem, but falsely, as we have already said. As long as the Prophet spoke figuratively, the parts ought to be mutually fitted to each other, as a tree and its branches have some connection with an eagle. The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, and took the king away, and the elders, and led them off to Babylon. Although the Jews thought to be sufficiently moved by simple narrative, yet God here reproves them, because he saw how sluggish they were. First, he calls them a rebellious house; then he asks, Whether they know the meaning of all this? This is a kind of reproach by which God reminds them of their stupidity; since that riddle was not so obscure as to prevent them from understanding what had happened, unless they had been destitute of reason and judgment. But the Prophet thrusts at them more pointedly, by calling them a rebellious house, although at the same time he obliquely reproves their stupidity in not immediately perceiving the meaning of the riddle. He now adds, that the king of Babylon had taken from the royal seed. We said that Zedekiah was the uncle of Jehoiakim: he was placed on the throne beyond all expectation; because, if Jehoiakim had begat sons when he was still secure, they would have been his successors: hence it was an extraordinary advantage to Zedekiah in being placed on the throne. But he says, that he was so created king, that the king of Babylon made a covenant with him, and induced him to take an oath. Here God shows that, humanly speaking, Zedekiah’s revolt could not prosper; for even profane men are always persuaded that the perfidy of him who breaks his word will not go unpunished, especially in treaties, which are held sacred by common consent. Since, therefore, the sacredness of treaties was so great, that they could not be violated without weakening the bonds of society, hence the general persuasion that the falsehood of all truce-breakers will turn out unhappily. Now, therefore, God leaves his own cause, and takes up that of King Nebuchadnezzar: Behold, says he, you was made king by gratuitous liberality: a conqueror indeed imposed conditions upon thee, but still thy state was desirable — you could rule your own people splendidly and with moderate dignity: now, because thy covenant has been despised, and your oath broken, you has been ungrateful to the king of Babylon, who had bound thee to himself by his munificence: how can this perfidy prosper? Now, therefore, we see the Prophet’s meaning, when he says that the king of Babylon made a treaty with King Zedekiah, and took an oath of him: this is added for the sake of amplifying; for although men never enter into treaties without a mutual oath, yet Ezekiel seems to have doubled the crime of Zedekiah, when he expresses that an oath intervened. He says that he took the strong of the land, namely, as hostages. There is no doubt that Nebuchadnezzar assembled this troop around him that the Jews might be more quiet: for he knew the turbulent character of the nation, and that the maintenance of so many was expensive: but, as I have said, it was his plan to hold the whole country at peace in this way. But Zedekiah rendered his own brothers and relations liable to death, since Nebuchadnezzar might be induced, by just anger, to slay them all. Hence Zedekiah’s revolt was the betrayal of his brothers: for this reason the Prophet adds, that the strong ones of the people were led away to Babylon; that is, those of the first rank, who were held in honor by the people.

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