a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

He now adds, that the kingdom might be humbled. Zedekiah then could not pretend error, nor turn his back, as if he had been outwitted by the cunning and secret counsels of the king of Babylon: for Nebuchadnezzar dealt with him openly, and proscribed the conditions on which he wished him to reign. Since, then, the king of Babylon showed Zedekiah openly and sincerely what he wished him to do, that wretched man could not say that he was imposed upon, and not made sufficiently aware of the cunning of the king of Babylon: no such excuse was left to him. And therefore the Prophet clearly expresses that Nebuchadnezzar imposed conditions upon Zedekiah, that his kingdom should be lowly, so as not to lift itself up, but that it should keep the agreement. This was most equitable: for when he appointed a king, he might have imposed upon him very hard conditions, but he was content with moderation, which was surely tolerable even among the best friends. For he made a treaty with him, and then he wished the kingdom to be lowly for its preservation. For it is just as if the Prophet had said, that Nebuchadnezzar thought of nothing else than that Zedekiah might reign in peace; and since he saw it to be useful to the king and the whole people to be restrained within some bounds, he followed that plan. Since, then, Nebuchadnezzar consulted the public advantage by this method of action, Zedekiah was the more wicked in not allowing his own safety to be consulted, since nothing was better or more desirable than for him to remain humble, and not to raise himself up to his own destruction, as afterwards happened. It now follows, that he rebelled by sending his messengers into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. These points ought to be mutually compared; that the contrast might correspond: Nebuchadnezzar regarded nothing else but the peace of the country, for he wished to prevent all fears and disturbances. What, then, was Zedekiah? a rebel. And why? for sending messengers to Egypt to fetch many troops of both horse and foot to succor Judea against Nebuchadnezzar. After the conclusion of the war he had done nothing hostile, for it was a part of his paternal anxiety to give them a king of their own nation, and so to set the whole country at rest, that there should be no occasion for tumult. Why, then, should Zedekiah seek help from the Egyptians? Thus we see that the Prophet is removing from him all excuses for self-defense. He now adds, shall he prosper? shall he who has acted thus escape? The Prophet asks with emphasis; because, as I have said, this persuasion was engraved on the minds of all, that vengeance must overtake all the perfidious, especially if they had violated their oath in treaties. The Prophet, therefore, does not simply pronounce that Zedekiah should perish through violating the treaty, but he rises more confidently, and inquires, as of a thing settled and undoubted, Shall he prosper? shall he who has planned such a crime escape? He now adds, shall he who has violated a treaty escape? This repetition is not superfluous: he had formerly said, shall he who has done this escape? he immediately repeats, shall he who has violated a treaty escape? There was nothing obscure in the first clause: but the Prophet added this, not for the sake of perspicuity, but to give more weight. to the sentence. The conclusion is, that it was not possible to escape God’s vengeance for such perfidy, as we shall treat the point more at length tomorrow.

VIEWNAME is study