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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.

In this verse the Prophet signifies that God’s work would be memorable. For when he says that all trees should feel themselves in God’s hand and power, to raise what was fallen, and to cast down and to prostrate what was elevated, he doubtless expresses no common action. By trees he means all the kings of the earth, and all possessed of any dignity. For he follows up his own metaphor: as he called the kingdom of Christ a tree or cedar which grew from a small twig, so he now speaks metaphorically of kings when he says, that all should take notice; for they shall know that Jehovah brings down the high tree. Ezekiel may here seem to be inconsistent with himself, as I have already noticed, because God said that he would take from a lofty cedar a little twig, which he wished to plant: but he now says that God would raise what was low and abject. But we have dissipated this absurdity, because, from the beginning Christ was in the glory of his Father, and thus, as Micah says, his beginning was from eternity. (Micah 5:2.) This excellency of Christ, therefore, is noticed, because, from the time when God erected David’s throne, he at the same time gave a visible sign of the more excellent kingdom which was then secretly hoped for. For this reason Christ was taken from his lofty place, and since he not only put on the form of a slave, but emptied himself even unto death, (Philippians 2:7,) it is not surprising that the Prophet should say, like a tree cast down. Although, as I have remarked, this sentence is not to be restricted to the person of Christ, but thought to be adapted to his kingdom; that is, to his manner and way of governing: since we know, and it has been lately stated, that the gospel is like a scepter, by which Christ subdues all people, and rules them for himself. Now if we reflect on what the preaching of the gospel was, we shall see, as in a glass, the Prophet’s meaning here, that the low tree was elevated, since no one would have thought, that from such slender beginnings the increase which God afterwards bestowed on it could arise. It follows, then, that the height was wonderful, since it could not be comprehended by the human senses.

Meanwhile he adds, I am he who humbles the lofty tree, which is not only understood of the Jews, but, in my judgment, embraces all the empires and principalities of the world. God, therefore, humbles lofty trees, because, whatever opposes itself to Christ’s kingdom, must necessarily fall; and this is described more at length in Daniel. (Daniel 4.) For although all the empires of the world are founded in Christ, and sustained by his virtue, yet, since earthly kings rise up and desire to lay Christ prostrate, their pride is the reason why Christ’s empire causes their ruin. This contrast, then, must be noticed, that God sets up low trees, or takes them away, and casts down lofty ones, since we are here taught to hope better of the reign of Christ than we can estimate by our senses; since, if we cast our eyes round us, many things meet us which diminish and weaken our hope. For what is the outward appearance of Christ’s kingdom? In truth we shall feel nothing but despair if we judge of Christ’s kingdom by the present state of affairs. But when we see how the gospel creeps along the ground, this passage should come to our minds, that God will raise up the tree that is abject and contemptible. At the same time, let us learn, that the changes which happen and are perceived in the world are to be imputed to the pride of those who are blinded by their own boasting; for kings, as we have said, forget that they are men, and so rebel against God: hence they must of necessity fall. If this is not fulfilled immediately, let us learn patiently to await the effect of this prophecy. Whatever happens, God has so established the kingdom of Christ alone, that it shall last as long as the sun and moon, but the other empires of the world shall vanish away with their own splendor, and their loftiness shall fall although at present they overtop the clouds. I, says Jehovah, have spoken, and I will do it. God here recalls the minds of the faithful to his power, because, from the time the people were dispersed — I speak of the final overthrow of the city and temple — there was no hope of restoration. Since, then, it was difficult to persuade men of what God now pronounces, he brings pointedly forward his own prowess, in order that men, by holding in check their carnal senses, should raise themselves above the world, and wait for the inestimable prowess of God which does not yet appear to them. It now follows —

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