Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 17

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Ezekiel 17)

Verse 2

[2] Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;

A riddle — A dark saying.

The house of Israel — The remainders of the house of Israel, whether of the ten, or of the two tribes.

Verse 3

[3] And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:

A great eagle — Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is compared to a great eagle, the king of birds, swift, strong, rapacious.

Great wings — Mighty provinces on each side of his kingdom.

Long winged — His kingdom was widely extended.

Full of feathers — And full of people.

Divers colours — Who were of divert nations, languages and manners.

Lebanon — Jerusalem the chief city of the country where this great, fruitful and pleasant hill was.

And took — Took, captive and carried away with him the king of Judah, Jehoiachin.

The cedar — The nation.

Verse 4

[4] He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants.

The top — Both the king of Judah, now eighteen years old, and the nobles and chief of the land.

Into a land — Babylon, which was a city of mighty trade.

Verse 5

[5] He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree.

The seed — Mattaniah, whom he called Zedekiah.

Planted — Settled him on the throne of Judah.

As a willow — The prophet compares this new made king to a willow, which grows no where so well as near great waters.

Verse 6

[6] And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs.

Of low stature — They grew and flourish, while they owned their state tributary to Babylon.

Toward him — Nebuchadnezzar as their protector, and sovereign lord.

The roots — All the firmness, fruitfulness, and life of this state, was in subjection to him.

Verse 7

[7] There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation.

Another — The king of Egypt.

This vine — Zedekiah, his nobles and people.

Did bend — Sought his friendship.

Shot forth — Sent ambassadors, and trusted to the power of Egypt.

Water it — That they might add to their greatness, as trees grow by seasonable watering them.

By the furrows — Alluding to the manner of watering used in Egypt, by furrows or trenches to convey the water from the river Nile.

Verse 8

[8] It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine.

Was planted — By Nebuchadnezzar, in a very hopeful condition, where it might have been fruitful, and flourished.

Verse 9

[9] Say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof.

Say — Tell them what will be the issue of all this, and tell it to them in my name.

It prosper — Shall Zedekiah and his people thrive by this?

Pull up — Utterly overthrow this kingdom.

Cut Off — Put to the sword the children of Zedekiah, and of the nobles.

The leaves — All the promising hope they had shall vanish.

Without great power — The king of Babylon shall do this easily, when it is God that sends him. For God needs not great power and many people, to effect his purposes. He can without any difficulty overturn a sinful king and kingdom, and make no more of it than we do of rooting up a tree that cumbers the ground.

Verse 10

[10] Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew.

Yea — Suppose this vine were planted by the help of Egypt.

The east wind — When the king of Babylon, who like the blasting wind comes from the north-east, shall but touch it, it shall wither.

In the furrows — Even amidst its greatest helps, to make it flourish.

Verse 15

[15] But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?

He — Zedekiah.

Shall he break — Can perjury be the way for deliverance?

Verse 18

[18] Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape.

Given his hand — Solemnly confirming the oath.

Verse 20

[20] And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me.

Plead — I will punish him.

Verse 21

[21] And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it.

All — Not strictly, but the greatest part.

Verse 22

[22] Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

The highest branch — Of the royal seed; of the highest branch that is heir to the throne; namely, the Messiah.

An high mountain — Upon mount Zion.

Eminent — Not for outward splendor, but for spiritual advantages.

Verse 23

[23] In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.

In the mountain — In Jerusalem.

All fowl — All nations.

In the shadow — There they shall find peace and safety.

Verse 24

[24] And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

The trees — The great ones on earth.

The high tree — The kingdom of Babylon, which was brought low indeed, when overthrown by Darius and Cyrus.

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