Ezekiel regarded Zedekiah as an interloper (Ezekiel 17:1 note), therefore he here (in Ezekiel 19:1-14) passes over Jehoiakim and Zedekiah as mere creatures of Egypt and of Babylon, and recognizes Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin as the only legitimate sovereigns since the time of Josiah. This dirge is for them, while it warns the usurper Zedekiah of an approaching fate similar to that of the two earlier kings.
Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,Princes of Israel - Israel is the whole nation over which the king of Judah was the rightful sovereign. Compare Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 3:1, Ezekiel 3:7.
And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.Thy mother - The people represented by Judah. Compare Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24.
And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.Compare the marginal reference. The short reign of Jehoahaz was marked by violence and idolatry, and was closed by Pharaoh-Necho's carrying him captive into Egypt.
The nations also heard of him; he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt.Chains - See the marginal rendering to Ezekiel 19:9 and Isaiah 27:9, note.
Now when she saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost, then she took another of her whelps, and made him a young lion.Another - Jehoiachin who soon showed himself no less unworthy than Jehoahaz. The "waiting" of the people was during the absence of their rightful lord Jehoahaz, a captive in Egypt while Jehoiakim, whom they deemed an usurper, was on the throne. It was not until Jehoiachin succeeded, that they seemed to themselves to have a monarch of their own 2 Kings 24:6.
And he went up and down among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men.
And he knew their desolate palaces, and he laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring.Their desolate palaces - Rather, his palaces, built upon the ground, from where he had ejected the former owners.
Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit.The nations - are here the Chaldaeans: see the marginal references.
And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.
Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.Thy mother - Judah or Jerusalem. Jehoiachin is still addressed.
In thy blood - Blood is equivalent to "life" Genesis 9:4. The clause is equivalent to "Thy mother is a vine, living in thy blood," i. e., in the life of thee and of thy children. The excellency of a vine is in her fruitful branches; the glory of a mother in her noble children. Jeremiah was to write Jehoiachin childless (see the note at Jeremiah 22:30); Ezekiel here takes a general view of the king and princes of the blood royal.
And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.Sceptres - Genesis 49:10.
But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.This is a dirge; and therefore that which is foreseen by the prophet, the capture and burning of Jerusalem, is described as already accomplished.
And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.
And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.Fire is gone out - Compare the marginal reference. Zedekiah is regarded, like Abimelech, as all usurper and the ruin of his people.