Ezekiel 17:24
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.
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(24) All the trees of the field shall know.—As the cedar represents the kingdom of Israel, so the other trees represent all other earthly powers who shall ultimately acknowledge the work of the Lord in the redemption of mankind through His Son.

Have brought down the high tree.—Comp, the song of Hannah (1Samuel 2:1-10) and that of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:52-55). In all alike there is the acknowledgment that all power is from God, and that He, in the working out of His purposes, gives and takes away as to Him seems good. Very precious to His Church of old in its desolation and distress must have been the announcement of this truth, and very precious it is still to all who pray “Thy kingdom come.”

Ezekiel 17:24. All the trees of the field — All the nations of the world; shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree — Have subdued and degraded the enemies of my people; have exalted the low tree — Have advanced my church, and made it flourish; have dried up the green tree, &c. — The same thing expressed in somewhat different words. Although these expressions may partly refer to the overthrow of the mighty Babylonian empire, and the restoration of the Jewish state by their return out of captivity, yet they are so magnificent, that they evidently intend much more than this. The Jewish kingdom did never, after the captivity, arrive at such a pitch of greatness as to give occasion to these magnificent expressions. Some more noble kingdom is undoubtedly here pointed at, namely, the kingdom of Christ, as has been observed above, which will at last be exalted above all the kingdoms of the world, and put an end to them all, while it will continue to all eternity: see Daniel 4:35, 44, and Daniel 7:27; Luke 1:33; 1 Corinthians 15:24. It is under Christ’s kingdom only that people of all nations, signified here by fowls of every kind, shall be gathered together. And the subjects of that kingdom only have a certain and eternal protection, and a supply of every thing necessary. There is therefore no doubt that this was spoken, in its full sense, of the eternal and all-powerful kingdom to be established in Christ, one of the royal seed of Judah according to the flesh. I the Lord have spoken it, and have done it — The prophets often speak of future events as if they were already accomplished, to assure us that they shall certainly come to pass. 17:22-24 The unbelief of man shall not make the promise of God of none effect. The parable of a tree, used in the threatening, is here presented in the promise. It appears only applicable to Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah of God. The kingdom of Satan, which has borne so long, so large a sway, shall be broken, and the kingdom of Christ, which was looked upon with contempt, shall be established. Blessed be God, our Redeemer is seen even by the ends of the earth. We may find refuge from the wrath to come, and from every enemy and danger, under his shadow; and believers are fruitful in him.The trees fo the field - The kingdoms of the world as contrasted with the kingdom of God. The truth here enunciated is a general one. God gives the promise, God fulfils it. 24. I … brought down the high—the very attribute given to God by the virgin mother of Him, under whom this was to be accomplished.

high … low tree—that is, princes elevated … depressed. All the empires of the world, represented by Babylon, once flourishing ("green"), shall be brought low before the once depressed ("dry"), but then exalted, kingdom of Messiah and His people, the head of whom shall be Israel (Da 2:44).

The trees of the field; the great ones on earth, all considering persons.

Shall know; see and confess.

The high tree; Zedekiah, that would neither hearken to me, my prophets, or to Nebuchadnezzar; or the kingdom of Babylon, which was brought low indeed, when overthrown by Darius and Cyrus.

The low tree; either Jehoiachin’s lineage, or the church, which, from being low, was exalted by the Lord, bending Cyrus to that work of restoring the captivity from Babylon, and building the city and house of God: its meaning is, the advancing the kingdom of Christ, and suppressing the enemies thereof.

Dried up the green tree; the same thing expressed in somewhat different words.

I the Lord have spoken; the power, goodness, and faithfulness of God, who can do what he pleaseth, and will do what he promiseth, is the assurance of the future accomplishment of his word. And all the trees of the field shall know,.... All the nations of the World, and the great ones, and the mighty men of the earth, shall know, own, and acknowledge, when the above things are accomplished:

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: some by the high and green tree understand Zedekiah, who was brought low; and by the "low" and "dry tree", Jeconiah, who was raised by the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 52:11; this is Jarchi's sense, and is mentioned by Kimchi: others, by the former, think Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonish monarchy are intended, which were brought down; and, by the latter, the house of David, and kingdom of Judah, which were exalted: though rather by the one are meant the people of the Jews, once the people of God, but now cast off; and by the other the Gentiles, called by the grace of God, and received by him: though it seems best of all to interpret the "high and green tree" of the mighty kingdoms of this world, which will be put down by Christ; and the "low and dry tree" of his kingdom and interest, which shall flourish and spread abundantly, and be an everlasting kingdom; see Daniel 2:44;

I the Lord have spoken and have done it; because the prophecy of it is sure, and because of the certainty of the fulfilment of it, it is said to be done as soon as it was spoken of.

And all the {q} 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.

(q) All the world will know that I have plucked down the proud enemies, and set up my Church which was low and contemned.

24. As this kingdom is compared to a cedar other kingdoms are likewise called trees; cf. ch. Ezekiel 31:5; Ezekiel 31:8; Ezekiel 31:14; Ezekiel 31:16; Ezekiel 31:18. Kings and kingdoms are hardly distinguished, the kingdom is but the expression of the king. Then all shall know that this great result is the work of Jehovah, who worketh contrary to men’s expectations; who overturneth till he come whose right it is to rule. Cf. 1 Samuel 2:4-8; Luke 1:51-53.Verse 24. - All the trees of the field, etc. As the cedar of Lebanon stands here for the royal house of David, so the other "trees" represent the surrounding nations, who are thought of as witnessing, first the strange prostration, and then the yet stranger resurrection of the house and the might of Judah and Israel. The thought, which reproduces that of 1 Samuel 2:7, finds an echo in Luke 1:51, 52. Another echo of the words may, perhaps, be traced in the "green tree" and the "dry" of Luke 23:31. Here then, also, as in ch. 16, the utterance which begins with judgment, ends in mercy. Behind the picture of the blind, discrowned king the prophet sees that of the Divine ideal King in the fulness of his majesty and power.

Interpretation of the Riddle

Ezekiel 17:11. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 17:12. Say to the refractory race: Do ye not know what this is? Say, Behold, the king of Babel came to Jerusalem and took its king and its princes, and brought them to himself to Babel. Ezekiel 17:13. And he took of the royal seed, and made a covenant with him, and caused him to enter into an oath; and he took the strong ones of the land: Ezekiel 17:14. That it might be a lowly kingdom, not to lift itself up, that he might keep his covenant, that it might stand. Ezekiel 17:15. But he rebelled against him by sending his messengers to Egypt, that it might give him horses and much people. Will he prosper? will he that hath done this escape? He has broken the covenant, and should he escape? Ezekiel 17:16. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, surely in the place of the king, who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he broke with him, in Babel he will die. Ezekiel 17:17. And not with great army and much people will Pharaoh act with him in the war, when they cast up a rampart and build siege-towers, to cut off many souls. Ezekiel 17:18. He has despised an oath to break the covenant, and, behold, he has given his hand and done all this; he will not escape. Ezekiel 17:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As I live, surely my oath which he has despised, and my covenant which he has broken, I will give upon his head. Ezekiel 17:20. I will spread out my net over him, so that he will be taken in my snare, and will bring him to Babel, and contend with him there on account of his treachery which he has been guilty of towards me. Ezekiel 17:21. And all his fugitives in all his regiments, by the sword will they fall, and those who remain will be scattered to all winds; and ye shall see that I Jehovah have spoken it.

In Ezekiel 17:12-17 the parable in Ezekiel 17:2-10 is interpreted; and in Ezekiel 17:19-21 the threat contained in the parable is confirmed and still further expanded. We have an account of the carrying away of the king, i.e., Jehoiachin, and his princes to Babel in 2 Kings 24:11., Jeremiah 24:1, and Jeremiah 29:2. The king's seed (זרע המּלוּכה, Ezekiel 17:13, as in Jeremiah 41:1 equals זרע המּלך, 1 Kings 11:14) is Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah, whom Nebuchadnezzar made king under the name of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17), and from whom he took an oath of fealty (2 Chronicles 36:13). The strong of the land (אילי equals אוּלי, 2 Kings 24:15), whom Nebuchadnezzar took (לקח), i.e., took away to Babel, are not the heads of tribes and families (2 Kings 24:15); but the expression is used in a wide sense for the several classes of men of wealth, who are grouped together in 2 Kings 24:14 under the one term כּל־גּבּורי ח (אנשׁי חיל, 2 Kings 24:16), including masons, smiths, and carpenters (2 Kings 24:14 and 2 Kings 24:16), whereas the heads of tribes and families are classed with the court officials (סריסים, 2 Kings 24:15) under the title שׂריה (princes) in Ezekiel 17:12. The design of these measures was to make a lowly kingdom, which could not raise itself, i.e., could not revolt, and to deprive the vassal king of the means of breaking of the covenant. the suffix attached to לעמדהּ is probably to be taken as referring to ממלכה rather than בּריתי, although both are admissible, and would yield precisely the same sense, inasmuch as the stability of the kingdom was dependent upon the stability of the covenant. But Zedekiah rebelled (2 Kings 24:20). The Egyptian king who was to give Zedekiah horses and much people, in other words, to come to his assistance with a powerful army of cavalry and fighting men, was Hophrah, the Apries of the Greeks, according to Jeremiah 44:30 (see the comm. on 2 Kings 24:19-20). היצלח points back to תּצלח in Ezekiel 17:9; but here it is applied to the rebellious king, and is explained in the clause 'הימּלט וגו. The answer is given in Ezekiel 17:16 as a word of God confirmed by a solemn oath: he shall die in Babel, the capital of the king, who placed him on the throne, and Pharaoh will not render him any effectual help (Ezekiel 17:17). עשׂה אותו, as in Ezekiel 15:1-8 :59, to act with him, that is to say, assist him, come to his help. אותו refers to Zedekiah, not to Pharaoh, as Ewald assumes in an inexplicable manner. For 'שׁפך סללה , compare Ezekiel 4:2; and for the fact itself, Jeremiah 34:21-22, and Jeremiah 37:5, according to which, although an Egyptian army came to the rescue of Jerusalem at the time when it was besieged by the Chaldeans, it was repulsed by the Chaldeans who marched to meet it, without having rendered any permanent assistance to the besieged.

In Ezekiel 17:18, the main thought that breach of faith can bring no deliverance is repeated for the sake of appending the further expansion contained in Ezekiel 17:19-21. נתן ידו, he gave his hand, i.e., as a pledge of fidelity. The oath which Zedekiah swore to the king of Babel is designated in Ezekiel 17:19 as Jehovah's oath (אלתי), and the covenant made with him as Jehovah's covenant, because the oath had been sworn by Jehovah, and the covenant of fidelity towards Nebuchadnezzar had thereby been made implicite with Jehovah Himself; so that the breaking of the oath and covenant became a breach of faith towards Jehovah. Consequently the very same expressions are used in Ezekiel 17:16, Ezekiel 17:18, and Ezekiel 17:19, to designate this breach of oath, which are applied in Ezekiel 16:59 to the treacherous apostasy of Jerusalem (Israel) from Jehovah, the covenant God. And the same expressions are used to describe the punishment as in Ezekiel 12:13-14. נשׁפּט אתּו is construed with the accusative of the thing respecting which he was to be judged, as in 1 Samuel 12:7. Jehovah regards the treacherous revolt from Nebuchadnezzar as treachery against Himself (מעל); not only because Zedekiah had sworn the oath of fidelity by Jehovah, but also from the fact that Jehovah had delivered up His people and kingdom into the power of Nebuchadnezzar, so that revolt from him really became rebellion against God. את before כּל־מברחו is nota accus., and is used in the sense of quod adtinet ad, as, for example, in 2 Kings 6:5. מברחו, his fugitives, is rendered both by the Chaldee and Syriac "his brave men," or "heroes," and is therefore identified with מבחרו (his chosen ones), which is the reading in some manuscripts. But neither these renderings nor the parallel passage in Ezekiel 12:14, where סביבותיו apparently corresponds to it, will warrant our adopting this explanation, or making any alteration in the text. The Greek versions have πάσας φυγαδείας αὐτοῦ; Theodoret: ἐν πάσαις ταῖς φυγαδείαις αὐτοῦ; the Vulgate: omnes profugi ejus; and therefore they all had the reading מברחו, which also yields a very suitable meaning. The mention of some who remain, and who are to be scattered toward all the winds, is not at variance with the statement that all the fugitives in the wings of the army are to fall by the sword. The latter threat simply declares that no one will escape death by flight. But there is no necessity to take those who remain as being simply fighting men; and the word "all" must not be taken too literally.

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