Ezekiel 19:2
And say, What is your mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.
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(2) Thy mother.—Mother stands for the whole national community—the theocracy, as is plain from Ezekiel 19:10. This was represented, since the captivity of the ten tribes, by Judah; and her “princes,” of the line of David, were the legitimate kings of the whole nation. The figure of the lion is a common one in Scripture (see Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24; Numbers 24:9), and was also familiar in Babylonia.

19:1-9 Ezekiel is to compare the kingdom of Judah to a lioness. He must compare the kings of Judah to a lion's whelps; they were cruel and oppressive to their own subjects. The righteousness of God is to be acknowledged, when those who have terrified and enslaved others, are themselves terrified and enslaved. When professors of religion form connexions with ungodly persons, their children usually grow up following after the maxims and fashions of a wicked world. Advancement to authority discovers the ambition and selfishness of men's hearts; and those who spend their lives in mischief, generally end them by violence.Thy mother - The people represented by Judah. Compare Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24. 2. thy mother—the mother of Jehoiachin, the representative of David's line in exile with Ezekiel. The "mother" is Judea: "a lioness," as being fierce in catching prey (Eze 19:3), referring to her heathenish practices. Jerusalem was called Ariel (the lion of God) in a good sense (Isa 29:1); and Judah "a lion's whelp … a lion … an old lion" (Ge 49:9), to which, as also to Nu 23:24; 24:9, this passage alludes.

nourished … among young lions—She herself had "lain" among lions, that is, had intercourse with the corruptions of the surrounding heathen and had brought up the royal young ones similarly: utterly degenerate from the stock of Abraham.

Lay down—or "couched," is appropriate to the lion, the Arab name of which means "the coucher."

What resemblance shall I use to set out the nature, deportment, and state of the mother of these princes? an unhappy mother of unhappy children! Or, Alas! thy mother, &c.

Thy; one of these was upon the throne at once, and therefore the prophet speaks to one at a time, in the singular number. Mother; the land of Judea and Jerusalem, the chief city of it, the royal family of David.

A lioness; though chosen of God to execute justice, defend the poor, to be his vicegerents, and to delight in mercy; yet once advanced, they soon degenerated into the fierce and ravening nature of the lioness, and as violently seized the prey.

She lay down; associated, couched, and grew familiar with, by leagues, commerce, and intermixture of marriages with neighbour kings, called here lions: thou didst learn their manners, and grewest fierce and bloody, as they.

She nourished: the Hebrew includes both her bringing forth many, and her advancing them to greatness: the royal family of flat nation had many kings, and some very great, but the time the prophet points now at in particular was after Josiah, whose character, given Jeremiah 22:16, is, that he judged the poor and needy, but his successors were of another temper, as Jeremiah 22:13-15,17.

Her whelps, i.e. her sons, successors to the crown, which could be called nothing else, to keep the decorum of the parable.

Among young lions; either foreign princes and kings, or else some of the fiercer, unjuster, aspiring, and tyrannizing princes at home; for such there were in these, as well as in Rehoboam’s times, who would have the son’s finger thicker than the father’s loins. And say, what is thy mother?.... That is, say so to the then reigning prince, Zedekiah, what is thy mother like? to what is she to be compared? by whom is meant, not the royal family of David only, or Jerusalem the metropolis of the nation, but the whole body of the people; and so the Targum interprets it of the congregation of Israel. The answer to the question is,

a lioness; she is like to one, not for her strength and glory, but for her cruelty and rapine; for her want of humanity, mercy, and justice:

she lay down among lions; that is, kings, as the Targum interprets it Heathen princes, the kings of the nations about them, as of Egypt and Babylon, Jeremiah 50:17; so called for their despotic and arbitrary power, tyranny, and cruelty: now this lioness, the people of the Jews, lay down among them, joined with them in leagues and marriages, and learned their manners, and became of the same temper and disposition:

she nourisheth her whelps among young lions; princes, as the Targum explains it; either the princes of Judah, who were become like young lions, fierce and cruel; or the princes of other nations, among whom the children of the royal family were brought up; or, however, they were trained up in the principles of such, even of arbitrary and despotic power, and were taught to oppress their subjects, and not execute justice and mercy among them.

And say, What is thy {b} mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.

(b) That is Jehoahaz's mother, or Jerusalem.

Verse 2. - What is thy mother? etc.; better, with the Vulgate, LXX., and Keil, Why did thy mother, a lioness, lie down among lionesses? The image may have been suggested by Genesis 49:9 and Numbers 23:24, or perhaps also by Nahum 2:11, 12. The lioness is Israel, the kingdom idealized and personified. The lionesses among whom she had lain down are the heathen kingdoms. The question asks why she had become as one of them and adopted their cruelty and ferocity. Turning to good leads to life; turning to evil is followed by death. - Ezekiel 18:21. But if the wicked man turneth from all his sins which he hath committed, and keepeth all my statutes, and doeth right and righteousness, he shall live, and not die. Ezekiel 18:22. All his transgressions which he hath committed, shall not be remembered to him: for the sake of the righteousness which he hath done he will live. Ezekiel 18:23. Have I then pleasure in the death of the wicked? is the saying of Jehovah: and not rather that he turn from his ways, and live? Ezekiel 18:24. But if the righteous man turn from his righteousness, and doeth wickedness, and acteth according to all the abominations which the ungodly man hath done, should he live? All the righteousness that he hath done shall not be remembered: for his unfaithfulness that he hath committed, and for his sin that he hath sinned, for these he shall die. Ezekiel 18:25. And ye say, "The way of the Lord is not right." Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? Ezekiel 18:26. If a righteous man turneth from his righteousness, and doeth wickedness, and dieth in consequence, he dieth for his wickedness that he hath done. - The proof that every one must bear his sin did not contain an exhaustive reply to the question, in what relation the righteousness of God stood to the sin of men? For the cases supposed in vv. 5-20 took for granted that there was a constant persistence in the course once taken, and overlooked the instances, which are by no means rare, when a man's course of life is entirely changed. It still remained, therefore, to take notice of such cases as these, and they are handled in Ezekiel 18:21-26. The ungodly man, who repents and turns, shall live; and the righteous man, who turns to the way of sin, shall die. "As the righteous man, who was formerly a sinner, is not crushed down by his past sins; so the sinner, who was once a righteous man, is not supported by his early righteousness. Every one will be judged in that state in which he is found" (Jerome). The motive for the pardon of the repenting sinner is given in Ezekiel 18:23, in the declaration that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but desires his conversion, that he may live. God is therefore not only just, but merciful and gracious, and punishes none with death but those who either will not desist from evil, or will not persevere in the way of His commandments. Consequently the complaint, that the way of the Lord, i.e., His conduct toward men, is not weighed (יתּכן, see comm. on 1 Samuel 2:3), i.e., not just and right, is altogether unfounded, and recoils upon those who make it. It it not God's ways, but the sinner's, that are wrong (Ezekiel 18:25). The proof of this, which Hitzig overlooks, is contained in the declarations made in Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 18:26, - viz. in the fact that God does not desire the death of the sinner, and in His mercy forgives the penitent all his former sins, and does not lay them to his charge; and also in the fact that He punishes the man who turns from the way of righteousness and gives himself up to wickedness, on account of the sin which he commits; so that He simply judges him according to his deeds. - In Ezekiel 18:24, ועשׂה is the continuation of the infinitive שׁוּב, and וחי is interrogatory, as in Ezekiel 18:13.
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