Ezekiel 17


Humiliation and exaltation of the Davidic family, disloyalty of Zedekiah, the consequences

The Parable. Ezekiel 17:1-10.

The interpretation and application to king Zedekiah. Ezekiel 17:11-21.

The promise of the Messianic kingdom, the planting of the true twig of the stem of David. Ezekiel 17:22-24.


The allegory of the eagles. The allegory interpreted. A Messianic promise.

‘The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell it to the Israelites as a parable. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colours came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders. ‘He took one of the seedlings of the land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So, it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs. Ezekiel 17:1-6

The first eagle

This is a riddle, allegory or parable. The Hebrew, ‘masal’ could be either or all. Difficult to differentiate.

First eagle, Babylon

Lebanon, Judah

Cedar, Royalty, particularly Jehoiachin.

Seed, Zedekiah

Willow, speaks of a weak kingdom. Zedekiah as puppet king.

This interpretation is given later in the chapter in Ezekiel 17:11f.

‘But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’ ‘Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’ Ezekiel 17:7-10

The Second eagle

Second eagle, Egypt Vine.

Judah under Zedekiah.

This interpretation again is given in Ezekiel 17:15f.

‘Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Say to this rebellious people, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say to them: ‘The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon. Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land, so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape? ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, he shall die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose treaty he broke. Pharaoh with his mighty army and great horde will be of no help to him in war, when ramps are built, and siege works erected to destroy many lives. He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Because he had given his hand in pledge and yet did all these things, he shall not escape. ‘Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: As surely as I live, I will repay him for despising my oath and breaking my covenant. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment on him there because he was unfaithful to me. All his choice troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to the winds. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken.’ Ezekiel 17:11-21

The Interpretation

This is an account of what has happened in Judah and what will happen. Babylon has removed the royal and influential people. Jehoiachin has been taken to Babylon and Zedekiah has been left in his place deliberately placed in a weak kingdom as a puppet king. But Zedekiah rebelled and sought help from Egypt. However, the army of Egypt will not be able to help Judah on this occasion.

This is a picture of the treachery of Zedekiah, who will end up a captive in Babylon and his troops and supporters will be similarly judged. Note, the characteristics of the two eagles. Babylon’s eagle is shown as grand, colourful and powerful. But Egypt lacks the power. It is all show. The first eagle has the pinions the power, the second does not.

Also see the reason for Zedekiah’s individual punishment. He broke the oath made to the king of Babylon. Ezekiel 17:17. He clearly despised it and broke it according to verse 18. Then we discover that God calls it ‘my oath’ and ‘my covenant’. Zedekiah had brought God into the covenant with Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Chronicles 36:13.

He made the mistake of breaking a personal covenant with God. Throughout the Bible we see how important covenants or oaths are to God. Amos 1:9ff / Deuteronomy 28:15ff / Hebrews 10:19-31.

‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel, I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. ‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’ Ezekiel 17:22-24

God the third eagle

Though God does not call himself an eagle, he takes the part the other two eagles have played in Ezekiel 17:1-10. He takes a small twig from the most tender part of the tree and places it on the highest point of the mountain. It is one of the royal line to be established in Judah.

See the smallness of the twig and the harshness of the grounds. The top of the mountain has the weakest of soil and it receives the strongest of winds, but God plants it and so it will not only survive but grow vigorously.

Why? Because God wants it to. This is a Messianic prophecy. For after Zedekiah there was no royal one until Jesus.

See how the Babylonian eagle planted the twig and planted it in good soil with plenty of water, but it did not grow. God did not want the kingdom under Zedekiah to flourish, but it was different under king Jesus. Isaiah 53:2.

God says that glory will be restored to the Davidic line through Jesus.

Go To Ezekiel 18



"Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

John 14:6