Ezekiel 19


Lamentation over the fall of Judah and for the princes of Israel

Capture and exile of the princes. Ezekiel 19:1-9.

Destruction of the kingdom, and banishment of the people. Ezekiel 19:10-14.


Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin were both taken into captivity. This will also happen to Zedekiah. As a lasting reminder of how the wicked are brought down, Ezekiel writes a lament for two of Judah’s kings who were taken by Judah’s oppressors. It has been some 17 years since Pharaoh Neco led king Jehoahaz away to captivity in Egypt. It has been some six years since Nebuchadnezzar brought a subdued king Jehoiakim to Babylonia. Their capture and exile are witnesses to Judah’s vulnerability to God’s judgment.

‘Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel and say: ‘What a lioness was your mother among the lions! She lay down among them and reared her cubs. She brought up one of her cubs, and he became a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he became a man-eater. The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt.’ Ezekiel 19:1-4

The First Lion

Here is a lamentation, Hebrew, ‘qina’, a dirge, or funeral song. It is a funeral song concerning the royal family of Judah, Genesis 49:4 / Micah 5:8. The kings of Judah sat on thrones decorated with lions 1 Kings 10:18-20. The lion was part of royal symbolism, Proverbs 19:12 / Proverbs 20:2 / 2 Samuel 1:23.

Note also the seal of Shema, servant of Jeroboam, decorated with a royal lion, found at Megiddo, and the seal of Jotham from Ezion Geber, bearing the royal lion. The lioness is the royal family with lions, kings, coming out of her. The lioness is the womb from which comes the seed. One of her whelps grows up and learns to be king.

The first lion then is Jehoahaz. He is taken with hooks, captivity, to Egypt. 2 Chronicles 36:1ff / 2 Kings 23:30-34. Pharaoh Neco took him to Egypt. He was the first and only king of Judah to go captive to Egypt.

‘When she saw her hope unfulfilled, her expectation gone, she took another of her cubs and made him a strong lion. He prowled among the lions, for he was now a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he became a man-eater. He broke down their strongholds and devastated their towns. The land and all who were in it were terrified by his roaring. Then the nations came against him, those from regions round about. They spread their net for him, and he was trapped in their pit. With hooks they pulled him into a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison, so his roar was heard no longer on the mountains of Israel.’ Ezekiel 19:5-9

The Second Lion

The next king is Jehoiakim, but this is not him, for this king was taken captive to Babylon. Jehoiachin is the second lion. Why miss out Jehoiakim?

Jehoiakim was missed out here because they never mourned his death. Jeremiah encourages no mourning for him. Jeremiah 22:18.

He was hated by most of the people, and so in a passage on lamentation for their kings, Jehoiakim would not be included. 2 Chronicles 36:6 / Daniel 1:2, he died in Jerusalem, 2 Kings 24:1-6. We see in this a compression of historic time. So, the second lion was also taken captive, this time to Babylon. This is a Lament and is to be used as a lament.

‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water. Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler’s sceptre. It towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches. But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground. The east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit; its strong branches withered, and fire consumed them. Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s sceptre.’ ‘This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.’ Ezekiel 19:10-14

Here is Zedekiah

The last king of the line. Here the figure changes from a lioness to a vine. From the vine comes a stem, Zedekiah. But what happens to the stem? It is plucked up, dried up and burnt out.

Note that the fire which did the consuming originated from the stem itself. So, the rulers in Judah were causing the problems.

The people were trusting in the ruler. They had a descendant of David on the throne, so everything was fine. But it was he who would be instrumental in causing the downfall.

This is a reference to the tragedy of 586, and Zedekiah, although it has also been assumed that the stem is an allusion to Jehoiachin.

Also, the vine is associated with Judah in Genesis 49:11-12, on a panel from a synagogue at Dura, third century A.D. The lion and vine symbolism is based on this chapter.

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