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A Story about Two Eagles and a Vine

17 The Lord said:

Ezekiel, son of man, tell the people of Israel the following story, so they will understand what I am saying to them:

A large eagle with strong wings and beautiful feathers once flew to Lebanon. It broke the top branch off a cedar tree, then carried it to a nation of merchants and left it in one of their cities. The eagle also took seed from Israel and planted it in a fertile field with plenty of water, like a willow tree beside a stream.[a] The seed sprouted and grew into a grapevine that spread over the ground. It had lots of leaves and strong, deep roots, and its branches grew upward toward the eagle.

There was another eagle with strong wings and thick feathers. The roots and branches of the grapevine soon turned toward this eagle, hoping it would bring water for the soil. But the vine was already growing in fertile soil, where there was plenty of water to produce healthy leaves and large grapes.

Now tell me, Ezekiel, do you think this grapevine will live? Or will the first eagle pull it up by its roots and pluck off the grapes and let its new leaves die? The eagle could easily kill it without the help of a large and powerful army. 10 The grapevine is strong and healthy, but as soon as the scorching desert wind blows, it will quickly wither.

The Lord Explains the Story

11 The Lord said:

12 Ezekiel, ask the rebellious people of Israel if they know what this story means.

Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem, then he captured the king of Judah[b] and his officials, and took them back to Babylon as prisoners. 13 He chose someone from the family of Judah’s king[c] and signed a treaty with him, then made him swear to be loyal. He also led away other important citizens, 14 so that the rest of the people of Judah would obey only him and never gain control of their own country again.

15 But this new king of Judah later rebelled against Babylonia and sent officials to Egypt to get horses and troops. Will this king be successful in breaking the treaty with Babylonia? Or will he be punished for what he’s done?

16 As surely as I am the living Lord God, I swear that the king of Judah will die in Babylon, because he broke the treaty with the king of Babylonia, who appointed him king. 17 Even the king of Egypt and his powerful army will be useless to Judah when the Babylonians attack and build dirt ramps to invade the cities of Judah and kill its people. 18 The king of Judah broke his own promises and ignored the treaty with Babylonia. And so he will be punished!

19 He made a promise in my name and swore to honor the treaty. And now that he has broken that promise, my name is disgraced. He must pay for what he’s done. 20 I will spread out a net to trap him. Then I will drag him to Babylon and see that he is punished for his unfaithfulness to me. 21 His best troops[d] will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction. I, the Lord, have spoken.

22 Someday, I, the Lord,
will cut a tender twig
    from the top of a cedar tree,
then plant it on the peak
    of Israel’s tallest mountain,
where it will grow
strong branches
    and produce large fruit.
23 All kinds of birds will find
    shelter under the tree,
and they will rest in the shade
    of its branches.
24 Every tree in the forest
    will know that I, the Lord,
can bring down tall trees
    and help short ones grow.
I dry up green trees
    and make dry ones green.
I, the Lord, have spoken,
    and I will keep my word.

Footnotes

  1. 17.5 like a willow tree beside a stream: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 17.12 king of Judah: Probably King Jehoiachin (see 2 Kings 24.10-12,15,16).
  3. 17.13 someone from the family of Judah’s king: Probably King Zedekiah (see 2 Kings 24.17).
  4. 17.21 best troops: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “troops that ran away.”

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