Contemporary English Version
A Story about Two Eagles and a Vine
17 The Lord said:
2 Ezekiel, son of man, tell the people of Israel the following story, 3 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, 4 then carried it to a nation of merchants and left it in one of their cities. 5 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] 6 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.
7 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. 8 But the vine was already growing in fertile soil, where there was plenty of water to produce healthy leaves and large grapes.
9 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
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.
- 17.5 like a willow tree beside a stream: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 17.12 king of Judah: Probably King Jehoiachin (see 2 Kings 24.10-12,15,16).
- 17.13 someone from the family of Judah’s king: Probably King Zedekiah (see 2 Kings 24.17).
- 17.21 best troops: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “troops that ran away.”
New International Version
Two Eagles and a Vine
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell it to the Israelites as a parable.(A) 3 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: A great eagle(B) with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon.(C) Taking hold of the top of a cedar, 4 he broke off(D) its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders.
5 “‘He took one of the seedlings of the land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water,(E) 6 and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches(F) turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.(G)
7 “‘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.(H) 8 It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches,(I) bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’
9 “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.(J) 10 It has been planted,(K) but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?(L)’”
11 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Say to this rebellious people, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?(M)’ Say to them: ‘The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles,(N) bringing them back with him to Babylon.(O) 13 Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty(P) with him, putting him under oath.(Q) He also carried away the leading men(R) of the land, 14 so that the kingdom would be brought low,(S) unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. 15 But the king rebelled(T) against him by sending his envoys to Egypt(U) to get horses and a large army.(V) Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape?(W)
16 “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, he shall die(X) in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose treaty he broke.(Y) 17 Pharaoh(Z) with his mighty army and great horde will be of no help to him in war, when ramps(AA) are built and siege works erected to destroy many lives.(AB) 18 He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Because he had given his hand in pledge(AC) and yet did all these things, he shall not escape.
19 “‘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.(AD) 20 I will spread my net(AE) for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment(AF) on him there because he was unfaithful(AG) to me. 21 All his choice troops will fall by the sword,(AH) and the survivors(AI) will be scattered to the winds.(AJ) Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken.(AK)
22 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot(AL) 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.(AM) 23 On the mountain heights(AN) of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit(AO) and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.(AP) 24 All the trees of the forest(AQ) will know that I the Lord bring down(AR) the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.(AS)
“‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.(AT)’”