The Eagles and the Vine. 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, propose a riddle, and tell this proverb to the house of Israel: 3Thus says the Lord GOD:
The great eagle, with wide wingspan
and long feathers, with thick plumage,
many-hued, came to Lebanon.
He plucked the crest of the cedar,a
4broke off its topmost branch,
And brought it to a land of merchants,
set it in a city of traders.
5Then he took some native seed
and planted it in fertile soil;
A shoot beside plentiful waters,
like a willow he planted it,b
6That it might sprout and become a vine,
dense and low-lying,
With its branches turned toward him,
its roots beneath it.
Thus it became a vine, produced branches,
and put forth shoots.
7Then another great eagle appeared,
with wide wingspan, rich in plumage,
And see! This vine bent its roots to him,
sent out branches for him to water.
From the bed where it was planted,c
8it was transplanted to a fertile field
By abundant waters, to produce branches,
to bear fruit, to become a majestic vine.
9Say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Can it thrive?
Will he not tear up its roots
and strip its fruit?
Then all its green leaves will wither—
neither strong arm nor mighty nation
is needed to uproot it.
10True, it is planted; but will it thrive?
Will it not wither up
When the east wind strikes it,
wither in the very bed where it sprouted?d
11* The word of the LORD came to me:
12Now say to the rebellious house:
Do you not understand this? Tell them!
The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem
and took away its king and officials
and brought them to him in Babylon.e
13After removing the nobles from the land,
he then took one of the royal line
And made a covenant with him,
binding him under oath,f
14To be a humble kingdom,
without high aspirations,
to keep his covenant and so survive.
15But this one rebelled against him
by sending envoys to Egypt
To obtain horses and a mighty army.
Can he thrive?
Can he escape if he does this?
Can he break a covenant and go free?g
16As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD—
in the house of the king who set him up to rule,
Whose oath he ignored and whose covenant he broke,
there in Babylon I swear he shall die!h
17Pharaoh shall not help him on the day of battle,
with a great force and mighty horde,
When ramps are thrown up and siege works built
for the cutting down of many lives.
18He ignored his oath, breaking his covenant;
even though he gave his hand, he did all these things—
he shall not escape!i
19Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:
As I live, my oath which he spurned,
And my covenant which he broke,
I will bring down on his head.
20I will spread my net over him,
and he will be caught in my snare.
I will bring him to Babylon
to judge him there
because he broke faith with me.j
21Any among his forces who escape
will fall by the sword,
And whoever might survive
will be scattered to the winds.k
Thus you will know that I the LORD have spoken.
22Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will pluck from the crest of the cedar
the highest branch.
From the top a tender shoot
I will break off and transplant*
on a high, lofty mountain.
23On the mountain height of Israel
I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Every small bird will nest under it,
all kinds of winged birds will dwell
in the shade of its branches.l
24Every tree of the field will know
that I am the LORD.
I bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
Wither up the green tree,
and make the dry tree bloom.m
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do!
* [17:11–21] These verses explain the allegory in vv. 3–10. In 597 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin from the throne and took him into exile; in his place he set Zedekiah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, on the throne and received from him the oath of loyalty. But Zedekiah was persuaded to rebel by Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt and thus deserved punishment; cf. 2 Kgs 24:10–25:7.
* [17:22–23] The Lord will undo the actions of the Babylonian king by rebuilding the Davidic dynasty so the nations realize that only Israel’s God can restore a people’s destiny.
a. [17:3] Dt 28:49; Jer 49:22; Dn 7:4.
b. [17:5] cf. 2 Kgs 24:17.
c. [17:7] cf. Ez 31:4–5; Jer 37:5; 44:30.
e. [17:12] 2 Kgs 24:15.
f. [17:13] 2 Chr 36:13.
h. [17:16] 2 Kgs 24:17; 25:7; Jer 52:11.
i. [17:18] cf. 2 Kgs 10:15.
j. [17:20] cf. Ez 12:13; 32:3.
k. [17:21] Lv 26:33; 2 Kgs 25:5.
l. [17:23] Dn 4:12; Hos 14:5–7.