Allegory of the Cedar. 1On the first day of the third month in the eleventh year,* the word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, say to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to his hordes: In your greatness, whom do you resemble?
3Assyria! It is Assyria!*
A cedar of Lebanon—
its crown in the clouds!a
4The waters made it grow,
the deep made it tall,
Letting its currents flow
around the place it was planted,
Then sending its channels
to all the other trees of the field.b
5Thereupon it towered in height
above all the trees in the field;
Its branches were numerous
and its boughs long,
Because of the many waters
sent to its shoots.
6In its branches nested
all the birds of the sky;
Under its boughs all the wild animals
And in its shade* dwelt
all the mighty nations.c
7It was magnificent in size
and in the length of its branches,
For its roots reached down
to the many waters.
8In the garden of God,
no cedars could rival it,
No juniper could equal its branches,
no plane tree match its boughs.
No tree in the garden of God
could match its beauty.d
9I made it beautiful
with abundant foliage,
So that all the trees in Eden
were envious of it.*
10Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:
Because it was arrogant about its height,
lifting its crown among the clouds
and exalting itself because of its size,e
11I handed it over to a ruler of nations
to deal with it according to its evil.
I have cast it off,
12and foreigners have cut it down,
The most ruthless nations,
have hurled it on the mountains.
Its boughs fell into every valley
and its branches lay broken
in every ravine in the land.
All the peoples of the earth
departed from its shade
when it was hurled down.f
13On its fallen trunk
sit all the birds of the sky;
Beside its fallen branches,
are found all the beasts of the field.
14This has happened so no well-watered tree
will gain such lofty height,
or lift its crown to the clouds.
Not one of those fed by water
will tower in height over the rest.
For all of them are destined for death,
for the underworld, among mere mortals,
with those who go down to the pit.
15Thus says the Lord GOD:
On the day it went down to Sheol,
I made the deep close up
in mourning for it.
I restrained the currents of the deep,
and held back the many waters.
I darkened Lebanon because of it,
and all the trees of the field
languished because of it.
16At the sound of its fall,
I made nations shudder,
When I cast it down to Sheol
with those who go down to the pit.
In the underworld
all the trees of Eden took comfort:
Lebanon’s choicest and best,
all that were fed by the waters.g
17They too will go down to Sheol,
to those slain by the sword,
Its allies* who dwelt
in its shade among the nations.
18To whom among the trees of Eden
do you compare in glory and greatness?
You will be brought down
with the trees of Eden to the underworld,
And lie among the uncircumcised,
with those slain by the sword.
Such is Pharaoh and all his hordes—
oracle of the Lord GOD.
* [31:1] The first day of the third month in the eleventh year: June 21, 587 B.C.
* [31:3] Assyria: this translates te’ashshur, which some interpret as “cypress tree.” The oracle, however, compares the fate of Pharaoh to the terrible demise of Assyria because of its arrogant pride (cf. Na 1–3). Ezekiel may have drawn on an ancient myth of a cosmic tree of life to emphasize the greatness of Egypt’s fall.
* [31:6] Shade: a metaphor for protection (cf. Lam 4:20).
* [31:9] Here Israel’s God is responsible for Assyria’s splendor, whereas in Is 10:13 Assyria claims to have created its own might.
* [31:17] Allies: lit., “arm.”
a. [31:3] Ps 92:12; Jer 50:18.
c. [31:6] Dn 4:12; cf. Mt 13:32.