Three Lions Taken Captive
19:1 Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the (Gemini) princes of Israel,
2 And say, What is thy mother (Judah)? A (Leo) lioness: she lay down among (Leo Minor and Argo) lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.
The expression alludes to the mournful songs sung at funerals. Such a lamentation the prophet is directed to apply to the mournful condition of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Thy mother is the Jewish nation -- A lioness — Genesis 49:9, where Judah is represented under the emblem of a lion, and Judea was among the nations like a lioness among the beasts of the forest; she had strength and sovereignty. And the young lions which she produced are the princes, Josiah’s successors, whose life and disgraces the prophet here points out. She lay down among the lions — She remained in grandeur and security in the neighbourhood of many powerful kings. She nourished her whelps among lions — She multiplied and increased in power, notwithstanding the envy of all the neighbouring nations.
3 And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a (Argo) young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured (Gemini) men.
4 The nations also heard of him; he was taken in their (lunar black) pit, and they brought him with (red radius line) chains unto the land of Egypt.
The short reign of Jehoahaz was marked by violence and idolatry, and was closed by Pharaoh-Necho's carrying him captive into Egypt.
Ezekiel 19:3-4. And she brought up one of her whelps — This seems to be spoken of Jehoahaz, who, we are told, followed not the good example of his father Josiah, but the evil practices of the wicked kings his predecessors; and though we have no further account of his acts, yet, from this, there is sufficient reason to suppose that he was rapacious and injurious to his neighbours, and tyrannical and cruel; which possibly was the reason why Pharaoh-necho deposed him after he had reigned only three months, and placed his brother on the throne in his room. The nations also heard of him — The king of Egypt, hearing of his character, and probably some of his subjects having been used ill by him, deprived him of his kingly office, put him in bands, and carried him into Egypt, 2 Kings 23:32; 2 Kings 23:34. He was taken in their pit — This expression alludes to those pit-falls and snares which are made to take wild beasts; and as Jehoahaz is spoken of here as a young lion, the expression was quite applicable to signify his being taken prisoner
5 Now when she saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost, then she took another of her (Leo Minor is Ursa Major) whelps, and made him a young lion.
Jehoiachin who soon showed himself no less unworthy than Jehoahaz. The "waiting" of the people was during the absence of their rightful lord Jehoahaz, a captive in Egypt while Jehoiakim, whom they deemed an usurper, was on the throne. It was not until Jehoiachin succeeded, that they seemed to themselves to have a monarch of their own 2 Kings 24:6.
6 And he went up and down (as the Zodiac rotated) among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured (Gemini) men.
7 And he knew their desolate palaces, and he laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring.
8 Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their (red radius line) net over him: he was taken in their (lunar black) pit.
The nations - are here the Chaldaeans:
9 And they put him in ward in (red radius line) chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.
Ezekiel 19:5-9. When she saw that she had waited — This seems to signify that the Jews waited some time before they thought of setting another king over them, hoping, probably, that the king of Egypt would restore unto them Jehoahaz, whom he had taken prisoner; but when they saw their hopes disappointed in this, and that there was no longer any room to expect it, then they, by the consent, and probably, direction of the king of Egypt, elected Jehoahaz’s brother, Eliakim, king in his stead, his name being changed to Jehoiakim. And he went up and down among the lions — He imitated the kings his neighbours, and became rapacious and cruel like them. And learned to catch the prey, &c. — He learned and practised all the methods of tyranny and oppression. And he knew their desolate palaces — Dr. Waterland and Houbigant render it, He destroyed their palaces; and Bishop Newcome, He brought evil upon their palaces. The meaning seems to be, that Jehoiakim made himself master of the riches and pleasant seats of the great men of the land. And the land was desolate, &c., by the noise of his roaring — His cruelty and oppression caused many of the inhabitants of Judea to remove out of it, and go and settle in other places, where they could live more secure. Then the nations set themselves against him, &c. — He was attacked by the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites, and at last the king of Babylon took him prisoner, and carried him in fetters to Babylon: see 2 Chronicles 36:6. That his voice should no more be heard, &c. — That he should be no more a terror to the land of Israel. For Jehoiakim being compared, in the foregoing verses, to a lion, whose voice, or roaring, strikes men with terror; by saying that his voice should no more be heard, is signified that he should be no longer a terror to any in the country.
10 Thy mother is like a (red radius line) vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.
Thy mother - Judah or Jerusalem. Jehoiachin is still addressed.
In thy blood - Blood is equivalent to "life" Genesis 9:4. The clause is equivalent to "Thy mother is a vine, living in thy blood," i. e., in the life of thee and of thy children. The excellency of a vine is in her fruitful branches; the glory of a mother in her noble children. Jeremiah was to write Jehoiachin childless (see the note at Jeremiah 22:30); Ezekiel here takes a general view of the king and princes of the blood royal.
11 And she had strong (red radius) rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.
12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the (solar) fire consumed them.
This is a dirge; and therefore that which is foreseen by the prophet, the capture and burning of Jerusalem, is described as already accomplished.
13 And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.
14 And (solar) fire is gone out of a (red radius) rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.
Fire is gone out - Compare the marginal reference. Zedekiah is regarded, like Abimelech, as all usurper and the ruin of his people.
“The Jewish nation, whence the royal family had their original, was like a fruitful vine in a very flourishing condition.” And she had strong rods, &c. — From her sprung valiant princes, fit to sway the sceptre. A rod or sceptre is an emblem of authority. Her stature was exalted among the thick branches — Among the neighbouring kings and princes: see 2 Chronicles 32:23. The increase of the nation’s power is expressed by this. But she was plucked up in fury — God, in his anger, removed her out of her own land. She was cast down to the ground — She was reduced to a contemptible state. The east wind dried up her fruit — The Chaldean forces ravaged and depopulated the country; her strong rods were broken — Her kings and princes were subdued, and made captives. The fire consumed them — The divine anger brought them to destruction, as fire consumes the branches of a tree when it is withered. And now she is planted in the wilderness — A great part of her people are carried captive, where their condition is as much different from what it was formerly, as the condition of a tree is when it is removed out of a rich soil into a dry and barren ground. The Jews suffered several captivities before that final one which ended in the destruction of their temple and government. And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches — This is spoken of Zedekiah’s breaking his oath of fidelity to the king of Babylon, which was the occasion of the destruction of the royal family, and the entire ruin of the government. This is a lamentation, &c. — This is matter of present lamentation, and shall be so to after ages.