A Story of Two Eagles
1Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2“Son of man, give this riddle, and tell this story to the people of Israel. 3Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord:
“A great eagle with broad wings and long feathers,
covered with many-colored plumage,
came to Lebanon.
He seized the top of a cedar tree
4and plucked off its highest branch.
He carried it away to a city filled with merchants.
He planted it in a city of traders.
5He also took a seedling from the land
and planted it in fertile soil.
He placed it beside a broad river,
where it could grow like a willow tree.
6It took root there and
grew into a low, spreading vine.
Its branches turned up toward the eagle,
and its roots grew down into the ground.
It produced strong branches
and put out shoots.
7But then another great eagle came
with broad wings and full plumage.
So the vine now sent its roots and branches
toward him for water,
8even though it was already planted in good soil
and had plenty of water
so it could grow into a splendid vine
and produce rich leaves and luscious fruit.
9“So now the Sovereign Lord asks:
Will this vine grow and prosper?
No! I will pull it up, roots and all!
I will cut off its fruit
and let its leaves wither and die.
I will pull it up easily
without a strong arm or a large army.
10But when the vine is transplanted,
will it thrive?
No, it will wither away
when the east wind blows against it.
It will die in the same good soil
where it had grown so well.”
The Riddle Explained
11Then this message came to me from the Lord: 12“Say to these rebels of Israel: Don’t you understand the meaning of this riddle of the eagles? The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took away her king and princes, and brought them to Babylon. 13He made a treaty with a member of the royal family and forced him to take an oath of loyalty. He also exiled Israel’s most influential leaders, 14so Israel would not become strong again and revolt. Only by keeping her treaty with Babylon could Israel survive.
15“Nevertheless, this man of Israel’s royal family rebelled against Babylon, sending ambassadors to Egypt to request a great army and many horses. Can Israel break her sworn treaties like that and get away with it? 16No! For as surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, the king of Israel will die in Babylon, the land of the king who put him in power and whose treaty he disregarded and broke. 17Pharaoh and all his mighty army will fail to help Israel when the king of Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem again and destroys many lives. 18For the king of Israel disregarded his treaty and broke it after swearing to obey; therefore, he will not escape.
19“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will punish him for breaking my covenant and disregarding the solemn oath he made in my name. 20I will throw my net over him and capture him in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and put him on trial for this treason against me. 21And all his best warriors#17:21 As in many Hebrew manuscripts; Masoretic Text reads his fleeing warriors. The meaning is uncertain. will be killed in battle, and those who survive will be scattered to the four winds. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.
22“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. 23It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. 24And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!”