December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Thus the word of the LORD came to me:
- Son of man, propose a riddle, and speak this proverb to the house of Israel:
- Thus speaks the Lord GOD: The great eagle, with great wings, with long pinions, with thick plumage, many-hued, came to Lebanon. He took the crest of the cedar,
- tearing off its topmost branch, And brought it to a land of tradesmen, set it in a city of merchants.
- Then he took some seed of the land, and planted it in a seedbed; A shoot by plentiful waters, like a willow he placed it,
- To sprout and grow up a vine, dense and low-lying, Its branches turned toward him, its roots lying under him. Thus it became a vine, produced branches and put forth shoots.
- But there was another great eagle, great of wing, rich in plumage; To him this vine bent its roots, sent out its branches, That he might water it more freely than the bed where it was planted.
- In a fertile field by plentiful waters it was planted, to grow branches, bear fruit, and become a majestic vine.
- Say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Can it prosper? Will he not rather tear it out by the roots and strip off its fruit, so that all its green growth will wither when he pulls it up by the roots? (No need of a mighty arm or many people to do this.)
- True, it is planted, but will it prosper? Will it not rather wither, when touched by the east wind, in the bed where it grew?
- 1 Thus the word of the LORD came to me:
- Son of man, say now to the rebellious house: Do you not understand what this means? It is this: The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took away its king and princes with him to Babylon.
- Then he selected a man of the royal line with whom he made a covenant, binding him under oath, while removing the nobles of the land,
- so that the kingdom would remain a modest one, without aspirations, and would keep his covenant and obey him.
- But this man rebelled against him, sending envoys to Egypt to obtain horses and a great army. Can he prosper? Can he who does such things escape? Can he break a covenant and still go free?
- As I live, says the Lord GOD, in the home of the king who set him up to rule, whose oath he spurned, whose covenant with him he broke, there in Babylon I swear he shall die!
- When ramps are cast up and siege towers are built for the destruction of many lives, he shall not be saved in the conflict by Pharaoh with a great army and numerous troops.
- He spurned his oath, breaking his covenant. Though he gave his hand in pledge, he did all these things. He shall not escape!
- Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD: As I live, my oath which he spurned, my covenant which he broke, I swear to bring down upon his head.
- I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there over his breaking faith with me.
- All the crack troops among his forces shall fall by the sword, and the survivors shall be scattered in every direction. Thus you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken.
- 2 Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD: I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, And plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
- on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
- And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, Bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, Wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom. As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.
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1 [11-21] These verses explain the foregoing allegory. In 597 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar removed King Jehoiachin 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 beguiled into rebellion by Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt, and thereby merited punishment; cf 2 Kings 24:10-25:7.
2 [22-23] I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar . . . plant it: the Lord will restore Israel under a messianic King from the same Davidic dynasty.
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