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Ezekiel 31:1-18

A Cedar in Lebanon

31:1 In the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, 1  the word of the Lord came to me: 31:2 “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and his hordes:

“‘Who are you like in your greatness?

31:3 Consider Assyria, 2  a cedar in Lebanon, 3 

with beautiful branches, like a forest giving shade,

and extremely tall;

its top reached into the clouds.

31:4 The water made it grow;

underground springs made it grow tall.

Rivers flowed all around the place it was planted,

while smaller channels watered all the trees of the field. 4 

31:5 Therefore it grew taller than all the trees of the field;

its boughs grew large and its branches grew long,

because of the plentiful water in its shoots. 5 

31:6 All the birds of the sky nested in its boughs;

under its branches all the beasts of the field gave birth,

in its shade all the great 6  nations lived.

31:7 It was beautiful in its loftiness, in the length of its branches;

for its roots went down deep to plentiful waters.

31:8 The cedars in the garden of God could not eclipse it,

nor could the fir trees 7  match its boughs;

the plane trees were as nothing compared to its branches;

no tree in the garden of God could rival its beauty.

31:9 I made it beautiful with its many branches;

all the trees of Eden, in the garden of God, envied it.

31:10 “‘Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: Because it was tall in stature, and its top reached into the clouds, and it was proud of its height, 31:11 I gave it over to the leader of the nations. He has judged it thoroughly, 8  as its sinfulness deserves. I have thrown it out. 31:12 Foreigners from the most terrifying nations have cut it down and left it to lie there on the mountains. In all the valleys its branches have fallen, and its boughs lie broken in the ravines of the land. All the peoples of the land 9  have departed 10  from its shade and left it. 31:13 On its ruins all the birds of the sky will live, and all the wild animals 11  will walk 12  on its branches. 31:14 For this reason no watered trees will grow so tall; their tops will not reach into the clouds, nor will the well-watered ones grow that high. 13  For all of them have been appointed to die in the lower parts of the earth; 14  they will be among mere mortals, 15  with those who descend to the pit.

31:15 “‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: On the day it 16  went down to Sheol I caused observers to lament. 17  I covered it with the deep and held back its rivers; its plentiful water was restrained. I clothed Lebanon in black for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it. 31:16 I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I threw it down to Sheol, along with those who descend to the pit. 18  Then all the trees of Eden, the choicest and the best of Lebanon, all that were well-watered, were comforted in the earth below. 31:17 Those who lived in its shade, its allies 19  among the nations, also went down with it to Sheol, to those killed by the sword. 31:18 Which of the trees of Eden was like you in majesty and loftiness? You will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the lower parts of the earth; you will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword! This is what will happen to Pharaoh and all his hordes, declares the sovereign Lord.’”

1 sn June 21, 587 b.c.

2 sn Either Egypt, or the Lord compares Egypt to Assyria, which is described in vv. 3-17 through the metaphor of a majestic tree. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:185. Like Egypt, Assyria had been a great world power, but in time God brought the Assyrians down. Egypt should learn from history the lesson that no nation, no matter how powerful, can withstand the judgment of God. Rather than following the text here, some prefer to emend the proper name Assyria to a similar sounding common noun meaning “boxwood” (see Ezek 27:6), which would make a fitting parallel to “cedar of Lebanon” in the following line. In this case vv. 3-18 in their entirety refer to Egypt, not Assyria. See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:121-27.

3 sn Lebanon was know for its cedar trees (Judg 9:15; 1 Kgs 4:33; 5:6; 2 Kgs 14:9; Ezra 3:7; Pss 29:5; 92:12; 104:16).

4 tn Heb “Waters made it grow; the deep made it grow tall. It (the deep) was flowing with its rivers around the place it (the tree) was planted, it (the deep) sent out its channels to all the trees of the field.”

5 tn Heb “when it sends forth.” Repointing the consonants of the Masoretic text would render the proposed reading “shoots” (cf. NRSV).

6 tn Or “many.”

7 tn Or “cypress trees” (cf. NASB, NLT); NIV “pine trees.”

8 tn Heb “acting he has acted with regard to it.” The infinitive absolute precedes the main verb to emphasize the certainty and decisiveness of the action depicted.

9 tn Or “earth” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

10 tn Heb “gone down.”

11 tn Heb “the beasts of the field,” referring to wild as opposed to domesticated animals.

12 tn Heb “be.”

13 tn Heb “and they will not stand to them in their height, all the drinkers of water.”

14 tn Heb “for death, to the lower earth.”

15 tn Heb “the sons of men.”

16 tn Or “he.”

17 tn Heb “I caused lamentation.” D. I. Block (Ezekiel [NICOT], 2:194-95) proposes an alternative root which would give the meaning “I gated back the waters,” i.e., shut off the water supply.

18 sn For the expression “going down to the pit,” see Ezek 26:20; 32:18, 24, 29.

19 tn Heb “its arm.”

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