Parable of Two Eagles and a Vine
1Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2“Son of man, ask a riddle and tell a parable to the house of Israel, 3saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “A great eagle (Nebuchadnezzar) with great wings, long pinions and a rich plumage of many colors came to Lebanon (Jerusalem) and took away the top of the cedar (Judah). 4He broke off the topmost of its young twigs (young King Jehoiachin) and carried it to a land of traders (Babylonia); he set it in a city of merchants (Babylon). 5He also took some of the seed of the land (Zedekiah, of the royal family) and planted it in fertile soil and a fruitful field; he placed it beside abundant waters and set it like a willow tree. 6Then it sprouted and grew and became a low, spreading vine whose branches turned [in submission] toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches.
7“There was [also] another great eagle with great wings and many feathers; and behold, this vine (Zedekiah) bent its roots toward him and sent out its branches toward him, away from the beds where it was planted, for him to water. 8It was planted in good soil where water was plentiful for it to produce leaves and branches and to bear fruit, so that it might become a splendid vine.” ’ 9Thus says the Lord God, ‘Ask, “Will it thrive? Will he (Nebuchadnezzar) not uproot it and strip off its fruit so that all its sprouting leaves will wither? It will not take a strong arm or many people to uproot it [ending Israel’s national existence]. 10Though it is planted, will it thrive and grow? Will it not completely wither when the east wind touches it? It will wither in the beds where it grew.” ’ ”
11Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 12“Say now to the rebellious house, ‘Do you not know (realize) what these things mean?’ Tell them, ‘Hear this, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took its king [Jehoiachin] and its princes and brought them with him to Babylon. 13And he took a member of the royal family [the king’s uncle, Zedekiah] and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. He also took the important leaders of the land, 14so that the kingdom would be in subjection, unable to restore itself and rise again, but that by keeping his covenant it might continue. 15But Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar by sending his ambassadors to Egypt so that they might give him horses and many troops. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Can he indeed break the covenant [with Babylon] and [still] escape? 16As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely in the country of the king (Nebuchadnezzar) who made Zedekiah [the vassal] king, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke, in Babylon Zedekiah shall die. 17Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in the war, when they (the Babylonians) put up ramps and build siege walls to destroy many lives. 18Now Zedekiah dishonored the oath by breaking the covenant, and behold, he gave his hand and pledged his allegiance, yet did all these things; he shall not escape.’ ” 19Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “As I live, I will bring down on his own head My oath [made on My behalf by Nebuchadnezzar] which Zedekiah dishonored and My covenant which he broke. 20I will spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare; and I will bring him to Babylon and will enter into judgment with him there for his treason which he has committed against Me. 21All the choice men [from Judah] in all his troops will fall by the sword, and those that survive will be scattered to every wind; and you will know [without any doubt] that I the Lord have spoken.”
22Thus says the Lord God, “I Myself will take a twig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out; I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23I will plant it on the mountain heights of Israel, that it may grow boughs and bear fruit and be a noble and stately cedar. And birds of every kind will live under it; they will nest [securely] in the shade of its branches. 24All the trees of the field will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will fulfill it.”