Ezekiel 17:3-4

3. And say, Thus says the Lord God, A great eagle with great wings, long winged, full of feathers, which had divers colors, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:

3. Et dic, Sit dicit Dominator Iehovah, aquila magna, magna alis, longa penna1plena2plumis quae illis variae3 erant venit ad montem Libanum, et accepit summitatem cedri.

4. He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffic; he set it, in a city of merchants.

4. Caput4 surculorum ejus avellit, et transtulit in terram mercatoris,5 in urbe mercatorum posuit eam.6


Here the Prophet reasons from the greater to the less: for if Nebuchadnezzar was able to subdue the whole kingdom with ease, when as yet the Jews were untouched, how much more readily would he overthrow them when wretched and all but ruined: for nothing remained which was not threatened with ruin; and this is the meaning of the Prophet. But he compares King Nebuchadnezzar to an eagle, whom he says was great, and then with large or extended wings. There is no doubt that by wings, feathers, and plumes, he means the regions and peoples over which Nebuchadnezzar presided; for we know that the Chaldaeans possessed the monarchy of the East. Since, therefore, so many regions and people obeyed Nebuchadnezzar's sway, it is not surprising that the Prophet calls him a great eagle, with ample wings, and with numerous feathers or plumes; for where he now says, huwnh alm, mela henotzeh, full of feathers, he will shortly say, huwn br, reb notzeh, many feathers, when speaking of the king of Egypt. He says, the wings were of divers colors; it is the same noun which the Prophet used in the last chapter, when he said that the people were clad in precious garments; for thus the Hebrews speak of Phrygian texture: hence he compares the wings of the king of Babylon to a woven garment, resplendent with various colors; for although Nebuchadnezzar held his throne at only one place, yet he had seized and subdued many tributaries on all sides. This, therefore, is the reason for this variety; -- but I cannot proceed further at present.


Grant, Almighty God, since you have treated us so liberally by opening the immense and inestimable treasures of thy grace, that being mindful of our condition we may always bewail it, and remember what we were when you desire to adopt us as sons, and how often and how variously we have provoked thee, and rendered thy covenant vain: Grant, also, that we may glorify thee in our shame, and perpetually magnify thy name by our humility, until we become partakers of that glory which your only-begotten Son has procured for us through his own blood. -- Amen.

Lecture Fifty-First

WE began yesterday to explain the saying of the Prophet, that an eagle came to mount Lebanon, and there cropped off the top of a cedar, that is, the highest bough. Some interpreters seem to me to labor in vain about the word Lebanon. They think it means Jerusalem, and cite the passage in Zechariah where it is said, Open thy gates, O Lebanon. (Zechariah 11:1.) But Zecharia does not speak of the city here, but of the temple, because it was built of a great mass of cedar. But here Ezekiel means the land, and names Lebanon rather than other places, not only because that mountain was the remarkable ornament of the region on account of its lofty cedars, and balsam and aromatic trees, but because this was needful to complete his allegory. If he had said that an eagle had come to a city, it would have been absurd. Hence we see that the word Lebanon is taken for that part of Judea in which the most beautiful trees spring up and flourish. But he says, that it plucked off a bough, from the top of the cedars, because Nebuchadnezzar, who is intended by the eagle took away King Jeconiah as we said yesterday. Hence King Jeconiah is compared to a very lofty bough of a cedar, because at that time all thought that the kingdom was superior to every danger; for the Jews boasted that they were under God's protection, and that the city was impregnable: hence that occurrence was incredible. Now the Prophet adds, that the eagle plucked off the head or summit of the boughs, as the Hebrews call the tender shoots; and here the word means the tender branches: and it means, as we shall afterwards see, the elders who were dragged away into exile. It took away the head into the land of the merchant. We said that this was a mere appellative here, chnaan, because it follows a little afterwards in the plural number: wms mylkr ryub, begnir-reklim shemo, in the city of merchants he set it: he says, then, that the boughs were placed in a city of merchants. This name was given to Babylon, not only because it was a celebrated mart of trade, but because it was a firm and strong place of custody through the multitude of inhabitants, so that it was not easy to draw captives from it. For any one could easily be rescued from a solitude without resistance; but in a great concourse it is not so easy to plan or attempt anything. I do not doubt, therefore, that the Prophet means that the higher classes of the kingdom, together with Jeconiah, were shut up in firm custody that they should not escape. It follows --

1 Or, "wings" -- there is a change of number. -- Calvin.

2 Or, "thick with," "plentiful in." -- Calvin.

3 The number, though singular, is taken for plural, that is, "of divers colors." -- Calvin.

4 Or, "the top." -- Calvin.

5 The word Nenk, cengnen, (or, chnaan,) is not a proper name, but is taken appellatively. -- Calvin.

6 Or, "that top." -- Calvin.


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