The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 31

Eze 31:2

WHO CAN BE COMPARED WITH YOU...?: Egypt is like Assyria.

Eze 31:3

CONSIDER ASSYRIA, ONCE A CEDAR IN LEBANON: Assyria is compared to a cedar of Lebanon, which is an emblem of earthly magnificence. It is the favorite tree in Bible imagery to express splendor. In this respect it could be taken as a symbol of a great triumphant empire such as that of Assyria. There is a "splendor" of this world; we should not be surprised when we see the wicked flourishing like green trees (Psa 37:35). They may even attain to the proportions of the cedar of Lebanon.

The cedar was known for its: (a) Size: Assyria was a big empire; its worldly success was immense. (b) Altitude: the cedar is not only broad-spreading, but it also towers high. There was an unchecked pride in its worldly success. (c) Persistence: the cedar is green in winter. By clever devices unscrupulous people may escape many of the troubles of the true servants of God. (d) Fragrance: it cannot be denied that there is a certain fascination in worldly splendor.

There are points in which worldly magnificence surpasses the visible excellence of spiritual goodness -- "no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty" (v 8). The cedar appears huge before the eye of an observer, while the vine seems to cower feebly among the rocks. Yet it is the vine that yields refreshing fruit.

There is a striking aspect in worldly success. Spiritual achievements do not arrest attention in the same way, because they are spiritual. Yet God looks not to worldly greatness, but to spiritual success.

Also, the cedar is unpruned. It grows in wild, rank luxuriance upon the slopes of Lebanon. But the trees in the "garden of the Lord" are carefully pruned, "because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son" (Heb 12:6; cp Pro 3:11,12). Life for the "vines", now, may be far more restrictive and difficult than life for the "cedars" -- but in the end, it will be infinitely more rewarding.

Eze 31:5

Vv 5,6: The same language is used by Jesus in Luke 13:19, being applied to the Kingdom of God -- which will rise above all other kingdoms.

Eze 31:11

RULER OF THE NATIONS: Heb "el goyim" = the mighty one of the Gentiles, ref king Nebuchadnezzar.

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