A Story about Two Eagles and a Vine
1The Lord said:
2Ezekiel, son of man, tell the people of Israel the following story, 3so they will understand what I am saying to them:
A large eagle with strong wings and beautiful feathers once flew to Lebanon. It broke the top branch off a cedar tree, 4then carried it to a nation of merchants and left it in one of their cities. 5The eagle also took a seed from Israel and planted it in a fertile field with plenty of water, like a willow tree beside a stream. 6The seed sprouted and grew into a grapevine that spread over the ground. It had lots of leaves and strong, deep roots, and its branches grew upward toward the eagle.
7There was another eagle with strong wings and thick feathers. The roots and branches of the grapevine soon turned toward this eagle, hoping it would bring water for the soil. 8But the vine was already growing in fertile soil, where there was plenty of water to produce healthy leaves and large grapes.
9Now tell me, Ezekiel, do you think this grapevine will live? Or will the first eagle pull it up by its roots and pluck off the grapes and let its new leaves die? The eagle could easily kill it without the help of a large and powerful army. 10The grapevine is strong and healthy, but as soon as the scorching desert wind blows, it will quickly wither.
The Lord Explains the Story
11The Lord said:
12 Ezekiel, ask the rebellious people of Israel if they know what this story means.
Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem, then he captured the king of Judah and his officials, and took them back to Babylon as prisoners. 13He chose someone from the family of Judah's king and signed a treaty with him, then made him swear to be loyal. He also led away other important citizens, 14so that the rest of the people of Judah would obey only him and never gain control of their own country again.
15But this new king of Judah later rebelled against Babylonia and sent officials to Egypt to get horses and troops. Will this king be successful in breaking the treaty with Babylonia? Or will he be punished for what he's done?
16As surely as I am the living Lord God, I swear that the king of Judah will die in Babylon, because he broke the treaty with the king of Babylonia, who appointed him king. 17Even the king of Egypt and his powerful army will be useless to Judah when the Babylonians attack and build towers and dirt ramps to destroy the cities of Judah and its people. 18The king of Judah broke his own promises and ignored the treaty with Babylonia. And so he will be punished!
19He made a promise in my name and swore to honor the treaty. And now that he has broken that promise, my name is disgraced. He must pay for what he's done. 20I will spread out a net to trap him. Then I will drag him to Babylon and see that he is punished for his unfaithfulness to me. 21His best troops will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction. I, the Lord, have spoken.
22Someday, I, the Lord,
will cut a tender twig
from the top of a cedar tree,
then plant it on the peak
of Israel's tallest mountain,
23where it will grow
and produce large fruit.
All kinds of birds will find
shelter under the tree,
and they will rest in the shade
of its branches.
24Every tree in the forest
will know that I, the Lord,
can bring down tall trees
and help short ones grow.
I dry up green trees
and make dry ones green.
I, the Lord, have spoken,
and I will keep my word.