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scripture

 

CHAPTER 31

Allegory of the Cedar. 1On the first day of the third month in the eleventh year,* the word of the LORD came to me: 2Son of man, say to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to his hordes: In your greatness, whom do you resemble?

3Assyria! It is Assyria!*

A cedar of Lebanon—

Beautiful branches,

thick shade,

Towering heights,

its crown in the clouds!a

4The waters made it grow,

the deep made it tall,

Letting its currents flow

around the place it was planted,

Then sending its channels

to all the other trees of the field.b

5Thereupon it towered in height

above all the trees in the field;

Its branches were numerous

and its boughs long,

Because of the many waters

sent to its shoots.

6In its branches nested

all the birds of the sky;

Under its boughs all the wild animals

gave birth,

And in its shade* dwelt

all the mighty nations.c

7It was magnificent in size

and in the length of its branches,

For its roots reached down

to the many waters.

8In the garden of God,

no cedars could rival it,

No juniper could equal its branches,

no plane tree match its boughs.

No tree in the garden of God

could match its beauty.d

9I made it beautiful

with abundant foliage,

So that all the trees in Eden

were envious of it.*

10Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD:

Because it was arrogant about its height,

lifting its crown among the clouds

and exalting itself because of its size,e

11I handed it over to a ruler of nations

to deal with it according to its evil.

I have cast it off,

12and foreigners have cut it down,

The most ruthless nations,

have hurled it on the mountains.

Its boughs fell into every valley

and its branches lay broken

in every ravine in the land.

All the peoples of the earth

departed from its shade

when it was hurled down.f

13On its fallen trunk

sit all the birds of the sky;

Beside its fallen branches,

are found all the beasts of the field.

14This has happened so no well-watered tree

will gain such lofty height,

or lift its crown to the clouds.

Not one of those fed by water

will tower in height over the rest.

For all of them are destined for death,

for the underworld, among mere mortals,

with those who go down to the pit.

15Thus says the Lord GOD:

On the day it went down to Sheol,

I made the deep close up

in mourning for it.

I restrained the currents of the deep,

and held back the many waters.

I darkened Lebanon because of it,

and all the trees of the field

languished because of it.

16At the sound of its fall,

I made nations shudder,

When I cast it down to Sheol

with those who go down to the pit.

In the underworld

all the trees of Eden took comfort:

Lebanon’s choicest and best,

all that were fed by the waters.g

17They too will go down to Sheol,

to those slain by the sword,

Its allies* who dwelt

in its shade among the nations.

18To whom among the trees of Eden

do you compare in glory and greatness?

You will be brought down

with the trees of Eden to the underworld,

And lie among the uncircumcised,

with those slain by the sword.

Such is Pharaoh and all his hordes—

oracle of the Lord GOD.

* [31:1] The first day of the third month in the eleventh year: June 21, 587 B.C.

* [31:3] Assyria: this translates te’ashshur, which some interpret as “cypress tree.” The oracle, however, compares the fate of Pharaoh to the terrible demise of Assyria because of its arrogant pride (cf. Na 13). Ezekiel may have drawn on an ancient myth of a cosmic tree of life to emphasize the greatness of Egypt’s fall.

* [31:6] Shade: a metaphor for protection (cf. Lam 4:20).

* [31:9] Here Israel’s God is responsible for Assyria’s splendor, whereas in Is 10:13 Assyria claims to have created its own might.

* [31:17] Allies: lit., “arm.”

a. [31:3] Ps 92:12; Jer 50:18.

b. [31:4] Dn 4:10.

c. [31:6] Dn 4:12; cf. Mt 13:32.

d. [31:8] Ps 80:10.

e. [31:10] Is 2:11.

f. [31:12] Dn 4:14.

g. [31:16] Is 14:8, 15.




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