Ezekiel 19

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Read Ezekiel 19

A Lament Over Israel’s Princes

19 “Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel and say:

“‘What a lioness was your mother
    among the lions!
She lay down among them
    and reared her cubs.
She brought up one of her cubs,
    and he became a strong lion.
He learned to tear the prey
    and he became a man-eater.
The nations heard about him,
    and he was trapped in their pit.
They led him with hooks
    to the land of Egypt.

“‘When she saw her hope unfulfilled,
    her expectation gone,
she took another of her cubs
    and made him a strong lion.
He prowled among the lions,
    for he was now a strong lion.
He learned to tear the prey
    and he became a man-eater.
He broke down their strongholds
    and devastated their towns.
The land and all who were in it
    were terrified by his roaring.
Then the nations came against him,
    those from regions round about.
They spread their net for him,
    and he was trapped in their pit.
With hooks they pulled him into a cage
    and brought him to the king of Babylon.
They put him in prison,
    so his roar was heard no longer
    on the mountains of Israel.

10 “‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard
    planted by the water;
it was fruitful and full of branches
    because of abundant water.
11 Its branches were strong,
    fit for a ruler’s scepter.
It towered high
    above the thick foliage,
conspicuous for its height
    and for its many branches.
12 But it was uprooted in fury
    and thrown to the ground.
The east wind made it shrivel,
    it was stripped of its fruit;
its strong branches withered
    and fire consumed them.
13 Now it is planted in the desert,
    in a dry and thirsty land.
14 Fire spread from one of its main branches
    and consumed its fruit.
No strong branch is left on it
    fit for a ruler’s scepter.’

“This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.”

Go Deeper

This chapter of Ezekiel is dedicated to lamenting the princes of Israel. They were called princes, not kings, to diminish their rule and detail their lack of leadership. This is the first out of five laments in the book of Ezekiel. God through Ezekiel is expressing great sorrow, or grief, over the sins of the leaders of Israel. This chapter is essentially an allegory for what went wrong with the tribe of Judah. In verses 1-9, Ezekiel uses the image of a lion and her cubs to depict the Davidic line, and in verses 10-14, Ezekiel uses the image of a vine to depict Israel’s final strong branch or kings. The illustration of a lion and her cubs show what has happened to Judah. The lioness is Judah, and the cubs are Judah’s kings. A lot of the context for this passage comes from 2 Kings, and the wicked kings who lead the nation into exile. Israel was a mighty and powerful nation under King David but a majority of the kings following him had become idolatrous and corrupt in their ruling. 

Describing Israel’s king, verse 4 says, “The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt.” This is referring to King Jehoahaz who ruled in 609 BC for three months before he was exiled to Egypt (2 Kings 23). There is another depiction of a king in verse 9 which says, “With hooks they pulled him into a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison, so his roar was heard no longer on the mountains of Israel.” This is in reference to King Jehoiachin who was carried off into Babylon in 597 BC (2 Kings 24). 

There is a second imagery Ezekiel uses of a vine which was once healthy but now has been burned in a fire. The vine is Judah, and the fire is symbolic of God’s wrath and judgment. The stems are no longer, and its strong branches were torn off and dried up (v. 13). The chapter ends saying, “fire has gone out from the stem of its shoots, has consumed its fruit, so that there remains in it no strong stem, no scepter for ruling” (v. 14). The Davidic line was cut off with Zedekiah being Israel’s last king. This verse references a promise made to Judah at the end of Genesis. 

In Genesis 49, Jacob blesses his sons and gives a noteworthy blessing over Judah. Jacob refers to Judah as a lion saying that Judah will be victorious over its enemies. It says,  “You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son.” (v. 9). Jacob also says, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his” (v. 10). A scepter was a staff that symbolized absolute authority over a nation or tribe. When Jacob says that the scepter will not depart from Judah, he is referencing one descendant that would come from the line of Judah, whose throne will be established forever: Jesus Christ. 

Before Jesus was crucified, Roman soldiers mocked Him, placed a crown of thorns on His head and gave Him a staff as a royal scepter. They beat Him with the scepter chanting “Hail, king of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29). The scepter, a symbol of worldly authority, was used to beat the One who holds all authority in Heaven and on Earth. The scepter in the hands of earthly kings will perish, but the scepter the Messiah holds will remain forever. The scepter will not ever depart from the lion of Judah, Jesus Christ. This ancient prophecy will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ, in all His glory, returns with all the angels and the saints. Revelation 19:15 says “He will rule [the nations] with an iron scepter” as a righteous judge. The King of Kings from the line of Judah will one day come, and every nation will bow down and worship Him.


  1. What stuck out to you on your first read through this chapter? Why? 
  2. What does this passage teach you about God? What does it teach you about humanity? 
  3. How does this passage ultimately point towards Jesus?

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2 thoughts on “Ezekiel 19”

  1. What struck me today is how easy it is to see and point out sin in someone’s life without examining our own lives. Hindsight is 20/20 as we read of the demise of Israel and Judah. The real question is what rhythms or habits do we embrace that will lead us down similar paths as the princes Ezekiel addressed. Isaiah 53:6 connects so well to this chapter, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

  2. BUT GOD so glad He has the plan. He knew what was going to happen and He knew what choices were being made but He made a promise and He keeps those. He knows now what is going on in this world. He knows the choices that will be made and the outcome. I just need to keep speaking the name of Jesus to all I meet. My job is to speak about and love like Jesus did, make sure He is known to all and how to be a part of His Kingdom for all eternity.

    God thank You for holding me in Your hand. Thank You for making the way for me to be with You for all eternity. God help me to be bold about You. Thank You God that I show You through my words, actions and especially in my thoughts, that I can turn them to be Christ centered and not me in Jesus name amen.

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