Ezek 17:1-24 is a parable of two great eagles and a vine. It applies to the reigns of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah in Judah and their captivity in Babylon. It’s ultimate fulfillment will be at the second advent when Jesus Christ destroys the antichrist and begins to reign.
The Two Eagles
The First of the Two Eagles – Nebuchadnezzar
Ezek 17:3 This great eagle is Nebuchadnezzar, v.12. He came to Lebanon which is Jerusalem, v.12. Lebanon refers to Jerusalem because of the cedars of Lebanon. The temple (1 Ki 5:5-6, 6:15-20), and Solomon’s house and the house of the forest of Lebanon (1 Ki 7:1-2) were built with cedars from Lebanon.
Furthermore, in two other parables, the cedars of Lebanon are a metaphor for a high ruler or king who stands tall like a tree. In Jud 9:7-15, Jotham referred to Shechem’s destruction, as devouring the cedars of Lebanon. And in 2 Ki 14:8-9, Jehoash spoke of the thistle, who was Jehoshaphat, and the cedar, who was Ahab. Ahab’s daughter married Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram (2 Chr 21:5-6) who’s seed the wild beast, Jehu, destroyed in 2 Ki 10:12-14. Jehoash, who spoke this parable, was Jehu’s grandson.
He takes the Highest Branch of the Cedar – Jehoiachin
Ezek 17:3 The highest branch of the cedar was king Jehoiachin, v.12, 2 Ki 24:11-12.
Ezek 17:4 He was taken into a land of traffic, a city of merchants. This is a reference to Babylon. And in Rev 18:9-13 it’s a prophetic reference to mystery Babylon. See The Exaltation of the Low Cedar, below.
Ezek 17:5 The seed of the land is a descendant of David, v.13, who replaces Jehoiachin. He was Zedekiah, Josiah’s brother, 2 Ki 24:15-17. They set it as a willow tree, which grows by the waters, Ps 137:1-2. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar was taking care of Zedekiah, like water nourishes a tree.
He Plants a Spreading Vine – Zedekiah
Ezek 17:6 A spreading vine of low stature pictures Zedekiah. The idea was that Zedekiah would be under Nebuchadnezzar and would turn toward him, v.13-14. Nebuchadnezzar took an oath of Zedekiah and made a covenant with him. In Ezek 17:8, the soil was good and the waters were great, so that the vine would be good and bear fruit. Yet Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Chr 36:11-13.
The Second of the Two Eagles – Pharaoh
Ezek 17:7 This other great eagle was Pharaoh, King of Egypt, v.15. Zedekiah rebelled by turning to Egypt for protection. The vine turned and bent its roots toward the waters of Egypt.
God Destroys the Spreading Vine
Ezek 17:9 The Lord asked about the vine, “shall it prosper”? The answer is “No”. They will pull up the roots, cut off the fruit, and the vine will wither, v.10.
Ezek 17:14 If Zedekiah had kept the covenant with Nebuchadnezzar, his kingdom would have stood, Jer 38:17-18.
Ezek 17:15 But he rebelled (2 Ki 24:20) and sent to Egypt for help (Jer 37:5-7). And he could not prosper or escape by seeking Egypt’s help, Jer 37:8-10. For a moment, it looked like the alliance with Egypt was going to work, because the Chaldeans left, Jer 37:11. But they surely returned and besieged the city later.
Ezek 17:16-21 Zedekiah made an oath with Nebuchadnezzar and God held him to it as if he had made a covenant and an oath with God. So, the Lord recompensed the oath upon Zedekiah, and the Chaldeans took him captive to Babylon. They also killed the fugitives and scattered those they didn’t kill.
God Exalts the Low Cedar – Jesus
Ezek 17:22-24 The ultimate fulfillment of this parable is at the 2nd Advent. God will take the highest branch of the high cedar, like v.3, who will be the antichrist, Ezek 21:25-27. He will crop a tender one, who is Jesus Christ, Is 53:2. God will plant him upon a high mountain, which is Mt Zion, Ps 2:6, the mountain of the height of Israel. He will be a goodly cedar. All the trees will know that God has brought down the high tree (antichrist) and exalted the low tree (Jesus) and dried up the green tree (antichrist) and made the dry tree to flourish (Jesus). This will happen at the second advent, Lk 23:27-31.
Look at the matching cross reference in Ps 80:8-19. In Ps 80:10, the boughs were like goodly cedars. Ps 80:14, God will visit this vine. And in Ps 80:15 the branch made strong for thyself is the son of man, Jesus Christ, whom God makes strong for himself, Ps 80:17.
Conclusion to The Two Eagles and A Vine
The first of the two eagles, Nebuchadnezzar, took Jehoiachin captive and made Zedekiah king in his place. He made a covenant with Zedekiah that he would take care of Jerusalem if Zedekiah wouldn’t seek help from Egypt. Zedekiah broke the covenant and sought help from the second of the two eagles, Pharaoh. Thus, the Chaldeans destroyed Jerusalem and took Zedekiah captive. In prophecy, at the second coming of Jesus, the antichrist will be taken captive and Jesus Christ will be exalted to rule, instead.