The Princes of Israel
Ezek 19 is a lamentation for the princes of Israel, v.1. The two princes about whom Ezekiel writes this lamentation are Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin, kings of Judah. Both of them were taken captive. Ezek 19:1-9 likens them to a lioness’s whelps. And Ezek 19:10-14 likens them to rulers using strong rods for scepters.
The Princes of Israel like Lioness’s Whelps
Israel, the mother of these two princes in Israel, v.2, is like a lioness who lays down among lions. Lions are a reference to the kings of other nations, who were enemies of Israel, Is 5:26-30; Jer 2:14-15; Jer 50:17.
One of her whelps, v.3, was Jehoahaz, 2 Ki 23:31-32, who did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Like a lion, he devoured men. And like a lion, v.4, the nations took him in their pit. They brought him with chains to Egypt, 2 Ki 23:33-34, where he died. Pharaoh-necho, the Egyptian king, then made Jehoiakim king in his stead.
When Israel had the opportunity, she made another of her whelps king, v.5. This young lion was Jehoiachin, 2 Ki 24:8-9. You know this because Egypt made Jehoiakim king and Babylon made Zedekiah king. Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin, on the other hand, were Israel’s choice for kings. Jehoiachin was an evil young lion like Jehoahaz, v.6.
When you read Ezek 19:7-8, and consider that Jehoiachin only reigned 3 months and 10 days, 2 Chr 36:9, you realize that he must have been co-regent with his father during his reign. There are three reasons this must be so.
For one thing, 2 Chr 36:9 says that Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he began to reign, yet 2 Ki 23:8 says he was 18 years old. This isn’t a contradiction. When Egypt made Jehoiakim king, Israel made his son, Jehoiachin, co-regent when he was just 8 years old. His father reigned for 11 years, 2 Ki 23:36. Then, when the nations attacked Judah, and Jehoiakim died, 2 Ki 24:1-6, Jehoiachin became the king. He was then 18 years old.
Second, he committed many atrocities in Judah, v.6-7. It’s not feasible that he could have done so much evil in just 3 months. He killed men in “their desolate palaces”. These would have been like mountain hide-outs. He laid waste cities. He made the land desolate.
Third, the nations attacked him on every side, v.8. This was true of his father, Jehoiakim, in 2 Ki 24:2. Yet, Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive in a siege, 2 Ki 24:10-12. However, since Jehoiachin was co-regent with his father, then the nations who attacked Jehoiakim also attacked Jehoiachin in 2 Ki 24:2, just like Ezek said in v.8.
After Jehoiachin was captured, they brought him in chains to the king of Babylon, v.9, where he remained a prisoner until he was released in the 37th year of his captivity, Jer 52:31-34.
The Princes of Israel like Branches from a Vine
Israel is also like a “vine in thy blood”, Ezek 19:10. Grape vines produce grapes, the juice of which is like blood, Gen 49:11; Deut 32:14. This vine was planted by waters, and was fruitful and full of branches. However, when she was fruitful and full of branches, she lifted up herself, v.11, like Ezek 31:3-5.
Her kings, v.11, ruled with strong rods for scepters. Remember, Moses and Aaron used rods to stand for the princes of the tribes in Num 17, when God showed which tribe was his choice to approach him in the tabernacle.
But she was plucked up in fury, cast down to the ground, dried up by the east wind, and her strong rods were broken, withered and burned. This happened when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, v.12.
Instead of being planted by the waters, she was planted in the wilderness, v.13, representing her captivity in Babylon. A fire out of a rod of her branches devoured her fruit, v.14. And she was left with no strong rod to be a scepter to rule.
The reference in v.14 to “no strong rod to be a scepter to rule” is a reference to the seed of Jehoiachin, who is called Jechoniah, and also, Coniah, Jer 22:24-30. “No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David”. That is, no king from the house of David, through Jehoiachin, will rule on the throne of David. This is why this prophecy is a lamentation.
Until Jesus Christ comes again to rule, Israel will have no king from the house of David. Their next king will be the antichrist. And the fire from his rod will once again destroy her fruit. That’s why this prophecy also “shall be for a lamentation”.