The Assyrian Likened To A Tree, Ezek 31

Ezek 31 is a prophecy against Pharaoh king of Egypt.  The Lord likens the coming destruction of the king of Egypt to the destruction of the Assyrian king who died when the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, defeated the Assyrian Empire in 609 BC.

The Lord uses a metaphor to describe the destruction of the Assyrian.  In the metaphor, the Assyrian king is pictured as a great tree that exalts itself above all other trees before it is cut down by “the mighty one of the heathen,” Ezek 31:11.  As this tree falls, so Pharaoh, who has exalted himself to greatness, will likewise fall.

The Metaphor

Trees. In the Bible, rulers are sometimes compared to trees.  In Dan 4:10-12, 20-22, Nebuchadnezzar is typified by a great tree whose height reached unto heaven.  Ps 37:35 says that the wicked, in great power, spreads himself like a green bay tree.  The blind man in Mk 8:24 said, “I see men as trees, walking”.  

The cedar in Lebanon.  So, the Assyrian is likened to a cedar in Lebanon, v.3.  Comparing him to a cedar in Lebanon ascribes to him superior power.  The king of Israel likened himself to a cedar in Lebanon, in 2 Chr 25:17-18, to indicate that he was so much stronger than the king of Judah.

The waters, v.4-7, that made him great are the people of the nations who became subject to him through his many conquests.  The waters upon which the whore sits in Rev 17:15 are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. In 2 Ki 19:10-13, you can see many of the nations that fell to the Assyrians in their conquests.  The more he conquered the more exalted he became until he towered over all the other trees.  

The garden of God.  The trees of Eden, represent the rulers of other nations who have been raised up to rule by the Lord.  It’s like he planted them in his garden.  According to Ps 75:6-7, promotion comes from the Lord.  In Rom 9:17, he raised up Pharaoh.  In Jer 25:9-12, he raised up the Babylonian kings.  Likewise, he puts them down.  When they rise up, like the devil, they distinguish themselves by their beauty, Ezek 28:17, 23:12.  Assyria did, and thus, the other trees envied him.

The felling of the cedar.  Because the Assyrian lifted up his heart, v.10, God sent the mighty one of the heathen, v.11, and the terrible of the nations, v.12, to cut him down.  These are Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the armies that were with him from other nations.  The Assyrian Empire fell to them in 609 BC.  

In v.13-14, his ruin is complete since the fowls of the heaven remain on the fallen tree and the beasts of the field are upon his branches.  And his fall is a warning to the other nations not to exalt themselves, because they will meet with the same fate.  They are all delivered unto death.  

Application of the Metaphor

The Fall of the Heathen Nations

The Assyrian, and the nations that were with the Assyrian, are cast down into hell.  While the trees of the field faint for him, v.15, the nations in hell are comforted by his fall, because he gets the same judgment they got, Is 14:9-11; Ezek 32:31.  Of course, the destruction of such a ruler is also a comfort to the remaining nations on earth because the earth is at rest when he’s gone, Is 14:4-8.

The Prophecy of the Fall of Egypt

According to v.18, Pharaoh will be brought down with the trees of Eden, just like the Assyrian was.  And he does fall.  The Babylonians invaded Egypt in 568 BC.

The reference to a garden in Eden and nations in hell extends this prophecy to the Second Advent of Jesus.  In Joel 2:3, the earth is as the garden of Eden before the armies that come with the Lord, and behind them it’s a desolate wilderness.  The foreshadowing of this prophecy to the defeat of world powers at the end of the Tribulation will be very apparent in Ezek 32.