Ezekiel – Chapter 19

The Lion King

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d tells Ezekiel to sing a dirge for the royalty of Israel. (The Radak tells us that this refers to Yehoachaz, Yehoyakim and Tzidkiyahu.) Their mother (referring to Israel) was a lioness. She dwelled among the other lions and raised her cubs to be young lions. The first of her cubs (referring to Yehoachaz) started to attack people. This refers to Pharoh, king of Egypt. Nations surrounded him and caught him, bringing him to Egypt. When the mother lion saw this, she became discouraged. She took the next of her cubs (Yehoyakim) and made a young lion out of him. He, too, started to attack people. (The Radak suggests that Yehoyakim antagonized Edom, Moav and Amon because they were among the nations that attacked when he rebelled against Babylonia.) He would abuse their widows and lay waste to their cities. Because of his actions, the land became desolate. So the nations gathered against him as well, capturing him and bringing him to Babylonia.

The mother (Israel) is like a fruitful vine planted by the water. Many strong rods came from this vine, which Rashi tells us refers to the mighty kings of Israel. The vine was very tall and could be seen from far away, but it was uprooted and scattered; the east wind (Nebuchadnezzar) dried up its fruit. (This refers to the sons of Tzidkiyahu, whom he murdered). Fire devoured the vine, which is now in the desert where there is no water to nourish it. Fire actually came out of the branches, referring to the evil that came because of the sins of the rulers. The fruit was consumed and there was no rod left to rule the people. This is the dirge that will be said at the time of the exile.

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