31:3 Assyria. The prophet uses the fate of Assyria as a warning to Egypt, for the once powerful Assyrian Empire had collapsed between 640 and 609 b.c. Some scholars think it unlikely that in an oracle against Egypt the primary focus should fall on Assyria (vv. 3–17). They suggest that a copyist’s error has altered one of the consonants in the text, and translate “Assyria” as “cypress” or “to what can I compare you,” a better parallel with the last clause in v. 2. With this correction, the whole passage is about Egypt.
cedar. Ezekiel has already used a similar symbol (ch. 17). Great trees can tower hundreds of feet and live for thousands of years; they provide an apt metaphor for kingdoms and dynasties (17:22–24). Much of the description of this tree resembles Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Dan. 4:1–12, 19–27. The lavishness of Ezekiel’s description of this tree compares with the extravagance of his description of Tyre as a richly appointed merchant ship (27:3–11).