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The Two Eagles and the Vine

17 The word of the Lord came to me: O mortal, propound a riddle and speak an allegory to the house of Israel.(A) Say: Thus says the Lord God:

A great eagle with great wings and long pinions,
    rich in plumage of many colors,
    came to the Lebanon.
He took the top of the cedar,(B)
    broke off its topmost shoot;
he carried it to a land of trade,
    set it in a city of merchants.
Then he took a seedling from the land,
    placed it in fertile soil;
a plant[a] by abundant waters,
    he set it like a willow twig.(C)
It sprouted and became a vine
    spreading out but low;
its branches turned toward him;
    its roots remained where it stood.
So it became a vine;
    it brought forth branches,
    put forth foliage.

There was another great eagle
    with great wings and much plumage.
And see! This vine stretched out
    its roots toward him;
it shot out its branches toward him
    from the bed where it was planted
    so that he might water it.(D)
It had been transplanted
    to good soil by abundant waters,
so that it might produce branches
    and bear fruit
    and become a noble vine.

Say: Thus says the Lord God:

Will it prosper?
Will he not pull up its roots,
    cause its fruit to rot[b] and wither,
    its fresh sprouting leaves to fade?
No strong arm or mighty army will be needed
    to pull it from its roots.
10 Look, it has been transplanted. Will it thrive?
When the east wind strikes it,
    will it not utterly wither,
    wither on the bed where it grew?(E)

11 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 12 Say now to the rebellious house: Do you not know what these things mean? Tell them: The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and its officials, and brought them back with him to Babylon.(F) 13 He took one of the royal offspring and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath (he had taken away the chief men of the land),(G) 14 so that the kingdom might be humble and not lift itself up and that by keeping his covenant it might stand.(H) 15 But he rebelled against him by sending ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Can one escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant and yet escape?(I) 16 As I live, says the Lord God, surely in the place where the king resides who made him king, whose oath he despised and whose covenant with him he broke—in Babylon he shall die.(J) 17 Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in war, when ramps are cast up and siege walls built to cut off many lives.(K) 18 Because he despised the oath and broke the covenant, because he gave his hand and yet did all these things, he shall not escape.(L) 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: As I live, I will surely return upon his head my oath that he despised and my covenant that he broke. 20 I will spread my net over him, and he shall be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treason he has committed against me.(M) 21 All the pick[c] of his troops shall fall by the sword, and the survivors shall be scattered to every wind, and you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken.(N)

Israel Exalted at Last

22 Thus says the Lord God:

I myself will take a sprig
    from the lofty top of the cedar;
    I will set it out.
I will break off a tender shoot
    from the topmost of its young twigs;
I myself will transplant it
    on a high and lofty mountain.(O)
23 On the mountain height of Israel
    I will transplant it,
and it will produce boughs and bear fruit
    and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;
    in the shade of its branches will nest
    winged creatures of every kind.(P)
24 All the trees of the field shall know
    that I am the Lord.
I bring low the high tree;
    I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree
    and make the dry tree flourish.
I the Lord have spoken;
    I will accomplish it.(Q)

Individual Retribution

18 The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”?(R) As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins who shall die.(S)

If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period,(T) does not oppress anyone but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,(U) does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties,(V) follows my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances, acting faithfully—such a one is righteous; he shall surely live, says the Lord God.(W)

10 If he has a son who is violent, a shedder of blood,(X) 11 who does any of these things (though his father[d] does none of them), who eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination,(Y) 13 takes advance or accrued interest, shall he then live? He shall not. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely be put to death; his blood shall be upon himself.(Z)

14 But if this son has a son who sees all the sins that his father has done, considers, and does not do likewise,(AA) 15 who does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not wrong anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,(AB) 17 withholds his hand from iniquity,[e] takes no advance or accrued interest, observes my ordinances, and follows my statutes, he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, he died for his iniquity.

19 Yet you say, “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” When the son has done what is lawful and right and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.(AC) 20 The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be their own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be their own.(AD)

21 But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die.(AE) 22 None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them, for the righteousness that they have done they shall live.(AF) 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?(AG) 24 But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered, for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die.(AH)

25 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?(AI) 26 When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed, they shall die. 27 Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. 28 Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin.[f](AJ) 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?(AK) 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.(AL)

Israel Degraded

19 As for you, raise up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,(AM) and say:

What a lioness was your mother
    among lions!
She lay down among young lions,
    rearing her cubs.(AN)
She raised up one of her cubs;
    he became a young lion,
and he learned to catch prey;
    he devoured humans.(AO)
The nations heard about him;
    he was caught in their pit,
and they brought him with hooks
    to the land of Egypt.(AP)
When she saw that she was thwarted,
    that her hope was lost,
she took another of her cubs
    and made him a young lion.(AQ)
He prowled among the lions;
    he became a young lion,
and he learned to catch prey;
    he devoured people.(AR)
And he ravaged their strongholds[g]
    and laid waste their towns;
the land was appalled, and all in it,
    at the sound of his roaring.(AS)
The nations set upon him
    from the provinces all around;
they spread their net over him;
    he was caught in their pit.(AT)
With hooks they put him in a neck collar
    and brought him to the king of Babylon;
    they brought him into custody,
so that his voice should be heard no more
    on the mountains of Israel.(AU)
10 Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard[h]
    transplanted by the water,
fruitful and full of branches
    from abundant water.(AV)
11 Its strongest stem became
    a ruler’s scepter;[i]
it towered aloft
    among the clouds;
it stood out in its height
    with its mass of branches.(AW)
12 But it was plucked up in fury,
    cast down to the ground;
the east wind dried it up;
    its fruit was stripped off;
its strong stem was withered;
    the fire consumed it.(AX)
13 Now it is transplanted into the wilderness,
    into a dry and thirsty land.(AY)
14 And fire has gone out from its stem,
    has consumed its branches and fruit,
so that there remains in it no strong stem,
    no scepter for ruling.

This is a lamentation, and it is used as a lamentation.(AZ)


  1. 17.5 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  2. 17.9 Gk: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  3. 17.21 Or fugitives
  4. 18.11 Heb he
  5. 18.17 Gk: Heb the poor
  6. 18.30 Or so that they shall not be a stumbling block of iniquity to you
  7. 19.7 Tg: Heb his widows
  8. 19.10 Cn: Heb in your blood
  9. 19.11 Heb Its strongest stems became rulers’ scepters