Ezekiel 31 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
The two previous chapters have pronounced judgment upon Egypt, and foretold how and when it would come. Ezekiel's hearers (the Jewish exiles) and the proud Egyptians would have found it difficult to believe that this powerful nation would soon be conquered by Babylon. Therefore, in this chapter, the LORD compares the strength of Egypt with that of Assyria, and reminds his listeners that Assyria had already fallen to Babylon. The message is addressed to the attention of Pharaoh.
- The Similar Great Strength of Assyria and Egypt - (31:1-9)
1. And it came to pass in the eleventh year,
in the third [month], in the first [day] of the month,
[that] the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude;
Whom art thou like in thy greatness?
3 Behold, the Assyrian [was] a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches,
and with a shadowing shroud
{of foliage}, and of an high stature;
and his top was among the thick boughs.
4 The waters made him great,
the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants,
and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field.
5 Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field,
and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long
because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth.
6 All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs,
and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young,
and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.
7 Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches:
for his root was by great waters.
8 The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him:
the fir trees were not like his boughs,
and the chesnut trees were not like his branches;
nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty.
9 I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches:
so that all the trees of Eden, that [were] in the garden of God, envied him.
...in the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day of the month...
This message was given about one month before the fall of Jerusalem (Jer 39:2).
...speak unto Pharaoh... Whom art thou like in thy greatness?...
...Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon...
The message is in the form of a parable.
The greatness of Egypt is compared to that of Assyria, which is pictured allegorically as a towering cedar tree.
Similar figures of speech are used elsewhere. For example:
  • In Dan 4:10-12,20-22, the LORD depicted the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar in similar terms.
  • In Eze 17:1-10, a similar analogy describes Judah as a towering tree which was diminished under the dominion of a great Eagle (Babylon). But the once tall tree, which had become a lowly vine (subservient to Babylon), sent its roots toward another great Eagle (Egypt). Therefore, the first great Eagle would angrily uproot the vine.
The features of the present allegory, regarding Assyria, are clear enough...
  • Assyria, for a time, towered above the nations
    which she had brought under her dominion. eg., Isa 37:11-13
  • Assyria provided shadow (protection) and nourishment
    to those who dwelt under her and in her branches (subservient countries).
  • Assyria herself was nourished by the many nations
    which watered her (through trade and tribute).
  • Assyria had no competition, for the largest nations (other trees)
    were no more weighty or powerful than her branches,
    while her trunk supported many branches (nations).
  • Assyria is described as growing in Eden the Garden of God,
    for all nations are planted in the earth which He created for man's habitation.
    All nations on earth envied Assyria.
Pharaoh claimed similar greatness for himself and for his nation (eg., Eze 29:3b).
...I have made him fair {ie., beautiful}...
Self-centered men and nations fail to see that the LORD has provided all that they have (Psa 75:6,7; cp. Eze 16:14). Like the 'prince of Tyre', Pharaoh and other worldly rulers are governed by the self-exalting mindset of their unseen spiritual king (Satan), who was in Eden at the beginning (Eze 28:12-17).
- The Similar Great Fall of Assyria and Egypt - (31:10-14)
10. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height,
and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs,
and his heart is lifted up in his height;
11 I have therefore delivered him
into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen;
he shall surely deal with him:
I have driven him out for his wickedness.
12 And strangers, the terrible of the nations,
have cut him off, and have left him:
upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen,
and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land;
and all the people of the earth
are gone down from his shadow, and have left him.
13 Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain,
and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches:
14 To the end that none of all the trees by the waters
exalt themselves for their height,
neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs,
neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water:
for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth,
in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.
...because thou hast lifted up thyself in height... and his heart is lifted up in his height...
The cause of the downfall of both Assyria and Egypt, was their pride, like that of Satan the king of Tyre (Eze 28:6,17).
...I have delivered him... cut him off... his boughs are broken...
The LORD had brought down the Assyrian empire, because of their blasphemous pride (Isa 10:8-18).
He would do the same with Egypt, and He would use the same instrument:
...the mighty one of the heathen... the terrible of the nations... shall surely deal with him...
These terms are descriptive of Babylon (eg., Eze 28:7; 30:10,11; 32:11,12)
...to the end that none of all the trees... exalt themselves...
...for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether {lower} parts of the earth...
The fall of Assyria and Egypt, also pictures the eventual downfall of all nations, in the final conflict of the ages (eg., Isa 10:33; Rev 11:15).
...all the trees by the waters... all that drink water...-
Whether great trees or great men, all are dependent upon the Giver of Life.
Though they think to exalt themselves, the LORD will cut them all off. eg., Heb 9:27
Their fall continues into 'the lower parts of the earth,' where, in death, great kings are brought down to the same level as all dead men.
This is the cause for the lamentation that follows...
- The Lamentation for the Fallen - (31:15-18)
15 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
In the day when he went down to the grave I caused a mourning
{ie., a lamentation}:
I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof,
and the great waters were stayed:
and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him,
and all the trees of the field fainted for him.
16 I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall,
when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit:
and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon,
all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.
17 They also went down into hell with him
unto [them that be] slain with the sword;
and [they that were] his arm,
[that] dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.
18 To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden?
yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden
unto the nether parts of the earth:
thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised
with [them that be] slain by the sword.
This [is] Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.
In the day when he went down to the grave...
Assyria had fallen, at the time appointed by the LORD. Its once powerful rulers had already joined other kings who had previously descended into the place of the dead.
     In fact, all ungodly rulers, no matter how glorious their days among the living, will be gathered into this place. Eventually, Satan, the god of this world, will also be cut down (2Cor 4:4; Isa 14:12-17) to descend even lower than the ruin of the kings and nations which he deceived and destroyed (Isa 14:18-27, where, in v.25, 'the Assyrian' refers to the Antichrist).
     The words 'grave' and 'hell' {HB=sheol, the grave} refer to the temporary holding place of the spirits of dead men, pending final judgment. The same place is also called the 'pit' {HB=bowr, pit, well, cistern, dungeon} to emphasize its inescapable nature.
     The place of final judgment is less accommodating (Rev 20:10,15).
...This is Pharaoh and his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.
Despite his exalted view of himself, Pharaoh was not exempt from judgment.
The story of the Assyrians would also be his story.
He would soon join those who had fallen before him. v.2; v.18; Eze 32:19
...thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised...
Spiritually, the 'uncircumcised' are those who retain the corruption of their fleshly nature, because they have not received righteousness from God, through faith in the Redeemer (Col 2:11-14).
     See the Note at Eze 28:10. Also see Josh 5:2-9, where 'the reproach of Egypt' was rolled away from Israel, through renewed identification with the LORD and His Word (the Covenant promises), and in definite separation from the world and its ways.

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