1 A message from the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, present this riddle—share it as a parable with the people of Israel. 3 Tell them that this is what the Lord God says:
There was a great eagle that had large wings, long feathers, and multi-colored plumage. It came to Lebanon and took off the top of the cedar. 4 He broke off its highest branch and took it to a country of merchants, and planted it in a city of traders. 5 He took some of the seed of the land and planted it in good soil beside a large river where he could grow it like a willow. 6 The seed sprouted and grew into a low, spreading vine, with its branches facing toward him, and its roots went down into the ground beneath. So the vine developed, growing leaves and branches.
7 But there was another great eagle that had large wings and many feathers. This vine sent out its roots toward him. It stretched out its branches to him from where it had been planted, wanting him to water it. 8 Yet it had been planted in good soil beside a large river so it could grow strong, produce fruit, and become a superb vine.
9 So you tell them this is what the Lord God says: ‘Will it grow well? Won't it be uprooted and its fruit ripped off so that it withers? All its leaves will dry up. You wouldn't need strong arms or lots of people to pull it up by its roots. 10 Even if it's transplanted, is it going to survive? Won't it wither up completely when the east wind blows? In fact, it will wither right where it was planted.”
11 A message from the Lord came to me, saying, 12 “Tell these rebellious people: ‘Don't you know what this riddle means?’
Explain to them, ‘Look, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, made its king and officials his prisoners, and took them back with him to Babylon. 13 He made an agreement with one of the royal family and made him take an oath that he would be a loyal subject as king.* “As king”: supplied for clarity. Then he took into exile the country's leaders, 14 so that the kingdom would be kept in subjection and wouldn't be strong enough to rebel—it would only survive by keeping its agreement with him.
15 However, this king did rebel against Babylon, and sent ambassadors to Egypt to ask for help by supplying horses and many soldiers. Will he do well? Would someone who acts like this succeed? Could he break an agreement and not be punished?’
16 As I live, declares the Lord God, ‘he is going to die in Babylon, in the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he disregarded and whose agreement he broke. 17 Pharaoh with his powerful army of many soldiers won't help him in battle, when attack ramps are piled up and siege walls built and many people end up being killed. 18 He disregarded his oath by breaking the agreement. Because he shook hands as a sign of the promise he made, yet rebelled in this way, he won't go unpunished!’
19 So this is what the Lord God says: As I live, I will punish him for disregarding my oath† “My oath”: clearly the oath was made in the name of the Lord. and for breaking my agreement. 20 I will throw my net over him and catch him; I will trap in my snare. I will take him to Babylon and sentence him to punishment there for his treason towards me. 21 All his best soldiers will be killed in battle, and those who do survive will be scattered in all directions. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.
22 This is what the Lord God says: I'm going to break off a branch from the high top of the cedar, and I will plant it on the top of a high mountain. 23 I will plant it on Israel's high mountain so that it can grow branches, produce fruit and become a magnificent cedar. All kinds of birds will live in it, nesting in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees in the countryside will know that I am the Lord. I can bring down the tall and have the low tree grow tall. I can make the green tree dry up, and make the withered tree become green again. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.”
*17:13 “As king”: supplied for clarity.
†17:19 “My oath”: clearly the oath was made in the name of the Lord.