Ezekiel 31:3
Look at Assyria, a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches that shaded the forest. It towered on high; its top was among the clouds.
The Greatness of AssyriaJ.R. Thomson Ezekiel 31:1-9
A Terrible PerditionJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 31:1-18
The Cedar in LebanonA London MinisterEzekiel 31:1-18

The Prophet Ezekiel, in witnessing against Pharaoh and Egypt, inculcated the lesson with all the more emphasis by the help of an historic parallel. He has to remind Egypt that, great as is her power, there have been powers as great as she that have been brought low. The consequences of national pride and self-confidence, the downfall and destruction of the mighty, may be learnt by considering the history and the fate of Assyria. References to the kingdom of which Nineveh was the magnificent capital are all the more interesting and intelligible to us because of the explorations which in our own time have brought to light so many monuments of Assyrian greatness, and so many illustrations of the social, religious, and military habits of the population of that long-vanished empire. The figure under which Ezekiel sets forth the grandeur and the fall of Assyria is one beautiful in itself, and peculiarly impressive to his own mind and to those who, like him, were acquainted with the scenery of Syria. Under the similitude of a lofty and spreading cedar of Lebanon, the prophet exhibits the dignity, the strength, the vastness and beauty of the kingdom which nevertheless perished, as the monarch of the forest is felled, cast to the earth, and delivered to destruction. The figure brings before us -

I. THE MAGNITUDE OF THE ASSYRIAN KINGDOM. The noble cedar of lofty stature and spreading boughs is a striking figure of the great world-empire of which colossal vastness is considered the most characteristic feature.

II. ITS PROSPERITY. The vigor and vitality of the proud cedar of Lebanon are artistically set forth by the poet-prophet. "The waters nourished him, the deep made him to grow; her rivers ran round about her plantation," etc. So the great state throve, all circumstances concurring to enhance its prosperity, all allies and tributaries furnishing material for its growth.

III. ITS STRENGTH. The exalted stature, the multiplied boughs, the long branches, are signs of the cedar's strength; the storms may beat upon its head, but it withstands the fiercest blast, and endures whilst generation after generation admire its grandeur, and come and go. The Assyrian empire seemed of unassailable power; the sovereigns arrogated to, themselves, an unquestionable authority; men thought of Nineveh - "that great city as of a city which could never be moved."

IV. ITS BEAUTY. Fair was the cedar in his greatness, in the length of his branches, nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto him in his beauty. Evidently to the mind of the prophet there was beauty in Assyria such as no choice similitude could exaggerate. This may not be so obvious to us as the assertion of Assyria's strength; but so it seemed to the mind of the world of old.

V. ITS INFLUENCE. This seems to be the idea conveyed by the sixth verse: "All the fowls of the 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." A power so commanding, a position so authoritative, secured the homage of lesser states, which looked up to Nineveh for protection, and were ever ready, by flattery or by service, to minister to her greatness.

VI. ITS PRE-EMINENCE. The stature of the cedar of Lebanon was exalted above all the trees of the field. Even so, during its palmy days, Nineveh was the leader, the chief of the nations. It was long before that supremacy was questioned and disputed. Yet the day came, and Assyria fell.


(1) A great nation enjoying prosperity and wielding influence is especially bound to remember whence its power is derived; and

(2) to cultivate the conviction and sense of responsibility for the use made of gifts and influence entrusted to it. From God all comes, and to God the account must be rendered. - T.

They...that dwelt under His shadow in the midst of the heathen.
Whatever may be the primary meaning of these words, they have a very blessed application to those who have gone forth from so many Christian families into heathen lands. For no choice of their own, and simply in obedience to their King's command, hundreds of our sons and daughters have gone forth to dwell in the midst of the heathen. They have taken up their home amid conditions which they would not have chosen had it not been for the constraining love of Christ, and the imperative need of dying men; and as fond relatives and friends regard their lot from a distance, they are often filled with anxious forebodings. May they not be involved in some sudden riot, and sacrificed to a frenzy of hate? May not the sanitary conditions and methods of life be seriously detrimental to their health or morals? "Oh, if only I could be there," you sigh. Hush! Christ is there; as near them as He is to you, casting over them the shadow of His presence, beckoning them to His secret place. He is the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land; or like the canopy of cloud that hovered over the camp of Israel by day, screening it from the torrid glare. Do not fear to trust your loved ones to the immortal Lover, who fainteth not, neither is weary. The hand that would harm is arrested and paralysed when it attempts to penetrate that safe enclosure.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.).

Ezekiel, Pharaoh
Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Lebanon, Tigris-Euphrates Region
Amidst, Asshur, Assyria, Assyrian, Beautiful, Behold, Bough, Boughs, Branch, Branches, Cedar, Clouds, Cover, Fair, Foliage, Forest, Forest-like, Giving, Growth, Height, Lebanon, Liken, Overshadowing, Pine-tree, Shade, Shading, Shadowing, Shady, Shroud, Stature, Tall, Thick, Thickets, Towered
1. A relation unto Pharaoh
3. of the glory of Assyria
10. and the fall thereof for pride
18. The like destruction of Egypt

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ezekiel 31:3

     4424   cedar
     4528   trees
     8804   pride, examples

Ezekiel 31:2-9

     4035   abundance

Ezekiel 31:3-9

     4504   roots

Ezekiel 31:3-14

     4416   branch

To a modern taste, Ezekiel does not appeal anything like so powerfully as Isaiah or Jeremiah. He has neither the majesty of the one nor the tenderness and passion of the other. There is much in him that is fantastic, and much that is ritualistic. His imaginations border sometimes on the grotesque and sometimes on the mechanical. Yet he is a historical figure of the first importance; it was very largely from him that Judaism received the ecclesiastical impulse by which for centuries it was powerfully
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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