Once again, with a very specific date mentioned, the 7th year of the rule of King Zedekiah, in the 5th month, the 10th day of the month, certain elders came to Ezekiel to talk to him about Yahweh. This would make it August, 591 BCE. They came and sat down in front of Ezekiel, who continued to use the first person singular.
Yahweh, via Ezekiel continued this allegory. The good mother vine was plucked up in anger. It was cast down to the ground. The east wind dried it up. Its fruit was stripped off. The strong stem was withered. Fire consumed it. Then they transplanted it into the wilderness, the desert, a dry thirsty land. A fire consumed its stem, branches, and fruit. There no longer was a strong stem for a ruling scepter. This is a reference that Judah no longer had a ruler. Thus this was a useful lamentation.
Yahweh, via Ezekiel has another allegory about a vine. This vine was like their mother, large and fruitful. The reference here is to Judah as the mother of the people. This vine had been taken from a normal vineyard and planted near a large water supply. It had long stems so that one became a ruler’s scepter. It was tall with thick branches as it stood out because of its height and massive branches.
This second young lion ravaged the strongholds and towns around there. The land and everybody in it were appalled at the sound of his roaring. Thus various countries from around the area set upon him. They spread out their nets over him. They caught him in a pit. They hooked him and put him into a cage. They brought him to the king of Babylon. He was now in custody so that his voice would no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel. This sounds a lot like a reference to King Zedekiah (598-587).
With the capture of the first young lion, this lioness tried to develop a second young lion. She had given up hope, but then she found another one of her young lion cubs. She made him into another young lion so that he prowled among the other young lions. He then learned to catch prey and devour humans. Perhaps this lioness is a reference to Hamutal, the wife of King Josiah (640-609 BCE), whose two sons became kings, King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) and King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE).
Now Ezekiel has an allegorical poetic lamentation for the officials and princes of Israel. There was a lioness mother who took care of her cubs. Apparently this is an allusion to Judah, the lioness. One of them became a young lion who learned how to catch prey. In fact, he devoured some humans. Other countries got upset. They then caught him in a pit. They hooked him and brought him to Egypt. Who is this young lion that was brought to Egypt? This may be a reference to King Jehoahaz (609 BCE) who was captured, after the death of his father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE).
Yahweh had a simple solution. They were to repent and turn away from all their transgressions. Otherwise their iniquity would be their ruin. They had to cast away all the transgressions that they had committed against Yahweh. They needed a new heart and a new spirit. Why would they want to die? Yahweh told the house of Israel that he took no pleasure in killing people. They simply had to turn away from their evil ways. Then they would live.
Just like earlier in this chapter, Yahweh received a challenge about fairness. Why was Yahweh unfair? Yahweh responded to the house of Israel that it was not his ways that were unfair, rather it was their ways that were unfair.
The opposite is also true. When the wicked turn away from their evil ways, they will live and not die. If they do what is lawful and what is right, they would save their lives. They had considered the transgressions that they had committed, but then they turned away from them. Thus they will live and not die.