Ezekiel 31

31 And in the eleventh year [after King Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon], in the third month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

2 Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude: Whom are you like in your greatness?

3 Behold, [I will liken you to] Assyria, a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches and with forestlike shade and of high stature, with its top among the thick boughs [even among the clouds].

4 The waters nourished it; the deep made it grow tall; its rivers ran round about its planting, sending out its streams to all the trees of the forest [the other nations].

5 Therefore it towered higher than all the trees of the forest; its boughs were multiplied and its branches became long, because there was much water when they were shot forth.

6 All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs, and under its branches all the wild beasts of the field brought forth their young and under its shadow dwelt all of the great nations.

7 Thus was it beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches, for its root was by many and great waters.

8 The cedars in the garden of God could not hide or rival it; the cypress trees did not have boughs like it and the plane trees did not have branches like it, nor was any tree in the garden of God like it in its beauty.

9 I made it beautiful with the multitude of its branches, so that all the trees of [a]Eden that were in the garden of God envied it [Assyria].

10 Therefore thus said the Lord God: Because it is exalted in stature and has set its top among the thick boughs and the clouds, and its heart is proud of its height,(A)

11 I will even [b]deliver it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations; he shall surely deal with it. I have driven it out for its wickedness and lawlessness.

12 And strangers, the most terrible of the nations, will cut it off and leave it; upon the mountains and in all the valleys its branches will fall and its boughs will lie broken by all the watercourses of the land, and all the peoples of the earth will go down out of its shade and leave it.

13 Upon its ruins all the birds of the heavens will dwell, and all the wild beasts of the field will be upon [Assyria’s fallen] branches.

14 All this is so that none of the trees by the waters may exalt themselves because of their height or shoot up their top among the thick boughs and the clouds, and that none of their mighty ones should stand upon [their own estimate of] themselves for their height, all that drink water. For they are all delivered over to death, to the lower world, in the midst of the children of men, with those who go down to the pit (the grave).

15 Thus says the Lord God: When [Assyria] goes down to Sheol (the place of the dead), I will cause a mourning; I will cover the deep for it and I will restrain its floods, and the many waters [that contributed to its prosperity] will be stayed; and I will cause Lebanon to be in black gloom and to mourn for it, and all the trees of the field, dismayed, will faint because of it.

16 I will make the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I cast it down to Sheol with those who descend into the pit, and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all [the trees] that drink water, will be comforted in the netherworld [at Assyria’s downfall].

17 They also shall go down into Sheol with it to those who were slain by the sword—yes, those who were its arm, who dwelt under its shadow in the midst of the nations.

18 To whom [O Egypt] among the trees of Eden are you thus like in glory and in greatness? Yet you [also] shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the netherworld. You shall lie among the [c]uncircumcised heathen with those who are slain by the sword. This is [d]how it shall be with Pharaoh and all the multitude of his strength, his tumult, and his store [of wealth and glory], says the Lord God.(B)


  1. Ezekiel 31:9 The traditional site of Eden was within the bounds of the Assyrian Empire. However, this in no sense implies that Assyria was in the garden of God told about in Gen. 2:8.
  2. Ezekiel 31:11 The effectiveness of this comparison [of Egypt] with Assyria becomes clear when it is remembered that Assyria had conquered and held Egypt in vassalage, and had then herself been conquered and annihilated only thirty-seven years before the date of this prophecy—by the same Chaldean [Babylonian] power [then controlled by the father of Nebuchadnezzar, which is] now foretold as about to execute judgment upon Egypt. Egypt could not hope to resist the conqueror of her conqueror (Charles Ellicott, A Bible Commentary).
  3. Ezekiel 31:18 Though there were other circumcised peoples besides the Hebrews, especially the Egyptians (and they as early as 3000 b.c.), yet the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Syrians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and various other nationalities with whom the Jews were in contact were uncircumcised, so that the word “uncircumcised” as a term of reproach meant practically (though not etymologically) almost the same thing as heathen (John D. Davis, A Dictionary of the Bible).
  4. Ezekiel 31:18 The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) so reads at this point.

Cross references

  1. Ezekiel 31:10 : II Kings 18:31-35.
  2. Ezekiel 31:18 : Ezek. 28:10; 32:19.

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