Ezekiel 19 is a “lamentation for the princes of Israel”. A lamentation is described as ‘the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping’. Ezekiel knows that God’s judgment of the sinful people of Judah was just and right, yet he felt sorry for there situation. So he goes through a series of remembering the different reigns of kings as he describes how “young lions….became a lion” and then became king. They learned how to lead and fight and take on their enemies. But in some cases, they also lost and were captured and carried away.
So Judah was like a mother lion whose young lions became kings to rule over nations. However, when Egypt gained control of the region, Judah’s king Jehoahaz was captured, bound and taken to Egypt, where he later died. (2 Kings 23) The next lion with all the fierce and aggressive characteristics was Jehoiakim. Unlike the kings before and after him, Jehoiakim died in Jerusalem, not in a foreign land. His son and successor, Jehoiachin, was captured and taken prisoner to Babylon. Although Jehoiachin reigned only three months, he showed he had the same evil characteristics as his father.
Judah is pictured also as a strong healthy vine, and her kings as fruitful branches of that vine. “’Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, planted by the waters; It was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant waters….And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers”. But the vine withered and was taken, along with its last rightful king, Jehoiachin, into the dry and thirsty land of Babylon. These lions put on a quite a show at times of their rule, but in the end, were “plucked up in a fury”.
In Jerusalem the king appointed by Babylon proved to be a fire who destroyed the little that remained of the vine. Through Zedekiah both the nation and the line of kings from David came to an end. “The east wind dried up its fruit. Its strong branch was torn off So that it withered; The fire consumed it. And now it is planted in the wilderness, In a dry and thirsty land. And fire has gone out from its branch; It has consumed its shoots and fruit, So that there is not in it a strong branch, a scepter to rule”. Ezekiel has plenty to lament over as he reviews the history of God’s people in Judah and their poor kings who led them badly.