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Ezekiel 17

God's picture of two big birds and a vine

1 The LORD spoke to me. 2 ‘Son of man’, he said. ‘I want you to tell a story. This story is a picture of Israel's people.

3 Say this to Israel's people. “A big bird had great powerful wings. Feathers of beautiful colours covered his wings. He came to Lebanon. 4 There he broke the top from a big tree. He took this top branch to a city. In that city, men buy and sell many things. There he planted his branch.

5 The bird took seed from your land. And he planted it in good ground. He planted it near to much water where trees grow. 6 The branch grew along the ground and it became a vine. The branches turned up towards the bird. And the roots went down into the ground. The vine grew and it covered itself with branches and leaves.

7 Another big bird came, with great wings and many feathers. Then the vine made its branches and roots grow towards this bird. The vine thought that the new bird would give it even more water. 8 But the vine was in a lovely garden where there was good ground and much water. It could grow leaves and fruit (grapes) there, and become big and strong.” ’

9 ‘Ask the people a question’, said the LORD God. ‘Do they think that the vine will stay alive? No, enemies will pull it up and take its fruit. They will let it die. All its new branches will die. It would not be difficult for a strong man or a few people to pull it up. 10 It would die even if they put it into good new ground. The east wind would kill it where it grew.’

11 The LORD spoke to me again. 12 ‘This people do not obey me. Perhaps they do not know what these things mean’, he said.

‘Speak to them. Say: “The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem. He took away the king and his officers. He took them back with him to Babylon. 13 Then he agreed to let one of the king's family rule Jerusalem as its king.

This king made a promise to the king of Babylon. He said that he would obey Babylon's king. 14 The king of Babylon wanted to make Israel weak. So he took Jerusalem's important men away to Babylon. He did not want them make Israel strong enough to fight him. 15 But the king of Jerusalem did not keep his promise. He sent messengers to the king of Egypt. He asked him to send an army with horses to save Jerusalem. I tell you that he did a bad thing. He has done the thing that he had promised not to do. The king of Babylon will punish him.

16 I am surely alive,” ’ says the LORD God.

‘The king of Israel will die in Babylon. The king of Babylon gave him authority to rule Israel. Israel's king will die in his country. This is because he did not remember his promise to the king of Babylon. He thought that the promise was not important. 17 Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) will not be able to help him with his big army and many soldiers. An enemy will build hills round the city. Then they will attack it. And soldiers will attack Jerusalem and they will kill many people. 18 Your king did not remember his promise. He did not keep it.

Because he did all these things, I will punish him.’

19 So this is what the LORD God, says. ‘He did not obey me. So I will do all the bad things that I promised. He promised to do good things. But he did not do them. He thought that his promise to me had no value. 20 I will catch him like a hunter that catches an animal. I will take him to Babylon and I will punish him there. I will punish him because he was not faithful to me. 21 His soldiers will run away and enemies will kill them. A few of them will run to countries that are far away. Then you will know that my words are true.’

22 The LORD God, says this: ‘I myself will take a small branch from the top of a great tree. I will take it and I will plant it on a high mountain. 23 I will plant it on a high mountain in Israel. It will grow more branches and make fruit. It will become a great tree. Many kinds of birds will live in the tree. They will make their homes in it. Its branches will keep them safe from the sun. 24 Then all the trees in the field will know that I am the LORD. I break down big trees and I make small trees grow. I make the green tree dry and I make the dry tree grow well.

This is what I, the LORD, have said. And I will do it.’