Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Ezekiel, after describing by a figure the circumstances and conditions of the Jews and Zedekiah, the vassal of the Assyrian monarch, warns them of the delusive character of their hopes of help from Egypt, protests against the perfidy which must accompany such alliance, and points out that the restoration of the people of God will be effected by a very different son of David. The close of this chapter is a striking prediction of the kingdom of the Messiah.
A great eagle ... - Probably the golden eagle, whose plumage has the variety of color here depicted. The eagle (the king of birds) is a natural representative of monarchs (compare, Jer 48:40), and was an Assyrian emblem.
With great wings, Iongwinged - literally, "great of wing, long of pinion," because he has swept victoriously over widely distant lands - of divers colors, because his subjects are of various races and tongues. Jerusalem is here called "Lebanon" because Lebanon is the proper home of the cedar. The "highest branch" or "topshoot" is Jeconiah, the rightful king of Jerusalem, the "young twigs" are his children and the princes carried by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon.
A land of traffick - The land of Babylon.
He took also of the seed of the land - Zedekiah the king's uncle, not a Babylonian satrap, was made king.
Spreading - On the ground, not trained to a pole, that it might have no other prop but Nebuchadnezzar. As a vine it was less majestic than a cedar Eze 17:3; but compare Psa 80:10.
Whose branches ... - Rather, in order that her branches should turn unto him, and that her roots should be under him.
Another great eagle - This is the king of Egypt, mighty indeed but not like the first.
By the furrows of her plantation - From the beds, where it was planted to bring forth fruit for another, it shot forth its roots to him that he might water it. Zedekiah was courting the favor of Egypt while he owed his very position to the bounty of Assyria.
Her spring - Rather, her growth.
Even without ... - Translate; and not with great power or with much people is it to be raised up from its roots again.
To cast up mounts and build forts - was the business not of the relieving but of the besieging army. Translate it: when men cast up mounts and build forts to destroy many persons.
A contrast between the dealings of Nebuchadnezzar and of Yahweh. Nebuchadnezzar "cut off," Yahweh will "set up" the topshoot; Nebuchadnezzar "carried it into a land of traffic," Yahweh will "plant it in the mountain of the height of Israel." Nebuchadnezzar set his favorite as a "vine, lowly" though not poor, in the place where such trees as the humble "willow" grow and thrive. Yahweh's favorite is like the "lofty cedar, eminent upon a high mountain."
The highest branch of the high cedar - The rightful representative of the royal house of David, the Messiah.
Tender one - The Messiah. This prophecy rests upon Isa 11:1, Isa 11:10.
In the mountain of the height of Israel - The parallel passage Eze 20:40 points to the mountain on which the temple stood. But it is not here the actual Mount Moriah so much as the kingdom of which that mountain was the representative, the seat of the throne of the anointed Son of God (Psa 2:6; compare Psa 40:2).
All fowl of every wing - (or, of every kind) are those who flock from all lands to this kingdom. Compare Mat 13:32.
The prophet brings prominently forward the future exaltation of the king; and he furnishes us thereby with hope, encouragement, and consolation, at such times as we see the Church of Christ in like depression.
The trees fo the field - The kingdoms of the world as contrasted with the kingdom of God. The truth here enunciated is a general one. God gives the promise, God fulfils it.