Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Photograph by Milan Zygmunt
And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions. And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.
— Ezekiel 19:2-3
In liking the state of Judah to a lioness Ezekiel is reflecting on Jacob's blessing in Genesis, where he describes his son Judah as a lion.
Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 1
In the eyes of man, a lion has many qualities, both noble and terrifying. It is the terrifying that becomes the focus here as Ezekiel describes each of the 'princes' as devouring men. The last two kings of Judah behaved appallingly and were subsequently captured, just as real lions who terrorised a village would be. The whole of this chapter is a lament and a warning couched in fable. Interestingly Ezekiel mixes his metaphors here as in the last few verses the lioness becomes a vine, transplanted into desolate, dry ground, unable to flourish.
Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters...And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground. 2
Sometimes we need to reflect in multiple ways, see with different eyes, to understand a problem and determine what we might do about it. Through these metaphors Ezekiel draws the people's attention to their failings, in the hope they may transcend them. We need to admit our faults before we are ready to change.
1 Genesis 49:9 (see also the earlier reflection, Poetry)
2 Ezekiel 19:10,13