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The Kingdom 0f the Promise: The Exilic Prophets


Yahweh himself, people would learn, was more important than buildings and all the

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trappings. What was more, he would one day restore the people to the land, bringing them from every country to which they had been dispersed (tt:tZ). Only in that future dav all the old abominations would have been removed and a nerv inner capacity would be implanted in the people - the inner self would be so changed that Ezekiel could only refer to it as a "new spirit," "an undivided heart," and a "heart of flesh" (11:19). Such was the old vision of Isaiah

4:2-6 and )eremiah 30-31.

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The New Davidic Kingdom

Ezekiel l7 is an allegory of the cedar of Lebanon (that is, David's house) with an indictment of the last Davidite, Zedekiah, who relied on Egypt rather than Yalrrveh. But all rvas not lost, for this history concluded in 17:22- 24 with the promise of a sprig, a tender shoot from the top of this majestic cedar tree, which would grow to overtake all the other trees (kingdoms).
The Babylonian eagle rvould carry away the crown of the cedar tree into captivity, but God rvould exalt the lorvly'. Once more Yahrceh would break off another trvig, this time from the transplanted sprig, and this new piece of cedar he would replant on the mountain heights of Israel. There, what would only appear to be insignificant would grorv into a polverful tree under rvhich all the birds of heaven would seek shelter. To that nerv tree, all the kingdoms of earth would come and acknowledge their inferiority and its superiorityr Once again, the theme of God's nerv World Ruler coming from humble origins was the point (cf. lsaT:l4ff.;9:6ff.; 1l:lff.; Mic 4:lff.). While Zerubbabel was the next Davidic person to govern, and he rvas transplanted from Babylonian exile back to Zion, he clearly did not exhaust the universal terms of this passage. The remnant would inherit all the ancient promises given to David and Abraham. And God's kingdom would triumph over all the nations;in fact, under the umbrella of that kingdom would dwell all sorts of nations (or, as the oriental figure of speech loved to put it, all the birds of heaven and beasts of every type would seek its shelter).

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The Rightful King

One last installment in the developing doctrine of promise is to be found in the first section of Ezekiel (21:26-27 [3]-32]).As the prophet unleashed his message of destruction against |erusalem, the temple, and the land of Israel (cf. Eze 20:45 -2L:17), he rvas instructed to mark the crossroads where the advancing king of Babylon rvould need to determine whether he was going to take the road southeast to the Ammonites or the road to |erusalem. Even though Nebuchadrrezzar would use divination (belomancy,

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necromancy, and hepatoscopy, 2I:21), Yahweh had already determined that the lot would be for him to proceed to Jerusalem (v.22)l
As for the wicked Davidic prince, Zedekiah, he should remove his "crown" (misnepet) and the high priest his "mitre" (tiara or turban, 'otArAh, cf.Ex28:4,37,39;29:6;39:28,31