Ezekiel 17 presents a riddle or parable of two eagles about the treachery of Zedekiah, the puppet governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to replace Jehoiachin, the Judahite king taken captive in an earlier wave of exile of which Ezekiel had been a part. Zedekiah would be captured in the last phase of exile, the destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 B.C. Part of the riddle includes messianic language of the branch, verbiage that takes this episode’s discussion into the Bible’s adaptation of the ancient omphalos (“navel of the earth”) myth.

Articles on the omphalos / “navel of the earth” motif:

Alexander, Philip S. “Jerusalem as the Omphalos of the World: On the History of a Geographical Concept.” Judaism 46, no. 2 (1997): 147–58.

Terrien, Samuel L. “Omphalos Myth and Hebrew Religion.” Vetus Testamentum 20, no. 3 (1970): 315–38.

Wensinck, A. J. The Ideas of the Western Semites Concerning the Navel of the Earth. Amsterdam: Johannes Müller, 1916. (public domain)

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