In ancient times, the use of a riddle was a means of demonstrating superior intellect. The Hebrew word translated riddle in Ezekiel 17:2, chiydah (khee – daw´) means “a puzzle, hence, a trick” or conundrum (2420). The word chiydah is derived from chuwd (khood), which is properly translated as “to tie a knot” (2330). It could be said that a riddle was a type of mental exercise intended to keep someone wrapped up or distracted for a long period of time. In essence, a riddle was meant to be unsolvable, therefore, it was designed to be as difficult as possible to interpret it.
God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 17:2). The story Ezekiel was given was about an eagle that “cropt off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick” (Ezekiel 17:4). At the core of this story was the issue of interference in God’s plan to bring forth a Messiah in the family of king David. As the kings of Judah had carried on from generation to generation, keeping the blood line of David alive and on the throne, there came a point when king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took Jehoiachin king of Judah into captivity. Jehoiachin was the last of David’s descendants to sit on the throne.
After Jehoiachin was removed from his position as king, Nebuchadnezzar replaced him with an older relative that he intended to use as a means of controlling the nation of Judah from a distance, but king Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and sought help from an Egyptian pharaoh. Eventually, Zedekiah was taken into captivity and killed. If he had been the true heir to David’s throne, the blood line of David would have been cut off and the Messiah’s birth impossible, but king Jehoiachin remained in Babylon safe and sound.
It says in Ezekiel 17:22-23. “Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent: in the mountains of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all foul of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.” God’s reference to the highest branch of the high cedar was meant to convey the idea of the last living relative of king David; king Jehoiachin, whom God would use to transplant the blood line back to Jerusalem after the 70 years of captivity were completed.