Saturday, November 26, 2011

The relevance of Ezekiel 17:1-10 to the Immigrant

As I continue to see the scriptures through the standpoint of an immigrant, my Bible reading is no longer the same. As I look at texts, new meaning comes from passages that were once alien to me. Ezekiel 17 is one such chapter that became alive to me within these past 2 weeks.

A few things to point out about Ezekiel 17:1-10
  1. G-d created a riddle or parable -  a simple story with a deep meaning that one must extract from the surface
  2. He uses the imagery of crop propagation  and agriculture
  3. Generally, the Bible usually uses animals such as birds to represent spiritual or celestial beings, and plants to represent earthly beings or human beings (This is revelation knowledge that I can't give a justification for. But I could point out a number of passages in scriptures to support this, but at another time).
 In verse 3, there is mention of a great eagle, with great wings, that came to a foreign country and plucked up the highest branch on a tree.

With my coming to Canada to do my postgraduate studies, I feel that student immigrants (who are the brightest and most intelligent minds in their home countries) are almost plucked up from their homelands and taken to a foreign country. While there might be some element of choice in the matter, not all students that apply to graduate school or even to the high commissions or embassies are selected. They are sifted, just like how the Eagle in Ezekiel 19:4 crops off the top of the young twigs on the highest branch. These student immigrants selected are like the twig carried away to be set in a city of merchants (verse 4). In the immigration analogy, these cities of merchants are the highly developed economies of the world, the multi-cultural market places, that facilitates cultural and economic exchanges.

Continuing with the analogy, seeds are also taken, so it is not just twigs for propagation, but also seeds. These are planted by waters. They are planted in good soil, and they grow towards the Eagle who gives them birth in this new soil. However its branches are low and not as high as a tree. It also depends upon the Eagle that took it to the new soil to nourish it.

Another great eagle comes to the land, and the newly planted vine grows towards this other Eagle and changes its direction, moving away from the Eagle that gave it birth.

Though this passage has a meaning for Israel, the nation of immigrants, I see in it also a message for the United States of America, also a nation of immigrants. You were established by immigrants who were carried to the land by G-d (the great Eagle). G-d planted your forefathers and also children. But as the children of the new nation grew, they changed their direction from the G-d that planted them, and turned towards another great Eagle (another god).  Thus the words echo in Ezekiel 17:9: Will this nation of immigrants prosper?

The message is also for me as an immigrant student. I was brought to Canada by G-d, and my prosperity and productivity in this nation depends upon my willingness to grow towards him and be humble and humiliated and dependent on him. How important it is that in this city of merchants (capitalism and trade and commerce) and market place for world products and services, heavily trafficked by cultural and economic exchanges, that I maintain my dependence on the great Eagle that took me here, and not trust in another.

(Published November 24, 2011; Revised November 26, 2011)

No comments: