Ezekiel’s sign-act of the two sticks is an interpretive quagmire. Interpretive issues include the association of ‘Israel’ with both sticks, the use of the name ‘Joseph’ to identify the entity associated with the second stick, the interest in a defunct northern kingdom which this is thought to reflect, the relationship between the entities represented by the two sticks, the meaning of the terms עץ and שבט, and the use of מלך. The article aims to resolve a number of these issues and to suggest the cause of certain others. It argues that the sign-act concerns the competing claims of the two royal lines created by the deportation of Jehoiachin to Babylon and the appointment of Zedekiah in Jerusalem. It should therefore be understood as part of a wider corpus of texts attesting to the ideological and practical struggle between the Babylonian golah and those left behind in the land.