Ezekiel 23
Clarke's Commentary
The idolatries of Samaria and Jerusalem are represented in this chapter by the bad practices of two common harlots, for which God denounces severe judgments against them, vv. 1-49. See the sixteenth chapter, where the same metaphor is enlarged upon as here, it being the prophets view to exude the utmost detestation of the crime against which he inveighs.

The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
Son of man, there were two women - All the Hebrews were derived from one source, Abraham and Sarah; and, till the schism under Rehoboam, formed but one people: but as these ten tribes and a half separated from Judah and Benjamin, they became two distinct people under different kings; called the kingdom of Judah, and the kingdom of Israel. They are called here, because of their consanguinity, two sisters. The elder, Samaria, (for there was the seat of government for the kingdom of Israel), was called אהלה aholah, "a tent." The younger, Judah, was called אהליבה aholibah, "my tent is in her," because the temple of God was in Jerusalem, the seat of the government of the kingdom of Judah.

And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.
And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.
And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,
And Aholah played the harlot - Without entering into detail here, or following the figures, they both became idolatrous, and received the impure rites of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, of which connection the prophet speaks here as he did in chap. 16, which see.

In this chapter there are many of what we would call indelicate expressions, because a parallel is run between idolatry and prostitution, and the circumstances of the latter illustrate the peculiarities of the former. In such cases, perhaps, the matter alone was given to the prophet, and he was left to use his own language, and amplify as he saw good. Ezekiel was among the Jews what Juvenal was among the Romans, - a rough reprover of the most abominable vices. They both spoke of things as they found them; stripped vice naked, and scourged it publicly. The original is still more rough than the translation; and surely there is no need of a comment to explain imagery that is but too generally understood. I have said enough on Ezekiel 16, and to that I must refer the reader. It is true that there are a few things here in the shade that might be illustrated by anatomy; and it would not be difficult to do it: but they are not necessary to salvation, and I shall not take off the covering. They were sufficiently understood by those for whose use they were originally designed.

Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
Clothed with blue - The purple dye was highly valued among the ancients, and at first was only used by kings, at last it was used among the military, particularly by officers of high rank in the country.

Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.
Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.
Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed judgment upon her.
And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.
Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,
And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion,
Men pourtrayed upon the wall - See on Ezekiel 8:10 (note).

Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity:
And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.
And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.
So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister.
Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.
For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.
She doted upon their paramours - פלגשיהם pillagsheyhem, their harlots or concubines. Anciently harlot meant in our language either the male or female prostitute.

Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses - See on Ezekiel 16:25 (note).

Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.
Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side;
The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses.
Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa - פקוד ושוע וקוע. These names have been thought to designate certain people bordering on the Chaldeans; but no geographer has ever been able to find them out.

In our old translations these names were considered appellatives - rulers, mighty men, and tyrants. Others, following the literal import of the words, have translated, visiting, shouting and retreating. Others have applied them to the habits of the Chaldean soldiers. Pekod signifying the muster or review of armies; Shoa, the magnificence of their uniform and arms; and Koa, the marks or embroidery of the clothes of the captains and generals. Grotius thought that they might be names of contiguous nations: Pekod, the Bactrians; Shoa, a people of Armenia; and Boa, the Medes. I have nothing to add that would satisfy myself, or be edifying to my readers.

And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments.
And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire.
Shall take away thy nose - A punishment frequent among the Persians and Chaldeans, as ancient authors tell. Adulteries were punished in this way; and to this Martial refers: -

Quis tibi persuasit nares abscindere moecho?

"Who has counselled thee to cut off the adulterer's nose?"

Women were thus treated in Egypt. See Calmet.

They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels.
They shall also strip thee - See on Ezekiel 16:39 (note).

Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom brought from the land of Egypt: so that thou shalt not lift up thine eyes unto them, nor remember Egypt any more.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated:
And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.
Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister's cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much.
Thou shalt drink of thy sister's cup - Thou shalt be ruined and desolated as Samaria was.

Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria.
Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
Thou shalt - pluck off thine own breasts - Thou shalt tear them; a frequent action in extreme sorrow and desolation. Weeping, tearing the bosom, and beating the breasts.

Tunc vero rupique sinus, et pectora planxi.

Ovid's Ephesians 5.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations;
That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.
Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.
They have defiled my sanctuary - By placing idols there.

For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.
And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments,
Thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments - This is exactly the way in which a loose female in Bengal adorns herself to receive guests. She first bathes, then rubs black paint around her eyes, and then covers her body with ornaments. - Ward's Customs.

And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.
And satest upon a stately bed - Hast raised a stately altar to thy idols; probably alluding to that which Ahaz ordered to be made, after the similitude of that which he saw at Damascus. The bed here is in allusion to the sofas on which the ancients were accustomed to recline at their meals; or to the couches on which they place Asiatic brides, with incense pots and sweetmeats on a table before them.

And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with the men of the common sort were brought Sabeans from the wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful crowns upon their heads.
And a voice of a multitude - This seems to be an account of an idolatrous festival, where a riotous multitude was assembled, and fellows of the baser sort, with bracelets on their arms and chapters on their heads, performed the religious rites.

Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now commit whoredoms with her, and she with them?
Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot: so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.
And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.
And the righteous men - אנשים צדיקים anashim tsaddikim. The Chaldeans, thus called because they are appointed by God to execute judgment on these criminals.

For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.
And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire.
Shall stone them with stones - As they did adulteresses under the law. See Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22, compared with John 8:3.

Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness.
Thus will I cause lewdness to cease - Idolatry; and from that time to the present day the Jews never relapsed into idolatry.

And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Ye shall bear the sins of your idols - The punishment due to your adultery; your apostasy from God, and setting up idolatry in the land.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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