Ezekiel 16
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Ezekiel 16:6

Weakness can speak and cry when we have not a tongue. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said to thee, Live. The kirk could not speak one word to Christ then; but blood and guiltiness out of measure spake, and drew out of Christ pity, and a word of life and love.

—Samuel Rutherford.

Ezekiel 16:14-15

When one is in bed and really ill, one would gladly sacrifice one's complexion or one's bright eyes to regain health and enjoy the sunshine. And besides, a small degree of piety in the heart, a little love of God, is enough to make one speedily renounce such idolatries; for a pretty woman adores herself. When I was a child, I thought nothing equal to beauty; because I said to myself it would have made mamma love me better. Thank God, this childishness has passed away, and the beauty of the soul is the only one I covet.

—EugÉnie de GuÉrin, Journal.

References.—XVI. 8.—S. Baring-Gould, Plain Preaching to Poor People (8th Series), p. 89. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No. 2438. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p. 25. XVI. 9-14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 813.

Ezekiel 16:44

Looking at the mother, you might hope that the daughter would become like her, which is a prospective advantage equal to a dowry—the mother too often standing behind the daughter like a malignant prophecy—'Such as I am, she will shortly be'.

—George Eliot in Middlemarch.

Ezekiel 16:49

'Year after year,' writes Ruskin in the third volume of The Stones of Venice, 'the nation drank with deeper thirst from the fountains of forbidden pleasure, and dug for springs, hitherto unknown, in the dark places of the earth. In the ingenuity of indulgence, in the varieties of vanity, Venice surpassed the cities of Christendom, as of old she had surpassed them in fortitude and devotion; and as once the powers of Europe stood before her judgment-seat, to receive the decisions of her justice, so now the youth of Europe assembled in the halls of her luxury, to learn from her the arts of delight. It is needless as well as painful to trace the steps of her final ruin. That ancient curse was upon her, the curse of the Cities of the Plain, "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness". By the inner burning of her own passions, as fatal as the fiery rain of Gomorrah, she was consumed from her place among the nations; and her ashes are choking the channels of the dead, salt sea.'

One monster there is in the world: the idle man. What is his 'religion '? That Nature is a Phantasm, where cunning beggary or thievery may sometimes find good victual. That God is a lie, and that Man and his life are a lie.

—Carlyle, Past and Present, (part ii. chap. xii.).

Quite apart from Christianity, there exists a social virtue, πολιτικὴ ἀρετή, consisting in regard for others, their rights, their likings, their sensibilities; in love of law and order, in appreciation of articles of value, your own and other people's, as things to be preserved in the hands that have them; in being polite and well-dressed; in saying on some occasions much less than you think, on other occasions a great deal more. This virtue the comfortable classes teach to their children; it is their class interest to teach it and learn it and maintain it. Too frequently, on the other hand, the children of the very poor are not taught social virtue. From infancy they are treated roughly and behave rudely. They see no beauty in the established order of things. They would not be so very much worse off if anarchy and civil war were to ensue. The struggle for the necessities of life and for coarse enjoyments leaves no leisure nor aptitude for processes of refinement. They grow up 'a rough lot'; and where no priest instructs them, nor policeman intimidates them, they commit such crime as comes in their way. Girls, they go out upon the streets, for hunger, to begin with, then for evil passion and habit; but the well-fed sons of luxury are their pay-masters. Some sin is born of fullness of bread, other sin of emptiness of stomach. The latter sort of sin the poor commit, and of the two it is the more likely to appear in the police court and earn lodgings in jail. But of the two it is not the more likely to be the more odious in the sight of God.

—Father Rickaby, Oxford and Cambridge Conferences, II. pp. 7, 8.

References.—XVI. 49.—H. Hensley Henson, Christ and the Nation, p. 147. XVI. 54.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 264. Elmitt Browne, Some Moral Proofs of the Resurrection, p. 130.

Ezekiel 16:62-63

A man shal remembre him of his sinnes. But loke that that remembrance he be to him no delit, by no way, but grete shame and sorroe for his sinnes, and therefore saith Ezechiel; I wot remembre me all the yeres of my lif, in the bitterness of my heart. And God sayeth in the Apocalipse; remembre you fro whens that ye hev fallen, for before the time that ye sinned, ye weren the children of God; but for your sinne ye ben waxen thral and foule; membres of the fende; hate of angels; sclaunder of holy chirche, and fode of the false serpent.... Suiche manere thoughtes meke a man to have shame of his sinne, and no delit; as God saith, by the Prophet Ezechiel; ye should remembre you of your wages, and they should displese you.

—Chaucer, The Persone's Tale.

'My chief burden,' wrote Erskine of Linlathen towards the close of his life, 'is the remembrance of past sins. Although I believe them forgiven, yet they often come between me and the face of my heavenly Father.' In his reminiscences of Erskine, Principal Sharp observes that 'one thing very remarkable during these last years must have struck all who conversed intimately with him—his ever-deepening sense of the evil of sin, and the personal way in which he took this home to himself. Small things done or said years ago would come back upon him, and lie on his conscience, often painfully. Things which few other men would have ever thought of again, and which when told to others would seem trifling or harmless, were grievous to him in remembrance. 'I know that God has forgiven me for these things,' he would say, 'but I cannot forgive myself.'

Let a man but once come really under a sense of God's unchangeable complacency, and he will then soon mourn bitterly enough for his sins, and profitably to himself. 'Thou shalt be loathsome in thine own eyes, when I am pacified with thee for all that thou hast dona.'

—F. W. Newman, The Soul, p. 78.

References.—XVI. 62, 63.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1289. XVII. 3, 5, 8.—G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. 1893, p. 193. XVII. 4.—W. J. Knox Little, Manchester Sermons, p. 22. XVII. 23.—T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p. 34.

Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.
And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.
And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.
I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.
Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.
I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.
But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.
And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.
Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them,
And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD.
Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter,
That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?
And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood.
And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)
That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.
Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms.
Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.
Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;
In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire;
But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!
They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.
And the contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary.
Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;
Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.
And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.
And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.
They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.
And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.
So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.
Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.
Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.
Thou art thy mother's daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.
And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.
Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.
As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done.
Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.
When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:
That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.
When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.
For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,
Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.
Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:
That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.
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