Ezekiel 16:26
You have also committed fornication with the Egyptians your neighbors, great of flesh; and have increased your prostitutions, to provoke me to anger.
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(26) The Egyptians . . . great of flesh.—The Egyptians are properly named first, because, even in the golden calf of the wilderness, the Israelites turned with avidity to the worship of Egypt. This tendency seems to have been only suppressed, not extinguished, during the subsequent ages, and remained ever ready to develop itself, as in the calves of Jeroboam (1Kings 12:28-30); but it received great accession of strength during the reigns of Solomon and his successors. The Egyptians are called “great of flesh” from the character of their popular worship, which was a thoroughly sensuous nature worship. The connection of Israel with Egypt in the latter part of the monarchy was not only religious, but political, in bold defiance of the reiterated Divine commands. Especially at this time, a great part of the work of Jeremiah was to oppose the tendency of the successive kings of Judah to alliance with Egypt.

16:1-58 In this chapter God's dealings with the Jewish nation, and their conduct towards him, are described, and their punishment through the surrounding nations, even those they most trusted in. This is done under the parable of an exposed infant rescued from death, educated, espoused, and richly provided for, but afterwards guilty of the most abandoned conduct, and punished for it; yet at last received into favour, and ashamed of her base conduct. We are not to judge of these expressions by modern ideas, but by those of the times and places in which they were used, where many of them would not sound as they do to us. The design was to raise hatred to idolatry, and such a parable was well suited for that purpose.Egyptian idolatry, a worship of the powers of nature, was eminently sensual. The idolatry here spoken of is not so much that which Israel brought with them from Egypt, as the idolatry introduced in the time of Solomon and Rehoboam. 26. fornication with … Egyptians—alliances with Egypt, cemented by sharing their idolatries.

great of flesh—of powerful virile parts; figuratively for the gross and lustful religion of Egypt (for example, Isis, &c.), which alone could satisfy the abominable lust of Israel (Eze 20:7, 8; 23:19, 20, 21).

to provoke me—wantonly and purposely.

Committed fornication; both figuratively and literally understood; worshipped Egypt’s gods, made covenants with them, kept up a commerce of trade with them, and prostituted themselves to their lusts too, by cohabitation, while the servitude lasted, and by nearness of place, when in Canaan. The Jewish nation retained too much inclination to those idolatrous and lustful neighbours.

Great of flesh; politically they were great in power, and like to defend and help the Jews; naturally of big make, and men of great stature, and such as insatiable adulteresses would covet; and these considerations induced adulterous and idolatrous Israel to unite with them in leagues and religion.

To anger; to a fierceness of anger for its degree, and to an abhorring and contemning of the person against whom this anger is stirred. Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians,.... By entering into leagues and alliances with them, and seeking to them for help and assistance against their enemies; from whose bondage they had formerly been delivered, and whose society they were cautioned against; and yet they forsook the Lord, and joined themselves to them by solemn covenant; and not only so, but fell into the worship of their idols, who were a people of all others the most superstitious, and given to idolatry; and many of their idolatrous rites and ceremonies were received and retained by the Jews, as the worshipping of Tammuz, and other idols:

thy neighbours, great of flesh: being their neighbours, and full of power and strength to assist them, they courted their friendship and alliance; and their idolatries being many and monstrous, were the more courted by them: the allusion is to women of shameless impudence and insatiable lust, who covet men, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and their issue as horses, Ezekiel 23:20; flesh here signifies the privy parts of men; so Ben Melech;

and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke my anger; multiplied their idolatries, which they learned of the Egyptians, a people much given thereunto; and which were abominable and highly provoking to God, 1 Peter 4:3. The Targum is,

"thou hast increased thine idols.''

Thou hast also committed harlotry with the {p} Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast multiplied thy harlotry, to provoke me to anger.

(p) He notes the great impiety of this people, who first falling from God to seek help at strange nations also at length embraced their idolatry thinking by it to make their amity more strong.

26. Egyptian idolatry.

hast also committed] and thou didst commit. The narrative tense should be used throughout.

great of flesh] In an obscene sense. Cf. ch. Ezekiel 23:20. The expression is chosen probably to represent the brutality of the Egyptian idolatries, which in some ways were baser than those of any people.Verse 26. - With the Egyptians. The words point to political and commercial alliances, in themselves a whoredom (Isaiah 23:17; Nahum 3:4), such as Zedekiah, like some of his predecessors, had trusted in, as well as to the adoption of Egyptian worship, such as we have seen in Ezekiel 8:10, the one leading naturally to the other. The words, great of flesh, may point, as we interpret the parable, to the supposed strength of the stout and stalwart soldiers, the chariots and horses of the Egyptians, but possibly also may be a euphemism for the mere animal vigour which stimulated passion. The Lord then went past again, and chose for His bride the virgin, who had already grown up to womanhood, and with whom He contracted marriage by the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai. עתּך, thy time, is more precisely defined as עת דּדים, the time of conjugal love. I spread my wing over thee, i.e., the lappet of my garment, which also served as a counterpane; in other words, I married thee (cf. Ruth. EZechariah 3:9), and thereby covered thy nakedness. "I swore to thee," sc. love and fidelity (cf. Hosea 2:21-22), and entered into a covenant with thee, i.e., into that gracious connection formed by the adoption of Israel as the possession of Jehovah, which is represented as a marriage covenant (compare Exodus 24:8 and Exodus 19:5-6, and Deuteronomy 5:2 : - אתך for אתּך). Ezekiel 16:9. describe how Jehovah provided for the purification, clothing, adorning, and maintenance of His wife. As the bride prepares herself for the wedding by washing and anointing, so did the Lord cleanse Israel from the blemishes and impurities which adhered to it from its birth. The rinsing from the blood must not be understood as specially referring either to the laws of purification given to the nation (Hitzig), or as relating solely to the purification effected by the covenant sacrifice (Hvernick). It embraces all that the Lord did for the purifying of the people from the pollution of sin, i.e., for its sanctification. The anointing with oil indicates the powers of the Spirit of God, which flowed to Israel from the divine covenant of grace. The clothing with costly garments, and adorning with all the jewellery of a wealthy lady or princess, points to the equipment of Israel with all the gifts that promote the beauty and glory of life. The clothing is described as made of the costliest materials with which queens were accustomed to clothe themselves. רקמה, embroidered cloth (Psalm 45:15). תּחשׁ, probably the sea-cow, Manati (see the comm. on Exodus 25:5). The word is used here for a fine description of leather of which ornamental sandals were made; a kind of morocco. "I bound thee round with byssus:" this refers to the headband; for חבשׁ is the technical expression for the binding or winding round of the turban-like headdress (cf. Ezekiel 24:17; Exodus 29:9; Leviticus 8:13), and is applied by the Targum to the headdress of the priests. Consequently covering with משׁי, as distinguished from clothing, can only refer to covering with the veil, one of the principal articles of a woman's toilet. The ἁπ. λεγ. משׁי (Ezekiel 16:10 and Ezekiel 16:13) is explained by the Rabbins as signifying silk. The lxx render it τρίχαπτον. According to Jerome, this is a word formed by the lxx: quod tantae subtilitatis fuerit vestimentum, ut pilorum et capillorum tenuitatem habere credatur. The jewellery included not only armlets, nose-rings, and ear-rings, which the daughters of Israel were generally accustomed to wear, but also necklaces and a crown, as ornaments worn by princesses and queens. For רביד, see comm. on Genesis 41:42. Ezekiel 16:13 sums up the contents of Ezekiel 16:9-12. Sheeshiy שׁשׁי is made to conform to משׁי; the food is referred to once more; and the result of the whole is said to have been, that Jerusalem became exceedingly beautiful, and flourished even to royal dignity. The latter cannot be taken as referring simply to the establishment of the monarchy under David, any more than merely to the spiritual sovereignty for which Israel was chosen from the very beginning (Exodus 19:5-6). The expression includes both, viz., the call of Israel to be a kingdom of priests, and the historical realization of this call through the Davidic sovereignty. The beauty, i.e., glory, of Israel became so great, that the name of fame of Israel sounded abroad in consequence among the nations. It was perfect, because the Lord had put His glory upon His Church. This, too, we must not restrict (as Hvernick does) to the far-sounding fame of Israel on its departure from Egypt (Exodus 15:14.); it refers pre-eminently to the glory of the theocracy under David and Solomon, the fame of which spread into all lands. - Thus had Israel been glorified by its God above all the nations, but it did not continue in fellowship with its God.
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