Ezekiel 16
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Eze 16:1-63. Detailed Application of the Parabolical Delineation of the Fifteenth Chapter to Jerusalem Personified as a Daughter.

(1) Taken up by God's gratuitous favor from infancy (Eze 16:1-7); (2) and, when grown up, joined to Him in spiritual marriage (Eze 16:8-14); (3) her unfaithfulness, her sin (Eze 16:15-34); (4) the judgment (Eze 16:35-52); (5) her unlooked-for restoration (Eze 16:53 to the close).

Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,
2. cause Jerusalem to know—Men often are so blind as not to perceive their guilt which is patent to all. "Jerusalem" represents the whole kingdom of Judah.
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.
3. birth … nativity—thy origin and birth; literally, "thy diggings" (compare Isa 51:1) "and thy bringings forth."

of … Canaan—in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned before going to Egypt, and from which thou didst derive far more of thy innate characteristics than from the virtues of those thy progenitors (Eze 21:30).

an Amorite … an Hittite—These, being the most powerful tribes, stand for the whole of the Canaanite nations (compare Jos 1:4; Am 2:9), which were so abominably corrupt as to have been doomed to utter extermination by God (Le 18:24, 25, 28; De 18:12). Translate rather, "the Amorite … the Canaanite," that is, these two tribes personified; their wicked characteristics, respectively, were concentrated in the parentage of Israel (Ge 15:16). "The Hittite" is made their "mother"; alluding to Esau's wives, daughters of Heth, whose ways vexed Rebekah (Ge 26:34, 35; 27:46), but pleased the degenerate descendants of Jacob, so that these are called, in respect of morals, children of the Hittite (compare Eze 16:45).

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.
4. Israel's helplessness in her first struggling into national existence, under the image of an infant (Ho 2:3) cast forth without receiving the commonest acts of parental regard. Its very life was a miracle (Ex 1:15-22).

navel … not cut—Without proper attention to the navel cord, the infant just born is liable to die.

neither … washed in water to supple thee—that is, to make the skin soft. Rather, "for purification"; from an Arabic root [Maurer]. Gesenius translates as the Margin, "that thou mightest (be presented to thy parents to) be looked upon," as is customary on the birth of a child.

salted—Anciently they rubbed infants with salt to make the skin firm.

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.
5. cast … in … open field—The exposure of infants was common in ancient times.

to the loathing of thy person—referring to the unsightly aspect of the exposed infant. Fairbairn translates, "With contempt (or disdainful indifference) of thy life."

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.
6. when I passed by—as if a traveller.

polluted in … blood—but Piscator, "ready to be trodden on."

I said—In contrast to Israel's helplessness stands God's omnipotent word of grace which bids the outcast little one "live."

in thy blood—Though thou wast foul with blood, I said, "Live" [Grotius]. "Live in thy blood," that is, Live, but live a life exposed to many deaths, as was the case in the beginnings of Israel's national existence, in order to magnify the grace of God [Calvin]. The former view is preferable. Spiritually, till the sinner is made sensible of his abject helplessness, he will not appreciate the provisions of God's grace.

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.
7. caused … to multiply—literally, "I … made thee a myriad."

bud of … field—the produce of the field. In two hundred fifty years they increased from seventy-five persons to eight hundred thousand (Ac 7:14) [Calvin]. But see Ex 12:37, 38.

excellent ornaments—literally, "ornament of ornaments."

naked … bare—(Ho 2:3). Literally, "nakedness … bareness" itself; more emphatic.

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.
8. thy time of love—literally, "loves" (compare So 2:10-13). Thou wast of marriageable age, but none was willing to marry thee, naked as thou wast. I then regarded thee with a look of grace when the full time of thy deliverance was come (Ge 15:13, 14; Ac 7:6, 7). It is not she that makes the advance to God, but God to her; she has nothing to entitle her to such notice, yet He regards her not with mere benevolence, but with love, such as one cherishes to the person of his wife (So 1:3-6; Jer 31:3; Mal 1:2).

spread my skirt over thee—the mode of espousals (Ru 3:9). I betrothed thee (De 4:37; 10:15; Ho 11:1). The cloak is often used as a bed coverlet in the East. God explains what He means, "I entered into … covenant with thee," that is, at Sinai. So Israel became "the wife of God's covenant" (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Ho 2:19, 20; Mal 2:14).

thou … mine—(Ex 19:5; Jer 2:2).

Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
9. washed I thee—as brides used to pass through a preparatory purification (Es 2:12). So Israel, before the giving of the law at Sinai (Ex 19:14); "Moses sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes." So believers (1Co 6:11).

oil—emblem of the Levitical priesthood, the type of Messiah (Ps 45:7).

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.
10. Ps 45:13, 14, similarly describes the Church (Israel, the appointed mother of Christendom) adorned as a bride (so Isa 61:10). It is Messiah who provides the wedding garment (Re 3:18; 19:8).

badgers' skin—tahash; others translate, "seal skins." They formed the over-covering of the tabernacle, which was, as it were, the nuptial tent of God and Israel (Ex 26:14), and the material of the shoes worn by the Hebrews on festival days. (See on [1040]Ex 25:5).

fine linen—used by the priests (Le 6:10); emblem of purity.

I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
11. The marriage gifts to Rebekah (Ge 24:22, 47).
And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
12. jewel on thy forehead—rather, "a ring in thy nose" (Isa 3:21).

a crown—at once the badge of a bride, and of her being made a queen, as being consort of the King; the very name Israel meaning "a prince of God." So they are called "a kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6; compare Re 1:6). Though the external blessings bestowed on Israel were great, yet not these, but the internal and spiritual, form the main reference in the kingly marriage to which Israel was advanced.

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.
13. flour … honey … oil—These three mixed form the sweetest cakes; not dry bread and leeks as in Egypt. From raiment He passes to food (De 32:13, 14).

exceeding beautiful—Ps 48:2, the city; also, Ps 29:2, the temple.

prosper into a kingdom—exercising empire over surrounding nations.

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.
14. thy renown … among … heathen—The theocracy reached its highest point under Solomon, when distant potentates heard of his "fame" (1Ki 10:1, &c.), for example, the queen of Sheba, Hiram, &c. (La 2:15).

my comeliness—It was not thine own, but imparted by Me.

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.
15. Instead of attributing the glory of her privileges and gifts to God, Israel prided herself on them as her own (De 32:15; Jer 7:4; Mic 3:11), and then wantonly devoted them to her idols (Ho 2:8; compare Lu 15:12, 13).

playedst … harlot because of thy renown—"didst play the wanton upon thy name" [Fairbairn], namely, by allowing thy renown to lead thee into idolatry and leagues with idolaters (Isa 1:21; 57:8; Jer 3:2, 6). English Version is better, "because of thy renown," that is, relying on it; answering to "thou didst trust in thine own beauty."

his it was—Thy beauty was yielded up to every passer-by. Israel's zest for the worship of foul idols was but an anxiety to have the approbation of heaven for their carnal lusts, of which the idols were the personification; hence, too, their tendency to wander from Jehovah, who was a restraint on corrupt nature.

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.
16. deckedst … with divers colours—or, "didst make … of divers colors" [Fairbairn]; the metaphor and the literal are here mixed. The high places whereon they sacrificed to Astarte are here compared to tents of divers colors, which an impudent harlot would spread to show her house was open to all [Calvin]. Compare as to "woven hangings for Astarte" (the right translation for "grove") 2Ki 23:7.

the like … shall not come, neither shall … be—rather, "have not come, nor shall be." These thy doings are unparalleled in the past, and shall be so in the future.

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,
17. my gold … my silver—(Hag 2:8).

images of men—rather, "of the phallus," the Hindu lingam, or membrum virile [Havernick], deified as the emblem of fecundity; man making his lust his god. English Version, however, is appropriate; Israel being represented as a woman playing the harlot with "male images," that is, images of male gods, as distinguished from female deities.

And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
18. tookest thy … garments … coveredst them—that is, the idols, as if an adulteress were to cover her paramours with garments which she had received from the liberality of her husband.

my oil—the holy anointing oil sacred to God (Ex 30:22-25). Also that used in sacrifices (Le 2:1, 2).

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.
19. My meat … I gave—(Ho 2:8).

set it before them—as a minchah or "meat offering" (Le 2:1).

a sweet savour—literally, "a savor of rest," that is, whereby they might be propitiated, and be at peace ("rest") with you; how ridiculous to seek to propitiate gods of wood!

thus it was—The fact cannot be denied, for I saw it, and say it was so, saith Jehovah.

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,
20, 21. sons and … daughters borne unto me—Though "thy children," yet they belong "unto Me," rather than to thee, for they were born under the immutable covenant with Israel, which even Israel's sin could not set aside, and they have received the sign of adoption as Mine, namely, circumcision. This aggravates the guilt of sacrificing them to Molech.

to be devoured—not merely to pass through the fire, as sometimes children were made to do (Le 18:21) without hurt, but to pass through so as to be made the food of the flame in honor of idols (see on [1041]Isa 57:5; [1042]Jer 7:31; [1043]Jer 19:5; [1044]Jer 32:35).

Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain my children—rather, "Were thy whoredoms a small matter (that is, not enough, but) that thou hast slain (that is, must also slay)," &c. As if thy unchastity was not enough, thou hast added this unnatural and sacrilegious cruelty (Mic 6:7).

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.
22. not remembered … youth—Forgetfulness of God's love is the source of all sins. Israel forgot her deliverance by God in the infancy of her national life. See Eze 16:43, to which Eze 16:60 forms a lovely contrast (Jer 2:2; Ho 11:1).
And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)
23. woe, woe unto thee, &c.—This parenthetical exclamation has an awful effect coming like a lightning flash of judgment amidst the black clouds of Israel's guilt.
That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.
24. eminent place—rather, "a fornication-chamber," often connected with the impure rites of idolatry; spiritual fornication, on "an eminent place," answering to "fornication-chamber," is mainly meant, with an allusion also to the literal fornication associated with it (Jer 2:20; 3:2).
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.
25. at every head of the way—in the most frequented places (Pr 9:14).

thy beauty … abhorred, … opened … feet to every one—The wanton advances were all on Israel's part; the idolatrous nations yielded to her nothing in return. She had yielded so much that, like a worn-out prostitute, her tempters became weary of her. When the Church lowers her testimony for God to the carnal tastes of the world, with a view to conciliation, she loses everything and gains nothing.

Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
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.

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.
27. The consequent judgments, which, however, proved of no avail in reforming the people (Isa 9:13; Jer 5:3).

delivered thee unto … Philistines—(2Ki 16:6; 2Ch 28:18, 19).

ashamed of thy lewd way—The Philistines were less wanton in idolatry, in that they did not, like Israel, adopt the idols of every foreign country but were content with their own (Eze 16:57; Jer 2:11).

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.
28. unsatiable—Not satisfied with whoredoms with neighbors, thou hast gone off to the distant Assyrians, that is, hast sought a league with them, and with it adopted their idolatries.
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
29. multiplied … fornication in … Canaan unto Chaldea—Thou hast multiplied thy idolatries "in Canaan" by sending "unto Chaldea" to borrow from thence the Chaldean rites, to add to the abominations already practised "in Canaan," before the carrying away of Jehoiachin to Chaldea. The name "Canaan" is used to imply that they had made Judea as much the scene of abominations as it was in the days of the corrupt Canaanites. The land had become utterly Canaanitish (Eze 23:14, &c.).
How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;
30. weak … heart—Sin weakens the intellect ("heart") as, on the contrary, "the way of the Lord is strength to the upright" (Pr 10:29).
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;
31. Repetition of Eze 16:24.

not … as … harlot … thou scornest hire—Unlike an ordinary harlot thou dost prostitute thy person gratis, merely to satisfy thy lust. Jerome translates, "Thou hast not been as a harlot in scorning (that is, who ordinarily scorns) a hire offered," in order to get a larger one: nay, thou hast offered hire thyself to thy lovers (Eze 16:33, 34). But these verses show English Version to be preferable, for they state that Israel prostituted herself, not merely for any small reward without demanding more, but for "no reward."

But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!
32. instead of her husband—referring to Nu 5:19, 20, 29. Fairbairn translates, "whilst under 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.
33, 34. Israel hired her paramours, instead of being, like other harlots, hired by them; she also followed them without their following her.
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:
35. Here begins the threat of wrath to be poured out on her.
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;
36. filthiness—literally, "brass"; metaphor for the lowest part of the person [Calvin]. English Version is better: thy filthy lewdness is poured out without restraint (compare Jer 13:27). As silver is an emblem of purity, brass typifies "filthiness," because it easily contracts rust. Henderson explains it, "Because thy money was lavished on thy lovers" (Eze 16:31, 33, 34).

blood of thy children—(Eze 16:20; Jer 2:34).

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.
37. thy lovers—the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. The law of retribution is the more signally exemplified by God employing, as His instruments of judgment on Israel, those very nations whose alliance and idols Israel had so eagerly sought, besides giving her up to those who had been always her enemies. "God will make him, who leaves God for the world, disgraced even in the eyes of the world, and indeed the more so the nearer he formerly stood to Himself" [Hengstenberg], (Isa 47:3; Jer 13:26; Ho 2:12; Na 3:5).

all … thou hast hated—the Edomites and Philistines; also Moab and Ammon especially (De 23:3).

I … will discover thy nakedness—punishment in kind, as she had "discovered her nakedness through whoredoms" (Eze 16:36); the sin and its penalty corresponded. I will expose thee to public infamy.

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.
38-40. judge thee, as women that break wedlock—(Le 20:10; compare Eze 16:2). In the case of individual adulteresses, stoning was the penalty (Joh 8:4, 5). In the case of communities, the sword. Also apostasy (De 13:10) and sacrificing children to Molech (Le 20:1-5) incurred stoning. Thus the penalty was doubly due to Israel; so the other which was decreed against an apostate city (De 13:15, 16) is added, "they shall stone thee with stones and thrust thee through with … swords." The Chaldeans hurled stones on Jerusalem at the siege and slew with the sword on its capture.

shed blood … judged—(Ge 9:6).

jealousy—image taken from the fury of a husband in jealousy shedding the blood of an unfaithful wife, such as Israel had been towards God, her husband spiritually. Literally, "I will make thee (to become) blood of 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.
39. thine eminent place—literally, "fornication-chamber" (see on [1045]Eze 16:24), the temple which Israel had converted into a place of spiritual fornication with idols, to please the Chaldeans (Eze 23:14-17).

strip thee of … clothes—(Eze 23:26; Ho 2:3). They shall dismantle thy city of its walls.

fair jewels—literally, "vessels of thy fairness" or beauty; the vessels of the temple [Grotius]. All the gifts wherewith God hath adorned thee [Calvin].

They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.
40. (Eze 23:10, 47). Compare as to the destruction under Titus, Lu 19:43, 44.
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.
41. The result of the awful judgment shall be, when divine vengeance has run its course, it shall cease.

burn—(De 13:16; 2Ki 25:9).

women—the surrounding Gentile nations to whom thou shalt be an object of mocking (Ps 137:7).

I will cause thee to cease … harlot—(Eze 23:27). Thou shalt no longer be able to play the harlot through My judgments.

thou … shall give … no hire … any more—Thou shalt have none to give.

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.
42. my fury … rest—when My justice has exacted the full penalty commensurate with thy awful guilt (see on [1046]Eze 5:13). It is not a mitigation of the penalty that is here foretold, but such an utter destruction of all the guilty that there shall be no need of further punishment [Calvin].
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.
43. (Eze 16:22; Ps 78:42). In gratitude for God's favors to her in her early history.

fretted me—(Isa 63:10; Eph 4:30).

thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations—that is, this the wickedness (compare Zec 5:8), peculiarly hateful to God, namely, spiritual unchastity or idolatry, over and "above" (that is, besides) all thine other abominations. I will put it out of thy power to commit it by cutting thee off. Fairbairn translates, "I will not do what is scandalous (namely, encouraging thee in thy sin by letting it pass with impunity) upon all thine abominations"; referring to Le 19:29, the conduct of a father who encouraged his daughter in harlotry. English Version is much better.

Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.
44. As … mother … her daughter—"Is," and "so is," are not in the original; the ellipsis gives the proverb (but two words in the Hebrew) epigrammatic brevity. Jerusalem proved herself a true daughter of the Hittite mother in sin (Eze 16:3).
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.
45. mother's … that loatheth her husband—that is, God ("haters of God," Ro 1:30); therefore the knowledge of the true God had originally been in Canaan, handed down from Noah (hence we find Melchisedek, king of Salem, in Canaan, "priest of the most high God," Ge 14:18), but Canaan apostatized from it; this was what constituted the blackness of the Canaanites' guilt.

loathed … children—whom she put to death in honor of Saturn; a practice common among the Ph´┐Żnicians.

sister of thy sisters—Thou art akin in guilt to Samaria and Sodom, to which thou art akin by birth. Moab and Ammon, the incestuous children of Lot, nephew of Abraham, Israel's progenitor, had their origin from Sodom; so Sodom might be called Judah's sister. Samaria, answering to the ten tribes of Israel, is, of course, sister to Judah.

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.
46. elder sister … Samaria—older than Sodom, to whom Judah was less nearly related by kindred than she was to Samaria. Sodom is therefore called her younger sister; Samaria, her "elder sister" [Grotius]. Samaria is called the "elder," because in a moral respect more nearly related to Judah [Fairbairn]. Samaria had made the calves at Dan and Beth-el in imitation of the cherubim.

her daughters—the inferior towns subject to Samaria (compare Nu 21:25, Margin).

left—The Orientals faced the east in marking the directions of the sky; thus the north was "left," the south "right."

Sodom … daughters—Ammon and Moab, offshoots from Sodom; also the towns subject to it.

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.
47. their abominations—Milcom and Chemosh, the "abominations of Ammon and Moab" (1Ki 11:5, 7).

corrupted more than they—So it is expressly recorded of Manasseh (2Ki 21:9).

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.
48. Sodom—(Mt 11:24). Judah's guilt was not positively, but relatively, greater than Sodom's; because it was in the midst of such higher privileges, and such solemn warnings; a fortiori, the guilt of unbelievers in the midst of the highest of all lights, namely, the Gospel, is the greatest.
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.
49. pride—inherited by Moab, her offspring (Isa 16:6; Jer 48:26), and by Ammon (Jer 49:4). God, the heart-searcher, here specifies as Sodom's sin, not merely her notorious lusts, but the secret spring of them, "pride" flowing from "fullness of bread," caused by the fertility of the soil (Ge 13:10), and producing "idleness."

abundance of idleness—literally, "the secure carelessness of ease" or idleness.

neither did she strengthen … the poor—Pride is always cruel; it arrogates to itself all things, and despises brethren, for whose needs it therefore has no feeling; as Moab had not for the outcast Jews (Isa 16:3, 4; Jer 48:27; Lu 16:19-21; Jas 5:1-5).

And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
50. haughty—puffed up with prosperity.

abomination before me—"sinners before the Lord" (Ge 13:13); said of those whose sin is so heinous as to cry out to God for immediate judgments; presumptuous sins, daring God to the face (Ge 18:20; 19:5).

I took them away—(Ge 19:24).

as I saw good—rather, "according to what I saw"; referring to Ge 18:21, where God says, "I will go down, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto Me."

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.
51. Samaria—the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel less guilty than Judah; for Judah betrayed greater ingratitude, having greater privileges, namely, the temple, the priesthood, and the regular order of kings.

justified thy sisters—made them appear almost innocent by comparison with thy guilt (Jer 3:11; Mt 12:41, 42).

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.
52. Thou … which hast judged … bear thine own—(Mt 7:1, 2; Ro 2:1, 17-23). Judah had judged Sodom (representing "the heathen nations") and Samaria (Israel), saying they were justly punished, as if she herself was innocent (Lu 13:2).

thy shame—ignominious punishment.

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:
53. Here follows a promise of restoration. Even the sore chastisements coming on Judah would fail to reform its people; God's returning goodness alone would effect this, to show how entirely of grace was to be their restoration. The restoration of her erring sisters is mentioned before hers, even as their punishment preceded her punishment; so all self-boasting is excluded [Fairbairn]. "Ye shall, indeed, at some time or other return, but Moab and Ammon shall return with you, and some of the ten tribes" [Grotius].

bring again … captivity—that is, change the affliction into prosperity (so Job 42:10). Sodom itself was not so restored (Jer 20:16), but Ammon and Moab (her representatives, as sprung from Lot who dwelt in Sodom) were (Jer 48:47; 49:6); probably most of the ten tribes and the adjoining nations, Ammon and Moab, &c., were in part restored under Cyrus; but the full realization of the restoration is yet future; the heathen nations to be brought to Christ being typified by "Sodom," whose sins they now reproduce (De 32:32).

captivity of thy captives—literally, "of thy captivities." However, the gracious promise rather begins with the "nevertheless" (Eze 16:60), not here; for Eze 16:59 is a threat, not a promise. The sense here thus is, Thou shalt be restored when Sodom and Samaria are, but not till then (Eze 16:55), that is, never. This applies to the guilty who should be utterly destroyed (Eze 16:41, 42); but it does not contradict the subsequent promise of restoration to their posterity (Nu 14:29-33), and to the elect remnant of grace [Calvin].

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.
54. bear thine own shame—by being put on a level with those whom thou hast so much despised.

thou art a comfort unto them—since they see thee as miserable as themselves. It is a kind of melancholy "comfort" to those chastised to see others as sorely punished as themselves (Eze 14:22, 23).

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.
55. (See on [1047]Eze 16:53).
For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,
56. Sodom was not mentioned—literally, "was not for a report." Thou didst not deign to mention her name as if her case could possibly apply as a warning to thee, but it did apply (2Pe 2:6).
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.
57. Before thy wickedness was discovered—manifested to all, namely, by the punishment inflicted on thee.

thy reproach of … Syria and … Philistines—the indignity and injuries done thee by Syria and the Philistines (2Ki 16:5; 2Ch 28:18; Isa 9:11, 12).

Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD.
58. borne thy lewdness—that is, the punishment of it (Eze 23:49). I do not treat thee with excessive rigor. Thy sin and punishment are exactly commensurate.
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.
59. the oath—the covenant between God and Israel (De 29:12, 14). As thou hast despised it, so will I despise thee. No covenant is one-sided; where Israel broke faith, God's promise of favor ceased.
Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
60. The promise here bursts forth unexpectedly like the sun from the dark clouds. With all her forgetfulness of God, God still remembers her; showing that her redemption is altogether of grace. Contrast "I will remember," with "thou hast not remembered" (Eze 16:22, 43); also "My covenant," with "Thy covenant" (Eze 16:61; Ps 106:45); then the effect produced on her is (Eze 16:63) "that thou mayest remember." God's promise was one of promise and of grace. The law, in its letter, was Israel's (thy) covenant, and in this restricted view was long subsequent (Ga 3:17). Israel interpreted it as a covenant of works, which she while boasting of, failed to fulfil, and so fell under its condemnation (2Co 3:3, 6). The law, in its spirit, contains the germ of the Gospel; the New Testament is the full development of the Old, the husk of the outer form being laid aside when the inner spirit was fulfilled in Messiah. God's covenant with Israel, in the person of Abraham, was the reason why, notwithstanding all her guilt, mercy was, and is, in store for her. Therefore the heathen or Gentile nations must come to her for blessings, not she to them.

everlasting covenant—(Eze 37:26; 2Sa 23:5; Isa 55:3). The temporary forms of the law were to be laid aside, that in its permanent and "everlasting" spirit it might be established (Jer 31:31-37; 32:40; 50:4, 5; Heb 8:8-13).

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.
61. thou shalt remember—It is God who first remembers her before she remembers Him and her own ways before Him (Eze 16:60; Eze 20:43; 36:31).

ashamed—the fruit of repentance (2Co 7:10, 11). None please God unless those who displease themselves; a foretaste of the Gospel (Lu 18:9-14).

I will give them unto thee for daughters—(Isa 54:1; 60:3, 4; Ga 4:26, &c.). All the heathen nations, not merely Sodom and Samaria, are meant by "thy sisters, elder and younger." In Jerusalem first, individual believers were gathered into the elect Church. From Jerusalem the Gospel went forth to gather in individuals of the Gentiles; and Judah with Jerusalem shall also be the first nation which, as such, shall be converted to Christ; and to her the other nations shall attach themselves as believers in Messiah, Jerusalem's King (Ps 110:2; Isa 2:2, 3). "The king's daughter" in Ps 45:12-14 is Judah; her "companions," as "the daughter of Tyre," are the nations given to her as converts, here called "daughters."

not by thy covenant—This does not set aside the Old Testament in its spirit, but in its mere letter on which the Jews had rested, while they broke it: the latter ("thy covenant") was to give place to God's covenant of grace and promise in Christ who "fulfilled" the law. God means, "not that thou on thy part hast stood to the covenant, but that 'I am the Lord, I change not' (Mal 3:6) from My original love to thee in thy youth" (see Ro 3:3).

And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:
62. (Ho 2:19, 20).

thou shalt know that I am the Lord—not, as elsewhere, by the judgments falling on thee, but by My so marvellously restoring thee through grace.

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.
63. never open thy mouth—in vindication, or even palliation, of thyself, or expostulation with God for His dealings (Ro 3:19), when thou seest thine own exceeding unworthiness, and My superabounding grace which has so wonderfully overcome with love thy sin (Ro 5:20). "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1Co 11:31).

all that thou hast done—enhancing the grace of God which has pardoned so many and so great sins. Nothing so melts into love and humility as the sense of the riches of God's pardoning grace (Lu 7:47).

A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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