Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
(b) Judah and Israel’s Ripeness for Judgment (Ezekiel 23.)
1And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 2Son of man, there were 3two women, the daughters of one mother; And in Egypt they played the wanton; in their youth they wantoned, there were their breasts pressed, and 4there were the teats of their virginity bruised. And their names were “Oholah,” the great [greater], and “Oholibah” her sister; and they were mine, and bare sons and daughters; and their names were Samaria—Oholah, 5and Jerusalem—Oholibah. And Oholah when under me played the wanton, 6and doted upon her lovers,—on Assyria, her neighbours, Clothed in purple, captains and rulers, all of them comely young men, knights riding on 7horses. And she bestowed her wantonness upon them, all the choice of the sons of Assyria; and with all on whom she doted, with all their idols she 8polluted herself. And her whoredoms brought from Egypt she did not leave; for they lay with her in her youth, and they bruised her virgin breasts, 9and poured their whoredoms upon her. Therefore I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the sons of Assyria, upon whom she doted. 10These discovered her nakedness [shame]; they took her sons and daughters, and herself they slew with the sword, and she became a name to women, and 11they executed judgment upon her. And her sister Oholibah saw it, and made her wantonness more corrupt than she, and her whoredoms more than 12the whoredoms of her sister. She doted on the sons of Assyria,—captains and rulers, her neighbours, clothed gorgeously, knights riding upon horses, all 13of them comely young men. And I saw that she was defiled; they had both 14one way. And she still added to her whoredoms; and she saw men portrayed 15upon the wall, likenesses of the Chaldeans, painted with vermilion, Girdled with a girdle on their loins, flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of leaders, the likeness of the sons of Babylon, of the Chaldeans 16in the land of their birth. And she doted upon them as soon as her17eyes saw them, and sent messengers unto them to Chaldea. And the sons of Babylon came to her into the bed of love, and defiled her through their whoredoms; and she was polluted with them, and her soul was estranged 18from them. And she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness; and My soul was estranged from her, as My soul had been estranged 19from her sister. And she multiplied her whoredoms, so that she remembered the days of her youth, when she played the wanton in the land of Egypt. 20And she doted on their paramours, whose flesh is the flesh of asses, and their 21issue the issue of horses. Yea [and] thou didst seek after the lewdness of thy youth, when the Egyptians bruised thy teats on account of thy youthful 22breasts. Therefore, Oholibah, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will stir up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy soul is estranged, and I will 23bring them against thee from every side; The sons of Babylon, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, all the sons of Assyria with them, comely young men, captains and rulers all of them, leaders and men of renown, every one riding on horses. 24And they shall come against thee with weapons, chariot and wheel, and with an assembly of peoples; target and shield and helmet they shall set against thee round about; and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee with their judgments. 25And I will set My jealousy upon thee, and they shall deal with thee in fury; 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, 26and thy remnant shall be devoured by the fire. And they shall strip thee of 27thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels. And I will make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom from the land of Egypt; and thou shalt not lift up thine eyes to them, nor remember Egypt any more. 28For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of those whom thou hatest, into the hand of those from whom thy soul is estranged. 29And they shall deal with thee in hatred, and shall take away all thy earning, and leave thee naked and bare; and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, and thy lewdness and thy wanton courses. 30This shall be done unto thee because thou hast gone a-whoring after the 31heathen, because thou hast defiled thyself with their idols. In the way of thy sister thou hast gone, and I give her cup into thy hand. 32Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, The cup of thy sister, the deep and wide, thou shalt drink; it shall be for laughter and mockery according to its measure. 33Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow; a cup of wasting and desolation is the 34cup of thy sister Samaria. And thou shalt drink it and suck it out; and thou shalt gnaw its sherds, and tear off thy breasts; for I have spoken,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. 35Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou hast forgotten Me, and hast cast Me behind thy back, do thou 36also bear thy lewdness and thy whoredoms. And Jehovah said to me, Son of man, wilt thou judge Oholah and Oholibah, then show them their abominations. 37For they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols they have committed adultery; and also their sons whom 38they bare unto Me they have made to pass through the fire to them. This besides they did to Me; they defiled My sanctuary in the same day, and profaned 39My Sabbaths. And when they had slain their sons [children] to their idols, they came to My sanctuary on the same day to profane it; and lo! 40thus have they done in the midst of My house. Yea, they sent even to men coming from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came, for whom thou didst wash thyself, paint thine eyes, and deck thyself with ornaments; 41And thou satest upon a stately bed, and a table was laid before it, 42and My incense and My oil didst thou set upon it. And the voice of a loose crowd [was] in her [Jerusalem], and to people of the multitude were brought drunkards from the wilderness, who put bracelets on their hands, and a 43beautiful crown upon their heads. And I said of her worn out with adulteries, 44Will they now commit her adulteries? And she [also]? And they went in to her as they go in to a harlot. Thus they went in to Oholah and 45to Oholibah, the lewd women. But righteous men, they shall judge them with the judgment of adulteresses, and the judgment of those that shed blood; for they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands. 46For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will bring up a company against them, and give them to maltreatment and spoiling. 47And the company shall cast stones upon them, and cleave them with their swords; their sons and their daughters 48they shall slay, and burn their houses with fire. And I will cause lewdness to cease out of the land, so that all women shall be warned, and shall not do after your lewdness. 49And 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 Jehovah.
Ezekiel 23:3. Sept.: ... ἐπεσον οἱ μαστοι … διεπαρθενευθησαν.
Ezekiel 23:12. … ἐνδεδυμενους εὐπαρνφα—Vulg.: indutis veste varia—
Ezekiel 23:13. … μεμιανται ὁδος μια—
Vet. 15. διεζωσμενους τοικιλματα … τιαραι βαπται … ὀψις τρισση.
Ezekiel 23:20. κ. ἐπεθου ἐπι τους Χαλδαιους, ὡν ἠσαν ὡς … αἰδοια—Vulg.: insanivit libidine super concubitum …
Ezekiel 23:21. Sept., Vulg., Syr. read: במצרים.
Ezekiel 23:23. … παντας τρισσους κ. ὀνομαστους—nobiles, tyrannosque et principes … duces et magistratus … principes principum et nominatοs—
Ezekiel 23:24. … ἀπο βοῤῥα, ἁρματα κ.τροχοι, ἱπποι, μετα … κ. βαλει ἐπι σε προφυλακην κυκλω.
Ezekiel 23:29. … τους πονους σου κ. τους μοχθους σου—
Ezekiel 23:31. Sept., Syr., Arab, read: בידיך.
Ezekiel 23:32, 33. … το πλεοναζον του συντελεσαι μεθην, κ. ἐκλυσεως πλησθηση—Eris in derisum … subsannationem, quæ est capacissima … repleberis, calice mœroris et tristitiæ—
Ezekiel 23:34. Sept.: ... κ.τας ἑορτας κ. τας νουμηνιας αὐτης ἀποστρεψω—
Ezekiel 23:37. … δι’ ἐμπυρων;
Ezekiel 23:41, 42. … προ προσωπου αὐτης … ἐξευφραινοντο ἐν αὐτοις, κ. φωνην ἁρμονιας ἀνεκρουοντο—vox multitudinis exultantis … in ea et in viris qui de … adducebantur et veniebant de deserto—
Ezekiel 23:41. Vulg. reads: לפניך. Syr., Chald., Arab, read: לפניהם.—42. Some codd.: ידיהם; some also: דאשיהם.
Ezekiel 23:43. K. εἰπα·οὐκ ἐν τουτοις μοιχωνται; ἐργα γυναικος πορνης ἐποιεις; Vulg.: ei, quæ attrita est in … Nunc fornicabitur in fornicatione sua etiam hæc.
Ezekiel 23:44. Another reading: ויבאו.
Ezekiel 23:46. Many codd.: עליהן.
Ezekiel 23:47. λιθοις ὀχλων.
Ezekiel 23:49. Codd. and Syr.: ונתתי.
The allegory in which the ripeness for judgment of Judah and Israel is represented, is closely allied to that of Ezekiel 16. The remarks made on it are to be compared with the present chapter. In contradistinction to Ezekiel 16, which gave prominence to the love borne to the faithless one by her lawful husband, Ezekiel 23 directs our attention rather to the seductive power and splendour of the lovers for whom Jehovah was forsaken. The prospect of pardon presented by the earlier chapter here disappears behind the penal judgment.
[FAUSSET: “The imagery is similar to that in Ezekiel 16; but here the reference is not, as there, so much to the breach of the spiritual marriage-covenant with God by the people’s idolatries, as by their worldly spirit, and their trusting to alliances with the heathen for safety, rather than to God.”—W. F.]
Ezekiel 23:1–4. Preface
Ezekiel 23:2. The one mother may be presupposed from Ezekiel 16 as the Hittite. Comp. at Ezekiel 23:3, 44 sq. As, however, it is not the present object to give prominence to the ancestry in the sense of Ezekiel 16, the word simply describes the original unity of the people. This also explains what is said in Ezekiel 23:3 relative to Egypt. The two kingdoms which form the theme of the chapter are assumed as already two in Egypt; but in point of fact, what is said holds as to the yet undivided people. [Hengst., indeed, appeals to Gen. 49, in which the two tribes of Judah and Ephraim appear as two independent powers.]—On account of the legitimate relation in which the nation stood to God from its very origin, namely, of a marriage-covenant, the political and religious departure of both kingdoms from the principles laid down in the law, appears as wantonness (זָנָה), Ezekiel 16:15 (Jas. 4:4).—Here also (comp. Ezekiel 20:7 sq.) they are said to be tainted with the spirit of Egypt. Comp. also at Ezekiel 16:26. In their youth, points (comp. Ezekiel 16:22, 43) to their innate corruption, showing itself early in sinful lust.—Even when still unwedded (Ezekiel 16:8), as Jehovah’s betrothed, the conduct of the people was to be judged according to Deut 22:23. Comp. farther, Ezekiel 16:7; Hos. 2:4 .—עִשּׂוּ, the Egyptians (Ezekiel 23:8). Egypt was the means of exciting the first carnal impulses of the youthful people to a heathenish mode of feeling and action, whereby they were robbed of their virgin purity. The Sept. explains their virginity according to Deut. 22:20. Hitz. repels the idea of any allusion to idolatry, and makes the reference to be to the oppression by the Egyptians.
Ezekiel 23:4. Oholah = her tent, i.e. either generally (HENGST.): that has a house of her own, an independent existence, or (on account of the contrast to Oholibah): who possesses her wilfully erected sanctuary (1 Kings 12:28 sq., 16), which makes it unnecessary to think of an abbreviation of אָהֳלָהִ־בָהּ, her tent in her. Häv., while maintaining the Hittite reference, Ezekiel 16:3, etc., makes prominent the allusion found in it to the history of Esau, and explains Oholibah relative to Gen. 36:2, inasmuch as Aholibamah [Oholibamah], who is called Judith in an earlier passage (Gen. 26:34), could most appropriately represent the kingdom of Judah. While Aholibamah merely means (tent of the high place): My tent (house, family) is a height (“I have a high tent”), in the name Oholibah—My tent (namely, Jehovah’s, who speaks) in her—the reference is taken from the tabernacle; whereby one is reminded of the habit which prevailed among the exiles of naming their children from the temple and similar objects (1 Chron. 3:20; Ezra 2:43, 59), to express their yearning for restoration. (Moreover, the members of a family in the East often bear the same or like-sounding names.) The kingdom of Judah had also the advantage of possessing the one true sanctuary, which, however, made its guilt the more aggravated. The great is to be rendered, as in Ezekiel 16:46, and not with Hengst.: the elder, with an allusion to Joseph’s precedence, Gen. 49:26, to that of Ephraim in the time of Joshua and the judges, and to that of Benjamin which belonged to the ten tribes in the time of Saul, while Judah attained supremacy only in the time of David (Ps. 78.). Häv. combines with the political importance of Samaria, owing to its greater extent, its priority in sin as well as in punishment.—Comp. Ezekiel 16:8, 20. Häv. translates וַתִּהְיֶינָה לִי: “And they belonged to me as wives,” with emphasis.—The explanation of the names as those of Samaria and Jerusalem (representing Judah as hitherto) closes this introduction.
Ezekiel 23:5–10. Oholah’s Adulterous Wantonness (Ezekiel 23:5–8) and Punishment (Ezekiel 23:9, 10)
Ezekiel 23:5–8. The Harlotries
Ezekiel 23:5. Comp. at Ezekiel 16:32. HITZ.: “When she turned her back on me” (?). So also the Chaldee. But rather is the marriage relation pointed to, in the line of Ezekiel 23:4 (Hos. 4:12). UMBR.: “While she rests under her husband, her thoughts run wantonly after others.”—עָגַב, found only in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, means: to desire, to burn. The description of the Assyrians begins with קְרוֹבִים. If is in apposition, like all that follows. The nearness is to be taken neither locally, nor yet morally—of inward relationship, but it brings into prominence the historical element, the time when the Assyrians became neighbours of Israel; comp. 2 Kings 15:17 sq., 16:9, 17:3. [The supposition of a loose connection of the words=“and neighbours,” who were somewhere in her neighbourhood, is not consistent with what follows. Others: Who came near her lustfully (Gen. 20:4). HÄV.: “So closely related, intimate, trusted friends,” that alliances were made with them, and their favour courted, until, from being bosom friends, they became deadly enemies. There is nothing of all this in the context, which only states that on the first opportunity, namely, when the Assyrians approached, Israel was captivated by the carnal glory of the world-power, which is then portrayed with greater minuteness.]—This political power is Assyria, which does not come into view, in the first place, on the side of its idolatry; but when Israel wantoned after it from political motives, this infidelity to the idea of their complete dependence on God could not fail to issue, from the first, in apostasy from God, and the other natural consequences of the forbidden relationship.
Ezekiel 23:6. Description of the Assyrians from the view-point of Israel’s apostate heart, to whom this world-power seemed most imposing, as Hengst. remarks: “with a touch of irony.” The impressions are entirely such as are made on the mind of a carnal woman, whereby the previously mentioned doting gaze is accounted for.—תְּכֵלֶת, either from its thick, hard shell, or from its dark colour, is the name of a mussel (helix ianthina) with a purple shell, from which a blue or violet purple was made.—פֶּחָה is a foreign word, denoting the military governor of a province. Similarly םָגָן (םֶגֶן) = the representative of the prince, commander-in-chief. (Something like governors and generals.)—The special mention of horses is intended to distinguish the noblest and proudest class of riders from those riding on asses and camels.
Ezekiel 23:7. מִבְחַר briefly resumes Ezekiel 23:6, in order, perhaps, to suggest, besides the “choice,” etc., those who were of less account; at all events, she doted also on others, as the Egyptians, who are presently mentioned.—וּבְכֹל׳ בְּכָל׳, the one illustrating the other; the political confederation with the heathen led to idolatry. (HENGST.: The idols of the world-powers are not beyond and above them, but themselves made objective.)
Ezekiel 23:8. Thither Jeroboam’s calf-worship pointed back, so that their ancient deliverance from Egypt, instead of remaining a fact, had become a mere tradition. As to the political application (Rashi), 2 Kings 17:4 is to be compared. Hitzig takes it in an exclusively political sense.
Ezekiel 23:9, 10. The Punishment
Ezekiel 23:9. The recompense for Ezekiel 23:7: “And she bestowed,” “Therefore I gave.” Comp. 2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 23:10. The shame of her wantonness is succeeded by the shame of punishment, executed by her paramours themselves. Comp. besides, Ezekiel 16:37. So in the figure; as to the fact, it was accomplished by the captivity of the people, the slaughter of those on whom the existence of the kingdom depended, of the men who were able to bear arms, so that Israel became notorious among the nations on account of its shameful overthrow, Ezekiel 16:41.
Ezekiel 23:11–35. Oholibah’s Guilt (Ezekiel 23:11–21) and Punishment (Ezekiel 23:22–35)
Ezekiel 23:11–21. The Guilt
Ezekiel 23:11. She saw both the transgressions and their recompense. The former should have filled her with loathing, by the latter she should have been warned. But her corrupt conduct was still worse than that of Samaria (Ezekiel 16:47).
Ezekiel 23:12. Comp. 2 Kings 16:7 sq.; 2 Chron. 28:19 sq.—Comp. at Ezekiel 23:6, 5.—מִכְלוֹל (in Ezekiel 23:6, תְּכֵלֶת) means: perfection, therefore: splendour; not exactly (Sept.): “with beautiful (purple) fringe,” as Hitz. EWALD: “clothed in martial coats of mail.”
Ezekiel 23:13. And I saw, counterpart to וַתֵּרֶא, Ezekiel 23:11. (Comp. Jer. 3:8) The way and end of both sisters were the same.
Ezekiel 23:14. The description of Judah’s baser conduct follows. Her relations with the Assyrians were similar to those of Samaria. They had in reality approached the kingdom of Judah, as they had the kingdom of Israel. In regard to the Chaldeans, on the other hand, the relation to them was brought about by means of likenesses, which Judah saw,—מְחֻקֶּה, partic. Pual, something engraven or sketched, painted. (HÄV.: probably coloured bas-reliefs), in vermilion (which would be all the more appropriate for warriors); or perhaps in ochre, as frescoes of this description for the glorification of the Chaldean commanders and their victories were sufficiently common in Ezekiel’s neighbourhood. The representation here, therefore, may possibly be the mere drapery of the thought, that the bare report of the military prowess of the Chaldeans had inflamed the imagination and the senses of Judah. So Hengst. Owing to the undeniable intercourse between nations in the Old World, which certainly obtained between Palestine and Babylon, it is not in itself unimaginable that such wall-pictures of representatives of foreign nations may have existed in the royal palaces of Judah. Hitz. here takes note of “the influence (of pictures) on a woman’s imagination,” under which figure Judah is personified. Häv. cites Ezekiel 8:10, and thinks of “pictorial representations from the circle of Chaldean mythological ideas.” The Chaldean embassy of 2 Kings 20:12 sq., 2 Chron. 32:31 (comp. Delitzsch on Isa. 39), shows that the Chaldeans kept up intercourse with Judah, even when Assyria was still the dominant world-power. May not this embassy have been perpetuated by a painting as the occasion of an alliance with the Chaldeans against Assyria? Ewald supposes: “beautiful idol-pictures, which, as e.g. Mithras, were represented in the human form,” and cites Ezekiel 8:16.
Ezekiel 23:15. The flowing turbans are such as may be seen on the monuments of ancient Nineveh, with which the following descriptions correspond throughout. See Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon. [טָבַל refers not so much to the colour (gay), but rather means originally to twist round. Layard remarks, by the way: “The general was clothed in embroidered robes, and wore on his head a fillet adorned with rosettes, and long tasselled bands.” Probably, waving head-bands. The Kurds, who still preserve the most ancient Eastern customs, wear on their bright-coloured turbans, appendages which hang over their neck and shoulders.]—שָׁלִישׁ in the plural betokens the charioteers, of whom there were three, in each chariot, one driving, one bearing the shield, and a third fighting. (Appearance and likeness; see Ezekiel 1:5.) The emphasizing of: the land of their birth, according to Hengst., is intended to form a contrast to the Assyrians, whom Judah saw in her own land,—to point perhaps to Ur (Gen. 11:28) of the Chaldees (Abraham’s native land), so that the original blood - relationship may have been alluded to in this political intercourse (?). HÄV.: “The Chaldean’s fatherland theirs,” which sarcastically places side by side, the original home of the once fierce and warlike people, and the idolatrous pictures, which resemble them, but not the existing faineant Babylonians. The statement made by the sentence is simpler: that even they were not farther removed than Abraham, the founder of the Jewish people,—“whose fathers served strange gods in Ur of the Chaldees (Josh. 24:2), so that he was called thence,” etc., as COCC. remarks.
Ezekiel 23:16. Apodosio to Ezekiel 23:14: “And she saw,” resumed by: as soon as her eye saw. The messengers mentioned here can scarcely be those of Jer. 29:3. “They were probably,” says Hengst., “the occasion of the embassy sent from the Chaldeans, who were to take a view of the resources of the people proposing an alliance.” This side of the history of Judah is not described elsewhere. Enough that Judah, as is in itself probable, made the first advances (Ezekiel 16:29).
Ezekiel 23:17. The political alliance led to religious defilement—was itself, in fact, religious defection; and after the defilement was effected, it led again to political hostility. Judah found that it had only changed its masters. Jehoiakim and Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, 2 Kings 24.—In נָקַע (the weaker form is יָקַע, from which the fut. is derived) there lies the idea of satiety and loathing; in this sense the meaning of the verb is: to push away any one, to break a relationship, to be alienated from any one. Comp. 1 Cor. 6:16; Ezekiel 18:6, 11.
Ezekiel 23:18. Yet the satiety was not absolute. Others take the connection thus: “and when she had discovered,” etc., “then was,” etc. But more is meant to be stated as the ground of Jehovah’s estrangement, for Judah’s alienation from the Chaldeans might also have led her back to Jehovah. More general prostitution, however, was the result, by which is especially meant alliances with the lesser states against Babylon, and at the same time breaches of faith towards men, Ezekiel 17:15. Jehovah’s estrangement from Judah is a suggestive parallel to Judah’s from the Chaldeans.
Ezekiel 23:19. Comp. Ezekiel 23:3, 8, Ezekiel 16:51. But Judah multiplied, etc. Instead of remembering the misery of her youth, and the grace then shown (Ezekiel 16:22, 43), she thought only of renewing quite another “first love” than that of Jehovah.
Ezekiel 23:20. עַל is unjustifiably pressed by some interpreters (“beyond,” more than the neighbouring people of Egypt, or, “together with,” Ezekiel 16:37), as its construction with עָגַב in the chapter sufficiently shows. Nor does this single masculine form of פִּלֶּגֶשׁ, which is elsewhere fem., justify the interpretation of Kimchi, that Judah wished to be the concubine of the Egyptians. It is rather a derision of the Egyptian eunuchs, i.e. courtiers and officers who mediated the alliance with Egypt. (פִּלַּגְשֵׁיהֶם does not mean the men-concubines, which the Egyptians are, nor is it to be taken in the sense of eunuchus imbellis, or puer mollis, or polyandry.) The representation which follows is sufficiently explained by the particularly lecherous character of the animals mentioned, and describes the obscene character of the Egyptians (Ezekiel 16:26). HENGST.: “The falling power of Egypt sought to provide a prop for itself by diplomatic art.”
Ezekiel 23:21 sums up. “The sudden transition to the address in Ezekiel 23:21 is explained by this, that the prophet has the actual state of affairs (the union with Egypt) before his eyes” (HENGST.).—בְּ explains זִמַּת׳ in accordance with Ezekiel 23:3, to which the inexperienced sensuousness and carnality of the youthful people presented the inducement.
Ezekiel 23:22–35. Oholibah’s Punishment
Ezekiel 23:22. She is punished by those with whom she had wantoned. Comp. Ezekiel 23:9. The following verse shows who are meant. Those from whom she would (Ezekiel 23:17) escape out of loathing, will not allow her to escape punishment.
Ezekiel 23:23. The sons, etc., are more definitely personified. Ewald regards the three names as the proper names of three subordinate Chaldee tribes, which are placed together from similarity of sound. As there is no proof of this, nor even of their being nomina propria, modern interpreters for the most part regard them as the titles of Chaldee dignitaries (Hengst.: “Pekod =supremacy; Shoa = the chief; Koa, of uncertain meaning”), or three classes of the people, three branches of the military force, or three ranks in it (Hitz.: “noble and prince and lord”). From the description, the assembly which is to be gathered together to execute punishment, shall be great and imposing. The Assyrians figure as part of it, and are ironically represented in the manner of Ezekiel 23:12 (6).—אוֹתָם, therefore the שָׁלִשִׁים form Ezekiel 23:15 are named. קְרוּאִים, EW.: renowned, which Hitz. questions. For the purpose in hand, the word is either formed after Num. 1:16, 16:2: formally “appointed,” or means generally: “summoned.”
Ezekiel 23:24. The assembly was not more conspicuous for its numbers than for the completeness of its equipments, הֹצֶן (חצן) ἁπ. λεγ. (something hard, cutting, sharp), signifying indefinitely: weapon, so that a threefold equipment is specified. [MEIER: battle-axe. HENGST.: sabre (a Chaldee military word). EWALD: “with shoulder, bridle, and wheel,” as the three modes in which soldiers advance,—shouldering (with bent arm), riding, and driving.] The missing בְּ is easily understood; but it is not required, as the three expressions standing for the concretes, foot, horse, and chariots, could be the subject to וּבָאוּ.—וּבּקְהַל׳ (ו explic.), since the assembly of peoples in the manner of the Israelitish congregation (Ezekiel 23:23) supplies the proper element for the judgment which is to be held. To indicate that they (while on Jehovah’s mission) are secured against any anxiety as to the result, three pieces of exclusively defensive armour are now mentioned, which correspond to the above threefold description,—the shield which covered the whole person, the smaller shield of the light-armed soldier, and the helmet. They received from God the right to judge according to their judgments, their ideas of judgment. Thus it was a divine judgment. They were judges in God’s stead. But with a reference, at the same time, to the fact that Judah had been in fellowship with them politically, religiously, and morally.
Ezekiel 23:25. The jealousy of God was turned against Israel; in consequence of it the judgments of the heathen were fierce. The mutilation is to be understood in conformity with common Asiatic and Chaldee usages, but, in the present connection, of the “severing of portions of the national body-corporate” (HITZ.), or with Hengst., of the annihilation of their military strength, which is to a people what “nose and ears” are to a woman. The older interpreters understood Judah’s royal splendour, or (KIMCHI) kingdom and priesthood. The remnant is defined the first time by “nose” and “ears,” so that there is pronounced, on the one hand, mutilation, and on the other, slaughter; the meaning of the expression in the second instance is defined by the carrying away of the children, so that it can only refer to the empty houses (Ezekiel 16:41).
[HENDERSON: “Ezekiel 23:25, 26. Punishment by cutting off the nose and ears was inflicted for adultery, not only among the Chaldeans, but also among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It was therefore most appropriate to represent that which adulterous Judah was to suffer, under the image of such ignominious and cruel treatment. They were also to be stripped of what lewd females set most value upon—their rich dresses and costly jewels, by which they attract the notice of their paramours, Ezekiel 16:39.”—W. F.]
Ezekiel 23:26. Ezekiel 16:39, 17. The plundering is either symbolical or actual.
Ezekiel 23:27. The lewdness is made to cease by God as to subject and object.
Ezekiel 23:28. Comp. Ezekiel 16:37.—See Ezekiel 23:17, 22.
Ezekiel 23:29. Hatred (Ezekiel 23:28) and counter-hatred instead of all the former intimacy. Despoiling by the Chaldeans till she is reduced to her original condition in Egypt (Ezekiel 16:7), from which results the discovery of her guilt and accumulated infamy (Ezekiel 16:37).
Ezekiel 23:31 (Ezekiel 23:13). The figure of the cup, to represent the final issue, under the idea of drinking out.
Ezekiel 23:32. The cup described as containing much. תִּהְיֶה is the 3d, not the 2d pers., and the subject to it, is either the cup or מִרְבָה (amplitude, wideness); but the former is preferable, with the latter as epexegetical. The cup, from its capacity, occasions the derisive laughter of the enemies,—that the person, formerly so wide-mouthed and haughty, now become so insignificant, requires to swallow so much.
Ezekiel 23:33. What the cup contains for those who have to empty it, and hence what cup it is. Stupefaction with sorrow and woe, until they are distracted by the wasting and desolation ! (The verse begins with שִׁכָּרוֹן, and ends with שֹׁמְרוֹן.)
Ezekiel 23:34. Not so much an intensification of the figure (KEIL), as of the drunkenness, arising from the anguish of thought. In the madness of her pain she licks up the last drops of the cup. Her affliction is her thirst.—The sherds point to an earthen cup—nothing is gilded or splendid in this Nemesis-song—and presuppose a breaking in pieces, which is incidentally set forth in the madness which follows; but the word is especially intended to fit in with תְּנָרֵמִי, which expresses the idea of crushing or gnawing the sherds with the teeth, in order to suck out the last drops of moisture left in them. (Hengst. says merely: “Thou shalt break the sherds thereof, as one who, having taken a very disagreeable potion, shatters the vessel in ill-humour.”) The tearing of the breasts is placed beside the breaking of the sherds, as if it were done by means of the sherd-fragments. Or it may even have been done in frenzy by her own nails. See Ezekiel 23:3, 8, in reference to the breasts. “We find a historical illustration of this in the treatment they gave Gedaliah, the Chaldean governor, for which they were compelled to suffer, Jer. 41.” (HENGST.)
Ezekiel 23:35. Ezekiel 22:12.—She followed after the heathen and their gods (Ezekiel 23:30).—Ezekiel 16:43, 52, 58.
Ezekiel 23:36–49. Oholah’s and Oholibah’s Abominations together. Ezekiel 23:36–45. The Abominations. Ezekiel 23:46–49. The Judgment
Ezekiel 23:36–45. The Abominations
Ezekiel 23:36. Ezekiel 22:2, 20:4. Since the ripeness of both of them for judgment is evident, this refrain is most appropriate.—(Ezekiel 16:2)
Ezekiel 23:37. Adultery with the idols, and blood-shedding, as in Ezekiel 22:3, etc. Ezekiel 16:38. The latter illustrated by the bloody sacrificing of children. (Ezekiel 23:4. Ezekiel 16:20, 20:31)
Ezekiel 23:38. Ezekiel 20:27.—Ezekiel 5:11. (2 Kings 21:4, 5, 7) In the same day, makes the shocking contrast more obvious. Desecration of the sanctuary and Sabbath, as in Ezekiel 22:8.
Ezekiel 23:39. (Ezekiel 16:21.) To their idols, explains “to them” at the close of Ezekiel 23:37.—The doing of the one and the other,—this was the special affront to Jehovah. Not that children were sacrificed in the temple, but Jehovah was repaired to after Moloch, each in their several places. That which was “defilement” of the sanctuary in Ezekiel 23:38, when the idea of offering to Moloch was included, is here called “profanation,” when both are treated separately. To profane it, however, seems to mean something more, namely: that they came to the temple to profane it also by alien rites of all sorts, as the clause: and lo … in the midst of My house, evinces (Ezekiel 8:3 sq.). The immediately following change from the plural to the singular shows that the background is here supplied, by the period subsequent to the destruction of Israel; Judah appears before the prophet’s eye for Israel, partly on account of the temple, but also in consideration of all Israel’s relations to Judah both before and after (2 Chron. 15:9, 30:11).
Ezekiel 23:40. Climax, a non plus.—תִּשְׁלַחְנָה is not the 2d plur. (address), but is said of both, although it could also be the 3d sing. The signification of the imperf. shows the conduct as continuous; not once and again, but they were wont to do so. EW.: “They sent repeatedly.” Unless it be merely a repetition of Ezekiel 23:16 from a new point of view? The point of the coming from afar is not in its contrast to the near (Ezekiel 23:5, 12), but in the exertions which it presupposes, so that it is expressly added: to whom a messenger was sent, although this was already involved in: they sent. And, lo, they came, seems to say this, that those who were far off were at last moved, and actually came. Which may apply to others besides the Chaldeans. To this correspond the special exertions she makes to prepare herself for those whom she has addressed, as “washing;” then painting the eyes (כָּחַל, to make dark)—staining the eyelashes and eyebrows with a powder, so as to make the glance of the eye more brilliant (comp. WINER, Realw.); and finally the attire in general, 2 Kings 9:30; Jer. 4:30.
Ezekiel 23:41. “Sitting” is the most natural rendering with מִטָּה, couch, cushion; with which also the rest harmonizes. The placing of the table betokens the preparation of a meal (according to the prevalent custom). Hengst.: “Eating and drinking play an important part in harlotry, either in the usual or the spiritual sense.” (ל—הָ, to be referred, not to שֻׁלְחָן, which is masc., but to מִטָּה.) Every effort was made to fill the heart’s emptiness in relation to Jehovah, by other and remote associations. For this purpose she placed even Jehovah’s holy incense (Ex. 30:1 sq.) and oil beside herself on the couch, so that nothing was any longer sacred to her. Comp. Ezekiel 16:18. [HENGST.: The bed is made fragrant by the incense and oil; whereby are meant the rich gifts by which Judah sought to purchase the favour of the heathen sovereigns, Isa. 30:6, 57:9 (?). HITZ.: The oil is used at table for anointing, and the incense kindled to excite sensuous feeling. Adultery through commercial intercourse is meant, so that it can be the merchant’s table, where oil could be exchanged for incense. Häv. understands it of the lascivious worship of the Babylonish Mylitta. The wanton Israel is described as preparing herself for one of the high festivals of this goddess, and as abandoning herself to strangers like the young women of Babylon; incense and oil, therefore, for the purposes of a religious ceremony.]
Ezekiel 23:42. הָמוֹן (הָמָה), a humming; hence, from the sound of the noise it makes: a crowd. Loose, in a bad sense. In her, pointing away from the figure to the fact. [HENGST.: “Secure murmur,” arising from the self-confident intercourse of the adulterers with the adulteresses, from the festivals which were held for the sealing of political friendship. EW.: “While a godless shouting resounded thereat.” KEIL: “The loud noise became still” (!?). Häv. recalls the reckless wantonness which characterized the worship of Aphrodite in the East.] The loud, dominant voice, which is alone heard in Jerusalem, is further explained as loose, from the fact that it is the voice of the great (godless) multitude, rich and poor, high and low, with whom those brought from the wilderness (Ezekiel 23:40, “men coming from afar”) associate themselves (מוּבָאִים, Hoph. makes a paronomasia with סוֹבָאִים). By this the coalition against Nebuchadnezzar, already frequently referred to, must be meant, not (as Hengst.) “the great anti-Assyrian coalition in the time of Hezekiah,” which can be no element in the ripeness for judgment referred to in this chapter. [According to Hengst., סוֹבָאִים is a mixed form that signifies both Sabeans and topers, loose barbarians, besides many others from all the world; and the verse should be referred to political connections with Ethiopia. (Isa. 37:9, 43:3, 45:14; 2 Kings 19:9; Isa. 18)] That the people of the multitude, who are the same as the “men coming from afar” of Ezekiel 23:40, represent the Assyrians (KEIL) cannot be evidenced by Isa. 39:3, since those mentioned there are Babylonians, therefore Chaldeans; nor can the drunkards from the wilderness (here Keil makes מִמִּדְבָּר correspond to מִמֶּרְחָק (!)) be the Chaldeans, who are afterwards called “righteous men.” The addition: “from the wilderness,” does not (as Häv.) refer to the Arabian-Syrian wilderness, which separated Babylon from Palestine, but must be taken as an antithesis to בָהּ,—from the region outside Jerusalem. Jerusalem accordingly appears as a political harlot-house, in which the counterpart to the native multitude, with their noisy watch-cry, is formed by the foreign dissolute rabble, the political sots of the coalition against Babylon. [Hitz. supposes the Arabians, Dedanites, and Sabeans, who had in their hands the commerce between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. But commercial relations are not in question, apart from the fact whether such could be depicted as harlotry. As the commercial highways did not pass through Jerusalem, they must have been induced (according to Hitz.) to go thither by special circumstances. EW. regards סוֹבָאִים as a pathetic repetition of מוּבָאִים, since he translates: “And for men … brought from the wilderness, they laid bracelets,” etc.] The giving of the bracelets and the crown suggests how the combination against Nebuchadnezzar, referred to, promised to reunite Judah and Israel as one kingdom (therefore “crown,” in the singular), and generally, as the expressive parallel in Ezekiel 16:11, 12 shows, to restore them to their ancient glory. Such was the harlot-reward given to the adulterous women on this side. [According to Häv., the words betoken the self-adornment of the women with an eye to the crowd (?). Jerome supposes that the women had so adorned their lovers, that even men wore bracelets. Hitz. finds in it that both lands had become not only rich, but also luxurious, through commerce.]
Ezekiel 23:43. The judgment-boding sentence of God upon such abominations. If וָאֹמַר be taken with לַבָּלָה, the translation would be. And I said to, or of, etc. The older translators connect the latter word with נִאֻפִים, and supply בְּ, in adulteries; the more modern take it in the same connection, but accusatively: In relation to, no more capable of, etc. Hitz. as a question: “Does the faded one prosecute adultery?” So also Hengst.: “Are adulteries to the faded? i.e. shall her adulteries still go on to the worn out?” The subject to יִזְנֶה (for which the Qeri reads: עַתָּה יִזְנוּ) is, according to some, the woman in question (?); as Ewald: “Now she also prosecutes her whoredoms,” i.e. Judah is as Samaria; according to others: תַזְנוּתֶיהָ, taken generally as adulterous character and conduct; and וָהִיא personifies her still surviving, indestructible lewdness, although the woman herself has become shrivelled: “Now shall her lewdness itself go a-whoring” (HITZ.). It is less forced to assume a question, which applies the resultant בָּלָה נְאֻפִים to paramour, adulteries, and adulteress, which expresses what should be the consequence of sin, even before judgment decrees and executes punishment. [HENGST.: “Shall adulteries be still committed even with her?” The Lord cannot possibly suffer this, He must at length make an end (Ezekiel 23:45). Philippson renders וָהִיא: “when she is so (withered)!” RASHI: “Yet she continues to play the wanton.”]
Ezekiel 23:44. וַיָּבוֹא justifies our exposition of יִזְנֶה in the previous verse. On this account, therefore, judgment is influenced to descend upon those who are ripe for it. Jerusalem, as stated, and as is expressly added, represents the whole people. Comp. also Ezekiel 16:30.—אִשֹּׁת, a unique plural.
Ezekiel 23:45. The judges and executioners are called righteous—comp. at Ezekiel 23:24—because they carry out God’s judgment conformably to the judgment appropriate to such women (Isa. 49:24). A moral comparison between the Chaldeans and the Jews is not intended, nor are prophets and righteous men among the people themselves to be imagined.—Comp. Ezekiel 16:38.—Comp. at Ezekiel 23:37.
Ezekiel 23:46–49. The Judgment
Ezekiel 23:46. According to Hengst. and many others, an address to the prophet: “Bring up” in the might of prophecy. Others suppose the infin, absol to stand either for the indefinite 3d pers. fut., or (Hitz.) the 1st pers. (Ezekiel 21:31).—The company retains the character of the previous description of the Chaldeans as “righteous,” Ezekiel 16:40. The heathen are thus solicitous about that which Israel, as a congregation, had neglected to do (Judg. 20).—As in the previous verse, the masc. suffix interchanges with the fem., the reference passing over from the figurative to the actual—the men in question. Comp. besides, Ezekiel 7:21, and at Deut. 28:25.
Ezekiel 23:47. The company—the Chaldeans—again made specially prominent. Cleave (comp. at Ezekiel 21:24) is here used in its natural sense.—Comp. Ezekiel 23:25.
Ezekiel 23:48. Ezekiel 23:27, Ezekiel 16:41.—וְנִוַּסְּרוּ, according to GESEN., for נִתְוַסְּרוּ, if the Rabbin, punctuation be maintained; otherwise it could be read: נוֹסְרוּ, Niph. instead of a mixed Nithpael. Deterrent beacon for all peoples, as Ezekiel 23:10; Ezekiel 5:15.
Ezekiel 23:49 וְנָתְנוּ, according to some: the women, namely, with their tongues; according to most: the avengers noted in Ezekiel 23:45,—in very deed. [HITZ.: “the heavenly powers.”] In consequence of this recompense, those who are thus judged bear in their punishment the sins of the idols, those occasioned by them, committed with, i.e. by means of them. (Ezekiel 23:7, 30, 37)—Ezekiel 16:58.
[“The closing part of the description represents the two women, and especially the one that personated the people of Judah, as persevering to the last in their wicked and profligate courses. Like persons in the final stages of abandonment, they went on rioting in the ways of evil, unchecked by all the troubles and humiliations they had experienced in the past; and now, therefore, as utterly reprobate and hardened and hopeless, they must be adjudged to the doom appointed against such incorrigible and shameless offenders. So the doleful story ends. The prophet looks only, from first to last, to the course of crime and its deserved recompense; and he allows the curtain to drop without one gleam of hope as to the future. He sees that the hammer of the law in its strongest form is needed to break the hard and stony heart of the people. So urgent was the call for a work of conviction, and so great the danger of that not being effectually wrought, that he would not drop a word which might lighten the impression of guilt upon their minds, or afford the least excuse for delay. His message was, Now or never. Judged by the sense of right and wrong current among men, your conduct toward God calls for judgment without mercy. And if there be not immediately awakened the contrition of sincere repentance, you have nothing to expect but the most unsparing visitations of wrath.”—FAIRBAIRN’S Ezekiel, p. 257.—W. F.]
(See Doct. Reflec. on Ezekiel 20 and Ezekiel 16)
1. As contrast is an inherent element in all human development, so through the people κατ̓ ἐξοχην, among the peoples, a dualism immediately accompanies the evolution of the triad of the patriarchs to the dodecad, in its relativeness (of the 3 to the 4) to the world as a permeating influence. The two foci of the ellipse illustrate for us the history of the chosen people in their orbit. Even in Gen. 49 (comp. therewith Deut. 33), Joseph, as against Judah, is prominent compared with the others. If the first position in the camp was allotted to Judah, and a signally large extent of territory in Canaan bestowed on it, to Joseph (and Ephraim took precedence of Manasseh, Gen. 48) belonged the distinction of furnishing the nation with Joshua, the leader of the host and conqueror of Canaan, as well as of long retaining the tabernacle in its midst. (For the independence of Ephraim in the time of the judges, comp. Judg. 8:12; Ps. 78) The jealousy which obtained between the two appears, after Saul’s death, in the kingdom of Ishbosheth. Only the centralizing personality of a David was capable of unifying the existing dualism. Yet the fire of discord, which continued to smoulder beneath outward harmony, nourished the rebellion of Absalom and the revolt of Sheba. Under Solomon, it is true, the glory of the nation silenced for the time the variance of the two tribes; but Solomon’s polytheistic aberration from the monotheistic path introduced an additional element of division. When sin, including that of Rehoboam and the seceding tribes, had in this way accomplished the division into the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, this result of sin was at the same time a judgment of God; for which, however, the foundation was laid in that original dualism between Judah and Joseph-Ephraim, and the way paved, in the course of history. The form of the representation in our chapter rests on this view of the subject.
2. One may regard Solomon’s polytheistic aberrations (e.g. 1 Kings 11:5) as a refined pantheism, or a more universal, more cosmical Jehovism; yet his marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter, at the very beginning of his reign, must have exerted some influence on the religious attitude of the kingdom of the ten tribes. And how could the calf-worship of Jeroboam have been introduced without meeting universal opposition, unless previously, during Solomon’s reign, religion and politics had taken a decided outward bias? Note also Solomon’s commercial relations with different countries, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and especially his alliance with the Phœnicians. Thus a toleration sprang up under the influence of trade and intercourse, which necessarily became a religious toleration, and which was still farther defined by politics as a doctrine. The example of the king acted on the people, and it is not surprising that Solomon’s connections with the world, and his heathen culture, found their echo in the craving of Ephraim and her associates for a heathen-worldly, revolutionary, anti-theocratic government. Solomon is herein to be compared to the church-father Augustine, to whom Roman Catholicism links itself, as the Reformation also falls back on him; so with Solomon are connected the Song of Songs and the form of the apostasy of the ten tribes.
3. The Egyptian bias of Solomon, which gained national expression in the worship of the calves, was seconded by the policy of Jeroboam, who, imitating the example of Aaron at Sinai, transplanted to Israelitish soil the worship which he ad seen at Memphis and Heliopolis, 1 Kings 12:26 sq., 2. The Egyptian animal symbolism, which was thereby applied to Jehovah, was a new growth from old roots. Comp. Ezekiel 23:8 in our chapter. This corrupt worship of Jehovah moved on the same line as ordinary idolatry (1 Kings 14:9), so that the one was as closely related to the other, as the second commandment to the first. Hengst. remarks very justly: “By the introduction of the worship of images, a breach was made for heathenism, through which it rushed irresistibly.”
4. As Egypt has a very ancient, original significance for the sacred history, so on the Egyptian monuments, even at a very early time, the Assyrians, under the name “Shari,” are represented as in conflict with the Egyptians. The Assyrians, who first broke into the kingdom of Israel under Menahem, are, no doubt, to be considered in historical connection with that ancient kingdom; but their military valour, which they made Israel feel, and which excited its longing for association, appears, however, to point to a recent fresh revival of the ancient Assyrian glory. Pul, to whom Menahem was tributary, was succeeded by Tiglath-Pileser, who led into captivity a portion of the inhabitants of the kingdom of the ten tribes; to him Shalmaneser succeeded, who conducted a still more comprehensive deportation to Assyria, which became complete under his second successor, Esar-haddon, so that the Israelitish kingdom was then made a full end of.
5. The subversion of the kingdom of Israel under its last king, Hosea, whom Shalmaneser had made tributary, took place, besides, on account of the hankering of the people after alliances with Egypt, which one might call the hereditary sin of the whole people (Ezekiel 23:8); the attempted combination with Egypt against Assyria had provoked a new expedition by Shalmaneser. The destruction of Israel was for Judah a “Remember whence thou art fallen,” a memento mori (Ezekiel 23:10). But even before this, Ahaz, the Ahab of the kings of Judah, as he had offered one of his sons to Moloch, so also he regarded the might of the Assyrians as better than the help of Jehovah. Comp. the passage of Isaiah relative to him, and Ezekiel 23:11 of our chapter. “Thy servant and thy son am I,” he had said to Tiglath-Pileser; “come up and deliver me.”
6. The Babylonian-Chaldean power, which, like Judah, was dependent on Assyria, affected the imagination of Jerusalem so seductively in the time of the pious son of the godless Ahaz, that even Hezekiah succumbed to the temptation. The expectations entertained from Egypt had faded away, and the Lord had overwhelmed the Assyrians by His hand before Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:19); yet Hezekiah’s imagination lingers upon his treasures, and upon the embassy which the then vice-king of Babylon had sent to him (perhaps also, as Bunsen conjectures, Ezekiel 23:14, frescoes of Babylonish heroes and warriors). The preponderating world-power seems to incline from Nineveh to Babylon. Perhaps the destruction of the Assyrian army under Sennacherib incited the Babylonians to revolt from Assyria. Niebuhr (The History of Assyria and Babylon) says concerning the relation of Babylon to Assyria: “Assyria was by no means the foremost and most ancient people. The inhabitants of Shinar, the Babylonians, were so. The Ninevites had elevated themselves above them through bravery and good fortune, and the older race, to whom belonged the religious metropolis, the most fertile soil, the origin of history, was compelled to submit to the younger. Their constantly repeated attempts at revolt showed how bitterly the Babylonians felt this disgrace,” etc. Ezekiel confirms what Isaiah had formerly predicted to Hezekiah, to cool his carnal expectations from Babylon. The Chaldeans, after destroying Nineveh in combination with the Medes, “stepped into the place of the Assyrians for Judah as well as generally, and this also on the same arena” (HITZ.). Egypt maintained the same attitude toward Assyria as toward Babylon, and the kingdom of Judah, like that of Israel, was subverted through its political harlotries (Ezekiel 23:19 sq., 27) with Egypt.
7. Through this fatal significance of Egypt for the whole people, that motive of the Decalogue, “Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,” acquires a striking political prominence.
8. When the people which had come out of Chaldea in Abraham, in the end returns to Chaldea, the circle of their natural history is completed. The beginning is also the end. “Moreover it is noteworthy,” says Ziegler, “that as the dispersion of mankind into all lands proceeded from Babylon, now the Jewish people, or at least the kingdom of Judah, is carried away to Babylon.” “The whole history, from the exodus till now, was a constant provoking of God; therefore it must at last drink a cup full of indignation.”
Ezekiel 23:1 sq. “We are called Christians, children of the one heavenly Father; but do we also bear ourselves worthily of the name?” (STCK.)—The two women, Oholah and Oholibah, in their resemblance and difference.—“Oh that all young women from their youth up would deport themselves modestly and chastely! What honour and peace of conscience it would procure for them in old age ! Job 27:6” (STCK.).—“One can fall from the greatest light into the greatest darkness and folly, if one be faithless to the grace which has been received” (TÜB. BIB.).—“That is spiritual adultery, when souls fall away from the Creator to the creature” (LUTHER).—“Since body and soul are the temple of the Holy Ghost, He wills that we should preserve both pure and holy, and forbids all unchaste deeds, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever may excite one thereto” (HEID. CAT., quest. 109).—The youth of a people in its charm and perils.—Harlotry, in all its forms, stains before God, burdens the conscience, and also brings disgrace before men.—The allurements of Egypt for Israel.—The coarseness of apostasy from God amid all the refinement of so-called culture.—For the sake of truth, God’s word speaks of fleshly things as they are, and as men practise them; discloses hidden things, and shows them in their naked deformity.—Plain speaking is not attractive; flowery ambiguities are of the devil.—True religion leads to fellowship with God.—“A Christian congregation is a spiritual mother, which should honour God through its sons and daughters” (CR.).
Ezekiel 23:5 sq. “Under the guise of piety they committed the worst abominations. As adulteresses foist the children which are the fruit of adultery upon their own husbands, so would Jeroboam also serve the true God under the calf-image” (STCK.).—“To yield oneself unreservedly to God is not to throw oneself away” (HENGST.).—“To expect help from men, to rely on them, to depart from God for the sake of profit, honours, etc., is adultery or harlotry in religion” (STCK.).—“To fear God is the true politics.”
Ezekiel 23:6. “He who forsakes God is easily carried away by semblances, dress, splendour, honours, and such like” (STCK.).—“How highly the earthly and carnal mind values the friendship and favour of the rich and great!” (B. B.)
Ezekiel 23:7. He who holds fellowship with the world must also go after its idols.—The friendship of the world is enmity with God, is idolatry.
Ezekiel 23:8. “Behold the power of youthful habit! What has been instilled into one in the years of youth usually remains with one all life through” (HEIM.-HOFF.).—[M. HENRY: “This corrupt disposition in the children of Israel, when they were first formed into a people, is an emblem of that original corruption which is born with us and is woven into our constitution, a strong bias towards the world and the flesh. This sinful tendency of theirs was bred in the bone with them, and would never out of the flesh, though Egypt had been a house of bondage to them. Thus the corrupt affections and inclinations which we brought into the world with us we have not lost, nor got clear of, but still retain them, though the iniquity we were born in was the source of all the calamities which human life is liable to.”—W. F.]
Ezekiel 23:9 sq. “God excites those against us for punishment, to please whom we have sinned” (O.).—Lovers and scourges.—Honour makes a name for one, so also does dishonour.
Ezekiel 23:11 sq. Judah must therefore have been more corrupt, since she did not take warning by Israel’s punishment, and since she misused, or at least neglected to use, so much greater grace, which would have enabled her to resist.—“Those who go the same way also reach the same place ” (STCK.).—The dangerous power of the imagination.—“Worldly glory seduces the worldly mind” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 23:14 sq. Seeing and longing.—“So men now-a-days are chiefly enamoured of that which is nothing; for what is all our honour, delight, external prosperity, nobility, dignity, and glory, our power and strength, but a picture in which there is no reality!” (B. B.)
Ezekiel 23:16. “So it comes to pass, unless one makes a covenant with his eyes not to look on worldly glory, and that which is alien to him, that he is presently absorbed in it, and turns away from God” (B. B.).
Ezekiel 23:17. One must not paint the devil on the wall.—Love becomes passion, and passion becomes satiety, yea, hatred.—“Estrangement is the usual end of impure love, of the selfishness concealed under it” (HENGST.).—“Friendship and fellowship in sin are of short duration” (ST.).
Ezekiel 23:18. He who gives himself up to false friends often loses thereby the true Friend, the Lord.
Ezekiel 23:19 sq. It is sad when one goes back to his earlier sins.—“When one lives bestially, he cannot be pictured otherwise than as a beast” (B. B.).
Ezekiel 23:21. “The falling back into the old sin is like a visit which is made to her whom one should hate and avoid” (HENGST.).
Ezekiel 23:22 sq. The wicked are punished through the wicked.—At a death-bed there is often a great gathering from bygone days. Our sins, and those with whom we have sinned, surround us on every side.
Ezekiel 23:25 sq. “The ungodly have no power over God’s people, unless they are given up to them by God” (ST.).—Dreadful judgments presuppose dreadful sins.—“We should not wait till God drags us away from sin with violence” (O.).
Ezekiel 23:27. “What God’s goodness and patience could not accomplish, that the wickedness and tyranny of men shall bring about” (STCK.).—Every one receives at last his due.
Ezekiel 23:28 sq. He who surrenders himself to sin shall be surrendered to punishment. Hate spares not.—What love covers, hate discloses. The unclothing through punishment shows well what the clothing through grace is.
Ezekiel 23:30 sq. Yea, he who expects to cleanse himself otherwise than through the blood and Spirit of Christ, pollutes himself still more by idolatry.—“Like sins, like punishments” (TÜB. BIB.).—“Him whom thou hast followed in life, thou shalt also follow in death” (STCK.).—“He who accepts not the cup of salvation, must drink the cup of wrath” (ST.).
Ezekiel 23:34. It must be drunk out. As we have sided with lust, God sides with punishment.—The dreadful nail-test.—“In righteous judgment God causes sinners to be punished in the members in which they have sinned” (ST.).
Ezekiel 23:35. “To remember God is the summary of all godliness, as, on the contrary, to forget God is a summary of all ungodliness; therefore God comprehends all in this one, at the close of the catalogue of sins” (JABLONSKY).—“The sieve of man’s memory retains only husks—that which is useless” (ST.).—[“Men need no more to sink them than the weight of their own sins; and those who will not part with their lewdness and whoredoms must bear them.”—M. HENRY.]
Ezekiel 23:36 sq. Comp. at Ezekiel 20:4.—God is not silent with His sentence, and even the judgments of God hasten like His grace. That which seems to be delay is long-suffering; but during it, sin ripens all the more quickly for judgment.
Ezekiel 23:37. As they literally shed blood, so also in the services of idolatry, fleshly impurity found place.—Judah and Israel as Medea.—He who serves Venus and Bacchus offers to them also his children.
Ezekiel 23:38 sq. How largely profanation of the Sabbath is the fashion now-a-days also!—“To run from the harlot-house to God’s house, from murder to the place of prayer, from sin to singing, is not pleasing to God” (STCK.).—“Self-invented, hypocritical worship of God dishonours Him, more than love of the world” (RICHT.).—From sin to sin,—thus ruin is reached; that was the way of Oholah and Oholibah.—“What holy thing is there which the sinner does not profane!” (STCK.)—“They considered neither place nor time” (JEROME).
Ezekiel 23:40 sq. “The society of the ungodly should not be wished, still less sought for” (STCK.).—“Those who are separate from God go in quest of men” (STCK.).—“The sinner wishes in all things to be pleasing to men; why not to God?” (STCK.)—Washing themselves for men, remaining unclean before God: thus hypocrites act.—How much of the activity of social organizations is here literally described !
Ezekiel 23:43 sq. “The longer a man continues in sin, the more shameless he becomes” (ST.).
Ezekiel 23:45. God’s righteousness makes even of the Chaldeans “righteous men.”
Ezekiel 23:46. “When the judgment-hour strikes, judge and executioner are found so ready that they only require to be called” (STCK.).
Ezekiel 23:48 sq. “Even still, although men will not depart from sin, they must depart from life” (L.).—Bad examples, through God’s overruling, may serve a good end.
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,