Eze 23:1-49. Israel's and
Judah's Sin and Punishment Are Parabolically Portrayed under the Names
Aholah and Aholibah.
The imagery is similar to that in the sixteenth
chapter; 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
2. two … of one mother—Israel and
Judah, one nation by birth from the same ancestress, Sarah.
3. Even so early in their history as their
Egyptian sojourn, they committed idolatries (see on Eze 20:6-8; Joshua 24. 14).
in their youth—an aggravation of their
sin. It was at the very time of their receiving extraordinary favors
from God (Eze 16:6, 22).
they bruised—namely, the
4. Aholah—that is, "Her tent"
(put for worship, as the first worship of God in Israel was in a
tent or tabernacle), as contrasted with Aholibah, that is,
"My tent in her." The Beth-el worship of Samaria was of her
own devising, not of God's appointment; the temple-worship of
Jerusalem was expressly appointed by Jehovah, who "dwelt" there,
"setting up His tabernacle among the people as His" (Ex 25:8; Le 26:11, 12; Jos 22:19; Ps 76:2).
the elder—Samaria is called "the
elder" because she preceded Judah in her apostasy and its
they were mine—Previous to apostasy
under Jeroboam, Samaria (Israel, or the ten tribes), equally with
Judah, worshipped the true God. God therefore never renounced the right
over Israel, but sent prophets, as Elijah and Elisha, to declare His
will to them.
5. when … mine—literally, "under
Me," that is, subject to Me as her lawful husband.
neighbours—On the northeast the
kingdom of Israel bordered on that of Assyria; for the latter had
occupied much of Syria. Their neighborhood in locality was emblematical
of their being near in corruption of morals and worship. The
alliances of Israel with Assyria, which are the chief subject of
reprobation here, tended to this (2Ki 15:19; 16:7, 9;
17:3; Ho 8:9).
6. blue—rather, "purple" [Fairbairn]. As a lustful woman's passions are fired
by showy dress and youthful appearance in men, so Israel was seduced by
the pomp and power of Assyria (compare Isa 10:8).
7. all their idols—There was nothing
that she refused to her lovers.
8. whoredoms brought from Egypt—the
calves set up in Dan and Beth-el by Jeroboam, answering to the Egyptian
bull-formed idol Apis. Her alliances with Egypt
politically are also meant (Isa 30:2, 3; 31:1). The ten tribes probably resumed the
Egyptian rites, in order to enlist the Egyptians against Judah (2Ch 12:2-4).
9. God, in righteous retribution, turned their
objects of trust into the instruments of their punishment: Pul,
Tiglath-pileser, Esar-haddon, and Shalmaneser (2Ki 15:19, 29; 17:3, 6, 24; Ezr 4:2, 10). "It was their sin to have sought after
such lovers, and it was to be their punishment that these lovers should
become their destroyers" [Fairbairn].
10. became famous—literally, "she became
a name," that is, as notorious by her punishment as she had been by her
sins, so as to be quoted as a warning to others.
women—that is, neighboring
11. Judah, the southern kingdom, though having
the "warning" (see on Eze 23:10) of the
northern kingdom before her eyes, instead of profiting by it, went to
even greater lengths in corruption than Israel. Her greater spiritual
privileges made her guilt the greater (Eze 16:47, 51; Jer 3:11).
12. (Eze 23:6, 23).
most gorgeously—literally, "to
perfection." Grotius translates,
"wearing a crown," or "chaplet," such as lovers wore in visiting their
13. one way—both alike forsaking God for
14. vermilion—the peculiar color of the
Chaldeans, as purple was of the Assyrians. In striking agreement with
this verse is the fact that the Assyrian sculptures lately discovered
have painted and colored bas-reliefs in red, blue, and black. The Jews
(for instance Jehoiakim, Jer 22:14)
copied these (compare Eze 8:10).
15. exceeding in dyed attire—rather, "in
ample dyed turbans"; literally, "redundant with dyed turbans."
The Assyrians delighted in ample, flowing, and richly colored tunics,
scarfs, girdles, and head-dresses or turbans, varying in ornaments
according to the rank.
Chaldea, … land of their
nativity—between the Black and Caspian Seas (see on Isa 23:13).
princes—literally, a first-rate
military class that fought by threes in the chariots, one guiding the
horses, the other two fighting.
16. sent messengers … into
It was she that solicited the Chaldeans, not they her. Probably the
occasion was when Judah sought to strengthen herself by a Chaldean
alliance against a menaced attack by Egypt (compare 2Ki
23:29-35; 24:1-7). God made
the object of their sinful desire the instrument of their punishment.
Jehoiakim, probably by a stipulation of tribute, enlisted
Nebuchadnezzar against Pharaoh, whose tributary he previously had been;
failing to keep his stipulation, he brought on himself Nebuchadnezzar's
17. alienated from them—namely, from the
Chaldeans: turning again to the Egyptians (Eze 23:19), trying by their help to throw off her
solemn engagements to Babylon (compare Jer 37:5, 7; 2Ki 24:7).
18. my mind was alienated from
her—literally, "was broken off from her." Just retribution
for "her mind being alienated (broken off) from the Chaldeans" (Eze 23:17), to whom she had sworn fealty
implies the open shamelessness of her apostasy.
19. Israel first "called" her lusts, practised
when in Egypt, "to her (fond) remembrance," and then actually
returned to them. Mark the danger of suffering the memory to dwell on
the pleasure felt in past sins.
20. their paramours—that is, her
paramours among them (the Egyptians); she doted upon their
persons as her paramours (Eze 23:5, 12, 16).
flesh—the membrum virile (very
large in the ass). Compare Le 15:2,
Margin; Eze 16:26.
issue of horses—the seminal issue. The
horse was made by the Egyptians the hieroglyphic for a lustful
21. calledst to remembrance—"didst
in bruising—in suffering … to be
22. lovers … alienated—(Eze 23:17). Illicit love, soon or late, ends
in open hatred (2Sa 13:15).
The Babylonians, the objects formerly of their God-forgetting love, but
now, with characteristic fickleness, objects of their hatred, shall be
made by God the instruments of their punishment.
23. Pekod, &c.—(Jer 50:21). Not a geographical name, but
descriptive of Babylon. "Visitation," peculiarly the land of
"judgment"; in a double sense: actively, the inflicter of
judgment on Judah; passively, as about to be afterwards herself
the object of judgment.
Shoa … Koa—"rich … noble";
descriptive of Babylon in her prosperity, having all the world's wealth
and dignity at her disposal. Maurer
suggests that, as descriptive appellatives are subjoined to the proper
name, "all the Assyrians" in the second hemistich of the verse (as the
verse ought to be divided at "Koa"), so Pekod, Shoa, and Koa must be
appellatives descriptive of "The Babylonians and … Chaldeans" in
the first hemistich; "Pekod" meaning "prefects"; Shoa … Koa,
"rich … princely."
desirable young men—strong irony.
Alluding to Eze 23:12,
these "desirable young men" whom thou didst so "dote upon" for their
manly vigor of appearance, shall by that very vigor be the better able
to chastise thee.
24. with chariots—or, "with armaments";
so the Septuagint; "axes" [Maurer]; or, joining it with "wagons," translate,
"with scythe-armed wagons," or "chariots" [Grotius].
wheels—The unusual height of these
increased their formidable appearance (Eze 1:16-20).
their judgments—which awarded
barbarously severe punishments (Jer 52:9; 29:22).
25. take away thy nose …
ears—Adulteresses were punished so among the Egyptians and
Chaldeans. Oriental beauties wore ornaments in the ear and nose. How
just the retribution, that the features most bejewelled should be
mutilated! So, allegorically as to Judah, the spiritual adulteress.
26. strip … of …
clothes—whereby she attracted her paramours (Eze 16:39).
27. Thus … make … lewdness to
cease—The captivity has made the Jews ever since abhor
idolatry, not only on their return from Babylon, but for the last
eighteen centuries of their dispersion, as foretold (Ho 3:4).
28. (Eze 23:17, 18; 16:37).
29. take away … thy labour—that
is, the fruits of thy labor.
leave thee naked—as captive females
31. her cup—of punishment (Ps 11:6;
75:8; Jer 25:15, &c.).
Thy guilt and that of Israel being alike, your punishment shall be
34. break … sherds—So greedily
shalt thou suck out every drop like one drinking to madness (the effect
invariably ascribed to drinking God's cup of wrath, Jer 51:7; Hab
2:16) that thou shalt crunch
the very shreds of it; that is, there shall be no evil left which thou
shalt not taste.
pluck off thine own breasts—enraged
against them as the ministers to thine adultery.
35. forgotten me—the root of all sin
cast me behind thy back—(1Ki 14:9; Ne
bear … thy lewdness—that is, its
penal consequences (Pr 1:31).
36-44. A summing up of the sins of the two
sisters, especially those of Judah.
wilt thou judge—Wilt thou (not) judge
(see on Eze 20:4)?
38. the same day—On the very day that
they had burned their children to Molech in the valley of Gehenna, they
shamelessly and hypocritically presented themselves as worshippers in
Jehovah's temple (Jer 7:9, 10).
40. messenger was sent—namely, by Judah
(Eze 23:16; Isa 57:9).
paintedst … eyes—(2Ki 9:30, Margin; Jer 4:30). Black paint was spread on the eyelids
of beauties to make the white of the eye more attractive by the
contrast, so Judah left no seductive art untried.
41. bed—divan. While men reclined at
table, women sat, as it seemed indelicate for them to lie down (Am 6:4) [Grotius].
table—that is, the idolatrous
mine incense—which I had given thee,
and which thou oughtest to have offered to Me (Eze 16:18,
19; Ho 2:8; compare Pr 7:17).
42. Sabeans—Not content with the
princely, handsome Assyrians, the sisters brought to themselves the
rude robber hordes of Sabeans (Job 1:15). The Keri, or Margin,
upon their hands—upon the hands of the
sisters, that is, they allured Samaria and Judah to worship their
43. Will they, &c.—Is it possible
that paramours will desire any longer to commit whoredoms with so
worn-out an old adulteress?
45. the righteous men—the Chaldeans; the
executioners of God's righteous vengeance (Eze 16:38), not that they were "righteous" in
themselves (Hab 1:3, 12, 13).
46. a company—properly, "a council of
judges" passing sentence on a criminal [Grotius]. The "removal" and "spoiling" by the
Chaldean army is the execution of the judicial sentence of God.
47. stones—the legal penalty of the
adulteress (Eze 16:40, 41; Joh 8:5). Answering to the stones hurled
by the Babylonians from engines in besieging Jerusalem.
houses … fire—fulfilled (2Ch 36:17,
48. (Eze 23:27).
that all … may be taught not to do,
49. bear the sins of your idols—that is,
the punishment of your idolatry.
know that I am the Lord God—that is,
know it to your cost … by bitter suffering.