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Oholah and Oholibah

23

The word of the Lord came to me: 2Mortal, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; 3they played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; their breasts were caressed there, and their virgin bosoms were fondled. 4Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

5 Oholah played the whore while she was mine; she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors 6clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, mounted horsemen. 7She bestowed her favors upon them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them; and she defiled herself with all the idols of everyone for whom she lusted. 8She did not give up her whorings that she had practiced since Egypt; for in her youth men had lain with her and fondled her virgin bosom and poured out their lust upon her. 9Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. 10These uncovered her nakedness; they seized her sons and her daughters; and they killed her with the sword. Judgment was executed upon her, and she became a byword among women.

11 Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet she was more corrupt than she in her lusting and in her whorings, which were worse than those of her sister. 12She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in full armor, mounted horsemen, all of them handsome young men. 13And I saw that she was defiled; they both took the same way. 14But she carried her whorings further; she saw male figures carved on the wall, images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, 15with belts around their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them looking like officers—a picture of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. 16When she saw them she lusted after them, and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their lust; and after she defiled herself with them, she turned from them in disgust. 18When she carried on her whorings so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned from her sister. 19Yet she increased her whorings, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt 20and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose emission was like that of stallions. 21Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians fondled your bosom and caressed your young breasts.

22 Therefore, O Oholibah, thus says the Lord God: I will rouse against you your lovers from whom you turned in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side: 23the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, handsome young men, governors and commanders all of them, officers and warriors, all of them riding on horses. 24They shall come against you from the north with chariots and wagons and a host of peoples; they shall set themselves against you on every side with buckler, shield, and helmet, and I will commit the judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their ordinances. 25I will direct my indignation against you, in order that they may deal with you in fury. They shall cut off your nose and your ears, and your survivors shall fall by the sword. They shall seize your sons and your daughters, and your survivors shall be devoured by fire. 26They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your fine jewels. 27So I will put an end to your lewdness and your whoring brought from the land of Egypt; you shall not long for them, or remember Egypt any more. 28For thus says the Lord God: I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust; 29and they shall deal with you in hatred, and take away all the fruit of your labor, and leave you naked and bare, and the nakedness of your whorings shall be exposed. Your lewdness and your whorings 30have brought this upon you, because you played the whore with the nations, and polluted yourself with their idols. 31You have gone the way of your sister; therefore I will give her cup into your hand. 32Thus says the Lord God:

You shall drink your sister’s cup,

deep and wide;

you shall be scorned and derided,

it holds so much.

33

You shall be filled with drunkenness and sorrow.

A cup of horror and desolation

is the cup of your sister Samaria;

34

you shall drink it and drain it out,

and gnaw its sherds,

and tear out your breasts;

for I have spoken, says the Lord God. 35Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, therefore bear the consequences of your lewdness and whorings.

36 The Lord said to me: Mortal, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominable deeds. 37For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands; with their idols they have committed adultery; and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me. 38Moreover this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my sabbaths. 39For when they had slaughtered their children for their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. This is what they did in my house.

40 They even sent for men to come from far away, to whom a messenger was sent, and they came. For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and decked yourself with ornaments; 41you sat on a stately couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed my incense and my oil. 42The sound of a raucous multitude was around her, with many of the rabble brought in drunken from the wilderness; and they put bracelets on the arms of the women, and beautiful crowns upon their heads.

43 Then I said, Ah, she is worn out with adulteries, but they carry on their sexual acts with her. 44For they have gone in to her, as one goes in to a whore. Thus they went in to Oholah and to Oholibah, wanton women. 45But righteous judges shall declare them guilty of adultery and of bloodshed; because they are adulteresses and blood is on their hands.

46 For thus says the Lord God: Bring up an assembly against them, and make them an object of terror and of plunder. 47The assembly shall stone them and with their swords they shall cut them down; they shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses. 48Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, so that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. 49They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry; and you shall know that I am the Lord God.


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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 God.

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 Egyptians.

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 punishment.

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).

horsemen—cavaliers.

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 peoples.

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 mistresses.

13. one way—both alike forsaking God for heathen confidences.

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 Chaldea—(Eze 16:29). 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 vengeance.

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 (Eze 17:12-19). "Discovered" 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 person.

21. calledst to remembrance—"didst repeat" [Maurer].

in bruising—in suffering … to be bruised.

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 are treated.

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 alike.

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 (Jer 2:32; 13:25).

cast me behind thy back—(1Ki 14:9; Ne 9:26).

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 altar.

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, reads "drunkards."

upon their hands—upon the hands of the sisters, that is, they allured Samaria and Judah to worship their gods.

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, 19).

48. (Eze 23:27).

that all … may be taught not to do, &c.—(De 13:11).

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.




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