|<< Ezekiel 16 >>|
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Idolatry is frequently represented by the prophets under the figure of a wife's unfaithfulness to her husband. This image is here so portrayed, as to exhibit the aggravation of Israel's guilt by reason of her origin and early history. The original abode of the progenitors of the race was the land of Canaan, defiled with idolatry and moral corruption. Israel itself was like a child born in a polluted land, abandoned from its birth, left by its parents in the most utter neglect to the chance regard of any passer-by. Such was the state of the people in Egypt Ezekiel 16:3-5. On such a child the Lord looked with pity, tended, and adopted it. Under His care it grew up to be comely and beautiful, and the Lord joined it to Himself in that close union, which is figured by the bonds of wedlock. The covenants made under Moses and Joshua represent this alliance Ezekiel 16:6-8. In the reigns of David and Solomon, Israel shone with all the glory of temporal prosperity Ezekiel 16:9-14. The remainder of the history of the people when divided is, in the prophet's eye, a succession of defection and degradation marked by the erection of high places Ezekiel 16:16-20; by unholy alliances with foreign nations Ezekiel 16:26-33. Such sins were soon to meet their due punishment. As an unfaithful wife was brought before the people, convicted, and stoned, so should the Lord make His people a gazing-stock to all the nations round about, deprive them of all their possessions and of their city, and cast them forth as exiles to be spoiled and destroyed in a foreign land Ezekiel 16:35-43.
2Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,
3And 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.
Birth - See the margin; the word represents "origin" under the figure of "cutting out stone from a quarry" (compare Isaiah 51:1).
An Amorite - the Amorite, a term denoting the whole people. The Amorites, being a principal branch of the Canaanites, are often taken to represent the whole stock Genesis 15:16; 2 Kings 21:11.
An Hittite - Compare Genesis 26:34. The main idea is that the Israelites by their doings proved themselves to be the very children of the idolatrous nations who once occupied the land of Canaan. Compare Deuteronomy 20:17.
4And 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.
To supple thee - i. e., to cleanse thee.
5None 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.
To the lothing of thy person - Or, "so abhorred was thy person."
6And 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.
Or, Then I passed by thee ... and Isaid.
Polluted - wallowing, "treading upon oneself."
In thy blood - may be connected either with "I said" or with "Live." In the latter case, the state of blood and defilement is made the very cause of life, because it called forth the pity of Him who gave life. Since in the Mosaic Law "blood" was especially defiling, so was it also the special instrument of purification.
7I 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.
I caused "thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou" didst increase "and" wax "great, and thou" didst come "to excellent" beauty; "thy breasts" were "fashioned and thine hair" was grown, yet wast "thou naked and bare." The prophet has arrived at the time at which the child grew up to maturity. God preserved the life of the infant which must without His help have died Ezekiel 16:6; and the child grew up to womanhood, but was still desolate and unprotected. This represents the sojourn in Egypt, during which the people increased, but were not bound, as a nation, to God by a covenant.
Excellent ornaments - literally, as in the margin. Some render it: "ornament of cheeks," i. e., beauty of face.
8Now 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.
Now when ... - Or, Then I passed by thee ... and behold. The espousal of the damsel represents God's entering into covenant with the people in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai Exodus 34:27.
9Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
The usual purifications for marriage.
10I 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.
Badgers' skin - Probably the skin of the dolphin or dugong (Exodus 25:5 note).
Silk - For a robe, a turban, or (as gauze) for a transparent veil; the derivation of the word in the original is much disputed.
11I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
12And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
A jewel on thy forehead - literally, "a nose-ring on thy nostril" (Genesis 24:22 note).
13Thus 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.
Fine flour, and honey, and oil - These were the choicest kinds of food.
Into a kingdom - This part of the description refers to the reigns of David and Solomon, when the kingdom of Israel (still undivided) attained its highest pitch of grandeur.
14And 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.
Perfect ... my comeliness - The comeliness was not natural, but the gift of God.
15But 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.
The prophet now describes the idolatries of the time of the Kings. The earlier offences in the time of the Judges are not noticed, that being an unsettled time. The conduct of the people after they had "prospered into a kingdom" is to be described.
Because of thy renown - The marriages of Solomon with pagan wives, and his consequent idolatries, are a clear instance of such, misuse of glory.
16And 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.
Compare 2 Kings 23:7. Such decoration of idol-temples in the holy land showed how the ungrateful people were devoting the wealth and energies which Yahweh had given them to the service of those false gods, in whose worship He was especially dishonored.
The like things shall not come ... - The abominations reached the very utmost - nothing would hereafter be so bad as these had been.
17Thou 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,
Possibly an allusion to the custom of bearing about shrines. Compare Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43.
18And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
Mine oil and mine incense - The oil was the produce of the land, the incense received in exchange for such produce. Both were the gifts of Yahweh and belonged to Him; yet the oil Exodus 25:6; Exodus 29:40 and the incense Exodus 30:34, prepared for the service of God, were used in idol-worship. In nature worship the worshippers were especially lavish in vegetable products like incense.
19My 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.
Allusion is here made to some rite like the Roman "Lectisternia," in which public tables were set forth for feasts in honor of idols.
20Moreover 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,
Borne unto me - me is emphatic. The children of Yahweh have been devoted to Moloch. The rites of Moloch were twofold;
(1) The actual sacrifice of men and children as expiatory sacrifices to, false gods.
(2) The passing of them through the fire by way of purification and dedication.
Probably the first is alluded to in Ezekiel 16:20; the two rites together in Ezekiel 16:21.
21That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?
22And 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.
23And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)
After all ... - Besides these things, there was the introduction of other idolatrous rites from the nations with whom Israel had contact.
24That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.
That thou ... - Render it: after that thou didst build "unto thee an eminent place," and didst make "thee an high place in every street" - after that thou didst build "thy high place at the head of every way and" didst make ..."it came to pass, that thou" didst "also" commit "fornication" etc.
An eminent place - literally, "an arched building." Such places were used as brothels, and so the word is used metaphorically for a place of idol-worship.
25Thou 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.
26Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
Egyptian idolatry, a worship of the powers of nature, was eminently sensual. The idolatry here spoken of is not so much that which Israel brought with them from Egypt, as the idolatry introduced in the time of Solomon and Rehoboam.
27Behold, 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.
Have diminished thine ordinary food - As a husband lessens the things which minister to the luxury of an unfaithful wife, so did the Lord cut Israel short in consequence of her unfaithfulness.
Daughters - The small cities. The Philistines have left a permanent record of their supremacy in the name of the holy land - Palestine. It was a special shame to be subjected to so small a power as that of Philistia (see Isaiah 14:29); but the very Philistines were ashamed of Judah's unfaithfulness, and were themselves truer to their false gods than Judah was to Yahweh.
28Thou 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.
Compare the marginal reference. Idolatry, spiritual adultery, invariably accompanied these unholy alliances, and brought with it disaster and ruin.
29Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
In the land ... - Probably used in the restricted sense of the low lands on the coast of the western sea; occupied by Phoenician colonies. The children of Israel were brought into contact at first with pagans residing within their own borders. Then they extended their contact to foreign nations, trading and forming alliances with Chaldaea, and in so doing were attracted by the idolatries of those with whom they carried on commerce. Some render it: "with the merchants' land, even with Chaldaea." Compare Ezekiel 17:4.
30How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;
31In 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;
Rather, didst build - didst make - wast not - scornest. In the marginal rendering, "thy daughters" must mean "thy smaller cities or villages."
32But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!
33They 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.
The picture is heightened by the contrast between one who as a prostitute receives hire for her shame, and one who as a wife is so utterly abandoned as to bestow her husband's goods to purchase her own dishonor. Compare 2 Kings 16:8.
34And 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.
35Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:
Judah is now represented as undergoing the punishment adjudged to an adulteress and murderess. Only in her utter destruction shall the wrath of the Lord, the jealous God, cease.
36Thus 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;
Filthiness - Or, brass, i. e., money, is lavished. The Hebrews generally speak of money as gold Isaiah 46:6, but brass coins were not unknown in the time of the Maccabees. Compare Matthew 10:9; Mark 12:41. Ezekiel may here have put brass for gold contemptuously. Compare Isaiah 1:22-25; Isaiah 48:10.
37Behold, 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.
38And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.
I will give thee blood in fury - Rather, "I will make thee a bloody sacrifice to fury and jealousy." By the Law of Moses, death was the penalty for murder Exodus 21:12, and for adultery (Leviticus 20:10; e. g., by stoning, Ezekiel 16:40). The circumstances of the siege of Jerusalem corresponded with the punishment of the adulteress; the company gathered around her were the surrounding armies, the fury of the jealous husband was the fury of the attacking army, the stripping off her ornaments was the rapine of the siege, the stoning the battering-rams, the bloody death being the slaughter in the battle.
39And 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.
40They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.
41And 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.
42So 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.
So ... rest - Or, "My fury shall not rest until thou art utterly ruined."
43Because 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.
Thou shalt not ... abominations - Others render it: "I will not do wickedly because of all thine etc." i. e., by allowing jerusalem to remain unpunished
44Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.
The Jews prided themselves on being under the special protection of Yahweh. In the downfall of their neighbors, they found only additional grounds for confidence in their own security. Ezekiel now in severe rebuke places them on an equality with Sodom and Samaria. Alike have been their sins, except that Judah has had the preeminence in guilt. Alike shall be their punishment.
45Thou 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.
46And 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.
The temple looked to the east. Samaria was on its left, and Sodom on its right hand.
47Yet 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.
48As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
49Behold, 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.
50And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
As I saw good - Or, "as soon as I saw it." Omit "good." God saw and punished. Compare Genesis 18:21.
51Neither 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.
Justified thy sisters - Made them appear just in comparison with thee.
52Thou 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.
53When 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:
A denunciation of hopeless ruin. When Sodom shall be rebuilt and shall flourish, when Samaria shall be again a mighty people, then, but not until then, shall Jerusalem be restored.
54That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.
Thou art a comfort unto them - The degradation of Judah would be a kind of consolation to others. Compare Isaiah 14.
55When 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.
56For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,
Was not mentioned by thy mouth - Was held in utter contempt.
57Before 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.
Thy reproach - Rather, the "reproach." In his march toward Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar attacked and overthrew Damascus and other Syrian towns. The Jews exulted, not foreseeing that this was but a precursor of that ruin which should discover their own wickedness.
58Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD.
59For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
60Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
The promise of restoration must almost have sounded as strangely as the threat of punishment, including as it did those whom Judah hated and despised Ezekiel 16:61. The covenant of restoration was not to be like the old covenant. Not "by thy covenant," but "by My covenant." The people's covenant was the pledge of obedience. That had been found ineffectual. But the covenant of God was by "promise" Galatians 3:17. See
61Then 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.
62And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:
63That 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.