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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
Joshua 24. 14).
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"
Le 26:11, 12;
5. when . . . mine--literally, "under Me," that is, subject to Me as
her lawful husband.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
21. calledst to remembrance--"didst repeat"
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.--
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.
24. with chariots--or, "with armaments"; so the Septuagint; "axes"
[MAURER]; or, joining it with "wagons,"
translate, "with scythe-armed wagons," or "chariots"
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.
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,
that thou shalt crunch the very shreds of it; that is, there shall be
no evil left which thou shalt not taste.
36-44. A summing up of the sins of the two sisters, especially those
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
41. bed--divan. While men reclined at table, women sat, as it seemed
indelicate for them to lie down
42. Sabeans--Not content with the princely, handsome Assyrians, the
sisters brought to themselves the rude robber hordes of Sabeans
The Keri, or Margin, reads "drunkards."
43. Will they, &c.--Is it possible that paramours will desire any longer to commit whoredoms with so worn-out an old adulteress?