The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 16

Eze 16:1

Eze 16: This whole chapter is a sad indictment on the whole of mankind, but especially on the nation of Israel, who were to be the ones that would crucify the Lord when he came (Mic 7:10; Mat 5:13; Heb 10:29.

"One of the most disturbing passages in the whole of Scripture. An horrible, graphic, description of an harlot which is Israel. However the way the harlot is described draws on language which Yahweh uses elsewhere to speak of the way that He has cared for Israel. Israel had taken that which Yahweh had given them and prostituted it with false gods: (a) cp Eze 16:10 (badgers' skins) with Exo 25:4; the badger skin mentioned here is only found elsewhere in Scripture in the coverings of the tabernacle; (b) cp Eze 16:11 (chain on thy neck) with Song 1:10; (c) cp Eze 16:13 (beautiful) with Song 6:4; (d) cp Eze 16:14 (comeliness) with Song 1:5.

"The bride of the Song of Songs provides a description of a beautiful woman, beautiful because of the provision that Yahweh has made for His bride. However, the use of the same language in Eze 16 shows that those wonderful gifts that Yahweh had given to Israel were taken and prostituted, being given to others. The blessings of Yahweh were used to 'finance' false worship so that Israel developed the way of thinking which presumed that the false gods had actually provided the blessings" (PF).

Eze 16:3

ANCESTRY AND BIRTH: Jerusalem was of course "born" in Canaan, but the nation of Israel was "born" in Egypt.

AMORITE... HITTITE: These two nations repr all the Canaanites: Gen 15:16; Amo 2:9; Jos 1:4. The children of Israel were doing the works of the Canaanites: cp Joh 8:44 ('your father... devil'). See other prophets: Hos 12:7; Isa 1:10.

HITTITE: Esau's wives, daughters of Heth: Gen 26:46.

Eze 16:4

CORD: Umbilical cord. Jerusalem maintained contact with and gained nourishment from her heathen "mother".

NOR WERE YOU RUBBED WITH SALT OR WRAPPED IN CLOTHS: The commonest acts of parental regard. Salting and swaddling were customary practices for the care of newborns. Salting was to firm the skin and contract the pores. By "swaddling" was meant the tight binding of arms and legs to the body for up to forty days, to insure their future straightness.

Eze 16:5

V 5: True of literal city in its beginnings, but not true of Jewish nation.

Eze 16:6

Vv 6,8: Two "passings by": 1st, to preserve and increase, in Egypt, and 2nd, to choose and "marry" at Sinai.

AND SAW YOU: Cp Exo 3:7.

Eze 16:7

See Gen 22:17; Deu 1:9,10.

BEAUTIFUL... NAKED AND BARE: Naturally beautiful, but poor and destitute, with no means of support.

Eze 16:8

I SPREAD THE CORNER OF MY GARMENT OVER YOU: As Boaz with Ruth: Rth 3:9; Deu 22:30; 27:20.

AND ENTERED INTO A COVENANT WITH YOU: Israel is wife of covenant (Mal 2:14), being purified (Est 2:12; Isa 54:1; Hos 2:2).

"This sets out a clear and irrevocable picture of just what God has done for mankind. He has, regardless of the great rift which is between Him and us because of sin, nevertheless come so close to us, through the work of Jesus (which applies in all generations...); here He describes his closeness to His people by language of the closest type of relationship we as human beings understand. Let us remember this close bond we have -- entirely the Father's doing -- and behave in such a way as to respect it, even as Israel didn't" (PC).

Eze 16:10

The coverings of the tabernacle: Exo 25:5. The "badgers' skins" -- which were a covering in the tabernacle -- demonstrates that God's care for Israel was to be seen not only in the provision of material things but also in the provision of a place for worship -- and, by implication, a system of worship. Do we view the provision of God only in material things? Or do we ever thank God for His provision of the "house of God", the ecclesia?

LEATHER: Heb "tachashim"; elsewhere translated "sea cows" (NIV), but may perhaps ref porpoises or dolphins (see Exo 26:14n).

Eze 16:11

Esp ref Israel in time of Solomon: 2Ch 9:22-23. Also ref wealth brought out of Egypt: Psa 105:37.

Eze 16:15

The fame of your beauty and wealth brought suitors from afar.

Eze 16:17

MALE IDOLS: AV mg: "images of a male". Phallic symbols; idols of Baal-worship.

Eze 16:20

// 2Ki 21:3-6.

Eze 16:24

A LOFTY SHRINE: A vaulted chamber, or "lofty place" (RV). The Latin is "fornix", from whence is derived the word "fornication".

Eze 16:26

In whom did Judah trust? In the Egyptians, who could not save her from Babylon!

LUSTFUL: "Great of flesh" (KJV). Fleshly, lustful, gross: cp Eze 23:20.

Eze 16:37

ALL YOUR LOVERS: Many lovers: Judah could not be faithful, even to one Gentile "lover".

Eze 16:38

Under LM, a harlot in a priest's house was burned (Lev 21:9). An adulteress was stoned (Lev 20:10). Likewise, a child-murderer (Lev 20:2).

Eze 16:40

STONES: The punishment of individuals for such sins as idolatry, adultery, and the sacrifice of children.

SWORDS: The punishment for the entire apostate city (Deu 13:15).

Eze 16:43

God, as the Father, will not encourage the harlotry of His daughter (Lev 19:29).

Eze 16:44

Vv 44-59: Sodom and Samaria: this "family relationship" pertains to cities, not to peoples. The sinfulness of Sodom (Deu 32:32; Isa 1:10; 3:9; Jer 23:14). Its sudden destruction (Deu 29:23; Isa 1:9; 13:19; Jer 49:18; 50:14; Amo 4:11; Zep 2:9).

Eze 16:46

AV has "left hand" and "right hand", whereas NIV has "north" and "south": Jerusalem is pictured as facing eastward, with Samaria to the north, and Sodom to the south.

YOUNGER SISTER: This phrase is borrowed from Song 8:8 (cp Eze 16:1n). There was no instruction from the one to the other, no learning passed along. Instead of providing a good example, Samaria had gone into captivity to Assyria; Judah had not even learned from seeing the Northern kingdom being taken into captivity.

SODOM: Jerusalem is compared to Sodom in Isa 1:9,10.

Eze 16:49

"It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:28,29). The sins of Sodom are plainly written in the scriptural record: they include sexual sins and perversions, it is true. But also -- as may be seen here -- they included pride and patriotism; unimaginable luxuries; leisure time for frivolities; and "disobedience to parents" (cp 2Ti 3:2).

THEY DID NOT HELP THE POOR AND NEEDY: Finally, there was malnutrition and starvation in a land of plenty -- where many possessed the means to alleviate the sufferings.

If any of this sounds a bit familiar to western ears, then surely it is no accident!

Eze 16:52

God speaking to Jerusalem: Samaria and Sodom had less advantage than you, and yet you sinned much more greatly!

Eze 16:53

The people of Sodom suffered the vengeance of eternal fire (Jud 1:7; cp Lam 4:6). But the land and the site of Sodom will be reborn and repopulated in the Kingdom Age -- when the Dead Sea will be healed (Eze 47:8-10; cp Zec 14:8). Cp Mat 11:24: "But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." [Xdn 29:64; 40:498; 64:263; Ber 23:459]

Eze 16:60

A happy conclusion: God is married again to His "wife": Jer 3:14; Hos 2:14-16. "No more the Canaanite" (Zec 14:21).

Eze 16:61

The "sisters" Sodom and Samaria are now made "daughters". Jerusalem is elevated to a "mother" (Isa 54:1; Gal 4:26,27). Ref to cities, not peoples.

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