Ezekiel 16



The section on which we now enter, with its companion picture in ch. 23.,

forms the most terrible, one might almost say the most repellent, part of

Ezekiel’s prophetic utterances. We have, as it were, his story of the harlot’s

progress, his biography of the Messalina of the nations. We shudder as we

read it, just as we shudder in reading the sixth satire of Juvenal. The

prophet speaks, like the satirist, of things which we have learnt, mainly

under the teaching of Christian purity, to veil in a reticent reserve, with a

Lucretian and Dante-like vividness. The nearest parallel, indeed, which

literature presents to it is found in the ‘Epistola ad Florentinos’ of the latter

poet. We need to remember, as we read it, that his standard was not ours,

that those for whom he wrote had done or witnessed the things which he

describes, that there was in them no nerve of pudicity to shock. (Surely in

our day, we also have reached this shameful level, based on our television

material, movie and theater plots, our language and our perverted mores!

CY – 2014)  He did not write virginibus puerisque, but for men to whom the

whole imagery was a familiar thing. It is obvious, however, that the interpreter

lives under other conditions than the prophet, and cannot always follow him in

the minuteness of his descriptions.  The thought that underlies Ezekiel’s parable,

that Israel was the bride of Jehovah, and that her sin was that of the adulterous

wife, was sufficiently familiar. Isaiah 1:21) speaks of the “faithful city that had

become a harlot.” Jeremiah 2:2 had represented Jehovah as remembering

“the kindness of her youth, the love of her espousals.” What

is characteristic of Ezekiel’s treatment of that image is that he does not

recognize any period in which Israel had been as a faithful wife. But even

here he had a forerunner in Hosea, who, in order that his own life might be

itself a parable, was ordered to take to himself “a wife of whoredom,” one,

i.e., whose character was tainted before her marriage (Hosea 1:2).

Ezekiel would seem to have dwelt upon that thought, and to have

expanded it into the terrible history that follows.


1 “Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,  2 Son of man, cause

Jerusalem to know her abominations,  3 And 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.”  Thy birth and thy nativity, etc.

A prosaic literalism has seen in Ezekiel’s language the assertion of an ethnological fact.

“The Jebusite city,” the prophet is supposed to say,” was never really of pure

Israelite descent. Its people are descended from Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites,

and are tainted, as by a law of heredity, with the vices of their forefathers.”

So taken, the passage would remind us of the scorn with which Dante (ut supra)

speaks of the cruel and base herd of Fiesole, who corrupted the once noble stock

of the inhabitants of Florence (so also ‘Inf.,’ 15:62). Rightly understood, it is

believed that Ezekiel’s words imply the very opposite of this. As Isaiah

(Isaiah 1:10) had spoken of “the rulers of Sodom, and the people of

Gomorrah;” as Deuteronomy 32:32 had spoken of the vine of Israel

becoming as “the vine of Sodom;” as our Lord speaks of the Jews of His

time as not being “the children of Abraham” (John 8:39); so Ezekiel,

using the strongest form of Eastern vituperation, taunts the people of

Jerusalem with acting as if they were descended, not from Abraham, Isaac,

and Jacob, but from the earlier heathen inhabitants of what was afterwards

the land of Israel. It is not necessary to enter into a history of the three

nations whom he names. Briefly, the Canaanites represented the dwellers in

the lowland country west of the valley of the Jordan — the plains of

Philistia, Sharon, Esdraelon, and Phoenicia; and their leading

representatives in Ezekiel’s time were the cities of Tyre and Zidon. The

Amorites were people of the mountains, at first, west of the Jordan, on the

heights over the Dead Sea and as far as Hebron, but afterwards, under

Sihon, on the high tablelands east of the Jordan. The Hittites, on whose

history much light has been thrown by recent Egyptian and other

discoveries, appear first in the history of the purchase of the cave of

Macphelab, at Kirjath-arba, or Hebron, and that history implies commerce

and culture. Esau’s marriage with the daughters of two Hittite chiefs

implies, perhaps, a recognition of their value as allies (Genesis 26:34).

They are always numbered with the other six nations, whom the Israelites

were to conquer or expel (generally in conjunction with the Canaanites and

Amorites as the three first, though not always in the same order,

Exodus 3:8; 13:5; 33:2; 34:11-16). And this fact obviously determined

Ezekiel’s choice. In the later historical books they appear but seldom. One

Hittite captain, Uriah, occupies a high position in David’s army (II Samjuel 11:3).

The kings of the Hittites trade with Solomon, and give their daughters to him in

marriage (I Kings 10:29). They meet us for the last time as possible allies of the

kings of Judah II Kings 7:6), and in the list of the older nations in Ezra 9:1 and

Nehemiah 9:8. Then they disappear from the page of history till the discovery and

decipherment of Egyptian records in our own time shows them to have been among

the mighty nations that have passed with their rulers into the Hades of departed




Leading Sinners to a Knowledge of Their Sins (v. 2)


“Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.”



of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were “abominations” in the sight of God.

David says of the wicked, “They are corrupt, they have done abominable

works(Psalm 14:1); “Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity.”

(Ibid. ch. 53:1).  And Jehovah said to the Jews, “Oh, do not this abominable

thing that I hate!”  (Jeremiah 44:4)  In its own nature sin “is an evil thing and

a bitter”  (Ibid. ch. 2:19).  It is a polluting thing, defiling the soul; it is a

degrading thing, dishonoring the soul. It is an infraction of the order of God’s

universe, and is inimical to its true interests. Sin is evil in every respect:


Ø      hateful to God,

Ø      hurtful to man,

Ø      darkening the heavens, and,

Ø      burdening the earth.



The inhabitants of Jerusalem at this time were sadly corrupted by sin, but

were so oblivious to the fact that the prophet is summoned to bring them to

a knowledge of their abominations. David did not recognize as his own the

foul crimes which he had committed when they were set before him

parabolically. It was not until the Prophet Nathan said unto him, “Thou art

the man!” that he saw himself to be the sinner he really was (II Samuel

12:1-14). The Pharisees in the time of our Lord’s ministry were really great

sinners, but they regarded themselves as the excellent of the earth. We are

quick to behold the mote that is in our brother’s eye, but we take no notice

of the beam that is in our own eye. This failure of sinners to recognize their

own sin may arise:


Ø      From the subtlety of sin. Sin approaches the soul in dangerous

disguises.  Were the vision of sin seen in a full light, undressed and

unpainted, it were impossible, while it so appeared, that any one

soul could be in love with it, but all would rather flee from it as

hideous and abominable. Wickedness veils itself in the garb of what

is harmless, respectable, or excellent. Avarice hides its hard and

hungry features under the name of economy. Harsh censoriousness

wears the cloak of honest plain speaking.


Ø      From the proneness of men to excuse sin in themselves. Until man is

brought to see and feel his sins aright, he is ready to palliate or to

extenuate them. Men are cruelly indulgent to themselves in this

respect. And in some cases pride and self-flattery blind men to

their own offences.




Duty Ezekiel was summoned in our text. And this is incumbent on the

Ministers of Jesus Christ.


Ø      For the conversion of the sinners. Without the knowledge of sin,

repentance and conversion are not to be thought of.  As a physician,

when he wishes to heal a wound thoroughly, must probe it to the

bottom, so a teacher, when he wishes to convert men thoroughly,

must first seek to bring them to a knowledge of their sins.


Ø      For the deliverance of their own souls. (Compare ch.3:17-21; 33:7-9.)


Ø      For the vindication of the Law and government of God. Sin is an

outrage of God’s holy Law, and it should be exhibited as such.

Persistence in sin calls down Divine punishment, and the sin should

be set forth unto men, that they will recognize the righteousness of

the punishment. If sin be not properly estimated by men, how shall

the Divine dealings in the punishment of it be justified unto them?

Therefore the ministers of Jesus Christ should endeavor to cause

sinners to know their sins.



Evil Parentage (v. 3)


The Jews boasted of their descent from Ahraham, but Ezekiel told them

that they were children of the Canaanite aborigines of their land, because it

was from those people that they drew their present character.


  • ORIGINAL PARENTAGE MAY BE LOST. A man may inherit the

throne of a great king, but if he has a mean and servile disposition, and

inherits no kingly nature, he is not a true son of his father. Titles and

estates may pass from men of high powers to imbeciles. The good name of

a worthy Christian man may be borne by a worthless descendant. We

cannot entail character. No man can be certain that his children will follow

his example, however good and attractive that may be, and when it is not

followed the true man is not represented by his children. Thus Christ would

not permit his contemporaries to call themselves Abraham’s children

(John 8:39-41). This does not mean that He disputed their genealogical

records. Apart from those prosaic tests of pure blood were the more

serious signs of APOSTASY and DISINHERITANCE.   In like manner,

it is possible to lose the status of Divine sonship, although by nature we are

all God’s children. It may even be surmised that Ezekiel had lost the

recollection of the true origin of the Israelites, and had come to regard

them as descendants of the Canaanites.



Amorites and Hittites by natural descent. But though on their entering

Canaan there was an express understanding that they were to drive out the

inhabitants of the land and form no league with them, they lolled in that

enterprise, leaving many of the original inhabitants in their midst, FROM


more or less influenced by our surroundings, and it is therefore of great

importance that we should not choose hurtful companions. But there is a way

of resisting a bad example when we cannot escape from its physical proximity.

To yield to it is a sign of weakness and sin. The result is to make us spiritually

The children of those we follow. The most vital inheritance is that of character.

Though the blood of Abraham flowed in the veins of THE APOSTATE JEWS,

 the spirit of Amorites and Hittites had possession of their minds and hearts.

Therefore the chief part of their lives was derived from the adopted

ancestors. A natural Christian parentage is of little account if a spiritual

parentage of sin has been accepted by the degenerate children.




DISGRACE.  Israel had been accustomed to despise the Canaanites.

To have to own a father and mother among those effete subject races was

a shame for the proud conquerors of Canaan. But a worse disgrace lay in the

abandonment of the lofty spirit of the patriarchs and the adoption of the

degraded character of the heathen. It is a shame when the children of

Christian parents sink into the condition of children of this world. They

know better; they have seen worthy examples; they have been trained

under good influences; they have received high privileges. We expect the

sow to wallow in the mire, but when a person of higher origin follows her

example he degrades himself far below the shameful state of the unclean




4 “And 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.”  As for thy nativity, etc. We ask, as we interpret the parable,

of what period in the history of Israel Ezekiel speaks. Abraham, Isaac, and

Jacob are ignored by him, and he starts from a time of misery and shame. It

is obvious that the only period which corresponds to this is that of the

sojourn of Israel as an oppressed and degraded people in the land of

Goshen. He paints, with a Dantesque minuteness, the picture of a child just

born, abandoned by its mother and neglected by all others from the very

moment of its birth. It lies unwashed and foul to look upon. No woman’s

care does for it the commonest offices of motherhood. For to supple, read,

with the Revised Version, to cleanse. The practice still met with in the East

of rubbing the newborn child with salt may have rested partly on sanitary

grounds (Jerome, in loc. Galen, ‘De San.,’ 1:7), partly on its symbolic

meaning (Numbers 18:19). When this was done, the child was wrapped in

swaddling clothes (Luke 2:7), but these too were wanting in the picture

which Ezekiel draws. The whole scene may have been painted from the life.

Such a birth may well have been witnessed during the march of the exiles,

when the brutality of their Chaldean drivers allowed no halt, and the child

was left to perish of neglect, and the thought may then have flashed across

Ezekiel’s mind that the pity which he felt for the deserted infant was a faint

shadow of that which Jehovah had felt for Israel in the degradation of their

heathen bondage.


5 “None 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 loathing of thy person, in

the day that thou wast born.”  For to the loathing of thy person, read, with the

Revised Version, for that thy person was abhorred.


6 “And 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.”  For polluted, read, with the Revised Version, weltering,

the primary meaning of the verb being that of stamping or treading, and omit

“when thou wast,” as weakening the condensed force of the original. The

marvel of that unlooked for pity is emphasized by the iteration of the word

of mercy, Live. The commentary of the Chaldee Targum is sufficiently

curious to be quoted: “And the memory of my covenant with your fathers

came into my mind, and I was revealed that I might redeem you, because it

was manifest to me that ye were afflicted in your bondage, and I said unto

you, ‘I will have compassion on you in the blood of circumcision,’ and I

said unto you, ‘I will redeem you by the blood of the Passover.’” The thought

underlying this strange interpretation is that blood might be the means of life

as well as of pollution, and in that thought there is a significance at once

poetical and profound, almost, as it were, anticipating the later thoughts that

the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin (I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5), that we

make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Ibid. ch.7:14). There is no reason,

however, for believing that such thoughts were present to the prophet’s mind.


7 “I 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.”  The tenses should be in the simple historic past: I caused;

thou didst increase and wax great; thou attainedst, and so on (Revised

Version). In the word “multiply” (Exodus 1:7) the figure passes into

historical reality. To excellent ornaments; Hebrew, to ornament of

ornaments. The word is commonly used of jewels, trinkets, and the like

(Ibid. ch.33:4; II Samuel 1:24; Isaiah 49:18). So Vulgate, mundus muliebris.

Here, however, the external adorning comes in vs. 10-11, and instead of the

plural we have the dual. Hitzig is, perhaps, right in taking the phrase to refer

to the beauty of the cheeks, which are themselves the ornaments of the golden

prime of youth. The Septuagint following either a different reading or paraphrasing,

gives, “to cities of cities.” The two clauses that follow point to the most obvious

signs of female puberty. For whereas, read, with the Revised Version, yet, etc., as

describing, not as the Authorized Version seems to do, a state which had

passed away, but one which still continued even when full-grown girlhood

would have demanded clothing.


8 “Now 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 swear unto thee, and entered into a

covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.”

The words point to the time of the love of the espousals of

Jeremiah 2:2, interpreting the parable, when Israel had grown to the

maturity of a nation’s life, and gave promise, in spite of previous

degradation, of capacities that would render it worthy of the love of the

Divine Bridegroom. I spread my skirt over thee. Garments were often

used as coverlets, and the act described was therefore, as in Ruth 3:9,

the received symbol of a completed marriage (compare Deuteronomy

22:30; 27:20). The historical fact represented by the symbol here was

probably the formal covenant between Jehovah and Israel (Exodus

24:6-7). It was then that He became her God, and that she became His people.


9 “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood

from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.”  The “washing” and “anointing”

were part of the customary preparations for the marriage union (Ruth 3:3;

Esther 2:12). The mention of blood receives its explanation, not in the facts of

v.6, but in the ceremonial rules of Leviticus 15:19-24


10 “I 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.”  Broidered work; the “raiment of needlework”

Psalm 45:14; Judges 5:30; Exodus 35:35; 38:23. The word meets us again

in ch..27:24, as among the imports of Tyre from Egypt. Curiously

enough, the Hebrew verb (rakam) has passed through Arabic into the

languages of Western Europe, and we have the Italian ricamare, the

Spanish recamare, the French recamer, for “embroidering.” Badgers’

skin. Elsewhere in the Old Testament the word is found only in the

Pentateuch (Exodus 26:14; 28:5; Numbers 4:6, 8, 10, et al.). It has

been commonly taken as meaning the skin of some animal — badger,

dolphin, or porpoise, or, as in the Revised Version, seal, which was used

for sandals. All the older versions, however, take it as a word of color, the

Septuagint giving ὑακίνθονhuakinthon - dark red; Aquila, Symmachus,

and Vulgate, ianthino (“violet”). Possibly the two meanings may coalesce, one

giving the material, the other the tint which met the eye. Fine linen. The byssus

of Egyptian manufacture (Exodus 25:4; 26:1; 39:3, et al.). Silk. The

Hebrew word (here and in v. 13) does not occur elsewhere. The word so

translated in Proverbs 31:22 is that which we find here and elsewhere

for “fine linen.” Silk, in the strict sense of the term, had its birthplace in

China, and there is no evidence that even the commerce of Tyre extended

so far; but the context points to some fine texture of the lawn or muslin

kind, like the Coan vestments of the Greeks. So the Septuagint gives

τριχαπτόνtrichapton --  as though it were made of fine hair; the Vulgate,

subtilia. It is significant that three out of the four articles specified are

prominent (as the references show) in the description of the tabernacle

and the priestly dress, in Exodus chapters 28 and 39. The dress of the

bride symbolized the ritual and cultus of Judaism.


11 “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy

hands, and a chain on thy neck.”  Ornaments. Same word as in v. 7, but here

taken in its more usual sense. (For bracelets, see ch. 23:42; Genesis 24:22, 30;

Numbers 31:50. For chain, Genesis 41:42).


12 “And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a

beautiful crown upon thine head.”  A jewel on thy forehead; better, with the

Revised Version, a ring upon thy nose. The word has the same meaning in

Genesis 24:47 (“earring” in the Authorized Version); Isaiah 3:21 (where the

Authorized Version gives “nose jewels”); Proverbs 11:22. Jerome,

however, notes (in loc.) that the Syrian women of his time wore pendants

or lockets that hung from the forehead to the nostrils. The crown, or

diadem (Septuagint, στέφανος καυχήσεωςstepharos kauchaeseos),

the thin circlet of gold confining the hair, completed the catalogue of

ornaments. The Chaldee Targum continues its spiritual interpretation:

“I gave the ark of my covenant to be among you, and the cloud of my

glory overshadowed you, and the angel of my presence led you in the way.”

And, if we assume, as we legitimately may assume, that Ezekiel, above all

others, the prophet of symbolism, did not fill up his picture with details which

were only meant to fill it up, this seems a not unfitting interpretation.


13 “Thus 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.” Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil. From the

dress of the bride we pass to her luxuries in the way of food. The things

named might, of course, be only chosen as the delicacies for which the land

of Israel was famous (Deuteronomy 32:13-14), which in the prophet’s

own time were in demand in the markets of Tyre (ch. 27:17).

Cakes of flour and honey were in common use in various forms of Greek

ritual, and are probably referred to in Jeremiah 44:19, but in that of the

Jews (Leviticus 2:11) honey takes its place, side by side with leaven, as

a thing forbidden. Thou didst grow into a kingdom. History crops out

through the parable, and points to the stage which it has now reached, i.e.

that of the magnificence of the kingdom under Solomon.



The Glory of Redemption (vs. 9-13)


Under the similitude of a wretched child cast off by its mother and picked

up by a passer by, Israel is shown to have been found by God in a miserable

condition and cared for and blessed by Him. This idea may be carried

further as a symbol of the redemption of the Church by Christ.



NEGLECT. Israel was in a miserable condition in Egypt when God had

pity on His people. But the spiritual state of souls in sin is more wretched

and forlorn.


    • It is a condition of pollution. Sinners lie in the defilement of their

own sinfulness, and their wretched plight is the direct consequence

of their own moral corruption.


    • It is a condition of neglect. Until God interfered, Israel in Egypt was

friendless. No kindred Semitic tribe cared or dared to rescue the nation

of slaves. No being came to save the world before God made bare

His arm.



GOD. The good Samaritan is a type of our great Father. There is no beauty

in sinful man to attract the attention of God. It is not our claim, but His

pity, that moves God to save the world. The love of Christ, not the worth

of man, brought our redemption. Pity — commiseration for the wretched

    lies at the root of the gospel. GOD IS LOVE and therefore He comes

to the miserable in supreme compassion.



washed away before the soul can be received into the privileges of the

family of God. Even this early process is preceded by God’s adoption of

the wretched castaway, and the cleansing is done by God Himself. It is as

when a miserable child of the street has been taken by a charitable person

into his own home. The child cannot make itself clean. But the first act of

the kind rescuer is to wash it. Christ cleanses from sin with His own blood.



poor wastling is not treated as a workhouse child or put to low drudgery.

She is clothed in purest apparel and decked with rarest ornaments. So the

prodigal is to wear the best robe and to have a ring on his hand (Luke 15:22).

God does not save grudgingly or by halves. He does not content Himself

with plucking the brand from the burning. He gives royally of His best to the

miserable sinners whom He has redeemed. The gospel promises GLORY as

well as GRACE!



RELATION WITH GOD. According to the richly illustrative picture of

Ezekiel, when the poor abandoned infant is grown up, her rescuer makes

her his bride. God is often regarded as the Husband of His people. But here

the picture is not of God marrying any human soul, but of His marrying the

most abandoned. This illustrates His marvelous condescension. At the

same time, it shows the supreme duty of fidelity to God on the part of the

Church that has been rescued from so dire a fate and then raised to so great

an honor.


14 “And 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.”  It was perfect, etc. (compare the phrase, “perfection of

beauty,” in Psalm 50:2; Lamentations 2:15, as applied to Jerusalem).

The prophet, in the words, my comeliness — majesty (Revised Version)

— lays stress on the fact that that “perfection” was itself the gift of God.


15 “But 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.”  We enter on the HISTORY OF THE

APOSTASY and  the root evil was that THE BRIDE OF JEHOVAH

HAD BEEN UNFAITHFUL to her Lord. She looked on

her glory as her own, and did not recognize that everything in it was the

gift of God (Hosea 2:8). The words obviously point to the policy which

Solomon had initiated, of alliances with the heathen and the consequent

adoption of their worship. This, as from the earliest days of Israel, was the

“whoredom” (Revised Version) of the unfaithful with (Exodus 34:15-16;

Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 31:16-18; Judges 2:17; Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20;

Hosea chapters 1 and 2). And it was, so to speak, a promiscuous whoredom.

Every passer by was admitted to her embraces, every nation that offered its

alliance had its worship recognized and adopted. In the closing words of

extremest scorn, the prophet adds, his it was. Jerusalem was, as I have said,

the Messalina of the nations.



Trust in Beauty (v. 15)





Ø      It is felt to be a pleasant endowment. The national beauty of Israel

could not but please the people. Bodily grace and mental gifts are

naturally valued by those who own them, for undoubtedly in

themselves they are good.


Ø      It is flattered with admiration. The beautiful bride is renowned (see

v. 14). This implies that her beauty was much spoken of. Such a fact

could not but be pleasant to one who loved admiration. But the

pleasure of receiving flattery is dangerous and deceptive. The person

admired is likely to attach too much weight to it.


Ø      It is seen to be a means of influence. There is power in beauty.

Admiration rules the admirer. The person who is fawned upon

by flattering neighbors seems to exercise a certain power over them.




  • The beauty is not an original possession. The beauty of the bride was

developed through the kind treatment of her rescuer. The gifts and

possessions of Israel were not won by her powers, but conferred by the

providence of God. Christian attainments are all endowments of Divine

grace. To trust these things to the neglect of Him from whom they come,

and even to claim them as original resources, is to lean upon a falsehood.

This must fail.


2. The beauty is fleeting. Nothing is so fragile. When it is most needed it

may be found to have departed. To trust it is to lose it (see ver. 39).

3. The beauty is feeble. Beauty is not strength. A gorgeously clad army

may suffer ignominious defeat in the day of war. Grace and attractiveness

in speech and bearing do not signify strength of character. The most

winning people may be the most helpless when energy and determination

are in requisition.





Ø      It must come from the abandonment of self-trust. Even though we are

flattered into believing great things of ourselves, taken at the very best,

human strength and goodness fail before the assaults of sin. We have to

learn that we are “miserable and blind and naked”  (Revelation 3:17),

and to give up the Pharisee’s boast for the publican’s only plea, “God be

merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13)  owning that “all our

righteousness is as filthy rags.”  (Isaiah 64:6)


Ø      The needed security will be found in Christ. He is strong to save. even

though He appears before us in the weakness of human suffering, and

with the shame of His cross. At first we may exclaim, “He hath no form

nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we

should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). But in the end we can believe the

promise, Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty” (Ibid. ch.33:17).

For if we begin by trusting Christ’s saving strength in this world of sin

and need, we shall afterwards behold His beauty and glory in the world

of light.


16 “And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places

with divers colors, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like

things shall not come, neither shall it be so.”  (For high places, see note on

ch. 6:6.) The words imply that the shrines upon them were decked with

hangings of many colored tapestry, presenting an appearance like that of a

Persian carpet, as in II Kings 23:7, of the image of the Asherah. Those hangings

were, as in Proverbs 7:16, the ornaments of the adulterous bed. The “high

places” are named first, as the earliest form of idolatry. The like things

shall not come. The words are obscure, and the text probably corrupt. As

they stand, they seem to say that the world would never again witness so

shameful an apostasy. The Vulgate, Sicut non est factum neque futurum

est; extends the comparison to the past. Possibly, though it is a strain upon

the grammar, the words may be rendered, “such things should not come,

should not be.”


17 “Thou 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,”  Images of men, etc.; Hebrew, as

falling in with the symbolism of the history, “male images.” The words point

to the teraphim, the penates, or household gods, of which we read in Genesis 31:19;

Judges 18:14; I Samuel 19:13; Hosea 3:4-5; and which, like the statues of Baal-peor,

 may have exhibited the phallic type of idolatry.


18 “And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou

hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.  19 My 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 savor: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD.”

Mine oil and mine incense. This, as afterwards in ch. 23:41, was the crowning

aggravation of the guilt. The very gifts of God, designed for his worship, were

prostituted to that of his rivals.  The “oil” is that of Exodus 30:23-25, perfumed

and set apart for sacred uses. The act of covering the idol was, as in v. 8, the

symbol of the marriage union. In the sweet savor we have the familiar phrase of

ch.6:13. The scene brought before us is that of a sacrificial feast, in which cakes

of flour, honey, and oil were eaten whilst incense was offered. So we have the

“adored liba” of Virgil, ‘AEneid,’ 7:109, or more fully in Tibullus, ‘Eleg.,’ 1:7,53-54,

the “thuria honores,” the “liba ... dulcia melle.” Thus it was, etc. As in v. 16, the

description seems to rouse an instinctive abhorrence in the prophet’s mind, which

finds utterance in this form: “Yes, it was even so.” The words are, however, taken

by the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Luther as opening the following verse: “And it

came to pass that.”


20 “Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou

hast born unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured.

Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter,  21 That thou hast slain  my children,

and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?”

The next stage of idolatry is that of Moloch worship, which never wholly ceased

as long as the monarchy of Judah lasted (II Kings 16:3; Psalm 106:37; Isaiah 57:5;

Jeremiah 7:32; 19:5; Micah 6:7; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2 [there would be a great

Population decline in the USA if this was practiced! – CY – 2014]). It will be

noticed that the words, “the fire,” are in italics, i.e. are not in the Hebrew,

the verb “to pass through” having acquired so technical a meaning that it

was enough without that addition.  This, as the closing words indicate, was

the crowning point. As though idolatry in itself was a small matter, it was

intensified by INFANTICIDE!  (America and the world will not escape

either over the issue of ABORTION! CY – 2014)


22 “And 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.”  Thou hast not remembered. The words gain

a fuller significance when we recollect those of Ezekiel’s master (Jeremiah 2:2).

The husband remembered “the love of her espousals;” the faithless wife forgot

from what a life of shame and misery she had then been rescued.


23 “And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee!

saith the LORD GOD”;) Woe unto thee, etc.! The interjectional parenthesis, half

anathema and half lamentation, looks forward rather than backward. Up to

this point Ezekiel had dwelt on the forms of idolatry which were

indigenous to Canaan and the nations in immediate contact with it. Now he

enters on the later forms of evil which had been adopted from more distant

nations. We pass from the time of Solomon to that of Ahaz and Manasseh.


24 “That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made

thee an high place in every street.  25 Thou 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.”

An eminent place; lofty (Revised Version); but the word strictly points to the form

of a vault, with the added meaning, as in the Septuagint, οἵκημα πορνικόν -

oikaema pornikon -  and the Vulgate, lupanar, of its being used for

prostitution. It is, at hast, a curious fact that the Latin fornicari and its

derivatives, take their start from the fornices, the vaults or cells which were

the haunts of the harlots of Rome. Looking to the fact that all the worst

forms of sensual evil came to Rome from the East, and specially from Syria


Jampridem in Tiberim Syrus defluxit Orontes

(Juv., ‘Sat.’, 3:62)


it seems probable that the practice was a survival of the custom to

which Ezekiel refers. As in the Mylitta worship at Babylon (Herod., 1:262;

Bar., 6:43), and that of Aphrodite at Corinth, prostitution assumed a quasi-

religious character, and the harlot sat in a small cell, or chapel, inviting the

passers by, and treating her hire as, in part, an offering to the goddess

whom she served. Such chapels of prostitution were to be found naturally

in the “high places” of Judah (the word, however, is not that commonly so

translated), and in the crossways of intersecting roads. To such a harlot

Ezekiel compares the daughter of Judah, and proceeds to paint her life with

a terrible minuteness, even to the very attitude that invited to sin.


26 “Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy

neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to

provoke me to anger.”  With the Egyptians. The words point to political and

commercial alliances, in themselves a whoredom (Isaiah 23:17; Nahum 3:4),

such as Zedekiah, like some of his predecessors, had trusted in, as well as to

the adoption of Egyptian worship, such as we have seen in ch.8:10, the one

leading naturally to the other. The words, great of flesh, may point, as we

interpret the parable, to the supposed strength of the stout and stalwart

soldiers, the chariots and horses of the Egyptians, but possibly also may be

a euphemism for the mere animal vigor which stimulated passion.


27 “Behold, 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. The husband

was bound to provide his wife with food and raiment (Exodus 21:10). Here

his first discipline for the unfaithful wife is to place her on a short

allowance. Jehovah, to interpret the parable, had placed Israel under the

discipline of famine and other visitations that involved a loss of wealth and

power. Hosea 2:9-10 supplies a striking parallel. The daughters of the

Philistines. So in v. 57. The phrase, like “the daughter of Zion,”

indicates the Philistine cities. These had been, from the days of Samuel to

those of Ahaz (II Chronicles 28:18), among the most persistent enemies

of Judah (compare Amos 1:6; 3:9; Joel 3:4; Isaiah 9:12; 14:29). In the

words, were ashamed of thy lewd way, the prophet points, as his master

had done (Jeremiah 2:10-11), to the fact that other nations had at least

been faithful to their inherited religion, while Judah had forsaken hers.


28 “Thou 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.”  With the Assyrians. Here also the words include

political alliances like that of Ahaz with Tiglath-Pileser (II Kings 16:7), as well

as the adoption of idolatrous worship. The latter probably followed under

Ahaz as a consequence of the former, and afterwards spread through the

influence of the Assyrian colonists — each nation with its own deities — in

Samaria (II Kings 17:24). The culture of the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 44:17),

i.e. of the Assyrian Ishtar, may have had this origin.  Yet couldest not be satisfied.

One is reminded once more of Juvenal (‘Sat.,’ 6:130).



29 “Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of

Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.”

In the land of Canaan, etc. The words at first seem to give

the nearest and furthest points of the intercourse of Israel with foreign

nations. I incline to take Canaan in its secondary sense as “the land of traffick,”

Chaldea being in apposition with it (compare Isaiah 23:8; Hosea 12:7;

Zephaniah 1:11, for a like use of the Hebrew word). Chaldea thus

comes in its right place as closing the list of the nations with whom the

harlot city had been unfaithful.


30 “How weak is thine heart, saith the LORD GOD, seeing thou doest

all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;”

The weakness is that expressed in the Latin impotens libidinis, with no

strength to resist the impulses of desire. The word imperious (perhaps masterful

would be better) is that of one who is subject to no outward control. One is

reminded of Dante on Semimlnis (‘Inf.,’ 5:56). The strange renderings of the

Septuagint (τὶ διαθῶ τὴυ θυγατέρα σουti diatho taen thugatera sou

how weak is your heart) and the Vulgate (in quo mundabo cor tuum) are

difficult to account for, but probably indicate that the present text is corrupt. 



A Weak Heart (v. 30)


  • THE NATURE OF A WEAK HEART. It has certain characteristics.


Ø      Coldness of affection. The first ardor of love is forgotten, and has given

place to a Laodicean indifference (Revelation 3:14-22).  It cannot be said

that the soul has lost all interest in God. But the old passion has faded

and left only the  dull embers of a listless devotion.


Ø      Lack of energy. The weak heart beats feebly, and the person who is

afflicted with it does not feel equal to any great exertions. There are

souls in this condition of torpor.


Ø      Readiness to give way. The weak heart may be overstrained; its

action may be depressed; or it may be excited to unhealthy

palpitation. The soul that is similarly affected lacks stability.




Ø      Yielding to evil influences. If the heart were true to God, temptation

would be harmless. It is the feeble soul that first falls. When a little fear

depresses us, and a little worldly joy distracts from the love of God, the

heart cannot be strong in its affection. The stout heart will stand out

bravely against the agonies of martyrdom. Thus with the Christian, sin

is always a sign of weakness in the first instance.


Ø      Failure in service. Apparent failure may indicate no weakness in God’s

true servant. The best seed sown by the best sower will fail of fruitfulness

if it fall by the wayside or on stony ground. Real failure is in ourselves —

it is the giving up of earnest, faithful endeavor. This only comes from a

weakness of love. When the heart beats strong and true to God, the

service of the life does not flag.


Ø      Inability to repent. The true servant of God is sometimes found in sin.

But he grieves over it, and seeks forgiveness with tears of anguish.

When he despairs of recovery or will not exert himself to repent,

he proves that his love is cold and his heart feeble.


  • THE SINFULNESS OF A WEAK HEART. We have every reason to

love God with all our heart, and with a warmth and decision of character

that nothing can shake, for we are embraced by his infinite love. The strong

heart of God has cared for us in trouble and redeemed us in sin, and we can

only measure his love by the preciousness of the gift of his Son. In view of

the great love of Christ, proved to us by his death and Passion, any love

short of the warmest and strongest sinews ingratitude on our part. Note,

further, that weakness of heart is sinful on certain definite grounds.


Ø      God expects love in the heart, not merely obedience in the life.


Ø      God is not satisfied with measured devotion; He seeks a

whole-hearted love.


Ø      Sin in the heart leads to sin in the life; for “out of it are the issues of

life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)




Ø      It provokes the wrath of God. It is an insult to the wonderful love of

God that we should receive it with a half-hearted response. Christ says to

all Laodiceans, “I would thou wert either cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15).

In some respects weak-hearted devotion is worse than ardent enmity;

for it confesses an obligation it does not satisfy.


Ø      It leads to death. The weak heart will become the heart of stone

(ch.11:19). This degeneracy cannot stay in its present stage. When

love to Christ cools, it is on its way to EXTINCTION!


31 “In 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; 32 But as a wife that committeth adultery,

which taketh strangers instead of her husband!  33 They 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.  34 And 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.” In that, etc. It is better to take the words as beginning

a fresh sentence: “when thou didst build,” etc. The historical survey of the harlot’s

progress is brought to a close, and the prophet points with bitter scorn to

what aggravated its degradation. Other nations, like Tyre and Zidon, had

risen to prosperity and eminence through their intercourse with foreigners.

To Judah it had brought only subjection and the payment of tribute. She

had given gifts to all her lovers, instead of receiving from them the rewards

of her shame. She was as the adulterous wife who forsakes her husband,

and gives what belonged to him to strangers. The conduct of Ahaz in

stripping the Temple of its gold and silver to pay tribute to Assyria (II Kings 16:8),

gives an apt illustration of what the prophet means (compare Hosea 12:1; Isaiah 30:6).



The Shameful Sin of Apostasy (v. 32)


Apostasy is repeatedly compared to adultery by the Old Testament prophets, but the

comparison is nowhere so full and powerful and even appalling as in this long chapter

of Ezekiel, which consists in an elaborate indictment of Israel on that terrible charge.

A mealy mouthed modern fastidiousness resents this style of describing sin as though

to name it were more shameful than to commit it, for the fact of apostasy from God

is by no means excluded when the old name for it is condemned as too coarse for

polite society. It may be well for us to brace up our nerves to endure the strong

words on the sin of unfaithfulness to God which the inspired messengers of Jehovah

felt themselves impelled to utter. In what respects, then, may apostasy be compared




AND HIS PEOPLE. That relation has been described with graphic pictures

in the preceding verses. God had chosen Israel in her forlorn condition as a

miserable castaway child, reared her in kindness, and then adorned her

with splendor and taken her home to Himself as his bride. In like manner,

all God’s people have been first found by Him, and then brought into the

closest bonds of union with Himself. Such a union with God is like

marriage, because it implies


Ø      love;

Ø      close fellowship;

Ø      a sacred and indissoluble tie.



are not at liberty to leave Him whenever they choose.


Ø      Love should bind them. There is no such thing as innocent

“free love”under any circumstances; for love always implies

obligations.  Its bonds may be soft and silken, but they are strong

and sacred. God’s love to us, accepted by us, carries with it a duty



Ø      The pledges of faith must ever bind God’s people to the duty of

cleaving to Him (Deuteronomy 10:20).  When we accept the

blessings of the gospel we enter into a covenant relation like

that of marriage vows.



people do not forsake Him from weariness or without motive. But some

fatal fascination lures the heart of the foolish wife from her true husband.

In the case of Israel this was the sensuous and florid idolatry of the

Canaanites, with its coarse, cruel, lustful charms. Anything that draws us

from God by counter attractions is an “idol of the heart.” Money, pleasure,

power, success, may thus deceive and destroy. Yet a prior condition of

unfaithfulness is the failing of love to God. “How weak is thine heart!”


  • IT IS A GREAT SIN. Adultery is confessedly a black and awful sin,

standing side by side with murder, as a horror of great wickedness. SO

according to the Hebrew prophets, IS UNFAITHFULNESS TO GOD!

As we are not free to forsake Him who has purchased us at the great cost

of His own Son, and to whom we are doubly bound by the ties of our own

vows, to “change our mind” in this matter and fling up our religion is not a

light affair of private convenience. (“For pass over the isles of Chittim,

and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there

be such a thing.  Hath a nation changed her gods, which are yet no gods?

But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.”

(Jeremiah 2:10-11).  In the sight of God it is adultery.



so shameful as that of adultery, and none brings in its train such heartrending



Ø      It is shameful to be unfaithful to God; for it outrages the deepest

instincts of the soul and violates the secret sanctuary of life.


Ø      It is certainly a source of bitter sorrow, if not now, YET

HEREAFTER,  for it means BANISHMENT from

THE HOME OF HEAVEN,  with the pangs of remorse to

gnaw like a worm, long after the short pleasures of sin have sunk

to ashes.


35 “Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:”  From the task of painting

the guilt of Judah the prophet proceeds to that of denouncing its punishment.


36 “Thus 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;” Thy filthiness; literally,

thy brass; probably as alluding to the tribute referred to in the previous verses,

“brass” being taken as used scornfully for money generally. Possibly, however,

as in Jeremiah 6:28, the word stands for the symbol of shame and vileness

(compare our brazen faced), and so justifies the rendering of the Authorized Version

And Revised Version. Thy nakedness discovered; i.e. interpreting the parable,

the intercourse of Judah with foreign nations had simply exposed the points

that were moot open to attack (Genesis 42:9). By the blood of thy

children. The words may refer specially to the Moloch sacrifices of v. 21,

but may also include the lavish waste of life as well as treasure which

had been the consequence of the foreign alliances. The harlot city is

indicated as being also a murderess.


37 “Behold, 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.” I will gather all thy lovers, etc. Interpreting the parable, the

“lovers” are the nations with which Judah had allied herself, and whose

religion she had adopted. In that confederacy of Moabites, Ammonites,

Syrians, Philistines, Edomites and Chaldeans there should be small

difference between those whom she had loved and those whom she had

hated. All alike would exult in her shame and her fall (compare Psalm

137:7; II Kings 24:2).


38 “And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed

blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.”

The bloodshed may refer, as in v. 36, to the Moloch sacrifices, or may include

also other crimes, assassinations and judicial murders (Jeremiah 2:34). Strictly

speaking, the punishment of the adulteress was death by stoning (Leviticus 20:2,10;

Deuteronomy 21:21; 22:21; John 8:5). Did Ezekiel think of the stones cast against

The city from the catapult engines of the Chahleans as a literal counterpart of

that punishment? In the last clause read, with the Revised Version, I will

bring upon thee the blood of fury and jealousy; sc. the death which was

inflicted by the indignation of Jehovah as the Husband against whom Judah

had sinned.


39 “And 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.”  (For eminent place and high place,

see notes on v. 24.)  These the Chaldean conqueror treated as local sanctuaries,

and laid them waste. The clothes and the jewels are, of course, all outward tokens

of stateliness and prosperity. The (or a) holy city, the perfection of beauty,

should be as “some forlorn and desperate castaway” (compare Lamentations

1:1-10 for a companion picture).


40 “They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall

stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.”

The punishment of stoning was, as a rule, inflicted by the

“congregation” (Numbers 15:36), or by the men of the city

(Leviticus 20:2). Other forms of punishement for impurity were those

of the sword and burning, as in Leviticus 20:14; 21:9. The thrusting

through (better, hewing; the word is not found elsewhere) probably points

to mutilation after death, as in the case of Agog (I Samuel 15:33:

compare Judges 19:29; Daniel 2:5; 3:29). in this case the “congregation” or

“company” is the army of the Chaldeans, and each form of punishment has

its counterpart in the various agencies which they employed for the punishment

of the city.


41 “And 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.” They shall burn thine houses with fire, etc. (compare II Kings 25:9

and Jeremiah 52:13, for the fulfillment of the prediction).  The women stand for

the “cities” which looked on, with awe or exultation, at the destruction of the guilty.

Possibly, however, the words may include a literal sense, as in Lamentations 2:10.


42 “So 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 will I make my fury, etc.; read, with the Revised Version,

will satisfy. The words are not primarily words of comfort. They speak of

the satisfaction of the jealous husband’s righteous anger, and therefore of a

completed punishment. And yet that thought was, as the sequel shows

(vs. 53, 60-63), the beginning of hope for the future, as the prophet

thought of his people. For here the forms of punishment were not final The

daughter of Zion survived the stoning, the sword, and the burning. And so,

when wrath had done its work of retribution, it might become corrective

and purgatorial. The injured husband, in the bold anthropomorphic

language of the parable, would be no more angry. The Lord God of Israel

would remember His covenant, and forgive.



How God’s Anger Ceases (v. 42)



irascible person is provoked to wrath by slight causes; but inasmuch as his

anger springs chiefly from his own fiery disposition, the cooling of passion

allays the rage of wrath, even though circumstances remain unchanged. But

God is “slow to anger” (Psalm 103:8); He is not wrathful by nature,

because IN ESSENCE, HE IS LOVE!   But the anger which is slow to begin

is the more deep and terrible, as it does not arise without adequate reason.

Further, a weak person may tire of his anger, even though the cause of it

remains unchanged. An explosion of wrath exhausts him. He has not the

energy for sustained anger. The fire simply burns out. But this cannot be

the case with the great, the unexhaustible nature of God. God is ever the

same, always true, just, active. Therefore so long as the cause for anger is

unchanged, the anger too must remain. “God is angry with the wicked

every day (Psalm 7:11). As long as men continue in sin, so long must

God abide in wrath. An eternity of sin must, be accompanied by an

eternity of Divine anger.



This appears to be the terrible goal of the text. Gracious as it reads in

word, the purport of it is most fearful. It stands between passages of

denunciation and condemnation; it cannot describe a kindly cessation of

wrath. The anger of God will burn till it has nothing further to consume.

Then His fury will rest. Thus it was with Israel nationally. The people were

swept away, consumed off the land. Only a “remnant” was spared, a mere

stump of the old tree, from which new growths could sprout. We see no

more of God’s anger against a man when he has been killed. If nothing

were interposed for the saving of his soul, the natural consequence of sin

run out to its extremity would be DESTRUCTION!  Then God would cease

to be angry with the sinner, for the plain reason that there would be no sinner

left against whom His wrath would be called forth.



another way by which the anger of God may be allayed. He is not desirous

to see His children destroyed, for He is merciful and gracious. When sin is

pardoned, God’s fury towards the sinner rests and His jealousy departs.

But this pardon does not depend only on the will of God, or He would

forgive all His children.


Ø      It is dependent on repentance. So long as the soul persists in

impenitence, God’s anger cannot cease to burn. It is not simply a

question of the amount and guilt of the sin which first provoked

God’s wrath. The continued impenitence is virtually a prolongation

of the guilt. But when the sinner truly repents, God’s anger abates.


Ø      It is also dependent on CHRIST’S ATONEMENT!   We are able

to read the words of Ezekiel with a more hopeful meaning than that

which the prophet seems to have put upon them, because “we have

an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is

the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the

sins of the whole world” (I John 2:1-2). We read that “the mercy of

the Lord eudureth forever,” but never that the anger of the Lord

endureth forever. On the contrary, “He will not always chide, neither

will He keep His anger forever” (Psalm 103:9).  Still, God only ceases

to be angry either because sin destroys the sinner or because God

destroys the sin.


43 “Because 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.” Because thou hast not remembered

(compare Jeremiah 2:2). There is, so to speak, a certain dawn of tenderness in the

new form of reproach, as compared with the sternness of what had gone before,

and this in itself implies the pity which is the ground of hope. Fretted. Ezra

(Ezra 5:12) uses the same word, there rendered “provoke.” Had

Ezekiel’s use of it stamped it as the right word for confession? Thou shalt

not commit, etc. The Vulgate follows a reading which gives, “I have not

done according to thy lewdness,” etc.; i.e. the guilt had deserved a greater

punishment. The Revised Version margin gives, “Hast then not

committed,” etc.? The word for “lewdness” (“lewd way” in v. 27) is

specially characteristic of Ezekiel, who uses it eleven times. Elsewhere it is

translated “wickedness” (Leviticus 18:17, et al.), “lewdness” in Judges 20:6;

Jeremiah 13:27. It conveys always the sense of a guilt that revolts and shocks us.



Remembering the Days of Youth (v. 43)



that Israel has not done so is remarked on as something strange and

unbecoming. Memory is a marvelous possession at which the materialist

stumbles, for it involves that mystery, personal identity. We can not merely

recall the scenes of bygone years, but, what is more wonderful, we can

detect the connecting link of personality that runs through those scenes.

Each one of us can say, “I was there in that dreamlike past.” Now, while all

memory thus recalls the personal past, the memory of our early days does

this with peculiar vividness. As time runs out while intermediate scenes are

but faintly impressed on the mind and tend to fade off rapidly, the early

days remain stamped upon the memory with indelible portraiture. Thus the

old man looking across the near past with growing forgetfulness, is able to

call up the most vivid recollections of his childhood, as one may look

across a valley that lies wrapped in mist, and see the mountains in the far

distance rising beyond it sharp and clear. Whatever else we forget, it is

most unnatural not to remember the days of our youth.  (Thus we should,

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth while the evil

days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have

no pleasure in them.”  - Ecclesiastes 12:1 – At 70 years of age, I am

very  thankful to have that memory! – CY – 2014)


“Sweet memory, wafted by thy gentle gale,

Oft up the stream of time I turn my sail

To view the fairy haunts of long lost hours,

Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers.”




use in simply lamenting lost happy days, especially as we are likely to view

them in the delusive glamour of a fond affection. There can be little good in

exclaiming, with Coleridge —


“When I was young!

When I was young! Ah, woeful when!”


But there is a wise and helpful use of the memories of youth.


Ø      In thankfulness. It was the sin and shame of Israel that she forsook

her Deliverer, not remembering those days of her youth when He

had found her forlorn and destitute, and had saved her from

destruction. She forgot the deliverance from Egypt.  (Deuteronomy

6:12).  We have had many mercies from our youth up. It

is right to remember them with thankfulness.


Ø      In warning. Remembering Egypt should have kept Israel from the

danger of Babylon. Forgetfulness of the old bondage led to a heedless

encounter with the new captivity. It is well to remember the sad scenes

of youth. Some of these may be burnt into the memory beyond hope of

forgetfulness. “If cutting off this hand,” said a great speaker, holding out

his right hand, “would blot out all memories of my misspent youth, I

would gladly lose it.” But He who orders our lives knows that even these

terrible memories may be converted into helpful warnings for the future.

Certainly it would be far better if we had not done the deeds which

created such memories and necessitated such warnings.  (I certainly

remember them in my life and I too pray “Remember not the sins

of my youth” – CY – 2014)


Ø      In humility. Israel’s recollection of her old abject condition should

humble her. Proud in her later prosperity, she scorned to remember the

pit from which she was digged (Isaiah 51:1). People who have risen in

society do not like to be reminded of their lowly youth. Yet the humility

 that comes from knowing how feeble we once were is wholesome.


Ø      In encouragement. When in the most abject wretchedness Israel was

saved by God. That was a glorious fact to be ever treasured up in the

memories of youth. The recollection of such a deliverance should

cheer with hope of similar mercy IN FUTURE TIMES OF NEED!


44 “Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against

thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.”  Every one that speaketh

proverbs, etc. As in 18:2, we have an example of the tendency of the Eastern

mind to condense the experience of life into the form of proverbial sayings. Here

the proverb expresses what we call the doctrine of heredity. We say, in such cases,

“Like father, like son;” but the feeling of the East recognized, especially in

the case of daughters, that the mother’s influence was predominant.


45 “Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that loatheth her husband and her

children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which loathed their

husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your

father an Amorite.”  Ezekiel returns to the thought of the spiritual parentage

of Jerusalem and Judah, as in v. 3. Reading between the lines, we find

something like an anticipation of Paul’s thought that Jehovah was the

God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews (Romans 3:29). The Hittites

and Sodom and Samaria, to whom she is compared, had all alike been

guilty of unfaithfulness to their husbands. Their idolatry was therefore, like

hers, an act of apostasy. Jehovah was their husband also, their children

were his children (v. 21). He claimed them as His own, had entered with

them also into a relation which, though less close than that with Israel, was

as that of the husband to the wife. The thought expands, as we shall see, in

the sequel of the chapter.



Judicial Verdict (vs. 35-45)


It is a great kindness done by any one if he disclose to us the real nature of

our sin. Light from any quarter should be welcomed. To demonstrate to the

Hebrews that their idolatry was the worst form of adultery was an act of

condescension on the part of God. By their own state law they knew that

this sin incurred the penalty of death. With all the circumstance of judicial

solemnity, the Supreme Judge summons the attention of the culprit: “O

harlot, hear the word of the Lord!”


  • THE JUDICIAL SUMMING UP. The accusations against Israel were



Ø      Conjugal infidelity. The covenant made between Jehovah and Israel —

the covenant more sacred than between bridegroom and bride —

had been wantonly broken. Of this proof was furnished in abundance.

It was openly displayed. Shameless publicity marked the dead.


Ø      Murder of children. The children created by God, and on whom He had

set peculiar affection, were cruelly sacrificed unto the insatiable idols. It

was murder of the worst sort — murder of innocent and helpless victims.

No language of man could exaggerate or over color the crime.  (Yet

Abortion on Demand  repeats the same scenario that Israel and Judah

played out 2500 years ago!!! – CY – 2014)


  • THE RIGHTEOUS SENTENCE. “I will judge thee, as women that

break wedlock and that shed blood are judged.”


Ø      The criminal is condemned to public shame. She had openly boasted of

her sin; she shall be openly exposed. She shall be made a spectacle to the

world. Care shall be taken to bring her companions and paramours to the

sight. The most secret intrigue shall be set in the clear light of day.

Friends and foes alike shall WITNESS THIS DISGRACE!


Ø      Forfeiture of all possessions. “They shall take thy fair jewels.” All the

instruments of sin shall be sequestered. The illicit gains of iniquity soon

turn to loss. “The wages of sin is death.”  (Romans 6:23)


Ø      Summary death. “They shall stone thee with stones.” This was the

penalty assigned to adultery in the Jewish code. This was the penalty

for an individual culprit. But for a community, the punishment

ordained was the sword. Therefore it is added, “They shall thrust

thee through with their swords.” In God’s world neither adultery

nor idolatry shall long be tolerated.


Ø      It was an equitable recompense. “I will recompense thy way upon thy

head.” The entire punishment proceeded in the most natural way; ay, it

proceeded in the way of nature. No strange portent appeared in heaven

or earth. To the carnal eye no hand nor sword of God was manifest;


 As at the creation every plant had the latent power to propagate itself,

equally every sin carries in itself suitable and adequate punishment.



Ø      It was a satisfaction to eternal righteousness. “I will be quiet, and will

be no more angry.” The righteousness of God is a force of tremendous

energy, and can only be quieted by adequate repentance or adequate

retribution. As the sea cannot be calm while a tempest of wind sweeps

over its surface, no more can the justice of God be complacent while

sin is rampant. But when sin is atoned for, there is profoundest peace —



46 “And 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.”  No very adequate reason appears for

the assignment of the respective ages of the two sisters. Historically, Sodom,

as the oldest representative of evil, would have seemed to claim precedence.

Samaria may have had this position assigned to it as more closely connected with

Judah. The left and right hands indicate respectively a position to the north

and south of Jerusalem, the observer of the heavens looking east, as, we

may note, the temple did (ch. 8:16). The comparison with Samaria

is developed more fully in ch. 23. The daughters are, as elsewhere, the

cities dependent on Sodom and Samaria respectively.


47 “Yet 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.”  48 As I live, saith the

Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters,

as thou hast done,  thou and thy daughters.”

The words in italics indicate, as usual, a difficulty. A better

construction gives, Thou hast notdone after a small measure only. So

the Vulgate, Neque secundum scelera earum fecisti pauxillum minus. The

Septuagint connects the words with the clause that follows: “Thou wast all but

(παρὰ μικρὸνpara micron – a very little thing) corrupted more than they.”


49 “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of

bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,

neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me:

therefore I took them away as I saw good.”  It is noticeable that what we

commonly speak of as the specific sin of the cities of the plain is not mentioned

here. The prophet fixes on the point which made Sodom a luxurious and sensual

city, the graver evil being just hinted at in the word abominations, and as the

outcome of the evil tendencies. So in like manner the special sin of

Samaria, the worship of the calves, is not named, but taken for granted.

(For fullness of bread, see Proverbs 30:9: Hosea 13:6; Deuteronomy 8:12.)

Prosperity and luxury in her case, as in that of other wealthy cities,

hardened the hearts of men against the poor and needy. There was probably

a sufficient reason for the omission which has been pointed out. It was wiser

to dwell on the sins which were common to the two cities rather than on the

vice which, though it existed in Jerusalem (II Kings 23:7), was probably not

prevalent there. As I saw good; better, according to what I saw. The word

“good” is not in the Hebrew, and the words apparently refer to Genesis 18:21.


51 “Neither 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.

52 Thou 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.”

Thou hast justified, etc. The word has a touch of sarcasm. Sodom and

Samaria might claim a verdict of acquittal (“justify,” in its technical sense)

as compared with Judah. They had not presented, as she had done, a

confluence of all the worst idolatries. The words find something like an echo

in our Lord’s teaching Matthew 10:15; 11:24.  And, as is common m such cases,

“she had judged,” i.e. had passed sentence of condemnation on those who were

more righteous than herself.  The Revised Version changes both meaning and

punctuation: Bear thine own shame, in that thou hast given judgment for thy

sisters; through thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they,

they are more righteous than thou; but the Authorized Version seems preferable.

It may be questioned whether the word for judged is ever used of an acquittal.

The point of the sentence is that Judah condemned those who were less

guilty than herself (compare Romans 2:17-23).


53 “When 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:” 

(I can only imagine what type of people, who lived in other ages, with

whom the guilty will share eternal separation from God! – CY – 2014)

When I shall bring again; better, with the Revised Version,

both here and in v. 55, and I will turn again. The Authorized Version

reads like a sentence of hopeless and perpetual condemnation, as per

impossible. When Sodom and Samaria should be pardoned, then, and not

till then, should there be hope for Judah. But all that follows in the chapter

shows that what is meant is a promise of restoration, not for Judah only,

but also for her less guilty sisters. Ezekiel sees a far off hope for his own

nation, and he cannot limit the mercy of God in bringing them also, as she

was to be brought, to repentance. For them also punishment was a means

to an end beyond itself, corrective, and not merely retributive. The

language of Isaiah (Isaiah 19:23-25) as to Egypt and Assyria presents a

striking parallel, and may have been in Ezekiel’s thoughts.



The Salvation of Sodom (v. 53)


That the notoriously wicked cities of the plain should come under the

saving grace of God would seem to be one of the greatest paradoxes of

redemption, and the more so as those cities had been utterly destroyed and

the very sites of them obliterated. A reference to such an event opens up to

us a marvelous vista in the deep possibilities of the future.



REDEMPTION. There is even some comfort to us in the sight of the great

wickedness of the Jews, or rather in what is based upon it. We read of

repealed promises of restoration for Israel. Now, if the chosen people had

been exceptionally virtuous, or but mildly culpable in comparison with the

rest of the world, it might well have been surmised that the salvation which

was possible for Israel could not be stretched to reach others of greater

wickedness. But if the “Jerusalem sinners” are equal to the worst of the

world’s wicked people, if Jerusalem is sister to Samaria and Sodom in evil,

the salvation which touches the one class of sinners may extend to the

other. God is no respecter of persons. He has no favoritism. Redemption

is as wide as sin.



SINNERS. His redemption is universal in two respects.


Ø      In extent. As the Lamb of God, He came to take away the sin of the

world (John 1:29), not the sins of a certain nation, or those of one

section of society. He commanded that “repentance and remission

of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations” (Luke

24:47). If the gospel is to be offered to all, it must be that the salvation

is effective for all.  Nothing less could satisfy the heart of Jesus, and

“He shall see of the travail of Hs soul, and shall be satisfied”

(Isaiah 53:11).


Ø      In intensity. Not only are sinners of all nations and of all sections of

society included in the redeeming love of Christ; sinners of blackest

guilt are also within its merciful and mighty embrace.


    • Christ is willing to save the worst, even the sinners of Sodom and

Gomorrah; for there is no limit to His pity.


    • He is able to save the worst; for He is “able to save unto the

uttermost all that come unto God by Him”  (Hebrews 7:25).

To doubt that the worst can be saved is either to malign His love

or to insult His power.           



SINNERS. It is not sufficient that He has died for the sins of the whole

world, nor that He is willing to save all — Jerusalem, Samaria, Sodom, the

very worst. For only they are effectually saved WHO PERSONALLY



Ø      It must be offered to all. Herein lies the duty of universal missionary

agency. The gospel should be preached to the most remote nations,

to the most degraded savages, to the most abandoned sinners. It is not

for us to say that any are beyond its saving grace. But how of the

heathen dead? how of Sodom, that has been utterly destroyed? how

can Sodom be redeemed? Sodom may stand typically for the worst

contemporary sinners.  Yet the truth of the text will be most completely

satisfied if we deem it possible that Christ’s preaching to the spirits in

prison extended to the men of Sodom (I Peter 3:20).


Ø      It needs to be taken by all. Christ died to redeem all, even the worst

sinners, yet none share in His redemption save through penitence

and faith.


54 “That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be

confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort

unto them.”  Even in that restoration, however, there should be a further

element of humiliation. Judah should be a comfort (see ch.14:22)

to those who should see her placed lower than themselves, content, at last,

to lake the lowest place, humbling herself that she might be (v. 61)

afterwards exalted.


55 “When 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.” Read and for when, as in v. 53.


56 “For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of

thy pride,” Thy sister Sodom, etc. The words are obscure. The most

tenable interpretation may be expressed by a paraphrase. The name of

Sodom was not in the lips of Judah in the days of her prosperity. It was too

vile for utterance, except as a byword of reproach. Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9-10)

had in vain reminded her that she had made herself like them. Her fate

could never be like theirs. Now, in the day of the discovery (the

uncovering, or laying bare) of her wickedness (v. 57), she had learnt the



57 “Before 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.”

For thy reproach, read, with the Revised Version, the

reproach. The words point primarily to the disasters, not of Judah, but to

those that fell on the cities of Syria and Philistia — the Assyrian and

Chaldean invasions. (For the grouping of the two nations as enemies of

Judah, see Isaiah 9:12; and for special acts of hostility, II Kings 15:37; 16:6;

and II Chronicles 28:18-19.)


58 “Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the

LORD.” Thou hast borne, etc. Judah, i.e., had received the full

measure of its punishments. The righteousness of God had been adequately

vindicated. And so, if the punishment led to repentances, there was room

for pardon (compare for the thought, Isaiah 40:2).


59 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou

hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of

thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.”

I will even deal with thee, etc. The law of retribution is

stated in all its fullness. Falling back upon the idea of the espousals of Israel

in the covenant made at Sinai (Leviticus 26:42, 45; Deuteronomy 29:11-12),

Ezekiel presses home on Judah the thought that she had broken

that covenant. She must suffer as though it no longer existed. She must

dree her weird” and “accept her punishment” (Leviticus 26:41). And

then Jehovah would show that He had not really been unmindful of His part

in it.  He had remained faithful in spite of her unfaithfulness. And so in the

day of her repentance He will not only renew it, but will give it a higher and

more permanent character. The “new covenant” of which Ezekiel’s master

had spoken (Jeremiah 31:31) should not be as the old, decaying and

vanishing away, but should be EVERLASTING!



Inexcusable Infidelity (vs. 15-59)


Universal consent accounts that woman vile who, married to a kind and

honorable husband, in order to gratify her own unchastened desires,

commits adultery with her neighbors and acquaintances, and expends her

husband’s substance in rewarding her numerous and profligate admirers.

The guilt of Jerusalem must indeed have been great if it could only be

adequately set forth under the similitude of guilt so flagrant and abominable

as that described in this most appalling chapter. Passing away from the

figure to the reality, we have to trace the unfaithfulness of Jerusalem to Him

who had saved her from death, distinguished her by favor, and exalted her

to honor.




GOD. What a lesson is there in the striking expression, “Thou didst trust in

thine own beauty”! thine own, as if for that beauty thou hadst to thank

thyself; as if it were aught else than the gift of Divine bounty and the token

of Divine favor! We are far less likely to abuse our position and our

possessions if we do but remember that they are not ours, save by God’s

kindness, and that we are not our own, “that we are bought by a price.”

(I Corinthians 6:20)



GRACE AND COMPASSION. Very touching is that expression in v.22,

“Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth.” Here is the radical

error. It is pride and self-confidence that leads men astray. They who are

forgetful of God are in danger of being unfaithful to Him. Jerusalem said,

“I sit a queen!” And saying so, she fell. It is a too common experience. The

Christian may learn to cultivate the spirit of complete dependence upon

God; for the consciousness that he owes all to God will help to bind him to

loyal allegiance and constant service.




neighborhood the deities of the several peoples to the east, north, and

south of Palestine had their deluded votaries; and not only so, idolatry was

openly practiced. With spiritual wantonness the citizens of the great and

glorious city admitted and embraced every form of idolatry, and that even

within sight, if not within the precincts, of the very temple of Jehovah.




and lustful rites, it is well known, were associated with heathen worship. In

vs. 20 and 21 reference is made to the practice, connected with the

worship of Moloch, of causing sons and daughters to pass through the fire.

(Sex was associated with Moloch worship and sex is the “choice freedom

of expression held to by proponents of the heresy of “PRO-CHOICE”

of the abortion industry in the last half-century! – CY – 2014).  This

was but one of the abominable and reprehensible practices encouraged

by heathen priests. When these practices are compared with the

observances of the Law of Moses, who can avoid the conclusion that,

whereas the former were the invention of sinful men, the latter bear marks

of appointment by a pure and merciful God? Once let men abandon the true

religion, and “go after false gods,” and none can tell into what excesses of

iniquity they may be led.



AND MONSTROUS. Jerusalem is compared with Samaria and with

Sodom, and is represented as “corrupted more than they in all her ways!”

Indeed, had not the abominations wrought in Jerusalem been flagrant, the

language of this chapter would not have been justified. The abuse of the

best is ever the worst. The greater the height from which the fall, the

severer is the hurt received. The Lord was aggrieved by the lengths to

which the disobedient proceeded, THE RIOT OF INIQUITY  into

 which they ran.




conduct of Jerusalem is not unobserved and is not uncensured, Mercy

has been defied, and just authority has been set at naught. It is not

possible that infidelity so flagrant can be overlooked. Severe and righteous

is the resolution of the almighty King, “I WILL JUDGE THEE;” “I will

even deal with thee as thou hast done”  (v. 59).  Not only has Jerusalem

to reckon with justice that cannot be perverted (men and women may

pervert God’s commandments and they have but GOD WILL NOT

PERVERT JUDGMENT – CY – 2014) and with wisdom that cannot

be eluded; it has to reckon with power that cannot be resisted. When

God arises to judgment and calls the nations before Him, a righteous

sentence is pronounced, to which all must submit, and which NONE





The lovers are called in to minister punishment to the adulteress; the

surrounding nations, especially the Assyrians and Chaldeans and the

Egyptians, were made instrumental in chastising the people that had

permitted themselves to be deluded and seduced by their vile idolatries.

(“my people love to have it so” – Jeremiah 5:31).  Jerusalem’s sin was

great in proportion to her privileges, and her affliction was as her sin.

And there was an awful appropriateness in the employment of the

heathen people to chastise those who should have witnessed against

their follies instead of being partakers of their sins.  (Deuteronomy 32:21-22)



The Everlasting Covenant (v. 60)


God’s relations with His people are repeatedly described as determined by

covenants. Adam, Noah, Abraham, and the nation of Israel, all had their

covenants with God, and Christ established a new covenant.




Ø      It originates in God. The covenant is not an agreement made by two

parties who meet on equal terms. It cannot be compared to the bond

which seals a bargain after mutual concessions. It is rather an institution

of God which man accepts. We cannot determine or in any way modify

the conditions of God’s covenant. As the Giver of blessing and the Lord

of service, God offers us His settled covenant.


Ø      It must be accepted by man. The covenant relation has two sides. When

we desire to share its privileges we must ourselves enter into it. We must

freely accept it.  (“Ye must be born again” – John 3:7)


Ø      It involves mutual obligations.


ü      God graciously undertakes to do certain things for man, even

condescending to bind Himself with promises.


ü      We are bound to loyal obedience, and the seal of the covenant

ratifies those obligations. Thus it gives man a right to

“covenant  mercies,” and God a right to “covenant service.”


  • THE OLD COVENANT. God had covenant relations with Israel in

ancient days. The sinful people had violated the conditions of the covenant,

and so, while excluding themselves from its privileges, they had brought its

penalties down upon their heads (v. 59). God might therefore only

remember His covenant in order to carry out its penal clauses. But He is

seen to remember it on its gracious side. This could not be because He held

Himself bound to its promises, for the Jews had forfeited all rights in those

promises. Therefore God’s remembrance of the covenant is His merciful

calling to mind of previous happy relations. God is not ready to forsake His

people with whom He made a covenant in the olden times.  It may be the

same with the individual souls. There are men who followed God in their

childhood, perhaps learning to love Him from a mother’s teaching, and

entering into solemn promises to live for Him in the hopeful days of youth.

They may have forgotten those fair times of the long-deal past. But God

remembers them, and in His wonderful, enduring love He delights to revive

them, and therefore He calls his erring children back to the forsaken paths.




Ø      Its necessity.


ü      On account of the failure of the former covenant. The old

covenant being broken and having proved ineffectual, a

new one must be instituted.


ü      On account of the new needs of new times. The new wine

must not be put into the old bottles. The Jewish Law which

suited ancient Israel is not adapted to Christendom.


Ø      Its origin. It is based on the old covenant. God remembers that old

covenant in granting a new one. The New Testament rests on the

foundation of the Old Testament. Christ came to fulfill the Law by

establishing the gospel (Matthew 5:17). The same Divine grace, which

in its dawn shone through the earlier dispensation, in its noon glorifies

the later one.


Ø      Its stability. It is to be an EVERLASTING COVENANT!   The old

covenant was local, temporary, and fragile on the human side, though

firm as adamant on God’s side. The new covenant must have other

characteristics to make it more enduring.


ü      It is an inward, spiritual principle (Jeremiah 31:33).


ü      It is sealed by the blood of Christ (I Corinthians 11:25),

is bound to the cross by His sacrifice and our love.


61 “Then 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.

62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know

that I am the LORD:”  Then thou shalt remember thy ways, etc. THE

PARDON WHICH GOD GIVES  is not, as men sometimes dream, a water

of Lethe, blotting out the memory of the evil past. Ezekiel represents that

memory as quickened to a new intensity in the very hour of restoration. The

shame which it brings with it is necessary as the safeguard of the new

blessedness. Thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger. It is significant that, as

in the Revised Version, both the adjectives are now in the plural. What was

possible for Sodom and Samaria was possible also, as for the cities more

immediately connected with them, so also for other nations of the heathen

world. They too should be admitted into fellowship, not now as sisters, but

as daughters, acknowledging, i.e., her superiority. The limitation which

follows, not by thy covenant, asserts, as it were, the restored prerogative

of Judah, much as Paul asserts it in Romans 9-11. Those who are within

the covenant of Israel, including, as it does, those who are the heirs of the

faith of Abraham as well as his children according to the flesh, are in a

closer relation to Him than others who share in what have been called (the

phrase, perhaps, taking its origin from these very words) the uncovenanted

mercies” of God.



A Picture of Renewed Favor (vs. 60-62)


This passage points to the gospel covenant and its spiritual blessings.  This new

covenant is more fully described by Jeremiah (31:31-34); and is directly applied

to the Christian covenant in the Hebrews 8:8-12.



ORIGINATED WITH HIMSELF. “Nevertheless I will remember my

covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee

an everlasting covenant.” Notwithstanding their breach of the covenant,

and their countless and enormous sins, God will return to them in blessing.

And He will do so of His own unmerited and unsought grace. When Jesus

Christ came into our world He came without any solicitation from man.

“He came unto His own possessions, and his own people received Him not.”

(John 1:12).  “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we

were yet sinners, Christ died for us”  (Romans 5:8).  The contrast between

God and the Jews in respect to the covenants shows that the existence of

the new one was entirely owing to His grace.


Ø      They forgot Him and the covenant into which they entered with Him.

But He says, “I will remember my covenant with thee in the days

of thy youth.”  He does not forget the engagements into which He

enters, or the promises which He makes. If we are faithless,

He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.”  (II Timothy



Ø      They outrageously broke the covenant. “Thou hast despised the

oath in breaking the covenant” (v. 59). But the Lord says, “I will

establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.” Clearly this was not

of their merit, but of His mercy. “By grace have ye been saved

 through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

not of works, that no man should glory.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)




remember thy ways, and be ashamed.” This remembrance is not mere

recollection, but recollection and reflection upon the things remembered.

Moved by the grace of God, the Jews would recall to mind their sinful

ways, and consider them, and take to themselves shame because of them.

Like the psalmist —


“I thought on my ways,

And turned my feet unto thy testimonies,” (Psalm 119:59)


Like the prodigal also: “When he came to himself he said, How many hired

servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare!” etc. (Luke

15:17-12). There is no real repentance without this remembrance and

consideration of our ways; again, there is no real repentance except when

such remembrance and consideration lead to shame and self-reproach.

Now. according to our text, it is the grace of God which produces this

desirable condition of mind and heart. “Law and terrors do but harden.”

“The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance”   (Romans 2:4).

Unmerited kindness is like coals of fire melting the hearts of sinners. When

the mercy of God is realized by man it leads to LOATHING OF SIN and

SINCERE SORROW  because we have been guilty thereof, and lowly love

towards Him.



BESTOWMENT OF RICH BLESSINGS. The blessings mentioned and

referred to in the text are those of the new covenant which God would

make with man. “I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant And I

will establish my covenant with thee” (vs. 60, 62; and compare Jeremiah



Ø      These blessings are spiritual. The knowledge of God is one of them.

“And thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” We have frequently read of

their knowing Him as a consequence of His judgments. Now we come to

their knowing Him as a result of His grace. This knowledge is more true

and tender, more intimate and influential, than that. This is a saving

acquaintance with Him. “This is life eternal, that they should know

thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even

Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).  The forgiveness of sin is another of the

blessings mentioned in the text. “When I am pacified towards thee

for all that thou hast done” (v. 63), should be, as in the Revised Version,

“When I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done.” “I will forgive their

iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

As the covenant springs from pure mercy and faithfulness, so in its

inmost essence it consists in forgiveness of sins.  What a blessing this is!

But the chief blessing of the covenant is not expressly mentioned by


OF THE COVENANT.  “I will be their God, and they shall be my

people  (Jeremiah 31:33).  (As to Abram, God said “I AM THY


(Genesis 15:1)  Having Him for our Portion, we have all good in Him.


Ø      These blessings are universal.Thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder

and thy younger.” By these sisters probably Samaria and Sodom are

meant (v.. 46). But they must be taken, in connection with Jerusalem, as

representing the world wide extent of the blessings of the new covenant.

The gospel is not for one nation or people, BUT FOR HUMANITY! 

 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15);

“He died for all  (II Corinthians 5:15); “Who gave Himself

a ransom for all”  (I Timothy 2:6); “The living God is the Saviour of

all men, specially of them that believe”  (Ibid. ch. 4:10).  And our Lord

sent forth His servants into all the world to preach the gospel to the

whole creation. Judah is said to receive these sisters, and they are said

to be given to her for daughters, because through her they should attain

to the inheritance of blessing.  “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22);

“Of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh  (Romans 9:5).  The first

Christians were Jews. The apostles who offered the blessings of the

new covenant unto the Gentiles, and received those of them who

believed into the Church, were Jews.


Ø      These blessings are perpetual. “I will establish unto thee an everlasting

covenant.” The first covenant was said to be “everlasting” (Genesis

17:7); and it was so in the sense that it led the way to and was fulfilled in


 With all its wealth of blessings it abides perpetually. God, the

Supreme Blessing of it, is the soul’s unchangeable and eternal Portion.

“God is the Rock of my heart and my Portion forever.”  (Psalm 73:26)





Ø      Sincere repentance for sin.That thou mayest remember, and be

confounded.” The repentance which consists in abhorrence of sin,

and grief because we have sinned against so gracious a God and

Father, and in love to Him and to all goodness, is not decreased by

the reception of His forgiveness and favor, but rather increased.

The more we know of God and the more we enjoy of His grace,

the more base and wicked will sin appear unto us. Sanctified

knowledge will produce sanctified shame, sorrow, and tears.

When we apprehend God to have taken us into covenant

with Him, to be our God, to have done great things for us, to have

promised great things to us, and to have been very good to us, then

the remembrance of our wretched ways causes a holy shame and

a holy sorrow!


Ø      Devout submission to His will. “And never open thy mouth any

more in murmuring, or complaint, or rebellion against Him. It is

the silence of trustful acquiescence in His will. “I was dumb,

I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it (Psalm 39:9).

Thus Divine grace received into the heart produces

gracious results in the lives of THOSE WHO RECEIVE IT!


63 “That 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.”

That thou mayest remember. The words paint vividly the

attitude of the penitent adulteress, humble, contrite, silent, ashamed

(Hosea 3:3-5), and yet with a sense that she is pardoned, and that the

husband against whom she has sinned is at last pacified. Revised Version,

when I have forgiven thee. The Hebrew verb so rendered is that which

expresses the fullest idea of forgiveness, and which marked both the “day”

and the “sacrifice” of atonement (Numbers 8:12; Leviticus 23:27, et

al.). This, according to the received etymology, was represented in the

ἱλαστήριονhilastaerion - mercy seat,   of the ark of the covenant

(cophereth, as from caphar). So the prophet closes with the words of an

eternal hope what had at first seemed to lead up to nothing but eternal

condemnation.  How far the prophet expected a literal fulfillment in the

restoration of Sodom and Samaria, we cannot define with certainty; but

the ideal picture of the purification of the waters of the Dead Sea in

ch. 47:8 suggests that it entered into his vision of the future. For us, at least,

it is enough to pass from the temporal to the eternal, from the historical to

the spiritual, and to see in his words the noblest utterance of MERCY

PREVAILING OVER JUDGMENT — a theodikea, a “vindication of

 the ways of God to man,” like that of Romans 11:33-36.



Reconciliation (vs. 60-63)


It is not possible to conceive a more sudden and extraordinary change than

that which occurs in passing from the fifty-ninth to the sixtieth verse of this

chapter. From an exposure of the vilest treachery and threats of condign

and awful punishment, the Lord, speaking by the mouth of His prophet,

passes to promises of the most gracious and tender character. It is a

wonderful revelation of the Divine heart. As the moral Governor, the

Administrator of the affairs of nations, the Lord protests against His

people’s defection, and denounces upon them the just punishment of their

sins. But He does not forget that they are His people. He foresees that the

discipline through which they are to pass will not be lost upon them, that

their heart will be wrung by contrition, and that their life will witness to

their repentance. He promises that He will be pacified towards them, and

that reconciliation shall take the place of rebellion and of punishment.



WRATH. The King pities his subjects even when they are in insurrection

against him. It is their own interests that they are jeopardizing, their own

sentence of condemnation that they are writing. The Lord of all, whilst He

is displeased with the ingratitude and disobedience of His subjects, still

retains His own character; there is no vindictiveness in His government;

He ever delights in mercy.



REPENTANCE AND SHAME. While God remembers His covenant,

Jerusalem remembers her ways, and the memory awakens shame and

confusion. The poignant appeal has not been made in vain. The mirror has

been held up before the face of the sinful and abandoned, and the guilty

heart has been conscious of its sin. Conduct, which has been the outcome

of unrestrained passion or of an unreflecting yielding to external influence,

is now seen in its true light. Deliberate wickedness is deliberately regretted

and deliberately loathed. “To us belong shame and confusion of face.”

(Daniel 9:8)



COVENANT. This covenant dates back from the time of Jerusalem’s

youth; her infidelity has indeed cancelled it; but God, in His grace, is willing

to overlook and forgive all that is past, and to renew the sweet and happy

relations of other times. It is a miracle of mercy. God’s ways are not as our

ways. Human magnanimity, in its noblest exercise, falls short of this action

of the holy God. Here is a revelation of the Divine character which may

well bring comfort and hope to the sinner who has forsaken and defied his

God, but who sees and repents his folly and his guilt. In the light of the

gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the language is infinitely

encouraging. There is a covenant of grace into which the righteous God

admits, not Israel only, — BUT MANKIND,  a covenant in which all

the giving is on God’s side, and all the receiving is on ours.



PACIFICATION. The false prophets had proclaimed a false peace; a true

peace comes only from Him who is the God alike of righteousness and of

mercy. When He declares, in the language of the text, “I am pacified toward

thee,” then it is well. When he giveth peace, who can give trouble? The

transgressions of other days are forgotten; the estrangement of other days

has given place to concord and harmony. Reverence and love are offered

by those who were once in rebellion. And favor and everlasting love are

revealed by Him who but lately uttered words of reproach, and inflicted

chastisement and punishment. It is the happy experience of the justified and

accepted believer in Christ which breaks forth into the joyful exclamation,

“Therefore, being justified by faith, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD



Confounded by Memory (v. 63)




Ø      Memory of sin. We desire to forget our sin; but even if no recording

angel wrote it down in the books of Divine judgment, the tooth of

conscience would bite the memory of it into the very fiber of our hearts.

We may succeed in drowning the hideous recollection for a time, but it

seems to be proved that the forgotten past may be revived, and that all

our life may be brought to mind in an awful flash of recollection, as in

the experience of drowning men, or as we all find in the unexpected

reminders of old associations suddenly encountered. When our

hideous old sins thus glare upon our startled gaze, surely we must

be confounded!


Ø      Memory of mercy. We may not note the favors of providence with

which we are daily visited, and we may be accepting them with

ingratitude and even abusing them with disobedience. But some

day the goodness of God in our past will rise up in memory and

accuse our ill reception of it.


Ø      Memory of opportunity. When the day of service is past and the night

wherein no man can work has fallen upon us, it will be useless to plead

our lack of opportunity for following God.


ü      Many a warning voice,

ü      many an appealing invitation,

ü      many an open door,

ü      many a day of grace,


will confront our guilty souls.


Ø      Memory of the lost. If we have not been true or kind to those near to us,

we shall remember the wrong, when, alas! it is too late to make amends,

and the recollection will be confounding.





Ø      It will be a punishment. Many consequences of sin may be met with a

brazen face, but not this. We may even cherish the memory of our evil

past with a bad affectionateness, but when it meets us to confound us,

all our bravado will be killed, and nothing will remain but SHAME

and ANGUISH and REMORSE.   To be confounded means to have

our career arrested, to be put to confusion, to be cast down in dismay,

to make shipwreck of life. When we fully face the memory of our

evil past, impenitent and unpardoned, no less a result can follow.

This sin is its own chastisement. The serpent of evil inflicts a deadly

wound with its own fangs. There is no necessity for heavenly

thunderbolts to dash the sinner to destruction. No demon

tormentors need be summoned from Tartarus to torture his guilty

soul. His own memory will strike him, his own thoughts will burn and

tear and rack his miserable conscience. (What a wonderful condition

to have our sins forgiven and to experience the state “once purged

should have no more conscience of sins.”  - Hebrews 10:2 – CY –



Ø      This punishment will be just. It will be the direct consequence of sin.

There can be no pretence that the accusation is false. No man can set up

the plea of an alibi against the charges of his own memory. Here is a

witness who cannot be upset by the most rigorous cross-examination, nor

discredited by the bitterest opprobrium. Accused by his own memory, the

sinner cannot but be speechless. There is no conceivable escape when the

court of justice is a man’s own breast and when witnesses, judge, jury, and

executioner are all found in his own thoughts.


“To be left alone

And face to face with my own crime, had been

Just retribution.”



These terrible thoughts are not written to drive us mad, but to urge us to amendment.

When there is no door of escape from the awful chamber of self-judgment the great

necessity is to seek A NEW HEART AND A DIVINE PARDON  that we may

never be “confounded by memory.”



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