Ezekiel 23



1 “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:

3 And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed

whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and

there they bruised the teats of their virginity.”

After another pause, the prophet enters on another elaborate parallel, after

the pattern of Ezekiel 16., but with a marked variation. There we have the

history of one harlot, s.c. of Israel in its collective unity. Here we have

two sister harlots, the daughters of one mother, and they are Samaria and

Jerusalem, as both belonging to Israel. For the purpose of the parable, they

are represented as having had a separate existence, even during the period

of the sojourn in Egypt. This was probably historically true, the line of

cleavage caused by the claims of Ephraim to supremacy appearing again

and again long before the revolt of the ten tribes under Jeroboam

(Judges 8:1; 12:1; II Samuel 19:43). Both were alike tainted with

idolatry, as in the history of the golden calf, when they came out of Egypt

(compare ch.16:7; 20:7-8). Yet even then Jehovah, like Hoses in the

personal history which was to be to him as a parable of that of Israel, had

compassion on them, harlots though they were (Hosea 1:2). They became

his, and “bare sons and daughters.”


4 “And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her

sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus

were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.”

The occurrence of proper names is almost unique in the parables

of the Bible, the Lazarus of Luke 16:20 being the only other instance.

Their meaning is sufficiently clear. Aholah (but both names should begin

with O rather than A) means “Her tent;” Aholibah, “My tent is in her.” A

parallel, which may have suggested the names, is found in the Aholibamah

(equivalent to “My tent is in the high place”) of Genesis 36:2, and

another in the use of Ohel as a proper name in I Chronicles 3:20. The

common element of the two names is the word that is commonly used for

the sacred tent or tabernacle in the Pentateuch and elsewhere. The

distinctive element of each points to the fact that the worship in Samaria

was unauthorized. Her “tent” was hers, not Jehovah’s. Of Jerusalem with

its temple Jehovah could say, “My tent is in her,” and this, as magnifying

her privilege, also aggravated her guilt. Keil and others take the adjective

here, as in ch.16:46, as meaning “greater” rather than “older.” The

former adjective is, of course, applicable to the greater power of the

kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and, even if we retain the renderings of the

Authorized Version, is probably the explanation of Samaria being named as

the elder of the two.




Aholah and Aholibah (v. 4)


“Her tent” and “My tent is in her.” These names stand respectively for

Israel and Judah. Israel, the northern kingdom, had her own tent, i.e. she

was independent after secession from Judah, like a woman who has left her

mother’s tent and has one of her own. Judah retained the temple, the

representative of the tabernacle of the wilderness; therefore God’s tent was

in her. These prosaic facts were suggestive of deeper traits of national

character, which the symbolical names suggested.


  • INDEPENDENCE. Israel is named Aholah. She has her own tent; she is

independent. This national independence has its counterpart in individual

independence. Jacob leaves his home and fights his own battle with the

world. Joseph is sent away from his family, and cast in his youth among the

grand opportunities of a great nation and the direful temptations of a

dissolute society. The young man going out into the world enters on the

exhilarating but trying career of independent life. There are special

opportunities, duties, and dangers in having one’s own tent.


Ø      Opportunities. The independent position is not hampered with

restrictions. Freedom means a wide range for individual activity. Now is

the time to realize the long-cherished dreams of earlier days.


Ø      Duties. Duty dogs the footsteps of opportunity. As our scope for choice

and individual activity is enlarged, the obligations of service are

correspondingly increased. The slave has few duties; the free man great

obligations. The liberty of manhood brings the burden of a man’s duty.

Christian liberty increases the obligations of Christian service.


Ø      Dangers. Israel gained in freedom by her rebellion against the petty

tyranny of Rehoboam; but the liberty which was got by separation brought

its own great dangers. Cut off from the temple-worship, excluded from the

national festivals, deprived of the highest religious ministrations, the freed

people were tempted to fall into the idolatry of their ancestors and their

neighbors. This temptation was too great for them, and they apostatized

earlier than Judah. It is dangerous to be separated from religious

ordinances. The young man who leaves the Christian home of his

childhood for new scenes of worldly life is entering on a path of danger.

A self-contained life is open to temptation. To seek TO BE



  • DIVINE FELLOWSHIP. Judah is named Aholibah. God’s tent is in

her. She has the outward means and symbols, at least, of the Divine

presence. This fact represents high privileges, with corresponding guilt

when God is forsaken.


Ø      High privileges.


o       Prosperity. God’s presence brings joy and true welfare.

o       Protection. If God’s tent is in our midst, the Captain of salvation is

with us, and though a host should encamp around us, we need fear

no evil.

o       Spiritual grace. The temple was not a mere meeting-place, sanctuary,

and fortress. Its services were “means of grace.” God is with us to

enlighten, purify, quicken.


Ø      Heavy guilt. Aholibah apostatized. Her guilt was all the greater that she

bore such a name, and could claim the symbol of God’s presence as

peculiarly her own. The greatest guilt is that of men who know God and

have enjoyed his presence and grace in the past, and who, sinning openly

against light, have spurned those privileges and willfully rebelled against

their chosen God. No sinners are so guilty as apostatized Christians. Mark:

it is possible to be Aholibah and to enjoy God’s presence, and yet to turn

against Him, fall, and be ruined.



5  “And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted

on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbors,” The history of both the sisters

passes from the time of the Exodus to that of their separate existence, and starts,

in fact, from their first intercourse with the great monarchies of Asia. So far it is

less a survey of their successive stages of degradation, like that of Ezekiel 16.,

than a retrospect of their political alliances. Aholah played the harlot. The

lovers, as in ch.16:33, are the nations with which the kings of Israel were in

alliance, and of these the Assyrians are named as preeminent.  The word neighbors,

which in its literal sense is hardly applicable, is probably to be taken of spiritual

affinity, or may be taken as “come near” is in Genesis 20:4; Leviticus 20:16;

ch.18:6.  The Assyrians were those who, in that sense, came near to the harlot city.

We have in II Kings 15:20 the fact that Menahem paid tribute to Pul.  Hosea 5:13

and 7:11 speak generally of such alliances. The black obelisk of Shalmaneser

records the fact that Jehu paid tribute to him  (‘Records of the Past,’ 5:41). In the

last-named case the tribute consisted chiefly of vessels of gold, bowls, goblets, etc.




                        Exalted Relationship and Enormous Sin (v. 5a)


“And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine.”



mine.” Aholah is intended to represent the people of Israel as distinguished

from the people of Judah. The Lord here says that she was His. In common

with all other peoples, Israel was His:


Ø      By creation. God Himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”

He is “the Father of spirits.”


Ø      By sustentation. He is “the God in whose hand our breath is, and

whose are all our ways.” With Job, we may say to him, “Thou hast granted

me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” But:


Ø      Israel was His by redemption. He redeemed them from their bondage in

Egypt by mighty works and marvelous signs. That emancipation is an

illustration of the redemption of man from sin effected by our Savior

Jesus Christ. “The Lord hath anointed Him… to proclaim liberty to the

 captives,” etc. (Isaiah 61:1-2). He “gave himself a ransom for all.”

(I Timothy 2:6)


Ø      Israel was His pre-eminently by covenant engagement. “I sware unto

thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou

becamest mine” (ch. 16:8). They belonged to Him as a wife belongs

to her husband. This is the relationship to which the text points, and which

is treated of in Ezekiel 16. It is great condescension on the part of God to

authorize the prophets thus to represent his relation to his people. “Thy

Maker is thy Husband; the Lord of hosts is His name” (Isaiah 54:5).

“Return, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am a Husband unto

you (Jeremiah 3:14). This relationship should be characterized by:


o        Tender affection. We may see this in the way in which St. Paul writes of

the love between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:23-32). When

marriage is contracted without true mutual affection, the relation is



o        Exalted privilege. In taking the Israelites to be His, God gave Himself to

them as their supreme Portion. “They shall be my people, and I will be

their God  (Jeremiah 32:38). “This of God’s being our God,” says

Charnocke, “is the quintessence of the covenant, the soul of all the

promises: in this He hath promised whatsoever is infinite in Him,

whatsoever is the glory and ornament of His nature, for our use;

not a part of Him, or one single perfection, but the whole vigor and

strength of all. As He is not a God without infinite wisdom, and infinite

power, and infinite goodness, and infinite blessedness, etc., so He passes

over, in this covenant, all that which presents Him as the most adorable

Being to His creatures: He will be to them as great, as wise, as powerful,

as good, as He is in Himself. And the assuring us, in this covenant, to be

our God, imports also that He will do as much for us as we would do for

ourselves, were we furnished with the same goodness, power, and wisdom:

in being our God, He testifies it is all one as if we had the same perfections

in our power to employ for our use; for He being possessed with them,

it is as much as if we ourselves were possessed with them for our own

advantage, according to the rules of wisdom, and the several conditions

we pass through for His glory.”


o        Scrupulous fidelity. The relationship imperatively demands this. God

would not fail in one jot or tittle on His part.If we are faithless,

He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Hmself.” (II Timothy 2:13 -

one of my favorite verses - CY - 2022) And Israel was required to be

true to Him in obeying His commands, and above all in worshipping

him alone.I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the

land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none

other gods before me,” etc. (Exodus 20:1-3). Through Jesus Christ

we may each enter into this exalted relationship. Through Him we may

each be enabled, without presumption, to say of the great God,

“He is my God and my Father.”


·         A SIN OF THE GREATEST HEINOUSNESS. And Aholah played

the harlot when she was mine.” Israel is here represented as a wife who has

been unfaithful to her husband. The primary reference is to the sin of

Jeroboam in setting up the golden calves at Bethel and at Dan, and calling

upon the people to worship God through them (1 Kings 12:26-33).

And this was but the beginning of Israel’s sin. Afterwards they worshipped

Baal and Astarte. Their sin involved:


Ø      Positive injustice. They robbed God of His rights. He has a just claim on

our obedience, our reverence, and our love. This claim is firmly based

upon WHAT HE IS IN HIMSELFthe Supremely Great and Good;

and upon what he is and does in relation to us — our Creator, etc.

Not to comply with His claims is to defraud Him HIS DUE!


Ø      Base ingratitude. How shameful were the returns which Israel made for

His great kindness to them! Very strikingly is this set forth in Ezekiel 16.

And their conduct has been too closely reproduced by us.


o       For His fidelity we have returned unbelief;

o       for His love, coldness of heart;

o       for His beneficence, disobedience.


How heinous this ingratitude is! And yet, alas, how common!


“Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou art not so unkind

As man’s ingratitude;

Thy tooth is not so keen,

Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.

“Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,

That dost not bite so nigh

As benefits forgot:

Though thou the Waters warp,

Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remember’d not.”



Ø      Heinous infidelity. This is the aspect of Israel’s sin to which prominence

is given in the text. In forsaking the Lord God for idols they committed a

treacherous breach of a sacred engagement. Their conduct is an

illustration of the action of those who, having avowed their allegiance

to Him, turn their backs upon Him and upon His cause. Terrible is

their guilt, and deplorable their condition. “It is a miserable thing,”

says Bishop Ryle, “to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can

befall a man, I suppose it is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken-winged

eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in

ruins, — all these are sad sights; but a backslider is a sadder sight still.”

And appalling will be their doom, even “a certain fearful expectation

of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the

adversaries.”   (Hebrews 10:27)  Says Bunyan, “They fall deepest into

hell who fall backwards into hell.” Let backsliders return unto the Lord

while there is yet time. “Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord;

                        I will not look in anger upon you,” etc. (Jeremiah 3:12-14; Hosea 14:1-4).


6  Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them

desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.”

Clothed with blue. The same word as that used in the

description of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:4;31, et al.). It was

probably some hue of the Tyrian purple kind which marked the official

dress of the “captains” of the Assyrian armies. The words, with those that

follow, bring before us the magnificent array of the Assyrian cavalry — a

force in which Israel, throughout its history, was deficient (Judges 5:10;

Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 36:8.).


7 “Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that

were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted:

with all their idols she defiled herself.  8 Neither left she her whoredoms

brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised

the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.

9 Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the

hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.  10 These discovered her

nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the

sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed

judgment upon her.”  These verses paint the consequence of the alliance

first with Assyria and then with Egypt. She adopted the religion of Assyria,

probably in the form of the worship of Ishtar (Ashtoreth) as the queen of

heaven. Having done this, the kings of Israel sought to play off one

kingdom against the other (see Hosea 7:11; II Kings 17:4). It was,

in fact, the discovery of Hoshea’s treachery in this matter that led

Shalmaneser to besiege Samaria. The result of that siege is described in

general terms in v. 10. She, the city of Samaria, was slain with the

sword, her sons and daughters were taken into exile. So she became

famous (i.e. infamous, like the Latin famosus), literally, a name among

women, sc. among the neighboring nations.



Sinners Left to Themselves and to Their Sins (v. 9)


“Wherefore I delivered her into the hand of her lovers,” etc. The aspect of

the sin of Israel which is most conspicuous in this chapter is not their

idolatry so much as their contracting political alliances which were

forbidden by God. The imagery is similar to that in ch.16.; but here the reference

is not, as there, so much to the breach of the spiritual marriage-covenant with God

by the people’s idolatries, as by their worldly spirit, and their trusting to alliances

with the heathen for  safety, rather than to God.” Our text suggests two observations:



THE SINNER TO TAKE HIS OWN COURSE. The Israelites would trust

in Egypt or in Assyria rather than in the Lord their God. Remonstrances

against political alliances with heathen nations, or conformity to their

religious observances, with warnings of the consequences of so doing, had

been addressed to them in vain. Exhortations to trust in Jehovah alone had

proved fruitless. All moral means had been employed to secure their fidelity

to their duty and their God, but without avail. Wherefore the Lord

“delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians,

upon whom she doted.” The Israelites would have their own way, and God

at length allowed them to take it (Psalm 81:11-12). There are some

today in whom we fear the same process is at work. Here is a man who

makes riches the object of his supreme concern. Money is the god in which

he trusts, and to which he is devoted. His great and constant efforts are

made in order to acquire and retain riches. Remonstrances and rebukes for

the course he is pursuing are unheeded by him. Exhortations and

encouragements to cherish a different and nobler ambition, to trust a

worthy object, and to live to God, are addressed to him in vain. He will go

on in HIS OWN WAY!   And at length God allows him to take his course, and

live for money. The same thing takes place with others who make a god of

pleasure, or who will trust supremely in their own sagacity and judgment,

or whose grand ambition and ruling purpose is to attain conspicuous

position or commanding power. If they are invincibly determined to follow

their own course, God allows them to do so. The case is thus forcibly set

forth:  a man sets his mind on standing on some high place; he points to a pillar,

and says that if he could ascend to its summit he would see from that lofty

elevation glimpses of heaven, and he determines that he will stand upon that

summit, whatever hazards he may incur. At length God grants him his request;

and when the man has ascended to the eminence which he coveted, what does

he find? Sand, sand, sand! Mile on mile of sand — sand for mile on mile!

(I can remember as a child my grandmother teaching me about the man who

built his house upon the sand! – Matthew 7:26-27 - CY – 2014).  And now he

wishes to descend; but how to get down is his great difficulty. There may

be no way down but that which involves suicide. Yet the man was

determined to reach that elevation; nothing could stand between him and

his wish; he urged God to grant him his request; with importunate desire he

besought that he might have his own way; and there is no punishment

heavier than that which falls upon any man when God allows him to take

his own course.  God does much to lead men to forsake sin and follow

holiness; He gave His own beloved Son as a sacrifice for the abolition of sin

and the salvation of the sinner; he is working for these ends by many and

powerful agencies; for these objects He will do everything that He can,

everything that is consistent with His own holiness and with the moral

constitution which He has given to man. But one thing He will not do — He

will not compel men to forsake their own evil ways and walk in His way of

holiness. And if men were forced into righteousness of action, what would

such righteousness be worth? The obedience which is not willing is

mechanical, not moral. The goodness which is not hearty is in the sight of

God but a dead and hypocritical form.



SIN ITSELF. “Wherefore I delivered her up into the hand of her lovers,

into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.”  The cause which

at last brought destruction on Israel was that the King of Assyria found

conspiracies in Hoshea, who was intriguing with Egypt at the same time that

he acknowledged himself a tributary to Assyria (II Kings 17:4).  Matthew

Henry says “The neighboring nations, whose idolatries she had

conformed to and whose friendship she had confided in, and in both had

affronted God, are now made use of as the instruments of her destruction.

The Assyrians, on whom she doted, soon spied out the nakedness of the

land, discovered her blind side, on which to attack her, stripped her of all

her ornaments and all her defenses, and so uncovered her, and made her

naked and bare, carried her sons and daughters into captivity, slew her with

the sword, and quite destroyed that kingdom and put an end to it .... And

that the Assyrians, whom they had been so fond of, should be employed in

executing judgments upon them, was very remarkable, and shows how

God, in a way of righteous judgment, often makes that a scourge to sinners

which they have inordinately set their hearts upon. The devil will for ever

be a tormentor to those impenitent sinners who now hearken to him and

comply with him as a tempter.”   God often  employs tempters to punish

those who listen to them. And Shakespeare:


“Heaven is most just, and of our pleasant vices

Makes instruments to scourge us.”


In the righteous government of God punishment is not arbitrarily annexed

to sin: it grows out of the sin. As Hesiod observes, “The seeds of our own

punishment are sown at the same time we commit sin.” “Whatsoever a man

soweth, that shall he also reap,” etc. (Galatians 6:7-8). If men will trust

in riches or rank, in pleasure or power; if they will live for these things,

their life will bear its appropriate fruit. These their gods will prove their

ruin. Their hopes will be utterly disappointed, their lives deplorably

impoverished and degraded, and their souls lost. Let us take heed to the

object of our trust. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and

whose hope the Lord is,” etc. (Jeremiah 17:7-8).  The teaching of God

is “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own

understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct

thy paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6);  Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God

and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

(Matthew 6:33)


11 “And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in

her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her

sister in her whoredoms.  12  She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbors,

captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses,

all of them desirable young men.”  The issue of the Assyrian alliance in the fall of

Samaria might have served as a warning to the kings of Judah. But it did not. They

also ‘courted the alliance of the kings of Assyria, as in the case of Ahaz

(II Kings 16:7-10) and Tiglath-Pileser. Hezekiah followed in the same

line, though he too trusted in Egypt, and afterwards rebelled. Manasseh too

paid tribute, and made Jerusalem the scene of a confluent idolatry, which

included that of Assyria. Even Josiah went forth against Pharaoh-Necho as

the faithful vassal of either Assyria or Babylon. The splendor which had

fascinated Samaria fascinated her also. Here clothed most gorgeously takes

the place of “clothed in blue” in v. 6, describing, probably, the same fact.



Doting on the Assyrians (v. 12)


This foolish, fatal infatuation of Israel for the Assyrians may be taken as a

striking instance of the fascination of worldliness. Israel had known the

true God, and had been called to a peculiar destiny as a holy and separate

nation; yet she turned aside from her high vocation, lured by the fatal

charms of military splendor and sensuous luxury in a great heathen empire.



FROM THE WORLD.  Who hears the call of God must follow Him into the

wilderness, or, if He gives them a land flowing with milk and honey, must

still keep themselves apart from the evil world. This does not mean the

physical separation of a hermit’s exile or a monk’s cloistered imprisonment.

The true separation is spiritual, not local. We are called to forsake the spirit

of the world, to renounce its evil practices, and to repudiate its low,

material, sensuous tone of life. 



GOD. It is not content to let them stand aloof; it appears as a tempter

trying to charm the bride of Christ into infidelity. We cannot afford to

despise its fascinating influence, for this is most subtle and potent. It comes

through various means.


Ø      Proximity. Assyria was a “neighbor” of Israel. The Church is in the

world. Christian men are in daily intercourse with worldly men. “Evil

communications corrupt good manners.”  (I Corinthians 15:33)


Ø      Earthly attractiveness. There was a material splendor in the great empire

of Assyria which the marvelous sculptures and inscriptions that have been

made familiar to us by Layard and others put beyond question. The

“governors and rulers clothed most gorgeously,” and the horsemen,

“all of them desirable young men,” awoke the admiration of the poor

little semi-barbarous nation, ISRAEL.   The luxury of the world, its

luscious literature and sensuous art, its enormous resources, and its

elaborate culture of earthly refinement, are necessarily most fascinating.


Ø      Natural inclination. The world could not touch us for harm if it found

nothing sympathetic in us. But it easily discovers remains of its old

dominion. The old Adam is not quite dead. Passion within may be roused

to answer to temptation from without.



ARE ENTANGLED IN THEM. Israel’s doting upon the Assyrians was



o       to her religion,

o       her morals, and



 To succumb to the spirit of the world is to MAKE SHIPWRECK OF LIFE!


Ø      Religious ruin. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Luke 16:13)

The spirit of worldliness is antagonistic to God. As surely as this spirit gains

ground in our lives, the spirit of devotion will recede.


Ø      Moral ruin. True worldliness is morally evil. It is not a mere habit of

external and earthly living. It carries with it the indulgence of

THE LOWER LIFE!  At least it tends to this, and all its fascinations

drag the soul down.


Ø      Life-ruin. In the end the Christian man who gives himself up to the

attractions of worldly living will reap the consequences of his sin in

corruption and death.  (Galatians 6:7-8)


13 “Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,

14 And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men

portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed

with vermilion,” The sin of Judah went a stop further than that of Samaria. She

courted the alliance of the Chaldeans. Probably the sojourn of Manasseh at

Babylon (II Chronicles 33:11) led him to see in that city a possible rival

to Assyria. The embassy of Merodach-Baladan to Hezekiah (Isaiah 39.)

implies, on the other hand, that Babylon was looking to Judah for support

against Assyria. The prophet represents this political coquetting, so to

speak, as another act of whoredom. Aholibah saw the images of the

Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion (probably “red ochre:” colors seem

to have been used largely both in Assyrian and Babylonian sculpture as in

Egyptian, and Judah seems to have copied them, Jeremiah 22:14) and

fell in love with them. As the passions of a Messalina might be roused by

sensuous pictures of masculine beauty (today pornography is the bane of

many! – CY – 2014), so Judah was led on by what her envoys reported of

the magnificence of the palaces, the strength of the armies, of the Chaldeans.

The journey of Jonah to Nineveh, and those implied in Hosea 7:11, as well as

the prophecy of Nahum, all indicate a more or less intimate knowledge of the

Mesopotamian monarchies. The mission of Merodach-Baladan would be

naturally followed by a return embassy from Judah. A later instance under

Zedekiah meets us in Jeremiah 29:3.


15 “Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon

their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the

Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity:”  Exceeding in dyed attire;

better, with dyed turbans, or tiaras, such as are seen on the Assyrian monuments

of Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Kouyunyik.


16 “And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them,

and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.”  17  And the Babylonians

came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom,

and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.

18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness:

then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from

her sister.”  The words paint the intimate alliance, the political prostitution,

as it were, involved in the alliance with Babylon. Her mind was alienated

from them. Interpreted by the history, the words point to the fact that

Judah soon found out how hollow was the help gained by the alliance with

Babylon, and turned, after Josiah’s death, to Egypt as a counterpoise. As in

the history of Amnon (II Samuel 13:15), lust, when it had wrought its

will, passed into loathing and disgust. Jehoiakim and Zedekiah were

examples of what we may well call this distracted policy. But, as it was,

this alienation did but increase her guilt. As things were, it would have

been better, as Jeremiah all along counseled, to accept the rule of the

Chaldeans. The mind of Jehovah was alienated from Jerusalem as hers had

been from the Chaldeans.


19  “Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the

days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of

Egypt.” The disappointment and failure, however, did not lead to repentance.

Foreign alliances, and with them foreign idolatries, were courted more eagerly

than ever, though in a different direction. The lovers were changed, but the

harlotry went on.


20 “For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of

asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.  21 Thus thou calledst to

remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the

Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.”  She doted on her paramours.

Commonly the word is used of a concubine (Genesis 22:24; Judges 8:31).

Here it is used in scorn of the Egyptian princes whose favor Judah courted,

reminding us of Homer’s Ἀχαιίδες οὐκετ Ἀχαίοι - Achaiides ouket Achaioi

as indicating their political weakness. All that need be said of the comparison

that follows is that here also Ezekiel follows in the footsteps of Jeremiah

(Jeremiah 5:8). What is indicated is that Judah threw herself into the idolatrous

ritual of Egypt with an almost orgiastic passion. The harlot nation returned,

as it were, to her first love, and RENEWED THE WHOREDOMS OF HER



22 “Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will

raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated,

and I will bring them against thee on every side;

23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and

Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young

men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them

riding upon horses.” The lovers from whom the mind of Judah was

alienated were, as in v. 17, the Chaldeans. With these are joined Pekod,

and Shoa, and Koa. The Authorized and Revised Versions, following the

Septuagint take these as proper names, and Ewald Smend, and Furst find in

them those of Chaldean tribes. The Vulgate, followed by Luther, gives

nobiles, tyrannosque, et principes, and Keil and Hengstenberg substantially

adopt this rendering, giving “rulers, lords, and nobles.” Pekod appears as

a place in Jeremiah 50:21 (compare Schrader’s ‘Cuneiform Inscriptions,’ 2.

pp. 32, 117,120, where Shoa and Koa are identified with Medo-Elamite

tribes east of the Tigris), but the other names are unknown to history. On

the whole, the balance seems in favor of the rendering in the text. With

these are joined all the Assyrians, who, under Nebuchadnezzar, fought, of

course, in his armies.” Now she should see her desirable young men…

riding upon horses (the prophet repeats with sarcasm the phrase v.12)

in another guise than she had expected.


24 “And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and

wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against

thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set

judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their

judgments.” With chariots, wagons, and wheels, etc. The first word is

only found here, and probably means “armor.” So the Revised Version,

with weapons, chariots, and wagons. They shall judge thee according to

their judgments; sc. shall execute the judgment which God has assigned

to them after their own manner, so their usual cruel treatment of barbarous



25 “And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal

furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears;

and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons

and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire.

26 They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair

jewels.”  They shall take away thy nose and thine ears, etc. (For

instances of this or like mutilation, in the case of prisoners of war, see the

case of Zedekiah, Jeremiah 52:11; Herod., 3:69, 154.) Possibly it may

have been known to Ezekiel as a punishment for the adulterer or adulteress

in Egypt and other countries, and if so, he might have selected it as

specially appropriate to his parable. Thy residue shall be consumed with fire.

The Hebrew word for “residue” (not that usually so translated) is the same

as that previously translated “remnant.” In the first clause it clearly points to

the men of Jerusalem who are left after the capture. In the second its meaning

is determined by the fact that it follows after the deportation of the sons and

daughters. All that was left — in the parable, of the mutilated trunk of the

adulteress, in the history, of the devastated city, sc. the empty houses —

should be destroyed by fire.


27 “Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy

whoredom brought from the land of Egypt: so that thou shalt not

lift up thine eyes unto them, nor remember Egypt any more.”

Thy whoredom brought from the land of Egypt; i.e. the last

political alliance between Judah and Egypt. This, together with the

Egyptian cultus that accompanied it, should be made to cease. That would

no longer be in the thoughts of the exiles; their hopes from that quarter

were extinguished forever.




            A Severe Judgment and Its Satisfactory Consequences

                                                            (v. 27)


“Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom

brought from the land of Egypt,” etc. The sin referred to in this verse is the

idolatry of the people. Two of its clauses make this quite clear. “Thy

whoredom brought from the land of Egypt;… thou shalt not lift up thine

eyes unto them.” The form of the idols which Jeroboam set up he derived

from Egypt, where he had resided for some time. In setting up the golden

calves at Bethel and Dan he “translated to Israelitish soil the worship which

he had seen at Memphis and Heliopolis (1 Kings 12:26-36). And,

what is more important for the illumination of our text, which is addressed

to the people of Judah, the whole Israelitish people brought with them their

deep-rooted tendency to idolatry when they came out of Egypt. Two chief

points are presented to our notice.



SATISFACTORY CONSEQUENCES. God had already visited the

kingdom of Israel with His judgments because of their idolatries. He had

sent famine upon them (1 Kings 17:1; 18:1-2); He had allowed them to

suffer by the invasions of their enemies (II Kings 6:24-29; 10:32-33;

13:3-4, 7). Amos the prophet forcibly sets forth these visitations of Israel

by reason of their sins (Amos 4:6-11). And as all these judgments failed

to turn them from idolatry, the Lord suffered them to be carried captive

into Assyria (II Kings 17:3-6). These things should have been a warning

to the people of Judah to keep clear of idolatry; yet they frequently lapsed

into it. God had caused them also to suffer by reason of it (II Kings

18:13-16; 21:1-15; 23:31-35; 24:1-4, 10-16). But these judgments did not

cleanse the kingdom of Judah of idolatry. Checked for a time, the sinful

practice broke out vigorously again. And in consequence, the complete

destruction of Jerusalem, the utter overthrow of the kingdom, and the

captivity of the people, are declared to be at hand. And the text asserts

that, by means of this severe judgment, the people would be finally and

forever freed from idolatry. And the result has proved the prophetic

assertion true. One effect of the Captivity was the complete eradication of

the tendency of the Jews to idolatry; “so that whereas, before the Captivity,

no nation (all things considered) was more impetuously bent upon idols

and idolatry than they were, after that Captivity no nation was more

vehemently set against idols and idolatry than they were.” The sin of

idolatry is not limited to those who are called heathen. Dr. Thomas Guthrie

says truly, “In a sense all men are idolaters. In the days of old, it is said that

Egypt had more gods than men. Elsewhere than in Egypt, everywhere, as

the Bible says, ‘there be gods many and lords many.’ (I Corinthians 8:5)

The Hindu reckons his divinities by thousands and tens of thousands; yet the

world has a larger pantheon — as many gods as it has objects, be they

innocent or guilty, which usurp the place of Jehovah, and dethrone Him in

the creature’s heart.  Nor are men less idolaters if drunkards, though they pour

out no libation to Bacchus, the god of wine; nor less idolaters, if impure, that

they burn no incense at the shrine of Venus; nor less idolaters, if lovers of

wealth, that they do not mold their god into an image of Plutus, and, giving a

shrine to what lies hoarded in their coffers, offer it their morning and evening

prayers. He has been an idolater, who, rebelling against Providence,

follows the hearse of a coffined god; he made an idol of wife or child; and

now, when the robber of all our homes has stolen these his gods away, and

bears off his plunder to the grave, the feelings of that man’s heart may be

expressed in Micah’s complaint to the Danite robbers, ‘Ye have taken

away my gods which I made, and what have I more? and what is this that

ye say unto me, What aileth thee?’ (Judges 18:24) ‘Let no one deem it

strange if God should visit him for his idolatries. He may do so by forcibly

removing the idol, by depriving the idolater of the riches which he has

worshipped, or by taking to Himself the child or other relative which has

been made an idol. Or He may visit those who sin thus by making the idol

the occasion of sharp sorrow or bitter trial, as when a child has been idolized

by his parents, and grows up to “bring down their grey hairs with sorrow to

the grave.” Blessed will it be if such visitation leads to the turning of the

heart entirely to God.



FULFILLED. “Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee,” etc.

“This prediction is frequently repeated; and the accomplishment of it has

been most wonderful. It might have been expected that a nation, ever

prone to idolatry in a country where the worship of the true God was

established and none else tolerated, would have readily conformed to the

idolatrous usages of the nations among whom they were scattered by the

Captivity, and so have been incorporated with them. Yet neither the

authority, the frowns, the examples, or the favor of their conquerors or

powerful neighbors; nor their own fears, hopes, interests, or predilection

for the sensual, jovial worship of idols, could prevail with them to run into

gross idolatry, during the Captivity or afterwards! Nay, they were

instrumental to the proselyting of numbers of idolaters to the worship of

Jehovah, in the countries where they were dispersed” (Scott). This is

certainly a remarkable fulfillment of prophetic prediction; and it furnishes:


Ø      Evidence of the omniscience of God. He clearly and certainly foresaw

what the result of the Captivity would be in this respect. Such

foreknowledge points to THE OMNISCIENCE OF HIM WHO

POSSESSES IT!  “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou

                        understandest my thought afar off.  Thou compassest my path

                        and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou

knowest it altogether (Psalm 139:1-4) This knowledge should prove:


o       A restraint to the evildoer. There is no possibility of sinning in

secret (compare Job 34:21-22; Psalm 90:8; Hebrews 4:13).


o       An inspiration and consolation to every one who trusts in God.

“Our individual life,” to use the words of Dr. Parker, “is all

understood by Him.  That life is but dimly known to ourselves.

We catch glimpses of it here and there, but its scope and meaning

are still unrevealed to us. We are often in the shadow. There are

scattered rays of light, but no steady shining of the sun which

protects us from the mystery of much darkness. It is enough that

God knows our life, and that His wisdom is pledged as our defense.

Tomorrow is coming upon us, and we know not with what messages

and revelations, with what joys and troubles; but God is coming

with it, and in his path is the brightness of all-sufficient wisdom.”


Ø      Evidence of the Divine inspiration of the prophet. The influence of past

judgments upon the people could not have led Ezekiel to have predicted

such a result of the Captivity, but one of an opposite character. The

character of the people and the circumstances of their captivity were not

calculated to inspire a declaration like this. It could not have been the

product of mere human genius in an exalted mood, or human foresight

in a condition of intense activity. Such a prediction must have been

communicated to the prophet BY HIM TO WHOM ALL THINGS



·         CONCLUSION. “Guard yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21)


28 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the

hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom

thy mind is alienated:”  Once again with incisive sarcasm the prophet

reiterates the phrase of v. 17. The punishment should be all the more terrible as

coming from those whom the adulteress had once loved with the love that

had passed into loathing.


29 “And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy

labor, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of

thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy

whoredoms.  30 I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone

a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.”

All thy labor; sc. all the results of labor, all thy wealth.


31 “Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her

cup into thine hand.  32 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy

sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision;

it containeth much.  33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,

with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister

Samaria.”  I will give her cup into thine hand. (For the image of

the cup as the symbol of good or evil fortune, see Psalm 23:5; Isaiah 51:17;

Jeremiah 25:15; Matthew 20:22; 26:39.) The cup, in this case, was to be

deep and large as that of Samaria. The adulteress was to be “drunk, but

not with wine” (Isaiah 29:9). And that “cup,” over and above the laughter

and derision, would contain much of unknown calamities, the astonishment

and desolation of v. 33.



A Bad Example (v. 31)


Judah followed the bad example of her sister Israel; consequently, she was

to share the fate of Israel We see here an instance of the evil influence of a

bad example, and of its fatal consequences.



fell power is exerted.


Ø      By the fascination of suggestion. The path is made by the pioneer, and

the follower has only to walk in it. The sight of a predecessor indicates

the road, calls attention to it, suggests the idea of walking in it. The

publications of the details of a horrible crime in the newspaper exerts a

most deleterious influence in this way by filling the minds of people with

thoughts of a kindred character. Hence the common occurrence of an

epidemic of similar crimes.


Ø      By the attraction of sympathy. Judah is drawn to follow her sister Israel

When Israel goes wrong, Judah accompanies her and goes wrong in a

similar manner. Affection is fatal when it induces us to copy the vices of

those whom we love. Even sisters must part when one chooses an evil

way, if the other would not also choose sin. But it is hard to resist the

charms of affection.


Ø      By the delusion of a false excuse. Judah pleads the example of her sister

as an excuse. What others are doing seems to be justified by their action.

(Everybody is doing it!  Jesus said, “Wide is the gate, and broad is

the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in

thereat.”  - Matthew 7:13 – What if one gets to the precipice and

wants to turn around but can’t because of the pressure of the throng?

CY – 2014)   Instead of measuring our conduct by the Law of God,

we are tempted to test it by the corresponding conduct of others.



  • THE SIN OF FOLLOWING A BAD EXAMPLE. Judah is blamed for

following the bad example of Israel. It is not for one moment supposed that

the misconduct of her sister could be pleaded as a justification for her own

repetition of it. We cannot be excused in our own sin on the ground that

we are simply treading in the footsteps of predecessors. See how this sin is



Ø      Because the evil of the way is known. The foolish follower is not

deceived. Judah knows that Israel has taken an evil course. Bad examples

may ensnare the careless, but those who have minds to think for them-

selves cannot be blind to the wrong character of the example before them.


Ø      Because of the freedom of the will. A bad example is a temptation to

evil; but it is not a force compelling men to follow. (“There hath no

temptation taken you but such as is common to man:  but God is

faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are

able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that

ye may be able to bear it.”  (I Corinthians 10:13).  Its attraction can only

work through the will, never contrary to it. Therefore one must consent

voluntarily to follow the evil pattern before doing so, and this free consent

destroys the excuse that the example is to blame rather than the man who

imitates it.


Ø      Because of ones own advantages. Judah might plead that she was

sorely tempted by her sister’s example. But then she possessed higher

privileges than Israel. She was Aholibah, while her sister was only Aholah.

She had the temple of God in her midst, while Israel was left to her own

resources. Christians are doubly guilty in following the bad example of

godless men. They sin in spite of higher influences which should suffice to

keep them in the right path.



EXAMPLE. Judah was walking in the way of her sister; therefore she must

drink of her sister’s cup. Companions in guilt will be COMPANIONS IN

DOOM!  It is impossible to walk in the same path as another without going

towards the same goal. Moreover, if higher religious privileges do not keep us

trom following the sinful practices of worldly men, most certainly they will

not protect us from sharing their fate. He who treads the sinner’s flowery path

will drink of the sinner’s bitter cup.


34 “Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the

sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken

it, saith the Lord GOD.  35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because

thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou

also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.”  Thou shalt break the shards thereof.

The picture of the desolate adulteress becomes yet more terrible. Like a forlorn

and desperate castaway, she does shameful execution on herself; breaks her

cup, and completes the work of mutilation in its most terrible form. That is the

doom decreed for her, because she had forgotten her true husband and the

love of her espousals. Revised Version gives gnaw the shards thereof,

painting yet more vividly the despair of the outcast.



Forgetting God (v. 35)



KNOWN. We cannot forget what we have never known. The lower

animal, which is incapable of entertaining a thought of God, cannot forget

him. (“The ox knoweth his owner, and ass his master’s crib:  but

Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider”  (Isaiah 1:3).

If I forget much, I must have known much.


Ø      Men have a natural knowledge of God. Few races, if any, are without a

trace of religion. The science of comparative religion reveals an underlying

primitive theism beneath the tangled growth of later mythology.  Paul

appealed to the natural knowledge of God among the heathen (Acts

17:28; Romans 1:19-20).


Ø      They who have seen the Jewish and Christian revelation have a larger

knowledge of God. Israel had known God by His special manifestations in

the Law, in His providence and miracles, in the prophets. All Christendom

is open to the higher knowledge of God in Christ. Children in Christian

homes and Sunday schools have known God, though they may have

forsaken Him in later days.  (Thank God for the wonderful promise

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he

will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 – CY – 2014)


Ø      The people of God have the fullest knowledge of God. True Israelites

and Christians know God as He is never known to the outer world. They

have the knowledge of experience, spiritual sympathy, and fellowship

(John 14:7).




Ø      He is invisible. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must

worship Him in spirit and in truth  (John 4:24).  The knowledge of God

is held only by faith. The decay of faith leads to forgetting God. It

requires some spiritual effort to keep our hold on the Unseen.


Ø      Earthly interests distract our thoughts. These things are seen, present

and pressing; they crowd about us and force themselves upon us. They

make themselves felt as intensely real. Pleasures of life and cares of life,

fascinating delights and absorbing anxieties, all tend to put out the

thought of God.  (“While we look not at the things which are seen,

but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are

seen are temporal; BUT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT

SEEN ARE ETERNAL!”  (II Corinthians 4:18)


Ø      Sinful inclinations rouse an aversion to the thought of God. He is holy;

He disapproves of sin. It is not pleasant to think of God when we are

choosing the evil way.



our memory by fixing our thoughts upon God. This is not a case of mere

brain failure. There is a moral defect behind it. Apart from all active deeds,

the very forgetting of God is itself wicked on several grounds.


Ø      God has never forgotten us. He has provided for our daily needs, while

we have been ignoring the hand from which the provision came. He is our

Father. Gratitude and love should keep the thought of God warm in our

heart. To forget God implies gross unthankfulness and a base lack of

natural affection.


Ø      God claims our attention and obedience. He is our Lord. He expects us:


o       to listen to His voice,

o       to give heed to His commands, and

o       to obey His will.


But to forget God is to ignore these duties.


  • FORGETTING GOD IS HURTFUL TO MAN. They know not what

they miss who forsake their true life and forget their Father in heaven.

Seeking liberty, THEY COURT DEATH!


Ø      This is the loss of the best blessings of Heaven.


o       The light of God’s countenance is DESPISED!

o       His guidance, comfort, support, and salvation


o       The joy of communion is RENOUNCED!


Ø      This incurs A FATAL DOOM!   God cannot let us forget Him forever.

If we do not remember His love today, we may encounter His wrath

tomorrow (Psalm 44:20-21).





Ø      He reveals Himself in His Word. The revelation of nature is daily

spread before us (Psalm 19:1-6). But when that is despised, God

adds the more clear voice of prophecy. We have the open Bible

to remind us of God.  (What is your personal attitude towards

God’s Word?  If it is not ideal, I highly recommend Amos 8 - The

Blank Bible by Henry Rogers – this website – CY – 2014).


Ø      God comes to us in His Son. As men had forgotten Him, God came

Right down among them, looked at them through a human countenance,

And spoke in a human voice. Christ comes to save us from forgetting



Ø      God rouses us by His providence. We are forgetting God while all

goes smoothly. Then His thunders burst over us. They startle and

alarm, but they awaken. Thus God saves us from forgetting Him.


36 “The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge

Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations;”

As often, Ezekiel emphasizes by reiteration, begins yet a fresh

discourse with the same words, wilt thou judge, as in ch. 20:4 and

22:2, and enters on another summary of the sins of the two harlot sisters, in

which Moloch-worship (v. 37) and sabbath-breaking (v. 38) were

conspicuous elements. The nature of the guilt is emphasized (vs. 38, 39)

by the fact that the idolatrous ritual was performed on the very day in

which the people sacrificed in the temple; that it found a local habitation

even there (compare ch. 8:17; II Kings 21.; Jeremiah 32:34).




Abominations Declared (v. 36)




Ø      They may be committed in secret. Then they are unknown to every

one but the guilty persons and their accomplices.


Ø      Their corrupt character may not be admitted. Then they may be done

in open daylight without shame or rebuke. Not only the public, but

even the guilty persons themselves, may not perceive the full evil of

what they are doing.


Ø      They may be forgotten. People do not wish to call to mind a

disagreeable past. As the years glide by it slides further and

further into the dim land of forgetfulness. By dint of reiterated

self-flattery the guilty persons almost persuade themselves that

they did not do the evil things of those old bad years, or that

somehow they have left their former selves behind them in that

evil past; or they put the thought of it quite out of their minds.



forget them. The recording angel has written them in his awful book with

ink that never fades. The subtle poison of them lingers in the souls of the

guilty. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Some seeds

take long to germinate. But the seeds of evil deeds have a fatal vitality,

though they be slow to make an appearance. We cannot escape the

consequences of our misdeeds by forgetting them.



TO THE GUILTY ON EARTH. It is no piece of idle vengeance that

tortures Israel with a revelation of its abominations.


Ø      It is well for the guilty to know them. There is no chance of repentance

until the heinousness of sin is acknowledged. But that this may be the

case, the abominations must first be revealed to the sinner. There may

be little good in proclaiming his guilt aloud to the world. What is

needed is that it should be brought well home to his own conscience.


Ø      It is well that they should be known now. If men wait for the certain

revelation of final judgment, the abominations will be declared in

trumpet tones of denunciation, and burned into the soul in memories

of fire. It is infinitely better to become conscious of them first, that

 the awakening knowledge of guilt may perchance lead to contrition

and repentance.



too merciful to permit His children to perish without warning. The Bible

contains awful revelations of human sin. If we take it as a lamp, and turn its

light on our own lives and into our own hearts, it will reveal many an

abomination of wickedness hitherto calmly ignored. The prophets of Israel

were required to reveal man’s sin quite as much as to make known the

thoughts and will of God. John the Baptist came to prepare for Christ by

declaring to men the abominations of their ways. Christ Himself makes men

feel their sin by His own holy presence. So Peter feared to be near Him

(Luke 5:8). A vision of Christ throws a wholesome light on the hideous

condition of an impenitent soul. This is to lead to repentance and salvation

through Christ. Then the abominations may be blotted out (1 John 1:7).


37 “That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and

with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their

sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour

them.  38 Moreover this they have done unto me:  they have defiled my

sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.  39 For

when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same

day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the

midst of mine house.”  As often, Ezekiel emphasizes by reiteration, begins yet a

fresh discourse with the same words, wilt thou judge, as in ch.20:4 and

22:2, and enters on another summary of the sins of the two harlot sisters, in

which Moloch-worship (v. 37 – Today it is called abortion) and sabbath-breaking

(v. 38) were conspicuous elements. The nature of the guilt is emphasized (vs. 38-39)

by the fact that the idolatrous ritual was performed on the very day in

which the people sacrificed in the temple; that it found a local habitation

even there (compare ch. 8:17; II Kings 21.; Jeremiah 32:34).




                        The Exclusiveness of the Worship of the Lord God

                                                            (vs. 38-39)


“Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in

the same day,” etc. The chief practical suggestions of our text may be

arranged under three heads.




their children to their idols” (. 39). “They have caused their sons,

whom they bare unto me, to pass through the fire unto them to be

devoured (v. 37). We have already noticed the offering of children to

Moloch (ch. 16:20-21). And in this age and in this professedly

Christian land people make sacrifices which bear some resemblance to

these in spirit. (Not so now - IN THE UNITED STATES AND AROUND

THE WORLD IT IS DONE IN REALITY!  - CY - 2022)  How many

respectable and avowedly Christian parents sacrifice their daughters in

marriage to mammon l The man may be unsuitable in age, uncongenial

in temper, immoral in character and conduct; but, if he be rich, he is

welcomed as a suitor. How frequently, too, are the best and the abiding

interests of children — their intellectual, spiritual, and eternal interests —

risked, or even sacrificed, by their parents, in order that they may attain

unto higher social status or gain worldly honors and distinctions! And in

other ways practices which are worthy only of heathen intelligence and

morality are at work amongst us.




SERVICE OF THE LIVING GOD. “When they had slain their children to

their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it;

and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.” The Prophet

Jeremiah complains of a similar sin: “Will ye steal, murder, and commit

adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after

other gods whom ye have not known; and come and stand before me in

this house, which is called by my Name, and say, We are delivered; that ye

may do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9-10). The sin is not

unknown amongst us in these days. Men are on the racecourse, with its

cruelty, profanity, and gambling, on the weekday, and on Sunday they

enter the sanctuary of God, and take part in its services. There are those

who, during the week, visit scenes of drunkenness and profligacy, and on

the Lord’s day they go to church and unite in the forms of worship. It is an

ill preparation for the sacred engagements of the house of God to spend

the Saturday evening in the public house, worshipping Bacchus. Nor is the

character of the case much altered when persons attend church on Sunday

morning, and spend the remainder of the day in social festivity and





have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and

have profaned my sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their

idols,” etc. We may show this by noticing:


Ø      That these things should be held in reverence.


o        Because they were instituted by God. He ordained the sabbath and

the sanctuary. They rest upon the basis of DIVINE AUTHORITY!.


o        Because they were instituted for His glory. Both the sabbath and the

sanctuary are for the worship of the Most High. Both are intended to

promote the best interests of man, to elevate him as a spiritual and

immortal being, and thus to enable him more fully to glorify God.

As man grows:


§         in spiritual purity and power,

§         in righteousness and  kindness towards men, and

§         in reverence and devotion towards God,


his life contributes to thehonor of God. The sabbath and the

sanctuary, when properly used, further these ends.


Ø      The conduct exhibited and condemned in the text is most irreverent in

relation to these things.


o        Because it puts the sanctuary and. the sabbath on the low level of

heathen institutions and customs. So did the people of Israel and

of Judah. How many today attend religious services for no higher

reason than this, that it is socially respectable to do so.


o        Because it disparages them in the eyes of observers. If men form

their opinion of religious services and ordinances from such persons

as take part in them on Sunday, and during the rest of the week lead

lives of a character which is in utter opposition to them, they must

conclude that they are shams and unworthy of the regard of true men.


o        Because it is insulting to God. Such conduct implies that our outward

and empty forms and ceremonies can please Him, or that He will

accept our attendance upon His worship as a compensation for our

disregard of his will when we are absent from His house. But the

Lord looketh on the heart,” (I Samuel 16:7) He rejects the worship

which is offered to Him by such persons as hypocritical service and

offensive to Him (compare Psalm 50:7-23; Isaiah 1:11-15).


·         CONCLUSION. The worship of God is exclusive.


Ø      “Thou shalt have none other gods before me;”  (Exodus 20:3)

Ø      “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou

      serve;” (Luke 4:8)

Ø      “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Matthew 6:24)


Let us cultivate decision and thoroughness in His service. How different

from the conduct condemned in the text was:


Ø      that of Cyprian. On his way to martyrdom he was told by the

      emperor that he would give him time to consider if he had not

better cast a grain of incense into the fire in honor of

            the idol-gods than die so ignominiously. Cyprian replied,

“There needs no deliberation in the case.”

Ø      John Huss, at the stake, was offered a pardon if he would recant.

His reply was, “I am here, ready to suffer death.”

Ø      Thomas Hawkes, in like circumstances, said, “If I had a hundred

      bodies, I would suffer them all to be torn in pieces, rather than



Let us seek to be alike true, whole-hearted, and firm

in our allegiance to our Lord.


40 “And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto

whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou

didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with

ornaments, 41 And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared

before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.”

Ye have sent for men to come from far, etc. The words

obviously refer to the embassies which had been sent from time to time by

both Samaria and Jerusalem to Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. The imagery

of the earlier stage of the harlot’s progress is resumed, and we have a

picture almost the counterpart of that in Proverbs 7:10-21. She takes

her bath, paints her eyelashes with kohol, the black pigment still used in the

East, as Jezebel had done (II Kings 9:30). She decks herself with

jewels, and sits on a divan (a sofa-conch, rather than bed), and prepares a

table for a banquet. And on that table are the incense and the oil, symbols

alike of wealth and worship, which Jehovah claims as His, and which she

offers to her lovers (compare ch. 16:13, 19; Hosea 2:5, 8).


42 And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with the

men of the common sort were brought Sabeans from the

wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful

crowns upon their heads.” A voice of a multitude, etc. The word for “multitude”

is strictly tumult, and Keil and Currey render, The voice of tumult became

still,” sc. the threats of the alien powers whom Judah courted were for a

time hushed by the tributes thus paid to them. With the men of the

common sort; literally, as in the margin, of the multitude of men. Sabeans

from the wilderness. The Revised Version, with Keil and almost all recent

commentators, follows the margin, drunkards. “Sabeans” rests on a Jewish

rendering of the text, but, as a people, the Sabeans, who dwelt south of Meroe,

though named in Isaiah 45:14, were too remote to come within the horizon of

the parable. What Ezekiel dwells on is the ever-growing degradation of the

harlot city. Not only the officers of the Chaldeans, but the mixed multitude,

the very drunkards from the wilderness of Babylon, were admitted to her

embraces. Possibly the word may point to the false gods to whom libations

of wine were offered, but I incline to refer it rather to those who got drunk

at their idol-festivals even in Jerusalem. Drunkenness was one of the vices

of the Babylonians, and the prophets, who admired the Rechabites and the

Nazarites (Jeremiah 35.; Amos 2:11), must have looked on Judah’s participation

in that sin as a measureless degradation. The bracelets and crowns symbolize

the wealth and prestige which the Chaldean alliance was supposed to bring

with it.



                        The Foreign and the Common (vs. 40, 42)


In v. 40 Israel is seen to be seeking distant foreign connections, like a

faithless wife who goes far afield for companions in sin. In v. 42 the

charm of the distant and the foreign is swallowed up in the vulgarity of sin,

which is the same in essence all the world over.


·         THE CHARM OF THE FOREIGN. The Jews were especially warned

against foreign alliances, as they meant distrust in God, and as they led to

the introduction of corrupting heathen influences. Nevertheless, the foolish

people gave way to the fatal fascination of foreigners.


Ø      There is a charm in novelty. We are tempted to accept alien ideas just

because they strike us with a certain freshness. Thus all sorts of earthly

notions and practices have been imported into God’s Israel, the Christian

Church, by men who have been “sent for from far”; i.e. by the influence of

external philosophy and worldly example. 


Ø      There is an attraction in cosmopolitanism.  We have wide and varied

      relations with the world, and Christianity claims all the earth as its domain.

But the fatal charm is that of following the example of the various practices

of mankind instead of impressing a Christian influence on the race. This

was Israel’s mistake. Called to carry out a mission to the world, she

succumbed to the spirit of the world. There is great danger lest the Church

should follow her example in this respect. Indeed, this has happened already

to a deplorable extent. A pseudo-liberalism claims to be following the

zeit-geist (the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as

shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time) and so to be adapting

Christianity to the world. This means unfaithfulness to Christ. St.

Paul would be all things to all men, but only that he might win all men to

Christ, never so as to surrender Christ to please the world. That is the

part of a Judas.


·         THE DISILLUSION OF THE COMMON. Israel and Judah cast

wistful glances on the foreigner. But when they had accomplished their

purpose and were indulging in revelry with a multitude of people who had

adorned them with the barbaric magnificence of golden bracelets and

crowns, what did it all amount to but the shame of a low, drunken

debauch? Novelty in sin does not elevate the evil thing, which is essentially

the same, however it may be clothed and decorated. The so-called

refinement of vice is but a veneer on the surface which leaves the

rottenness beneath untouched. Cosmopolitanism does not save from moral

corruption. The whole world is essentially one in its sin. There is a horrible

vulgarity about all wickedness. If we would be saved from this we must in

a sense become a “separate people.” We may and we should still

sympathize with all our fellow-men, send the gospel to every nation and

ourselves learn such lessons as a wide view of mankind may teach us. Yet

for all the higher efforts of life the inspiration must be found in the retired

and secret chamber of prayer.


43 “Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now

commit whoredoms with her, and she with them?”  44 “Yet they went

in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot: so went

they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.”

The whole verse is obscure, and has been very differently rendered.


  • The Authorized Version may be paraphrased, “Then said I to her that

was worn out with her whoredoms, passed her prime and enfeebled, Will

they (the foreign nations) commit whoredoms (enter into alliances) with

her? sc. What is there to attract now? And yet the habit is inveterate. She

has grown old in her vice, and cannot cease from it.”


  • The Revised Version takes it not as a question, but as a statement: Now

said I of her that was old in adulteries, Now will they commit, etc. So, in

the main, Keil. The text is probably corrupt, and resists conjectural

emendation. In any ease the general meaning is clear. The sin is of too

long standing TO BE CURED!


45 And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of

adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood;

because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.”

The righteous men are in effect the ministers of God’s wrath.

The doom comes at last on both the sisters, who are murderers as well as

adulteresses. They shall suffer the punishment of stoning which the Law

commanded (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22, 24; John 8:5), and after

that their bodies were to be hacked to pieces. The result of that judgment would

be that all women should learn NOT TO DO AFTER THEIR LEWDNESS!

(America has added this to their rebellion and departure from God – the idea

that somehow, capital punishment is not a deterrent! – CY – 2014) i.e. that

idolatry should cease from being the sin of the cities of Israel.



46 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon

them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.

47 And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them

with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters,

and burn up their houses with fire.

48 Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women

may be taught not to do after your lewdness.

49 And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall

bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord





                                    Inexcusable Infidelity (vs. 1-49)


What it must have cost the patriotic prophet to write this chapter passes

our power to imagine. The Jew was naturally and pardonably proud of his

country and of its history. No thoughtful Jew could, indeed, be insensible

to imperfections and flaws in the national character, to stains upon the

nation’s annals. But in this passage of his prophecies the dark shading is

relieved by no gleam of light. Israel is depicted as bad from the days of

Egyptian bondage down to the days of Babylonian captivity. The figurative

language employed is such as could only be justified by facts most

discreditable to the character of the Hebrew people. That there were

exceptions to the rule, Ezekiel was well aware. But the rule was that the

people were, at every stage of their existence, prone to depart from the

God to whom they owed every privilege, every blessing; that they resisted

no temptation to idolatry; that they were incessantly provoking the anger

and just condemnation of the theocratic king. To complete the horror of

the representation, the northern and southern tribes are alike included in

the indictment and in the guilt. Penetrating beneath the faithful but very

repulsive, yet necessary and just, similitude employed by the prophet, to

the moral and spiritual lessons thus conveyed, we may trace the story of

the inexcusable infidelity of Judah and Israel as related without

exaggeration by one of their own race.



ISRAEL. We have but to turn to the Books of Kings and of Chronicles to

see that in this respect the northern and southern kingdoms were alike, if

not equally, guilty. In the record we find, notwithstanding certain

remarkable exceptions in the case of Judah, that kings and people

continually forsook their Divine Deliverer and rightful King, and addicted

themselves to the degrading idolatries practiced by the surrounding





wanderings in the wilderness is a sufficient proof of this. The worship of

the golden calf is a well-known instance of the readiness of Israel to fall

back into the Egyptian idolatry, which, it might have been supposed, they

had forever left behind them when they crossed the Red Sea, and witnessed

the powerlessness of the gods of Egypt to save Pharaoh and his mighty but

misguided host.




frank and painful language of the prophet is depicted the fatal readiness of

the Israelites to yield themselves to the seductions of the Oriental

idolatries, and even to go out of their way to court the corruption which

they should have eschewed. Compared with the pure and stately rites

instituted by Divine command, and celebrated in the temple courts of

Jerusalem, the worship of the Assyrians was inexpressibly degrading. The

length of time during which the Hebrews had enjoyed peculiar privileges

increased their culpability in transferring, at this period, the allegiance they

owed to the true God from Him to the contemptible idols of Assyria.



PEOPLE WHOM HE HAD CHOSEN. As the soul of a husband is

estranged from the adulteress who has deserted him, so the Lord declared

His soul to be alienated from her whom He had signalized by His favor.

Israel had forsaken the one incomparably holy and gracious God, and had

attached herself to the lords many and the gods many of the surrounding

peoples; and such conduct could not but raise a barrier between Jehovah

and the nation that had shown such insensibility to His favor, and such

readiness to yield to the advances of His enemies.




INSTIGATION IT WAS COMMITTED. How remarkable the threat, “I

will raise up thy lovers against thee!” By Assyria Judah and Israel were

corrupted; and by Assyria they were chastened. They alienated the Lord,

and yet found no help from the false gods for whose sake they had deserted




PUNISHMENT. Alike they sinned, and alike they suffered. They incurred

the same fate, and from the same sword. Samaria and Judah alike endured

the sorrows of the Eastern captivity and the shock of the Eastern armies.



In various figures, each with its own dark shade of significance, the

prophet portrays the impending fate of the guilty, apostate nations. They

were mutilated; they were compelled to drink the cup of astonishment and

desolation; they were consumed with fire and slain with the sword.



BRING IT TO AN END. “Thus will I cause lewdness [i.e. idolatry] to

cease out of the land, that all women [i.e. nations] may be taught not to do

after your lewdness.”




WHO WRONG HIM. “Ye shall know that I am the Lord God.” His honor

He will not give unto another. To our reverence and our obedience, to our

devotion and service, our Creator and Redeemer has an indisputable and

indefeasible claim; and this He will assuredly assert and maintain. He will be

honored, both by:


Ø      the condemnation of the unfaithful and rebellious, and

Ø      by the salvation of the penitent, the submissive, and the loyal.



"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."


This material can be found at:



If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.