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

INDEPENDENT OF GOD IS TO COURT RUIN!

 

  • 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.

 

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:

 

  • DETERMINED PERSISTENCE IN SIN LEADS GOD TO ALLOW

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.

 

  • THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN GENERALLY ARISES OUT OF THE

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.

 

  • GOD’S PEOPLE ARE REQUIRED TO SEPARATE THEMSELVES

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. 

 

  • THE WORLD ENDEAVORS TO ENSNARE THE PEOPLE OF

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.

 

  • THE SNARES OF THE WORLD ARE FATAL TO THOSE WHO

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

fatal:

 

o       to her religion,

o       her morals, and

o       HER NATIONAL EXISTENCE!

 

 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

YOUTH!.

 

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

nations.

 

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.

 

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.

 

  • THE EVIL INFLUENCE OF A BAD EXAMPLE. Consider how this

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

inexcusable.

 

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.

 

  • THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF FOLLOWING A BAD

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)

 

  • FORGETTING GOD IMPLIES THAT HE HAS FORMERLY BEEN

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).

 

  • THERE ARE MANY INDUCEMENTS TO FORGET GOD.

 

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.

 

  • FORGETTING GOD IS ITSELF A GREAT SIN. We can control

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

are NEGLECTED!

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).

 

  • GOD MERCIFULLY INTERFERES TO SAVE US FROM

FORGETTING HIM.

 

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

God.

 

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;”

 

Abominations Declared (v. 36)

 

  • ABOMINATIONS MAY BE HIDDEN.

 

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.

 

  • ABOMINATIONS CANNOT BE HIDDEN FOREVER. God does not

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.

 

  • IT IS BEST THAT ABOMINATIONS SHOULD BE REVEALED

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.

 

  • GOD DECLARES THEIR ABOMINATIONS TO SINNERS. He is

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).

 

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.

 

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

GOD.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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