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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged Commentary Critical Unabridged
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ jfu/ ezekiel-23.html. 1871-8.
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
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The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
The imagery is similar to that in Ezekiel 16:1-63; but here the reference is not, as there, so much to the breach of the spiritual marriage covenant with God by the peoples idolatries, as by their worldly spirit, and their trusting to alliances with the pagan for safety, rather than to God.
Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
There were two women, the daughters of one mother - Israel and Judah, one nation by birth from the same ancestress, Sarah.
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.
They committed whoredoms in Egypt. Even so early in their history as their Egyptian sojourn they committed idolatries (notes, Ezekiel 20:6-8; Joshua 24:14).
In their youth - an aggravation of their sin. It was at the very time of their receiving extraordinary favours from God (Ezekiel 16:6; Ezekiel 16:22).
They bruised the teats of their virginity - namely, the Egyptians, in a spiritual sense, bruised the teats of Israel's and Judah's virginity.
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.
Aholah - i:e., 'Her tent, or her own tent' (put for worship, as the first worship of God in Israel was in a tent or tabernacle), as contrasted with Aholibah - i:e., MY tent in her' [ 'Aahaalaah (H170) ... 'Aahaaliybaah (H172)]. The Bethel-worship of Samaria was of her own devising, not of God's appointment: the temple-worship of Jerusalem was expressly appointed by Yahweh, who "dwelt" there, "setting up His tabernacle among the people as His" (Exodus 25:8; Leviticus 26:11-12; Joshua 22:19; Psalms 76:2, "In Salem (Jerusalem) is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Zion").
The elder - Samaria is called "the older," because she preceded Judah in her apostasy and its punishment.
They were mine. Previous to the apostasy under Jeroboam, Samaria (Israel, or the ten tribes), equally with Judah, worshipped the true God. God therefore never renounced the right over Israel, but sent prophets, as Elijah and Elisha, to declare His will to them.
And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,
Aholah played the harlot when she was mine - literally, 'when she was under me,' - i:e., subject to me as her lawful husband.
She doted ... on the Assyrians her neighbours. On the northeast the kingdom of Israel bordered on that of Assyria, because the latter had occupied much of Syria. Their neighbourhood in locality was emblematic of their being near in corruption of morals and worship. The alliances of Israel with Assyria, which are the chief subject of reprobation here, tended to this (for instance, 2 Kings 15:19, Menahem's connection with Pul king of Assyria; 2 Kings 16:7; 2 Kings 16:9, Ahaz's alliance with Tiglath-pileser; 2 Kings 17:3, Hoshea's connection with Shalmaneser; Hosea 8:9).
Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
Which were clothed with blue ... all of them desirable young men - rather, 'purple' (Fairbairn). As a lustful woman's passions are fired by showy dress and youthful appearance in men, so Israel was seduced by the pomp and power of Assyria.
Captains and rulers - satraps (cf. Isaiah 10:8).
Horsemen - cavaliers.
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.
With all their idols she defiled herself - there was nothing that she refused to her lovers.
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.
Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt - the calves set up in Dan and Bethel by Jeroboam, answering to the Egyptian bull-formed idol Apis. Her alliances with Egypt politically are also meant (Isaiah 30:2-3; Isaiah 31:1). The ten tribes probably resumed the Egyptian idolatrous rites, in order to enlist the Egyptians against Judah; because Shishak king of Egypt would be the natural ally of the ten tribes' kingdom of Israel, as having assailed Jerusalem and taken the fenced cities of Judah in the reign of Rehoboam, from whom Israel had revolted (2 Chronicles 12:2-4).
Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians. God, in righteous retribution, turned their objects of trust into the instruments of their punishment-Pul, Tiglath-pileser, Esarhaddon, and Shalmaneser (2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:3; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:2; Ezra 4:10). 'It was their sin to have sought after such lovers, and it was to be their punishment that these lovers should become their destroyers' (Fairbairn).
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.
She became famous - literally, 'she became a name' - i:e., as notorious by her punishment as she had been by her sins, so as to be quoted as a warning to others.
Among women - i:e., among neighbouring peoples.
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.
When her sister Aholibah saw this. Judah, the southern kingdom though having the "warning" (note, Ezekiel 23:10) of the northern kingdom before her eyes, instead of profiting by it, went to even greater lengths in corruption than Israel. Her greater spiritual privileges made her guilt the greater (Ezekiel 16:47; Ezekiel 16:51; Jeremiah 3:11).
She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.
Captains and rulers ... all of them desirable young men - (Ezekiel 23:6; Ezekiel 23:23).
Clothed most gorgeously - literally, to perfection [ miklowl (H4358)]. Grotius translates, in accordance with the sense of the kindred Chaldaic term [makliylaa'], 'wearing a crown,' or 'chaplet,' such as lovers wore in visiting their mistresses.
Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,
They took both one way - both alike forsaking God for pagan confidences.
And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion,
She saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion - the special colour of the Chaldeans, as purple was of the Assyrians. In striking agreement with this verse is the fact that the Assyrian sculptures lately discovered by Layard have painted and coloured bas-reliefs, red, blue, and black, on the walls of the palaces. The Jews (for instance Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:14, "I will build me a wide house ... painted with vermilion") copied these (cf. Ezekiel 8:10).
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 - rather, 'in ample dyed turbans' literally, 'redundant with dyed turbans' [ cªruwcheey (H5628) Tªbuwliym (H2871)], The Assyrians delighted in ample, flowing, and richly-coloured tunics, scarfs, girdles, and head-dresses or turbans, varying in ornaments according to the rank.
After the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity - between the Black and Caspian seas (note, Isaiah 23:13). Rawlinson has proved that there was a Babylonian earlier kingdom, on the borders of the Persian Gulf, that preceded the Assyrian empire, and long anterior to the later Babylonian empire, which was further north. This accords with Genesis 10:10, "The beginning of his (Nimrod's) kingdom was Babel." Babylon was Hamitic: Assyria Shemitic, The Babylonian vocabulary is found to be Cushite or Ethiopian in the inscriptions in the opened mounds of Chaldea Proper. So Genesis 10:8 records Ham's son, Cush (Ethiopia), begat Nimrod. The inhabitants of Ur, one of the great cities of the Babylonian empire, were called Chaldi - i:e., moon-worshippers, whence the name Chaldees originated: Hur means the moon-goddess. "Princes" [ shaalishiym (H7991)] - literally, threes: a first-rate military class that fought by threes in the chariots-one guiding the horses, the other two fighting. Or military tribunes: or else, nobles third in rank from the king.
To look to - i:e., princes in appearance.
And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.
Sent messengers unto them into Chaldea - (Ezekiel 16:29). It was she that solicited the Chaldeans, not they her. Probably the occasion was when Judah sought to strengthen herself by a Chaldean alliance against a menaced attack by Egypt (cf. 2 Kings 23:29-35; 2 Kings 24:1-7). God made the object of their sinful desire the instrument of their punishment. Jehoiakim probably by a stipulation of tribute, enlisted Nebuchadnezzar against Pharaoh, whose tributary he previously had been: failing to keep his stipulation, he brought on himself Nebuchadnezzar's vengeance.
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.
She was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them - namely, from the Chaldeans: turning again to the Egyptians (Ezekiel 23:19), trying by their help to throw off her solemn engagements to Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:7; 2 Kings 24:7).
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.
Then my mind was alienated from her - literally, was broken off from her. Just retribution for "her mind being alienated (broken off) from the Chaldeans" (Ezekiel 23:17), to whom she had sworn fealty (Ezekiel 17:12-19.)
She discovered her whoredoms. "Discovered" implies the open shamelessness of her apostasy.
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.
She multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth. Israel first "called" her lusts, practiced when in Egypt, "to her (fond) remembrance," and then actually returned to them. Mark the danger of suffering the memory to dwell on the pleasure felt in past sins.
For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.
She doted upon their paramours - i:e., her paramours among them (the Egyptians); she doted upon their persons as her paramours (Ezekiel 23:5; Ezekiel 23:12; Ezekiel 23:16).
Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses - the membrum virile (very large in the donkey). (Ezekiel 16:26.)
Issue of horses - the seminal issue (Leviticus 15:2). The horse was made by the Egyptians the hieroglyphic for a lustful person.
Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.
Thou calledst to remembrance - `thou didst repeat' (Maurer).
In bruising thy teats - in suffering thy teats to be bruised.
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; I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated - (Ezekiel 23:17). Illicit love, soon or late, ends in open hatred (2 Samuel 13:15, "Then (after defiling Tamar) Ammon hated her exceedingly"). The Babylonians, the objects formerly of her God- forgetting love, but now (such was her characteristic fickleness) objects of her hatred, shall be made by God the instruments of her punishment.
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.
Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa - not a geographical name, but symbolically descriptive of Babylon. 'Visitation,' peculiarly the land of 'judgment,' in a double sense; actively, the inflicter of judgment on Judah; passively, as about to be afterward herself the object of judgment (Jeremiah 50:21, "Go up against the inhabitants of Pekod").
Shoa ... Koa - `rich ... noble;' descriptive of Babylon in her prosperity, having all the world's wealth and dignity at her disposal. Maurer suggests that, as descriptive appellatives are subjoined to the proper name, "all the Assyrians," in the second hemistich of the verse (as the verse ought to be divided at "Koa," not at "with them"); so Pekod, Shoa, and Koa must be appellatives, descriptive of "The Babylonians and all the Chaldeans" in the first hemistich; "Pekod" meaning Prefects; Shoa ... Koa, 'rich ... princely.' Thus the translation would be, 'The Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, prefects, and rich and princely."
All of them desirable young men - strong irony; alluding to Ezekiel 23:12, these "desirable young men" whom thou didst so "dote upon" for their manly vigour of appearance, shall by that very vigour be the better able to chastise thee.
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.
Shall come against thee with chariots, wagons - [ hotsen (H2021) rekeb (H7393)] 'with chariots;' or, 'with armaments;' so Septuagint: 'axes' (Maurer); or, better, joining it with "wagons," translate, 'with scythe-armed wagons,' or "chariots" (Grotius).
And wheels. The unusual height of these increased their formidable appearance (Ezekiel 1:16-20).
They shall judge thee according to their judgments - which awarded barbarously severe punishments, as roasting in the fire, putting out the eyes, etc. The latter was the Babylonian judgment on Zedekiah (Jeremiah 52:9; Jeremiah 52:11; Jeremiah 29:22).
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.
They shall take away thy nose and thine ears - adulteresses were punished so among the Egyptians and Chaldeans. Oriental beauties wore ornaments in the ear and nose. How just the retribution, that the features most bejewelled should be mutilated! So, allegorically, as to Judah, the spiritual adulteress.
They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels.
They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes - whereby she attracted her paramours (Ezekiel 16:39).
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.
Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease. The captivity has made the Jews ever since to abhor idolatry, not only on their return from Babylon, but for the lair eighteen centuries of their dispersion, as foretold (Hosea 3:4).
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: I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest - namely, the Babylonians (Ezekiel 23:17-18; Ezekiel 16:37).
And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
They shall take away all thy labour - i:e., all the fruits of thy labour.
And shall leave thee naked - as captive females are treated.
I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.
Therefore will I give her cup into thine hand - "her cup" of punishment. (Psalms 11:6; Psalms 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15, etc.) Thy guilt and that of Israel being alike, your punishment shall be alike.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister's cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to 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.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
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.
Thou shalt break the sherds thereof - so greedily shalt thou suck out every drop, like one drinking to madness (the effect invariably ascribed to drinking God's cup of wrath, Jeremiah 51:7; Habakkuk 2:16), that thou shalt craunch the very sherds of it - i:e., there shall be no evil left which thou shalt not taste.
And pluck off thine own breast - enraged against them as the ministers to thine adultery.
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.
Because thou hast forgotten me - (note, Ezekiel 22:12; Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 13:25).
And cast me behind thy back - (1 Kings 14:9; Nehemiah 9:26, "They were disobedient ... add cast thy law behind their back").
Therefore bear thou also thy lewdness - i:e., its penal consequences (Proverbs 1:31).
The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations;
A summing up of the sins of the two sisters, especially those of Judah. A summing up of the sins of the two sisters, especially those of Judah.
Verse 36. Wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? - that is, wilt thou not judge them (note, Ezekiel 20:4).
Verse 38. They have defiled my sanctuary in the same day - on the very day that they had burned their children to Moloch in the valley of Gehenna, they shamelessly and hypocritically presented themselves as worshippers in Yahweh's temple, thereby 'defiling' it (Jeremiah 7:9-10).
Verse 40. Ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent - namely, by Judah (Ezekiel 23:16; Isaiah 57:9).
Paintedst thine eyes - (2 Kings 9:30, margin, 'Jezebel put her eyes in painting;' Jeremiah 4:30, margin, 'thou rentest thy eyes with painting'). Black paint was spread on the eyelids of beauties to make the white of the eye more attractive by the contrast; so Judah left no seductive art untried.
Verse 41. Satest upon a stately bed - divan. While men reclined at table, women sat, as it seemed indelicate for them to lie down (Amos 6:4). (Grotius.)
And a table prepared before it - i:e., the idolatrous altar.
Whereupon thou hast set mine incense - which I had given thee, and which thou oughtest to have offered to me (Ezekiel 16:18-19; Hosea 2:8: cf. Proverbs 7:17).
Verse 42. With the men of the common sort were brought Sabeans - not content with the princely, handsome Assyrians, the sisters brought to themselves the rude robber hordes of Sabeans (Job 1:15). The Qeri', or Masoretic margin, reads as the English version; but the Kethibh, or text, reads 'drunkards' [cowbª'iym, instead of Caabaa'iym (H5436)].
Which put bracelets upon their hands - upon the hands of the sisters; i:e., they allured Samaria and Judah to worship their gods.
Verse 43. Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now commit whoredoms with her, and she with them? - Is it possible that paramours will desire any longer to commit whoredoms with so worn-out an "old" adulteress?
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, they shall judge them - "the righteous men," the Chaldeans: the executioners of God's righteous vengeance (Ezekiel 16:38), not that they were "righteous" in themselves (Habakkuk 1:3; Habakkuk 1:12-13).
For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.
I will bring up a company upon them - "a company" [ qaahaal (H6951)], properly, a council of judges passing sentence on a criminal (Grotius).
And will give them to be removed and spoiled - the 'removal' and 'spoiling' by the Chaldean army is the execution of the judicial sentence of God.
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.
The company shall stone them with stones - the legal penalty of the adulteress (Ezekiel 16:40-41; John 8:5). Answering to the stones hurled by the Babylonians from engines in besieging Jerusalem.
And burn up their houses with fire - fulfilled (2 Chronicles 36:17; 2 Chronicles 36:19).
Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness.
Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land - (Ezekiel 23:27).
That all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness - (Deuteronomy 13:11, "And all Israel shall hear and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you").
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.
Ye shall bear the sins of your idols - i:e., the punishment of your idolatry.
Ye shall know that I am the Lord God - i:e., you shall know it to your cost, by bitter suffering.
(1) The prophet represents Israel and Judah under the image of two women, called respectively Abolah and Aholibah (Ezekiel 23:4). The former set up a tabernacle of her own devising, as her name implies; the latter had the privilege of God's true tabernacle being in her. But though they differed in this important respect, yet in regard to spiritual adultery both alike were guilty from the days of their youth in Egypt (Ezekiel 23:3). Aholah, or Israel, though she belonged not to herself or to the world, but to God, who was spiritually her husband and Lord, gave her heart to Assyria, and formed alliances with the Assyrian kings. Therefore in just retribution God made the objects of their sinful trust, the Assyrians, the instruments of their punishment (Ezekiel 23:9-10). When the professors of religion depart in heart from God to the world they are sure to be punished by the world.
(2) Notwithstanding the awful warning given in the punishment of Israel, Judah, instead of shunning her sister's sin, only corrupted her way the more (Ezekiel 23:11); and being dazzled by the attractive appearance and dress of the Babylonians (Ezekiel 23:12; Ezekiel 23:14-15), she did not wait for them to pay their court to her, but "sent messengers unto them into Chaldea" (Ezekiel 23:16); and as one step downward precipitates men into another and deeper plunge, from political confederacy she passed on to the adoption of their showy idolatrous worship. Political expediency is frequently the excuse alleged for sacrifice of religious principle; and alliances with the ungodly in secular interest mostly lead the professing worshippers of God to a sinful conformity to the world's corrupt and God-dishonouring usages. How much, too, of sin enters the heart through the avenue of the eyes! "As soon as Judah saw with her eyes" the gorgeously attired Babylonians of Chaldea "she doted upon them" (Ezekiel 23:16). The gaud and glitter of the world's tinsel fas cinates the unwary. In a moment the spark of passion passing through the sight into the imagination kindles the flame of lust in the inmost soul; and "when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Our resolution, therefore, should be that of Job, "I made a covenant with mine eyes" (Job 31:1); and our prayer that of David (Psalms 119:37). "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity!"
(3) Unlawful love, sooner or later, ends in hatred and estrangement. They who are unfaithful to their God are little likely to be faithful to their friends, allies, and lovers. With characteristic fickleness, Judah forsook her pledged alliance with Babylon to ally herself with Egypt, the rival of Babylon in those days. After she had "polluted" herself with them, "her mind was alienated from them" (Ezekiel 23:17); and "calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had (spiritually) played the harlot in Egypt" (Ezekiel 23:19), she transferred her vile love to the filthy idolaters and idolatries of that land. After we have once entered the service of God, we should beware of letting the memory dwell on the unlawful pleasures which we indulged in formerly, lest the treacherous heart should be tempted to regret the loss of them, and to desire a return to them.
(4) As Judah's mind was "alienated from" the Babylonian king to whom she had sworn allegiance (Ezekiel 23:17), so God's mind, in righteous retribution, was "alienated from her" (Ezekiel 23:18); and as the Babylonians had been the objects of her unlawful love, so now they were made the instruments of her richly-merited punishment. They had been the means of alienating her from God; they now were appointed by God to be the means of alienating her from the possession of all that had previously been her ornament and glory (Ezekiel 23:29). Their very vigour, dignity, and wealth, which had so attracted her in the first instance, only enabled them the more effectually inflict God's judgments on her (Ezekiel 23:22; Ezekiel 23:24). The guilty adulteress is to be deprived by the holy and jealous God, who is her Husband, of her bejewelled nose and cars (Ezekiel 23:25), the very features of her personal beauty whereby she tried to attract the notice of admiring paramours. Instead of having sought the hearing ear, and the spiritually seeing eye, and "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:4), she had imitated the meretricious adorning of the world, priding herself on her gold, jewels, and vain pomps. Let us beware of her sin, remembering that "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. is not of the Father, but is of the world; and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever!"
(5) Sore and lengthened judgments have had the effect on the Jews which God designed-namely, so far as to "make her (idolatrous) lewdness to cease from her." For much more than two thousand years past, ever since the return from Babylon, the Jews have sternly abhorred idolatry (Ezekiel 23:27). Having dealt hatefully herself, Judah has been, dealt hatefully with by the executioners of God's wrath (Ezekiel 23:29). She has had to drink to the dregs the "deep and large cup" which her sister Israel before her has had to drink" (Ezekiel 23:32). She has been filled with the stupefaction of sorrow and desolation, like one drunken (Ezekiel 23:33); and all this because she forgot God, and cast Him behind her back (Ezekiel 23:35). When once we suffer ourselves to forget and lose sight of God, we cannot say to what lengths in sin we may be tempted.
(6) What especially provoked God in both Israel and Judah (Ezekiel 23:36) was, that immediately after their idolatry, adultery, and bloodshedding, on the very same day, in flagrant bloodshedding, of the sanctuary of God and profanation of the Sabbath (Ezekiel 23:38), they hypocritically presented themselves before God in His house, as if they were His true worshippers (Ezekiel 23:39). Hypocrisy is of all sins the most loathsome to God and ruinous to the soul of the sinner himself; because it is an effort to deceive alike the heart-searching God, our fellow-men, and our own selves.
(7) Like an "old" and worn-out adulteress, Israel and Judah passed from the more refined idolatries of Assyria and Babylon to the grosser corruptions of more degraded and coarser peoples "of the common sort" (Ezekiel 23:42-43). Sin debases the understanding, and from the more refined and intellectual objects of taste, wherewith it originally has stolen away the heart from God, it soon leads the sinner downward and downward still, until it has brought him to grovel and wallow, like the swine, in the mire of sensuality and bestiality.
(8) God therefore raised a company of executioners to fulfill His righteous vengeance on the apostate people (Ezekiel 23:45; Ezekiel 23:47), in order that all men might take warning by her fate to shun her sins (Ezekiel 23:48); and that she herself might be made to know, to her cost, that Yahweh alone is God (Ezekiel 23:49). This is the lesson that we especially have to learn from this history; because it applies more to the professing worshippers of God than to those who know not God, and who are denied the religious privileges which we now enjoy, as the Jews did formerly. The, humbling picture of our common nature in Israel's apostasy should fill us with holy fear of offending the God and Saviour whose name we bear, and with jealous distrust of ourselves, and renunciation of all self-righteousness, and, above all, with prayerful dependence on the grace of God in Christ alone, while we look for the working of His Holy Spirit as our only security against sin and judgment.