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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 23

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-49

Ezekiel 23:2 . There were two women, the daughters of one mother. Samaria and Jerusalem, cities introduced in the female character, as in Ezekiel 23:10; Ezekiel 23:48.

Ezekiel 23:4 . Samaria is Aholah, or her tent, because they worshipped local divinities, and assembled under the shadow of trees and tents. Samaria is first mentioned under this comparison, because the kingdom of the ten tribes was the first to go astray, soon after the time of Solomon. She also doted on the invading cavalry of Assyria. Manahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver to be confirmed in the kingdom. 2 Kings 15:19. Jerusalem is Aholibah. A tabernacle, or my habitation is in it. Jerusalem is so called because of the holy temple, in which the Lord dwelt in the midst of his people; there also he had pitched his tent in the time of David.

Ezekiel 23:9 . Wherefore I have delivered her (Aholah) into the hands of her lovers. This was the case with Israel no less than eight times, during the government of the Judges. Every time they adopted the gods of a neighbouring nation, the Lord presently gave them into the hands of that nation. The Hebrews, so illustrious in the days of Joshua, basely bled under the tributary yoke of contemptible powers.

Ezekiel 23:14 . When she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall. The princes and gods of Chaldea, painted with warm and glowing tints, seduced and corrupted her eyes and her heart. The pencil goes as far in the style of nudity as the public can possibly bear, and often so far as puts modesty to the blush. Better destroy the picture, than that the picture should destroy the soul.

Ezekiel 23:23 . Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa. These were ancient names for provinces of the Babylonian empire. Jeremiah 50:21. But the versions vary; some read, captains, prefects, princes, satraps and tyrants. It is difficult to decide here, as the names of gods, of men, and of countries were often similar.

Ezekiel 23:33-34 . The cup of thy sister Samaria: thou shalt even drink it, and suck it out. The Lord here announces by this mixed cup, the full and bitter round of afflictions from the sword, the famine, the pestilence, and all the gloom of dying in captivity, which this revolted nation should sustain.

Ezekiel 23:37 . Blood is in their hands they have caused their sons to pass through the fire, to devour them. Here is positive proof that the ancients actually burnt their children to Moloch. Lustration seems to have been a more modern mode of devoting children. Manasseh also shed much innocent blood. 2 Kings 24:4.

Ezekiel 23:38 . They have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and profaned my sabbaths. These were the sins which completed the career of crime, and filled up the measure of Judah’s iniquity.

Ezekiel 23:40 . Thou didst paint thine eyes. The LXX read, ετιβιζου τους οφθαλμος σου with stibium, the red calces of lead, to give a fine colour and clearness to the eyes. This would ultimately injure the sight. In our potteries, those who dip the vases in lead, in a few years lose the power to open their hand.

Ezekiel 23:45 . Righteous men shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses. Those who chastised Israel are called God’s sanctified ones, set apart and commissioned to invade with the sword, and avenge the wrongs which heaven had sustained by this vile and apostate nation.

Ezekiel 23:48 . Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land. זמה zimmah, which Montanus renders fœditatem, a word comprehending every species of crime. Others read, and all the dung and uncleanness of gentile worship. What sort of men were those to whom the prophets preached! Et peccata stercorum suorum.


The naïveté of the language here, as in chap. 16., may be thought by some to demand an apology, because nature should not be too much exposed. But how could a gross and degenerate people be moved by images less affecting; and how could the base conduct of Israel to their fathers’ God be made manifest by a portrait less mortifying to the pride of man. The whole must therefore be regarded as a fine take-off of the profligacy of a degenerate church.

The shame and degeneracy of Judah is traced to its source. The people had a frantic passion for the dress, the manners, and the worship of the Assyrians. Samaria had indeed prepared the way; but when Judah, led by her wicked princes, began the career of paganism, she excelled her sister in every view, nor could the Assyrians long boast of preference, either in the effusion of blood or in profligacy of morals. In this view, if one could modestly convey a word to England, it might not be unseasonable. We have confessedly showed a strong partiality to the dress, the morals, and the etiquette, and have too much sacrificed the manly gravity of Britons to the volatile character of the French. In theatres, in amusements, in a desecration of the sabbath, we make too near an approach. The character also of our subscription libraries, and general course of reading, is nearly similar. In point of villas and mansions, of equipage, festivity and wastes, we may fairly be allowed to excel them, being aided by unexampled resources of commerce. But the moral and the issue of the parallel are the most interesting. When Judah became completely enslaved to the opinions and manners of the heathen, God, as is often noticed, gave them into the hands of the heathen. And shall we ever see the day, the fatal day… I stop myself before I have said too much. The praying remnant can never desire that evil day. May the uplifted rod sanctify and save a forgetful nation. It is however a grand truth, that this nation has no medium between its present splendour; and a ruin greater than has before been witnessed. And where is the man, where the christian, properly impressed with the balance of nations which heaven holds in its hands, who would not unceasingly pray for the pardon of our sins, and do all he can to instruct the rising age, and to save his country from the growing mass of crimes, which have ultimately proved the destruction of every nation. May our country be precious in thy sight, oh Lord; and may we be heirs of thine everlasting covenant. Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 23". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ezekiel-23.html. 1835.
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