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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Ezekiel 16

Verse 1

Eze 16:1, This is a very unusual and interesting chapter, in which the Lord supposed a situation pertaining to human relations to illustrate His relations with Judah, the 2-tribe kingdom. It is true that some of the items are out of the ordinary as to the general events in the field of romance, but we have previously seen that even figures of speech may be so managed as to cover the actual facta in the subject being illustrated. But the central thought that runs through the long parable i3 true to conditions and actions that either do or eould exist in actual life. Let us keep in mind that the marriage relation with its various privileges and obligations is com-pared in the Bible to the union of mankind with God. By the same token, the corruptions of the marriage relation in temporal affairs are used to compare the abominations of idolatry that provoke the jealousy of God.

Verse 2

Eze 16:2. This verse is a solemn charge to Ezekiel; lie was to cause Jerusalem to realize the greatness of her abominations and unfaithfulness.

Verse 3

Eze 16:3. Nations, like individuals, may rise from very humble circumstances to a position of dignity and favor. If that rise is caused solely by the unselfish favor of another nation or person, such advancement will be no just cause for the favored one to become proud or have a feeling of importance. Instead, such nation should show its appreciation by the most faithful devotion. This verse shows the insignificant and obscure origin of Jerusalem (or Judah), She was born in Canaan which was a country of much unworthiness before the Lord took it over and dignified it by His oversight. Amorites and Hittit.es were two of the inferior heathen peoples who inhabited the land of Canaan at the time God’s people appeared. The terms father and •mother are used figuratively to conform to the parable of family relations that has been adopted on the present occasion. We are supposed to think of a babe who is born of a very ordinary father and mother, in a land out of which no great personage would he expected to come. (For a like comparison see Joh 1:46.)

Verse 4

Eze 16:4. This verse represents a possible though very unusual circumstance. It Is the case where a babe arrives who was not wanted and of whom its parents are ashamed even though they have nothing of which to be so proud. They have such a feeling of contempt for the helpless creature that they do not give it the usual treatment of cleansing and surgical care usually accorded every newborn infant. They do not even furnish it with the swaddling band which was commonly used at such times, but which was a very meager article of clothing at best.

Verse 5

Eze 16:5. Not only did the parents of this unfortunate creature fail to administer to its needs, but none of the neighbors offered to lend a helping hand. Nor was that all; the infant was cast uneleansed and unclothed into the open field where it might have been the prey of wild beasts.

Verse 6

Eze 16:6. The man who was to represent God in thiB great parable was one whose affairs caused him to make various journeys through the country; on one of his trips he passed by the infant described in the preceding verses. He saw the miserable condition of the neglected creature and had compassion on it. I said . . . live. A story like this could not include all the details connected with the case. We are not told how the traveler could make his kindness effective but in some way he arranged that this baby girl could live in spite of the flithy and neglected condition. Having made the necessary preparation for the survival and growth of the babe, the traveler went on his way.

Verse 7

Eze 16:7. Through the arrangements referred to in the preceding verse, the girl baby experienced the things described in this which took place in the course of some years; such is the significance of I have caused thee that begins this verse. The developments indicated took place between the first and second journeys of the traveler through the community. Multiply is used because the parable really refers to the nation of Judah, although the imagery is that of a babe and her development Into the adolescent age. Excellent ornaments means the attractiveness of a girl growing toward womanhood. Some of those ornaments are specified; female breasts, also long hair, which is one of the God- given ornaments ol' women (1Co 11:15),

Verse 8

Eze 16:8. The baby girl has passed through childhood and adolescence and has reached the time of lore, which means she has matured and become of marriageable age. Her benefactor then falls In love with her and offers to receive her as his wife. In ancient times there were no formal marriage ceremonies directly connected with the union of a male and female. Their fleshly relations made them one and entitled them to live together as husband and wife. By that token, the spreading of one’s skirt over another signified the intimacy that was to start the couple on their journey in life as a united pair. Hence we have that action regarding the skirt mentioned in this verse and the phrase thou t/ccamest mine is so used. (See Ruth 3; 9.)

Verse 9

Eze 16:9. In spite of the advancement that nature had made for this neglected girl, she had not become completely rid of the undesirable conditions that had been imposed upon her at the time of and after her birth. But after the man became so intimately interested in her, he gave her further attention to prepare her for the life with him as his life’s companion in the marriage relation.

Verse 10

Eze 16:10. It would be proper for a man to take persona] Interest in and take part in the selection of clothing of his wife; he would wish her to have the most delicate robes even of such materials as silk and linen.

Verse 11

Eze 16:11. No ornaments of jewelry could be too good or costly for the woman whom a man loves, who has given herself to him and who has merged her being with his in the most intimate and sacred relation possible to the human body.

Verse 12

Eze 16:12. The crown was not used in the sense of authority, but as a token of the giory that he recognized it meant to him to have the love and association with such a creature. (See 1Co 11:7.)

Verse 13

Eze 16:13. The husband continued his favors upon the woman he loved. The actual subject of the parable was indicated by the closing words, thou didst prosper into a kingdom,. We know that a wife would not develop into a kingdom, so the idea is plain that God's relation with Judah was the subject of the illustration, But His love and favor toward that nation could not he described so as to overdraw the truth, even by the most extreme devotion that an ardent husband could lavish upon a wife whom he loved with his whole heart.

Verse 14

Eze 16:14. The terms and descriptions running through the chapter will be those directly applicable to a wife, yet the language will occasionally become so literal that we will know the prophet is considering the kingdom of Judah in her relations with God, This verse deals with such a thought when it says renown among the heathen. It is true that the kingdom which had Jerusalem for its capital became renowned in many parts of the earth. (See 1Ki 4:21; 1Ki 10:1; 1Ki 10:6-7,)

Verse 15

Eze 16:15. The husband continued his traveling to and fro and hence could not always he in the company of his wife. But if she were true to him she would not take advantage of his absence to receive the attentions of Other men; that is where the wife of our story showed her disloyalty. She seemed to forget all of the tokens of love and unselfish service which her husband had shown to her in the first years of her life. It was evident that the favors thus lavished upon her had "spoiled” her and turned her head in the direction of unlawful lovers. She even admitted the men passing by to come in to her and commit fornication. Let the reader bear in mind that the idolatry of Judah is what the prophet was really considering, because that abomination is likened in the Bible to moral unfaithfulness.

Verse 16

6 Eze 16:16, This husband had given the fine clothing to his wife for her use as a virtuous woman but she abused the privilege. She changed them in such a way as to attract the attentions of evil men seeking lustful intimacy.

Verse 17

Eze 16:17, The wife was not satisfied with unlawful intimacy with strange men, but fashioned for herself some images of men that she might admire them in her private life. What added to the greatness of such abomination was the fact that she formed those images out of t.he precious metals that a loving husband had provided for her personal adornment as a wife.

Verse 18

Eze 16:18. She covered the unlawful images with the fine garments that her husband had given her to clothe her own body.

Verse 19

Eze 16:19. Let us keep in mind that the prophet is comparing the unfaithfulness of a wife to her true and loving husband with the faithlessness of Judah toward God. She took the dainty foods which her husband had provided for her use, and set them before these images of men that she had made from the precious metals, in a make-believe performance of religious sacrifice such as was done usually before other idols.

Verse 20

Eze 16:20. The lawful intimacy of this wife with her husband had produced sons and daughters for him. In her mad devotion to idolatry she sacrificed these sons and daughters. (That the people of the Lord actually did make human sacrifices, see the note at 2Ki 16:3 in volume 2 of this Commentary.) This unfaithful wife was asked if she regarded such whoredoms (spiritual fornication or idolatry) as a light matter.

Verse 21

Eze 16:21, If it were possible for a woman to be the sole producer of children, it would be bad enough for her to offer them in the fire as a sacrifice. But this woman had sacrificed my Children said her husband.

Verse 22

Eze 16:22. Ingratitude is condemned very severely in the Bible (Jdg 8:34; 2Ch 24:22; Isa 51:13; Jer 2:32; Jer 23:27; Rom 1:21; 2Ti 2:3). The corrupt interests this wife had acquired turned her into an ingrate of the worst kind, in view of the lowly and helpless condition from which her husband had raised her.

Verse 23

Eze 16:23. This wronged husband was deeply affected by the wickedness of his unfaithful wife. In the midst of tile figurative parable the prophet injected a tew words of direct significance from the Lord, to warn the unfaithful wife (Jtidah) that great woe was in store for her.

Verse 24

Eze 16:24. The word place occurs in the A.V. here and in a number of other verses but it has no original as a separate word. Eminent place is from one original word and literally means a higher spot Of some kind. Idolatry is compared to moral evil, especially in the marriage relation, hence the conclusion is that this eminent place meant some provision for the entertainment of men in fornication.

Verse 25

Eze 16:25. Head of the way means the street corners, they being places to attract the eyes of the passers-by on the several thoroughfares. Opened thy feet refers to the voluntary position taken by a harlot in yielding her body for the act of adultery. Beauty to be abhorred. This wicked woman had made advances to every one that •passed by, and that made her to be detested even by the men who practiced immorality. Men seeking the unrighteous indulgence will finally tire of a woman who goes too far in her brazen solicitations.

Verse 26

Eze 16:26. Since idolatry was compared to the sin of fornication, we would expect the comparison to be continued by naming some of the guilty partners. Those partners would be the Idolatrous nations with whom Judah committed her spiritual lewdness, and a number of them will be cited; the Egyptians were the ones named here.

Verse 27

Eze 16:27. Some of the nations with which Judah committed spiritual fornication (idolatry) were suffered to torment her. The Philistines are named here in that connection, and an account of it may be read in 2 Chronicles 28 : IS, 19. Ashamed of thy letod way was true, for even the Philistines did not go to the extremes in adopting gods foreign to their own nation (See Jer 2:11) that Judah did.

Verse 28

Eze 16:28. Unsatiable means to he difficult if not impossible to he satisfied. Judah was not content with her own idols but looked elsewhere for gratification. In this inflamed desire for spiritual adultery she turned to the Assyrians.

Verse 29

Eze 16:29. This verse is somewhat of a summing up of the extensive corruptions of the nation. Canaan unto Chaldea takes in all the territory from the home land to that country where the bulk of the Jews were already in captivity, and to which the remaining ones in Jerusalem and Us vicinity were soon to be taken.

Verse 30

Eze 16:30. Imperious means to be domineering or overbearing. An imperious woman of loose morals would be determined to procure tbe gratification of her lust by any means possible. The extent to which this wicked woman went for that purpose will be seen in some verses that follow.

Verse 31

Verse 31. Eminent place and head of the way is explained at verses 24. 25 which the reader should see. This unfaithful wife was worse than the ordinary public women. They engage in prostitution for the sake of money, but this wife scorned hire.

Verse 32

Eze 16:32. Ordinary harlotry is bad enough, where a professional woman practices it for the sake of money. But. the woman of our parable was a married woman with a husband who was true to her and who loved her very deeply. Not only so, but he was one who possessed the strength of functioning to the fullest degree and who could and was willing to give her complete satisfaction in their inti-mate relations. Yet that did not satisfy her; instead, she turned her polluted gaze toward strange men.

Verse 33

Eze 16:33. The depth of this woman was shown in another manner, As a rule, men are willing to hire the professional harlot to contribute to their lust, while this corrupt wife even scorned taking money from the strange men. But she did not stop at such depravity; she actually offered them gifts to induce them to come and he intimate with her. Another thing that added to the blackness of her abominable life (if that were possible), was the fact that she hired those strange men with the gifts that had been furnished her by her faith-ful husband (verses 17-19),

Verse 34

Eze 16:34, The Lord summed up the special corruptions of this unfaithful wife in this verse. She was not in the class of regular harlots but was so bad that even Other loose women would not associate with her. They practiced their trade for the money they made from it while this woman did it out of a strict desire for lustful gratification. In such a manner of trade the other women would have no part with her.

Verse 35

Eze 16:35. While most of the language will continue to he in terms adapted to the marriage relation, we should keep in mind that the idolatry of Judah is really the subject. That will account for the direct and literal expressions that will occasionally appear in the verses.

Verse 36

Eze 16:36. An instance of the thought offered in the preceding verse occurs in this. Here we have whoredom and idols mentioned in the same connection. though the first pertains ordinarily to the marriage relation and other things involving morals, and the second pertains literally to the corruptions that have been the basis of the parable all along. Blood of thy children is a literal reference to human sacrifices that idolaters made in ancient times. On this item see the information offered at 2Ki 16:3 in volume 2 of this Commentary.

Verse 38

Eze 16:38. Judah was to be treated as an unfaithful wife. A jealous husband sometimes exhibits his feelings by physical violence upon the unworthy woman who had once professed to love him only. Likewise the Lord was going to bring the strangers (idolatrous nations) against Judah and some of her citizens would be slain (2Ki 25:7).

Verse 39

Eze 16:39. The first part of this verse was literally fulfilled when the Babylonians took and destroyed Jerusalem. The second part is in the figures that were used in verse 10 of this chapter. The glorious favors that God had bestowed upon Judah and Jerusalem were taken over by the army of Babylon.

Verse 40

Eze 16:40. This verse is a direct and literal reference to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem that was soon to be made by the Babylonians,

Verse 41

Eze 16:41. For the fulfillment of this see 2Ki 25:8-10. Sight of many women. Idolatry was compared to fornication and idolatrous nations to Immoral women; hence this phrase refers to the heathen nations that would witness the downfall of Jerusalem.

Verse 42

Eze 16:42. Jealousy shall depart was looking forward to the time when Judah would no longer be a worshiper of idols, since such worship was the cause of the Lord's jealousy according to Exo 20:5.

Verse 43

Eze 16:43. Days of thy youth refers to the early years of the nation, described figuratively in verses 6-14, where Judah is represented as a young girl who had been deserted by her parents and then taken into the care of this wronged husband.

Verse 44

Eze 16:44. It is a common thing to hear such a comparison made as this. Some may do so merely as a coincidence. while others will think that depravity is inherited. Still others will regard the situation as one where the daughter was influenced by the character and practices of the mother.

Verse 45

Eze 16:45. See verse 3 for explanation of this parentage. If Idolatrous nations were compared to immoral women, they would all be related to Judah who was in that class, hence sisters means the various heathen peo-ple around her.

Verse 46

Eze 16:46. One word in the definition for elder is "great.” Samaria was Indeed greater than Judah in that she had 10 tribes out of the 12. Also because the 10-tribe kingdom was the first of the two to make idolatry a national affair when she set up the idols at Dan and Bethel. <1Ki 12:29). Sodom would be younger sister (by contrast) on the same principle that Samaria was elder.

Verse 47

Eze 16:47. Not walked after their ways means that Judah did not stop at becoming as bad as Samaria and Sodom, but went on and became worse.

Verse 48

Eze 16:48. Sodom was considered less guilty than Judah on the principle of the responsibility due to the differ- eriee in opportunity. Jesus taught this identical lesson, in Mat 11:23-24.

Verse 49

Eze 16:49. The corruptions of Sodom were described in order to make the guilt of Judah appear still greater, since that had been already declared to be worse than the sins of Sodom.

Verse 50

Eze 16:50. The history of Sodom’s destruction is In Genesis 19.

Verse 51

Eze 16:51. Neither half of thy sins is to be understood in the same light as the thoughts in vrese 48, Judah had many advantages for spiritual encouragement not least of which was her possession of Jerusalem and the temple service. Also, she had seen the years of service to idols which Samaria had experienced and should have observed how useless such a service is. In view of all this the Lord regarded Judah with greater condemnation and pointed the finger of shame at her.

Verse 52

Eze 16:52. Sisters means the other idolatrous nations who did not have the advantages for knowing better that Judah had. This fact is the explanation of the phrase more righteous than thou.

Verse 53

Eze 16:53. Much of this verse and others following is figurative or general in its application. Sodom was not actually ever restored, hut God was promising to extend his mercy to those who had disobeyed the law that was binding upon them.

Verse 54

Eze 16:54. Judah had encouraged the inferior nations in their sinful course by the eaxmple she had set. However, while being more or less responsible for the abominable life manifested by the other nations, Judah professed to abhor them in their evil ways. "When the time came that it. would all be changed by the powerful hand of the Lord, Judah was to be humiliated over her own wicked conduct.

Verse 55

Eze 16:55. Judah as well as the other groups that had dishonored God was destined to be placed in a better condition, but the comparative improvement at that time will be measured by the extent of responsibility that each group had borne.

Verse 56

Eze 16:56. Judah had felt above Sodom in the years she was a powerful kingdom, although that wicked city was to be justified rather than Judah in view of the principle of responsibility that has been discussed in the preceding verses.

Verse 57

Eze 16:57. This verse continues the thought begun in the preceding one, and the attitude of Judah toward Syria and the Philistines is to be regarded in the same sense as Sodom because it is principles of action that are being considered.

Verse 58

Eze 16:58. Hast borne is past tense in grammatical form but is prophetic in thought. Judah was to bear the penalty of her lewdness (idolatry) at the hand of the Babylonians and by the decree of God.

Verse 59

Eze 16:59. As thou hast done denotes the reason for dealing out the punishment to Judah; that it will be what her conduct deserved.

Verse 60

Eze 16:60. After the chastisement lias reformed the wayward wife, her husband will receive her to himself again. Remember my covenant is a reference to the days of their first love, when the husband pledged his constancy for the young wife. He had never broken that promise though she had betrayed his confidence.

Verse 61

Eze 16:61. This verse is a prediction of the cure from idolatry. See the note at Isa 1:25 for the fulfillment of this prophecy. Judah was to be united with her former associates after the captivity. Not by thy covenant signifies that Judah had not made any agreement that would have entitled her to this reunion.

Verse 62

Eze 16:62, One meaning of establish is to confirm. God had covenanted with Judah to bring her back to her home land after the captivity had cured her of her iniquity. In so doing it would prove that He always makes his word good. The final fact that would be proved by this restoration would be that all might know that I am the Lord.

Verse 63

Eze 16:63. The human memory is very frail at times, especially when some obligation would place a heavy or difficult tine of duty upon the individual. The long period of affliction imposed upon Judah by the captivity was to make such a deep impression upon the people that they would never forget it. Yea, they were to remember with shame how unfaithful they had been and be thereby held back from any complaints. It will be well for the reader to see Nehemiah 9 th chapter in connection with this prediction of the penitent mind that would be manifested after the return from the captivity. By this state of mind and by their avoidance of idolatry from this time onward, the Lord was pacified toward his people as predicted In this verse.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/ezekiel-16.html. 1952.