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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 16:8

"Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine," declares the Lord God .
New American Standard Version
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Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Bride;   Bridegroom;   God Continued...;   Marriage;   Thompson Chain Reference - Adoption;   Church;   Family;   Spiritual;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ingratitude to God;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ashtoreth, Plural Ash'taroth;   Fornication;   Harlot;   Solomon's Song;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Marriage;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ammi;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jebus;   Marriage;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ablutions;   Bride;   Covenant;   Ezekiel;   Jewels, Jewelry;   Naked;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Amorites;   Marriage;   Song of Songs;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Betrothal;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Amorites ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Kedar;   Naked;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Solomon the song of;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Naked (and forms);   Skirt;  
The Jewish Encyclopedia - Adoption;   Bride;   Covenant;   Polygamy;   Wilderness, Wanderings in the;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for September 4;   Every Day Light - Devotion for June 22;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Was the time of love - Thou wast marriageable.

I spread my skirt over thee - I espoused thee. This was one of their initiatory marriage ceremonies. See Rth 3:9.

I - entered into a covenant with thee - Married thee. Espousing preceded marriage.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

The unfaithfulness of Jerusalem (16:1-43)

In this chapter Ezekiel describes Judah's relationship with Yahweh by means of a long and colourful illustration. The ancient nation Israel began life in Canaan as a hated people of mixed blood and mixed culture. It was like an unwanted baby girl thrown out at birth and left to die (16:1-5). Then a passing traveller (Yahweh) picked the baby up and gave it a chance to live. The girl survived and grew, though without training or upbringing (6-7).

Many years later, by which time the girl had reached an age when she might marry, the same traveller happened to see her again. She had not been washed or clothed since birth. The man then lovingly bathed her, clothed her, married her, and made her so beautiful that her fame spread to other nations. So likewise, after the Israelites had spent centuries away from God in Egypt, he saved them from shame and made them his own people by covenant at Mt Sinai (8-14).

But the woman was not faithful to the marriage covenant. Israel was unfaithful to the one who had done so much for her. Leaving him to serve other gods, she became a spiritual prostitute. She built shrines and altars to other gods, and offered to those gods the things that Yahweh had freely given her (15-19). To make matters worse, she participated in the pagan practice of offering her children as human sacrifices (20-22).

As a prostitute uses brothels to attract her customers, so Israel built idol shrines throughout her towns and villages (23-25). She further demonstrated her spiritual prostitution by forsaking God and making political alliances with other countries. Even those nations, Israel's lovers, were ashamed of her immoral behaviour, but Israel kept lusting for more (26-29). In fact, her lust was so great that it was abnormal. Usually the customer pays the prostitute, but in the case of the prostitute Israel she paid the customer, so that she could multiply her immoral acts (30-34).

According to Israelite practice, the punishment for an adulteress was to be stripped naked, paraded in public and then stoned to death. Judah would therefore be punished, with its countryside stripped bare and the nation destroyed by enemy invaders. The nations who would inflict this disaster upon her would be the very nations whose favour she had tried to win by her prostitution (35-41). All this would be at the direction of God himself, whose love for Israel was the reason for his anger with her (42-43).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Now when I passed by thee and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee saith the Lord Jehovah, and thou becamest mine. Then I washed thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with sealskin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and covered thee with silk. And I decked thee with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a ring upon thy nose, and ear-rings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful; and thou didst prosper unto royal estate. And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty; and it was perfect, through my majesty which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord Jehovah."


"I spread my skirt over thee ..." (Ezekiel 16:8). This was a symbol of marriage. A Biblical example of this is found in Ruth 3:8. What is typified here is the marriage of God to Israel, a metaphorical representation of the Sinaitic covenant and the choice of the nation as "God's Chosen People."

"Then I washed thee with water ..." (Ezekiel 16:9). Commentators have struggled with this; but the explanation is in Ephesians 5:25ff: "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself." Thus the marriage of Christ to his Bride the Church followed the same pattern that is found here. The purpose of the "washing" in both instances was the cleansing of the bride and her consecration to the Lord. Paul further mentioned the "washing" of the first Bride, the Racial Israel, as their, "Being baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Corinthians 10:2).

"I washed away thy blood from thee ..." (Ezekiel 16:9). Here again, some very powerful scholars are perplexed. "This washing is interpreted as the cleansing and purification from menstrual blood."[15] No indeed! The reference in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is to the washing that precedes union with God (or Christ) and cleanses from "all previous sin," the same being typified by the elaborate ceremonies that attended the giving of the Law at Sinai. The blood that was washed away in Ezekiel 16:9 is typical of all sins and mistakes.

Note also that "the anointing with oil" followed the washing, just as the anointing of Aaron followed his ceremonial washing, and just as the reception of the Holy Spirit followed the baptism (the washing) of Jesus Christ, and just as the reception of the Holy Spirit is always subsequent to and contingent upon Christian baptism of all the followers of Christ.

"The anointing with oil indicates the powers of the Spirit of God, which flowed to Israel from the divine covenant of grace."[16]

This custom of anointing with oil, which from the most ancient times, accompanied the making of any solemn covenant, has come down even into current times. Those who saw the coronation of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, cannot forget the solemn ceremony of the anointing of the Queen with oil.

"Badgers' skin (sealskin in ASV) ..." (Ezekiel 16:10). "This is probably a reference to the skin of the dugong, a herbivorous cetacean found in the Red Sea."[17] Greenberg thought the leather referred to here was "a specially treated and dyed sheep or goat skin";[18] but in the same breath he mentioned a certain Bodenheimer who believed that the skin of dolphins was meant. Jamieson tells us that, "Shoes made of this material were always worn by the Hebrews upon festal occasions."[19]

"Through my majesty which I had put upon thee ..." (Ezekiel 16:14). The words "my majesty," with the possessive pronoun stress the fact that all of the renowned beauty and perfection of Israel were the gifts of God and were not due to any intrinsic worth or ability of the Jews themselves. Is it not also true of every gifted mortal?

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Now when … - Or, Then I passed by thee … and behold. The espousal of the damsel represents God‘s entering into covenant with the people in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai Exodus 34:27.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

behold. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6.

thy . . . thee : i.e. the city. Not the nation at Sinai,

thy time, &c. Of this covenant nothing has been recorded. The secret is here first revealed.

I spread My skirt, he. The symbolic act to-day, signifying the taking under one"s protection. Common in the East for marrying. Compare Ruth 3:9.

saith the Lord God [is] Adonai Jehovah"s oracle.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

God now reproaches the Jews with his kindness towards them, since he had clothed them in splendid ornaments, and yet they afterwards cast themselves into the vilest lusts, as we shall see. But we must remember that the Prophet is now speaking of the time of their liberation. But God says that he passed by again and saw the state of the people, — not that he had ever forgotten it. For we know that even when he dissembles and seems to shut his eyes and turn them from us or even to sleep, yet he is always anxious for our safety. And we have already said that there was need of his present power, that the people might prolong their lives, since if he had not breathed life into them, a hundred deaths would have immediately prevailed. But it is sufficiently common and customary to mark an open declaration of help by God’s aspect. When God appears so openly to deliver us that it may be comprehended by our senses, then he is said to look down upon us, to rise up, and to turn himself towards us. He passed by, then, near the people, namely, when he called Moses out of the desert and appointed him the minister of his favor, (Exodus 3:0,) he then saw his people, and proved by their trial that he had not utterly cast them away. I looked, then, and behold thy time, thy time of years. Here God speaks grossly, yet according to the people’s comprehension. For he personates a man struck with the beauty of a girl and offering her marriage. But God is not affected as men are, as we well know, so that it is not according to his nature to love as young men do. But such was the people’s stupidity, that they could not be usefully taught, unless the Prophet accommodated himself to their grossness. Add also that the people had been by no means lovely, unless God had embraced them by his kindness, so that his love depended on his good pleasure towards them. So by the time of loves, we ought to understand the complete time of their redemption, for God had determined to bring the people out of Egypt when he pleased, and that had been promised to Abraham: after four hundred years I will be their avenger. (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6,) We see, then, that the years were previously fixed in which God would redeem the people. He now compares that union to a marriage. Hence if God would bind his people to himself by a marriage, so also he would pledge himself to conjugal fidelity. But I cannot proceed further — I must leave the rest till tomorrow.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. News Articles on babies found alive:
    2. Baby found on side of road, mother found dead
      1. Nov 29, 2006 - A disturbing discovery was made in the Rio Grande Valley Tuesday. The body of 16-year-old Aida Mae Rodriguez was found burned, south of Donna Tuesday morning. And about 20 miles away, her 7-month-old baby daughter, Briggette Mae, was found unclothed on her stomach, beside a road north of Weslaco. The baby was unharmed.
    3. Thursday, May 18, 2006
      1. Premature baby survives in a dumpster overnight still attached to placenta...Todd Ferring climbed into the trash bin behind El Maguey Mexican restaurant in the 1100 block of Duchesne near West Clay in St. Charles, Missouri. He reached down and pulled up the tiny baby, the placenta and umbilical cord still attached. He assumed the girl was stillborn as he gave her to fellow emergency medical technician Matt Schafer. That's when the men saw her take a breath, then utter a faint cry.
    4. Dec 22, 2007 3:00 pm US/Eastern
      1. Baby Found In Queens Dumpster Has New Family Officials say a newborn baby found abandoned in Queens is recovering from being left out in the cold and will be in foster care by Christmas. The baby girl was only a few hours old on Monday when two teenage skateboarders heard her cries and discovered her on top of a garbage bin. She was wrapped in a blanket and a paper bag and still had her umbilical cord attached.
    5. A new born infant found abandoned in a vacant field just off Interstate 45, in Jefferson County.
      1. The child was left on a pile of garbage partially covered with a plastic bag containing the afterbirth. “The new born infant was found by Mr. Jesu Rodriguez, a temporarily unemployed carpenter who was walking along the Interstate collecting scrap metal and aluminum cans. Mr. Rodriquez said that he was attracted to the garbage pile by the child’s cries and found the new born infant still covered with blood, struggling to live. According to Mr. Rodriquez he picked up the small infant and quickly carried the child to County Memorial Hospital in his aging Ford pickup truck. “Mr. Rodriguez reportedly told hospital workers, “I was so scared. I just drove to the hospital as fast as I could. I kept saying over and over, PLEASE DON’T DIE. LIVE!”
    6. Discarded babies! – Unloved by one, love by another!
      1. Q: What does the child feel like that grows up knowing that mom & dad didn’t want him/her? (Feels they were an accident)
      2. Q: What does the parent feel like that deals with the wayward child over & over again? (knowing they did what they could, love, discipline, etc)
      3. Q: What does it feel like to God when we are disobedient, rebellious, or noncompliant; when we go wayward?
    1. JERUSALEM, AS A CHILD & BRIDE! (1-14)
    3. (3) Father was Ammonite & mother a Hittite was a taunt.
      1. Inferring the nation’s depravity as though it were a heathen nation.
    4. (4) This description of caring for a newborn in eastern culture is one of the most complete statements in Scripture.
      1. Upon birth, the child’s navel was cut & the midwife salted the child’s skin for antiseptic purposes. The child was washed, rubbed with oil, & wrapped in cloths for 7 days. The process repeated for 40 days.
    5. (5) Dumped into an open field – Probably a reference to their sufferings in Egypt.
      1. She was in wretched shape when He called her & saved her.
    6. A BABY GIRL! (6,7)
    7. God shows compassion on the suffering nation & made it live!
    8. Israel was the wife of Jehovah only because of his Grace & Love.
      1. Probably a reference to Israel’s phenomenal growth down in Egypt. From the Patriarchal family of 75 who descended into Egypt (Acts 7:14); to more than 2 million (Ex.12:37-38).
      2. (7) Israel grew like a weed! (or plant)
    9. He rescues, cleanses, clothes, & raises her.
    10. A YOUNG WOMAN! (8-14)
    11. When she’s of age He marries her.
      1. He spread his skirt/wing over her – symbolic of protection & care through marriage. (Like Ruth & Boaz)
    12. He dresses her in the finest apparel.
    13. He bestows lavish gifts upon her.
    14. JERUSALEM, HER SIN! (15-34)
    15. HER CORRUPTION! (15-25)
    16. In spit of the Lord’s faithfulness, Israel soon becomes the harlot.
      1. Note your in vs.15.
    17. She appears as the bride of the Lord God, who loved her from infancy, did everything for her, but whose love she paid back with shameful idolatry & harlotry
    18. (22) She forgot her humble beginnings.
    19. HER CLIENTS! (26-34)
    20. Egypt (26) – Very Fleshly.
    21. Assyria (28) – Insatiable(always needing more).
    22. Chaldea/Babylon (29) – Still not satisfied.
    23. (31-34) Most harlots charge & receive wages. Israel bribed & paid her lovers.
      1. A reference to the tribute money & material goods which they were forced to pay to the nations w/whom it formed alliances with.
    24. JERUSALEM, HER JUDGMENT! (35-52)
    25. HER PUNISHMENT! (35-58)
    26. (37-43) Stripped naked before them –
      1. In judgment for her idolatry, God promised to bring Israel’s lovers against her.
    27. (44-52) Repaid for her sins –
    28. Like mother like daughter – The daughter was Jerusalem(Judah); the mother was the pagan Hittite who gave birth to 3 immoral children (Jerusalem, Samaria, & Sodom)
      1. Samaria represented the Northern Kingdom(Israel)
    30. HER RESTORATION! (53-59)
    31. He will bring her back.
    32. HER PARDON! (60-63)
    33. In spite of all her sin, a loving & faithful God will someday reaffirm his covenant of grace w/Israel.
    34. My covenant – The covenants that God would remember with them were: The Abrahamic covenant (which promised the land); The Davidic Covenant (a promised Seed);The New covenant (which promised the blessings in Millennium).
    1. ​​​​​​​Look at Rom.7:4 –Paul applies this image to believers.
      1. The application is no stretch!
      2. This is every believer’s story also!
    2. God choose to give you your physical life!
    3. God choose to give you your spiritual life!
    4. We choose what type of spiritual life we’ll have! – Are you Surviving or Living?
      1. Deut.30:19 – Choose life! Love, obey, cling.
      2. To live is Christ, to die is gain.
      3. Live soberly, righteously, & godly in this present age.
      4. The just shall live by faith.
      5. Live honorably.
    5. But what do we mean by living???
      1. Children of Israel missed it; we miss it; David got it [in His presence is fullness of joy].
      2. Plead with God to touch you! (John Piper says)
      3. It’s making us more loving, not more better!
      4. It’s when we move from dating God, to being married to Him!
    6. Picture this: There you are in your sin, deserving of nothing but His wrath & judgment.
      1. But then, the eternal Lord passes by in His glory; He looks, He pauses, He pronounces the solitary but royal word, “Live!”
    7. Q: If you’ve felt unloved & forsaken – will you come unto Jesus & be pardoned for your sin this evening?
    8. Q: If you’ve gone off track - will you come back to God tonight?
    9. Q: If you’re on track - will you choose life by loving, obeying, & clinging to God?
    10. Jer.2:13 – For My people have committed 2 evils: (1) They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And (2) hewn themselves cisterns— broken cisterns that can hold no water. [2 worse sins]
      1. (1) God I don’t need you; (2) I can do it on my own!
    11. Mr. Rodriquez picked up the small infant and quickly carried the child to County Memorial Hospital in his Ford pickup truck. “Mr. Rodriguez reportedly told hospital workers, “I was so scared. I just drove to the hospital as fast as I could. I kept saying over and over, PLEASE DON’T DIE. LIVE!”
      1. ​​​​​​​With only one word can say, Live!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn in our Bibles at this time to the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel. The prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter16.

Ezekiel declares,

Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations ( Ezekiel 16:1-2 ),

So God is speaking out against Jerusalem. But, of course, a city is always made up of inhabitants. A city as itself is not good or evil. It all depends on what the people are that live within that city. So it is against those who are inhabiting Jerusalem that God speaks.

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is in the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite ( Ezekiel 16:3 ).

Now, before the children of Israel came to dwell in the land, the first inhabitants of the land of Palestine were the Hittites and then also the Amorites. And so Jerusalem... well, first of all, rather the Amorites followed by the Hittites. But thy father was an Amorite, thy mother a Hittite, referring to the nations that inhabited the land prior to the coming in of Abraham.

And as for thy nativity, in the day in which you were born thy naval was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all ( Ezekiel 16:4 ).

Evidently in those days when a child was born, of course, the first thing you do is you wash the child, and then evidently they salted the child. This, no doubt, would be to kill bacteria, because salt is a tremendous antiseptic as far as killing bacteria.

We were out in a group that were exploring for the lost Virgin Guadalupe mine, and we were blasting away some boulders. And one of the fellows that was with us, working with us, got hit by a piece of rock that had cut off from the boulder when we were blasting it out, and cut his hand. And the old miner that was with us reached in and got out a little pack of salt and poured it all over. Of course, the guy winced like everything. But he said, "I never go out without my bag of salt." He said, "It"s the great antiseptic and it"ll cause it to heal faster and it"ll keep it from any infection from setting up."

And so they, no doubt, in those days salted the baby as an antiseptic to kill the bacteria that might be upon the child. So speaks about salting and the swaddling it, wrapping it up in this blanket kind of thing to swaddle the baby. But when Jerusalem was born, none of this was done. The umbilical chord was not cut. "You were not washed in water; you were not salted nor swaddled."

No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out into the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live ( Ezekiel 16:5-6 ).

So God is saying that you were an outcast and there was no one to care for you. But I came by and I saw you polluted there in your blood and I said unto you, "Live."

Now verse Ezekiel 16:6, interestingly enough, from old times was used as a verse to stop hemorrhaging or stop the flow of blood. It is a verse that people have used for years when someone is bleeding. To stop the bleeding they would quote this verse. Now, I don"t think the verse does it, but their faith to believe that God is going to do it does stop the bleeding. But people for years have used this almost as a charm kind of a thing to stop bleeding. But, of course, it"s out of context. God is talking about when He first saw the nation of Israel, Jerusalem, the people of Jerusalem. Called them unto Himself.

I have caused thee then to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased [you have become great], you have become an excellent ornament: your breasts are fashioned, and your hair is grown, whereas you were naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and so I spread my blanket over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and you became mine ( Ezekiel 16:7-8 ).

So as the nation developed, the time came for love, and God came to the nation to receive the love, entered into a covenant, married them in that sense. Entering into that covenant relationship where God claimed them as His own, as His bride.

And I washed thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers" skins, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. And I decked thee also with ornaments, I put bracelets upon thy hands, a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. And thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord ( Ezekiel 16:9-14 ).

Now God speaks of His work for the nation Israel, and that work of God"s Spirit in making them great, making them beautiful, making them desirable, perfect in beauty. Now, this is all a foreshadowing of the relationship of Jesus Christ to His church. How that when the Lord first came to us, we were polluted because of our sins. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1-22, "And you hath He made alive, who were dead in your trespasses and sins. Who in times past you walked according to the course of this world."

The word walked there is meandered, which means you were walking without any purpose or direction. You were meandering through life. Your life was aimless before the Lord met you. "As you meandered according to the course of this world." The word course comes from the Greek word weathervane. Whichever way the world was flowing, that"s the way you were going. Flowing in that way of the world. Just the fashions of the world. "And you were by nature," Paul said, "the children of wrath, because you were obeying the lust of your flesh, the lust of your mind." And thus we were when Christ came, but He washed us. "Now ye are clean," Jesus said, "through the words that I have spoken unto you." The washing of the regeneration of the Word of God. The washing of our lives through the blood of Jesus Christ.

"I washed you from your pollution, and then," the Lord said, "I anointed thee with oil." And so He anointed our life with the Holy Spirit. And then the Lord goes on to declare, "I clothed thee with broidered work." Not just throwing an old gunnysack at you and saying, "Dress up." Broidered work speaks of care; it speaks of skill. And so God took so much care and so much skill to clothe us with the righteousness which is of Jesus Christ through faith.

"I shod thee with badger skins." Or, "I gave you shoes of badger skins." Now the badger of the scripture, what that Hebrew word is today we don"t know. The King James translators guessed badger. But it was a soft leather that was usually dyed purple and was the favorite of the young girls for their slippers. And they were, because soft leather, they were worn for parties and for luxuries. Really not for hard labor or hard work out in the fields. Sandals were more the dress for that, but these were luxurious leather slippers.

"And I girded thee about with fine linen." In Revelation 19:1-21, verse Ezekiel 16:6, He speaks about, "And the bride hath made herself ready and she was adorned in fine linen, pure and clean." And the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. That righteousness that is ours is that which God has imputed to us through our faith in Jesus Christ. I am clothed tonight not in my own righteousness; I do not dare to stand before God pleading my own goodness before Him. And I don"t care how moral, how honest, how sincere, and how good a person you are. You"re a fool if you seek to stand before God in your own goodness and in your own righteousness.

You know, there are so many people that are just sort of good-natured people. Like you have dogs that are good natured and dogs that are bad natured. There are some dogs that are just mean; you don"t want to be around them. There are some people that are just mean; you don"t want to be around them. They have peptic type of dispositions, like their stomach is constantly upset or something. They"re always growling, always on edge. And that person, as far as standing before God, is no worse off than the person who has by nature a very pleasant disposition, who"s easy going, and calm. We have phlegmatic, and we have different types of temperaments, and none of them really have any acceptance before God. The only way that I can be accepted before God is to be clothed in that linen, pure and clean, which He has given to me. The righteousness which is of Christ through faith.

Now, the difficulty is when a person does have more of a problem with his disposition, he is usually more conscious and aware of his need for help. And he usually is coming to the Lord more readily. He"s a sinner, he knows he"s a sinner, and he knows he needs help. And he comes to the Lord quite readily. Whereas that person who is morally good, he"s honest, he"s sincere, you know, he has all of these qualities, so often that person does not feel a need of coming to Jesus Christ. And thus, is oftentimes much further from the Lord than the person who has a naturally miserable disposition. Which, of course, is a very interesting thing. A lot of good men go to hell and a lot of bad men go to heaven. Because when you have that kind of a nature, you know, "Oh God, I need help," and you"re coming to God for help. And the only way any of us could ever stand before God, surely not in our own righteousness, because our righteousness is as filthy rags in the eyes of God.

So God takes, washes, anoints with oil, clothes, and then He said in verse Ezekiel 16:11, "I decked thee also with ornaments, put bracelets on thy hands, a chain on your neck, a jewel in your forehead, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful tiara, a crown upon your head." I see these as the fruit of the Spirit, whose adorning, Peter said, "let it not be the outward adorning by the wearing of fancy clothes and the putting on of jewelry and the fixing up of your hair, but that inward adornment of the meek and quite spirit, which in the eyes of the Lord is very, very valuable" ( 1 Peter 3:3 ). And he speaks about the true beauty is not outward, but inward. True beauty of a person is in the character of their lives and the fruit of the Spirit as God places His glorious jewels of meekness, temperance, longsuffering, goodness, love, joy, peace.

And then God said, "I"ve given you to eat the fine flour and honey and oil. And you were exceedingly beautiful and you prospered into a kingdom. And your fame, your renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty." Throughout the world they were talking of the beauty of the nation of the people. The queen of Sheba came from the south to see and to hear. And when she had been there with Solomon, she said, "Oh, I heard, but I did not believe. But now I have seen and it was not told to me half of the glory of your kingdom."

"I blessed you, I honored you, I prospered you. You became famous, became renown throughout among the heathen. They all heard of your beauty." For the Lord declared, "For it was perfect," that is your beauty. "Through My comeliness which I had put on thee," saith the Lord.

And so God works in us His work of the Spirit. And as God works in us by His Spirit, the purpose is to conform us into the image of Christ. And as God works in us by His Spirit, and as we are changed into the image of Christ, God looks at us and says, "Oh, you"re perfectly beautiful." God sees you in Christ, and in Christ there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. God sees you complete in Christ, He sees you perfected in Christ, and He declares that you are perfect in beauty.

Now, after all of this, God now charges them,

But you did trust in your own beauty, and you played the harlot because of your renown, and you poured out your fornications on every one that passed by; his it was ( Ezekiel 16:15 ).

That is, they turned away from God and they began to worship every god of all of the people that were round about. God said, "You are Mine. I am the one that made this covenant with you. I purchased you. I"m the one that saved you. You were nothing; you were perishing. You were cast out. But I"m the one that rescued you and saved you and put My beauty on you. And now you"ve prostituted yourselves. And you"ve turned after every god, played the harlot, poured out your fornications on every one that passed by. His it was."

And of thy garments you did take, and you decked your high places with divers colors, and you played the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. For thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and my silver, which I had given thee, and you made unto yourself images of men, and you did commit whoredom with them ( Ezekiel 16:16-17 ),

I have prospered you; I gave you gold and silver. What did you do? You used it to make little images and idols, and you began to worship the gold and silver that I had blessed you with and prospered you with.

How tragic it is when a person"s life has been blessed of God and then they turn away from God and they begin to worship the gold and the silver that God has given to them, the possessions that God has given to them.

And you took your broidered garments, and you covered them: and you have set my oil and my incense before them. And my meat also which I gave thee, the fine flour, the oil, the honey, wherewith I fed you, you have even set it before these little images as a sweet savor: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 16:18-19 ).

You"ve taken those things that I have given and you"ve profaned them.

Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom you have borne unto me, and these have you sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them? And in all thy abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when you were naked and bare, and you were polluted in your own blood ( Ezekiel 16:20-22 ).

Now, of course, the people of Israel had turned to all of these pagan gods, but worst of all, they began to follow the practice of the pagans of the land in offering their own children as sacrifices unto the pagan gods. Burning them in the fire, casting them into the fire, or putting them into the arms of the little outstretched iron gods of Baal that were heated in the fire till they were red hot and then they would place their babies in those red hot arms and burn them as an offering unto the gods. And here are God"s people committing this horrible sacrilege. And so God"s indictment against them. No wonder God destroyed them. No wonder God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to drive them out of the land. They had forgotten the condition that they were in when God first came to them. "You haven"t remembered how you were naked and had nothing."

It came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! Saith the Lord GOD,) That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and you have made a high place in every street ( Ezekiel 16:23-24 ).

The high places were the places of pagan worship where every kind of licentious practice went on in their worship of these pagan gods.

Thou hast built thy high place at the head of every way, and you have made thy beauty to be abhorred, and you have opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms. Thou hast committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger. Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way ( Ezekiel 16:25-27 ).

So God said, "I"ve begun to turn you over to your enemies."

Because you have played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet you couldn"t be satisfied. Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith. How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman; In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way [or every street], and you make your high place in every street; and you have not been as the harlot, in that thou hast scornest hire ( Ezekiel 16:28-31 );

You"re even worse than a prostitute. You"ve scorn the payment.

But as a wife that commits adultery, which takes strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all whores: but you have given gifts to all of your lovers, and you"ve hired them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom ( Ezekiel 16:32-33 ).

So Israel has so turned away from the worship of God in their worshipping of these false gods. That God is just speaking here of the horrible relationship that they would forsake God who had done so much for them. You say, "But oh, could a people really do that?" Well, I ask you to look at the United States today. A nation that in its beginning understood its dependency upon God; a nation that was framed with a Constitution guaranteeing the freedom of worship of the people, a freedom to worship; a nation that placed upon its coins, "In God we trust"; A nation that placed within its national anthem the recognition of God and in its pledge to the flag acknowledged it to be one nation under God. But look how the nation today has turned its back upon God.

On the Lord"s day, it has become a day where people go out and worship their idols. As they run up and down a lined field throwing balls to the cries and the cheers of their devoted followers. A day for pleasure, a day for seeking after the flesh, a day of attempting to satiate the flesh in pleasure. How far we have fallen when Superman replaces the Word of God on television on Sunday mornings. How tragic that a nation turns from the God who made them great, the God who made them strong, the God who clothed them, fed them, made them prosperous, and they forget their beginnings. They forget it was God who made us strong. They forget how that God watched over the early colonists. And they begin to attribute the strength to such foolish things as free enterprise, the democratic system. "America, America, God shed His grace on thee," but you"ve turned your back on God, even as did Israel. We did not have the wisdom to learn from history, and the Christians by their inactivity have allowed these to be.

We"re soon going to be electing school boards and other officials in our community. How many of you have really planned to vote? Probably not very many. Did you know that there are some outstanding Christians that are running for the school boards? That if all of the Christians got out and voted for those Christians that are running for these offices, they could be elected to these offices and we could actually perhaps help guide the curriculum of our schools. There is a Dr. Peterson, there is a George Rhoda, both of them outstanding born again Christians running for school board. Now every Christian ought to be out voting. I"m not going to tell you who to vote for, that"s illegal. But I"ll just tell you there"s a couple Christians.

So God speaks about Israel, their folly, and about the judgment that is going to come. He was first their lover. He had created them, took them when they were nothing, made them great, made them beautiful. And they turned against Him.

Verse Ezekiel 16:34 :

And the contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none follows thee to commit whoredoms: and in that you give a reward, and no reward is given to thee, therefore you are contrary. Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the Lord GOD Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. And I will judge thee, as a woman that has broken wedlock and those that have shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare. And they shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more. So I will make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from me, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry. Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but you have fretted me in all of these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations. Behold, every one that uses proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As the mother, so is her daughter. Thou art thy mother"s daughter, that loatheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which loathe their husbands and their children: your mother was a Hittite, and your father was an Amorite. And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell in thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwells at thy right hand, in the south is Sodom and her daughters. Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou hast corrupted more than they in all of your ways ( Ezekiel 16:34-47 ).

You"ve been worse than Samaria and worse than Sodom.

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom ( Ezekiel 16:48-49 ),

What was the sin of Sodom? The Lord in looking at it looks behind it, and He said it was:

pride, [it was] fullness of bread [prosperity], the abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters, and neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy ( Ezekiel 16:49 ).

So this is God"s indictment against Sodom. The reason why Sodom was judged: pride, prosperity, idleness, and no concern for the poor and the needy. Now, these conditions of pride and prosperity and idleness of time. Men began to look for things to fill in their idle time. And in looking for things to fill their idle time, they began to indulge themselves and their flesh. And having run the gamut of kinky flesh and not finding any satisfaction, only a greater lust, they began to burn in their lust for each other. And that horrible condition in which we find Sodom when the angels of the Lord came and were staying in the house of Lot and the men of the city began to knock on the door saying, "Open unto us and send out those men that came into your house that we may know them." And Lot went to the door and said, "Go away, don"t do this evil unto these men. Behold, I have a couple of daughters that are virgins, I"ll turn them over to you. But don"t do this evil to these men." And they said, "You"re a stranger. You come to live with us, and now are you gonna judge us?" And they were going to grab him, and the angels said to Lot, "Stand back." And they smote the men with blindness so that they wearied themselves of trying to find the door. And they said, "Get out of here."

But you see, behind this scene there was the pride, there was the prosperity, there was the idleness of time. Now, these are the conditions that produced this blatant demonstration of these homosexual men. It was because of this kind of an environment they felt the bravado to parade publicly. When the conditions of a nation become so corrupt and immoral that men of this character feel a forwardness in expressing themselves publicly and begin to parade in public demonstrations, you know that you are at the end of the rope. The next thing is judgment. And as I see the things that are happening in the United States, San Francisco, Hollywood, Washington, D.C., I realize that the cup of God"s indignation is about to overflow, and America will be judged of God.

God said,

They were haughty, they committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away [as I saw fit] as I saw good. Neither hath Samaria committed half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and you have justified your sisters in all your abominations which you have done ( Ezekiel 16:50-51 ).

And that"s, of course, the whole thing, the rationale, the justification, "Well, you know, every man has a freedom to express himself however he desires, and no one has the right to dictate their moral standards on other people, you know."

Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins which you have committed are more abominable than they: and they are more righteous than you: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that you have justified your sisters. When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that you have done, in that you are a comfort unto them. When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride, Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about. Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD. For thus saith the Lord GOD I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant ( Ezekiel 16:52-59 ).

God made a covenant with them, "You are Mine." They broke the covenant and they gave themselves over to every god and idol and abomination. And so God speaks of them that they have despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

Now, God here, of course, speaks of the day of restoration--even of Sodom and of Samaria. That day is coming. I do not believe the day is far off. As we go further in Ezekiel, we"re going to find that a new... there is an earthquake that is going to take place in Jerusalem that is going to create a new valley and is going to unlock an underground river, a spring that will begin to flow from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea with such a supply of water that when it comes into the Dead Sea, the waters of the Dead Sea will be healed and there will be all manner of fish and all there in the Dead Sea. And Engedi will be a place where they will be drying their fishing nets. And the area of the Dead Sea will no doubt become a verdant, beautiful valley again. Sodom shall be inhabited as Samaria, and of course, as Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, [the Lord said,] I will remember my covenant with you [you have broken it, but I"m going to remember it] in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant ( Ezekiel 16:60 ).

And so God is... for all that they have done, God is not utterly destroyed, utterly rejected, but He is going to take them back again and establish an everlasting covenant with them through Jesus Christ.

Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 16:61-63 ). "

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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

The Foundling Child who became an Unfaithful Wife

From Hosea onwards the prophets spoke of idolatry under the figure of unchastity. God was the husband of Israel, but she proved unfaithful to Him. This thought has already been expressed by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 6:9, and it is now expanded into an elaborate historical allegory. The subject is nominally the city of Jerusalem, but really the whole nation of Israel. Jerusalem was a girl-child of heathen extraction, who was exposed in infancy to die (Ezekiel 16:1-5). God saw her and saved her life, and she grew to maturity, though still in a poor and mean condition (Ezekiel 16:6-7). Then He took her to be His wife, loading her with every honour (Ezekiel 16:8-14). But she was disloyal to Him, admitting idols as her lovers at the high places, and lavishing on them the gifts God had bestowed upon her (Ezekiel 16:15-19).) She even sacrificed to them her own children whom she had borne to God (Ezekiel 16:20-21). By borrowing the idolatries of the surrounding nations, Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia, she j made them all her paramours, with every aggravation of guilt (Ezekiel 16:23-34). Her sin had already brought reproach upon her from hostile neighbours like the Philistines (Ezekiel 16:27), but she had proved incorrigible and must now suffer utter humiliation and destruction (Ezekiel 16:35-43). Men would speak of her as the true daughter of her parents, the true sister of Samaria and Sodom, whose guilt had been less than hers; though she had despised them in her pride (Ezekiel 16:44-52). Her humiliation would I be completed by her being put on a level with them, and sharing the mercy extended to them (Ezekiel 16:53-59). Nevertheless God would not forget His love for her, but would pity and restore her, giving her Samaria and Sodom for daughters instead of sisters. Humbled, ashamed, and forgiven, she would know at last the true character of God (Ezekiel 16:60-63).

3. Thy birth, etc.] Though the allegory deals with the history of Israel as a nation it begins by tracing the origin of Jerusalem. It was a Canaanite city, inhabited by Jebusites, long before it became the capital of God's kingdom. Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21; Judges 19:11; 2 Samuel 5:6-8.

Amorite] a general name for some of the tribes originally inhabiting Canaan: cp. Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 20:17. Hittite] The Hittites, or children of Heth, were another portion of the original inhabitants of Canaan: cp. Genesis 10:15; Numbers 13:29. Another branch of the Hittites had a powerful empire to the N. of Palestine (Joshua 1:4; Judges 1:26).

7. Thou hast increased, etc.] RV 'thou didst increase,' etc. The past tense should be read throughout the verse. Whereas] RV 'yet.'

8. A covenant] a marriage covenant, probably with reference to the covenant at Sinai.

10. Badgers' skin] RV 'sealskin,' probably the skin of the dugong, an herbivorous cetacean found in the Red Sea.

12. A jewel on thy forehead] RV 'a ring upon thy nose': see Isaiah 3:21.

16. High places] the seats of ancient Canaanite worship, retained by the Israelites for the worship of the true God, but perverted to their old uses: see Ezekiel 6:3, Ezekiel 6:6, Ezekiel 6:13.

20, 21. Human sacrifice was not unknown in early Israel: see on Genesis 22:1-14; Judges 11:30-40, and was introduced in later times by Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 28:3) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 3:6). It was also practised in the northern kingdom (2 Kings 17:17).

24, 25. Besides the high places throughout the land, idolatrous shrines were established in the streets of Jerusalem.

27. Israel suffered from the Philistines both in the days of the Judges and the early kings, and in later times (2 Chronicles 28:18).

29. In the land of Canaan, etc.] RM 'unto the land of traffic,' etc. See Ezekiel 17:4.

38. As women.. are judged] see Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22; John 8:5.

41. Many women] the neighbouring nations.

45. Your mother.. your father] The plural pronoun refers to the three sisters.

46. Samaria] the capital of the kingdorn of the Ten Tribes, standing for the whole of that kingdom. Left hand.. right hand mean north and south respectively: see John 10:3.

Elder.. younger] refer not to historical antiquity but to importance.

57. Syria] Heb. 'Aram.' We may change one letter and read 'Edom.' The Edomites exulted over the fall of Jerusalem (Obadiah 1:10-14; Psalms 137:7). The Philistines seem to have done the same. Both nations are denounced in similar terms in Ezekiel 25:12-17.

61. Not by thy covenant] The new relation of Jerusalem to Samaria and Sodom would not depend on anything in the past, but would be a fresh arrangement of God's grace.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The youth of Jerusalem16:6-14

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

When she was mature enough, the Lord made a commitment to take care of her forever (cf. Psalm 132:13-17). Spreading a skirt over someone was a customary way of committing to marry and to provide for someone in that culture ( Ruth 3:9). [Note: See P. A. Kruger, "The Hem of the Garment in Marriage: The Meaning of the Symbolic Gesture in Ruth 3:9 and Ezekiel 16:8," Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages12 (1984):84-85.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) Now when I passed by thee.—Here, as in Ezekiel 16:6, omit the when, and render, “and I passed by thee.” Two separate visits are spoken of: the one in Israel’s infancy in Egypt, when God blessed and multiplied her (Ezekiel 16:6); the other when she had become a nation, and God entered into covenant with her in the Exodus and at Sinai. The verse describes this covenant in terms of the marriage relation, a figure very frequent in Scripture. On the phrase “spread my skirt,” comp. Ruth 3:9, and on “becamest mine,” Ruth 4:10.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Ezekiel 16:6

Weakness can speak and cry when we have not a tongue. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said to thee, Live. The kirk could not speak one word to Christ then; but blood and guiltiness out of measure spake, and drew out of Christ pity, and a word of life and love.

—Samuel Rutherford.

Ezekiel 16:14-15

When one is in bed and really ill, one would gladly sacrifice one"s complexion or one"s bright eyes to regain health and enjoy the sunshine. And besides, a small degree of piety in the heart, a little love of God, is enough to make one speedily renounce such idolatries; for a pretty woman adores herself. When I was a child, I thought nothing equal to beauty; because I said to myself it would have made mamma love me better. Thank God, this childishness has passed away, and the beauty of the soul is the only one I covet.

—EugÉnie de GuÉrin, Journal.

References.—XVI:8.—S. Baring-Gould, Plain Preaching to Poor People (8th Series), p89. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No2438. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p25. XVI:9-14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No813.

Ezekiel 16:44

Looking at the mother, you might hope that the daughter would become like her, which is a prospective advantage equal to a dowry—the mother too often standing behind the daughter like a malignant prophecy—"Such as I Amos, she will shortly be".

—George Eliot in Middlemarch.

Ezekiel 16:49

"Year after year," writes Ruskin in the third volume of The Stones of Venice, "the nation drank with deeper thirst from the fountains of forbidden pleasure, and dug for springs, hitherto unknown, in the dark places of the earth. In the ingenuity of indulgence, in the varieties of vanity, Venice surpassed the cities of Christendom, as of old she had surpassed them in fortitude and devotion; and as once the powers of Europe stood before her judgment-seat, to receive the decisions of her justice, so now the youth of Europe assembled in the halls of her luxury, to learn from her the arts of delight. It is needless as well as painful to trace the steps of her final ruin. That ancient curse was upon her, the curse of the Cities of the Plain, "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness". By the inner burning of her own passions, as fatal as the fiery rain of Gomorrah, she was consumed from her place among the nations; and her ashes are choking the channels of the dead, salt sea."

One monster there is in the world: the idle man. What is his "religion "? That Nature is a Phantasm, where cunning beggary or thievery may sometimes find good victual. That God is a lie, and that Man and his life are a lie.

—Carlyle, Past and Present, (part ii. chap. xii.).

Quite apart from Christianity, there exists a social virtue, πολιτικὴ ἀρετή, consisting in regard for others, their rights, their likings, their sensibilities; in love of law and order, in appreciation of articles of value, your own and other people"s, as things to be preserved in the hands that have them; in being polite and well-dressed; in saying on some occasions much less than you think, on other occasions a great deal more. This virtue the comfortable classes teach to their children; it is their class interest to teach it and learn it and maintain it. Too frequently, on the other hand, the children of the very poor are not taught social virtue. From infancy they are treated roughly and behave rudely. They see no beauty in the established order of things. They would not be so very much worse off if anarchy and civil war were to ensue. The struggle for the necessities of life and for coarse enjoyments leaves no leisure nor aptitude for processes of refinement. They grow up "a rough lot"; and where no priest instructs them, nor policeman intimidates them, they commit such crime as comes in their way. Girls, they go out upon the streets, for hunger, to begin with, then for evil passion and habit; but the well-fed sons of luxury are their pay-masters. Some sin is born of fullness of bread, other sin of emptiness of stomach. The latter sort of sin the poor commit, and of the two it is the more likely to appear in the police court and earn lodgings in jail. But of the two it is not the more likely to be the more odious in the sight of God.

—Father Rickaby, Oxford and Cambridge Conferences, II. pp7, 8.

References.—XVI:49.—H. Hensley Henson, Christ and the Nation, p147. XVI:54.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No264. Elmitt Browne, Some Moral Proofs of the Resurrection, p130.

Ezekiel 16:62-63

A man shal remembre him of his sinnes. But loke that that remembrance he be to him no delit, by no way, but grete shame and sorroe for his sinnes, and therefore saith Ezechiel; I wot remembre me all the yeres of my lif, in the bitterness of my heart. And God sayeth in the Apocalipse; remembre you fro whens that ye hev fallen, for before the time that ye sinned, ye weren the children of God; but for your sinne ye ben waxen thral and foule; membres of the fende; hate of angels; sclaunder of holy chirche, and fode of the false serpent.... Suiche manere thoughtes meke a man to have shame of his sinne, and no delit; as God saith, by the Prophet Ezechiel; ye should remembre you of your wages, and they should displese you.

—Chaucer, The Persone"s Tale.

"My chief burden," wrote Erskine of Linlathen towards the close of his life, "is the remembrance of past sins. Although I believe them forgiven, yet they often come between me and the face of my heavenly Father." In his reminiscences of Erskine, Principal Sharp observes that "one thing very remarkable during these last years must have struck all who conversed intimately with him—his ever-deepening sense of the evil of sin, and the personal way in which he took this home to himself. Small things done or said years ago would come back upon him, and lie on his conscience, often painfully. Things which few other men would have ever thought of again, and which when told to others would seem trifling or harmless, were grievous to him in remembrance. "I know that God has forgiven me for these things," he would say, "but I cannot forgive myself."

Let a man but once come really under a sense of God"s unchangeable complacency, and he will then soon mourn bitterly enough for his sins, and profitably to himself. "Thou shalt be loathsome in thine own eyes, when I am pacified with thee for all that thou hast dona."

—F. W. Newman, The Soul, p78.

References.—XVI:62, 63.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No1289. XVII:3, 5, 8.—G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii1893, p193. XVII:4.—W. J. Knox Little, Manchester Sermons, p22. XVII:23.—T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p34.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Ezekiel 16:1-63. This chapter consists of four sections: 1. The parable of the abandoned child. 2. Jerusalem’s idolatries and moral degradation (Ezekiel 16:15-34). 3. The doom of Jerusalem and the promise of restoration (Ezekiel 16:35-59). 4. The covenant remembered (Ezekiel 16:60-63).

The parable of the abandoned child, and what the gracious Lord did for the little one is a most beautiful demonstration of what He had done in His sovereign love and grace for Jerusalem. It must be read first with this in mind. But this sweet parable illustrates also, as few other portions in the Old Testament do, the grace which the Lord bestows upon the believer in the gospel. Thy father an Amorite and thy mother a Hittite reminds us of what is true of all men, so tersely expressed in David’s confession, “Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did MY mother conceive me” Psalms 51:5. Like the child pictured in the parable, we are lost, perishing in the field (the world). What could that perishing child do to save itself? Even so we cannot do anything to save ourselves. The Lord passing by had compassion and spoke His Word of power--Live. He came from heaven to this earth, into the field to seek and save what is lost. He found man in the vile and helpless condition so aptly pictured by the miserable child. And more than that, He died to save man. He gave His life so that we might live. The first thing He does for the believing sinner is to give him life. When the spiritual dead hear His voice they live. The washing with water, the anointing with oil (type of the Holy Spirit), the announcement “thou becamest Mine,” as well as the clothing, the beautifying and the crowning, all illustrate what His marvelous grace does for the trusting, believing sinner. It is all grace from start to finish, from the impartation of life in the new birth to the crowning in glory.

Upon this beautiful background of Jehovah’s love and mercy, there is written next the dark picture of Jerusalem’s whoredoms, symbolical of her wicked idolatries. It started all with pride (Ezekiel 16:15). Jerusalem did not acknowledge the giver. Instead of worshipping Him, they established the high places and conformed to all the wicked Canaanitish practices. Ezekiel 16:15-34 give the depth of Jerusalem’s apostasy.

Then the Lord addresseth her whom He loved, and who had turned away from Him as a harlot. Her doom and judgment is announced which once more is followed by the promise of mercy and restoration. The restoration of Sodom and her daughters has puzzled many. It has been used by Universalists, Russellites, Restorationists, teachers of Reconciliationism and other errorists to back up their inventions of a second chance of the wicked dead, or the ultimate salvation of the entire race. The restoration promises have nothing to do with the restoration of the wicked dead. They are promises of national restoration. It is a mistake to look in the Old Testament for any doctrines concerning the future state. Three facts will show this error of making the Old Testament teach the restoration of the wicked.

1. The Old Testament is not that part of the divine revelation where teachings and doctrines about the future state are given.

This is a most important fact. The Old Testament shows man as upon the earth, on this side of death, and not beyond death. The future of Israel on the earth, their supremacy and destiny of glory amidst the nations of the earth, the judgments of God in the earth, as well as the future blessings for the nations inhabiting the earth during the coming age, are all clearly revealed in the Old Testament. The state after death, that which is beyond this life, is shrouded in mystery in the Old Testament Scriptures. That great judgment, the great white throne judgment, is nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament, nor do we read a word there of “the second death.” Resurrection of the dead, no doubt, was known to individual saints of Old Testament times; the Spirit of God revealed it to their hearts, but as a doctrine, resurrection is not found in the Old Testament. In Psalms 16:1-11 is revealed the hope of resurrection of the body, and there is a prophecy of the resurrection of our Lord.

2. Should we find anything in the Old Testament concerning the future state, the state of the righteous and the unrighteous after death, such a hint or statement can only be rightly understood and interpreted by the great doctrine concerning the future state as revealed in the New Testament.

By this, of course, we do not say that the Old Testament needs correction by the revelation of the New, nor do we say that the Old is inferior to the New; all is the Word of God. However, as the Old Testament does not show man’s condition after death, any passage which appears to relate to such a condition must be interpreted by the full light as given in the New Testament.

3. If such passages as Ezekiel 16:53 and Ezekiel 37:1-14, etc., teach the restitution of the wicked by resurrection for another chance, we must then find such a doctrine of the restoration most clearly and fully revealed as one of the great doctrines of the New Testament.

In vain, however, do we look in the New Testament for such a restoration--second probation doctrine. Such a doctrine is not even hinted at in the New. However, the New Testament gives the fullest revelation concerning resurrection and the future state. It tells us that there is indeed a resurrection of the body for every human being. This revelation of resurrection as contained in the New Testament leaves no room whatever for the Sodomites and all the wicked idolatrous Israelites to be raised up for another chance. Our Lord, in John 5:29, reveals a twofold resurrection, a resurrection unto life and a resurrection unto damnation. The human race, those who have died, are therefore in resurrection divided into two classes; they must come forth either unto life or unto damnation: there is no middle class. Later the New Testament teaches a first resurrection, an out-resurrection from the dead. Only those who have believed and died in Christ will have a share in this resurrection. Both Old and New Testament saints belong to it, but none have a part in it who died in their sins. The rest of the dead, meaning of course, the wicked dead, are not raised up till after the thousand years. This is a second resurrection, and this takes place not when the Lord comes the second time, but after His millennial reign Revelation 20:1-15. The subjects of this second resurrection appear before the great white throne and are cast into the lake of fire. Now, these teachers claim that the return of Sodom and Samaria to their former estate means their resurrection for another chance when the Lord comes. But, as these departed, wicked people are wicked still, how can they have part in the first resurrection when the Lord comes, which is the resurrection of the righteous?

They surely cannot belong to this resurrection. And there is nowhere in the New Testament a word about another special resurrection in which all the wicked are raised from the dead for another chance. After the resurrection of the righteous dead there is but one more resurrection, the resurrection of the wicked unto damnation. In the light of these facts the flimsy theory built upon misapplied texts of the Old Testament, texts which relate to national restoration and blessing, breaks down completely. And now, having seen what the statements in this chapter of Ezekiel do not mean, let us see what is their meaning. While these statements cannot mean the resurrection of individuals, they mean a national restoration. There is promised in many passages of the Old Testament a national restoration of Israel. The ten tribes are to be brought back to their former possessions. Historically they have been lost. But they are not lost to God. He knows where they are. He has kept track of them, and in His own time He will make good the promises of their restoration and will bring back the remnants of the house of Israel, now scattered still among the nations. The Jews will also be restored to their territory. Repeatedly this national restoration of the ancient people is promised under the picture of a resurrection. But to other nations there is also promised such a national restoration in the days to come, when the Lord comes and begins His Kingdom reign over the earth. Such a national revival is beyond a doubt promised for a future day to Moab, Ammon, Assyria, and Egypt. Edom and Babylon, however, are doomed as nations and no revival whatever is promised to them.

We do not know, of course, how God will accomplish these promises of restoration and national revivals, and how He will gather the remnants of these former nations from the great sea of nations. We can leave this and other difficulties with Him who will see to the fulfillment of all these things.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The second figure was that of the adulteress, and this the prophet wrought out at great length. Jerusalem was arraigned on account of her abominations, which were described under the figure of that spiritual adultery and harlotry which Hosea had so graphically and powerfully set forth.

Ezekiel traced the whole history of the city. Her origin was of the land of the Canaanite, an Amorite her father, and a Hittite her mother. She was an abandoned child, born and forsaken. In this condition of helplessness she was found and nurtured by Jehovah. The prophet's description of the tender care of Jehovah is full of beauty. At maturity the child was taken in marriage, and loaded with benefits. The renown of the glory of her state and apparel "went forth among the nations." Then came the downfall, and in words of living fire the prophet dealt with the awful unfaithfulness of the wife as she trusted in her beauty and turned to harlotry, in which she prostituted her husband's wealth. All the gifts which had been lavished on her in love she turned into the means of prosecuting her evil courses. The harlotry of Jerusalem had been worse than the common in which the harlot receives gifts, in that she had bestowed gifts to seduce others. Even the daughters of Philistia were ashamed of her lewdness. Because of the hatefulness of the sin, the punishment of Jerusalem would be terrible.

The method would be to turn her lovers against her, that is, those whom she had seduced. With terrible vengeance they would come on her and strip her of all her ornaments and her clothing, exposing her to shame. In proverbs of contempt she would be spoken of as the daughter of her mother the Hittite, as a sister of Samaria and Sodom. Yet the prophet declared that Jerusalem had been more corrupt than either of these. Jerusalem's sin had been the more heinous in that she had professed to set the standard for her sisters, whereas she had been more abominable than they. Yet all this shame to be brought on the guilty city was in order that she might repent and turn to God, and so return to her former state. In this again Hosea's thought of the restoration of the sinning wife is evident. The last movement in this terrible story is that in which the prophet foretold the restoration of the ' wife by Jehovah's remembrance of the Covenant and re-establishment of it.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee,.... Which the Targum refers to the Lord's appearance to Moses in the bush; See Gill on Ezekiel 16:6;

behold, thy time was the time of love; which the Targum explains of the time of redemption of the people of Israel out of Egypt, which was an instance of the great love of God unto that people; and which time was fixed by him; and when it was come, at the exact and precise time, the redemption was wrought; see Genesis 15:13; and so there is a set time for the calling and conversion of God's elect, who are therefore said to be called according to purpose; and, when that time comes, all means are made to concur to bring it about: and this is a time of love; for though the love of God to his people is before all time, yet it is manifested in time; and there are particular times in which it is expressed unto them; and the time of conversion is one of them; and indeed it is the first time that there is a manifestation and application of the love of God made to the souls of his people: and this is a "time of loves"F15עת דודים "tempus amorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Starckius. ; as it is in the original text; denoting the large abundance of it which is now shown forth; and the various acts of it now done; as bringing of them out of a most miserable condition, out of a horrible pit; plucking them as brands out of the burning; quickening them when dead in sin; speaking comfortably to them, and applying pardoning grace and mercy to their souls: and it may include both the love of God to his people, and their love to him; for now is the love of their espousals, and the kindness of their youth, Jeremiah 2:2; the grace of love is now implanted, to God and Christ, to his people, word, worship, and ordinances, which before had no place in them:

and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; the Lord espoused the people of Israel to himself in the wilderness, after he had brought them out of Egypt, and took them under the wings of his protection; both which this phrase may be expressive of; see 3:9. Some understand this of his giving them the spoils of the Egyptians, and also the law: it may very well be applied to the righteousness of Christ, which is often compared to a garment, for which the skirt, a part, is put; and this is put on as a garment, and answers all the purposes of one; and particularly covers the nakedness of men, which their own righteousness will not do; this the Lord spreads over his people, and covers them with; and being clothed with this, they shall not be found naked:

yea, I sware unto thee; to his love expressed to his people, and to his covenant he entered into with them, neither of which shall ever be removed; and this makes to their abundant comfort; see Psalm 89:3;

and entered into covenant with thee, saith the Lord God; as he did with the people of Israel at Horeb, and which was a sort of a marriage contract with them; see Deuteronomy 29:1; the covenant of grace was made from everlasting with Christ, and the elect in him; but is made manifest at conversion, when the Lord makes himself known unto them as their covenant God; leads them to Christ the Mediator of it; sends his Spirit down into their hearts, to make them partakers of the grace of it; and shows them their interest in the blessings and promises of it; all which may be meant by the phrase here used:

and thou becamest mine; as Israel did at the time before mentioned, became the Lord's peculiar people, and were avouched as such by him, Exodus 19:5; so, in conversion, those who before were secretly the Lord's by electing and redeeming grace, become openly his by calling and sanctifying grace.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Ezekiel 16:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

Ezekiel 16:3 — "thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite" - Comments- Note Ezekiel 16:45-46, especially Ezekiel 16:47. God is saying that Israel has walked after their ways even more so.

, "Thou art thy mother"s daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite. And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways."

Ezekiel 16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

Ezekiel 16:8 — "I spread my skirt over thee" - Comments- This phrase is used only again in Ruth 3:9. God claimed Israel, and betrothed her as His bride.

Ruth 3:9, "And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman."

Ezekiel 16:15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.

Ezekiel 16:15 — "but thou wast cast out in the open field" - Comments- Abandoning a child is a common practice in underdeveloped and impoverished nations. Even then, a mother with a small measure of pity leaves the child at a hospital or in an open place for others to rescue. Song of Solomon, in Ezekiel 16:15 the emphasis is on the analogy of a baby being left with absolutely no pity regarding its rescue.

Ezekiel 16:20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter,

Ezekiel 16:20 — "whom thou hast borne unto me" - Comments- Also, the firstborn were given to the Lord. Note Leviticus 12:2-6.

, "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a Song of Solomon, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:"

Ezekiel 16:46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

Ezekiel 16:46 — "is Sodom and her daughters" - Comments- Sodom's daughters would be the other smaller cities of the plains, which includes Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim. The city of Zoar was spared because of Lot.

Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 16:49 — "pride" - Comments- Many people today have too much pride to find a job which society considers lowly.

Ezekiel 16:49 — "fullness of bread" - Illustration- When I used to drive a garbage truck, I often emptied grocery store compactors. Tremendous amounts of food are thrown away daily in America. This is typical of America's fullness and wastefulness.

Ezekiel 16:49 — "abundance of idleness"- Comments- Many Americans thrives on pleasure, tourism, and leisure activities.

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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

Geneva Study Bible

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered d thy nakedness: yea, I swore to thee, and entered into a covenant with e thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

(d) These words as blood, pollution, nakedness and filthiness are often repeated to beat down their pride, and to cause them to consider what they were before God received them to mercy, favoured them and covered their shame.

(e) That you should be a chaste wife to me, and that I should maintain you and endue you with all graces.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Lovers. Hebrew dodim, "breasts, (Haydock) or espousals;" (Aquila) "loving." (Symmachus) --- Garment, as a husband, Ruth iii. 9., and Jeremias ii. 2.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

"Trampled," in Ezekiel 16:6, is not merely exposed to trampling, but actually trampled upon; as surely as Israel in Egypt was actually a trampled people, upon whom the Egyptians trod. This child was able to survive such trampling. The words, "And I said unto thee in thy blood, Live," are repeated, to fix the attention of the ungrateful people, and impress them on their conscience. Ezekiel 16:7 does not abandon the allegory, but it refers to an ideal child, that comes to view in a multiplicity of single existences. The words, "myriads—wax great," refer to Exodus 1:12, "And as they afflicted them, so they multiplied and broke forth." "And earnest to complete ornament:" the beauty is figuratively designated as an ornament: the people were adorned with beauty. "And thou wast naked and bare." Grotius, "This signifies the misery of the people in Egypt." The blessing of God going forth under the cross caused the vigorous growth and prosperity of the people; but their external condition was still miserable, and all external conditions of national existence were wanting. In Ezekiel 16:8 is the closing of the covenant with the people, as it began with the calling of Moses at Sinai, and attained to its conclusion during the sojourn of the people there. The covering with the skirt of the mantle is the figurative designation for taking under protection (Ruth 3:9). In connection with this stands here the covering of the nakedness, which indicates the want of protection and help. "Saith the Lord Jehovah:" What grace, when the Holy and Almighty One condescends to enter into covenant with so sinful and miserable a people! The washing with water and anointing with oil (Ezekiel 16:9) signify the translation from the low and miserable Egyptian condition to a higher and better. Spiritual benefits are not to be thought of. As the blood formerly signified the external misery of the people in Egypt, so also, by the washing with water, can only be understood the removal of the external misery. The prophet adheres to the palpable benefits of God, which even the ungodly, whose conscience he wishes to reach, must have recognised as such. Ezekiel 16:10 f. refer specially to the flourishing period of the people under David and Solomon. The "beautiful crown" in Ezekiel 16:12 belongs, according to Ezekiel 16:13, to the kingdom of Israel. The royal splendour passed from David and Solomon over to the whole people. These bore the beautiful crown, as representatives of the people.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Chapter Sixteen

Israel Favored Of God But Faithless

This lengthy chapter, in the very nature of things, could not very well have been divided inasmuch as it gives a complete outline of God’s ways with Israel from the very beginning, and their ungrateful response to His loving-kindness. There is much here against which the mind revolts-much that is so indelicate according to our way of speaking, much that is loathsome and even grossly sordid. But we need to remember that sin is the vilest thing in all the universe. And Israel’s sin in turning away from the true and living God to the worship of the idols of the nations roundabout her, was of a most revolting character, for that idolatry was linked with very corrupt and immoral practices. Therefore God used the method employed here, indelicate as it may seem to people of refined tastes and clean minds, to portray the filthiness of such sin and iniquity as that of which this nation had been guilty. No carefully chosen words or guarded expressions can make wickedness any less repulsive than it really is in the sight of a holy God.

“Again the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations; and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah unto Jerusalem: Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of the Canaanite; the Amorite was thy father, and thy mother was a Hittite. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to cleanse thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. No eye pitied thee, to do any of these things unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, for that thy person was abhorred, in the day that thou wast born”-vers. 1-5.

Israel here is likened to an unwanted female babe exposed for death, thrown out by its parents immediately after birth and left to perish in its uncleanness.

Canaan was the home of the Amorite and the Hittite. Israel’s parentage as a nation was traced back to these idolatrous tribes. The ordinary care given to a newborn child had not been hers. The inhabitants of the land repudiated her and endeavored to rid themselves of her from the beginning.

Nevertheless God in mercy and loving-kindness looked upon Israel and intervened in her behalf, as the next verses remind us.

“And when I passed by thee, and saw thee weltering in thy blood, I said unto thee, Though thou art in thy blood, live; yea, I said unto thee, Though thou art in thy blood, live. I caused thee to multiply as that which groweth in the field, and thou didst increase and wax great, and thou attainedst to excellent ornament; thy breasts were fashioned, and thy hair was grown; yet thou wast naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord Jehovah, and thou becamest Mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and 1 anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with sealskin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and covered thee with silk. And I decked thee with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a ring upon thy nose, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper unto royal estate. And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty; for it was perfect, through My majesty which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 6-14.

Jehovah looked upon the infant nation in pity and tender consideration. Instead of permitting her enemies to destroy her, He threw the mantle of His protection over her, took her up in grace, nourished and cherished her, saw her develop as from a neglected infant into a fair and beautiful maiden.

In His tender love He cleansed, clothed and adorned her, making her to become the most favored of nations, a witness to His great compassion and His omnipotent power. Thus she became renowned throughout the world, and even the nations that knew not her God, could not fail to realize that she was specially favored by Him who had become her Deliverer and Protector. All was of Him. He acted according to the love of His heart not according to any merit He saw in her.

Instead of responding to such goodness by loyalty to her Redeemer-God, she proved utterly faithless, as the next section reveals.

“But thou didst trust in thy beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy whoredoms on every one that passed by; his it was. And thou didst take of thy garments, and madest for thee high places decked with divers colors, and playedst the harlot upon them: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. Thou didst also take thy fair jewels of My gold and of My silver, which I had given thee, and madest for thee images of men, and didst play the harlot with them; and thou tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them, and didst set Mine oil and Mine incense before them. My bread also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou didst even set it before them for a sweet savor; and thus it was, saith the Lord Jehovah. Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Were thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain My children, and delivered them up, in causing them to pass through the fire unto them? And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast weltering in thy blood”-vers. 15-22.

Pride is latent in the human heart. We who have nothing of which to be proud, are prone to take credit to ourselves for any success or special favor God bestows upon us, forgetting that we have nothing which we have not received.

So Israel became vainglorious and trusted in her own beauty-that beauty which the Lord her God had put upon her, which should have led her to devote herself to Him alone. She used it to draw to herself the admiration and lascivious affection of the idolatrous nations from which she had been called to separation. Like an unfaithful wife preferring others to her own husband she became filthy and defiled. Spiritual fornication and adultery is the unholy union of the people of God with the world, even as James says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). This immoral relationship is also used as a symbol of idolatry, turning from the one true God to the worship of idols. Of all this Israel had been guilty, and although God had sent His prophets to plead with her to forsake her evil way, she refused to hearken, and persisted in her wicked harlotry, so that God was now about to cast her off as one with whom it was useless to plead any longer. But ere declaring this He gave further proof of her perfidy.

“And it is come to pass after all thy wickedness (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord Jehovah), that thou hast built unto thee a vaulted place, and hast made thee a lofty place in every street. Thou hast built thy lofty place at the head of every way, and hast made thy beauty an abomination, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredom. Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians, thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast multiplied thy whoredom, to provoke Me to anger. Behold therefore, I have stretched out My hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, that are ashamed of thy lewd way. Thou hast played the harlot also with the Assyrians, because thou wast insatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet thou wast not satisfied. Thou hast moreover multiplied thy whoredom unto the land of traffic, unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith”-vers. 23-29.

Instead of either turning from her corrupt ways, or even manifesting a measure of restraint, the very-pleadings of the Lord through His prophets had the opposite effect, apparently; for Israel increased in her wickedness, becoming guilty of more and greater abominations as the years went on, so that even “the daughters of the Philistines” were astonished and ashamed of her lewdness. Her zest for new forms of idolatry seemed insatiable. She followed the vile nature worship of the Assyrians with which the most detestable sexual impurity was connected, and still she was not satisfied, for satisfaction can never be found apart from conformity to and delight in the will of God.

The charge against her is continued in verses 30 to 34.

“How weak is thy heart, saith the Lord Jehovah, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an impudent harlot; in that thou buildest thy vaulted place at the head of every way, and makest thy lofty place in every street, and hast not been as a harlot, in that thou scornest hire. A wife that committeth adultery! that taketh strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all harlots; but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and bribest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredoms. And thou art different from other women in thy whoredoms, in that none followeth thee to play the harlot; and whereas thou givest hire, and no hire is given unto thee, therefore thou art different”-vers. 30-34.

The slave of her own lusts, Israel fancied herself free while attempting to enjoy the licentiousness into which she had plunged and which she imagined was liberty-freedom from all restraint; whereas it was actually bondage of the worst kind. Too weak to resist solicitation to sin she plunged madly on in her downward course like “a wife that committeth adultery! that taketh strangers instead of her husband!”

Ordinarily those going in to harlots expect to pay for the gratification of their voluptuous desires. But so low had Israel fallen that she was as one who was so insatiable in her unholy appetite that she was paying a terrible price for such gratification. It is a sordid picture indeed, but it shows how low a people may fall who turn their backs upon revealed truth and learn to love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.

Therefore judgment could no longer be deferred. The very holiness of God demanded that He deal with such unspeakable corruption.

“Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness uncovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers; and because of all the idols of thy abominations, and for the blood of thy children, that thou didst give unto them; therefore behold, I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them against thee on every side, and will uncover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will bring upon thee the blood of wrath and jealousy. I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thy vaulted place, and break down thy lofty places; and they shall strip thee of thy clothes, and take thy fair jewels; and they shall leave thee naked and bare. They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee In the sight of many women; and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou Shalt also give no hire any more. So will I cause My wrath toward thee to rest, and My jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry. Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast raged against Me in all these things; therefore, behold, I also will bring thy way upon thy head, saith the Lord Jehovah: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness with all thine abominations”-vers. 35-43.

Judgment is God’s strange work. He delights in mercy and “doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33). But when every effort to recover people from their wilfulness and wickedness proves abortive His wrath must have its way.

In this section the Lord specifies very definitely the reasons why He could no longer tolerate the behavior of His covenant people. Not only were they guilty of all the vileness charged against them, but also they were destroying their own children by their evil example. As they had behaved so shamelessly God would put them to shame before the “lovers” on whom they had doted. He would deal with them as women who break wedlock should be dealt with, and He would bring down upon their guilty heads the punishment that they deserved. They should be stripped of all that He had given them-their land would be overrun by those with whom they had committed spiritual fornication. As they had proven utterly recreant to the promises they had made to the Lord, so He would be bound no longer by His promises to them. He was about to visit upon them the fruit of their own evil ways and reward them according to the perfidy of their hearts.

In their disobedience to His word they had sunk to the level of the cities of the plain which God had destroyed with fire from heaven because of their unnatural vices.

“Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter. Thou art the daughter of thy mother, that loatheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children: your mother was a Hittite, and your father an Amorite. And thine elder sister is Samaria, that dwelleth at thy left hand, she and her daughters; and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. Yet hast thou not walked in their ways, nor done after their abominations; but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast more corrupt than they in all thy ways. As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters by all thine abominations which thou hast done. Thou also, bear thou thine own shame, in that thou hast given judgment for thy sisters; through thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they, they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou also confounded, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters”-vers. 44-52.

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were thriving communities when Abraham first entered the land. They were destroyed in judgment when the cup of their iniquity became full. Now Judah had shown herself to be of the same character as they. She was morally their daughter, and, “As is the mother so is her daughter.” Samaria, her elder sister, had been judged already. The Assyrians had carried the ten tribes into captivity because of their iniquity. But instead of learning from this and humbling themselves before God and turning from their filthiness, Judah had perpetrated even greater wickedness until now “there was no remedy.”

“And I will turn again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them; that thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be ashamed because of all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate; and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate; and thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride, before thy wickedness was uncovered, as at the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria, and of all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, that do despite unto thee round about. Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith Jehovah. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will also deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant”-vers. 53-59.

In the times of restitution of all things spoken of by God’s holy prophets (Acts 3:21) even Sodom and her daughters, the sister cities of the plain will be restored, when the desert shall be made to blossom as a rose. This refers not to the eventual salvation of the sinners of those cities, who are, as Jude tells us, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 1:7), but to rebuilding of the cities themselves in millennial days, when they will be inhabited by a regenerated people dwelling in peace under Messiah’s benevolent yet righteous sway. In that day Israel and Judah shall “return to their former estate of blessing” under the fostering care of the God they had so dishonored in the past.

Judah had despised the people of Sodom as sinners above all others; yet her own behavior was even more shameful than theirs. So the Lord declared He would deal with them according to their doings as those who had “despised the oath in breaking the covenant.”

This however should not be forever. In a future day He would take them up again, after they had humbled themselves in His sight and forsaken the sins that had provoked Him to anger.

“Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then shalt thou remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder sisters and thy younger; and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. And I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah; that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 60-63.

How precious these closing verses of this long chapter which has been such a sad and gruesome recital of the lewdness and unfaithfulness of Israel!

Though they had forgotten Him and broken the covenant, so far as their responsibility was concerned-that is, the legal covenant into which they had entered at Sinai-God still remembered the unconditional covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He would fulfil those promises in spite of the failure of the nation as such, His is an everlasting covenant, and as David said, is “ordered in all things, and sure” (2 Samuel 23:5).

In the day when He shall turn their hearts back to Himself they will become ashamed, both Israel and Judah, of all the evil they have done; and they will become a means of blessing to others when God takes them up in grace again. His covenant shall be estab- lished, and they who had behaved so badly will loathe themselves because of their iniquities, and rejoice in His favor when He shall forgive all their iniquities, or as the Authorized Version puts it, “When He is pacified toward them for all that they have done.”

Only through the work of Christ on the cross is this blessedness to be theirs. That work is not mentioned here, but it is unfolded elsewhere in the prophetical writings as the only basis upon which God can meet and bless those who had become so polluted by sin.

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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

thy time of love — literally, “loves” (compare Song of Solomon 2:10-13). Thou wast of marriageable age, but none was willing to marry thee, naked as thou wast. I then regarded thee with a look of grace when the full time of thy deliverance was come (Genesis 15:13, Genesis 15:14; Acts 7:6, Acts 7:7). It is not she that makes the advance to God, but God to her; she has nothing to entitle her to such notice, yet He regards her not with mere benevolence, but with love, such as one cherishes to the person of his wife (Song of Solomon 1:3-6; Jeremiah 31:3; Malachi 1:2).

spread my skirt over thee — the mode of espousals ( 3:9). I betrothed thee (Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 10:15; Hosea 11:1). The cloak is often used as a bed coverlet in the East. God explains what He means, “I entered into  …  covenant with thee,” that is, at Sinai. So Israel became “the wife of God‘s covenant” (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:19, Hosea 2:20; Malachi 2:14).

thou  …  mine — (Exodus 19:5; Jeremiah 2:2).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

Thy time was the time of love - literally, loves (). Thou wast of marriageable age, but none was willing to marry thee, naked as thou wast. I then regarded thee with a look of grace, when the full time of thy deliverance was come (Genesis 15:13-14; Acts 7:6-7). It is not she that makes the advance to God, but God to her; she has nothing to entitle her to such notice, yet He regards her not with mere benevolence, but with love, such as one cherishes to the person of his wife (Song of Solomon 1:3-6; Jeremiah 31:3; Malachi 1:2).

I spread my skirt over thee - the mode of espousals (Ruth 3:9, Ruth says to Boaz, "Spread thy skirt over thine handmaid, for thou art a near kinsman"). I betrothed thee to me as the chosen object of my love (Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 10:15; Hosea 11:1). The cloak is often used as a bed coverlet in the East. God explains what He means - "I ... enter into a covenant with thee," i:e., at Sinai. So Israel became "the wife of God's covenant" (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14, "I am married unto you;" Hosea 2:19-20; Malachi 2:14).

Thou becamest mine - (Exodus 19:5, "A peculiar treasure unto me above all people; Jeremiah 2:2).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 16:3. Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite, a Chittith, a family of immodesty. The Israelites gloried in their descent from the holy patriarchs, heirs of the promises; but their moral descent was from the Chetim. All nations, as the Chaldeans, the Hebrews, and the Goths, boasted of a descent from God. Our Saxon chiefs always trace their genealogy up by a leap to Odin. Poole, after Sanctius, quotes the keen reproaches of queen Dido of Carthage against Æneas, who had been received with the utmost hospitality when a fugitive, and honoured with her hand, but now left her for Italy.

Nec tibi Diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor, Perfide, sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens Caucasus, Hyrcanæque admôrunt ubera tigres. Virgil, Æneid. 4:365.

False as thou art, and more than false—forsworn; Not sprung from noble blood, nor goddess born; But hewn from hardened entrails of a rock;— And rough Hyrcanian tigress gave thee suck.

Ezekiel 16:5. No eye pitied thee—thou wast cast out in the open field. Such was the case with the male infants in Egypt; neither god, nor nation lent them any aid.

Ezekiel 16:6. In thine own blood, the midwives having cast out the male infants. Maimonides says, the blood of thy circumcision. But this is merely a turn of delicacy.

Ezekiel 16:8. Thy time was the time of love. When I, juravi te, sware to thee by covenant. When Jehovah thy Maker became thy husband; and when thou by every oath, and by sacrifice, becamest mine.

Ezekiel 16:10. I clothed thee also with embroidered work. The dress of Judah is here described as that of a queen for coronation, which was correctly true in David and Solomon’s times. Did Baal, her new husband, do the like for her? Ah, no; her gentile lovers made her naked.

Ezekiel 16:12-13. I put a jewel on thy forehead. Hebrew, on thy nose. The blacks in Africa, and in Asia, wear trinkets suspended from their nose. But if the human face be the first beauty of the creation, how can shining ornaments augment its lustre? Thy gems and thy raiment surpassed conception in beauty. Thy princely costume surpassed Pharaoh’s daughter’s regal splendour, and thy highpriest, in his glorious array, was a figure of the glory of Christ.

Ezekiel 16:16. The like things shall not come. Better as the Vulgate reads, should not, and ought not to be done. God will not give his glory to graven images. The splendour of gentile mythology was in every sense the greatest insult to heaven, but doubly so in the jew, who had sworn to keep the covenant of the Lord.

Ezekiel 16:20. Thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, which indeed are my children, and hast sacrificed them to Moloch; this is more than giving them thy fine raiment. Are these thy bloody, thine unnatural procedures in thy whoredoms, small affairs?

Ezekiel 16:24. Thou hast also built thee an eminent place, and made a high place in every street. The Hebrew word gab is rendered lapernar by the Vulgate, which follows the LXX and fornicem by Montanus. The abominable forms of the idols, both gods and goddesses, sacred history disdains to name. The brothels contiguous to the altars corresponded with the character of the devotion; every kind of immodesty and abomination was perpetrated there. Hence when the pious kings of Judah demolished the idols and the altars, they demolished at the same time the houses of infamy.

Ezekiel 16:26. Thou hast committed fornication with thy neighbours. Thine altars, thy temples have been the brothels of Egypt, of Tyre, and of Chaldea. Thine illicit apostasies have been wide as the circles of commerce: thou hast even surpassed all those nations.

Ezekiel 16:33. They give gifts to all whores. Whereas thou makest thyself naked, to attract and hire thy lovers. Thy prostitutions are incomparable. Thou takest the lead of all nations in thy depravities, and appearest to regret, that thou canst not make sufficient speed in descending to the caverns of the giants. Job 26:4-5.

Ezekiel 16:35. Wherefore, oh harlot, hear the word of the Lord. The idolatrous church is here brought to the bar, covered with a mantle of shame, and bowed down in silence to hear her doom. She dares not in presence of the Judge to mutter under her—not guilty. Every mouth is stopped there, the accusation being fair and unexaggerated.

Ezekiel 16:37. I will discover thy nakedness to them. Tacitus, on the morals of the Germans, says, that they cut off the hair of an adulteress in presence of her relatives, and exposed her naked body. See. 18, 19. To this primitive punishment, the prophet here alludes, and with the moral design of exposing the crime and baseness of apostasy.

Ezekiel 16:38. I will judge thee, as a woman that breaketh wedlock. I will strip thee of thy regal rank and glory, by bringing armies against thee, who shall stone thee with engines of war, and burn thy cities with fire. So will I make my fury to cease, as a fire becomes extinct when the fuel is consumed.

Ezekiel 16:46. Thine eldest sister is Samaria, foremost in the worship of thy calves. Thy younger sister is Sodom, in point of rank among ancient cities. What a mortifying association. Jerusalem, the holy city, put in the middle, as the greatest peccatress of the three. What awful issues of a course of the most daring crimes, and licentiousness unrestrained. Now, all the three successively in flames, and the smoke ever ascending, as from furnaces of God’s hot displeasure.

Ezekiel 16:53. When I shall bring again the captivity of Sodom and her daughters. By the daughters we understand dependent cities, and their neighbours. This may refer to some descendants of those that escaped, as the LXX read. το καταλοιπον αδαμα, the residue of Admah. But the better sense is, as in Ezekiel 16:60. “Nevertheless I will remember my covenant, the everlasting covenant,” comprising the conversion of the gentile world to God. This must be understood of the new-testament church, when Jerusalem which is above shall become the mother of us all. By this covenant, it is added, “thou shalt know that I am Jehovah.”

Ezekiel 16:63. That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame. Here is a pacification made in the latter day, but not by Aaron. It is by God’s righteous Servant, who shall sprinkle many nations with his blood. Isaiah 52:15. He also shall teach the philosophy of heaven to the nations, which the kings or professors of worldly sciences had neither heard nor known. In all the bible there is no text so proper as this to touch the heart of backsliders, to remember, as when the prodigal came to himself, and to be confounded with the aboundings of grace to the chief of sinners. It is grace, grace that shall be the song of Zion in the future age. “Oh come, let us sing unto the Lord. Let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.”


Can any man, after reading this chapter, and weighing all the brilliant figures which reign through the whole allegory, ever bow the knee or lift up a hand to idols? Here is a portrait of Israel in her full and wanton career of depravity. Here is a mirror for Judah, which asks in strong words, Is this thy face? Is this thy heart?

She, who was most chastely descended from Abraham, whose seed were heirs of the world, had in a moral view the Amorite for a father, and the Hittite for a mother, whose women were notorious for impurity. Rebekah was weary of her life because of the daughters of Heth. Genesis 27:46. Jerusalem had now imbibed the morals and maxims of the seven accursed nations, as much as if they had been adopted and educated by those nations. Let christians in like manner be afraid of the maxims and spirit of a profane world.

Haughty Judah, who scorned the prophets, is reminded of the meanness of her birth. Abraham was a sort of exiled Assyrian, destitute of a friend; and in Egypt the Hebrews were enslaved, and many infants, besides Moses, exposed to perish. Hence the Lord adopted the Israelites from among the nations; he washed them in the sea, and at Sinai, from the pollutions of the heathen; he arrayed them in all the glory of national excellence, and honoured them with a crown of sovereignty over the nations by the victories of David. Yea, all nations revered them because of the Lord, and the glory of his name. We owe the whole of our existence and privileges to divine grace. It was God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, who hath raised us up together with Christ, and made us sit together in heavenly places. Israel, a type of the christian church, and married to the Lord by covenant, as much as a princess is married to a king, played the harlot by forsaking his temple, for the worship of idols. She had also hired lovers with the Lord’s money, and fed them with his meat. Backsliding, declension and apostasy in religion are awful steps, and highly insulting to the honour and majesty of God.

The ultimate punishment of Judah, though often threatened and long delayed, corresponded very strikingly with the nature of her sin. She had forsaken the Lord in prosperity; and all her lovers, the neighbouring nations, forsook her in adversity. She had hired lovers; and her enemies hired or engaged for pay as allies those very lovers to fight against her. She had stripped herself of the truth for idols: and now they stripped her literally of clothes, and of every ornament. She had shed abundance of blood, both of infants in worship, and of men by oppression; and now her own blood must be shed to purge out the stains. Retributive justice is clothed with sanctifying characters.

The language in which this haughty city is addressed, is just and mortifying in the extreme. The reference to Sodom was appalling to her pride; and the contrast with her elder sister Samaria, Reuben and Simeon being elder than Judah, was judging her by her own sentence; for she had applauded the justice of God in the fall of the ten tribes. What then is the language which the proud and hardened must expect to hear from the tribunal of heaven. Surely they who reject the glory of Christ will be speechless when he opens his mouth. If pride, idleness, and fulness of bread were the ruin of Sodom, in what do the circles who crowd theatres, throng assembly-rooms, and read novels, differ from those ancient sinners?

The scorn and derision of the nations was another punishment which should follow. As the Hebrew prophets had composed some of their finest satires on the fall of Babylon, of Egypt, of Moab, and Assyria; so should the shame of Judah be published to the gentiles in the songs of their poets. Who then, backslider, shall tell all thy shame, since thou hast forsaken thy God, and associated with his enemies.

This fine allegory, after all its dark and dismal shades, closes with a ray of cheering hope to the remnant who should survive, to whom the Lord would confirm the covenant made in the days of her youth with Abraham and his seed. Here is a delightful transition to the Messiah, and his kingdom, for he is the only source of comfort to an afflicted people.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ezekiel 16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

Ver. 8. Behold, thy time was the time of love.] When thou wast both fit for marriage, and desirous of it. For as the man misseth his rib, so the woman would be in her old place again, under the man’s arm or wing. See Ruth 3:1; Ruth 3:9.

And I spread my skirt over thee.] See Ruth 3:9. {See Trapp on "Ruth 3:9"} I covered thy nakedness, and took thee into my care and company as a wife. A marriage rite is imported by this expression.

Yea, I sware unto thee, &c.] So much ado God hath with us to make us believe. The apostle mentioneth "the work of faith." She hath somewhat to do before she can fasten.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Israel therefore owes its preservation and exaltation to honour and glory to the Lord its God alone. - Ezekiel 16:6. Then I passed by thee, and saw thee stamping in thy blood, and said to thee, In thy blood live! and said to thee, In thy blood live! Ezekiel 16:7. I made thee into myriads as the growth of the field, and thou grewest and becamest tall, and camest to ornament of cheeks. The breasts expanded, and thy hair grew, whereas thou wast naked and bare. Ezekiel 16:8. And I passed by thee, and saw thee, and, behold, it was thy time, the time of love; and I spread my wing over thee, and covered thy nakedness; and I swore to thee, and entered into covenant with thee, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, and thou becamest mine. Ezekiel 16:9. And I bathed thee in water, and rinsed thy blood from thee, and anointed thee with oil. Ezekiel 16:10. And I clothed thee with embroidered work, and shod thee with morocco, and wrapped thee round with byssus, and covered thee with silk. Ezekiel 16:11. I adorned thee with ornaments, and put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain around thy neck. Ezekiel 16:12. And I gave thee a ring in thy nose, and earrings in thine ears, and a splendid crown upon thy head. Ezekiel 16:13. And thou didst adorn thyself with gold and silver; and thy clothing was byssus, and silk, and embroidery. Wheaten-flour, and honey, and oil thou didst eat; and thou wast very beautiful; and didst thrive to regal dignity. Ezekiel 16:14. Thy name went forth among the nations on account of thy beauty; for it was perfect through my glory, which I put upon thee, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The description of what the Lord did for Israel in His compassionate love is divided into two sections by the repetition of the phrase “I passed by thee” (Ezekiel 16:6 and Ezekiel 16:8). The first embraces what God had done for the preservation and increase of the nation; the second, what He had done for the glorification of Israel, by adopting it as the people of His possession. When Israel was lying in the field as a neglected new-born child, the Lord passed by and adopted it, promising it life, and giving it strength to live. To bring out the magnitude of the compassion of God, the fact that the child was lying in its blood is mentioned again and again. The explanation to be given of מתבּוססת (the Hithpolel of בּוּס, to trample upon, tread under foot) is doubtful, arising from the difficulty of deciding whether the Hithpolel is to be taken in a passive or a reflective sense. The passive rendering, “trampled upon” (Umbreit), or ad conculcandum projectus , thrown down, to be trodden under foot (Gesenius, etc.), is open to the objection that the Hophal is used for this. We therefore prefer the reflective meaning, treading oneself, or stamping; as the objection offered to this, namely, that a new-born child thrown into a field would not be found stamping with the feet, has no force in an allegorical description. In the clause Ezekiel 16:6, which is written twice, the question arises whether בּדמיך is to be taken with חיי or with ואמר : I said to thee, “In thy blood live;” or, “I said to thee in thy blood, 'Live.' “ We prefer the former, because it gives a more emphatic sense. בּדמיך is a concise expression; for although lying in thy blood, in which thou wouldst inevitably bleed to death, yet thou shalt live. Hitzig's proposal to connect בּדמיך in the first clause with חיי, and in the second with אמר, can hardly be entertained. A double construction of this kind is not required either by the repetition of אמר לך, or by the uniform position of בדמיך before חיי in both clauses, as compared with 1 Kings 20:18 and Isaiah 27:5.

In Ezekiel 16:7 the description of the real fact breaks through the allegory. The word of God חיי, live, was visibly fulfilled in the innumerable multiplication of Israel. But the allegory is resumed immediately. The child grew ( רבה, as in Genesis 21:20; Deuteronomy 30:16), and came into ornament of cheeks ( בּוא with בּ, to enter into a thing, as in Ezekiel 16:8; not to proceed in, as Hitzig supposes). עדי, not most beautiful ornament, or highest charms, for עדיים is not the plural of עדי ; but according to the Chetib and most of the editions, with the tone upon the penultima, is equivalent to עדיים, a dual form; so that עדי cannot mean ornament in this case, but, as in Psalms 39:9 and Psalms 103:5, “the cheek,” which is the traditional meaning (cf. Ges. Thes . p. 993). Ornament of cheeks is youthful freshness and beauty of face. The clauses which follow describe the arrival of puberty. נכון, when applied to the breasts, means to expand, lit., to raise oneself up. שׂער = שׂער רגלים, pubes . The description given in these verses refers to the preservation and marvellous multiplication of Israel in Egypt, where the sons of Israel grew into a nation under the divine blessing. Still it was quite naked and bare ( ערם and עריה are substantives in the abstract sense of nakedness and bareness, used in the place of adjective to give greater emphasis). Naked and bare are figurative expressions for still destitute of either clothing or ornaments. This implies something more than “the poverty of the people in the wilderness attached to Egypt” (Hitzig). Nakedness represents deprivation of all the blessings of salvation with which the Lord endowed Israel and made it glorious, after He had adopted it as the people of His possession. In Egypt, Israel was living in a state of nature, destitute of the gracious revelations of God.

Ezekiel 16:8-14

The Lord then went past again, and chose for His bride the virgin, who had already grown up to womanhood, and with whom He contracted marriage by the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai. עתּך, thy time, is more precisely defined as עת דּדים, the time of conjugal love. I spread my wing over thee, i.e., the lappet of my garment, which also served as a counterpane; in other words, I married thee (cf. Ruth. Ezekiel 3:9), and thereby covered thy nakedness. “I swore to thee,” sc. love and fidelity (cf. Hosea 2:21-22), and entered into a covenant with thee, i.e., into that gracious connection formed by the adoption of Israel as the possession of Jehovah, which is represented as a marriage covenant (compare Exodus 24:8 and Exodus 19:5-6, and Deuteronomy 5:2 : - אתך for אתּך ). Ezekiel 16:9. describe how Jehovah provided for the purification, clothing, adorning, and maintenance of His wife. As the bride prepares herself for the wedding by washing and anointing, so did the Lord cleanse Israel from the blemishes and impurities which adhered to it from its birth. The rinsing from the blood must not be understood as specially referring either to the laws of purification given to the nation (Hitzig), or as relating solely to the purification effected by the covenant sacrifice (Hävernick). It embraces all that the Lord did for the purifying of the people from the pollution of sin, i.e., for its sanctification. The anointing with oil indicates the powers of the Spirit of God, which flowed to Israel from the divine covenant of grace. The clothing with costly garments, and adorning with all the jewellery of a wealthy lady or princess, points to the equipment of Israel with all the gifts that promote the beauty and glory of life. The clothing is described as made of the costliest materials with which queens were accustomed to clothe themselves. רקמה, embroidered cloth (Psalms 45:15). תּחשׁ, probably the sea-cow, Manati (see the comm. on Exodus 25:5). The word is used here for a fine description of leather of which ornamental sandals were made; a kind of morocco. “I bound thee round with byssus:” this refers to the headband; for חבשׁ is the technical expression for the binding or winding round of the turban-like headdress (cf. Ezekiel 24:17; Exodus 29:9; Leviticus 8:13), and is applied by the Targum to the headdress of the priests. Consequently covering with משׁי, as distinguished from clothing, can only refer to covering with the veil, one of the principal articles of a woman's toilet. The ἁπ. λεγ. משׁי (Ezekiel 16:10 and Ezekiel 16:13) is explained by the Rabbins as signifying silk. The lxx render it τρίχαπτον . According to Jerome, this is a word formed by the lxx: quod tantae subtilitatis fuerit vestimentum, ut pilorum et capillorum tenuitatem habere credatur . The jewellery included not only armlets, nose-rings, and ear-rings, which the daughters of Israel were generally accustomed to wear, but also necklaces and a crown, as ornaments worn by princesses and queens. For רביד, see comm. on Genesis 41:42. Ezekiel 16:13 sums up the contents of Ezekiel 16:9-12. Sheeshiy שׁשׁי is made to conform to משׁי ; the food is referred to once more; and the result of the whole is said to have been, that Jerusalem became exceedingly beautiful, and flourished even to royal dignity. The latter cannot be taken as referring simply to the establishment of the monarchy under David, any more than merely to the spiritual sovereignty for which Israel was chosen from the very beginning (Exodus 19:5-6). The expression includes both, viz., the call of Israel to be a kingdom of priests, and the historical realization of this call through the Davidic sovereignty. The beauty, i.e., glory, of Israel became so great, that the name of fame of Israel sounded abroad in consequence among the nations. It was perfect, because the Lord had put His glory upon His Church. This, too, we must not restrict (as Hävernick does) to the far-sounding fame of Israel on its departure from Egypt (Exodus 15:14.); it refers pre-eminently to the glory of the theocracy under David and Solomon, the fame of which spread into all lands. - Thus had Israel been glorified by its God above all the nations, but it did not continue in fellowship with its God.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". 1854-1889.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

God's Early Grace upon his People

v. 1. Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

v. 2. Son of man, cause Jerusalem, where the remnant of the Lord's people were now concentrated, to know her abominations, an open exposure of Jerusalem and a frank discussion of her guilt being intended to bring her to repentance,

v. 3. and say, Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem, Thy birth and thy nativity, namely, in the spiritual sense, is of the land of Canaan, for the inhabitants of Jerusalem had followed the idolatrous Canaanites in their wicked ways. Thy father was an Amorite and thy mother an Hittite, from both of which heathen nations the children of Israel had accepted much that was loathsome in the eyes of the Lord. They had become so heathenish in their customs and in their morals that the only explanation of their conduct was the assumption of a heathen parentage.

v. 4. And as for thy nativity, concerning the manner of Jerusalem's birth: in the day that thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee, for the purpose of a thorough cleansing; thou wast not salted at all, as was customary in order to harden the tender skin, nor swaddled at all. Jerusalem is pictured as a neglected and forsaken infant.

v. 5. None eye pitied thee to do any of these unto thee, the acts customary in the case of a new-born infant, to have compassion upon thee; but thou was cast out in the open field, the exposure of infants being common in many ancient nations, to the loathing of thy person, as an object of loathing, in the day that thou wast born. Such, figuratively speaking, is the pitiful condition of all men by nature, objects of revulsion in the sight of the holy God.

v. 6. And when I passed by thee and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, altogether abandoned and wallowing in its own blood, as though stamping it down, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, in the very depths of degradation and misery, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live, the repetition of the reassuring words serving to place the utmost emphasis upon the mercy of Jehovah.

v. 7. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, like the flowers that spring up at the beginning of the rainy season, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments, in the highest charm of youthful beauty; thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, as in the fullness of puberty, whereas thou wast naked and bare. All this was indicative of the marriageable age, which is the point of comparison. The description refers to the marvelous preservation and multiplication of the children of Israel in Egypt, before the Lord formally chose them, as His people.

v. 8. Now, when I passed by thee, at that stage of her history, and looked upon thee, behold, thy times was the time of love, that is, when marriage should have taken place, when some one should have taken her to wife; and I spread. My skirt over thee, in the gesture signifying a man's willingness to marry a woman, Rth_3:9, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, promising the faithfulness of the bridegroom, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest Mine, the formal espousal being held, by which the Lord entered into the wedded state with Israel, His chosen people.

v. 9. Then washed I thee with water, to take away the filth of her nakedness and sinfulness and to prepare her for the wedding; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil, thus imparting the power and grace of His Spirit.

v. 10. I clothed thee also with broidered work, with princely magnificence, and shod thee with badgers' skin, sandals made of the leather of the sea-cow, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk, all of which indicates that the Lord gave Israel rich gifts, also in the blessings pertaining to this life.

v. 11. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands and a chain on thy neck. All this seems to point quite definitely to the era of Solomon, when the outward splendor of the kingdom reached its highest stage.

v. 12. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, the nose-ring which Oriental women wore, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus Jerusalem was elevated to the rank of a princess among the nations.

v. 13. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver, with great and outstanding wealth; and thy raiment was of fine linen and silk and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour and honey and oil, being given the richest nourishment; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom, into such dignity and standing among the nations of the world.

v. 14. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty, the glory of Israel being spoken of in wondering terms by heathen nations everywhere; for it was perfect through My comeliness which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God. Just as Israel's position, both outward and spiritual, was in every way the gift of God's mercy, so it is due to his grace alone if individuals as well as nations become prosperous in the things pertaining to this life or to the life beyond.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             5. The Story of the Lewd Adulteress ( Ezekiel 16.)

1And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 2Son of Prayer of Manasseh, cause Jeru salem to know her abominations; 3And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah unto Jerusalem: Thy origin [extraction] and thy birth is of the land of the Canaanite; 4thy father was the Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite. And [as regards] thy birth, in the day that thou wast born, thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed with water for cleansing; and thou wast not rubbed with salt 5 at all, nor wast thou wrapt in swaddling-bands at all. No eye had pity upon thee [looked upon thee compassionately], to do one of these things for thee, to bend over thee; and thou wast cast out upon the face of the field [upon the open field], 6in contempt of thy soul [life], in the day that thou wast born. And I passed by thee, and I saw thee stamping [or, trampled] in thy blood, and said unto thee, 7In thy blood live! and [yea] said unto thee, In thy blood live! Ten thousand [myriads] like the bud of the field I made thee [to be, to become]; and thou didst increase [didst grow up] and wax great, and camest to most excellent ornament; thy breasts became firm [rose up], and thy hair grew, yet thou wast naked and 8 bare. And I passed by thee, and saw thee, and, behold, [it was] thy time, a time of movements of love, and I spread My wing over thee, and covered thy nakedness; and I swore unto thee, and entered into covenant with thee9—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—and thou becamest Mine. And I washed thee with water, and rinsed thy blood from off thee, and anointed thee with oil. And 10 I clothed thee with broidered work, and shod thee with tachash, and wrapped thee round with byssus, and covered thee with silk. And 11 I decked thee with ornament, and put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain about thy neck 12 And I put a ring in thy nose, and earrings in thine ears, 13and a splendid crown upon thy head. And thou didst adorn thyself with gold and silver, and thy clothing was byssus and silk and broidered work; fine flour, and honey, and oil didst thou eat; and thou wast [becamest] exceedingly beautiful, and didst prosper into [attain unto] a kingdom [kingly authority or 14 dignity]. And thy name went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through My adornment, which I put upon thee—sentence of 15 the Lord Jehovah.—And [yet] thou didst trust in thy beauty, and didst play the harlot upon thy name, and didst pour out thy fornications upon every 16 one that passed by; his it was. And thou didst take of thy garments, and didst make for thyself high places, spotted [patched] ones, and didst play the harlot 17 upon them: they should not come, neither should it be. And thou didst take articles of thy splendour [thy splendid jewels] of My gold and My silver, which I had given thee, and didst make for thyself images of men, and didst 18 play the harlot with them. And thou didst take thy broidered garments, and didst cover them; and My oil and My incense thou didst set before them 19 And My bread which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey I gave thee to eat, and thou didst set it before them as a sweet savour: and it was so—20sentence of the Lord Jehovah. And thou didst take thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou barest unto Me, and didst sacrifice them to them to devour; 21was it less than thy whoredoms? And thou didst slay My sons, and gavest them up, in causing them to pass through [the fire] for them [i. e. for the idols]. 22And with all thy abominations and thy whoredoms thou didst not remember the days of thy childhood [youth], when thou wast naked and bare, wast stamping [trampled] in thy blood 23 And it came to pass after all thy wickedness—woe, 24woe unto thee! sentence of the Lord Jehovah—That thou didst build for thee a vault, and didst make for thee a high place in every street 25 At every head of a way [crossway, parting-way] thou didst build thy high place, and didst put to shame [didst abhor] thy beauty, and didst spread out thy 26 feet to every passer-by, and didst multiply thy whoredoms. And thou didst whore after the sons of Egypt, thy neighbours, great of flesh, and 27 didst multiply thy whoredoms, to provoke Me to anger. And, behold, I stretched out My hand over thee, and diminished thy allowance, and gave thee to the soul of them that hated thee, the daughters of the Philistines, 28who were ashamed of thy lewd way. And thou didst whore after the sons of Asshur for want of being satisfied; and thou didst whore with 29 them, and still wast not satisfied. And thou didst increase thy whoredom unto the land of Canaan, Chaldea, and even with this wast not satisfied 30 How exhausted [spent with longing] is thy heart—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—when thou doest all this, the doing of an imperious whorish woman 31 When thou didst build thy vault at the head of every way, and madest thy high place in every street, thou wast not like the harlot, to scorn the hire 32 The woman that committeth adultery under her husband receiveth strangers! 33To all harlots they give [are accustomed to give] a present [a gift], and [yet] thou gavest thy presents to all thy lovers, and didst make presents to them, to 34 come to thee on every side for thy whoredoms. And there was in thee the contrary of women; in thy whoredoms they did not follow after thee for whoredom, and in thy giving of hire when no hire was given to thee; and35[so] thou wast the contrary.—Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah 36 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thy brass was poured out [emptied out], and thy nakedness uncovered in thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the filthy idols of thy abominations, and according to the blood of thy sons, 37whom thou hast given unto them; Therefore, behold, I am gathering all thy lovers, to whom thou wast pleasant, and all whom thou hast loved, with all whom thou hast hated; and I gather them against thee from round about, 38and uncover thy nakedness unto them, and they see all thy nakedness. And I judge thee with the judgments of adulteresses and of those who shed blood; 39and I make thee into blood of fury and jealousy. And I give thee into their hand, and they throw down thy vault, and demolish thy high places; and they strip thee of thy clothes, and take the articles of thy splendour [thy splendid 40 jewels], and leave thee naked and bare. And they bring up a company against thee, and cast at thee with stones, and hew thee down with their swords 41 And they burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee before the eyes of many women; and I make thee cease from being a harlot, neither 42 shalt thou give hire any more. And I make My fury rest in thee, and My jealousy departs from thee; and I take rest, and I will no more be angry 43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy childhood [youth], and didst rage against Me in all this, behold, I also have given thy way upon thy head—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—and hast thou not committed lewdness above all thy abominations?

44Behold, every one that deals in proverbs shall utter a proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter 45 Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that spurneth [casteth off] her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, who spurned their husbands and their 46 children; your mother is a Hittite, and your father an Amorite. And thy great sister is Samaria, she and her daughters, that dwell at thy left; and thy smaller sister than thou, that dwelleth on thy right, is Sodom and 47 her daughters. And [yet] thou didst not walk in their ways, nor didst after their abominations; as only a little, thou wast more corrupt [didst act more corruptly] than they in all thy ways 48 As I live—sentence of the Lord Jehovah—if Sodom thy sister hath done, she and her daughters, as thou hast done and thy daughters! 49Behold, this was the iniquity of Sodom thy sister: pride, fulness of bread, and rest free from care [tranquil security], were to her and her daughters; and the hand of the poor and needy she did not take hold of50[strengthen]. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me; 51and I removed them when I saw it. And Samaria hath not committed the half of thy sins; and thou didst multiply thy abominations more than they, 52and didst justify thy sisters by all thy abominations which thou didst. Thou also bear [take upon thee] thy disgrace [shame], which thou didst adjudge to thy sisters; by thy sins, wherein thou hast done more abominably than they, they will be more righteous than thou; and [yea] also be thou ashamed, and bear thy disgrace, because thou didst justify thy sisters.

53And I turn back their misery, the misery of Sodom and her daughters, and the misery of Samaria and her daughters, and the misery of thy miseries in the midst of them 54 That thou mayest bear thy disgrace, and be 55 ashamed of all that thou hast done, in that thou comfortest them. And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their first estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their first estate, and thou and thy daughters 56 shall return to your first estate. And Sodom thy sister was not for a report in thy mouth in the day of thy haughtinesses, 57Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of the scorn of the daughters of Aram, and of all her [Jerusalem’s] surroundings, the daughters of the Philistines, who despised thee round about. Thy lewdness and thy abominations, 58thou hast borne59[bearest] them—sentence of Jehovah. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: And I did with thee as thou hast done, who didst despise the oath to break the 60 covenant. And [yet] I remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy 61 childhood [youth], and establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. And thou rememberest thy ways, and art ashamed, when thou receivest thy sisters, those greater than thyself along with those smaller than thyself; and I give 62 them to thee for daughters, and not by thy covenant; And I establish My 63 covenant with thee; and thou knowest that I am Jehovah. To the end thou mayest remember, and be ashamed, and there may be no more opening of thy mouth because of thy disgrace, when I cover for thee all that thou hast done: sentence of the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 16:4. Sept.: ... ον̓κ ἐδησας τ. μκστονς σον... ον̓κ ἐλονσθης τον κριστον μον—Vulg.: non es lota in salutem—Sept, Syr, hex, and Arabic read: שדך, ubera tua.

Eze 16:5. …ὀφθαλμος μον ἐπι σοι... τοντων, τον παθειν τι ἐπι σοι... τη σκολιοτητι της ψνκης σον—

Ezekiel 16:6. ... πεφνρμενην ἐν τω αἱμ.... ἐκ τον αἱματος σον ζωη σον, κ. πληθνγον ( Ezekiel 16:7.)—For חיי, there is a reading חייך, vita tua.

Ezekiel 16:7. ... κ. εἰσηλθες εἰς πολεις πολεων—Vulg.: Multiplicatam quasi germen … et ingressa es et pervenisti ad mundum muliebrem; … nuda et confusione plena.—For ודים, there is a reading: שדיך.

Ezekiel 16:8. ... ὡς καιρος καταλνοντων. Vulg.: tempus tuum, tempus amantium.

Eze 16:12. κ. ἐδωκα ἐνωτιον ἐπι τον μνκτηρα σον... κ στεφανον κανχησεως—

Ezekiel 16:13. For ומלבושך, there is a reading: ומלבושיך, et vestimenta tua; Sept, Syr.

Ezekiel 16:15. ... ον̓κ ἐσται—Vulg.: … ut ejus fieres.—Sept. reads: תזנותך, in the sing.

Ezekiel 16:16. ... κ. ον̓ μη εἰσελθης ον̓δʼ ον̓ μη γενηται. Vulg.: … sicut non est factum neque futurum est.

Ezekiel 16:19-21. ... κ. ἐγενετο μετα ταυτα…κ. ἐλαβες…̔Ως μικρα ἐξεπορνευσας, κ. ἐσφαξας τ. τεκνα…ἐν τω ἀποτροπιαζεσθαι σε αὐτα ἐν αὐτοις. (Many Codices and the Complut. have the plural: מתזנותיך; see also Ezekiel 16:25-26.)

Ezekiel 16:27, ʼΕαν δε ἐκτεινω την... κ. ἐξαρω... κ. ταραδωσω σε εἰς ψνχας... τας ἐκκλινονσας σε ἐχ τ. ὁδον σον ἡς ἠσεβησας. Vulg.: et auferam justificationem tuam—(Another reading: ואנדע.)

Eze 16:28. ...θυγατερας ʼΑσσουρ... χ ἐξεπορνευσας κ. οὐχ ἐνεμπιπλω,

Ezekiel 16:29. κ. ἐπληθυνας την διαθηκην σου προς γην Χαν. κ. Χαλδ.—Vulg.: … in terra Chan. cum Chaldæis

Ezekiel 16:30. Τι διαθω την θυγατερα σου... ἐν τω ποιησαι σε... κ. ἐξεπορνευσας τρισσως ἐν ταις θυγατρασιν σου—Vulg.: In quo mundabo cor tuum … cum facias omnia hæc …?

Ezekiel 16:31. ... κ. ἐγενου ὡς πορνη συναγουσα μισθωματα. Vulg,: … nec facta es quasi meretrix fastidio augens pretium, sed ( Ezekiel 16:32) quasi mulier adultera

Eze 16:32. ‘Η γυνη... ὁμοια σοι, παρα τ. ἀνδρος αὐτης λαμβανουσα μισθωματα πασιν (Eze 16:33) τ. ἐκπορνευουσιν αὐτην προσεδιδου μισθωματα. Κ. συ δεδωχας...

Ezekiel 16:34. ... ἐξεστραμμενον παρα τ. γυναιχας τ. πορςεια σου, κ. μετα σου πεπορνευκασιν ἐν τω προσδιδοναι σε μισθωματα κ. σοι μισθ οὐκ ἐδοθη—Vulg.: et post te non erit fornicatio

Ezekiel 16:36. For ובדמי, the Sept, Chald, Arab, Vulg. read: ובדמי.

Eze 16:37. ... κ. ἀποκαλυψω τ, κακιας σου προς αὐτους—

Eze 16:40. ... ἀξουσιν ἐπι σε ὀχλους—

Eze 16:42. ... κ. οὐ μη μεριμνησω οὐκετι

Ezekiel 16:43. ... κ. ἐλυπεις με... κ. οὑτως ἐποιησας τ. ἀσεβειαν σου ἐπι πασαις τ. ἀνομιαις σου. Vulg.: … provocasti e…et non feci juxta scelera tua in omnibus abominationibus tuis. (For בראש, there is a reading: בראשך, which also that of Syr. and Arab.—Sept, Syr, and Arab, read: עשיתי, without the negation.)

Eze 16:46. ... πρεσβυτερα... νεωτερα—

Ezekiel 16:47. Κ, οὐδʼ ὡς... οὐδε κατα... παρα μικρον κ. ὑπερκειοκι—Vulg.: fecisti pauxillum minus; pene sceleraiora fecisti. (Another reading: מהם.)

Eze 16:49. ... κ. ἐν εὐθηνια οἰνου ἐωπαταλων αὑτη—

Ezekiel 16:50. Vulg.: sicut vidisti. (Another reading: כאשר ראית.)

Ezekiel 16:51. Another reading: ממנה, præ illa.

Ezekiel 16:53. Vulg.: Et convertam restituens eas conversione Sodomorum c. filiabus … et conversione Samariæ … et convertam reversionem tuam

Eze 16:55. ... ἀποκατασταθησονται καθως ἠσαν ἀπʼ ἀρχης—

Eze 16:56. κ. εἰ μη ἠν Σοδομα—

Ezekiel 16:57. προ του... ὁν τροτον νυν ὀνειδος εἰ—Vulg.: Palæstinarum—(Another reading: בנות אדם (Edom), Syr.)

Eze 16:61. κ. δωσω αὐτας σοι εἰς οἰκοδομην—


The humbling prophetic discourse passes from the designation of the vine to that other, where Jerusalem specially is spoken of as the “daughter” of Zion. At the basis of such a conception of the people, i.e. of Judah as a woman in their still standing capital city, the leader of fashion, there lies the mystery of Jehovah’s covenant as a marriage. To the course of sinning stretching over centuries, and with special reference to מָעְַלוּ מַעַל in Ezekiel 15:8, there corresponds the detailed picture, which borrows its colours and therewith obtains its justification from the thoroughly sensual idolatry into which the people had fallen. It is spoken after the manner of the East, and must be translated into the language of the West,—in other words, traced back to its spirit and the ideas lying underneath. The story which is therein related is in so preponderating a degree a story of sin ( Ezekiel 16:2-34), and the punishment of sin ( Ezekiel 16:35-52), that the glimpse of grace, with which the long chapter concludes, only occupies the verses53–63. (“The whole representation runs on like a progressive drama, which in an earthly picture see forth so vividly the conflict of the holy love of God with man’s unfaithfulness, that many a reader certainly, with feelings of shame, will exclaim: My soul has been the faithless spouse of God!”—Schmieder.)

Ezekiel 16:2-14. The Grace at the Beginning

In this way (comp. Deuteronomy 32) the abominations ( Ezekiel 7:3-4; Ezekiel 7:9) of Jerusalem—representing the people in their own land—are to be the more affectingly brought home to her consciousness, are to be held up before her in so much the more shameful a light (“the abominations of Canaan,” Häv.). “He first loved us,” is the golden background for the dark and gloomy picture which follows, but which even in Ezekiel 16:2 is kept in view, and already in Ezekiel 16:3 hints at Jerusalem’s Canaanitish origin. Of such a nature are those abominations of hers which the prophet is to make known to Jerusalem, that such an inference seems justifiable, and one that may be drawn. (Kimchi, Grotius, have supposed an announcement by means of a letter!)—As in the figurative expression: מְבוּרָה (from בָּרָה, to dig), the reference is to the place where metals are found (comp. Isaiah 51:1), or to the source (Häv. compares Ezekiel 21:32, 30], and understands: “place of generation,” corresponding to the father, just as the place of birth corresponds to the mother), so also מוֹלְדוֹת, which is likewise in the plural, means something belonging to the sphere of nature. The higher divine origin of the people Isaiah, in fact, lost sight of; they are conceived of as regards the land of their natural development, where their capital city is situate. The intermediate thought is the implied accusation, that they have not dealt with the inhabitants of the land in accordance with the promise (comp. Exodus 23:32 sq.; Deuteronomy 7:1 sq.), but have become degenerate like them, and therefore themselves ripe for extermination. Just as in John 8:44, in contrast with Abraham, “the devil” is spoken of as the “father” of the Jews, so here the Amorite ( Genesis 15:16; Joshua 10:5), who by himself, or also along with the Hittite, is elsewhere named instead of the Canaanite in general, either because these two were the most distinguished of the Canaanitish nations, or because with them more than the rest of the Canaanitish the earliest reminiscences of the fathers of the Jewish people were connected ( Genesis 23; Genesis 26:34-35; Genesis 27:46; Genesis 28:1; Genesis 28:6; Genesis 28:8). Where, as here, the reference was to the land, it was the Canaanite (in Greek: the Phœnician) who principally came into consideration with the Jews ( Genesis 38:2). What is implied in the expression Canaanite might be seen already in Genesis 9:25, were not the Hamitic corruption of this people (comp. in what follows the different hints of this) a fact established from profane literature even. The close intercourse with the Semitic tribes, already carried on in earliest times, is reflected especially in the Semitic character of the language of Canaan; it was the overpowering spirit of the Semitic to which almost all the Hamitic dialects have succumbed: so much the more ignominious must the spiritual dependence of the degenerate Jews, with which Ezekiel charges them, appear. (Comp. Zephaniah 1:11.)

Ezekiel 16:4. The circumstances connected with the birth, of which the description is still continued in Ezekiel 16:5, point to Egypt, where the nation first saw the light of day.—הוּלֶּדֶת, inf.: the being born. The dagesh after shurek is unusual.—בָרַּת and שָׁרֵּךְ both times ד with dagesh: shorrech, chorrath.—The bandaging and cutting of the navel-cord, as is necessary after the birth for the independent life of the child. And just as in this way there is expressed what is necessary, so in the washing with water we have what is customary and fit. מִשְׁעִי only here; probably a Chaldaic form for מִשְׁעִית. Other derivations from שָׁעַע or שָׁעָה: ad lenimentum, Jarchi: “for brightness,” Cocc.: ad jucundum aspectum meum.—What was done elsewhere to new-born infants (according to Galen), and is still done in the East down to the present day, in order to harden the tender skin, according to Häv. and Hitz, because of the symbolic meaning of salt, in order to express the hope and wish for a vigorous life,—Augusti derives from this the usual sprinkling of salt in baptism,—is perhaps at the same time intended to serve for a more thorough cleansing, or (according to others) for healing the wound of the navel. It was not fostering care that fell to the lot of Israel’s national life in the times that succeeded Joseph, when they grew from a family into a nation, but envy, persecution, contempt on the part of the Egyptians; so that they must have looked like an exposed Bedouin female infant (foundling) abandoned to its misery (a heathen custom prevailing in many quarters), given over to perish.

Ezekiel 16:5. Those who had looked up to Joseph did not even look down with compassion on thee.—“The existence (soul) of Israel as a nation was an object of abhorrence to the Egyptians. The image of a child the more suitable, as Moses, the type of his people, was actually exposed,” etc. (Hengst.) [Others: inasmuch as thou wast to them an object of loathing; or: in the loathing which thou hadst of thine own life.] Such outward misery is not conceivable without a corresponding inward misery. Hengst. makes the wretched condition in Egypt to be a punishment of the evil tendencies dwelling in Israel from of old ( Genesis 15:13-14).

In contrast with such neglect ( Ezekiel 16:4) and such treatment ( Ezekiel 16:5) on the part of Prayer of Manasseh, the divine compassion rises up into greater prominence in Ezekiel 16:6. Jehovah is portrayed after the similitude of a king (as so often in the German legends a king’s son finds a deserted maiden), who passed thereby, perhaps on the chase.—In the blood still adhering from the time of birth (Juv. Sat. Ezekiel 7 : adhuc a matre rubentem). But by this expression is at the same time meant to be signified the danger to the life of the child, and not merely its impurity (quanquam fœda es sanguine, volo te vivere). [Targum and Rashi: of the blood of circumcision and of the passover lamb; the verse Blessing in the ritual of circumcision.] As in this way from the very commencement בְּדָמַיּךְ is connected in thought with the desperate movement or situation of the child, in like manner it is afterwards to be joined both times with תְַיי. It is from the first the word of promise (וָאמַר לָך twice), but as being seriously meant and certain, and hence continued without interruption, rendered more vivid by means of the repetition. מִתְבּוֹםֶםֶת, Hithpalel of בּוּם, Ges.: given up to be trodden under foot. The root-meaning is “to tread down,” “to trample.” (“This child was able to survive such trampling.” Hengst.) Häv.: “despised,” in a derivative signification. The continued promise of life in the midst of danger continually threatening, makes us think besides of Exodus 3:2.—In Ezekiel 16:7 there follows the mightily efficacious blessing in the increase of the people, a visible confirmation and realization of the word of promise ( Exodus 1:7; Exodus 1:12). According to Hitzig, we have by this means a transition from the figure to the thing signified. According to Hengst, the subject in hand is an ideal child, that comes to view in a multiplicity of separate existences; רְבָבָה is not one myriad, but a numerical measure, an ideal unity, embracing a multitude of actual myriads ( Numbers 10:36; Deuteronomy 33:17).—בַּעֲדִי עֲדָיִים, either: into the age when maidens think of dress and finery (when would that be?), or, from the fact of her being naked, of the highest charm of youthful beauty, which would quite fit into the context. [Häv.: “the most distinguished morning-time of life, the most beautiful season of youth.” And just as he appeals in support of this view to Psalm 103:5, 4], so Hitzig at the same time appeals to Psalm 32:9 for an explanation in the sense: “and thou wentest along in the ornament of cheeks.”]—The sprouting hair about the pudenda as a sign of becoming marriageable. Indecent (Häv.) nakedness is not the subject in hand, but merely nakedness in contrast with clothing and ornament.

Ezekiel 16:8 brings to view a significant act of grace on Jehovah’s part, parallel to that in Ezekiel 16:6. The parallel is not, that after “the founding of the city” there comes now “its passing into the hands of Israel, and that for the dwelling-place of Jehovah;” nor that in the one case we have “the wandering horde,” and in the other “the covenant at Sinai” (Hitz.); but it consists in this, that as Jehovah’s mercy was shown to the people by their preservation and increase in Egypt, so it was shown by their deliverance from Egypt, which reached its immediate close in the giving of the law at Sinai; in the former case more outwardly, in the latter for the most part in an inward way.—Thy time, connected by means of the “seeing” with what goes before, is defined by the following עֵת דֹּדִים (wooing-time), as meaning that the marriageable one has become ripe for love.—The spreading of the corner of the upper garment and the covering of the nakedness symbolize in general, that He took the miserable, helpless one under His protection, interested Himself in her; specially, however, with the thought of conferring the honour of betrothal, marriage—comp. Ruth 3:9 (in which connection Cocc. makes mention of the covering cloud at the departure from Egypt and the passage through the Red Sea); a thought which is solemnly carried out in the swearing and entering into covenant, by means of which Israel, grown into a nation, now became the peculiar people of Jehovah. Comp. Ezekiel 20:5-6; Exodus 19; Exodus 20:2; Exodus 20:5; Exodus 20:24; Deuteronomy 5:2; Ephesians 5:32.

Ezekiel 16:9 in part resumes Ezekiel 16:4, in order to make the cleansing appear as thorough as possible; even what still cleaved to Israel from his birth was to be put away, the reason being that they were sanctified by God to be wholly and entirely His people, to occupy a priestly place among the nations. This peculiar destiny of Israel as a nation is symbolized by the washing. [Häv.: cleansing in the solemn covenant-sacrifice, Exodus 24. Hitz, as already older expositors: of the laws of cleansing, e.g. Leviticus 15:19.] At the reception into the royal harem, lengthened preparations, especially purifications, are customary in the East; comp. Esther 2:12; Ruth 3:3. To the same category belongs also the anointing. We are not debarred from thinking of spiritual benefits—the gifts of the Spirit in Israel.

Ezekiel 16:10. After the cleansing and anointing comes the clothing, in view already of the kingly character of Israel generally, Exodus 19:6; Psalm 55. The Egyptian colouring of the painting is at the same time, perhaps, not unintentional.—דִקְמָה, from רָקַם (to puncture), is embroidered work, specially of variegated colours; here with gold and silver, figures, flowers, etc. The art of working in various colours is even at the present day very much developed among the Egyptians.—תַּתשׁ, elsewhere only in the Pentateuch, of the outermost covering of the tabernacle and of the sacred furniture; here manifestly an article of luxury. Some have thought of the seal, the dolphin, the fox, a species of hyena, etc. (Winer, Realw. ii. p596 sq.), of whose skin the shoes were manufactured. The old translations, on the contrary, leave out of view the material, and lay stress upon the colour of the leather; not exactly blue, but of a dark colour, red, violet. Bynæus, De Calc. Hebr.: scarlet. Hengst.: morocco. Niebuhr heard in Arabia, from a learned Jew, that tachash is the red-coloured skin of the ram. To tanning and colouring the root-meaning of the word may possibly have some reference.—שֵׁשׁ, Egyptian shens or shenti (comp. Ezekiel 9:2), means, like βύσσος, cotton, of which splendid garments were worn, but also linen, which is fine like cotton. Here the finest linen headband (turban) must be meant (תָבַשׁ), Exodus 28:39.—וָאְַכַםֵּךְ (comp. Ezekiel 16:8) in no way necessitates the meaning of covering with a veil (Hitz.), but Ezekiel 16:13 uses the word מֶשִׁי of the clothing, which Isaiah, according to the tradition of the Jewish commentaries, silk (τρίχαπτον = threads fine like hair), but according to Hitzig, coloured cloth. Comp. Braunius, De Vest. etc. At all events, it is meant to be the highest degree of splendour, where the clothing even is like ornament.

Ezekiel 16:11-12. Plainly the bride’s ornaments, by the detail of which the rich and splendid era of Solomon is still more vividly set before us. Comp. besides, Genesis 24:22; Genesis 24:30; Genesis 24:47. But if even the chain about the neck is something peculiar ( Genesis 41:42), so above all is the crown ( Lamentations 1:1; Isaiah 62:3; Jeremiah 13:18).

Ezekiel 16:13. In consequence of the divine adorning, Israel could adorn herself (שֵׁשִׁי וָמֶשִׁי, one of Ezekiel’s paronomasias), and nothing was too costly; and to such riches corresponded the maintenance, the rest of the living, as the husband has to provide it for his wife, above all in the East. The choice delicacies appear to form the contrast to the usual food of the people in Egypt. By the word לִמְלוּכָה there is now expressed what was hinted at already, along with the priestly elements in what goes before. By means of their kingdom the kingly character of the people in general was suitably represented before the heathen nations also, but so much the more gloriously as the Messianic idea was symbolized thereby. Besides, there is also a preparation for Ezekiel 17. Comp. in addition, Song of Solomon 7:7, 6]; Lamentations 2:15.—The extraordinary beauty of Israel is their law ( Deuteronomy 4:6 sq.) and their Messiah ( Psalm 45:3, 2]).

Ezekiel 16:14. Already exemplified in Exodus 15:14 sq.; still farther in 1 Chronicles 14:17; 1 Kings 10. Let it be noted that Israel is thus spoken of as perfect through Jehovah, of grace, not by nature or by reason of merit. Faithfulness, therefore, would have kept them in this glory. ( Hosea 2:10, 8]; Micah 2:9.)


[“The second stage of this allegorical history, exhibited in Ezekiel 16:8-14, represents the singular honour and glory conferred on the ideal virgin in her exaltation to the rank of a spouse to the King of Zion, and her decoration with apparel suited to her elevated station. … The description presents a vivid and impressive image of the singular goodness of God to Israel, from the time that He visited them in Egypt, and raised them from the low and depressed condition which they held there, to the nearest fellowship with Himself, and the highest place among the kingdoms of the earth. The relation formed between Jehovah and Israel at that interesting period had already been more than once represented under the image of the marriage-union.” See Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 54:1; Hosea 1-3; Jeremiah 2:2. “Indeed, no earthly relation could so fitly have been employed as that of marriage to exhibit the nature of that hallowed union, in virtue of which the Lord not only conferred upon them the rich dowry of temporal good, but also graciously condescended to maintain with them a most intimate and endearing interchange of love. … It is the internal relationship established between them and God, and the spiritual blessings immediately growing out of it, which are here primarily and chiefly referred to. Even the outward temporal blessing secured in the covenant, and in part also realized, should never have been viewed as an ultimate and independent good, but rather as the expression and emblem of something higher and better. They were not properly blessings at all, except in so far as they were held in connection with the favour of Heaven, and bespoke the fellowship of love that subsisted between Jehovah and His people. … But considering the state in which they were found in Egypt, they much needed to undergo a process of purification, to fit them for bearing aright so high and ennobling a character. That many rites of cleansing should have been prescribed to them, and a long course of preparatory discipline appointed, only betokened the Lord’s earnest desire to have them qualified for the exalted state and destiny He wished them to fill. And throughout, nothing was wanting of tender compassion and faithful dealing on His part. From the first He crowned them with marks of His goodness. A fulness of power and glory rested on them far surpassing what their numbers alone might have warranted them to expect. And when the kingdom at last rose to meridian splendour, and received the confirmation and enlargement given to it, especially in the days of David and Song of Solomon, the surrounding heathen were compelled to own that there is a great reality in the favour and blessing of Heaven. They saw in Israel, as a people, living monuments of the mighty efficacy of divine grace, how it can exalt the feeble, and lay the powers of the world, as well as the bounties of nature, under contribution to the furtherance of its beneficent designs.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp166–168.—W. F.]

Ezekiel 16:15-34. The Horrible, Unfaithfulness

Ezekiel 16:15 is in the form of an introduction, which announces two parts of what follows: (1) the nature, (2) the extent ( Ezekiel 16:23 sq.) of the people’s sinning. The inmost nature of it is represented as being a trusting (בָּטַח) in the gift, conceived of apart from the Giver, hence as self-righteousness, pride, security. The way in which such a self-pleasing disposition expressed itself is portrayed, in accordance with the image of a wife, as fornication, alike in a political and in a religious point of view, from the time of Solomon. עַל־שְׁמֵךְ (in connection with Ezekiel 16:14), on the ground of the report, the fame of thy beauty; on that ground, relying thereupon as upon a charter, that thou certainly hadst the name above others, as if nothing could rob thee of thy privilege ( Judges 4; Revelation 18:7). [Others: “because of” (so Eng. Vers.); or: “notwithstanding,” forgetting the name which thou hadst received from thy husband; or: against, i.e. against thy husband, so that adultery would be specified, which is dragged in from Ezekiel 16:32.] Deuteronomy 32:15; Hosea 13:6.—The flowing forth of unrestrained desire, the extent to which the degeneracy reached, is expressed in the strongest way in the words: and didst pour out, etc. ( Ezekiel 14:19).—לוֹ יֶהִי. Hengst.: “his be it,” as if the words of the adulteress, that is to say, to him will I yield myself. Hitz.: יְפִי, though at some distance, is the only possible subject; properly וַיְהִי, but the copula has fallen away because of לוֹ going before. Klief.: his it became, indefinitely: what thou hadst to bestow. A contrast to וַתִּהְיִי לִי: “and thou becomest mine,” in Ezekiel 16:8. (Comp. Psalm 45:12, 11].)

Ezekiel 16:16. A description in detail of the idolatry and the idolatrous worship as an abuse of the gifts and blessings of Jehovah, and a more and more heinous robbery of Him.—The worship of the high places was still a worship of Jehovah, but was already a self-willed degeneracy from the command that there should be one sanctuary ( Deuteronomy 12), a divergence according to fancy and foreign examples. The בָּמוֹת are in themselves high places, natural heights set apart for worship, meant as they were to help the lacking elevation of heart, affecting as they did the high flight of the imagination; here, in connection with the garments: tents, made of variegated stuffs for garments, or provided with curtains of the same, or—shall we say?—laid out with variegated carpets, seeing that such things were woven by women for the Punic Venus ( 2 Kings 23:7). Hengst.: “small idol-temples for domestic use.” Ewald: small altars ( Ezekiel 16:24; Ezekiel 16:31). The worship of Astarte (?). Because of the epithet: טְלֻאוֹת, Hitzig makes mention of “smaller pieces of cloth also,” but rejects the interpretation: “patched” high places; referring, however, to Genesis 30:35 sq. (“the sensuous piety became wanton over the party-coloured rags!”)—עְַלֵיהֶם, masc. referring to בֶּנֶד, the עַל pointing to the “high places,” i.e. to the high places thus clothed. [Hengst.: to be referred to the paramours, in the sense of: “with them.” Others: on the carpets (?) in the tent-temples.]—בָאוֹת, a paronomasia with בָּמוֹת, לֹא בָאוֹת, i.e. according to the law of Israel. They ought not to find entrance. [Cocc.: which do not come from God to you, like the ark and the temple, but are inventions of your own heart!] וְלֹא יִהְיֶה, in reference to the clause: “and didst play the harlot upon them.” [Others: the like has not come to pass, nor will it ever be. Hengst.: the like shall not come nor happen, as denoting unprecedented shamelessness.]

Ezekiel 16:17. A contrast between what was taken and the purpose for which it was taken. At the same, time there now comes into view (וַתִּקְחִי in Ezekiel 16:18 for the third time) the robbery of Jehovah. Images of men—(idolatry in general) because of the figure of a woman the idols are represented as men. [Häv.: images of the membrum virile (phallus). Ewald: penates (teraphim), covered with ornament, set up in the house, honoured with lectisternia.]

Ezekiel 16:18. The “covering,” according to Hitzig, is meant of the clothing of the idols with splendid drapery; Movers: of the wrapping up of the phalli, when they are placed in the shrine. The “setting before” them took place in sacrifice ( Leviticus 2:1-2).—My, not only as being from God, but still more as being destined for Him ( Exodus 30:23-25). Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 8:11.

Ezekiel 16:19. As for the erection of sanctuaries ( Ezekiel 16:16) and the making of idols ( Ezekiel 16:17), so for the honour paid to the same, Israel deprived herself not only of her clothes, but even of the divine food ( Ezekiel 16:13). The rich heathen worship of Hither Asia!—וַיֶּהִי, not interrogatively, but the simple shocking fact.

Ezekiel 16:20. The last step of apostasy, even their own children!—וַתִּקְחִי once more, as in Ezekiel 16:18; Ezekiel 16:17; Ezekiel 16:16.—The worship of Moloch, as it existed from the time of Ahaz. זָבַת is: to slay in sacrifice; and the same thing is expressed by לֶאֱכוֹל with which שָׁחַט in Ezekiel 16:21 is to be connected, in order to explain to us בְּהַעְַבִיר as a lustration in the shape of burning; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35; Jeremiah 7:31. Hengst.: “The passing through was the mode of slaying, and the devouring was the consequence of it. The idol was supposed to be present in the fire.”—To the question: הַמְעַט מִ׳, a negative answer is expected, as in Ezekiel 8:17 : Was it (the sacrificing of the children) less than, etc.? On the contrary, it far exceeded them. [Häv.: Was there still too little of your whoredom? namely, to stop with Ezekiel 16:15-19. Hengst.: Hadst thou too little of thy whoredoms?] Instead of: “thy,” we have in Ezekiel 16:21 : My; what was in the former relation inhuman, was in the latter not only a robber’s, but also a murderer’s outrage against God.

Ezekiel 16:22. Where there is now a transition to the extent of the idolatrous actings, we have a very suitable retrospective glance in recapitulation (בָּל), and, corresponding to the worst degree of outward idolatry, the forgetfulness of God in the inmost heart. The recollection of the first condition ( Ezekiel 16:6-7) would necessarily have become the remembrance of Jehovah. Self-pleasing ( Ezekiel 16:15) did not allow it to come to this, but such non-remembrance was the parent of such gratitude.

Ezekiel 16:23. The extent to which, with such aggravation, the unfaithfulness reached. The picture, hitherto having reference to religious matters, now assumes a political hue. It appears that the representation given in Ezekiel 16:15-22 is now used as a clothing for the thought in a figurative way. After all, etc. Hengst. understands the expression of time: with the oppression by the world-powers the apostasy became properly national. In that case the wickedness would require to be taken as calamity, and the misery that has come to Israel in consequence of such sins against Jehovah would have to be read between the lines, or the: woe, etc. would have to be connected with וַיְהִי. But the repeated exclamation seems rather to be a preparation for something future, the judgment still to come, and hence to be conceived of as a parenthesis, and וַיְהִי to be introductory to Ezekiel 16:24; and therefore it seems necessary to interpret אַחְַרֵי, not indeed in the way of climax (Häv.: even beyond, etc.), for Ezekiel 16:20 sq. closed with the highest degree of guilt, but rather of the moral consequence. Such apostasy from Jehovah could not fail to be followed by the inner (political) decline of the theocracy, and the falling away to all possible world-powers.

Ezekiel 16:24. נָּב, in a collective sense, related to רָמָה, perhaps as altar to רָמָה temple-height. Both are constructed, and thus בָּמוֹת is distinguished from the natural בָּמוֹת The actual idolatry, or the national decline set forth under this figure, showed itself in the midst of the bustle of the city. (According to others: נָּב = fornix, in the service of those religions of nature; farther defined by means of רָמָה as in an elevated situation, striking the eye.) Comp. Ezekiel 6:13.

Ezekiel 16:25. Comp. Proverbs 8:2.—וַתְּתַעְַבִי, as if thou thyself hadst an abhorrence of thy national glory ( Ezekiel 16:13-14). [Others causatively: to make an object of loathing.]—Israel lay on the path for manifold intercourse with the world, especially between the Asiatic and African world-powers.

Ezekiel 16:26. The sons of Egypt are not its gods, and therefore the reference is to political whoredom. Let it be remembered how in express terms intercourse with Egypt was forbidden to Israel, how return thither is threatened them rather as the worst punishment ( Deuteronomy 28:68); and let one compare, from the days of Solomon onwards, 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 9:16; 1 Kings 10:28; 2 Kings 18.; Isaiah 30; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 36:6; Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:7.—( 2 Kings 17.) But נִּדְלֵי בָשָׂר is characteristic for the licentious character of Egyptian worship (Mendes!). בָּשָׂר, the membrum virile. Comp. Hengst. Authentic, 1. p119 sq.; Mos. und Egypten, p216. This expressive mode of designating them Isaiah, according to Hengst, intended to mean great of power. It marks rather the brutal lowness of having dealings with a state of such a character, religiously considered, of longing after it. In accordance therewith we have the provoking of Jehovah to anger, and what follows in Ezekiel 16:27 ( Ezekiel 6:14; Ezekiel 14:9; Ezekiel 14:13). The “diminishing” is in contrast with, the “increasing,”—חֹק. Hengst.: “law;” in general: what accrues of right to the wife in respect of sustenance, clothing, lodging ( Exodus 21:10); here in particular: what is destined for Israel by Jehovah in respect of maintenance, nurture, adornment, increase ( Ezekiel 16:9 sq.); only not exactly with Häv.: “the destined inheritance.” As regards the thing meant, we may compare what the nation lost in land, and people, and influence, and splendour, or the like, especially indeed through Egypt, 1 Kings 11:18; 1 Kings 11:21; 1 Kings 11:40; 1 Kings 14:25. ( Joel 4. 3.] 19.)—Gave thee to the soul, etc, usually interpreted, with an unwarranted quoting of such passages as Psalm 27:12; Psalm 17:9; Psalm 41:3 [ Psalm 41:2], Psalm 64:19, of a giving up to the desire, rage, bloodthirstiness, as if it were like נָתַן בְּיָד, whereas here at least the disposition of soul of the Philistine cities or states is expressly said to be different.—“Haters” they were already, but they became despisers.—מִדַּרכֵּךְ זִמָּה is kept too closely to the figure by Hitz.: “because of thy profligate conduct, which is a disgrace for her also, because for the whole female sex;” while Häv. interprets too definitely of the thing meant, and has besides mistaken the meaning: they themselves brought back the ark ( 1 Samuel 5, 6).—זִמָּה, craftiness, baseness, ( Leviticus 18:17) most shameful uncleanness. Either a descriptive genitive or an emphatic apposition: thy conduct pure lewdness. The Philistines, who are introduced rather as spectators than as parties actively engaged, to whose contempt Israel was given up by Jehovah, turned away with shame from Israel’s heathenish policy, inasmuch as they, in pleasing contrast thereto, stuck by their gods. Comp. Jeremiah 2:10 sq. (Grot.) [Hävernick’s view is that the Philistines are named instar omnium, in the sense of outward violence inflicted by fiercest enemies. Hitz. puts out of view the period of the Judges, and refers to 2 Chronicles 28:18; Joel 4, 3] 4, 5; 2 Chronicles 21:16; comp. besides the article in Winer, 2 p 252 sq.]

Ezekiel 16:28. Having got no satisfaction in the African, they betake themselves now to the Asiatic world-power. Hitz. lays stress rightly upon the difference between זָנָה אֶל (already in Ezekiel 16:26) and זָנָה with the acc, where in the case before us the two are contrasted with each other: first longing after, and then no satisfaction even when the longing is realized. (Comp. 2 Kings 16:7; 2 Chronicles 28:16; Jeremiah 2:18; 2 Kings 23:29.) And with this Ezekiel 16:29 connects the Babylonians. Ever more and more ( Ezekiel 16:25-26) of insatiable lust.—כּנַעַן is taken by most in an appellative sense, as meaning commerce, trade; hence: the land of traders, Chaldea ( Ezekiel 17:4; Isaiah 23:8; Job 40:30 [ Job 41:6]), a view which is suggested by no kind of hint in the passage. Then, certainly, to translate: “with the land of Canaan,” and to think of Canaanitish (Phœnician) idolatry ( Psalm 106:38) “as far as Chaldea,” or “at the same time turned to Chaldea,” i.e. while taking in addition the Babylonish worship of Belus and Mylitta, is still less suitable. But כְּנַעַן means simply: “low ground” (low land); why not keep by the proper name in this sense? With an allusion to this, this downward step would be held up before the elevated Judah-Jerusalem, when in Chaldea, in the longing after political fellowship with the Babylonians, it hoped at the same time to get the land of Canaan, i.e. to get the Promised Land kept through such help of Asia herself against Asia. כַּשְׂדִּימָה, with ה parag, is the explanation which is added, to show in what sense אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן is meant. Hengst, referring to Ezekiel 23and Isaiah 39, and to the want of satisfaction spoken of here, points to the fact that they had at this very time turned back again to the Egyptians. Their new “Canaan” came to stand them in still worse stead than their intercourse with Assyria; Chaldea’s friendship showed itself to be pure selfishness.

Ezekiel 16:30. By means of the exclamation (surprise, complaint?) a pause is introduced; what has been said ( Ezekiel 16:15 sq.) is forcibly summarized.—Ewald: “how languishing is thy heart!” biting sarcasm; how great must be the languishing of love! Similarly Ges.: “How thy heart languished from lust!” Hengst.: “how withered,” etc.; design edly the form לִבָּה, not elsewhere occurring in the sing.: a womanish heart, which has lost its sap and vigour in the world. אְַמֻלָה, likewise only here as partic. Kal.—Imperious, instead of being under thy husband, bold, unruly.

Ezekiel 16:31. בִּבְנוֹתַיךְ, inf. with plur. suff. for בִּבְנוֹתֵךְ. Comp. Ezekiel 16:24-25. The “doing” mentioned in Ezekiel 16:30 is exemplified, and then its imperiousness is unfolded: thou wast hot like the harlot, namely, in that, as a thoroughly genuine harlot does, who wishes merely to play the whore at any price, thou thoughtest little of, scornedst the harlot’s hire. Ezekiel 16:33 will show that she rather paid such hire to her lovers, purchased some for herself therewith. וְלֹא־הָיִיתָה is to be taken along with לְקַלֵּם׳ = thou scornedst not, etc. Commonly: in that thou scornedst, etc. [Others: not like the harlot, who despiseth, scorneth her hire, that is to say, wishes to extort more, because it appears to her too small: but thou didst accept everything, because the only object with thee was to satisfy thy lust. Others still: like the harlot who boasteth of her hire.]—As the people are portrayed from Ezekiel 16:8 onwards as the spouse of Jehovah (comp. אִשָׁה in Ezekiel 16:30), we have in Ezekiel 16:32 very suitably, just as also in Ezekiel 16:30, the exclamation (Häv.: “O adulterous woman, who taketh!”), which lays stress upon the adultery involved in this policy with the foreign world-powers. תַּחַת, while she was under the authority of her husband ( Romans 7:2), i.e. was legally and morally bound to be faithful to him. Others [as Eng. Vers.]: “instead.” The horrible unfaithfulness is set forth as the whoredom of a married woman. Going back upon Ezekiel 16:31, Ezekiel 16:33 portrays her whoredom, explaining fully the לְקַלֵּם׳ there. נֵדֵה, here merely instead of אֶתְנַן. Häv. thinks of נדָּה, res fœda. The lovers are not the heathen gods,—although not without reference to them (comp. Ezekiel 16:36), in contrast with Jehovah,—but the strange nations ( Ezekiel 16:26 sq.); and these as bought. Comp. 2 Kings 16:8; Hosea 8:9 sq, Ezekiel 12:2, 1]; Isaiah 30:5-6. Hitzig: the presents through ambassadors, the yearly tribute, etc. As she was still always drawing upon her Husband’s resources, she might well give presents. That she did so with such a view, for such an object, how horrible!

Ezekiel 16:34. The contrary or the reverse, so that from among all women thou standest forth alone of thy kind. What nowhere else finds an imitator among women, when a woman has done it before! In general there was no following after thee in thy whoredoms; but in particular ( Ezekiel 16:33) there was no one imitated thee in such giving of hire for whoredom.

Ezekiel 16:35-52. The Punishment

Ezekiel 16:35. As if in a public judicial process, the indictment is read out.

Ezekiel 16:36. To pour out, comp. Ezekiel 16:15; here brass (Gesen.: copper, the art of tempering which was known), either used for metals of all kinds; or goods and chattels generally (comp. Ezekiel 16:10 sq, Ezekiel 16:16 sq.); or money in particular, in which case it admits of question whether copper money was in use, not to speak of being common. ( Matthew 10:9; Mark 12:41.) It is put instead of the “whoredoms” of Ezekiel 16:15, because according to Ezekiel 16:33 these were purchased by means of presents; and this the more appropriately, as in Deuteronomy 8:9 (comp. this Comm. in loco), and in Ezekiel 33:25 of the same book, in the blessing of Moses, the richness in brass of the Promised Land is significantly referred to. Hence (1) the misuse and squandering of the dowry of the people, as it was given them in their own land. [Häv.: brass as an ignoble and impure (?) metal, because of the disposition and the use made of it. Buns.: “because thy kettle ran over,” to denote the overflowing of lustful desire.]—(2) Shameful self-prostitution in national and religious respects, as contrasted with Ezekiel 16:8, and visited with retribution in Ezekiel 16:37.—Policy led at the same time to the introduction of the gods of the world-powers ( Ezekiel 8:10). Ezekiel 16:16 sq. וְעַל is taken by many in the same sense as יַעַן: “and because of,” unnecessarily; but וְכִדְמֵי must be so taken. As respects idolatry, the sacrificing of their own children even. Ezekiel 16:20 sq. Hence (3) murder. These are the separate counts of the indictment.

Ezekiel 16:37. The public judgment. First of all, the assembling of the lovers as witnesses. She who has dishonoured and brought herself to shame becomes now, by the interposition of God, to the one party an object of loathing, to the other an object of mockery. The last attraction, and what might still have been an object of regard, vanishes. Hävernick refers to the procedure in the case of a married woman suspected of adultery, Numbers 5:18.

Ezekiel 16:38. The sentence, which is one of death, because for adultery and murder; the jealousy referring to the former, the fury to the latter.—Into blood, i.e. so that thou shalt be dissolved into that in consequence of such fury and jealousy; Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 5:15.

Ezekiel 16:39. Those who before were witnesses now appear as executioners of the sentence. Grotius thinks of the temple. But it is the annihilation of the national life, which had fallen away from Jehovah, and not so much the plundering of Jerusalem, as generally the stripping of Israel of all her glory as a nation, that is the thought, expressed figuratively in accordance with the foregoing representation ( Ezekiel 16:24; Ezekiel 16:7).

Ezekiel 16:40. קָהָל, in accordance with the procedure in the case of adulteresses, as it were a “local community.” Most interpreters make the stoning, which is merely a keeping up of the figure, refer to the ballistœ of the besiegers. The murder ( Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 16:20 sq.) is punished with the swords.

Ezekiel 16:41. Comp. Deuteronomy 13:16; 2 Kings 25:9. The many women are the numerous spectators, and these are the nations. Israel becomes a spectacle to the world. The opportunity and means for political intercourse with the heathen will disappear with the political independence.

Ezekiel 16:42. Comp. on Ezekiel 5:13. The divine justice comes to an end in its character of jealousy; in other words, as the injured faithfulness and love of Israel’s Husband.—The departing of the jealousy might perhaps, by comparison with Isaiah 11:13, show grace in the background; but the connection with what follows requires rather a thought like Hosea 2:4, 2]. Jehovah gives up the adulterous whorish wife. No more—in wrath there is certainly love still!

Ezekiel 16:43. זָכַרְתְּי, with appended י, as in Ezekiel 16:22, and frequently in Ezekiel and Jeremiah.— 2 Kings 19:27 sq. Hengst.: “thou wert angry with Me in all this,” i.e. notwithstanding all the benefits, etc.; Isaiah 8:21. Better at all events than: “thou didst provoke Me to anger by all this,” for the Kal stands firm.— Ezekiel 9:10.—עשיתי is usually taken in the second person, either in the sense: “and [that] thou shalt not commit a deed of shame in addition to all,” etc, that is to say, the measure is full, and in the place of the sin the punishment shall enter; or in the sense: “for thou hast not taken thought (הַוִּמָה) to thyself = hast not repented concerning all,” etc.; or interrogatively: “hast thou not committed this great transgression in addition to all,” etc.? Others have taken the verb in the first person, alleging that the clause was to be understood as meaning that Jehovah repelled from Himself the charge of having borne with the whoredom of the people, and hence of having Himself committed it, inasmuch as he had not punished it,—a very singular thought, surely. הַזִּמָה is emphatic, and with a reference back is the same as in Ezekiel 16:27; and the clause can scarcely be understood otherwise than as an interrogation, inasmuch as certainly the peculiar unfaithfulness of the people, depicted so prominently in Ezekiel 16:30 sq, is elsewhere distinguished from all their abominations.

Ezekiel 16:44. Comp. on Ezekiel 12:22. The poet, perhaps also he who makes use of such Proverbs, takes them into his mouth, utters them, for he can do it rightly.—אִמָּה, either for אֵם, like לִבָּה for לֵב in Ezekiel 16:30, here also betokening the effeminate, womanish character, or for אִמָּהּ: “as is her mother,” etc. Not the Jerusalem of former days, but (comp. Ezekiel 16:3 with Ezekiel 16:45) the style of Canaan.

Ezekiel 16:45. The husband is God, who can only be one and the same, either with reference, e.g., to Melchizedek, who could point back to a better primeval time, or generally, because all idolatry is adultery, apostasy from God; Acts 17:24 sq.; comp. Isaiah 54:5.—The aversion for their children was shown in the worship of Moloch; Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 18:24; Deuteronomy 12:30-31.—אֲחוֹתֵךְ, according to Ges, a plural; according to Rosenm, “the dual, comp. Ezekiel 16:46;” according to Hengst, an ideal person, the sisterhood.

Ezekiel 16:46. As “their husbands” were spoken of, because the relation in the case of Samaria was certainly different from that in the case of Sodom, Jehovah in the one, Elohim in the other, so Samaria and Sodom—sisters of the Jewish kingdom, because belonging to the same mother-country, and at the same time homogeneous in character—are still farther distinguished as to their size, in respect of the number of the tribes and cities, which are the daughters, and also as to their northern and southern position. Both come significantly into consideration as regards Judah, as being already judged.

Ezekiel 16:47. כִּמְעַם קם, according to Ges.: “it would be only a little;” Ewald: “only a little while;” Hengst.: “it wanted a little” (a softened “almost”); Häv.: “for a short time it caused thee loathing, disgust” (!?). The meaning is perhaps: as if it were only a little, how Samaria and Sodom have conducted themselves, and what they have done, thou even wentest beyond them. [So Eng. Vers.] Others connect it with what goes before: “thou didst not walk, etc. a little merely, but thou wast,” etc. Some have even taken לוּא = לא: “yea, hadst thou only, etc, but,” etc. Comp. besides, Luke 12:48; Matthew 11:24.

Ezekiel 16:48. A solemn denial, as regards the more notorious of the two sinners (Sodom), that she has done like Judah. Hence in reality her acting was “as it were only a little” in comparison with thee ! For she had neither Moses nor the prophets.

Ezekiel 16:49. It was the ordinary natural man who in Sodom ripened himself for judgment, in presence certainly of the riches of divine goodness, but not of the clearest revelation of truth. For the close of the verse, comp. the inhospitality in Genesis 19.

Eze 16:50. Comp. Gen 18:20-21.

Ezekiel 16:51. The specification is wanting in the case of Samaria, not only because the remembrance too readily suggested itself, but also because the thought was a familiar one from Jeremiah; Jeremiah 3:11. Judah had the temple, the royal house of David, at all events, with a longer season for repentance, not only Sodom’s, but also Samaria’s judgment before her eyes.—The justification is a comparative one: in relation to thee, Sodom and Samaria must appear as righteous. There is perhaps also the thought, that this relative justification so much the more demands the divine judgment upon Judah-Jerusalem.

[Ewald: “thou who hast called in question thy sisters.” Hengst.: “thou who didst judge” [so Eng. Vers.]. Older expositors: “because thou hast been intercessor,” hast virtually absolved.] She reviled them; now she must revile herself, or at least she is reviled, and this all the more as through Judah’s sins they are more righteous than she.

Ezekiel 16:53-63. The Return of Grace

Ezekiel 16:53. Just as there is grace at the beginning, so the end is grace.—For שׁוּב שְׁבוּת or שְׁבִית, comp. this Comm. on Deut. The fundamental passage is Deuteronomy 30:3. A standing, as it were, proverbial phrase, but not necessarily of the bringing back from exile, rather Messianic in sense; for the abstract שְׁבוּת, from שָׁבָה means in general: destiny, misery, as here a state of punishment. Of an exile of Sodom certainly nothing can be said! In form there is a paronomasia, but we are not to explain in this way the putting of the Kal for the Hiphil; the phrase requires a meaning like “to restore,” a putting an end to and turning of the misery for this purpose. See Job 42:10. The transitive use of שׁוּב must thus be admitted as against Hengst.—Before Judah’s restoration is mentioned, that of Sodom and Samaria is promised,—of the former as being the greatest sinner, of the latter as being the next to Judah. Thus Judah appears in the middle between the punished sinners,—just as in the New Testament publicans and Samaritans,—and her misery is not superlative, in the sense “misery of miseries” (Hengst.: deepest misery, such a misery as displays itself as misery even in the midst of misery; Häv.: heaviest, most fearful); nor is the expression to be taken as a pleonastic explanation, in the sense of “misery which is thy misery,” in order to emphasize the idea “thy own” (Keil); still less as = the captives of thy captivity [Ewald in perplexity reads: וְשַׁבְתִּי שׁ׳]; but summing up ( Ezekiel 16:58): of all thy great and manifold misery, the special one, that which is wholly and entirely so. Placed in the midst of such sinners by means of such penal misery

Ezekiel 16:54—Judah shall (this is the divine intention, the object which it is meant to serve) amid her disgrace be compelled to be ashamed of all her sins, while she “comforts” the others, i.e. because restoration was the leading thought which goes before in Ezekiel 16:53, and which is immediately resumed,—inasmuch as she furnishes them in her own case with an illustration, real though only in the third place, of grace. [Rosenm. takes the clause ironically, as meaning that Judah has been found still worse than themselves ( Ezekiel 14:23). Keil: inasmuch as they learn from the punishment endured by Jerusalem, God’s righteousness, etc. Others: by means of fellowship in misfortune, and that a misfortune so much greater. Ewald: in order that Jerusalem may never again reckon herself better, but may rather through her suffering with them comfort the others.]

Ezekiel 16:55. קַדְמָה is the status ante, but is not to be more closely defined. Not as before the punishment, for then Sodom and Samaria were wicked, and Judah full of pride ( Ezekiel 16:56); in that case the idea would be the possibility of conversion, so that they might be converted. But they are certainly not to return to the state before punishment, in order perhaps to be converted, but at most, conversion might perhaps be conceived of as the implied condition of such restoration. Matthew 11:23 does not refer to a restoration, but to the possibility of Sodom’s having remained in the state in which she was. An earthly and physical restoration, alike of Sodom with the cities and inhabitants of the Jordan valley and of Samaria, and also of Judah-Jerusalem, has been thought of, just as in Acts 3:21 the universal renewal of the world to its original glory before the entrance of sin, the palingenesia ( Matthew 19:28; Romans 8:18 sq.; 2 Peter 3:13), has been thought of; or at least such a resurrection of the dead to life has been taken to be the clothing, the colouring of the thought of their being made partakers of pardoning grace. But as in Ezekiel 16:45 sq. it is merely moral relations that are spoken of, which of course have to do with persons, the inhabitants of the cities in question, an ethical restitutio in integrum suggests itself as the meaning of the text (comp. Malachi 4:6; Matthew 17:11). If, therefore, a restoration of the divine image (in Christ) should not be thought of, then certainly the return to the first estate must be understood as a symbolical way of expressing the idea of bestowing pardoning grace. Cocc. fixes his view upon the descendants of those who had survived the destruction of Sodom. So also Neteler: In Genesis 14two expeditions against Sodom are spoken of; the captives of the first expedition came to Elam, and their descendants are destined to enter the Church; just as also it was merely the descendants of the captives of Samaria and Jerusalem that could return. “The beginning of the return ensued on the day of Pentecost, perhaps even earlier through those that sprung from the captives of Sodom that went to Elam (proselytes),” etc. Hengst. suggests “a continuation of the means of grace after death for those to whom on earth salvation did not present itself in its highest completeness, for the inhabitants of Sodom swept away by the judgment,” appealing to 1 Peter 3:19-20; 1 Peter 4:6. ( Matthew 12:41-42) Comp. on the other hand, Ezekiel 16:60 sq. The symbolical view (comp. Ezekiel 29:14; Ezekiel 47:8 sq.; Jeremiah 48:47; Amos 9:14; Isaiah 19:23-24) will not certainly commend itself by such assumptions as that Sodom represents the two and a half tribes on the other side of Jordan, or that it represents the Ammonites and Moabites, or that it is a type of that heathendom which is morally allied to it. Against such assumptions there is the parallel with the two definitely historical conceptions, Samaria and Jerusalem, comp. Ezekiel 16:49-50; and the Ammonites and Moabites in particular are just as little Sodomites as Lot was. But this much will be clear from the way in which Jerusalem is placed side by side with Sodom precisely and Samaria,—in other words, with the most notorious sinners ( Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10; Jeremiah 23:14; Revelation 11:8); sinners, too, from whose judgment in long bygone days Jerusalem seemed to herself far removed, just as she despised those most nearly related to herself in lineage who had been carried into exile;—this much will be clear, that over against the sin and the judgment spoken of here, grace and favour are manifestly to be taken in a Messianic point of view, and are meant to be set forth in a way that is full of promise. Comp. Romans 11:32. The promise “soaring far above the censure,” as Hitzig says of the section Ezekiel 16:53-63. The solution of the difficulty, as it is attempted by Calvin, by means of assuming a comminatio a conditions impossibili ( John 15:20),—if Sodom and Samaria, then also thou; but the former not, therefore thou also not,—is supported neither by the letter nor by the connection; we have promise before reaching Ezekiel 16:60 sq. “The restoration Isaiah, as in the case of Job, a lifting up to a stage of existence far surpassing the former,—admission into the kingdom of God and participation in all its blessings” (Hengst.).

Ezekiel 16:56. Such a prospect stands out the more prominently, as the retrospect hinted at in Ezekiel 16:54 appears by its side. שְׁמוּעָה—what is heard, and ought to be marked; hence: tidings, report, what may at the same time serve for instruction, for warning. Sodom had not been taken, either in her sins or in her punishment, by Israel as an intimation to herself, which is to be heard and pondered whenever the topic appeared in her mouth; she merely talked it on its way, without drawing from it instruction or warning for herself, giving herself up as she did at the time to her Sodom-like ( Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 7:20; Ezekiel 7:24) proud boastings. [Häv.: “was not for instruction, so that thy mouth was full of the impression.” Others: “she was not heard in thy mouth; thou didst not think of her, didst not speak of her.” Rosenm.: thou didst not take Sodom’s name at all into thy mouth from mere pride (! ?). Keil: “Sodom was not a discourse in thy mouth, that thou didst talk of her and lay to heart her fate.” Ewald: “although Sodom had no reputation in thy mouth, was defamed by thee, somewhat as thou thyself now art by thine enemies,” etc. Others take the sentence as a question. So Hengst.: “Was not Sodom evil spoken of in thy mouth?” Hitz.: “Was not Sodom a discourse in thy mouth? a theme which thou didst handle in an edifying manner?” Others still, as Luth, Cocc, Klief, take it as a future, against the grammar.]

Ezekiel 16:57. A more exact determination of the time of בְּיוֹם׳. It was before the punishment, to which, and not merely to the sin, the retrospect is directed, just as in Ezekiel 16:53 “miseries” are spoken of in the plural. By means of the punishment the discovery ( Ezekiel 16:37; Ezekiel 16:36) of her wickedness took place, her wicked pride came to shame and dishonour; namely, by means of the impending judgment from the direction of Babylon, which can be looked back to as a thing already accomplished in the past, and that all the more as Jehovah speaks from the standpoint of the promised favour following thereupon. [Ewald translates: “just as thou art now the scorn,” etc. The expression: as at the time, is commonly referred to Isaiah 9:11; 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:5; 2 Chronicles 28:18 sq.; Keil adding 2 Kings 24:2.] Her own experience of punishment, that Sodom in reality came to be heard and felt by her, therefore humbled even earlier the pride of Judah, if not in her own eyes, yet in those of strangers. If, therefore, Sodom was of no use before, if her own experience did her harm, yet by means of the impending discovery of her wickedness, something else is to be brought about. (Hengst.: “By that which she suffered she learned what she had done; she no longer spoke in pride of Sodom with a ‘God, I thank thee,’ but laid her hand upon her own heart.”) The Aramaic (Syrian) cities and nations are to be looked upon, according to Hengst, not as the destroying powers—“in that case Asshur and Babylon would be mentioned”—but as mocking neighbours. Häv. takes them and the daughters of the Philistines to be instruments of the divine avenging justice,—but not with reference to any single occurrence, but in regard to the whole history of the covenant-people, as the northeastern and southern neighbours of the theocracy; and says that not for them alone, but for all her surroundings, the same thing lay in store,—a multitude of punishments, which corresponded at the same time to their hard-heartedness.

Ezekiel 16:58 is taken by others as future. Hitz.: “in the mouth of Jehovah of the certain future: thou must bear.” It Isaiah, as already remarked on Ezekiel 16:57, the standpoint of the certain bestowment of grace, from which the last punishment also is looked upon as one that has already taken place. The aim, the divine intention of Ezekiel 16:54, is reached. Comp. on Ezekiel 16:43.—With the mention of the punishments already over ( Ezekiel 16:57) there is connected this summary sentence, which, pointing to the impending culmination of punishment, brings the matter to a conclusion, in order with Ezekiel 16:59 to make the transition to the opposite.—כִּי gives the reason with divine attestation why it must be Song of Solomon, that it is according to righteousness; not merely, however, in reference to punishment, but ( Ezekiel 16:60) looking beyond to grace as well.—וְעשית, the וְ therefore (also in Ezekiel 16:60) a continuation of the discourse in Ezekiel 16:58. Others: “yea.” The Qeri rightly: וְעָשִׂיתִי, in the first person. Others take it as the second person: thou didst to thyself what thou didst; comp. Romans 2:5.—Oath, Deuteronomy 29:11, 12].—Comp. Ezekiel 16:8.

Ezekiel 16:60. Faithfulness as opposed to unfaithfulness. Leviticus 26:42. See Exodus 19:24.—Comp. Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 31:31; Jeremiah 32:40.

Ezekiel 16:61. In addition to Jehovah’s remembering, we have now the people’s remembering. He remembered His covenant, His faithfulness; they had to remember their ways, their unfaithfulness. The being ashamed is that already alluded to in Ezekiel 16:54 after their experience of penal chastisement; here, however, still more expressly in view of the grace to be experienced. Israel may well receive what is given her. Comp. Ezekiel 16:46; Ezekiel 16:53; Ezekiel 16:55. The plural, however, stretches beyond Samaria and Sodom to the greater and smaller national communities of mankind. For daughters—Rosenm, Hitz.: Jerusalem therefore the metropolis, the capital of the new theocracy. Keil: “because the heathen nations are engrafted in Israel as their stem.” The position of daughter, as it regards the maternal relation of Israel, is clear from John 4:22. Comp. besides Psalm 87.—The expression: and not by thy covenant, is made perfectly clear by John 10:16. Hengst. explains the short, but so much the more forcible, addition from Ezekiel 16:59 : “not because the fulfilment of thy covenant obligations gave thee any claim to it.” Similarly most expositors. But the covenant is always God’s covenant; expressly so in Ezekiel 16:60, as also immediately again in Ezekiel 16:62. Hence “thy covenant” = My covenant with thee in the days of thy childhood, Ezekiel 16:60. The parties in question are designated as “without law,” i.e. as not springing from the law, although not as standing outside the promise. Comp. on Ezekiel 16:8; Romans 2:12; Romans 2:14. And so in Ezekiel 16:62 the everlasting covenant, again resumed with emphatic אְַנִי from Ezekiel 16:60, is represented as pure gospel, as a most gracious fulfilment of promise, as well as, of course, of the law of Israel (“My covenant with thee,” Ezekiel 16:60). But the relation under the law was always temporary, and also local, national, one that passed over into the fulfilment; which indeed drew forth from the law even the latent gospel, and realized it, but which in divine faithfulness brought about the fulfilment of promise in a more general sense (e.g. Genesis 12:3), and which accordingly stretches from eternity to eternity, and for this reason the knowledge of Jehovah is significantly connected with it. ( Exodus 3:14.)

Ezekiel 16:63. לְמַעַן reminds us of Ezekiel 16:54, while at the same time Ezekiel 16:62 is resumed. Remember thy “ways,” the sins thou hast committed.—Be ashamed, comp. Ezekiel 16:52; that is to say, instead of her former pride, which shut her eyes to her deepest corruption and apostasy, but opened her mouth the more shamelessly for self-justification as well as for bringing charges against God.—As the covenant springs from pure mercy and faithfulness, so in its inmost essence it consists in forgiveness of sins.


1. The scene with the adulteress in John 8, whom the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus, might perhaps appear still more significant resting on the background of our chapter. Let it be supposed that Jesus wrote Ezekiel 16. with His finger on the ground, and on the basis of that put forth the well-known challenge of John 8:7.

2. If in respect of the temporary garb this chapter is kept to the Old Testament, it is essentially New Testament in its spirit and design. Paul has not more sharply assailed the Jews, nor more thoroughly stripped them of all their own righteousnesses. Comp. Romans 2:3. The prophet does not even once bring into view their descent from Abraham. That and everything else for him lie sunk in pure sin and misery. Justification by works is here held up even to irony, inasmuch as the greater sinner “justifies” the lesser ones by means of her deeds of abomination. At the close comes salvation.

3. And just as salvation is reached at the close, so our chapter shows itself at once as a way of salvation, from the fact that the actual sin in all its ingratitude and inconceivability, but along with that the natural corruption cleaving to the people of God, is disclosed. For in what blindness does a man live with regard to himself, so long as he lives to sin! The greatness of my sin and misery must ever be the first thing for me to know, if I am to live and die happily in the consolation of the gospel.

4. Inasmuch, however, as the form of the prophetic discourse exhibits in detail a whore and adulteress of the most abandoned description, in order to hold up before the people in the picture a mirror of themselves inwardly, we are, as Cocceius very truly remarks, to make matter of reflection (for this is the object of the description) the much more shameful spiritual unchastity as regards God, even while there may be outward fleshly decency before men. And this all the more as the ordinary judgment of mankind falls so unmercifully upon the fleshly form of manifestation, while it is wont to form a liberal and tolerant estimate of the apostasy from God and the yielding up of the spirit to idols. Cocceius, in this connection, points to Revelation 14:4, and explains the “virgins” spiritually of the true and faithful followers of Jesus.

5. “Our chapter Isaiah, by the keeping up throughout of the figure therein, one of those Scripture passages which vindicate for ever the truth of the Song of Solomon -called mystic interpretation of the Song of Solomon” (Klief.).

6. For the Hebrew nation, which is more essentially a nation than any other, inasmuch as it “does not consist of more or fewer disparate, heterogeneous, and mutually foreign conglomerates, and more or less accidental aggregates, united by accretion from without, but is pre-eminently one individual, one family” (Ziegler). Egypt was the heathen foil, and still more the proper birthplace. There it grew to be a nation from the twelve heads of tribes. The natural potencies, which in this case come likewise to be considered, such as the great fruitfulness of this land, its climate so extraordinarily adapted for population, etc, are still more than met by the antithesis—on the one side monotheistic, on the other side polytheistic—which here lay open, and which prevented a dangerous mixture, and by what sprang from it in the shape of a “great spiritual antipathy and idiosyncrasy of the two nations,” through which a preparation was made for the pregnant development of religio-moral individuality as a nation at Sinai.

7. It is worthy of notice, and the after-effect is always visible in the history of the Jewish people, that they became a nation in a foreign land, in misery, and hence were already a nation before they took possession of the Promised Land.

8. It is one thing, Israel’s becoming a people ( Ezekiel 16:6); it is another, Israel’s becoming the people of Jehovah ( Ezekiel 16:8). In the latter respect the introductory declaration, “I who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,” gives the right key-note for the law of the covenant. In accordance with that it was to be understood as the will of one who was gracious, whose commandments, rightly understood, cannot be grievous. They led to grace, even when they led to the knowledge of sin.

9. Although “the whole of the development of Israel” (Hengst.) is surveyed by the eye of the prophet in the divine discourse, and although Häv. should not deny that regard is had at the same time “to the later history of the nation under David and Song of Solomon,” yet it is principally the first season of youth that is here apostrophized, so that we get a pendant for what is said in Revelation 2:4 about the “first love.” (Comp. especially Ezekiel 16:8 in our chapter.)

10. Häv.: “The departure from Egypt, the giving of the law, the covenant of God with Israel, are facts which, comprehending as they do the choosing and preparation of the people to be a people of God, are of such a kind that they include at the same time the later blessings in germ; these are only the farther realization, confirmation, and development of those divine manifestations of grace there deposited in germ in the midst of the people.”

11. Hengst. asserts that “we are not to think of spiritual benefits,” that “the prophet abides by what is palpable, which the ungodly even, whose consciences he wishes to touch, would necessarily recognise,”—a view against which Häv. rightly remarks, that the material, outward blessings are special, just because they “have in them a spiritual significance,”—because they are “symbols, the concrete embodiment of spiritual verities and heavenly blessings.” This “is clear even from the nature of allegory itself.”

12. The covenant-people are portrayed for us both in their priestly and in their kingly character as a people. The more clearly they appear in this way as chosen out of the world—and thereby in their task, in their destination, for the world—the deeper feeling of ignominy and pain must their identification with the world, nay, in consequence of that, their sinking far below the heathen world, produce as a warning example to Christendom!

13. Marriage and religion here run so much into one another, that the vesture of the thought, the figure, becomes, as it were, the thing itself; and from this ideal hallowing of the institution of marriage there springs a religious and thus a very profound conception of its nature on the Old Testament ground (comp. Malachi 2:14), just as in Ephesians 5:32 we have the New Testament view.

14. Israel’s identifying himself with the world is thorough unfaithfulness, as Israel was offered in the covenant relationship with Jehovah grace to withstand, to ward off, temptation through the world-powers,—is an unfaithful misapplication not only of the gifts of grace and blessings which have come to Israel, but of his state of grace. But he who forgets what manner of man he was, he who has a high opinion of himself, has no desire for grace; and the more he trusts in himself, the more quickly will he squander gifts and blessings. “If once this direction is taken, the wickedness advances farther and farther, unceasingly, with unabashed countenance; it spares no gift of God which it would not bring as an offering to its self-made gods, to itself, and to its sinful lust” (Häv.).

15. Self-exaltation leads from grace, just as self-knowledge leads to grace.

16. With the self-annulling of the relationship to God is bound up the annulling of a nation’s self in its different relations. Where there is no religion, there may be manners, but no morality; neither is there any historical nationality, however much of self-praise it may receive. Godliness is always the true policy, having the promise of the life that now Isaiah, as well as of that which is to come. With its religion a people’s nationality is bound up. (The honouring of God and the national honour. The significance of the religious character of a people as it regards their ethical and national side.)

17. “In the Hebrew worship there was found a theocracy elsewhere unexampled. Originality and independence in the domain of natural religion was wanting in the case of the Hebrews; the fundamental bias produced by the worship of Jehovah left room merely for a pressing in of natural religion, dependent for the most part on outward circumstances. Striking proof how original and deeply rooted monotheism is in Hebraism” (Häv.). Comp. the development of this idea in Saalschütz Archäol. ii. p 382 sq.

18. With this national character of hers as a people of Jehovah, Israel’s polytheistic aberrations are quite as much sins against herself, her true, essential, proper self, as against the Lord her God.

19. The punishment of death is inflicted by the law of Moses either in the shape of burning (? perhaps only of the corpses, after previous stoning), Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9,— Genesis 38:24 appears to be a pre-Mosaic legal usage,—or by stoning, or by the sword. Hanging is not a Mosaic punishment.

20. Grotius drew the inference from our chapter ( Ezekiel 16:38; Ezekiel 16:40), that after Moses’ time the severer punishment of stoning was introduced in the case of adultery; without ground, as Meyer on John 8. rightly decides. It was the legal Mosaic punishment of adultery, perhaps in general, as Häv. on Ezekiel in loco makes very probable, and not merely in cases like Deuteronomy 22:20 sq, 23sq, to which Meyer limits it; although the figurative language used by our prophet in reference to the punishment would have its emphasis if the law had been to decree stoning only in cases so peculiar. (Israel conceived of as betrothed in marriage! Her obligation as a people to virgin-like purity!)

21. It is a fearful development that of Israel—the more grace, the more sin. And yet grace would display itself the more mightily, the more mightily sin had developed itself. “What a great, free kingdom of grace,” says Umbreit, “which the prophet builds up, in which Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem stand before God in a line connected in the closest way!”

22. The key to the interpretation of the restoration held out in prospect for Sodom and Samaria and Jerusalem is the undeniably representative character of all three. As this representative character of Judah-Jerusalem is clear in our prophet,—that is to say, the Jewish people is represented in this, its characteristic remnant,—so it is no less to be admitted in reference to Sodom and Samaria. The addition at the outset in every case, “and their daughters,” by means of which three groups are formed, strips the cities named of their individuality. But it is not the Jordan valley and the laud of the kingdom of Israel, and just as little is it the respective inhabitants, that are to be represented thereby, as it is plain from the connection that no special reference of any kind, either to local circumstances as such, or to persons as such, exists. Both Sodom and Samaria come into view with the prophet merely as regards sin and judgment, and with respect to grace and favour. As regards sin and judgment, they belong to history, and are specialized as regards this historical side of theirs, especially Sodom ( Ezekiel 16:49 sq.); with respect to grace and favour, they are received into the promise concerning the Jewish people, not merely to throw important light on that promise, but to characterize it Messianically as a world-wide prospect for humanity in general. We are not at liberty to say with Hengst.: “Sodom represents the entire heathen world standing in similar circumstances with her.” For what would Samaria represent, as distinguished from her and from Jerusalem? But if sin and judgment indisputably constitute the historical element of Sodom and Samaria, we shall require to express ourselves in this way: Sodom and Samaria set before us, symbolize in general, two sinful states of mankind, which are specially distinguished from each other in this way, that Sodom has sinned and been judged without having the law of the covenant, while Samaria has fallen away from the law of the covenant and exposed herself to judgment. It is not as representing heathendom that Sodom comes into view, but as standing outside the covenant of law; and the difference between Samaria and Jerusalem in respect of the covenant of law, out of which Samaria has fallen, is attested by the mercies which have maintained within Jerusalem and for her the covenant and the law so much longer. If Paul writes in Romans 2. that they who have sinned without law perish also without law, and that they who have sinned in the law are judged by the law, the statement is illustrated by Sodom and Samaria as to the prospect for Jerusalem. But because, with Ezekiel, grace and favour shoot up their beams behind and beyond the judgment, the fact that Sodom and Samaria, in connection with their sinning, are lost, serves indeed the purpose, in respect of righteousness, of placing Jerusalem—exceeding both as she has done in sin and corruption—even lower than them, and consequently of humbling her more deeply; but the deeper the humiliation, the deeper shall be the sense of shame, since grace and favour form the last prospect. A thought such as that expressed by Hengst.: “If God has compassion on the most notorious sinners among the heathen, how should He not have compassion on all?” lies outside our text. In accordance with our text the thought would need to run: If grace lies in prospect for Jerusalem, so much the more must this be the prospect for Sodom and Samaria, how greatly soever Jewish Pharisaism might set its face against it. The fact that the favour held out in prospect is expressed as a “return to their first estate,” explains the “turning” of the captivity, or more generally of the misery, as שׁוּב שִׁבוּת, as a “bringing back,” inasmuch as it is a “returning,” and both alike are figurative modes of speech. As the one takes its colour from Sodom’s judgment, so the other takes its colour from Samaria’s punishment. Sodom must be restored, since she is destroyed; while Samaria would have to be brought back from her misery, since she is in exile—if favour, notwithstanding judgment and after judgment, were to be the thing spoken of. But it is just such favour of which God means to speak to us by the mouth of His prophet. This favour is in the case of Jerusalem assigned indeed to the last time, in so far as the Messianic period is the last time; nothing, however, being said of transferring it to the world to come or to the last judgment, nor of its being delayed till the general restitution of all things. The same must hold good of the parallels, Sodom and Samaria. But Ezekiel 16:61 makes it perfectly clear, inasmuch as the grace lying in store is spoken of there as a receiving into the fellowship of the everlasting covenant with Jerusalem; and Sodom and Samaria, just as they appear manifestly as types of humanity to be made partakers of grace, so far as they themselves are concerned, step into the background. When Stier wishes to explain Ezekiel by means of Matthew 11:24 in reference to Sodom, he drags into the words of our Lord what does not necessarily lie in them. The last day, which according to Stier’s interpretation is to manifest “ways of grace still open” even “in the world to come,” does indeed make manifest those who are saved by grace through faith, as it likewise justifies the righteousness of God in its judgments before the whole world. That it will be more tolerable for Sodom on this day is explained simply enough from the circumstance that her guilt, as also that of Tyre and Sidon, when compared with the guilt of others, will appear as less heinous. But that Sodom will be restored is not said by our Lord in Matthew, any more than He says that Tyre and Sidon will repent. Where Ezekiel speaks of Sodom and Samaria (just as also of Jerusalem), as cities, localities, Sodom is removed from the face of the earth, Samaria lies waste, the style of expression as to “returning to their first estate” is merely colouring. The motto with the prophet, which runs through the Old Testament, in gospel terms is this: I am come to seek and to save that which was lost. This is the Messianic world-wide prospect for mankind, as it is symbolized in Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem.

23. “The prosperity and safety of the olden time is the immediate form under which the prophet beholds also the future,”—just as to be in paradise = to be in heaven; “but presently this future appears also in so ideal a splendour, that that very form bursts asunder, and in truth a new world presents itself to his eye. It is the old God, with the old gifts of His love; but the subjective condition has become a different one, and hence the old blessings also are of a new kind, and the whole state in consequence has become one far more exalted, far more glorious than the old” (Häv.).

[“It is as if an assurance were given to a child, whose family had become enveloped in misfortune, that he should live to see the former prosperity return again; but meanwhile he himself springs up to manhood, and, having now other wants to satisfy, and higher relations to fill than formerly, the revived prosperity must bring new and nobler gifts within his reach, to place him in the same relative position he originally occupied. In short, the bringing back of the captivity, and returning to the former state, as applied to the covenant-people, indicates nothing as to the outward form of things to be enjoyed, but points only to their nature, and character, as similar to what had already been” (Fairbairn).—W. F.]

24. Hengst. wishes to find, in the circumstance that in Ezekiel 16:53; Ezekiel 16:55 (just as also in Isaiah 19:23-24) Israel takes only the third place, a hint that the heathen world will attain sooner to salvation, and a preparation for Romans 11:25 (?). Again, the “comforting” of Ezekiel 16:54 is to be explained from Ezekiel 16:61], and is meant to signify the preaching of the gospel ( Isaiah 40.), which will come at first from an election of Jews (the apostles) to the heathen. The high honour of this mission to the heathen world will fill with deep shame, because of the earlier apostasy. There is no question, at all events, as to the remark that the kingdom of God “can only for a time be limited to a single nation, and the limitation must be the means of removing the limitation.”

25. Häv.: (1) “The old covenant appears as the foundation, the presupposition, of the new, so that the latter rests on the former. The new institute of salvation is not the dissolution, but the fulfilment, the confirmation, and completion of the old. (2) It is characteristic of the new covenant that it is to be an everlasting covenant. But the eternity of duration already promised to the old covenant nevertheless stands fast, inasmuch as the old covenant rises into and passes over into a covenant of such a kind that its dissolution is not to be thought of.” Comp. besides our exposition of Ezekiel 16:61 sq.

26. “Vain is the boast which Rome takes up against Jerusalem. For it is not from Rome that the gospel has gone forth, but from Jerusalem; just as it is also not to the Romans alone that it has forced its way. We are children of Jerusalem, but not of Rome. If Rome will be saved, she must become a daughter of Jerusalem; and this means that Rome must in this case accept the law which has gone forth from Jerusalem, and dare not accept or deliver aught else. But Jerusalem has begun to show herself as a mother, inasmuch as the apostles and believers from Jerusalem have preached the gospel to us” (Cocc).


Ezekiel 16:1 sq. “As a physician, when he wishes to heal a wound thoroughly, must probe it to the bottom, so a teacher, when he wishes to convert men thoroughly, must first seek to bring them to a knowledge of their sins” (Cr.).—“The man is thoroughly sick who does not wish to hear how sick he Isaiah, lest he should be compelled to know and believe it. But such is the sinner, who reckons himself as righteous” (Stck.).—“Without the knowledge of sin, repentance and conversion are not to be thought of. We know indeed already by nature that we ought not to kill, to steal, etc.; but because through inborn defect our natural knowledge is very much obscured, God has given the ten commandments, to set the law of nature in a clearer light; and the prophets are the expounders of the ten commandments. In other men we perceive at once the sins which we do not discover in ourselves. To ourselves we are indulgent, especially if we err in the service of God, since we are always clinging to the view that what we did with a good intention cannot possibly displease God. So much the more must the prophets drag our sins to the light” (Luther).

Ezekiel 16:2. “Those who are in the Church, and yet live an ungodly life, are to be considered the same as the heathen before God, Matthew 18:17” (Tüb. Bib.).

Ezekiel 16:3. “What Jerusalem had to listen to in the passage before us! And yet what would have to be said of our extraction, as to who we are, and from what heathen we are sprung?” (Jer.)

Ezekiel 16:4. The abuse of benefits increases guilt. Hence the preaching of those conferred by God on the Jewish people, as here by Ezekiel, is a thorough carrying out of the original commission: Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.

Ezekiel 16:5 sq. It is above all as seen in contrast with our natural corruption that we come to understand the grace of God the Father in Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Song of Solomon, through the Holy Spirit.—“How did it stand with ourselves, before God stretched forth His hand to us, and brought us out of the filth of our sins? We are born children of wrath; we lie under guilt for our sins; we must have died eternally, had we not been quickened through Christ, Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 Corinthians 6:12” (Luther).—Where none helps, God is our help.—“Priest and Levite pass by; God does not. He not only will, but He also can help. His looking upon us is already help” (Stck.).—Remembering a good preparation (for the table of the Lord also): (1) let us remember what we are by nature; (2) let us remember still more God’s grace.

Ezekiel 16:8 sq. “This is the second gracious visitation of God; the first is in Ezekiel 16:6 sq.” (Schmieder.)

Ezekiel 16:9 sq. “With such grace God comes to meet us, when as the compassionate Father He comes to meet His prodigal sons ( Luke 15.), embraces them, and by His promises and so many proofs of His love takes away our unbelief, and enters into covenant with us. This takes place when He forgives us our sins, imparts to us His Spirit, and frees us from the bondage of sin. But as those who have the gift of freedom bestowed upon them change their clothes, so we put on our Lord Jesus Christ, and are numbered with the royal priesthood ( Colossians 3:12-13)” (Heim-Hoff.).—“Observe that God not only washed, but also anointed; in other words, He not only forgives our sins, but at the same time sanctifies us by His Spirit” (Cocc.).—“Do you wish to know what articles of clothing these really are? Compassion, kindness,” etc. (Jer.)—“But the adorning of godly women is not to be that which is outward, but the new man inwardly, 1 Peter 3:3 sq,; Galatians 5:22” (Starke).—“The kingdom of glory is reached by those only who keep the faith to the end” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:14. “A name of renown is no small favour from God, but one ought not to pride himself in it, Matthew 3:9” (O.).—“There is no name of greater glory and renown than to be a child of God. Strive to bear this name with truth, Hosea 1:10” (Starke).

Ezekiel 16:15. “The divine gifts, so soon as we cease to recognise them as such, inevitably become a snare. The heart that has grown proud by means of them becomes the sport of all lusts and passions” (Hengst.).—Ingratitude is the reward of the world; it was so even in the case of the nation placed in so splendid a position in the heathen world, and that in reference to the Lord. What a mirror for Christendom!—“How many a one has been corrupted by beauty!” (Stck.)—“Beauty, whence comes it? is it not also a divine gift? Who can make himself beautiful? And should it not serve to keep what is unbeautiful, to keep vice far from us? And how soon is beauty gone!” (Luther.)—Prosperity without piety, in nine cases out of ten, leads to corruption.—“This is a worm which gnaws and destroys the most precious souls, and renders the commandments of no effect, when the man is content with the praise of men, and boasts himself as if his own doings were enough for him. Beware, therefore, of trusting in thine own will, because it is nothing without God’s assistance. When you have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants. ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy’ ( Romans 9:16). It is the Lord’s will that we should place our confidence in this, that our names are written in heaven” (Heim-Hoff, after Calv.).—“The name of a Christian is not enough, if the walk of a Christian does not go along with it” (Stck.).—“The more distinguished thou art among men, the more watchful over thyself thou shouldst be” (Luther).

Ezekiel 16:16 sq. “What is there that men do not spend upon sinful objects, and especially upon false worship!—All that thou offerest to the idols: tell us, then, earthly-minded Prayer of Manasseh, what hast thou offered in thy life to God?” (Starke.)—New patches upon an old garment; here, as so often, upon the old idolatry!—“Observe that those who fall away from the true religion are accustomed to walk at the head of processions, and would fain even excel others through their superstition, so that the latter are even displeased” (Luther).

Ezekiel 16:17 sq. There is a systematic theology, professing to be biblical, after this pattern, where the gold and silver of Holy Scripture are wrought up into doctrinal statements and practical inferences according to one’s own liking, under splendid wrappings (phrases), and by means of an eloquence that reminds one of better times.—“The true God clothes and feeds His own; but the false gods must be clothed and fed by their worshippers, and for this purpose God’s gifts are to serve” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:20 sq. “God’s right not only to the grown up, but also to their children, is not merely in virtue of creation and preservation, but in virtue of the covenant” (Starke).—“The extent of the grace which was promised to Abraham must be recognised in the Church of Christ also. Christ imparts the sparks of His Spirit to whom He will; and hence many in the first years of childhood have a purer fear of God than those who are grown up. And therefore in the worship of the Church, and especially in baptism, the grace of the new birth for children of God is ascribed to little children even, in dependence on the promise: I am thy God, and the God of thy seed” (Heim-Hoff.).—“Thou darest not, O false, hypocritical Christian, hold thyself to be righteous as compared with the Jews, because thou hast an abhorrence of what they did; for the rearing of thy children for the devil and the world is certainly not better” (Berl. Bib.).—“God retains His right over our children; and so He does thee no wrong when He summons them away from thee into heaven” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:22 sq. The ungodly and idolatrous have a bad memory. It is the memory that the devil seeks first to steal from man. When memory comes back to us through grace, how our eyes are filled with tears! Sometimes the dying hour draws aside the veil from our memory. Oh, let it not come so late!

Ezekiel 16:25. “The beauty is the national honour, a noble boon bestowed by God, which not to esteem, but to prostitute, is a sign of deep degeneracy and alienation from God” (Hengst.).

Ezekiel 16:26. “Ofttimes neighbours entice one another to sin” (Starke).

Ezekiel 16:27. Even upon Israel’s most wicked ways God’s hand is ever discernible still.

Ezekiel 16:28 sq. There is an insatiable hunger in sin.—“With God’s word, on the other hand, men become so quickly satiated” (Stck.).—“Without repentance we go from sin to sin” (Jer.).—“Our heart has no rest until it rests in God” (Augustine).—“If we are too intimately connected with the ungodly, it is just as if we went near a fan, and made it blow up our evil desires, which without that are already burning sufficiently in our soul. It is difficult to keep the favour of those with whom we are on terms of friendship, if we do not agree with them” (Heim-Hoff.).

Ezekiel 16:30. “A withered heart, a heart that has lost its sap and vigour ( Psalm 32:4), is the heritage of those who seek in the world what God alone can impart. Hope always disappointed is the enemy of life.”

Ezekiel 16:31. Where wickedness has grown into a habit, everything becomes a means to the end, for its only wish is to gratify its lust.

Ezekiel 16:32. “Those who serve God and Mammon, Christ and Belial, are in the same condemnation” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:35 sq. The punishment of God begins with the holding up before us of our sins; and thus our evil conscience is the announcement of yet another condemnation.—God’s word and Spirit never flatter, but call sinner and sin by their right name.—Such is the relation in which God stands to whoredom; how different the position taken up by states and cities toward it, that still wish to be called Christian!—To hear while it is yet time, to hear the voices of grace, saves us from being compelled to hear the sentence of punishment.

Ezekiel 16:37. False, sinful love readily passes over into fierce hate, which is also a judicial sentence of God, even in this life.—Such is the case also with boon companionship, gambling companionship, and similar worldly friendships.—This is the curse of sin, that those with whom we have sinned make common cause with our enemies for our punishment.—“The penal uncovering of the nakedness is the righteous retribution for having done so voluntarily” (Hengst.).—Friends may in certain circumstances be the most painful rods in God’s hand.—Keep me, O God, from friends who are not Thy friends.

Ezekiel 16:38 sq. The history of the world, still more the history of the Church, most of all the history of the Jewish people, shows a retribution at work, and proves at the same time the existence of a Judge.—To be in the enemy’s hand does not, in the case of faith, exclude the comfort of knowing that we are in God’s hand; but for the ungodly it is a sign that God has given them up.—Those are the most awful scenes of burning, in whose ruins we see ourselves pointed away beyond man altogether to the righteous God. In this way Jerusalem has become a parallel to the Dead Sea.—He who refuses to obey God must in the end obey men.

Ezekiel 16:40. The sin public; the shame public; the judgment public.

Ezekiel 16:41. “God can easily bring it about that we shall sin no more; in other words, that even if we wish it as before, we shall be able to go no farther” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:42. If the sin ceases, the wrath ceases, it rests over the sinner; and so the nationality of Israel has ceased among the nations.—God’s resting, His being no longer angry, may be hell.—The extremity of judgment is such indifference on the part of God. Ezekiel 16:43 sq. All sin becomes still worse from its being a crime against God’s grace. “Against Thee, Thee only,” is the so thoroughly damning element in sin.—“The sins and bad habits of parents do not excuse the children, but render them the more guilty, because they have not shunned ways so wicked” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:47 sq. When sin has grown to madness, the most horrible depths of corruption disclose themselves just in the case of those who have had most to do with God’s word.—A man of the world cannot possibly sin like one who has formerly been a “Christian.”—What sinner in Israel did not reckon himself a pious Prayer of Manasseh, if not a saint, as compared with Sodom! How different is God’s judgment from men’s judgment upon others and upon themselves!

Ezekiel 16:49 sq. Good days may become bad weeks, a bad eternity,—Unmercifulness shows that we ourselves have not obtained mercy.—If we are to be ashamed before Sodom and Samaria, how much more before the penitent thief upon the cross!

Ezekiel 16:51 sq. The mote and beam, as in Matthew 7.—In judging of sins, many a thing has to be considered which God alone can know. Hence we should not wish to Judges, but should leave the judgment to God.—Justification before men, and justification before God; justification from men in word, through their praise, or in actual fact, through their greater guilt; and justification from God, in His word, through Christ’s work.

Ezekiel 16:53 sq. “Teachers and preachers must preach not only the law, but also the gospel” (O.).—However great our sin and misery may be, there Isaiah, a redemption from all.—“What the prophet here predicts has been fulfilled in the Church, and is being fulfilled still daily” (Jer.).—The gospel proclaims and promises return from captivity, and restoration of the divine image alike to the grossest sinners, and to the apostates who have fallen away from the truth, and also to those who boast themselves of Moses and the prophets, yea, of Christ and the apostles, but who shall the more righteously fall under judgment if they do not repent.—“In the case of spiritual captivity we must think of the jailor, of the chains, and of the bondage. But from Satan’s yoke, and the chains of darkness, and from wicked works, Christ leads us to freedom” (Stck.).

Ezekiel 16:54. “This is a beautiful revenge and a blessed retribution on God’s part, the shaming of the sinner by means of grace” (Cocc.).—To be ashamed of salvation, and to be ashamed because of so great salvation, how different are these two things!

Ezekiel 16:55. It is a bringing back, the restoration of the nations to a united humanity in the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, the new heavens and the new earth, the creation of redemption.

Ezekiel 16:56. “How many rejoice in the calamity of others, and do not reflect that perhaps a still greater one hangs over their own head! Proverbs 24:17” (Starke).—The stones of the temple at Jerusalem cry loud enough in the ear of Christendom!

Ezekiel 16:57. The day of judgment makes bare.—“In this life much remains hidden, but the last day will make manifest thoughts as well as words and actions” (Stck.).—In the end, and—if one looks deep enough—already even, he who despises God and is cast off by Him is despised by men likewise.

Ezekiel 16:58. “He who seems to bear sin lightly will find the punishment so much the heavier.”

Ezekiel 16:59. God deals with us according to our works, and He does not deal with us according to our works; both already in this world, but thoroughly only in the world to come.—God’s remembering His grace produces the everlasting covenant.—“Believers have no right to assume or imagine that they have been reconciled to God from any other cause than from the grace of the covenant” (Calv.).

Ezekiel 16:61. Our remembering is never without shame on our part.—God’s grace awakens, sharpens memory also.—“The remembrance of our former state of sin ought to humble us thoroughly, but at the same time to awaken us to the gratitude we owe to God for having shown us so great mercy, 1 Corinthians 15:9-10” (Starke).

Ezekiel 16:63. “God is willing to remit not one and another sin merely, but all our sins” (Luther).—“In this chapter, as in Romans 1. sq, God makes a complete disclosure of the abominations of sin, but for the purpose in grace of also covering them up wholly” (Richt.).—“The justification of grace takes away from those who have come to know their sin thoroughly all boasting of their own merits, Romans 3:24” (Starke).—Our being struck dumb in judgment, our being struck dumb from grace.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

Wells of Living Water Commentary

A Story of Redemption

Ezekiel 16:1-17


We want to bring before you the natural inheritance of all men; that is, we want to discuss what we were by nature, before grace found us.

1. We were sinners by nature. "In sin did my mother conceive me," is still true. Indeed, the words describe every son born of the Adamic race. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. There is no use to cavil about it. All are sinners by nature. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing."

2. We were children of wrath. This is true for the simple reason that "The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Dare any of us think that we shall escape the judgment of God? If all have sinned, then all are under wrath, and there is no difference.

3. We were sons of disobedience. We are not only sinners by nature, but we are sinners by act. We have turned every one to his own way. We have together become unprofitable. There is none righteous, no, not one. There is not a righteous man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not.

4. We are guilty before God and without excuse. Men may be ever seeking to excuse their sin; but they are, in fact, inexcusable. They may seek to hide themselves away from God, but that is sheer folly, God has said, "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."

5. We were under condemnation. Over the head of every sinner stands the fiat of God, "Condemned already." Men need not wait until the Great White Throne judgment to discover whether they are condemned they are now under condemnation. The handwriting on the wall, "Weighed and found wanting," is already there.

6. We were serving divers lusts. In the times past we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. We lived fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. We were living in pleasure. We were given over to vile affections.

7. We were without hope, and without God in the world. Behind us was our life of sin, and before us was death, hell, and the judgment. We were strangers to the Covenant of promise; we were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.

We had no part and no lot in Christ. We were like some ship lost at sea, with no port in sight, no rescue boat at hand. To us was reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

All this we were, and much more, in the day that God found us in our sin, and spoke unto us in words of love and redemption.


1. No eye pitied us. Think of it. In the day when we were born there was no one to wash our sins away to change our nature and make it holy and sinless. Our dearest friends, our parents in the flesh, were all helpless to do this for us. This picture drawn by the Spirit is a striking one.

Every babe is carefully cared for in all those natural rites that belong to them. The babe itself is helpless to do any of these natural, and yet necessary, things for its health and comfort, but almost without exception it is done, to the best of their ability, by those who love and care for babes.

However, in the spiritual realm, the whole world, in its wisdom and care, stands helpless to give spiritual washings or aid of any kind. They leave their babes cast out into the open field in their blood and sinful shame. Thus the words, "Thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all," stand forth before us in unmistakable meaning.

2. Thou wast cast out to the loathing of thy person. Just so. The open field suggests the great throbbing world into which a babe sooner or later finds itself cast upon its own. What a world it is! It is so unsympathetic, so helpless to assist, so hardened in its heart, and so warped in its vision of eternal realities and spiritualities.

There is where babes are cast to the loathing of their persons. How early does the sin of the heart begin to show itself! Even our dearest friends see in us the seeds of death. "Sin and decay in all around I see" is true in us as well as in the rest of the world of men.

3. None did any of these things for us. There is not in all the world enough righteousness to clothe one poor lost sinner and make him fit for Heaven. Their robes are soiled by sin. There is not enough wisdom in all the world to do these necessary spiritual things for the sinner.


1. I passed by thee. Thank God that He did not place man in this lone world to spin out and on into space, neglected and forgotten. Nay, He passed by. In order to pass by, He had to come to where we were, and this He did. Indeed, Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us. He came forth from the Father, and came into this world.

2. I saw thee. Here is another word of meaning. He saw us in our blood. He saw us cast out to the loathing of our person. He saw us in our need. With what kind of eye did He look at us when we were yet in our sins? It was a look of compassion, of pity, of mercy, and of love.

What did He see? He saw our helplessness, our shame, our lost estate. He saw that there was no one to help. He saw, and immediately He set Himself to work out our deliverance, and to meet our need.

3. I said, LIVE. Here is the core of the matter. The Lord spoke a word of life. He found us dead in trespasses and sins, and He said, Live. He found us without life, and He gave us His life. Hallelujah! The sinner is not left to fit his old life into a new walk. The flesh, in its sinful nature, could not live a life Divine.

God knew that the only hope of the sinner was a new begetting a new life. Therefore He said, Live. How empty is a Christian experience apart from regeneration! To attempt to live a Christian life apart from this is altogether vain. "Ye must be born again."


1.Ezekiel 16:8Ezekiel 16:8 says, "I * * entered into a covenant with thee." Here is one of the blessed truths of salvation, tucked away in Ezekiel 16:1-63 . This covenant signifies that God undertakes in behalf of those whom He saves. He gives them His promise that He will see them through. In Ephesians it reads this way, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth * *: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the Earnest of our inheritance."

2.Ezekiel 16:8Ezekiel 16:8 also says, "Thou becamest mine." We are His; He is ours. Here is a union unbreakable. He calls us His own, His jewels, His inheritance, His joy. In First Corinthians it runs like this: "Know ye not that * * ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price." All things are indeed ours. The ministry is ours, things present are ours, things to come are ours, Christ is ours all is ours excepting ourselves, and we are God's.

3.Ezekiel 16:9Ezekiel 16:9 says, "Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed * * thee." Saints wear a robe washed in the Blood of the Lamb. We are made white, and are without spot or blemish or any such thing. This is true by His grace. There is, also, another truth. We are saved and then washed from our old blood. We are saved and delivered from the old way and walk. Our new man is created in righteousness and true holiness; our old man is now to be put off; he is to be reckoned dead, he is no longer to rule and reign in our lives.

Hearken! He who saved us, and washed us, wants us to keep ourselves clean. He says, "Little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous."

When Lazarus came out of the grave, Christ said, "Loose him, and let him go." The Lord wants us to be freed from the old graveclothes. Let us therefore get this twofold message: first, we have His washing through His Blood, His imputed righteousness; then we have His deliverance from the dominion and power of sin, lest we quickly stain our raiment.

IV. I ANOINTED THEE WITH OIL (Ezekiel 16:9 , l.c.)

That the oil signifies the Holy Spirit, all Bible interpreters agree.

1. We are begotten by the Spirit. We are familiar with the Scripture, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." We read of how the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, therefore that Holy Thing which was born of her was called the Son of God. A similar word may be said of us: the Holy Spirit came upon us, and God's power overshadowed us, and the new life begotten within us, acclaims us a son of God. Yes, we are the children of God because we are begotten of God.

2. We are indwelt by the Spirit. The Spirit which gave us birth enters in to dwell with us. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."

Again it is written, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you * *?" Because we are sons, God hath sent forth His Spirit to dwell in us.

The indwelling Spirit is the key to every advancement in Christian living. He is our Teacher, our Guide, our Helper. He walks at our side; He fills us with the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, etc.

3. We are anointed with the Spirit. In Christ's final messages, He told the eleven to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high.

This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, when they were all filled with the Spirit. Peter gave the promise of the Spirit unto the converts at Pentecost, and to all that were afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God should call.

The truth is that saints are commanded not to be drunk with wine, wherein is riot, but to be filled with the Spirit. All believers have the indwelling of the Spirt, but only yielded believers, who have received the Spirit by faith, have the infilling of the Spirit. Let every one who takes up this study ask himself this solemn question: Have I that filling of the Spirit that anointing from God? It is thus alone that we may be prepared to serve.

V. I CLOTHED THEE (Ezekiel 16:10-13 )

1. He clothes us with His own righteousness. The lovely robes of our verses speak of those Divine attributes which are His, and which He puts unto us.

First, therefore, we suggest that the robes which He puts upon us stand for His own righteousness. This is ours by faith in Christ.

2. He clothes us with all those virtues which are the beauties of His own holiness. He puts His character on us. His love, joy, peace, goodness, long-suffering, patience, and all the things which are pure, and holy, and good, He places on us.

The result is that we are arrayed in beauty, because, as Ezekiel 16:14 says, "Thy beauty * * it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon, thee, saith the Lord God."

3. What was the result of our being clothed with His comeliness? Here it is, "And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty." Herein is a holy truth. We, as Christians, are nothing within ourselves. We neither parade our own glory, nor do we tell of our own greatness. The new man finds the Lord his "All in all." We are robed with His peace, for He said, "My peace I give unto you." We have His joy, for He said, "That My joy might remain in you." His love is our love, because it is written, "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

Where is boasting then? It is excluded, because, by the grace of God we are what we are. We have nothing except it be given us of God.

VI. I FED THEE (Ezekiel 16:13 )

Here are the words of our verse: "Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil."

1. He Himself is our food. Just as He was our beautiful robes, He is also our flour, and honey, and oil. Do we not remember the words of the Lord, "I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven." Again He said, "I am the Bread of Life." And yet again, "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life * *. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed."

As we gather around the Lord's Table, from time to time, we do so in remembrance of His body and His Blood. This is also significant of the fact that He is our Bread and Drink. The bread is His body; the wine, His Blood, in sacred symbolism.

The slain lamb at the Passover Feast was also typical of Christ's broken body and shed Blood. The blood of the lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts, and the carcass of the lamb was eaten after its cooking.

This all teaches us that Christ is not only our Life, but He is also the Sustainer of our life.

2. The Word of God is our bread. The Bible says, "Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby." Again it is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Thus Job said, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."

Thus we are able to know the deeper meanings of the expression in our key verse, "Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil." Here is flour nourishment for bread is the staff of life. Here is honey, for His Word is sweet to the taste. Here is oil, for His Word is Spirit-filled, and meets every spiritual need.


It is sad that after all the beauty of the picture of redemption, we have the balance of the chapter portraying the perfidy of Israel. God had done everything for her; now she goes out and plays the harlot with the people of the world. The result of this is seen by us all today. Israel is at this moment in deepest distress, all because she cast off the Lord her God and followed after other loves.

1. Her renown, and God-given glory caused her to become proud and self-centered. God gave her beauty and she used it to lure the world. God gave her beautiful raiment, and she wore it seeking the world's admiration. God gave her honor, and she sought the honor of men. God gave her wealth, and she wasted it on the world.

Let us mark some of the Divine statements:

1. "Thou didst trust in thine own beauty."

2. Thou "playedst the harlot because of thy renown."

3. "Of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours."

4. "Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of My gold and of My silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images."

1. Thou "tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them."

2. "Thou hast set Mine oil and Mine incense before them."

3. "My * * fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour."

2. The pronouncement of God's curse. "And it came to pass after all thy wickedness (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord God)." Can it be that God could do other than pronounce a woe upon the people who went so far from Him? They scattered their ways under every green tree, and God said, "Woe unto thee!"


Let us never fail God as did Israel, but let us preach faithfully the blessed Gospel of redemption, with a sincere and earnest heart.

"Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the ex-President of the United States, has given an interesting impression of his contact with D. L. Moody. 'I was in a barber's shop, sitting in a chair, when I became aware that a personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, and sat in the chair next to me. Every word that he uttered showed a personal and vital interest in the man who was serving him; and before I got through with what was being done to me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. Moody was in the next chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he left, and noted the singular effect his visit had upon the barbers in that shop. They talked in undertones. They did not know his name, but they knew that something had elevated their thought. And I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.' The secret of Moody's power was that he was 'always abounding' (1 Corinthians 15:58 )."

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Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Living Water".

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

God's Kindness to Israel. B. C. 593.

6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. 7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. 8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. 9 Then washed I thee with water yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. 10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. 14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.

In there verses we have an account of the great things which God did for the Jewish nation in raising them up by degrees to be very considerable. 1. God saved them from the ruin they were upon the brink of in Egypt (Ezekiel 16:6): "When I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thy own blood, loathed and abandoned, and appointed to die, as sheep for the slaughter, then I said unto thee, Live. I designed thee for life when thou wast doomed to destruction, and resolved to save thee from death." Those shall live to whom God commands life. God looked upon the world of mankind as thus cast off, thus cast out, thus polluted, thus weltering in blood, and his thoughts towards it were thoughts of good, designing it life, and that more abundantly. By converting grace, he says to the soul, Live. 2. He looked upon them with kindness and a tender affection, not only pitied them, but set his love upon them, which was unaccountable, for there was nothing lovely in them but I looked upon thee, and, behold, thy time was the time of love, Ezekiel 16:8. It was the kindness and love of God our Saviour that sent Christ to redeem us, that sends the Spirit to sanctify us, that brought us out of a state of nature into a state of grace. That was a time of love indeed, distinguishing love, when God manifested his love to us, and courted our love to him. Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour, Song of Song of Solomon 8:10. 3. He took them under his protection: "I spread my skirt over thee, to shelter thee from wind and weather, and to cover thy nakedness, that the shame of it might not appear." Boaz spread his skirt over Ruth, in token of the special favour he designed her, Ruth 3:9. God took them into his care, as an eagle bears her young ones upon her wings, Deuteronomy 32:11,12. When God owned them for his people, and sent Moses to Egypt to deliver them, which was an expression of the good-will of him that dwelt in the bush, then he spread his skirt over them. 4. He cleared them from the reproachful character which their bondage in Egypt laid them under (Ezekiel 16:9): "Then washed I thee with water, to make thee clean, and anointed thee with oil, to make thee sweet and supple thee." All the disgrace of their slavery was rolled away when they were brought, with a high hand and a stretched-out arm, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. When God said, Israel is my son, my first-born--Let my people go, that they may serve me, that word, backed as it was with so many works of wonder, thoroughly washed away their blood and when God led them under the convoy of the pillar of cloud and fire he spread his skirt over them. 5. He multiplied them and built them up into a people. This is here mentioned (Ezekiel 16:7) before his spreading his skirt over them, because their numbers increased exceedingly while they were yet bond-slaves in Egypt. They multiplied as the bud of the field in spring time they waxed great, exceedingly mighty, Exodus 1:7,20. Their breasts were fashioned when they were formed into distinct tribes and had officers of their own (Exodus 5:19) their hair grew when they grew numerous, whereas they had been naked and bare, very few and therefore contemptible. 6. He admitted them into covenant with himself. See what glorious nuptials this poor forlorn infant is preferred to at last. How she is dignified who at first had scarcely her life given her for a prey: I swore unto thee and entered into covenant with thee. This was done at Mount Sinai: "when the covenant between God and Israel was sealed and ratified then thou becamest mine." God called them his people, and himself the God of Israel. Note, Those to whom God gives spiritual life he takes into covenant with himself by that covenant they become his subjects and servants, which intimates their duty--his portion, his treasure, which intimates their privilege and it is confirmed with an oath, that we might have strong consolation. 7. He beautified and adorned them. This maid cannot forget her ornaments, and she is gratified with abundance of them, Ezekiel 16:10-13. We need not be particular in the application of these. Her wardrobe was well furnished with rich apparel they had embroidered work to wear, shoes of fine badgers' skins, linen girdles, and silk veils, bracelets and necklaces, jewels and ear-rings, and even a beautiful crown, or coronet. Perhaps this may refer to the jewels and other rich goods which they took from the Egyptians, which might well be spoken of thus long after as a merciful circumstance of their deliverance, when it was spoken of long before, Genesis 15:14. They shall come out with great substance. Or it may be taken figuratively for all those blessings of heaven which adorned both their church and state. In a little time they came to excellent ornaments, Ezekiel 16:7. The laws and ordinances which God gave them were to them as ornaments of grace to the head and chains about the neck, Proverbs 1:9. God's sanctuary, which he set up among them, was a beautiful crown upon their head it was the beauty of holiness. 8. He fed them with abundance, with plenty, with dainty: Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil--manna, angels' food--honey out of the rock, oil out of the flinty rock. In Canaan they did eat bread to the full, the finest of the wheat, Deuteronomy 32:13,14. Those whom God takes into covenant with himself are fed with the bread of life, clothed with the robe of righteousness, adorned with the graces and comforts of the spirit. The hidden man of the heart is that which is incorruptible. 9. He gave them great reputation among their neighbours, and made them considerable, acceptable to their friends and allies and formidable to their adversaries: Thou didst prosper into a kingdom (Ezekiel 16:13), which speaks both dignity and dominion and, They renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty, Ezekiel 16:14. The nations about had their eye upon them, and admired them for the excellent laws by which they were governed, the privilege they had of access to God, Deuteronomy 4:7,8. Solomon's wisdom, and Solomon's temple, were very much the renown of that nation and, if we put all the privileges of the Jewish church and kingdom together, we must own that it was the most accomplished beauty of all the nations of the earth. The beauty of it was perfect you could not name the thing that would be the honour of a people but it was to be found in Israel, in David's and Solomon's time, when that kingdom was in its zenith-piety, learning, wisdom, justice, victory, peace, wealth, and all sure to continue if they had kept close to God. It was perfect, saith God, through my comeliness which I had put upon thee, through the beauty of their holiness, as they were a people set apart for God, and devoted to him, to be to him for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory. It was this that put a lustre upon all their other honours and was indeed the perfection of their beauty. We may apply this spiritually. Sanctified souls are truly beautiful they are so in God's sight, and they themselves may take the comfort of it. But God must have all the glory, for they were by nature deformed and polluted, and, whatever comeliness they have, it is that which God has put upon them and beautified them with, and he will be well pleased with the work of his own hands.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

In this chapter God's dealings with the Jewish nation, and their conduct towards him, are described, and their punishment through the surrounding nations, even those they most trusted in. This is done under the parable of an exposed infant rescued from death, educated, espoused, and richly provided for, but afterwards guilty of the most abandoned conduct, and punished for it; yet at last received into favour, and ashamed of her base conduct. We are not to judge of these expressions by modern ideas, but by those of the times and places in which they were used, where many of them would not sound as they do to us. The design was to raise hatred to idolatry, and such a parable was well suited for that purpose.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

When I passed by thee: see Ezekiel 16:6, of the phrase. This second passing by may well be understood of God’s visiting them and calling them out of Egypt.

Looked upon thee: see the phrase Ezekiel 16:6.

Thy time was the time of love; the time of thy misery was the time of love and pity in me towards thee, and the time of thy grown beautified state was the time of my love of delight, when I rejoiced in thee, and espoused thee to be my wife. Thy time, i.e. the season fittest for the discovery of my purposes towards thee, was the time of love, which is expressed in what follows in the verse,

I spread my skirt over thee, i.e. betrothed thee, as Ruth 3:9 Deuteronomy 22:30, engaged by marriage to love, cherish, protect, and safeguard.

Covered thy nakedness; what was and would be thy reproach my love and bounty covered, I clothed thee with spoils of Egypt, and gave time flocks, with the wool whereof thou mightest clothe thyself. If you take it figuratively, I covered all thy filthiness, and washed it away.

I sware unto thee; gave thee the greatest, most inviolable, and solemn assurance of my conjugal love, care, and faithfulness.

Entered into a covenant with thee: this was done at Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:5.

Saith the Lord God: the truth of all which the Lord doth avow in this form of asseveration.

Thou becamest mine; by the obligations of my kindness thou couldst be no less, by thy own voluntary act and consent, by promise and profession, Exodus 19:7,8.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“Now when I passed by you and looked on you, behold your time was the time for love. And I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord Yahweh, and you became mine.”

The time moves on and Israel was maturing. The Great Deliverer again passed by and recognised that it was time to take Israel as His wife because she had reached ‘the time for love’. The spreading of the skirt of his long cloak over her indicated taking her under his protection and an acceptance of her as His betrothed (Ruth 3:9). Thus she who had been naked was no longer naked. She was His, and covered by Him. This incident almost certainly refers to the Sinai covenant, and Sinai made provision to deal with the problem of Israel’s sin And this is confirmed by the words that follow.

‘Yes, I swore to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord Yahweh, and you became mine.’ While the covenant represents marriage in the story (compare Proverbs 2:17; Malachi 2:14), the use of the term ‘covenant’, rather than ‘married you’, confirms that it refers to Yahweh’s covenant with His people. Compare Exodus 19:4-6 together with Deuteronomy 28:9; Exodus 24:8. These were precisely the promises of the Sinai covenant.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 16. Jerusalem the Ungrateful, the Unfaithful.—Again Ezekiel returns to the indictment which justifies the doom. This time it takes the form of a merciless exposure, in allegorical form, of her sins, which, from the beginning to the end of her history, constitute one unbroken record of black apostasy. Jerusalem (or Israel) is compared to an infant girl, abandoned immediately after birth, but saved, brought up, and married by Yahweh, whose care and love she rewarded with infidelities gross and innumerable. The idea is elaborated with a detail often offensive to modern taste, but the whole passage palpitates with moral indignation and religious passion, and is not seldom dashed with the bitterest irony.

. Yahweh's Kindness.—Jerusalem (i.e. Israel), Ezekiel fiercely begins, was heathen from the first, child of Amorite and Hittite parents (names intended to represent the heathen predecessors of Israel in Canaan). With no prospect of a future for her, to say nothing of a distinguished future, Yahweh took loving care of her throughout the early centuries, and at Sinai entered into a (marriage) covenant with her, thereafter advancing her till in the days of David and Solomon she had reached not only power and prosperity but a certain international reputation.

. Israel's Ingratitude.—This love Israel requited with the most incredible treachery, which bespoke a truly adulterous heart. She forsook her own loving God for others: (a) she tainted and degraded His worship by carrying into it the cruel and immoral rites practised in the worship of the native gods of Canaan upon the accursed high places (Ezekiel 16:15-25), and (b) she (partly through political entanglements) deliberately adopted the worship of foreign gods of Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea (Babylonia), those empires whose secular power so profoundly impressed the shallow, susceptible heart of Israel. Her adulterous love for these alien cults had cost her both blood and money—the blood of her children slain in sacrifice (Ezekiel 20:25 f.*) and by the sword of the invading enemy, and endless tribute to her foreign over-lords (Ezekiel 16:26-34).

. The Doom.—But the "harlot" Jerusalem would have to pay the yet heavier price of being stripped, stoned, and burned—an all too plain allusion to the siege and firing of the city (Ezekiel 16:35-43). But the bitterest drop in Jerusalem's cup was to be told that she was not only as bad as her heathen mother, but worse than her rival sister Samaria (capital of the northern kingdom), worse even than the infamous Sodom to the south. They were righteous in comparison with her. (These places are mentioned because they are within the bounds of the ideal future kingdom whose centre will be Jerusalem.) But—and here hope begins to gleam through—one day the fortunes of Samaria and Sodom would be restored, and with them Judah too. A humiliating consolation for Judah the proud to be mentioned in company with Sodom, whose name she had erstwhile refused to take upon her lips. (In Ezekiel 16:57 for "Syria" read "Edom," which had exulted over the downfall of Judah; cf. Psalms 137.)

. The Promise.—In the end Yahweh's purpose of grace triumphs. After her stern discipline, Israel recalls with shame the long story of her sin, and Yahweh recalls His ancient love for her, re-enacts the covenant never to be broken any more, and bestows upon Israel the place of religious supremacy. The people accept these tokens of forgiveness in ashamed and grateful silence. (Ezekiel 16:61, Yahweh does what He does "not by thy covenant," i.e. not by reason of Israel's behaviour in the covenant relation, but of His own free grace.)

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


EXEGETICAL NOTES.—The prophet surveys the entire development of the nation, past and future. Their original condition was most wretched, like that of a miserable infant at its birth utterly neglected and deprived of proper attention and care. God had brought them out of this lowly estate, had saved them from destruction, and had fostered them with His constant love and care until they had reached to a maturity of vigour and loveliness. But in their ingratitude they sinned grievously against Him. They might rest in their position as the chosen vine and think themselves secure, but they are here assured that they are no better than other nations, and are liable to be punished and judged as the heathen around them. Yet, in the end, God will be mindful of His covenant, grant them His forgiveness, and restore them to favour.


Eze . "Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations." Jerusalem is used as the symbolical representative of the whole Jewish people. Her sins were greater than those of other nations; they were "abominations," for they were the sins of the covenant people. The main end of this chapter is to declare these abominations.

Eze . "Thy birth and thy nativity is in the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite." "Regarded merely as a city, Jerusalem was neither of Amoritish nor Hittite origin, but simply a Jebusite city. And it is too obvious to need any proof that the prophetic word does not refer to the city as a city, but that Jerusalem represents the people of Israel, or the covenant nation. It was not the mass of houses, but the population—which was the foundling—that excited Jehovah's compassion, and which He multiplied into myriads (Eze 16:7), clothed in splendour, and chose as the bride with whom He concluded a marriage covenant. The descent and birth referred to are not physical, but spiritual descent. Spiritually, Israel sprang from the land of the Canaanites; and its father was an Amorite and its mother a Hittite, in the same sense in which Jesus said to the Jews, ‘Ye are of your father the devil' (St Joh 8:44). The iniquity of the Amorites was great even in Abraham's time, through not yet full or ripe for destruction (Gen 15:16); and the daughters of Heth, whom Esau married, caused Rebekah great bitterness of spirit (Gen 27:46)" (Keil).

Eze . "Thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee." The cutting of the navel-string is necessary for the independent life of the child, and the washing with water to cleanse it from the impurities attaching to it. If these necessary offices are neglected, the infant must perish.

"Thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all""After the washing, the body was rubbed with salt, according to a custom very widely spread in ancient times, and still met with here and there in the East; and that not merely for making the skin drier and firmer, or of cleansing it more thoroughly, but probably from regard to the virtue of salt as a protection from putrefaction. And, finally, it was bound with swaddling-clothes. Not one of these things, so indispensable to the preservation and strengthening of the child, was performed in the case of Israel at the time of its birth from any feeling of compassionate love; but it was cast into the field, i.e. exposed, in order that it might perish. The day of the birth of Jerusalem, i.e. of Israel, was the period of its sojourn in Egypt, where Israel as a nation was born, the sons of Jacob who went down to Egypt having multiplied into a nation" (Keil).

Eze . "None eye pitied thee, to do any of these things unto thee." "Those who had looked up to Joseph did not even look down with compassion on thee" (Lange). Israel in Egypt was an object of contempt. The neglect into which it had fallen might well be compared to the cruel desertion of an infant; for Moses, the type of his people, was actually exposed, and afterwards delivered from threatened death by God's providence



The prophet is speaking to those who had been brought into covenant with God, and called to serve Him as His people. He is not speaking of the sins of mankind generally, but of those of the Church. Of this moral corruption we are here taught—

I. That it ought to be thoroughly brought home to all concerned. No half measures, or delicate hints, will suffice. Jerusalem must "know her abominations" (Eze ).

1. The knowledge of sin is, before all things, necessary to salvation. It is not sufficient to make a general admission of our heritage in the sin which is natural to our race. There must be a real, heart-felt knowledge of sin as committed by ourselves against God. The sad wounds of our soul must be probed to the very bottom, a painful yet salutary process.

2. The knowledge of sin cannot be arrived at by our own unaided powers. However we may lament the sin that is in the world, we are naturally blind to our own real state. Even the engaging in the outward services of religion may tend still more to blind us, for we are tempted to rest satisfied with them, and, it may be, to regard them as an atonement for our faults and transgressions. And religious people are liable also to the temptation of pleading the motive of a good intention and purpose as a defence for what is clearly wrong. They use the light which is given them, not to shine on the path of duty, but to aid their own wilfulness. The real knowledge of sin must be brought to such from without. It is necessary that the inspired prophet should speak. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to convince of sin.

II. It ought to be revealed in all its enormity.

1. As sin against the light. Those who have church privileges, and yet live ungodly lives, are regarded as the heathen in the sight of God (Mat ).

2. As sin which brings to a most miserable condition. Such may be compared to an abandoned infant, ready to perish (Eze ).

(Eze .)

1. A people may be guilty of abominations, and not know nor acknowledge them. "They know not to do right" (Amo ). When men know not what is right, how can they know what is wrong? They stored up violence and robbery in their palaces, they got wealth by injustice, oppression, laid it up, and thought it well gotten. They know not God (Jer 9:3). "They know not the way of the Lord" (Jer 5:4); therefore their own ways seem good in their eyes. They were blinded, and as they knew not their abominations, so they acknowledged them not (Hos 5:15). They are, therefore, urged to lay their sin to heart and confess it.

2. There is an unwillingness in sinners to hear of their sins. "Cause Jerusalem to know," &c.; she is against it, but make her to know them. This people were always averse to hear of their sins or duty (Zec ; 2Ch 36:16). When Stephen told them of their practices (Act 7:51-52) what followed upon it? "They were cut to the heart, and they gnashed upon him with their teeth." And when Christ told them of their sins they derided Him (Luk 16:14), told Him that He had "a devil" (Joh 8:48). And not only wicked men are unwilling to hear of their sins, but even good men also. When God reproved Jonah, "Doest thou well to be angry?" his reply was, "I do well to be angry, even to death." He thought God did evil in reproving him, that he had more cause to be angry than God had to chide him for his anger. Paul was become an enemy to the Galatians, because he told them the truth, he told them of their sins. Good men do not easily endure to hear of their faults.

3. What God commands the prophets and ministers to do, it matters not how it is taken by the people, they are to do it. It was not for Ezekiel to excuse himself from this service, to object against it, to say they will mock me, despise me, misuse me, hate me, seek my hurt. God commanded, and it was his duty to do it carefully, conscientiously, and faithfully. He must make known their sins to themselves, to the world, let the event be what it will (Isa ). The prophet must not whisper, but cry, and that aloud; it matters not who hears, he must lift up his voice like a trumpet. When men blow trumpets they do it with all their strength, and the sound of it goeth far; so must the prophets utter the sins of the people, and show them their transgressions.

(1.) That others may take warning, and not do as they have done (1Ti ).

(2.) That they may bring the parties to repentance (Jer ). How shall sinners come to repentance if they hear not of their sins, if they be not convinced of the sinfulness of them by the prophets and ministers of God? The false prophets hid their sins from them.

(3.) That they may deliver their own souls (Eze ).

4. The sins of people are abominations in God's account. Sins are works, but works of iniquity, abominable works, and abominable iniquity (Psa ; Psa 53:1).—Greenhill.


Eze . "And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood." Some render, "and saw thee trampled in thy blood." Israel in Egypt was a people trampled upon, utterly despised. "I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live." It was sad to be despised, but the chief danger was that life was seriously threatened. From the mouth of God, the word "Live" was a word of power, and was visibly fulfilled in the extraordinary multiplication of Israel. "Jehovah here represents Himself as a traveller who, on passing by, discovers the unsightly and pitiable object which had just been described, and interposes for its rescue. Notwithstanding its pollution, He takes compassion upon it, and saves its life. In this miserable and helpless condition Jehovah found the Hebrews in the land of bondage. Extending the principle involved in the figure beyond the direct teaching of the text, it is strikingly descriptive of the condition of sinners previous to conversion."—(Henderson.)

Eze . "I have caused thee to multiply as the bird of the field." According to the promise (Exo 1:7; Exo 1:12). "Thou art come to excellent ornaments." Heb., "Ornament of cheeks," describing youthful freshness and beauty of face. "Thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown." The Heb. word when applied to the breasts means to expand, lit. to raise oneself up. "The metaphor is still continued, representing the infant growing up to womanhood, and exhibiting unmistakeable signs of puberty."—(Henderson.) "Whereas thou wast naked and bare." "Naked and bare are figurative expressions for still destitute of either clothing or ornaments. This implies something more than the poverty of the people in the wilderness attached to Egypt. Nakedness represents deprivation of all the blessings of salvation with which the Lord endowed Israel and made it glorious, after he had adopted it as the people of his possession in Egypt, Israel was living in a state of nature, destitute of the gracious revelations of God."—(Keil.)

Eze . "Behold thy time was the time of love." This is not intended merely to convey the idea that she had arrived at a marriageable age, but also the further thought that she had become an object of affection. "I spread my skirt over thee and covered thy nakedness." "The spreading of the corner of the upper garment and the covering of the nakedness symbolize in general, that He took the miserable, helpless one under His protection, interested Himself in her; specially, however, with the thought of conferring the honour of betrothal, marriage (Rth 3:9). This thought is solemnly carried out in the swearing and entering into covenant, by means of which Israel, grown into a nation, now became the peculiar people of Jehovah (Eze 20:5-6; Exodus 19, Exo 20:2; Exo 20:5; Deu 5:2; Eph 5:32."—(Lange.) "There was nothing in Israel that was lovely. It was all pure affection on the part of Jehovah. The advance in the allegory is now to that of the espousals."—(Henderson.) "I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee." "An obvious reference to the solemn transactions at Sinai, when Jehovah entered into covenant with the Hebrews, thereby contracting as it were a conjugal relation, by which He pledged Himself to love, provide for, and protect them; while they came under an obligation to love, worship, and obey Him to the exclusion of every rival god. Hence as it follows in the sequel, and so frequently in the Old Testament, idolatry is represented as spiritual adultery, the nation thereby being guilty of a breach of the marriage covenant.'—(Henderson.)

Eze . "Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I annointed thee with oil." Preparations for the marriage ceremony, consisting of purification, the putting on of ornaments, and annointing with oil were customary in the East (Est 2:9-12). Before the Israelites were permitted to enter into covenant with God they had to undergo a thorough purification (Exo 19:14; Jer 2:2-3). "The anointing with oil indicates the powers of the Spirit of God, which flowed to Israel from the divine covenant of grace."—(Keil.)

Eze . "Broidered work." Rich garments of many colours, adorned with figures wrought in silver and gold. With such costly garments queens were accustomed to clothe themselves (Psa 45:15). "And shod thee with badger's skin." "This was a kind of skin used by the Hebrews to make an over-covering to the tabernacle (Exo 26:14); and, as appears from the present verse, used also for shoes; but of what particular animal, has been disputed. The most probable opinion is, that the seal is intended."—(Henderson.) "And I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk." "The girding with fine linen refers to the head-band (Eze 24:17; Exo 29:9; Lev 8:13), and is applied by the Targum to the headdress of the priests."—(Henderson.)

Eze . "And I put a jewel on thy forehead." The Hebrew word here rendered, "jewel" properly means a "ring," and the word rendered "forehead" (though sometimes used to denote the countenance or face in general) signifies strictly and properly the nose. "The jewellery included not only armlets, nose-rings, and earrings, which the daughters of Israel were generally accustomed to wear, but also necklaces and a crown, as ornaments worn by princesses and queens."—(Keil.)

Eze . "Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver." This verse sums up the contents of Eze 16:9-12. "Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom." "The food is referred to once more; and the result of the whole is said to have been, that Jerusalem became exceedingly beautiful, and flourished even to royal dignity. The latter cannot be taken as referring simply to the establishment of the monarchy under David, any more than merely to the spiritual sovereignty for which Israel was chosen from the very beginning (Exo 19:5-6). The expression includes both, viz., the call of Israel to be a kingdom of priests, and the historical realisation of this call through the Davidic sovereignty" (Keil)

Eze "And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty." "As a kingdom theirs was distinguishingly flourishing in the days of David and Solomon, the former of which monarchs greatly extended its boundaries and enriched it with the spoils of his victories. The theocracy then reached its highest point of glory, and was of great celebrity among the surrounding nations (1 Kings 10). Still they are reminded that their prosperity and glory were not owing to any merit of their own. It was a ‘comeliness' which Jehovah their covenant-God had put upon them. To His unmerited bounty they owed all that they enjoyed" (Henderson).



The salvation and advancement of Israel to position and renown among the nations has its parallel in the salvation and exaltation of believers. Consider—

I. The grace of this salvation. Israel is described under the figure of a miserable infant neglected at its birth, and even cast out and left to perish. This people on whom God bestowed His grace, were lying in their own pollutions, and fast sinking into moral death. They were destitute of every ornament and beauty of goodness (Eze ). There was nothing in them to win the love of admiration or affection, but everything to excite loathing and disgust. When we consider the condition from which Israel was called, we must feel that the salvation of the people was by grace alone. And what does God see in man as a sinner but all that is abhorrent to His own holy nature! If God comes to the help of such it must be by the impulse of a grace which is all His own.

II. The glory of this salvation. The glory of it lies in the fact that it is grace manifested in the most wonderful and excellent way.

1. It had its source in the love of pity and compassion. There was nothing in the original condition of Israel to win the love of admiration. It was the love of pity and compassion that saved them. Such a love is worthy of the broad free benevolence of God. It is a love which cannot be overtasked by the worst condition of human sin and misery. The grace of God meets the case of the guilty, and His mercy that of the miserable; and the glory of it lies in the fact, that it springs from pure pity without any merit or claim whatever on the part of its object.

2. It was a manifestation of that love which desires to give and bless. These are the essential characteristics of all love which is worthy of that sacred name. "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and that blessedness first and above all belongs to God. He is the only blessed One, for He alone is ever giving and never receiving. And what is Creation but the love of God expressing itself in manifold gifts; and what is Redemption but the love of God, as it brings the undeserved gifts of salvation to the souls of men? God's love gave to ancient Israel a restored life; "I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live"—gave them an energy of growth and improvement—invested them with ornaments and beauty (Eze ). They also had bestowed upon them by an extraordinary grace the favours of God's love, for they were taken into intimate union with Himself (Eze 16:8). And further, God also gave them influence among the nations of the earth (Eze 16:14)—that influence which comes from righteousness. They had thus bestowed upon them that love which both gives and blesses. But in this process by which they were raised from sin to holiness, the order is, first—forgiveness; and then the other gifts and blessings of grace. They are first purified from their pollution, and then are anointed (Eze 16:9). For God must pardon before He can heal; and men must be justified before they can be sanctified. God loves the sinner though vile and miserable but His favour is only reserved for those who are washed and sanctified.

The first lesson of this passage is, that the infinite love and pity of the heart of God is the spring and origin of our salvation. Therefore there is no room for pride or boasting on our part. In this matter of salvation, above all things, we must give the glory to God alone.

(Eze .)

I. There is nothing in the creature to move God to show mercy. God saw nothing to incline or move Him to do aught, or bestow aught upon this infant. But there are several things which move men.

1. Birth and progeny. Royal and noble births have affected many; David was taken with Saul's daughter (1Sa ). This moves not God, He poureth contempt upon princes (Job 12:21). He chooseth the poor to be rich in faith (Jas 2:5). Believers are said to be "born not of blood" (Joh 1:13), which some refer to families of noble and royal blood. "Not many noble are called" (1Co 1:26).

2. Beauty. Jacob was affected with the beauty of Rachel; Ahasuerus with the beauty of Vashti (Est ). God is not moved with beauty; if we had it, there is nothing in man to affect His eye (Psa 14:3). We are altogether filthy, and God saw them in their blood.

3. Natural parts prevail with men. Ahithophel's counsel took much with David and Absalom; Joseph, Daniel, had excellent spirits, great wisdom, and they were advanced thereupon. Learning is persuasive, and conquers many, but parts and learning can do nothing with God (1Co ; Mat 11:25).

4. Profitableness, serviceableness. So Paul persuades Philemon to take Onesimus, because he would be profitable unto him. Men are taken with men, because they bring in gain unto them. But the Lord is not profited by the righteousness of men (Job ); He receives nothing at man's hands, and when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants.

5. Necessity moves men mightily. It caused Abiathar to give the shew-bread to David (1Sa ); the necessity of the Church moved the rich to sell their lands and goods to distribute unto every man as they had need (Act 2:45). This is no motive unto Divine Majesty.

6. Hope of proving well draws forth men to do much. Men do much for others with the hope that they may become instruments of good. But God will give the gifts of Christ for the rebellious, and dwell among them (Psa ). How rebellious was Manasseh! How did he sin against heaven and earth, yet God had a gift of life for him. To Mary Magdalene and to Zaccheus, Christ said, live, when they were in their blood. He showed mercy to Paul, and bade him live, when he was a persecutor and an injurious person.

7. Nothing in the godly moves God, all they do is debt (Luk ). The will and deed are of the Lord (Php 2:13).

II. The Lord shows mercy to men when they are in desperate conditions. When this infant was cast out, and lay bleeding to death, God said "Live." When Moses, and other Hebrew children were to be drowned, the Lord delivered them. When in Babylon, all the necks of the Jews were upon the block by Haman's plot and power, the Lord showed them mercy, and said, "Live," The thief upon the cross met with life in the gates of death.

III. When sinners look not after God, He is pleased to look after and find out them. God found out and sought the Jews, when they neither sought nor called; so it is with the Gentiles (Isa ). Both Gentile and Jew had preventing grace, and were sought out of God before ever they sought God. Hence Jerusalem had that promise or title, thou shalt be called, "Sought out" (Isa 57:12).

IV. God hath no need of any people. He passed by, like some great man, that riding forth, finds a poor distressed infant, and out of compassion takes it into his family; not because he needs it, but he will show kindness to it of his own good pleasure. If He needed people or nations He could create them, raise them up from the stones. The Samaritan had no need of the wounded man, but he needed the Samaritan's wine and oil.

V. In bestowing mercies, God is real. This appears from the doubling of the word—"Live," "Live." When there is a doubling of the same word, there the intention, reality, and earnestness of the author speaking is held out (Eze ; Eze 37:5-6; Isa 40:1).

VI. When God hath done much for a people, and they are degenerate and ungrateful, the Lord's way of dealing with them is to set before them their original condition and his kindness unto them (Mic : Deu 32:6). (Greenhill).

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Let the Reader mark, one by one, the several precious things here said by the Lord, and explain the whole by gospel language, and what will it amount to but this, that when Jesus passed by, that is, came into this world to seek and save that which was lost, He saw His Church in the very state of this poor female child, cast out and loathsome in her person to every beholder but Himself. It was Jesus that spread His skirts over her, that took her into covenant, that made her His own by union and by interest. It was Jesus that washed her in His blood, clothed her with the garment of His salvation, which, like fine linen, and gold, and silk, are the beautiful robes for her covering. It was in Jesus's righteousness the Church was made comely, so that the spouse of Christ became the admired object of all the world. Reader! is it not blessed to see in whom and from whom the Church derives all her beauty and loveliness, even from her adorable Lord? And as in grace here, so in glory to all eternity, it is in Jesus and from Jesus her perfection is wholly owing. How beautiful the Church sings to this. Isaiah 61:10.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 16:8-12. Now when I passed by thee, &c. — This second passing by may be understood of God’s visiting them in Egypt, and calling them out. Behold, thy time, &c. — The time of thy misery was the time of my love toward thee. And I spread my skirt over thee — I espoused thee and took thee under my protection as a husband doth his wife, Ruth 3:9. And covered thy nakedness — Enriched thee with the spoils and possessions of the Egyptians and Canaanites: see Ezekiel 16:10-11. Yea, I entered into covenant with thee — This was done in mount Sinai, when the covenant between God and Israel was sealed and ratified. Those to whom God gives spiritual life, he takes into covenant with himself. By this covenant they become his, his subjects and servants, which speaks their duty: and at the same time his portion and treasure, which speaks their privilege. Then I washed thee with water — It was a very ancient custom among the eastern people to purify virgins who were to be espoused. And I anointed thee with oil — Thus also were women, on some occasions, prepared for their nuptials. The washings and purifications of the law are probably intended to be signified by these metaphorical expressions; and the priesthood by the anointing with oil here spoken of. I clothed thee also with broidered work Or, with needlework of divers colours. The expression may refer to the rich garments of the priests, and the covering and hangings of the tabernacle; or it may denote the gifts and graces bestowed upon them. And shod thee with badgers’ skins — Or, with sandals of a purple colour, as Bochart expounds the word תחשׁ. The eastern people had an art of curiously dressing and colouring the skins of badgers, of which they made their neatest shoes, for the richest and greatest personages. “This and the following verses allude to those parts of women’s attire which serve not only for use but for ornament also; and import that God did not only provide the Jews with necessaries, but likewise with superfluities.” I decked thee also with ornaments — This and the following expressions are descriptive of the great wealth and felicity of the Jewish people, particularly under David and Solomon. I put bracelets upon thy hands, &c. — Ornaments which none but persons of better quality used to wear, Genesis 24:47; Proverbs 1:9. And I put a jewel on thy forehead — The same which is called a nose-jewel, Isaiah 3:21. And a beautiful crown upon thy head — “Crowns, or garlands, were used in times of public rejoicing; from whence is derived that expression of St. Paul, A crown of rejoicing, 1 Thessalonians 2:19 : compare Isaiah 25:10. Virgins were sometimes adorned with crowns; and they were commonly put upon the heads of persons newly married, Song of Solomon 3:11.” — Lowth.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

In this very remarkable chapter, God describes his ancient people Israel under the figure of an infant which had been cast away, but which he had cared for and tended, and upon which he had lavished much love, making it the object of his choice, on which his very heart was set. Yet this specially-favored one had gone astray, and committed all manner of wickedness; but for all that, the love of God had not been withdrawn. The whole chapter is a graphic picture of the way in which Israel and Judah went after false gods, and forsook the only living and true God.

Ezekiel 16:1-2. Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,

This is a very necessary command, for unless men know their disease they will not apply to the great Physician. Only he who knows that he is poor will be willing to accept of alms. It is, therefore, a needful part of the duty of God’s servants to make sinners know their evil ways: “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.”

Ezekiel 16:3. And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

Abraham, the father of the nation, came from beyond the flood; but here, because of the sin of the people, God attributes their birth to the place of their settlement rather than to that chosen and noble man. They had lived so long in Canaan that they had grown to be Canaanites. Their habits were so evil that there was little choice between the Israelites and the Amorites and Hittites whom God had smitten in his wrath. So the Lord says: “Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.” Then, in the fifth verse, he describes the condition of the nation when it was in Egypt, when nobody cared for it:-

Verses 6-16.

Ezekiel 16:5. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

You remember that Pharaoh tried to destroy all the male children of the captive Israelites. No mortal eye had any pity upon the downtrodden race in the house of bondage; but God looked down from heaven in love, and pity, and grace.

Ezekiel 16:6-7. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.

Israel came out of Egypt exceedingly multiplied, a great people; and when they settled down in Canaan they still increased till they became a numerous and powerful nation. Remember that all this description applies to us spiritually. There was a day when we seemed polluted, and cast away, and left to perish; but God in great mercy passed by, and said unto us, “Live.”

Ezekiel 16:8-9. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.

How wondrously the Lord did all this for us! Our washing, and our anointing, we never can forget.

Ezekiel 16:10. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.

All that God could do for Israel, he did. That poor poverty-stricken nation increased and multiplied till, in the days of David and Solomon, it was of high repute among the nations, and exceedingly rich and wealthy. Even so has God dealt with us; he “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” We who, a little while ago, were cast out as helpless and worthless, he hath greatly enriched with heavenly treasure.

Ezekiel 16:11-13. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work;

The work of the Lord Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit have made marvelously glorious “broidered work” for our spiritual adornment. Well does good Dr. Watts sing,-“

How far the heavenly robe exceeds,

What earthly princes wear!

These ornaments, how bright they shine!

How white the garments are!

Strangely, my soul, art thou array’d By the great Sacred Three!

In sweetest harmony of praise Let all thy powers agree.”

Ezekiel 16:13-14. Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.

Doubtless, these words apply to Israel; but they are still more appropriate to us when we are covered with the righteousness of Christ, and made beautiful in his beauty.

Ezekiel 16:15-16. But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.

As soon as ever the Israelites grew rich and powerful, they began to build altars to the false gods. The very treasures that God had given them, they desecrated to the making of idols; and God calls’ this a spiritual harlotry, turning aside from the one true God, who was the Husband of the nation, to follow after false gods. It is an ill sign in any of us when God’s blessings are themselves made into idols. If thou beginnest to worship thy wealth, thy health, thy children, thy learning, or anything that God has given thee, this is exceedingly provoking to the Most High; it is a breach of the marriage covenant between thy soul and God. The rest of the chapter is rather for private reading than for the public assembly. It gives a truly awful picture of the sin of Israel, and heaps up most dreadful descriptions of the way in which the people turned aside from God. I confess that, after reading to the end of this chapter, I am astonished to think that it should close as it does. It is an amazing instance of the immutable love of God, Turn to the 60th verse.

Verses 60-63.

Ezekiel 16:60. Nevertheless-

Blessed “nevertheless”!

Ezekiel 16:60-61. Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed,

Infinite mercy makes men ashamed of their sinfulness. Great pardon produces both humility and holiness. The ungodly think that, for God to forgive great sin will be to give a license to it, but the Lord knows that it is not so. He understands that the greatness of his forgiving love will be the cause of the pardoned sinner’s hatred of sin: “Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed,”-

Ezekiel 16:61-63. When thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.

Pardon from God for great sin is a silencer to all our pride. We never dare open our mouths again because of our shame; yet the blessed silence of a grateful heart makes true music before the throne of God, and when the Lord opens our lips, then our mouth shall show forth his praise.

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ezekiel 16:8". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Ezekiel 16:8

Yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest Mine.

Two immutable, things

Biographies are generally interesting, if they are biographies; that is to say, if the events of the person’s life are truly told; but the most interesting biography to any man is his own life. Turn over the pages of the book of memory, and think of those first times when you sought and found the Saviour, when you repented, when you believed, when you yielded yourself up to Jesus, when He took you to be His, and you took Him to be yours. I am sure that this exercise will awaken many happy thoughts, and I feel equally certain that it will suggest many regrets; but the happiness will be good for you if it excites your gratitude, and the regrets will be good for you if they deepen your penitence. Beloved, tim time of our conversion, the time when we joyously realised that we were saved, was a covenanting time. It is a somewhat singular thing that, in this chapter, God does not say anything about Israel’s part of the covenant; He seems to pass that over as though it were never worth mentioning. So, at this time, I shall not say much about the covenant that you made with God; do not forget it, and do not forget that you have often forgotten it.

I. It was a covenant freely made.

1. It was a covenant which He made at His own suggestion, out of the greatness of His own love; for the nation of Israel, of which He speaks, had nothing in its pedigree to suggest it. There are some who do not believe in the depravity of human nature. I must believe in it if I am myself a fair specimen of human nature; and every man who has watched his own heart,, and has any idea of the sin which dwells within him, will know that his origin is tainted, that from the very first there is a tendency to evil, and only evil; and, therefore, that there is nothing in him as to his birth that can command or deserve the favour of God.

2. There was nothing in our condition to commend it. This poor child had never been washed or clothed--it was left in all its filthiness to die; there was nothing about it to commend it to the attention of the passer-by. And what were we by nature?

3. It was also a covenant freely made because there was nothing in our beauty to warrant it. Whatever there was there, was undeveloped and, worse still, unclean. And in that day when Jesus took us to Himself, and we took Him to be our Saviour, there was nothing as yet apparent of that which His grace has now wrought in us; it was totally absent then.

II. It was a covenant entirely of love.

1. Taking our text in its connection, we learn that this covenant was a marriage covenant.

2. That it was a covenant which was meant to be entirely of love is proved by the way in which it was carried out (Ezekiel 16:9-13). This is a covenant all of love, for these are all love-tokens, love-gifts to the beloved one. Now, will you go back in thought, and recollect when you used to receive those gifts from the Lord?

3. It must be a covenant all of love which God has made with such creatures as we are, because it could bring the Lord no profit.

III. It was a most sure covenant: “I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee.”

1. The covenant which God makes with believers is intended to remain forever. It is not something which may be broken in a few hours, like a child’s toys; it is an everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 16:60).

2. In proof that He intended it to remain, He ratified it by an oath.

3. To make a covenant even surer than by an oath, men were accustomed to seal it by a sacrifice. Now, beloved, you who believe have the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, to confirm the covenant of grace.

4. I would have you notice, in our text, that the covenant is remembered by God. It is He who Says, “I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee.”

5. Yet once more, this covenant will be remembered by Him forever (Ezekiel 16:60; Ezekiel 16:62).

IV. This covenant involves very gracious consequences. “Thou becamest Mine.”

1. If God has entered into covenant with us, we have become the Lord’s. Whose were you before? The world’s? Your own? The devil’s? Well, we will not dispute with the many claimants; but now you can say, “O Lord our God, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us: but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name.”

2. Now, we ought to be the Lord’s more and more.

3. If that be our feeling, it will lead us practically to renew the bond of the covenant.

4. And you who have never done so, may you come to Jesus this very moment! Your only hope lies in Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

God’s covenant with the reclaimed soul

In Canada they build palaces of ice in the winter time, and very beautiful things they are; but then, when spring comes where are those palaces? And in summer, the very foundation upon which they were built has melted back into the St. Lawrence. God does not make with His believing people covenants like those ice palaces; His covenant stands secure, though earth’s old columns bow. If God has promised to save thee,--as He has done if thou believest in Jesus,--He will save thee in the teeth of death and hell. Rest thou sure of this, and say with David, “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.” Here is something to rest upon: “I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee.” He intended it to remain. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The moment of being possessed by Christ

“Thou becamest Mine.” Do you recollect the spot--perhaps it was your own little room--where, as a youth, you sat after having long prayed and wept? And at last you felt that Jesus was yours; and you sat still, and you said to yourself “Yes, I am His, every bit of me. He has bought me with His blood, I am His.” Do you remember those first few days in which you felt half afraid to do anything lest you should grieve that dear Lover of your soul? Then you wanted to do everything that you might please Him whose servant you had become. I remember a verse of Scripture which, as a young believer, I used often to repeat; for it was very dear to me. I daresay you love it too; it is this: “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” We did feel then that we were wholly Christ’s; do we feel it as much now? “Thou becamest Mine.” To come back to the marriage covenant of which the Lord speaks,--when the husband put the ring upon his bride’s finger, he said to her, “Thou hast become mine.” Do you remember when you felt upon your finger the ring of infinite, everlasting, covenant love that Christ put there. “Thou becamest Mine.” Oh, it was a joyful day, a blessed day! Happy day, happy day, when His choice was known to me, and fixed my choice on Him! (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Owned by God

It is a great privilege not to be one’s own. A vessel is drifting on the Atlantic hither and thither, and its end no man knoweth. It is derelict, deserted by all its crew; it is the property of no man; it is the prey of every storm and the sport of every wind; rocks, quicksands, and shoals wait to destroy it; the ocean yearns to engulf it. It drifts onward to no man’s land, and no man will mourn its shipwreck. But mark well yonder bark of the Thames, which its owner surveys with pleasure. In its attempt to reach the sea it may run ashore, or come into collision with other vessels, or in a thousand ways suffer damage; but there is no fear, it will pass through the floating forest of “the Pool”; it will thread the winding channel and reach the Nore, because the owner will secure it pilotage, skilful and apt. How thankful you and I should be that we are not derelict today! We are not our own, not left on the wild “waste of chance to be tossed to and fro by fortuitous circumstances, but there is a Hand upon the helm; we have on board a Pilot who owns us, and will surely steer us into the Fair Heavens of eternal rest. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The adornments of Christ’s Church

It was observed of Queen Elizabeth (as of her father before her), that she loved to go very richly arrayed. Her sister Queen Mary had, at her coronation, her head so laden with:jewels that she could hardly hold it up. King Richard II had one coat of gold and stone valued at 30,000 marks. This was much, but nothing to the Church’s beauty and bravery, which yet was all but borrowed, as is said in the next verse. (J. Trapp.)

How to obtain Christ’s beauty

God’s beauty which He puts upon His people is His own moral loveliness. This attribute of Divine goodness, while enshrined in the teaching of the Word of God, is most effectively seen in the person of the Lord Jesus. It is from Him we catch it, if at all. As the sun imprints the image upon the sensitive plate in the camera when it is exposed to it, so Christ’s beauty is put upon us if we are exposed to Him by a life of communion. We do not, however, own Christ’s beauty merely passively, there must be a constant deliberate imitation of His holy example. “I must go home and deepen the colouring of my infant Hercules,” exclaimed Sir Joshua Reynolds after gazing on the beautiful sunburnt face of a peasant boy. Frequent communings with Christ make one dissatisfied with his poor copying of so beautiful a character. “I must be more Christlike” must be the great resolve as we go forth from His presence if we would own Christ’s beauty. (Charles Deal.)

The transformation grace works

John Ruskin was one day walking along the streets of London. The weather had been very wet, and the mud was plentiful and most sticky. The thought occurred to him that he would have the mud analysed to find out exactly the inorganic elements in it. This was accordingly done, and the London mud was found to consist of sand, clay, soot, and water. Musing upon that fact, it struck him that these are the very substances from which our precious jewels and gems are formed. From the sand or silica come the onyx, chrysolite, agate, beryl, cornelian, chalcedony, jasper, sardine, amethyst; from the clay come the sapphire, ruby, emerald, topaz; and from the soot is formed the diamond. London mud composed of priceless jewels! Man cannot transform the mud into those glittering points of light, but God transforms and recreates the mud of depraved humanity into the glory of redeemed and beautiful souls. (John Robertson.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ezekiel 16:8". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 16:8. Behold, &c.— See Ruth 3:9. The Jews' deliverance out of Egypt is often described as the time of God's espousing them to himself; and his entering into covenant with them represented by a marriage-contract. See Jeremiah 2:2.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary


Ezekiel 16:1-63

IN order to understand the place which the sixteenth chapter occupies in this section of the book, we must remember that a chief source of the antagonism between Ezekiel and his hearers was the proud national consciousness which sustained the courage of the people through all their humiliations. There were, perhaps, few nations of antiquity in which the flame of patriotic feeling burned more brightly than in Israel. No people with a past such as theirs could be indifferent to the many elements of greatness embalmed in their history. The beauty and fertility of their land, the martial exploits and signal deliverances of the nation, the great kings and heroes she had reared, her prophets and lawgivers-these and many other stirring memories were witnesses to Jehovah’s peculiar love for Israel and His power to exalt and bless His people. To cherish a deep sense of the unique privileges which Jehovah had conferred on her in giving her a distinct place among the nations of the earth was thus a religious duty often insisted on in the Old Testament. But in order that this sense might work for good it was necessary that it should take the form of grateful recognition of Jehovah as the source of the nation’s greatness, and be accompanied by a true knowledge of His character. When allied with false conceptions of Jehovah’s nature, or entirely divorced from religion, patriotism degenerated into racial prejudice and became a serious moral and political danger. That this had actually taken place is a common complaint of the prophets. They feel. that national vanity is a great obstacle to the acceptance of their message, and pour forth bitter and scornful words intended to humble the pride of Israel to the dust. No prophet addresses himself to the task so remorselessly as Ezekiel. The utter worthlessness of Israel, both absolutely in the eyes of Jehovah and relatively in comparison with other nations, is asserted by him with a boldness and emphasis which at first startle us. From a different point of view prophecy and its results might have been regarded as fruits of the national life, under the divine education vouchsafed to that people. But that is not Ezekiel’s standpoint. He seizes on the fact that prophecy was in opposition to the natural genius of the people, and was not to be regarded as in any sense an expression of it. Accepting the final attitude of Israel toward the word of Jehovah as the genuine outcome of her natural proclivities, he reads her past as an unbroken record of ingratitude and infidelity. All that was good in Israel was Jehovah’s gift, freely bestowed and justly withdrawn; all that was Israel’s own was her weakness and her sin. It was reserved for a later prophet to reconcile the condemnation of Israel’s actual history with the recognition of the divine power working there and moulding a spiritual kernel of the nation into a true "servant of the Lord". {Isaiah 40:1-31 ff.}

In chapters 15 and 16, therefore, the prophet exposes the hollowness of Israel’s confidence in her national destiny. The first of these appears to be directed against the vain hopes cherished in Jerusalem at the time. It is not necessary to dwell on it at length. The image is simple and its application to Jerusalem obvious. Earlier prophets had compared Israel to a vine, partly to set forth the exceptional privileges she enjoyed, but chiefly to emphasise the degeneration she had undergone, as shown by the bad moral fruits which she had borne. {cf. Isaiah 5:1 ff.; Jeremiah 2:21, Hosea 10:1} The popular imagination had laid hold of the thought that Israel was the vine of God’s planting, ignoring the question of the fruit. But Ezekiel reminds his hearers that apart from its fruit the vine is the most worthless of trees. Even at the best its wood can be employed for no useful purpose; it is fit only for fuel. Such was the people of Israel, considered simply as a state among other states, without regard to its religious vocation. Even in its pristine vigour, when the national energies were fresh and unimpaired, it was but a weak nation, incapable of attaining the dignity of a great power. But now the strength of the nation has been worn away by a long succession of disasters, until only a shadow of her former glory remains. Israel is no longer like a green and living vine, but like a branch burned at both ends and charred in the middle, and therefore doubly unfit for any worthy function in the affairs of the world. By the help of this illustration men may read in the present state of the nation the irrevocable sentence of rejection which Jehovah has passed on His people.

We now turn to the striking allegory of chapter 16, where the same subject is treated with far greater penetration and depth of feeling. There is no passage in the book of Ezekiel at once so powerful and so full of religious significance as the picture of Jerusalem, the foundling child, the unfaithful spouse, and the abandoned prostitute, which is here presented. The general conception is one that might have been presented in a form as beautiful as it is spiritually true. But the features which offend our sense of propriety are perhaps introduced with a stern purpose. It is the deliberate intention of Ezekiel to present Jerusalem’s wickedness in the most repulsive light, in order that, if possible, he might startle men into abhorrence of their national sin. In his own mind the feelings of moral indignation and physical disgust were very close together, and here he seems to work on the minds of his readers, so that the feeling excited by the image may call forth the feeling appropriate to the reality.

The allegory is a highly idealised history of the city of Jerusalem from its origin to its destruction, and then onward to its future restoration. It falls naturally into four divisions:-

1. Ezekiel 16:1-14 -The first emergence of Jerusalem into civic life is compared to a new-born female infant, exposed to perish, after a cruel custom which is known to have prevailed among some Semitic tribes. None of the offices customary on the birth of a child were performed in her case, whether those necessary to preserve life or those which had a merely ceremonial significance. Unblessed and unpitied she lay in the open field, weltering in blood, exciting only repugnance in all who passed by, until Jehovah Himself passed by, and pronounced over her the decree that she should live. Thus saved from death, she grew up and reached maturity, but still "naked and bare," destitute of wealth and the refinements of civilisation. These were bestowed on her when a second time Jehovah passed by and spread His skirt over her, and claimed her for His own. Not till then had she been treated as a human being with the possibilities of honourable life before her. But now, she becomes the bride of her protector, and is provided for as a high-born maiden might be, with all the ornaments and luxuries befitting her new rank. Lifted from the lowest depth of degradation, she is now transcendently beautiful, and has "attained to royal estate." The fame of her loveliness went abroad among the nations: "for it was perfect through My glory, which I put upon thee, saith Jehovah" (Ezekiel 16:14).

It will be seen that the points of contact with actual history are here extremely few as well as vague. It is indeed doubtful whether the subject of the allegory be the city of Jerusalem conceived as one through all its changes of population, or the Hebrew nation of which Jerusalem ultimately became the capital. The latter interpretation is certainly favoured by chapter 23, where both Jerusalem and Samaria are represented as having spent their youth in Egypt. That parallel may not be decisive as to the meaning of chapter 16; and the statement "thy father was the Amorite and thy mother a Hittite" may be thought to support the other alternative. Amorite and Hittite are general names for the pre-Israelite population of Canaan, and it is a well-known fact that Jerusalem was originally a Canaanitish city. It is not necessary to suppose that the prophet has any information about the early fortunes of Jerusalem when he describes the stages of the process by which she was raised to royal magnificence. The chief question is whether these details can be fairly applied to the history of the nation before it had Jerusalem as its metropolis. It is usually held that the first "passing by" of Jehovah refers to the preservation of the people in the patriarchal period, and the second to the events of the Exodus and the Sinaitic covenant. Against this it may be urged that Ezekiel would hardly have presented the patriarchal period in a hateful light, although he does go further in discrediting antiquity than any other prophet. Besides, the description of Jerusalem’s betrothal to Jehovah contains points which are more naturally understood of the glories of the age of David and Solomon than of the events of Sinai, which were not accompanied by an access of material prosperity such as is suggested. It may be necessary to leave the matter in the vagueness with which the prophet has surrounded it, and accept as the teaching of the allegory the simple truth that Jerusalem in herself was nothing, but had been preserved in existence by Jehovah’s will, and owed all her splendour to her association with His cause and His kingdom.

2. Ezekiel 16:15-34 -The dainties and rich attire enjoyed by the highly favoured bride become a snare to her. These represent blessings of a material order bestowed by Jehovah on Jerusalem. Throughout the chapter nothing is said of the imparting of spiritual privileges, or of a moral change wrought in the heart of Jerusalem. The gifts of Jehovah are conferred on one incapable of responding to the care and affection that had been lavished on her. The inborn taint of her nature, the hereditary immorality of her heathen ancestors, breaks out in a career of licentiousness in which all the advantages of her proud position are prostituted to the vilest ends. "As is the mother, so is her daughter" (Ezekiel 16:44); and Jerusalem betrayed her true origin by the readiness with which she took to evil courses as soon as she had the opportunity. The "whoredom" in which the prophet sums up his indictment against his people is chiefly the sin of idolatry. The figure may have been suggested by the fact that actual lewdness of the most flagrant kind was a conspicuous element in the form of idolatry to which Israel first succumbed-the worship of the Canaanite Baals. But in the hands of the prophets it has a deeper and more spiritual import than this. It signified the violation of all the sacred moral obligations which are enshrined in human marriage, or, in other words, the abandonment of an ethical religion for one in which the powers of nature were regarded as the highest revelation of the divine. To the mind of the prophet it made no difference whether the object of worship was called by the name of Jehovah or of Baal: the character of the worship determined the quality of the religion; and in the one case, as in the other, it was idolatry, or "whoredom."

Two stages in the idolatry of Israel appear to be distinguished in this part of the chapter. The first is the naive, half-conscious heathenism which crept in insensibly through contact with Phoenician and Canaanite neighbours (Ezekiel 16:15-25). The tokens of Jerusalem’s implication in this sin were everywhere. The "high places" with their tents and clothed images (Ezekiel 16:17), and the offerings set forth before these objects of adoration, were undoubtedly of Canaanitish origin, and their preservation to the fall of the kingdom was a standing witness to the source to which Israel owed her earliest and dearest "abominations." We learn that this phase of idolatry culminated in the atrocious rite of human sacrifice (Ezekiel 16:20-21). The immolation of children to Baal or Molech was a common practice amongst the nations surrounding Israel, and when introduced there seems to have been regarded as part of the worship of Jehovah. What Ezekiel here asserts is that the practice came through Israel’s illicit commerce with the gods of Canaan, and there is no question that this is historically true. The allegory exhibits the sin in its unnatural heinousness. The idealised city is the mother of her citizens, the children are Jehovah’s children and her own, yet she has taken them and offered them up to the false lovers she so madly pursued. Such was her feverish passion for idolatry that the dearest and most sacred ties of nature were ruthlessly severed at the bidding of a perverted religious sense.

The second form of idolatry in Israel was of a more deliberate and politic kind (Ezekiel 16:23-34). it consisted in the introduction of the deities and religious practices of the great world-powers-Egypt, Assyria, and Chaldea. The attraction of these foreign rites did not lie in the fascination of a sensuous type of religion, but rather in the impression of power produced by the gods of the conquering peoples. The foreign gods came in mostly in consequence of a political alliance with the nations whose patrons they were; in other cases a god was worshipped simply because he had shown himself able to do great things for his servants. Jerusalem as Ezekiel knew it was full of monuments of this comparatively recent type of idolatry. In every street and at the head of every way there were erections (here called "arches" or "heights") which, from the connection in which they are mentioned, must have been shrines devoted to the strange gods from abroad. It is characteristic of the political idolatry here referred to that its monuments were found in the capital, while the more ancient and rustic worship was typified by the "high places" throughout the provinces. It is probable that the description applies mainly to the later period of the monarchy, when Israel, and especially Judah, began to lean for support on one or other of the great empires on either side of her. At the same time it must be remembered that Ezekiel elsewhere teaches distinctly that the influence of Egyptian religion had been continuous from the days of the Exodus (chapter 23). There may, however, have been a revival of Egyptian influence, due to the political exigencies which arose in the eighth century.

Thus Jerusalem has "played the harlot"; nay, she has done worse-"she has been as a wife that committeth adultery, who though under her husband taketh strangers." And the result has been simply the impoverishment of the land. The heavy exactions levied on the country by Egypt and Assyria were the hire she had paid to her lovers to come to her. If false religion had resulted in an increase of wealth or material prosperity, there might have been some excuse for the eagerness with which she plunged into it. But certainly Israel’s history bore the lesson that false religion means waste and ruin. Strangers had devoured her strength from her youth, yet she never would heed the voice of her prophets when they sought to guide her into the ways of peace. Her infatuation was unnatural; it goes almost beyond the bounds of the allegory to exhibit it: "The contrary is in thee from other women, in that thou committest whoredoms, and none goeth awhoring after thee: and in that thou givest hire, and no hire is given to thee, therefore thou art contrary" (Ezekiel 16:34).

3. Ezekiel 16:35-58 .-Having thus made Jerusalem to "know her abominations" (Ezekiel 16:2), the prophet proceeds to announce the doom which must inevitably follow such a career of wickedness. The figures under which the judgment is set forth appear to be taken from the punishment meted out to profligate women in ancient Israel. The public exposure of the adulteress and her death by stoning in the presence of "many women" supply images terribly appropriate of the fate in store for Jerusalem. Her punishment is to be a warning to all surrounding nations, and an exhibition of the jealous wrath of Jehovah against her infidelity. These nations, some of them hereditary enemies, others old allies, are represented as assembled to witness and to execute the judgment of the city. The remorseless realism of the prophet spares no detail which could enhance the horror of the situation. Abandoned to the ruthless violence of her former lovers, Jerusalem is stripped of her royal attire, the emblems of her idolatry are destroyed, and so, left naked to her enemies, she suffers the ignominious death of a city that has been false to her religion. The root of her sin had been the forgetfulness of what she owed to the goodness of Jehovah, and the essence of her punishment lies in the withdrawal of the gifts He had lavished upon her and the protection which, amid all her apostasies, she had never ceased to expect.

At this point (Ezekiel 16:44 ff.) the allegory takes a new turn through the introduction of the sister cities of Samaria and Sodom. Samaria, although as a city much younger than Jerusalem, is considered the elder sister because she had once been the centre of a greater political power than Jerusalem, and Sodom, which was probably older than either, is treated as the youngest because of her relative insignificance. The order, however, is of no importance. The point of the comparison is that all three had manifested in different degrees the same hereditary tendency to immorality (Ezekiel 16:45). All three were of heathen origin-their mother a Hittite and their father an Amorite-a description which it is even more difficult to understand in the case of Samaria than in that of Jerusalem. But Ezekiel is not concerned about history. What is prominent in his mind is the family likeness observed in their characters, which gave point to the proverb "Like mother, like daughter" when applied to Jerusalem. The prophet affirms that the wickedness of Jerusalem had so far exceeded that of Samaria and Sodom that she had "justified" her sisters-i.e., she had made their moral condition appear pardonable by comparison with hers. He knows that he is saying a bold thing in ranking the iniquity of Jerusalem as greater than that of Sodom, and so he explains his judgment on Sodom by an analysis of the cause of her notorious corruptness. The name of Sodom lived in tradition as that of the foulest city of the old world, a ne plus ultra of wickedness. Yet Ezekiel dares to raise the question, What was the sin of Sodom? "This was the sin of Sodom thy sister, pride, superabundance of food, and careless ease was the lot of her and her daughters, but they did not succour the poor and needy. But they became proud, and committed abominations before Me: therefore I took them away as thou hast seen" (Ezekiel 16:49-50). The meaning seems to be that the corruptions of Sodom were the natural outcome of the evil principle in the Canaanitish nature, favoured by easy circumstances and unchecked by the saving influences of a pure religion. Ezekiel’s judgment is like an anticipation of the more solemn sentence uttered by One who knew what was in man when He said, "If the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom and Gomorrha, they would, have remained until this day."

It is remarkable to observe how some of the profoundest ideas in this chapter attach themselves to the strange conception of these two vanished cities as still capable of being restored to their place in the world. In the ideal future of the prophet’s vision Sodom and Samaria shall rise from their ruins through the same power which restores Jerusalem to her ancient glory. The promise of a renewed existence to Sodom and Samaria is perhaps connected with the fact that they lay within the sacred territory of which Jerusalem is the centre. Hence Sodom and Samaria are no longer sisters, but daughters of Jerusalem, receiving through her the blessings of the true religion. And it is her relation to these her sisters that opens the eyes of Jerusalem to, the true nature of her own relation to Jehovah. Formerly she had been proud and self-sufficient, and counted her exceptional prerogatives the natural reward of some excellence to which she could lay claim. The name of Sodom, the disgraced sister of the family, was not heard in her mouth in the days of her pride, when her wickedness had not been disclosed as it is now (Ezekiel 16:57). But when she realises that her conduct has justified and comforted her sister, anti when she has to take guilty Sodom to her heart as a daughter, she will understand that she owes all her greatness to the same sovereign grace of Jehovah which is manifested in the restoration of the most abandoned community known to history. And out of this new consciousness of grace will spring the chastened and penitent temper of mind which makes possible the continuance of the bond which unites her to Jehovah.

4. Ezekiel 16:59-63 -The way is thus prepared for the final promise of forgiveness with which the chapter closes. The reconciliation between Jehovah and Jerusalem will be effected by an act of recollection on both sides: "I will remember My covenant with thee Thou shalt remember thy ways" (Ezekiel 16:60-61). The mind of Jehovah and the mind of Jerusalem both go back on the past; but while Jehovah thinks only of the purpose of love which he had entertained towards Jerusalem in the days of her youth and the indissoluble bond between them, Jerusalem retains the memory of her own sinful history; and finds in the remembrance the source of abiding contrition and shame. It does not fall within the scope of the prophet’s purpose to set forth in this place the blessed consequences which flow from this renewal of loving intercourse between Israel and her God. He has accomplished his object when he has shown how the electing love of Jehovah reaches its end in spite of human sin and rebellion, and how through the crushing power of divine grace the failures and transgressions of the past are made to issue in a relation of perfect harmony between Jehovah and His people. The permanence of that relation is expressed by an idea borrowed from Jeremiah-the idea of an everlasting covenant, which cannot be broken because based on the forgiveness of sin and a renewal of heart. The prophet knows that when once the power of evil has been broken by a full disclosure of redeeming love it cannot resume its old ascendency in human life. So he leaves us on the threshold of the new dispensation with the picture of Jerusalem humbled and bearing her shame, yet in the abjectness of her self-accusation realising the end towards which the love of Jehovah had guided her from the beginning: "I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am Jehovah: that thou mayest remember, and be ashamed, and not open thy mouth any more for very shame, when I expiate for thee all that thou hast done, saith the Lord Jehovah" (Ezekiel 16:62-63).

Throughout this chapter we see that the prophet moves in the region of national religious ideas which are distinctive of the Old Testament. Of the influences that formed his conceptions that of Hosea is perhaps most discernible. The fundamental thoughts embodied in the allegory are the same as those by which the older prophet learned to interpret the nature of God and the sin of Israel through the bitter experiences of this family life. These thoughts are developed by Ezekiel with a fertility of imagination and a grasp of theological principles which were adapted to the more complex situation with which he had to deal. But the conception of Israel as the unfaithful wife of Jehovah, of the false gods and the world-powers as her lovers, of her conversion through affliction, and her final restoration by a new betrothal which is eternal, are all expressed in the first three chapters of Hosea. And the freedom with which Ezekiel handles and expands these conceptions shows how thoroughly he was at home in that national view of religion which he did much to break through. In the next chapter we shall have occasion to examine his treatment of the problem of the individual’s relation to God, and we cannot fail to be struck by the contrast. The analysis of individual religion may seem meagre by the side of this most profound and suggestive chapter. This arises from the fact that the full meaning of religion could not then be expressed as an experience of the individual soul. The subject of religion being the nation of Israel, the human side of it could only be unfolded in terms of what we should call the national consciousness. The time was not yet come when the great truths which the prophets and psalmists saw embodied in the history of their people could be translated in terms of individual fellowship with God. Yet the God who spake to the fathers by the prophets is the same who has spoken to us in His Son; and when from the standpoint of a higher revelation we turn back to the Old Testament, it is to find in the form of a nation’s history the very same truths which we realise as matters of personal experience.

From this point of view the chapter we have considered is one of the most evangelical passages in the writings of Ezekiel. The prophet’s conception of sin, for example, is singularly profound and true. He has been charged with a somewhat superficial conception of sin, as if he saw nothing more in it than the transgression of a law arbitrarily imposed by divine authority. There are aspects of Ezekiel’s teaching which give some plausibility to that charge, especially those which deal with the duties of the individual. But we see that to Ezekiel the real nature of sin could not possibly be manifested except as a factor in the national life. Now in this allegory it is obvious that he sees something far deeper in it than the mere transgression of positive commandments. Behind all the outward offences of which Israel had been guilty there plainly lies the spiritual fact of national selfishness, unfaithfulness to Jehovah, insensibility to His love, and ingratitude for His Benefits. Moreover, the prophet, like Jeremiah before him, has a strong sense of sin as a tendency in human life, a power which is ineradicable save by the mingled severity and goodness of God. Through the whole history of Israel it is one evil disposition which he sees asserting itself, breaking out now in one form and then in another, but continually gaining strength, until at last the spirit of repentance is created by the experience of God’s forgiveness. It is not the case, therefore, that: Ezekiel failed to comprehend the nature of sin, or that in this respect he falls below the most spiritual of the prophets who had gone before him.

In order that this tendency to sin may be destroyed, Ezekiel sees that the consciousness of guilt must take its place. In the same way the apostle Paul teaches that "every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." Whether the subject be a nation or an individual, the dominion of sin is not broken till the sinner has taken home to himself the full responsibility for his acts and felt himself to be "without excuse." But the most striking thing in Ezekiel’s representation of the process of conversion is the thought that this saving sense of sin is produced less by judgment than by free and undeserved forgiveness. Punishment he conceives to be necessary, being demanded alike by the righteousness of God and the good of the sinful people. But the heart of Jerusalem is not changed till she finds herself restored to her former relation to God, with all the sin of her past blotted out and a new life before her. It is through the grace of forgiveness that she is overwhelmed with shame and sorrow for sin, and learns the humility which is the germ of a new hope towards God. Here the prophet strikes one of the deepest notes of evangelical doctrine. All experience confirms the lesson that true repentance is not produced by the terrors of the law, but by the view of God’s love in Christ going forth to meet the sinner and bring him back to the Father’s heart and home.

Another question of great interest and difficulty is the attitude towards the heathen world assumed by Ezekiel. The prophecy of the restoration of Sodom is certainly one of the most remarkable things in the book. It is true that Ezekiel as a rule concerns himself very little with the religious state of the outlying world under the Messianic dispensation. Where he speaks of foreign nations it is only to announce the manifestation of Jehovah’s glory in the judgments He executes upon them. The effect of these judgments is that "they shall know that I am Jehovah"; but how much is included in the expression as applied to the heathen it is impossible to say. This, however, may be due to the peculiar limitation of view which leads him to concentrate his attention on the Holy Land in his visions of the perfect kingdom of God. We can hardly suppose that he conceived all the rest of the world as a blank or filled with a seething mass of humanity outside the government of the true God. It is rather to be supposed that Canaan itself appeared to his mind as an epitome of the world such as it must be-when the latter-day glory was ushered in. And in Canaan he finds room for Sodom, but Sodom turned to the knowledge of the true God and sharing in the blessings bestowed on Jerusalem. It is surely allowable to see in this the symptom of a more hopeful view of the future of the world at large than we should gather from the rest of the prophecy. If Ezekiel could think of Sodom as raised from the dead and sharing the glories of the people of God, the idea of the conversion of heathen nations could not have been altogether foreign to his miner It is at all events significant that when he meditates most profoundly on the nature of sin and God’s method of dealing with it, he is led to the thought of a divine mercy which embraces in its sweep those communities which had reached the lowest depths of moral corruption.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

The Pulpit Commentaries


The section on which we now enter, with its companion picture in Ezekiel 23:1-49; forms the most terrible, one might almost say the most repellent, part of Ezekiel's prophetic utterances. We have, as it were, his story of the harlot's progress, his biography of the Messalina of the nations. We shudder as we read it, just as we shudder in reading the sixth satire of Juvenal. The prophet speaks, like the satirist, of things which we have learnt, mainly under the teaching of Christian purity, to veil in a reticent reserve, with a Lucretian and Dante-like vividness. The nearest parallel, indeed, which literature presents to it is found in the 'Epistola ad Florentinos' of the latter poet. We need to remember, as we read it, that his standard was not ours, that those for whom he wrote had done or witnessed the things which he describes, that there was in them no nerve of pudicity to shock. He did not write virginibus puerisque, but for men to whom the whole imagery was a familiar thing. It is obvious, however, that the interpreter lives under ether conditions than the prophet, and cannot always follow him in the minuteness of his descriptions.

The thought that underlies Ezekiel's parable, that Israel was the bride of Jehovah, and that her sin was that of the adulterous wife, was sufficiently familiar. Isaiah (Isaiah 1:21) had spoken of the "faithful city that had become a harlot." Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:2) had represented Jehovah as remembering "the kindness of her youth, the love of her espousals." What is characteristic of Ezekiel's treatment of that image is that he does not recognize any period in which Israel had been as a faithful wife. But even here he had a forerunner in Hosea, who, in order that his own life might be itself a parable, was ordered to take to himself "a wife of whoredom," one, i.e; whose character was tainted before her marriage (Hosea 1:2). Ezekiel would seem to have dwelt upon that thought, and to have expanded it into the terrible history that follows.

Ezekiel 16:3

Thy birth and thy nativity, etc. A prosaic literalism (as e.g. in interpreters like Hitzig and Kliefert) has seen in Ezekiel's language the assertion of an ethnological fact. "The Jebusite city," the prophet is supposed to say," was never really of pure Israelite descent. Its people are descended from Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, and are tainted, as by a law of heredite, with the vices of their forefathers." So taken, the passage would remind us of the scorn with which Dante (ut supra) speaks of the cruel and base herd of Fiesole, who corrupted the once noble stock of the inhabitants of Florence (so also 'Inf.,' 15.62). Rightly understood, it is believed that Ezekiel's words imply the very opposite of this. As Isaiah (Isaiah 1:10) had spoken of "the rulers of Sodom, and the people of Gomorrah;" as Deuteronomy 32:32 had spoken of the vine of Israel becoming as "the vine of Sodom;" as our Lord speaks of the Jews of his time as not being "the children of Abraham" (John 8:39); so Ezekiel, using the strongest form of Eastern vituperation, taunts the people of Jerusalem with acting as if they were descended, not from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but from the earlier heathen inhabitants of what was afterwards the land of Israel. It is not necessary to enter into a history of the three nations whom he names. Briefly, the Canaanites represented the dwellers in the lowland country west of the valley of the Jordan—the plains of Philistia, Sharon, Esdraelon, and Phoenicia; and their leading representatives in Ezekiel's time were the cities of Tyre and Zidon. The Amorites were people of the mountains, at first, west of the Jordan, on the heights over the Dead Sea and as far as Hebron, but afterwards, under Sihon, on the high tablelands east of the Jordan. The Hittites, on whose history much light has been thrown by recent Egyptian and other discoveries, appear first in the history of the purchase of the cave of Macphelab, at Kirjath-arba, or Hebron, and that history implies commerce and culture. Esau's marriage with the daughters of two Hittite chiefs implies, perhaps, a recognition of their value as allies (Genesis 26:34). They are always numbered with the other six nations, whom the Israelites were to conquer or expel (generally in conjunction with the Canaanites and Amorites as the three first, though not always in the same order, Exodus 3:8; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11). And this fact obviously determined Ezekiel's choice. In the later historical books they appear but seldom. One Hittite captain, Uriah, occupies a high position in David's army (2 Samuel 11:3). The kings of the Hittites trade with Solomon, and give their daughters to him in marriage (1 Kings 10:29). They meet us for the last time as possible allies of the kings of Judah (2 Kings 7:6), and in the list of the older nations in Ezra 9:1 and Nehemiah 9:8. Then they disappear from the page of history till the discovery and decipherment of Egyptian records in our own time shows them to have been among the mighty nations that have passed with their rulers into the Hades of departed kingdoms.

Ezekiel 16:4

As for thy nativity, etc. We ask, as we interpret the parable, of what period in the history of Israel Ezekiel speaks. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are ignored by him, and he starts from a time of misery and shame. It is obvious that the only period which corresponds to this is that of the sojourn of Israel as an oppressed and degraded people in the land of Goshen. He paints, with a Dantesque minuteness, the picture of a child just born, abandoned by its mother and neglected by all others from the very moment of its birth. It lies unwashed and foul to look upon. No woman's care does for it the commonest offices of motherhood. For to supple, read, with the Revised Version, to cleanse. The practice still met with in the East of rubbing the newborn child with salt may have rested partly on sanitary grounds (Jerome, in loc. Galen, 'De San.,' 1.7), partly on its symbolic meaning (Numbers 18:19). When this was done, the child was wrapt in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:7), but these too were wanting in the picture which Ezekiel draws. The whole scene may have been painted from the life. Such a birth may well have been witnessed during the march of the exiles, when the brutality of their Chaldean drivers allowed no halt, and the child was left to perish of neglect, and the thought may then have flashed across Ezekiel's mind that the pity which he felt for the deserted infant was a faint shadow of that which Jehovah had felt for Israel in the degradation of their heathen bondage.

Ezekiel 16:5

For to the loathing of thy person, read, with the Revised Version, for that thy person was abhorred.

Ezekiel 16:6

For polluted, read, with the Revised Version, weltering, the primary meaning of the verb being that of stamping or treading, and omit "when thou wast," as weakening the condensed force of the original. The marvel of that unlooked for pity is emphasized by the iteration of the word of mercy, Live. The commentary of the Chaldee Targum is sufficiently curious to be quoted: "And the memory of my covenant with your fathers came into my mind, and I was revealed that I might redeem you, because it was manifest to me that ye were afflicted in your bondage, and I said unto you, 'I will have compassion on you in the blood of circumcision,' and I said unto you, 'I will redeem you by the blood of the Passover'" (Rosenmuller). The thought underlying this strange interpretation is that blood might be the means of life as well as of pollution, and in that thought there is a significance at once poetical and profound, almost, as it were, anticipating the later thoughts that the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin (1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5), that we make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). There is no reason, however, for believing that such thoughts were present to the prophet's mind.

Ezekiel 16:7

The tenses should be in the simple historic past: I caused; thou didst increase and wax great; thou attainedst, and so on (Revised Version). In the word "multiply" (Exodus 1:7) the figure passes into historical reality. To excellent ornaments; Hebrew, to ornament of ornaments. The word is commonly used of jewels, trinkets, and the like (Exodus 33:4; 2 Samuel 1:24; Isaiah 49:18). So Vulgate, mundus muliebris. Here, however, the external adorning comes in Ezekiel 16:10, Ezekiel 16:11, and instead of the plural we have the dual. Hitzig is, perhaps, right in taking the phrase to refer to tide beauty of the cheeks, which are themselves the ornaments of the golden prime of wroth. The LXX; following either a different reading or paraphrasing, gives, "to cities of cities." The two clauses that fellow point to the most obvious signs of female puberty. For whereas, read, with the Revised Version, yet, etc; as describing, not as the Authorized Version seems to do, a state which trod passed away, but one which still continued even when full-grown girlhood would have demanded clothing.

Ezekiel 16:8

The words point to the time of the love of the espousals of Jeremiah 2:2, interpreting the parable, when Israel had grown to the maturity of a nation's life, and gave promise, in spite of previous degradation, of capacities that would render it worthy of the love of the Divine Bridegroom. I spread my skirt over thee. Garments were often used as coverlets, and the act described was therefore, as in Ruth 3:9, the received symbol of a completed marriage (comp. Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20). The historical fact represented by the symbol here was probably the formal covenant between Jehovah and Israel (Exodus 24:6, Exodus 24:7). It was then that he became her God, and that she became his people.

Ezekiel 16:9

The "washing" and "anointing" were part of the customary preparations for the marriage union (Ruth 3:3; Esther 2:12; Judith 10:3). The mention of blood receives its explanation, not in the facts of Ezekiel 16:6, but in the ceremonial rules of Le 15:19-24

Ezekiel 16:10

Broidered work; the "raiment of needlework" of Psalms 45:14; 5:30; Exodus 35:35; Exodus 38:23. The word meets us again in Ezekiel 27:24, as among the imports of Tyre from Egypt. Curiously enough, the Hebrew verb (rakam) has passed through Arabic into tide languages of Western Europe, and we have the Italian ricamare, the Spanish recamare, the French recamer, for" embroidering." Badgers' skin. Elsewhere in the Old Testament the word is found only in the Pentateuch (Exodus 28:5; Exodus 26:14; Numbers 4:6, Numbers 4:8, Numbers 4:10, et al.). It has been commonly taken as meaning the skin of some animal—badger, dolphin, or porpoise, or, as in the Revised Version, seal, which was used for sandals. All the older versions, however, take it as a word of colour, the LXX. giving ὑακίνθον ("dark red"); Aquila, Symmachus, and Vulgate, ianthino ("violet"). Possibly the two meanings may coalesce, one giving the material, the other the tint which met the eye. Fine linen. The byssus of Egyptian manufacture (Exodus 25:4; Exodus 26:1; Exodus 39:3, et al.). Silk. The Hebrew word (here and in Ezekiel 27:13) does not occur elsewhere. The word so translated in Proverbs 31:22 is that which we find here and elsewhere for "fine linen." Silk, in the strict sense of the term, had its birthplace in China, and there is no evidence that even the commerce of Tyre extended so far; but the context points to some fine texture of the lawn or muslin kind, like the Coan vestments of the Greeks. So the LXX. gives τριχαπτόν, as though it were made of fine hair; the Vulgate, subtilia. It is significant that three out of the four articles specified are prominent (as the references show) in the description of the tabernacle and the priestly dress, in Exodus 28:1-43; Exodus 39:1-43. The dress of the bride symbolized the ritual and cultus of Judaism.

Ezekiel 16:11

Ornaments. Same word as in Ezekiel 16:7, but here taken in its more usual sense. (For bracelets, see Ezekiel 23:42; Genesis 24:22, Genesis 24:30; Numbers 31:50. For chain, Genesis 41:42).

Ezekiel 16:12

A jewel on thy forehead; better, with the Revised Version, a ring upon thy nose. The word has the same meaning in Genesis 24:47 ("earring" in the Authorized Version); Isaiah 3:21 (where the Authorized Version gives "nose jewels"); Proverbs 11:22. Jerome, however, notes (in loc.) that the Syrian women of his time wore pendants or lockets that hung from the forehead to the nostrils. The crown, or diadem (LXX; στέφανος καυχήσεως), the thin circlet of gold confining the hair, completed the catalogue of ornaments. The Chaldee Targum continues its spiritual interpretation: "I gave the ark of my covenant to be among you, and the cloud of my glory overshadowed you, and the angel of my presence led you in the way." And, if we assume, as we legitimately may assume, that Ezekiel, above all others, the prophet of symbolism, did not fill up his picture with details which were only meant to fill it up, this seems a not unfitting interpretation.

Ezekiel 16:13

Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil. From the dress of the bride we pass to her luxuries in the way of food. The things named might, of course, be only chosen as the delicacies for which the land of Israel was famous (Deuteronomy 32:13, Deuteronomy 32:14), which in the prophet's own time were in demand in the markets of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:17). Cakes of flour and honey were in common use in various forms of Greek ritual, and are probably referred to in Jeremiah 44:19, but in that of the Jews (Le Jeremiah 2:11) honey takes its place, side by side with leaven, as a thing forbidden. Thou didst grow into a kingdom. History crops out through the parable, and points to the stage which it has now reached, i.e. that of the magnificence of the kingdom under Solomon.

Ezekiel 16:14

It was perfect, etc. (compare the phrase, "perfection of beauty," in Psalms 1:2; Lamentations 2:15, as applied to Jerusalem). The prophet, in the words, my comeliness—majesty (Revised Version)—lays stress on the fact that that "perfection" was itself the gift of God.

Ezekiel 16:15

We enter on the history of the apostasy, and the root evil was that the bride of Jehovah had been unfaithful to her Lord. She looked on her glory as her own, and did not recognize that everything in it was the gift of God (Hosea 2:8). The words obviously point to the policy which Solomon had initiated, of alliances with the heathen and the consequent adoption of their worship. This, as from the earliest days of Israel, was the "whoredom" (Revised Version) of the unfaithful with (Exodus 34:15, Exodus 34:16; Le Exodus 17:7; Deuteronomy 31:16; 2:17; Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; Hosea 1:1-11, Hosea 2:1-23). And it was, so to speak, a promiscuous whoredom. Every passer by was admitted to her embraces, every nation that offered its alliance had its worship recognized and adopted. In the closing words of extremest scorn, the prophet adds, his it was. Jerusalem was, as I have said, the Messalina of the nations.

Ezekiel 16:16

(For high places, see note on Ezekiel 6:6.) The words imply that the shrines upon them were decked with hangings of many coloured tapestry, presenting an appearance like that of a Persian carpet, as in 2 Kings 23:7, of the image of the Asherah. Those hangings were, as in Proverbs 7:16, the ornaments of the adulterous bed. The "high places" are named first, as the earliest form of idolatry. The like things shall not come. The words are obscure, and the text probably corrupt. As they stand, they seem to say that the world would never again witness so shameful an apostasy. The Vulgate, Sicut non est factum neque futurum est; extends the comparison to the past. Possibly, though it is a strain upon the grammar, the words may be rendered, "such things should not come, should not be."

Ezekiel 16:17

Images of men, etc.; Hebrew, as falling in with the symbolism of the history, "male images." The words point to the teraphim, the penates, or household gods, of which we read in Genesis 31:19; 18:14; 1 Samuel 19:13; Hosea 3:4; and which, like the statues of Baal-peor, may have exhibited the phallic type of idolatry.

Ezekiel 16:18, Ezekiel 16:19

Mine oil and mine incense. This, as afterwards in Ezekiel 23:41, was the crowning aggravation of the guilt. The very gifts of God, designed for his worship, were prostituted to that of his rivals. The "oil" is that of Exodus 30:23-25, perfumed and set apart for sacred uses. The act of covering the idol was, as in Exodus 30:8, the symbol of the marriage union. In the sweet savour we have the familiar phrase of Ezekiel 6:13. The scene brought before us is that of a sacrificial feast, in which cakes of flour, honey, and oil were eaten whilst incense was offered. So we have the "adored liba" of Virgil, 'AEneid,' 7.109, or more fully in Tibullus, 'Eleg.,' 1.7, 53, 54, the "thuria honores," the "liba … dulcia melle." Thus it was, etc. As in verse 16, the description seems to rouse an instinctive abhorrence in the prophet's mind, which finds utterance in this form: "Yes, it was even so." The words are, however, taken by the LXX; Vulgate, and Luther as opening the following verse: "And it came to pass that."

Ezekiel 16:20

The next stage of idolatry is that of Moloch worship, which never wholly ceased as long as the monarchy of Judah lasted (2 Kings 16:3; Psalms 106:37; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:5; Micah 6:7; Le 18:21; 20:2). It will be noticed that the words, "the fire," are in italics, i.e. are not in the Hebrew, the verb "to pass through" having acquired so technical a meaning that it was enough without that addition. This, as the closing words indicate, was the crowning point. As though idolatry in itself was a small matter, it was intensified by infanticide.

Ezekiel 16:22

Thou hast not remembered. The words gain a fuller significance when we recollect those of Ezekiel's master (Jeremiah 2:2). The husband remembered "the love of her espousals;" the faithless wife forgot from what a life of shame and misery she had then been rescued.

Ezekiel 16:23

Woe unto thee, etc.! The interjectional parenthesis, half anathema and half lamentation, looks forward rather than backward. Up to this point Ezekiel had dwelt on the forms of idolatry which were indigenous to Canaan and the nations in immediate contact with it. Now he enters on the later forms of evil which had been adopted from more distant nations. We pass from the time of Solomon to that of Ahaz and Manasseh.

Ezekiel 16:24

An eminent place; lofty (Revised Version); but the word strictly points to the form of a vault, with the added meaning, as in the LXX; οἵκημα πορνικόν, and the Vulgate, lupanar, of its being used for prostitution. It is, at hast, a curious fact that the Latin fornicari and its derivatives, take their start from the fornices, the vaults or cells which were the haunts of the harlots of Rome. Looking to the fact that all the worst forms of sensual evil came to Rome from the East, and specially from Syria—

"Jampridem in Tiberim Syrus defluxit Orontes"

(Juv; 'Sat.', 3.62)

—it seems probable that the practice was a survival of the custom to which Ezekiel refers. As in the Mylitta worship at Babylon (Herod; 1.262; Bar; 6:43), and that of Aphrodite at Corinth, prostitution assumed a quasi-religious character, and the harlot sat in a small cell, or chapel, inviting the passers by, and treating her hire as, in part, an offering to the goddess whom she served. Such chapels of prostitution were to be found naturally in the "high places" of Judah (the word, however, is not that commonly so translated), and in the crossways of intersecting roads. To such a harlot Ezekiel compares the daughter of Judah, and proceeds to paint her life with a terrible minuteness, even to the very attitude that invited to sin.

Ezekiel 16:26

With the Egyptians. The words point to political and commercial alliances, in themselves a whoredom (Isaiah 23:17; Nahum 3:4), such as Zedekiah, like some of his predecessors, had trusted in, as well as to the adoption of Egyptian worship, such as we have seen in Ezekiel 8:10, the one leading naturally to the other. The words, great of flesh, may point, as we interpret the parable, to the supposed strength of the stout and stalwart soldiers, the chariots and horses of the Egyptians, but possibly also may be a euphemism for the mere animal vigour which stimulated passion.

Ezekiel 16:27

Have diminished thine ordinary food. The husband was bound to provide his wife with food and raiment (Exodus 21:10). Here his first discipline for the unfaithful wife is to place her on a short allowance. Jehovah, to interpret the parable, had placed Israel under the discipline of famine and other visitations that involved a loss of wealth and power. Hosea 2:9, Hosea 2:10 supplies a striking parallel. The daughters of the Philistines. So in verse 57. The phrase, like "the daughter of Zion," indicates the Philistine cities. These had been, from the days of Samuel to those of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:18), among the most persistent enemies of Judah (comp. Amos 1:6; Amos 3:9; Joel 3:4; Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 14:29). In the words, were ashamed of thy lewd way, the prophet points, as his master had done (Jeremiah 2:10), to the fact that other nations had at least been faithful to their inherited religion, while Judah had forsaken hers.

Ezekiel 16:28

With the Assyrians. Here also the words include political alliances like that of Ahaz with Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:7), as well as the adoption of idolatrous worship. The latter probably followed under Ahaz as a consequence of the former, and afterwards spread through the influence of the Assyrian colonists—each nation with its own deities—in Samaria (2 Kings 17:24). The culture of the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 44:17), i.e. of the Assyrian Ishtar, may have had this origin. Yet couldest not be satisfied. One is reminded once more of Juvenal ('Sat.,' 6:130).

Ezekiel 16:29

In the land of Canaan, etc. The words at first seem to give the nearest and furthest points of the intercourse of Israel with foreign nations. I incline, however, with Smend and the margin of the Revised Version, to take Canaan in its secondary sense as "the land of traffick," Chaldea being in apposition with it (comp. Isaiah 23:8; Hosea 12:7; Zephaniah 1:11, for a like use of the Hebrew word). Chaldea thus comes in its right place as closing the list of the nations with whom the harlot city had been unfaithful.

Ezekiel 16:30

How weak, etc.! The weakness is that expressed in the Latin impotens libidinis, with no strength to resist the impulses of desire. The word imperious (perhaps masterful would be better) is that of one who is subject to no outward control. One is reminded of Dante on Semimlnis ('Inf.,' 5.56). The strange renderings of the LXX. ( τὶ διαθῶ τὴυ θυγατέρα σου) and the Vulgate (in quo mundabo cor tuum) are difficult to account for, but probably indicate that the present text is corrupt.

Ezekiel 16:31

In that, etc. It is better to take the words as beginning a fresh sentence: "when thou didst build," etc. The historical survey of the harlot's progress is brought to a close, and the prophet points with bitter scorn to what aggravated its degradation. Other nations, like Tyre and Zidon, had risen to prosperity and eminence through their intercourse with foreigners. To Judah it had brought only subjection and the payment of tribute. She had given gifts to all her lovers, instead of receiving from them the rewards of her shame. She was as the adulterous wife who forsakes her husband, and gives what belonged to him to strangers. The conduct of Ahaz in stripping the Temple of its gold and silver to pay tribute to Assyria (2 Kings 16:8), gives an apt illustration of what the prophet means (comp. Hosea 12:1; Isaiah 30:6).

Ezekiel 16:35

From the task of painting the guilt of Judah the prophet proceeds to that of denouncing its punishment.

Ezekiel 16:36

Thy filthiness; literally, thy brass; probably as alluding to the tribute referred to in the previous verses, "brass" being taken as used scornfully for money generally. Possibly, however, as in Jeremiah 6:28, the word stands for the symbol of shame and vileness (compare our brazen faced), and so justifies the rendering of the Authorized Version and Revised Version. Thy nakedness discovered; i.e. interpreting the parable, the intercourse of Judah with foreign nations had simply exposed the points that were moot open to attack (Genesis 42:9). By the blood of thy children. The words may refer specially to the Moloch sacrifices of Jeremiah 6:21, but may also include the lavish waste of life as well as treasure which had been the consequence of the foreign alliances. The harlot city is indicated as being also a murderess.

Ezekiel 16:37

I will gather all thy lovers, etc. Interpreting the parable, the" lovers" are the nations with which Judah had allied herself, and whose religion she had adopted. In that confederacy of Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, Philistines, Edomites and Chaldeans them should be small difference between those whom she had loved and those whom she had hated. All alike would exult in her shame and her fall (comp. Psalms 137:7; 2 Kings 24:2).

Ezekiel 16:38

The bloodshed may refer, as in Ezekiel 16:36, to the Moloch sacrifices, or may include also other crimea, assassinations and judicial murders (Jeremiah 2:34). Strictly speaking, the punishment of the adulteress was death by stoning (Le Ezekiel 20:2, Ezekiel 20:10; Deuteronomy 21:21; Deuteronomy 22:21; John 8:5). Did Ezekiel think of the stones cast against the city from the catapult engines of the Chahleans as a literal counterpart of that punishment? In the last clause read, with the Revised Version, I will bring upon thee the blood of fury and jealousy; sc. the death which was inflicted by the indignation of Jehovah as the Husband against whom Judah had sinned.

Ezekiel 16:39

(For eminent place and high place, see notes on Ezekiel 16:24.) These the Chaldean conqueror treated as local sanctuaries, and laid them waste. The clothes and the jewels are, of course, all outward tokens of stateliness and prosperity. The (or a) holy city, the perfection of beauty, should be as "some forlorn and desperate castaway" (comp. Lamentations 1:1-10 for a companion picture).

Ezekiel 16:40

The punishment of stoning was, as a rule, inflicted by the "congregation" (Numbers 15:36), or by the men of the city (Le Ezekiel 20:2). Other forms of punishement for impurity were those of the sword and burning, as in Le Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 21:9. The thrusting through (better, hewing; the word is not found elsewhere) probably points to mutilation after death, as in the case of Agog (1 Samuel 15:33 : comp. 19:29; Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:29). in this case the "congregation" or "company" is the army of the Chaldeans, and each form of punishment has its counterpart in the various agencies which they employed for the punishment of the city.

Ezekiel 16:41

They shall burn thine houris with fire, etc.. The women stand for the "cities" which looked on, with awe or exultation, at the destruction of the guilty. Possibly, however, the words may include a literal sense, as in Lamentations 2:10.

Ezekiel 16:42

So will I make my fury, etc.; read, with the Revised Version, will satisfy. The words are not primarily words of comfort. They speak of the satisfaction of the jealous husband's righteous anger, and therefore of a completed punishment. And vet that thought was, as the sequel shows (Ezekiel 16:53, Ezekiel 16:60-63), the beginning of hope for the future, as the prophet thought of his people. For here the forms of punishment were not final The daughter of Zion survived the stoning, the sword, and the burning. And so, when wrath had done its work of retribution, it might become corrective and purgatorial. The injured husband, in the bold anthropomorphic language of the parable, would be no more angry. The Lord God of Israel would remember his covenant, and forgive.

Ezekiel 16:43

Because thou hast not remembered (comp. Jeremiah 2:2). There is, so to speak, a certain dawn of tenderness in the new form of reproach, as compared with the sternness of what had gone before, and this in itself implies the pity which is the ground of hope. Fretted. Ezra (Ezra 5:12) uses the same word, there rendered "provoke." Had Ezekiel's use of it stamped it as the right word for confession? Thou shalt not commit, etc. The Vulgate follows a reading which gives, "I have not done according to thy lewdness," etc.; i.e. the guilt had deserved a greater punishment. The Revised Version margin gives, "Hast then not committed," etc.? The word for "lewdness" ("lewd way" in verse 27) is specially characteristic of Ezekiel, who uses it eleven times. Elsewhere it is translated "wickedness" (Le Ezekiel 18:17, et al.), "lewdness" in 20:6; Jeremiah 13:27. It conveys always the sense of a guilt that revolts and shocks us.

Ezekiel 16:44

Every one that speaketh proverbs, etc. As in Ezekiel 18:2, we have an example of the tendency of the Eastern mind to condense the experience of life into the form of proverbial sayings. Here the proverb expresses what we call the doctrine of heredite. We say, in such cases, "Like father, like son;" but the feeling of the East recognized, especially in the case of daughters, that the mother's influence was predominant.

Ezekiel 16:45

Ezekiel returns to the thought of the spiritual parentage of Jerusalem and Judah, as in verse 3. Reading between the lines, we find something like an anticipation of St. Paul's thought that Jehovah was the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews (Romans 3:29). The Hittites and Sodom and Samaria, to whom she is compared, had all alike been guilty of unfaithfulness to their husbands. Their idolatry was therefore, like hers, an act of apostasy. Jehovah was their husband also, their children were his children (verse 21). He claimed them as his own, had entered with them also into a relation which, though less close than that with Israel, was as that of the husband to the wife. The thought expands, as we shall see, in the sequel of the chapter.

Ezekiel 16:46

No very adequate reason appears for the assignment of the respective ages of the two sisters. Historically, Sodom, as the oldest representative of evil, would have seemed to claim precedence. Samaria may have had this position assigned to it as more closely connected with Judah. The left and right hands indicate respectively a position to the north and south of Jerusalem, the observer of the heavens looking east, as, we may note, the temple did (Ezekiel 8:16). The comparison with Samaria is developed more fully in Ezekiel 23:1-49. The daughters are, as elsewhere, the cities dependent on Sodom and Samaria respectively.

Ezekiel 16:47

The words in italics indicate, as usual, a difficulty. A better construction gives, Thou hast not done after a small measure only. So the Vulgate, Neque secundum scelera earum fecisti pauxillum minus. The LXX. connects the words with the clause that follows: "Thou wast all but ( παρὰ μικρὸν) corrupted more than they."

Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 16:50

It is noticeable that what we commonly speak of as the specific sin of the cities of the plain is not mentioned here. The prophet fixes on the point which made Sodom a luxurious and sensual city, the graver evil being just hinted at in the word abominations, and as the outcome of the evil tendencies. So in like manner the special sin of Samaria, the worship of the calves, is not named, but taken for granted. (For fulness of bread, see Proverbs 30:9 : Hosea 13:6; Deuteronomy 8:12.) Prosperity and luxury in her case, as in that of other wealthy cities, hardened the hearts of men against the poor and needy. There was probably a sufficient reason for the omission which has been pointed out. It was wiser to dwell on the sins which were common to the two cities rather than on the vice which, though it existed in Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:7), was probably not prevalent there. As I saw good; better, according to what I saw. The word "good" is not in the Hebrew, and the words apparently refer to Genesis 18:21.

Ezekiel 16:51, Ezekiel 16:52

Thou hast justified, etc. The word has a touch of sarcasm. Sodom and Samaria might claim a verdict of acquittal ("justify," in its technical sense) as compared with Judah. They had not presented, as she had done, a confluence of all the worst idolatries. The words find something like an echo in our Lord's teaching Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:24. And, as is common m such eases," she had judged," i.e. had passed sentence of condemnation on those who were more righteous than herself. The Revised Version changes both meaning and punctuation: Bear thine own shame, in that thou hast given judgment for thy sisters; through thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they, they are more righteous than thou; but the Authorized Version seems preferable. It may be questioned whether the word for judged is ever used of an acquittal. The point of the sentence is that Judah condemned those who were less guilty than herself (comp. Romans 2:17-23).

Ezekiel 16:53

When I shall bring again; better, with the Revised Version, both here and in Ezekiel 16:55, and I will turn again. The Authorized Version reads like a sentence of hopeless and perpetual condemnation, as per impossible. When Sodom and Samaria should be pardoned, then, and not till then, should there be hope for Judah. But all that follows in the chapter shows that what is meant is a promise of restoration, not for Judah only, but also for her less guilty sisters. Ezekiel sees a far off hope for his own nation, and he cannot limit the mercy of God in bringing them also, as she was to be brought, to repentance. For them also punishment was a means to an end beyond itself, corrective, and not merely retributive. The language of Isaiah (Isaiah 19:23-25) as to Egypt and Assyria presents a striking parallel, and may have been in Ezekiel's thoughts.

Ezekiel 16:54

Even in that restoration, however, there should be a further clement of humiliation. Judah should be a comfort (see Ezekiel 14:22) to those who should see her placed lower than themselves, content, at last, to lake the lowest place, humbling herself that she might be (Ezekiel 16:61) afterwards exalted.

Ezekiel 16:55

Read and for when, as in Ezekiel 16:53.

Ezekiel 16:56

Thy sister Sodom, etc. The golds are obscure. The most tenable interpretation may be expressed by a paraphrase. The name of Sodom was not in the lips of Judah in the days of her prosperity. It was too vile for utterance, except as a byword of reproach. Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9, Isaiah 1:10) had in vain reminded her that she had made herself like them. Her fate could never be like theirs. Now, in the day of the discovery (the uncovering, or laying bare) of her wickedness (verse 57), she had learnt the lesson.

Ezekiel 16:57

For thy reproach, read, with the Revised Version, the reproach. The words point primarily to the disasters, not of Judah, but to those that fell on the cities of Syria and Philistia—the Assyrian and Chaldean invasions. (For the grouping of the two nations as enemies of Judab, see Isaiah 9:12; and for special acts of hostility, 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:6; and 2 Chronicles 28:18, 2 Chronicles 28:19.)

Ezekiel 16:58

Thou hast borne, etc. Judah, i.e; had received the full measure of its punishments. The righteousness of God had been adequately vindicated. And so, if the punishment led to repentances, there was room for pardon (compare for the thought, Isaiah 40:2).

Ezekiel 16:59, Ezekiel 16:60

I will even deal with thee, etc. The law of retribution is stated in all its fulness. Falling back upon the idea of the espousals of Israel in the covenant made at Sinai (Le 26:42, 45; Deuteronomy 29:11, Deuteronomy 29:12), Ezekiel presses home on Judah the thought that she had broken that covenant. She must suffer as though it no longer existed. She must "dree her weird" and "accept her punishment" (Le 26:41). And then Jehovah would show that he had not really been unmindful of his part in it. tie bad remained faithful in spite of her unfaithfulness. And so in the day of her repentance he will not only renew it, but will give it a higher and more permanent character. The "new covenant" of which Ezekiel's master had spoken (Jeremiah 31:31) should not be as the old, decaying and vanishing away, but should be foreverlasting.

Ezekiel 16:61

Then thou shalt remember thy ways, etc. The pardon which God gives is not, as men sometimes dream, a water of Lethe, blotting out the memory of the evil past. Ezekiel represents that memory as quickened to a new intensity in the very hour of restoration. The shame which it brings with it is necessary as the safeguard of the new blessedness. Thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger. It is significant that, as in the Revised Version, both the adjectives are now in the plural. What was possible for Sodom and Samaria was possible also, as for the cities more immediately connected with them, so also for other nations of the heathen world. They to should be admitted into fellowship, not now as alters, but as daughters, acknowledging, i.e; her superiority. The limitation which follows, not by thy covenant, asserts, as it were, the restored prerogative of Judah, much as St. Paul asserts it in Romans 9-11. Those who are within the covenant of Israel, including, as it does, those who are the heirs of the faith of Abraham as well as his children according to the flesh, are in a closer relation to him than others who share in what have been called (the phrase, perhaps, taking its origin from these very words) the "uncovenanted mercies" of God.

Ezekiel 16:63

That thou mayest remember. The words paint vividly the attitude of the penitent adulteress, humble, contrite, silent, ashamed (Hosea 3:3-5), and yet with a sense that she is pardoned, and that the husband against whom she has sinned is at last pacified. Revised Version, when I have forgiven thee. The Hebrew verb so rendered is that which expresses the fullest idea of forgiveness, and which marked both the "day" and the "sacrifice" of atonement (Numbers 8:12; Le Numbers 23:27, et al.). This, according to the received etymology, was represented in the mercy seat, the ἱλαστήριον, of the ark of the covenant (cophereth, as from caphar). So the prophet closes with the wet, Is of an eternal hope what had at first seemed to heal up to nothing but eternal condemnation. How far the prophet expected a literal fulfilment in the restoration of Sodom and Samaria, we cannot define with certainty; but the ideal picture of the purification of the waters of the Dead Sea in Ezekiel 47:8 suggests that it entered into his vision of the future. For us, at least, it is enough to pass from the temporal to the eternal, from the historical to the spiritual, and to see in his words the noblest utterance of mercy prevailing over judgment—a theodikea, a "vindication of the ways of God to man," like that of Romans 11:33-36.


Ezekiel 16:3

Evil parentage.

The Jews boasted of their descent from Ahraham, but Ezekiel told them that they were children of the Canaanite aborigines of their land, because it was from those people that they drew their present character.

I. ORIGINAL PARENTAGE MAY BE LOST. A man may inherit the throne of a great king, but if he has a mean and servile disposition, and inherits no kingly nature, he is not a true son of his father. Titles and estates may pass from men of high powers to imbeciles. The good name of a worthy Christian man may be borne by a worthless descendant. We cannot entail character. No man can be certain that his children will follow his example, however good and attractive that may be, and when it is not followed the true man is not represented by his children. Thus Christ would not permit his contemporaries to call themselves Abraham's children (John 8:39-41). This does not mean that he disputed their genealogical records. Apart from those prosaic tests of pure blood were the more serious signs of apostasy and disinheritance. In like manner, it is possible to lose the status of Divine sonship, although by nature we are all God's children. It may even be surmised that Ezekiel had lost the recollection of the true origin of the Israelites, and had come to regard them as descendants of the Canaanites.

II. A NEW PARENTAGE MAY BE ACQUIRED. The Jews were not Amorites and Hittites by natural descent. But though on their entering Canaan there was an express understanding that they were to drive out the inhabitants of the land and form no league with them, they lolled in that enterprise, leaving many of the original inhabitants in their midst, from whom they contracted habits of idolatry. We are all more or less influenced by our surroundings, and it is therefore of great importance that we should not choose hurtful companions. But there is a way of resisting a bad example when we cannot escape from its physical proximity. To yield to it is a sign of weakness and sin. The result is to make us spiritually the children of those we follow. The most vital inheritance is that of character. Though the blood of Abraham flowed in the veins of the apostate Jews, the spirit of Amorites and Hittites had possession of their minds and hearts. Therefore the chief part of their lives was derived from the adopted ancestors. A natural Christian parentage is of little account if a spiritual parentage of sin has been accepted by the degenerate children.

III. THE EXCHANGE OF AN ORIGINAL WORTHY PARENTAGE FOR A NEW EVIL PARENTAGE IS AN UNSPEAKABLE DISGRACE. Israel had been accustomed to despise the Canaanites. To have to own a father and mother among those effete subject races was a shame for the proud conquerors of Canaan. But a worse disgrace lay in the abandonment of the lofty spirit of the patriarchs and the adoption of the degraded character of the heathen. It is a shame when the children of Christian parents sink into the condition of children of this world. They know better; they have seen worthy examples; they have been trained under good influences; they have received high privileges. We expect the sow to wallow in the mire, but when a person of higher origin follows her example he degrades himself far below the shameful state of the unclean animal.

Ezekiel 16:9-13

The glory of redemption.

Under the similitude of a wretched child cast off by its mother and picked up by a passer by, Israel is shown to have been found by God in a miserable condition and cared for and blessed by him. Tins idea may be carried further as a symbol of the redemption of the Church by Christ.

I. THE FIRST CONDITION IS ONE OF POLLUTION AND NEGLECT. Israel was in a miserable condition in Egypt when God had pity on his people. But the spiritual state of souls in sin is more wretched and forlorn.

1. It is a condition of pollution. Sinners lie in the defilement of their own sinfulness, and their wretched plight is the direct consequence of their own moral corruption.

2. It is a condition of neglect. Until God interfered, Israel in Egypt was friendless. No kindred Semitic tribe cared or dared to rescue the nation of slaves. No being came to save the world before God made bare his arm.

II. THE FIRST STEP TO RECOVERY SPRINGS FROM THE PITY OF GOD. The good Samaritan is a type of our great Father. There is no beauty in sinful man to attract the attention of God. It is not our claim, but his pity, that moves God to save the world. The love of Christ, not the worth of man, brought our redemption. Pity—commiseration for the wretched—lies at the root of the gospel. God is love, and therefore he comes to the miserable in supreme compassion.

III. THE REDEMPTION BEGINS IN CLEANSING. Sin must be washed away before the soul can be received into the privileges of the family of God. Even this early process is preceded by God's adoption of the wretched castaway, and the cleansing is done by God himself. It is as when a miserable child of the street has been taken by a charitable person into his own home. The child cannot make itself clean. But the first act of the kind rescuer is to wash it. Christ cleanses from sin with his own blood.

IV. THE REDEMPTION IS CROWNED WITH SPLENDOUR. The poor wastling is not treated as a workhouse child or put to low drudgery. She is clothed in purest apparel and decked with rarest ornaments. So the prodigal is to wear the best robe and to have a ring on his hand. God does not save grudgingly or by halves. He does not content himself with plucking the brand from the burning. He gives royally of his best to the miserable sinners whom he has redeemed. The gospel promises glory as well as grace.

V. THE RESCUE AND REDEMPTION ESTABLISH A NEW RELATION WITH GOD. According to the richly illustrative picture of Ezekiel, when the poor abandoned infant is grown up, her rescuer makes her his bride. God is often regarded as the Husband of his people. But here the picture is not of God marrying any human soul, but of his marrying the most abandoned. This illustrates his marvellous condescension. At the same time, it shows the supreme duty of fidelity to God on the part of the Church that has been rescued from so dire a fate and then raised to so great an honors.

Ezekiel 16:14

The renown of Israel.


1. The renown of great deliverance. The fame of the escape from Egypt and of the overthrow of Pharaoh's host in the Red Sea spread over the neighbouring lands, so that when the wandering tribes reached the borders of Canaan, they were known as a people marvellously favoured by God. The renown of the redemption by Christ is less appreciated by those who do not share in that redemption. Still it exists. It is a great thing to be among those on whom God's pity has taken effect, and who have been saved from spiritual destitution.

2. The renown of glorious victory. Israel had made her way safely through the wilderness in spite of the arrows of Amalek and the wiles of Moab. She had crossed the Jordan and conquered Canaan. Since then, though often in adversity, she had ill the main triumphed over her enemies. The history of the Church is a history of victory over opposition and persecution. Often the faithless people of God have had to suffer shame for their sins. Still, on the whole, there has been success and victory.

3. The renown of acquired splendour. It is the beauty of the bride that is renowned. The wealth and wisdom of Solomon brought renown to Israel. For us the renown of Israel is that of her religion—the revelation of God that comes to us through her, and the beautiful stories of her saints and heroes. The Church of Christ has won such a renown through her "noble army of martyrs," and the charity and holiness of her less conspicuous children.


1. It redounds to the glory of God. The bride of Ezekiel's parable had been a wretched castaway. All her splendors of jewels and raiment came from the kindness of her rescuer. All the beauty of holiness in the saints of God is due to the grace of him who has redeemed them from a state of sin and ruin.

2. It attracts the admiration of men. Israel was envied and admired by the nations in the days of her prosperity. The true beauty and greatness of the Church win men to Christ, as her sin and shame hinder them. The gospel is preached by the renown of Christian lives. A good biography thus declares the truth on which the life it describes has been built.

3. It aggravates the shame of unfaithfulness. That so beautiful and famous a bride should degrade herself, and exchange renown for infamy by proving herself false to her husband, is most shameful. The old renown of beauty adds notoriety to the present disgrace of sin. Israel's apostasy was the more scandalous because her previous condition had been famous. The fall of the Church would be doubly shameful after the glorious history of past achievements. Men who have borne a high character before the world will be marked with a stigma of the greatest contempt if they fall into notorious wickedness.

4. It preserves an ideal for restorations. The former glory may be recovered. We see in Christian history Types of character to which we should seek to restore the Church. Christ's redemption will confer a higher beauty than that which was lost by Israel's apostasy.

Ezekiel 16:15

(first clause, "Thou didst trust in thine own beauty")

Trust in beauty.


1. It is felt to be a pleasant endowment. The national beauty of Israel could not but please the people. Bodily grace and mental gifts are naturally valued by those who own them, for undoubtedly in themselves they are good.

2. It is flattered with admiration. The beautiful bride is renowned (see Ezekiel 16:14). This implies that her beauty was much spoken of. Such a fact could not but be pleasant to one who loved admiration. But the pleasure of receiving flattery is dangerous and deceptive. The person admired is likely to attach too much weight to it.

3. It is seen to be a means of influence. There is power in beauty. Admiration rules the admirer. The person who is fawned upon by flattering neighbours seems to exercise a certain power over them.


1. The beauty is not an original possession. The beauty of the bride was developed through the kind treatment of her rescuer. The gifts and possessions of Israel were not won by her powers, but conferred by the providence of God. Christian attainments are all endowments of Divine grace. To trust these things to the neglect of him from whom they come, and even to claim them as original resources, is to lean upon a falsehood. This must fail.

2. The beauty is fleeting. Nothing is so fragile. When it is most needed it may be found to have departed. To trust it is to lose it (see Ezekiel 16:39).

3. The beauty is feeble. Beauty is not strength. A gorgeously clad army may suffer ignominious defeat in the day of war. Grace and attractiveness in speech and bearing do not signify strength of character. The most winning people may be the most helpless when energy and determination are in requisition.


1. It must come from the abandonment of self-trust. Even though we are flattered into believing great things of ourselves, taken at the very best, human strength and goodness fail before the assaults of sin. We have to learn that we are "miserable and blind and naked," and to give up the Pharisee's boast for the publican's only plea, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" owning that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags."

2. The needed security will be found in Christ. He is strong to save. even though he appears before us in the weakness of human suffering, and with the shame of his cross. At first we may exclaim, "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). But in the end we can believe the promise, "Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty" (Isaiah 33:17). For if we begin by trusting Christ's saving strength in this world of sin and need, we shall afterwards behold his beauty and glory in the world of light.

Ezekiel 16:30

("How weak is thine heart!")

A weak heart.

I. THE NATURE OF A WEAK HEART. It has certain characteristics.

1. Coldness of affection. The first ardor of love is forgotten, and has given place to a Laodicean indifference. It cannot be said that the soul has lost all interest in God. But the old passion has faded and left only the dull embers of a listless devotion.

2. Lack of energy. The weak heart beats feebly, and the person who is afflicted with it does not feel equal to any great exertions. There are souls in this condition of torpor.

3. Readiness to give way. The weak heart may be overstrained; its action may be depressed; or it may be excited to unhealthy palpitation. The soul that is similarly affected lacks stability.


1. Yielding to evil influences. If the heart were true to God, temptation would be harmless. It is the feeble soul that first falls. When a little fear depresses us, and a little worldly joy distracts from the love of God, the heart cannot be strong in its affection. The stout heart will stand out bravely against the agonies of martyrdom. Thus with the Christian, sin is always a sign of weakness in the first instance.

2. Failure in service. Apparent failure may indicate no weakness in God's true servant. The best seed sown by the best sower will fail of fruitfulness if it fall by the wayside or on stony ground. Real failure is in ourselves—it is the giving up of earnest, faithful endeavour. This only comes from a weakness of love. When the heart beats strong and true to God, the service of the life does not flag.

3. Inability to repent. The true servant of God is sometimes found in sin. But he grieves over it, and seeks forgiveness with tears of anguish. When he despairs of recovery or will not exert himself to repent, he proves that his love is cold and his heart feeble.

III. THE SINFULNESS OF A WEAK HEART. We have every reason to love God with all our heart, and with a warmth and decision of character that nothing can shake, for we are embraced by his infinite love. The strong heart of God has cared for us in trouble and redeemed us in sin, and we can only measure his love by the preciousness of the gift of his Son. In view of the great love of Christ, proved to us by his death and Passion, any love short of the warmest and strongest sinews ingratitude on our part. Note, further, that weakness of heart is sinful on certain definite grounds.

1. God expects love in the heart, not merely obedience in the life.

2. God is not satisfied with measured devotion; he seeks a whole-hearted love.

3. Sin in the heart leads to sin in the life; for "out of it are the issues of life."


1. It provokes the wrath of God. It is an insult to the wonderful love of God that we should receive it with a half-hearted response. Christ says to all Laodiceans, "I would thou wert either cold or hot." In some respects weak-hearted devotion is worse than ardent enmity; for it confesses an obligation it does not satisfy.

2. It leads to death. The weak heart will become the heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19). This degeneracy cannot stay in its present stage. When love to Christ cools, it is on its way to extinction.

Ezekiel 16:32

The shameful sin of apostasy.

Apostasy is repeatedly compared to adultery by the Old Testament prophets, but the comparison is nowhere so full and powerful and even appalling as in this long sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, which consists in an elaborate indictment of Israel on that terrible charge. A mealy mouthed modern fastidiousness resents this style of describing sin as though to name it were more shameful than to commit it, for the fact of apostasy from God is by no means excluded when the old name for it is condemned as too coarse for polite society. It may be well for us to brace up our nerves to endure the strong words on the sin of unfaithfulness to God which the inspired messengers of Jehovah felt themselves impelled to utter. In what respects, then, may apostasy be compared to that shameful thing, adultery?

I. IT PRESUPPOSES A MARRIAGE RELATION BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE. That relation has been described with graphic pictures in the preceding verses. God had. chosen Israel in her forlorn condition as a miserable castaway chard, reared her in kindness, and then adorned her with splendour and taken her home to himself as his bride. In like manner, all God's people have been first found by him, and then brought into the closest bonds of union with himself. Such a union with God is like marriage, because it implies

II. IT CONSISTS IN UNFAITHFULNESS TO GOD. The people of God are not at liberty to leave him whenever they choose.

1. Love should bind them. There is no such thing as innocent "free love" under any circumstances; for love always implies obligations. Its bonds may be soft and silken, but they are strong and sacred. God's love to us, accepted by us, carries with it a duty of gratitude and loyalty.

2. The pledges of faith must ever bind God's people to the duty of cleaving to him. When we accept the blessings of the gospel we enter into a covenant relation like that of marriage vows.

III. IT SPRINGS FROM YIELDING TO A LOWER LOVE. God's people do not forsake him from weariness or without motive. But some fatal fascination lures the heart of the foolish wife from her true husband. In the case of Israel this was the sensuous and florid idolatry of the Canaanites, with its coarse, cruel, lustful charms. Anything that draws us from God by counter attractions is an "idol of the heart." Money, pleasure, power, success, may thus deceive and destroy. Yet a prior condition of unfaithfulness is the failing of love to God. "How weak is thine heart!"

IV. IT IS A GREAT SIN. Adultery is confessedly a black and awful sin, standing side by side with murder, as a horror of great wickedness. So, according to the Hebrew prophets, is unfaithfulness to God. As we are not free to forsake hint who has inn chased us at the great cost of his own Son, and to whom we are doubly bound by the ties of our own vows, to "change our mind" in this matter and fling up our religion is not a light affair of private convenience. In the sight of God it is adultery.

V. IT IS A PECULIAR SOURCE OF SHAME AND SORROW. No sin is so shameful as that of adultery, and none brings in its train such heart-rending sorrow.

1. It is shameful to be unfaithful to God; for it outrages the deepest instincts of the soul and violates the secret sanctuary of life.

2. It is certainly a source of bitter sorrow, if not now, yet hereafter; for it means banishment from the home of heaven, with the pangs of remorse to gnaw like a worm, long after the short pleasures of sin have sunk to ashes.

Ezekiel 16:42

How God's anger ceases.

I. IT CANNOT CEASE WHILE THE CAUSE FOR IT REMAINS. An irascible person is provoked to wrath by slight causes; but inasmuch as his anger springs chiefly from his own fiery disposition, the cooling of passion allays the rage of wrath, even though circumstances remain unchanged. But God is "slow to anger" (Psalms 103:8); he is not wrathful by nature, because in essence he is love. But the anger which is slow to begin is the more deep and terrible, as it does not arise without adequate reason. Further, a weak person may tire of his anger, even though the cause of it remains unchanged. An explosion of wrath exhausts him. He has not the energy for sustained anger. The fire simply burns out. But this cannot be the case with the great, the unexhaustible nature of God. God is ever the same, always true, just, active. Therefore so long as the cause for anger is unchanged, the anger too must remain. "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psalms 7:11). As long as men continue in sin, so long must God abide in wrath. An eternity of sin must, be accompanied by an eternity of Divine anger.

II. IT WILL CEASE WHEN THE OBJECTS OF IT ARE DESTROYED. This appears to be the terrible goal of the text. Gracious as it reads in word, the purport of it is most fearful. It stands between passages of denunciation and condemnation; it cannot describe a kindly cessation of wrath. The anger of God will burn till it has nothing further to consume. Then his fury will rest. Thus it was with Israel nationally. The people were swept away, consumed off the land. Only a "remnant" was spared, a mere stump of the old tree, from which new growths could sprout. We see no more of God's anger against a man when he has been killed. If nothing were interposed for the saving of his soul, the natural consequence of sin run out to its extremity would be destruction. Then God would cease to be angry with the sinner, for the plain reason that there would be no sinner left against whom his wrath would be called forth.

III. IT WILL CEASE WHEN THE CAUSE FOR IT CEASES. There is another way by which the anger of God may be allayed. He is not desirous to see his children destroyed, for he is merciful and gracious. When sin is pardoned, God's fury towards the sinner rests and his jealousy departs. But this pardon does not depend only on the will of God, or he would forgive all his children.

1. It is dependent on repentance. So long as the soul persists in impenitence, God's anger cannot cease to burn. It is not simply a question of the amount and guilt of the sin which first provoked God's wrath. The continued impenitence is virtually a prolongation of the guilt. But when the sinner truly repents, God's anger abates.

2. It is also dependent on Christ's atonement. We are able to read the words of Ezekiel with a more hopeful meaning than that which the prophet seems to have put upon them, because "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1, 1 John 2:2). We read that "the mercy of the Lord eudureth forever," but never that the anger of the Lord endureth forever. On the contrary, "He will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger forever" (Psalms 103:9). Still, God only ceases to be angry either because sin destroys the sinner or because God destroys the sin.

Ezekiel 16:43

Remembering the days of youth.

I. IT IS NATURAL TO REMEMBER THE DAYS OF YOUTH. The fact that Israel has not done so is remarked on as something strange and unbecoming. Memory is a marvellous possession at which the materialist stumbles, for it involves that mystery, personal identity. We can not merely recall the scenes of bygone years, but, what is more wonderful, we can detect the connecting link of personality that runs through those scenes. Each one of us can say, "I was there in that dreamlike past." Now, while all memory thus recalls the personal past, the memory of our early days does this with peculiar vividness. As time runs out while intermediate scenes are but faintly impressed on the mind and tend to fade off rapidly, the early days remain stamped upon the memory with indelible portraiture. Thus the old man looking across the near past with growing forgetfulness, is able to call up the most vivid recollections of his childhood, as one may look across a valley that lies wrapped in mist, and see the mountains in the far distance rising beyond it sharp and clear. Whatever else we forget, it is most unnatural not to remember the days of our youth.

"Sweet memory, wafted by thy gentle gale,

Oft up the stream of time I turn my sail

To view the fairy haunts of long lost hours,

Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers." (Rogers.)

II. IT IS WISE TO REMEMBER THE DAYS OF YOUTH. There is no use in simply lamenting lost happy days, especially as we are likely to view them in the delusive glamour of a fond affection. There can be little good in exclaiming, with Coleridge—

"When! was young!

When I was young! Ah, woful when!"

But there is a wise and helpful use of the memories of youth.

1. In thankfulness. It was the sin and shame of Israel that she forsook her Deliverer, not remembering those days of her youth when he had found her forlorn and destitute, and bad saved her from destruction. She forgot the deliverance from Egypt. We have had many mercies from our youth up. It is right to remember them with thankfulness.

2. In warning. Remembering Egypt should have kept Israel from the danger of Babylon. Forgetfulness of the old bondage led to a heedless encounter with the new captivity. It is well to remember the sad scenes of youth. Some of these may be burnt into the memory beyond hope of forgetfulness. "If cutting off this hand," said a great speaker, holding out his right hand, "would blot out all memories of my misspent youth, I would gladly lose it." But he who orders our lives knows that even these terrible memories may be converted into helpful warnings for the future. Certainly it would be far better if we bad not done the deeds which created such memories and necessitated such warnings.

3. In humility. Israel's recollection of her old abject condition should humble her. Proud in her later prosperity, she scorned to remember the pit from which she was digged. People who have risen in society do not like to be reminded of their lowly youth. Yet the humility that comes from knowing how feeble we once were is wholesome.

4. In encouragement. When in the most abject wretchedness Israel was saved by God. That was a glorious fact to be ever treasured up in the memories of youth. The recollection of such a deliverance should cheer with hope of similar mercy in future times of need.

Ezekiel 16:53

The salvation of Sodom.

That the notoriously wicked cities of the plain should come under the saving grace of God would seem to be one of the greatest paradoxes of redemption, and the more so as those cities had been utterly destroyed and the very sites of them obliterated. A reference to such an event opens up to us a marvellous vista in the deep possibilities of the future.

I. THEY WHO ARE EQUAL IN SIN WILL BE EQUAL IN REDEMPTION. There is even some comfort to us in the sight of the great wickedness of the Jews, or rather in what is based upon it. We read of repealed promises of restoration for Israel. Now, if the chosen people had been exceptionally virtuous, or but mildly culpable in comparison with the rest of the world, it might well have been surmised that the salvation which was possible for Israel could not be stretched to reach others of greater wickedness. But if the "Jerusalem sinners" are equal to the worst of the world's wicked people, if Jerusalem is sister to Samaria and Sodom in evil, the salvation which touches the one class of sinners may extend to the other. God is no respecter of persons. He has no favouritism. Redemption is as wide as sin.

II. CHRIST'S REDEMPTION AIMS AT EMBRACING ALL SINNERS. His redemption is universal in two respects.

1. In extent. As the Lamb of God, he came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29), not the sins of a certain nation, or those of one section of society. He commanded that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his Name among all nations" (Luke 24:47). If the gospel is to be offered to all, it must be that the salvation is effective for all. Nothing less could satisfy the heart of Jesus, and "he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11).

2. In intensity. Not only are sinners of all nations and of all sections of society included in the redeeming love of Christ; sinners of blackest guilt are also within its merciful and mighty embrace.

III. CHRIST'S REDEMPTION SHOULD BE APPLIED TO ALL SINNERS. It is not sufficient that he has died for the sins of the whole world, nor that he is willing to save all—Jerusalem, Samaria, Sodom, the very worst. For only they are effectually saved who have personally partaken of the grace of Christ.

1. It must be offered to all. Herein lies the duty of universal missionary agency. The gospel should be preached to the most remote nations, to the most degraded savages, to the most abandoned sinners. It is not for us to say that any are beyond its saving grace. But how of the heathen dead? how of Sodom, that has been utterly destroyed? how can Sodom be redeemed? Sodom may stand typically for the.worst contemporary sinners. Yet the truth of the text will be most completely satisfied if we deem it possible that Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison extended to the men of Sodom (1 Peter 3:20).

2. It needs to be taken by all. Christ died to redeem all, even the worst sinners, yet none share in his redemption save through penitence and faith.

Ezekiel 16:60

The everlasting covenant.

God's relations with his people are repeatedly described as determined by covenants. Adam, Noah, Abraham, and the nation of Israel, all had their covenants with God, and Christ established a new covenant.


1. It originates in God. The covenant is not an agreement made by two parties who meet on equal terms. It cannot be compared to the bond which seals a bargain after mutual concessions. It is rather an institution of God which man accepts. We cannot determine or in any way modify the conditions of God's covenant. As the Giver of blessing and the Lord of service, God offers us his settled covenant.

2. It must be accepted by man. The covenant relation has two sides. When we desire to share its privileges we must ourselves enter into it. We must freely accept it.

3. It involves mutual obligations.

II. THE OLD COVENANT. God had covenant relations with Israel in ancient days. The sinful people had violated the conditions of the covenant, and so, while excluding themselves from its privileges, they had brought its penalties down upon their heads (Ezekiel 16:59). God might therefore only remember his covenant in order to carry out its penal clauses. But he is seen to remember it on its gracious side. This could not be because he held himself bound to its promises, for the Jews had forfeit, d all rights in those promises. Therefore God's remembrance of the covenant is his merciful calling to mind of previous happy relations. God is not ready to forsake his people with whom he made a covenant in the olden times. It may be the same with the individual souls. There are men who followed God in their childhood, perhaps learning to love him from a mother's teaching, and entering into solemn promises to live for him in the hopeful days of youth. They may have forgotten those fair times of the long deal past. But God remembers them, and in his wonderful, enduring love he delights to revive them, and therefore he calls his erring children back to the forsaken paths.


1. Its necessity.

2. Its origin. It is based on the old covenant. God remembers that old covenant in granting a new one. The New Testament rests on the foundation of the Old Testament. Christ came to fulfil the Law by establishing the gospel (Matthew 5:17). The same Divine grace, which in its dawn shone through the earlier dispensation, in its noon glorifies the later one.

3. Its stability. It is to be an everlasting covenant. The old covenant was local, temporary, and fragile on the human side, though firm as adamant on God's side. The new covenant must have other characteristics to make it more enduring.

Ezekiel 16:63

Confounded by memory.


1. Memory of sin. We desire to forget our sin; but even if no recording angel wrote it down in the books of Divine judgment, the tooth of conscience would bite the memory of it into the very fibre of our hearts. We may succeed in drowning the hideous recollection for a time, but it seems to be proved that the forgotten past may be revived, and that all our life may be brought to mind in an awful flash of recollection, as in the experience of drowning men, or as we all find in the unexpected reminders of old associations suddenly encountered. When our hideous old sins thus glare upon our startled gaze, surely we must be confounded!

2. Memory of mercy. We may not note the favours of providence with which we are daily visited, and we may be accepting them with ingratitude and even abusing them with disobedience. But some day the goodness of God in our past will rise up in memory and accuse our ill reception of it.

3. Memory of opportunity. When the day of service is past and the night wherein no man can work has fallen upon us, it will be useless to plead our lack of opportunity for following God. Many a warning voice, many an appealing invitation, many an open door, many a day of grace, will confront our guilty souls.

4. Memory of the lost. If we have not been true or kind to those near to us, we shall remember the wrong, when, alas! it is too late to make amends, and the recollection will be confounding.


1. It will be a punishment. Many consequences of sin may be met with a brazen face, but not this. We may even cherish the memory of our evil past with a bad affectionateness, but when it meets us to confound us, all our bravado will be killed, and nothing will remain but shame and anguish and remorse. To be confounded means to have our career arrested, to be put to confusion, to be east down in dismay, to make shipwreck of life. When we fully face the memory of our evil past, impenitent and unpardoned, no less a result can follow. This sin is its own chastisement. The serpent of evil inflicts a deadly wound with its own fangs. There is no necessity for heavenly thunderbolts to dash the sinner to destruction. No demon tormentors need be summoned from Tartarus to torture his guilty soul. His own memory will strike him, his own thoughts will burn and tear and rack his miserable conscience. "Unnatural seeds do breed unnatural troubles."

2. This punishment will be just. It will be the direct consequence of sin. There can be no pretence that the accusation is false. No man can set up the plea of an alibi against the charges of his own memory. Here is a witness who cannot be upset by the most rigorous cross-examination, nor discredited by the bitterest opprobrium. Accused by his own memory, the sinner cannot but be speechless. There is no conceivable escape when the court of justice is a man's own breast and when witnesses, judge, jury, and executioner are all found in his own thoughts.

"To be left alone

And face to face with my own crime, had been

Just retribution."


These terrible thoughts are not written to drive us mad, but to urge us to amendment. When there is no door of escape from the awful chamber of self-judgment the great necessity is to seek a new heart and a Divine pardon that we may never be "confounded by memory."


Ezekiel 16:1-4

Undeserved and lavish kindness.

The Prophet Ezekiel was a prophet of reproach. His ministry largely consisted in rebuke and denunciation. His lot fell upon the time of his country's calamity. Defection and apostasy were punished by national disaster; for whilst the exiles endured the ills of banishment, the remnant in Jerusalem and in Judah endured the horrors of siege. That all the evils inflicted upon. the Hebrew people were of the nature of righteous punishment is apparent from the record of their departure from God. It is this point which the prophet presses in this chapter—one of the most painful in the inspired volume. The distinguishing favour, bounty, and forbearance of God are described as aggravating the national guilt. That a people so favoured should forsake him to whom they owed everything, and should addict themselves to the worship and service of idols, was guilt of no ordinary kind, entailing no ordinary chastisement. The figure under which the prophet sets forth the Divine favour towards Jerusalem, and Jerusalem's disloyalty to God, is a very bold and effective figure; and if it were less painful and distressing it would be less just. Jerusalem is represented first as a low born, neglected babe, taken under the kindly protection of the Lord, and by him nourished and trained to lovely womanhood, and taken for his own spouse. Ungrateful for this kindness, Jerusalem is pictured as unfaithful to him to whom she owed everything, as prostituting herself to her idolatrous neighbours, indulging her own passions, and dishonouring her rightful Lord. In plain and pungent language her monstrous guilt is exposed, and its due punishment is threatened. Yet, in his amazing compassion, the Lord does not abandon and repudiate her whom he had chosen, but invites her to repentance, and promises to renew the covenant of his loving kindness. In the early part of the chapter the goodness and pity of God towards Jerusalem are portrayed in terms the most touching and affecting.

I. GOD'S GRACIOUS KINDNESS APPEARS FROM THE RECORD OF THE ORIGIN AND EARLY STATE OF JERUSALEM. In verse 3 the prophet reminds Jerusalem whence she had sprung. Her native place was the land of Canaan, a land notorious for the cruelty and vileness of its inhabitants. Her father was an Amorite, and her mother a Hittite—an ancestry of which she could not be vain. There was, accordingly, nothing in the birth and breeding of Jerusalem which could commend her to the Divine regard; that regard must have been altogether disinterested, benignant, and compassionate.

II. GOD'S SPARING MERCY APPEARS FROM HIS TREATMENT OF JERUSALEM IN THE TIME OF HER WORTHLESSNESS AND WRETCHEDNESS. Under the graphically depicted figure of a deserted newborn child, the condition of Jerusalem is portrayed as one of neglect, destitution, and friendlessness. When in such a state she was seen and pitied by the Benevolent One, who rescued her from death, who nurtured her gently, and provided for her all that could minister to her health, her growth, her vigour, her beauty. Whatever was justly written in praise of Jerusalem, in her fairest and brightest days, must be read in connection with this authoritative statement of the grace and kindness of God her Saviour. She had nothing which she did not receive from him who made her to differ.

III. GOD'S LOVING KINDNESS APPEARS IN THE COVENANT INTO WHICH HE ENTERED WITH JERUSALEM. In the eighth and following verses is described in glowing language the favour which God had to Jerusalem in the day of her espousals. The covenant of love was entered into, and the bride was arrayed in magnificent and costly attire, indicative of the bounty and kindness of her Lord. The poet prophet rises to his highest strain in singing of the beauty and majesty of the elected spouse of Jehovah. "Thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper unto royal estate. And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my majesty, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God."

IV. GOD'S GRACE APPEARS IN THE EXALTATION OF JERUSALEM TO A POSITION OF FAVOUR AND HONOUR. The wealth and splendour, the power and renown, of Jerusalem, especially in the reign of Solomon, are matters of history. The fame of Jerusalem was spread afar: she was "the joy of the whole earth." And this was the explanation: "The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for an habitation." "I," said the Lord—"I sware unto thee, and thou becamest mine."—T.

Ezekiel 16:15-59

Inexcusable infidelity.

Universal consent accounts that woman vile who, married to a kind and honourable husband, in order to gratify her own unchastened desires, commits adultery with her neighbours and acquaintances, and expends her husband's substance in rewarding her numerous and profligate admirers. The guilt of Jerusalem must indeed have been great if it could only be adequately set forth under the similitude of guilt so flagrant and abominable as that described in this most appalling chapter. Passing away from the figure to the reality, we have to trace the unfaithfulness of Jerusalem to him who had saved her from death, distinguished her by favour, and exalted her to honour.

I. JERUSALEM'S DISLOYALTY ORIGINATED IN HER ASSUMING AS HER OWN WHAT WAS REALLY THE GIFT AND GRACE OF GOD. What a lesson is there in the striking expression, "Thou didst trust in thine own beauty"!—thine own, as if for that beauty thou hadst to thank thyself; as if it were aught else than the gift of Divine bounty and the token of Divine favour! We are far less likely to abuse our position and our possessions if we do but remember that they are not ours, save by God's kindness, and that we are not our own.

II. DISLOYALTY ORIGINATED IN FORGETFULNESS OF DIVINE GRACE AND COMPASSION. Very touching is that expression in Ezekiel 16:22, "Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth." Here is the radical error. It is pride and self-confidence that leads men astray. They who are forgetful of God are in danger of being unfaithful to him. Jerusalem said, "I sit a queen!" And saying so, she fell. It is a too common experience. The Christian may learn to cultivate the spirit of complete dependence upon God; for the consciousness that he owes all to God will help to bind him to loyal allegiance and constant service.

III. DISLOYALTY WAS MANIFESTED IN THE ADOPTION OF THE IDOLATRY OF SURROUNDING NATIONS. In Jerusalem and the neighborhood the deities of the several peoples to the east, north, and south of Palestine had their deluded votaries; and not only so, idolatry was openly practised. With spiritual wantonness the citizens of the great and glorious city admitted and embraced every form of idolatry, and that even within sight, if not within the precincts, of the very temple of Jehovah.

IV. DISLOYALTY LED TO CONFORMITY TO ALL THE VILE PRACTICES WHICH ARE CONNECTED WITH IDOLATRY. Cruel and lustful rites, it is well known, were associated with heathen worship. In Ezekiel 16:20 and Ezekiel 16:21 reference is made to the practice, connected with the worship of Moloch, of causing sons and daughters to pass through the fire. This was but one of the abominable and reprehensible practices encouraged by heathen priests. When these practices are compared with the observances of the Law of Moses, who can avoid the conclusion that, whereas the former were the invention of sinful men, the latter bear marks of appointment by a pure and merciful God? Once let men abandon the true religion, and "go after false gods," and none can tell into what excesses of iniquity they may be led.

V. DISLOYALTY WAS CARRIED TO AN EXTENT EXTRAVAGANT AND MONSTROUS. Jerusalem is compared with Samaria and with Sodom, and is represented as "corrupted more than they in all her ways!" Indeed, had not the abominations wrought in Jerusalem been flagrant, the language of this chapter would not have been justified. The abuse of the best is ever the worst. The greater the height from which the fall, the severer is the hurt received. The Lord was aggrieved by the lengths to which the disobedient proceeded, the riot of iniquity into which they ran.

VI. FORBEARANCE WITH DISLOYALTY GAVE PLACE TO DIVINE DISPLEASURE, INDIGNATION, AND WRATH. The conduct of Jerusalem is nut unobserved and is not uncensured, Mercy has been defied, and just authority has been set at naught. It is not possible that infidelity so flagrant can be overlooked. Severe and righteous is the resolution of the almighty King, "I will judge thee;" "I will even deal with thee as thou hast done." Not only has Jerusalem to reckon with justice that cannot be perverted and with wisdom that cannot be eluded; it has to reckon with power that cannot be resisted. When God arises to judgment and calls the nations before him, a righteous sentence is pronounced, to which all must submit, and which none can question.

VII. THOSE WHO TEMPTED JERUSALEM TO DISLOYALTY WERE MADE INSTRUMENTS IN JERUSALEM'S PUNISHMENT. The lovers are called in to minister punishment to the adulteress; the surrounding nations, especially the Assyrians and Chaldeans and the Egyptians, were made instrumental in chastising the people that had permitted themselves to be deluded and seduced by their vile idolatries. Jerusalem's sin was great in proportion to her privileges, and her affliction was as her sin. And there was an awful appropriateness in the employment of the heathen people to chastise those who should have witnessed against their follies instead of being partakers of their sins.—T.

Ezekiel 16:60-63


It is not possible to conceive a more sudden and extraordinary change than that which occurs in passing from the fifty-ninth to the sixtieth verse of this chapter. From an exposure of the vilest treachery and threats of condign and awful punishment, the Lord, speaking by the mouth of his prophet, passes to promises of the most gracious and tender character. It is a wonderful revelation of the Divine heart. As the moral Governor, the Administrator of the affairs of nations, the Lord protests against his people's defection, and denounces upon them the just punishment of their sins. But he does not forget that they are his people. He foresees that the discipline through which they are to pass will not be lost upon them, that their heart will be wrung by contrition, and that their life will witness to their repentance. He promises that he will be pacified towards them, and that reconciliation shall take the place of rebellion and of punishment.

I. ON GOD'S SIDE MERCY IS REMEMBERED IN THE MIDST OF WRATH. The King pities his subjects even when they are in insurrection against him. It is their own interests that they are jeopardizing, their own sentence of condemnation that they are writing. The Lord of all, whilst he is displeased with the ingratitude and disobedience of his subjects, still retains his own character; there is no vindictiveness in his government; he ever delights in mercy.

II. ON THE SIDE OF JERUSALEM THERE IS SINCERE REPENTANCE AND SHAME. While God remembers his covenant, Jerusalem remembers her ways, and the memory awakens shame and confusion. The poignant appeal has not been made in vain. The mirror has been held up before the face of the sinful and abandoned, and the guilty heart has been conscious of its sin. Conduct, which has been the outcome of unrestrained passion or of an unreflecting yielding to external influence, is now seen in its true light. Deliberate wickedness is deliberately regretted and deliberately loathed. "To us belong shame and confusion of face."

III. THERE IS RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BROKEN COVENANT. This covenant dates back from the time of Jerusalem's youth; her infidelity has indeed cancelled it; but God, in his grace, is willing to overlook and forgive all that is past, and to renew the sweet and happy relations of other times. It is a miracle of mercy. God's ways are not as our ways. Human magnanimity, in its noblest exercise, falls short of this action of the holy God. Here is a revelation of the Divine character which may well bring comfort and hope to the sinner who has forsaken and defied his God, but who sees and repents his folly and his guilt. In the light of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the language is infinitely encouraging. There is a covenant of grace into which the righteous God admits, not Israel only, but mankind—a covenant in which all the giving is on God's side, and all the receiving is on ours.

IV. THERE IS AN ASSURANCE OF ACCEPTANCE AND PACIFICATION. The false prophets had proclaimed a false peace; a true peace comes only from him who is the God alike of righteousness and of mercy. When he declares, in the language of the text, "I am pacified toward thee," then it is well. When he giveth peace, who can give trouble? The transgressions of other days are forgotten; the estrangement of other days has given place to concord and harmony. Reverence and love are offered by those who were once in rebellion. And favour and everlasting love are revealed by him who but lately uttered words of reproach, and inflicted chastisement and punishment. It is the happy experience of the justified and accepted believer in Christ which breaks forth into the joyful exclamation, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."—T.


Ezekiel 16:1-14

Superhuman love.

The main difficulty in producing a moral reformation among men is to convince them of their degradation—of the low level to which they have sunk. The first thing to be done is to hold up to their view some bright mirror, in the which they may discern clearly what manner of men they are. Such a mirror is provided in the chapter under consideration. We have pictured here—

I. A FORMER LOATHSOME CONDITION. Sin is not merely resistance against proper authority, it is also personal pollution—a defilement of the soul.

1. A base origin. "Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother was a Hittite." It is often edifying to look "to the rock whence we were hewn"—to the meanness of our earthly parentage. The ancestors of the Hebrews were idolaters—a branch of that very race whom they despised and drove out. They had no superior dignity from their forefathers. All the superiority they enjoyed, had come from the special favour of Jehovah.

2. Their neglected condition. The kindness of common humanity had been denied to them in their infantile state. Their ancestors, the Amorites, cared nothing for them; yea, treated them as aliens in the land. Again and again Abraham was driven away by famine, and had to find sustenance by favour in the land of Egypt. At length, in the days of Jacob, "they were cast out into the open field," i.e. into the land of Egypt. They soon had no protection nor security from the Egyptian government. They were reduced to thraldom; their lives were made bitter.

3. They were even loathsome to all. To the Egyptians they were an abomination. They were hated of all men. It may have been on account of pusillanimity and mean-spiritedness—the effect of long servitude. It may have been on account of their peculiar customs—their clannishness. It may have been because of their peculiar religion, so different from all the nations. Yet there was the fact that no nation would make alliance with them.

4. Their forlorn and abandoned state. As a female child is often, in Eastern lands, abandoned on the hills—left to perish from want, or to be devoured by wild beasts—so, as far as human protection was afforded, Israel was exposed to early death. The Egyptians did their utmost to exterminate the race. The Amalekites and the Edomites followed in the same track. Israel was isolated in the world—treated as a foe by all.

II. GENEROUS TREATMENT BY GOD. Dispossessed of all natural attractions, God chose to show to this abandoned child special favour. The only explanation is, "So it seemed good in his sight." He giveth not to men a reason for his doings.

1. There was a look of love. The extreme helplessness of a little child often moves to pity the heart of a stolid man. Unless friendly help be at once afforded by the passer by, the puny child must perish. So the time of Israel's desolateness was the time of Jehovah's love. No other sentiment came into play then but the royal sentiment of love. The very heart of God looked out through his eye.

2. There was kindly protection. True love is not content with sentiment, nor yet with smiles, nor yet with words: it goes out in practical deeds. The best thing to be done was done at once. "I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness."

3. There was appropriate cleansing. As soon as the imperilled life was secured, the health and comfort of the child became Jehovah's concern. "I washed thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood." The God of heaven condescended to do this menial work. His real glory is seen in his amazing humility. He deigns to wash us still—to wash the soul from all its foulness.

4. There was the forthputting of vital power. "I said unto thee, Live!" The voice of God is a resistless energy. God's word is creative: "He speaks, and it is done." He who spake to the primitive chaos, "Let there be light!" and light was, speaks also to the soul dead in sin, and says effectually, "Live!" However near the brink of doom, they shall live, if God speaks the quickening word. "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?"

5. Multiplication of life. He made the one into many. "I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field." He who in the beginning of creation ordained that every plant should produce seed after its own kind, ordained that Israel should be fruitful above the ordinary measure of mankind. "As the stars of heaven, so shall thy seed be," was the promise to Abraham. And the promise was fulfilled. "They of the city flourished as the grass of the earth." Growth of population is an accepted sign of national prosperity.

6. A gracious alliance. "I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine." Though other nations refused to make alliances with Israel, Jehovah did so of his own accord. He treated them with most favourable consideration. He dealt with them as with free men—men endowed with reason and judgment. He made a compact with them, by which he bound himself to befriend them, on condition that they would loyally serve him. This was an act of stupendous grace. God dealt with them as if they were his equals. It gas a voluntary marriage.

7. There was also splendid adornment. "I clothed thee also with broidered work," etc. This once abandoned child was not only rescued, but was raised to dignity and honour. Her clothing was costly; her beauty set off to the greatest advantage. From the lowest grade of human life she was lifted to the very highest. Her person was adorned with richest ornaments, embellished with jewels and gold. Her dowry was magnificent, princely. Her condition was made by God a condition of luxury and splendour.

8. There was conferred on her queenly honour and renown. "I put a beautiful crown upon thy head." "Thou didst prosper into a kingdom." To this rescind child no earthly good was denied. She had more than heart could desire. Other countries were despoiled to enrich her. She was exalted to a place of high renown. Foreign rations became her servants, and kings her ministers. On the summit of earthly glory she sat enthroned, the wonder and the envy of the world. Which thing is an allegory. From the mire of moral pollution we have been raised: we have been put among God's sons. "And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ;" "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."—D.

Ezekiel 16:20-34

Idolatry is spiritual adultery.

Imagery borrowed from nature and human society, to set forth Israel's sin, is at the best feeble and imperfect. If it is possible for God to make some impression on man's guilty conscience, he will do it. What is more abominable among men than adultery? Yet connivance with idolatry is a sin blacker yet. It is adultery, ingratitude, robbery, treason, rolled into one crime!


1. The first root mentioned is pride. "Thou didst trust in thy beauty." Love of admiration led her astray. The desire to obtain alliance and friendship with neighbouring nations paved the way. Pride is a bewitching sin. It is often the first rift in the lute that spoils the music of the life.

2. Another root was ingratitude. "Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth." The Hebrew nation forgot its singular origin. If God had not called Abraham out of Chaldea, there would have been no Hebrew nation. Had God not appeared again and again to defend them, they would have perished. They were singularly indebted to God, and they were singularly ungrateful. This comes of a stony heart. Be shocked at the first appearance of ingratitude, whether towards man or towards God.

3. Another root was irresolution—a lack of firnmess and courage. "How weak is thy heart!" Feeble minds often go astray. Indolence is incipient sin. The neglect of sound moral culture in youth is a fount of sin, a fount of misery. To be safe, there must be robustness in every virtue, vigour in every good quality. A weak man becomes vain, and is the dupe of the first temptation.


1. A multiplicity of idols. "Thou pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by." The taste of every inhabitant was indulged. They had "lords many and gods many: According to thy cities are thy gods, O Israel!" He who refuses to be ruled by one Supreme Father soon becomes the slave of a thousand tyrants.

2. Sacrilege. "Thou hast also taken thy lair jewels, of my gold and my silver …and madest to thyself images of men." This was a vile desecration of Jehovah's property. "What have we that we have not received?" Every endowment of mind, every organ of body, every item of material substance, belongs to God by right inalienable. They are his by right of creation, by right of sustentation, by right of purchase. They are "redeemed by precious blood." Every coin of silver or of gold has God's image impressed on it. To use any such treasure in the service of idols is basest sacrilege, is wanton felony.

3. Foul murder. "Thou hast slain my children." Idolatry of every sort is cruel in its spirit and desolating in its effects. Religion is the truest philanthropy. In proportion as we love God we love our children, love our fellow men. Idolatry reverses all the machinery of human nature and poisons all its springs of affection. It changes life to death.

4. Utter shamelessness. "Thou hast made thee a high place in every street." Every eminence, yea, every shady grove, they had consecrated to some stupid idol. Not content to have a whorish heart, Israel had a whore's forehead. She did not blush for her sin. Worse, she gloried in her depravities. Stupor of conscience is a foul branch in this upas tree.


1. Unprofitableness. "Thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee." As a rule, men yield to sin because they think it will bring them some temporary advantage. But idolatry brings no gain. It is imbecile to expect any boon from a senseless idol. It is expenditure with no return; hard ploughing and no reaping.

2. Discontent. "Thou couldst not be satisfied." The more gods they bad, the more they wanted. Idolatry excites desire; it does not appease the craving. Discontent is incipient hell.

3. Famine. "I have diminished thine ordinary food." God tried lesser chastisements before he employed the greater. A good physician will cut off a limb if thereby he can save a life. If the people had had a ray of light in their understanding, they would have discovered that Jehovah alone had the power to bestow good or to inflict evil.

4. Thraldom. "I have delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee." Here is the culmination of disgrace and sorrow and ruin. To fall into the power of a malicious foe is slavery, which sends its fetters into the soul. Better death than this; for this is perpetual crucifixion. Under this brand of righteous indignation the land of Israel still continues.—D.

Ezekiel 16:35-43

Judicial verdict.

It is a great kindness done by any one if he disclose to us the real nature of our sin. Light from any quarter should be welcomed. To demonstrate to the Hebrews that their idolatry was the worst form of adultery was an act of condescension on the part of God. By their own state law they knew that this sin incurred the penalty of death. With all the circumstance of judicial solemnity, the Supreme Judge summons the attention of the culprit: "O harlot, hear the word of the Lord!"

I. THE JUDICIAL SUMMING UP. The accusations against Israel were twofold.

1. Conjugal infidelity. The covenant made between Jehovah and Israel—the covenant more sacred than between bridegroom and bride—had been wantonly broken. Of this proof was furnished in abundance. It was openly displayed. Shameless publicity marked the dead.

2. Murder of children. The children created by God, and on whom he had set peculiar affection, were cruelly sacrificed unto the insatiable idols. It was murder of the worst sort—murder of innocent and helpless victims. No language of man could exaggerate or over colour the crime.

II. THE RIGHTEOUS SENTENCE. "I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and that shed blood are judged."

1. The criminal is condemned to public shame. She had openly beasted of her sin; she shall be openly exposed. She shall be made a spectacle to the world. Care shall be taken to bring her companions and paramours to the sight. The most secret intrigue shall be set in the clear light of day. Friends and foes alike shall witness the disgrace.

2. Forfeiture of all possessions. "They shall take thy fair jewels." All the instruments of sin shall be sequestered. The illicit gains of iniquity soon turn to loss. "The wages of sin is death."

3. Summary death. "They shall stone thee with stones." This was the penalty assigned to adultery in the Jewish code. This was the penalty for an individual culprit. But for a community, the punishment ordained was the sword. Therefore it is added, "They shall thrust thee through with their swords." In God's world neither adultery nor idolatry shall long be tolerated.

4. It was an equitable recompense. "I will recompense thy way upon thy head." The entire punishment proceeded in the most natural way; ay, it proceeded in the way of nature. No strange portent appeared in heaven or earth. To the carnal eye no hand nor sword of God was manifest; yet full execution of the sentence was done. As at the creation every plant had the latent power to propagate itself, equally every sin carries in itself suitable and adequate punishment. Death is only ripe sin.

5. It was a satisfaction to eternal righteousness. "I will be quiet, and will be no more angry." The righteousness of God is a force of tremendous energy, and can only be quieted by adequate repentance or adequate retribution. As the sea cannot be calm while a tempest of wind sweeps over its surface, no more can the justice of God be complacent while sin is rampant. But when sin is atoned for, there is profoundest peace—an eternal calm.—D.

Ezekiel 16:44-59

Sin seen in the light of comparison.

If men are so encased in worldliness that they cannot see their sin in the light of God's perfect righteousness, they may yet discover some features of their sin in the light of others' conduct, in the light of others' doom. God has employed manifold methods for convincing men of sin.

I. SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF ANOTHER'S FALL. In the case of Israel it might have been seen in a parent's disaster and doom. For their idolatries, and the vices bred of idolatry, the Amorites and Hittites were swept out of the land; yea, swept out by the sword of Israel. They had seen the judgments which God had brought upon idolatry. It was a fact indissolubly linked with their own history. For them to fall into the same sin is inexplicable; it is the climax of depravity.

II. SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF PRIVILEGE. The Hebrews had seen the result of idolatry in the sister kingdom of Samaria. The calves erected at Dan and Bethel had not availed to save Israel from defeat and ruin. They in Judaea had greater privilege. The visible presence of Jehovah was in their holy of holies. They had the priesthood and the daily sacrifice and the smoking altar of incense in their midst. If some kind of excuse could be framed on behalf of Israel's lapse, no such excuse could be framed for Judah. They knew the better course, yet they chose the worse.

III. SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF REPEATED WARNING. The disaster which fell upon Samaria and upon Sodom was in the nature of warning to them. It was the clearest warning, written in largest characters. Beside these matter of fact warnings, they were rebuked by a succession of messengers from God. The sin which was great prior to Samaria's fall was greater still after that fall. To continue in sin after repeated warning is to contract fresh sin. Contumely and insubordination are now added. Warning despised is itself a sin.

IV. THE MEASURE OF SIN IS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF ITS INJURIOUS INFLUENCE ON OTHERS. The inhabitants of Jerusalem had encouraged others to commit idolatry. Other peoples were cloaking themselves under Israel's name. All sin (like some diseases) is terribly contagious. The Jews were inducing others to say, "Well, if these sticklers for an invisible God betake themselves to idols, there must be a reason. Their Jehovah must have failed them. After all, idolatry must be at least permissible." "Thou hast justified thy sisters in all thine abomination."

V. THE DOOM OF SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S CONSISTENT JUSTICE. "When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate … then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate." God has not one tribunal for the Jews and another for the Canaanites. Out of one statute book all shall be alike judged. Human conduct in every land and in every age shall be measured by one standard rule. As God has dealt with transgressors in former ages, so assuredly will he deal with transgressors in times to come. Other things may change, but God and law and righteousness never.—D.

Ezekiel 16:60-63

A rift in the stormcloud.

Human life is a season of probation. Far better to be chastised here, however severely, than to hear the sentence of doom at the last assize. Present corrections have a merciful design. Above the moral tempest calmly beams the star of mercy. To restoration repentance is needful.

I. THE SOURCE OF REPENTANCE. "I," said God, "will remember my covenant with thee." Although God may severely punish, he does not cast off, if there be a vestige of hope. Though they bad forgotten God, God had not forgotten them; nor had he forgotten his covenant. Though gleams of anger were in his eye, and vengeance bared his arm, the love of his heart had not dried up. He ploughed up the field deeply, that the rain of his grace might penetrate the soil. It is pure love that originated the covenant, and pure love that maintains it.

II. THE NATURE OF TRUE REPENTANCE. "Thou shalt be ashamed." Repentance comes from reflection. Sin is the effect of slumber of mind, callousness of conscience. When the real man awakens and reflects, he is filled with shame. He sees himself in the mirror of truth, and his emotional nature is pained, wounded, abashed. He loathes himself. He is willing to give anything, to hear anything, if only he might undo the guilty deeds. A sense of shame is self-inflicted punishment. It is not simply remorse because the sin has been discovered. It is change of mind with respect to sin itself. It is dislike for all sin.

III. THE PROOFS OF REPENTANCE. Great humility is an evidence of repentance. The old pride is sapped and eradicated. Old prejudices and antipathies disappear. Better still, there springs up concern for others—an ardent desire to bless our rivals and our foes. Sodom and Samaria should be received as daughters. The good we obtain we long to share with the worst of men. Generous and benevolent affection is good. evidence of repentance. "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways."

IV. THE EFFECTS OF REPENTANCE. Two effects are mentioned.

1. Intimate friendship with God. "They shall know that I am the Lord." There is meant here, not simply intellectual knowledge, but strong conviction, intimate acquaintance, familiar friendship. This knowledge will increase and ripen into life eternal.

2. Greater self-restraint. "Thou shalt never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame." This indicates great tenderness of conscience; yea, a sensitive dread of offending God. The more we know of God the more reverence we have for him, and the stronger becomes our desire to please him. As is our knowledge, so is our humility—ay, our self-extinction.

The more thy glories meet my eyes,

The humbler I shall lie;

Yet while I sink, my joys shall rise

Immeasurably high."



Ezekiel 16:1-15

A picture of human depravity and destitution, and of Divine condescension and favour.

"Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations," etc. "We have here," says Hengstenberg, "one of the grandest prophecies of Ezekiel. The prophet surveys in the Spirit of God the whole of the development of Israel, the past and the future." In this development we have the following stages: The condition in which the Lord found his people; the condition to which he raised them; their shameful departures from him; his severe judgments upon them; and their restoration to his favour. Each of these developments of Israelitish history may be viewed as an emblem of man's moral condition or relations with God, or of God's dealings with man. It seems to us that it would be unwise to attempt to deal with the chapter as a whole in one homily. We shall therefore consider its chief paragraphs separately. In the section before us we have two graphic pictures.


1. Their depraved moral parentage. "Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the laud of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite." The people of Israel are hero designated "Canaanites," to indicate their degraded moral character and condition. "The Amorites and the Hittites are two chief Canaanitish tribes, that elsewhere so often represent the whole of the Canaanites; the Amorites already, in Genesis 15:16, where they specially represent the Canaanitish people in their sinfulness." Moral character and conduct are often viewed as indicative of moral parentage. "When men live according to the courses, natures, manners of others, they are styled their sons, or children." Thus the Jews are called "sons of the sorceress," etc. (Isaiah 57:3). The Jews in the time of our Lord's ministry upon earth claimed to be "Abraham's seed They said unto him, Abraham is our father." But Jesus said unto them, "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:33-44). And St. Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, called Elymas the sorcerer a "child of the devil" (Acts 13:10). The tendency to sin which characterizes human nature indicates sinful parentage. The doctrine of original sin has often been stated in a very objectionable mariner. But there is a basis of fact underlying that doctrine. It is certain that human beings manifest in early life a proclivity to sin. The modern scientific teaching as to inherited tendencies conducts to the conclusion that we inherit a depraved moral nature.

2. Their destitute moral condition. "And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut," etc. (Genesis 15:4, Genesis 15:5). These verses point to the condition of Israel in Egypt, where the family grew into a nation, or the nation may have said to have been born. There was nothing there to foster the moral life and health of the young nation. Nay, more, their physical condition was one of cruel oppression and bitter persecution (cf. Exodus 1:7-22). They were abhorred, afflicted, and brutally ill treated. But the verses illustrate man's spiritual condition apart from the grace of God and the provisions of that grace. Man is morally unclean as an unwashed infant, morally neglected as an uncared for infant, left to live or die, no one taking an interest in its condition, and being completely incapable of self-help. Is not that a picture of man's spiritual state apart from the grace of God? We inherit a sinful nature. We cannot convert or sanctify ourselves, or even do anything with a view to such results without Divine influence. We cannot repent except as we are summoned and strengthened to do so from heaven. And man cannot save us if he would; forevery man is a sinner, and needs salvation himself. Neither can angels save us. Their utmost wisdom, love, and might are inadequate to the difficult task. God alone has pity enough and power enough for this work. If he leaves us we must perish. If we are to be saved he must begin and carry on the gracious work. And we rejoice to know that he does not leave any people to perish without witness of himself, or without some gracious influences from him (cf. Acts 14:17; Romans 1:19, Romans 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:4).

II. A PICTURE OF DIVINE CONDESCENSION AND FAVOUR, OR THE CONDITION TO WHICH THE LORD RAISED HIS PEOPLE. (Genesis 15:6-14.) Here, as Fairbaian observes, "everything is fragrant with the matchless grace and loving kindness of God."

1. God graciously regarded them in their outcast condition. "I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted [Revised Version, 'weltering,'] in thine own blood." He looked compassionately upon the Israelites in their afflictions and sorrow in Egypt. "The Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt," etc. (Exodus 3:7-10). He saw our race ruined by sin, and of his own free and unmerited grace he had pity upon us. We had no claim upon his compassion or assistance. By our sin we had forfeited every title to his favour. We had no grace or beauty to commend us to his regard. We were rather, as in the picture drawn by the prophet (Genesis 15:3-6), fitted to awaken repulsion. Yet God looked upon us in mercy; and he did so of his own good pleasure. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us," etc. "God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

2. God conferred life upon them. "I said unto thee in thy blood, Live!" He saw the Israelites in Egypt as it were naked, abhorred, and perishing, and he designed them for life, and caused them to live, notwithstanding the cruelty, of their oppressors. And it is God of his grace, through Christ Jesus and by his Word and Spirit, who quickens dead souls into life. "God being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, quickened us together with Christ," etc. (Ephesians 2:4-10; cf. Colossians 2:13; John 3:5-8).

3. He blessed them with growth and increase. "I caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field," etc. The explanation of this verse is in Exodus 1:7, Exodus 1:12. The great increase of the children of Israel excited the fears of the Egyptian monarch, and led him to oppress them; "but the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew." Their growth was of God, and accorded with his great purposes concerning them. Spiritual growth in the individual is the product of Divine influences. God quickens and sustains and increases the life of the soul. Hence St. Paul prays "that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man," etc. (Ephesians 3:16-19). The increase of the Church also is of him. "The Lord added to them day by day those that were being saved" (Acts 2:47). "I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6).

4. He took them into union with himself. "Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee," etc. (Exodus 1:8). The child is represented as having now arrived at womanhood. The casting of the skirt over her is an action indicative of taking her under one's protection with a view to betrothal (cf. Ruth 3:9). And keeping up the figure, the espousals are indicated by the words, "Yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee,… and thou becamest mine." This covenant was entered into at Mount Sinai (cf. Exodus 19:3-8; Exodus 34:27). "What grace when the Holy and Almighty One condescends to enter into covenant with so sinful and miserable a people!" And still God graciously enters into covenant with all who heartily believe on his Son Jesus Christ (cf. Hebrews 8:6-13). In this covenant we give ourselves to him as loyal subjects and servants; and in addition to many other blessings, he gives himself to us as the crowning blessing of the covenant. And if we are in this covenant, we may without presumption address him as our Father and our God (cf. John 20:17). "The Lord is my Portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him."

5. He sumptuously clothed and adorned them. "Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee," etc. (Exodus 1:9-14). The washing and anointing (Exodus 1:9) are suggested by the custom in the East of purifying the bride for her royal husband (cf. Esther 2:12). Israel is represented as having been thoroughly cleansed and anointed as the bride of the Lord. Then the prophet speaks of the dress and jewellery of the bride.

Ezekiel 16:2

Leading sinners to a knowledge of their sins.

"Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations."

I. THAT SIN IS ESSENTIALLY VILE IN ITS CHARACTER. The sins of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were "abominations" in the sight of God. David says of the wicked, "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works;" "Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity." And Jehovah said to the Jews, "Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate!" In its own nature sin "is an evil thing and a bitter" It is a polluting thing, defiling the soul; it is a degrading thing, dishonouring the soul. It is an infraction of the order of God's universe, and is inimical to its true interests. Sin is evil "in every respect—hateful to God, hurtful to man, darkening the heavens, burdening the earth."

II. THAT SINNERS OFTEN FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN SIN. The inhabitants of Jerusalem at this time were sadly corrupted by sin, but were so oblivious to the fact that the prophet is summoned to bring them to a knowledge of their abominations. David did not recognize as his own the foul crimes which he had committed when they were set before him parabolically. It was not until the Prophet Nathan said unto him, "Thou art the man!" that he saw himself to be the sinner he really was (2 Samuel 12:1-14). The Pharisees in the time of our Lord's ministry were really great sinners, but they regarded themselves as the excellent of the earth. We are quick to behold the mote that is in our brother's eye, but we take no notice of the beam that is in our own eye. This failure of sinners to recognize their own sin may arise:

1. From the subtlety of sin. Sin approaches the soul in dangerous disguises. "Were the vision of sin seen in a full light, undressed and unpainted, it were impossible, while it so appeared, that any one soul could be in love with it, but all would rather flee from it as hideous and abominable." Wickedness veils itself in the garb of what is harmless, respectable, or excellent. Avarice hides its hard and hungry features under the name of economy. Harsh censoriousness wears the cloak of honest plain spokenness, etc.

2. From the proneness of men to excuse sin in themselves. Until man is brought to see and feel his sins aright, he is ready to palliate or to extenuate them. Men are cruelly indulgent to themselves in this respect. And in some cases pride and self-flattery blind men to their own offences.

III. THAT THE MINISTERS OF GOD SHOULD ENDEAVOUR TO BRING SINNERS TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR SINS. To this duty Ezekiel was summoned in our text. And this is incumbent on the ministers of Jesus Christ.

1. For the conversion of the sinners. "Without the knowledge of sin, repentance and conversion are not to be thought of." "As a physician, when he wishes to heal a wound thoroughly, must probe it to the bottom, so a teacher, when he wishes to convert men thoroughly, must first seek to bring them to a knowledge of their sins."

2. For the deliverance of their own souls. (Cf. Ezekiel 3:17-21; Ezekiel 33:7-9.)

3. For the vindication of the Law and government of God. Sin is an outrage of his holy Law, and it should be exhibited as such. Persistence in sin calls down Divine punishment, and the sin should be set forth unto men, that they will recognize the righteousness of the punishment. If sin be not properly estimated by men, how shall the Divine dealings in the punishment of it be justified unto them? Therefore the ministers of Jesus Christ should endeavour to cause sinners to know their sins.—W.J.

Ezekiel 16:15-34

A picture of flagrant apostasy from God.

"But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown," etc. The prophet row passes from what God had done for his people Israel to set forth how they had requited him. He had shown how, under his fostering care, the outcast child had grown into a beautiful maiden, whom he had espoused and arrayed in robes and ornaments of beauty, until she had become renowned amongst the nations. Now he exhibits the apostasy of the people under the figure of the gross unfaithfulness of this wife to her husband, with whom she had entered into solemn covenant, and to whom she owed everything good and valuable that she possessed. Idolatry is frequently set forth in the Scriptures under the similitude of fornication or adultery (cf. Jeremiah 3:20). The chief point of the comparison is perhaps this, that, as the marriage covenant is an endearing and sacred one, and the violation of it is therefore a heinous sin, so the covenant between God and his people is intimate and holy, and to violate it is to incur the darkest guilt. The wife is under the most solemn obligations not to turn aside from her husband to another man, or to allow any one to rival him in her affections. And those who have entered into covenant with God ought not to allow any person or thing to compete with him for the supreme place in their hearts. We can only view this representation of the people's apostasy "generally," as Fairbairn observes, "and with respect to its leading features; as from the very nature of the image it is impossible to be minute, without at the same time falling into indelicacy."


1. Forgetfulness of the past. "In all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polltuted in thy blood." The Israelites forgot the helpless and afflicted condition in which the Lord found them in Egypt, and how he had championed their cause, delivered them from their oppressors, and raised them into an independent, prosperous, and powerful nation. Had they remembered these things, the recollection would have bound them to him by the tender and tenacious ties of gratitude.

"They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies.

They soon forgot his works.

They forgot God their Saviour,

Which had done great things in Egypt."

(Psalms 106:7, Psalms 106:13, Psalms 106:21.)

A lively recollection of what God has done for us, and of how much we owe to him, will prove a powerful preventive to our departing from him.

2. Confidence in themselves and their possessions. "Thou didst trust in thine own beauty." The things which God had enabled them to acquire—position, prosperity, power—they had abused by making them occasions of sin. They reposed in them the trust which they should have reposed in God alone. How often have men abused their prosperity in a similar manner! A man by the blessing of God succeeds in his business undertakings, and then attributes all his success to his tact, perseverance, and energy, and places his supreme confidence in those powers or in himself. How vain is such confidence (cf. Proverbs 28:26; Jeremiah 9:23)! And another, who has prospered in his worldly affairs, places his trust in his riches. This also is vain (cf. Psalms 49:6, Psalms 49:7; Psalms 52:7; 1 Timothy 6:17). "He who has a high opinion of himself has no desire for grace; and the more he trusts in himself, the more quickly will he squander gifts and blessings. Self-exaltation leads from grace, just as self-knowledge leads to grace" (Schroder).

3. Perversion of the position which they had attained through the favour of God. "And playedst the harlot because of thy renown." The eminence which they had attained by means of his blessing they turned into an occasion of exalting themselves against him. "God made this people above all nations," says Greenhill, "in praise, in name, in honour, that they might be a holy people unto him (Deuteronomy 26:19); their renown should have encouraged them to holiness, and it was an incentive unto looseness. Solomon had great renown abroad in the nations (1 Kings 4:31); that drew the princes to bestow their daughters upon him (1 Kings 11:3); he had seven hundred wives, princesses; his name made way for unlawful marriages, and they made way for unlawful gods." Their prosperity and fame they thus perverted in saddest, sinfullest manner.

II. THE DREAD PROGRESS OF THIS APOSTASY. The apostasy itself consisted of the worship of idols, or the giving unto idols the homage which was due to God alone, and the formation of forbidden political alliances, or reposing in nations the confidence which should have been placed alone in God. The beginning of the apostasy seems to have been in the latter part of the reign of Solomon, when his heathen "wives turned away his heart after other gods" (1 Kings 11:4-8). It entered upon another stage when the ten tribes under Jeroboam began to worship the true God by means of the images of the calves which were set up at Dan and Bethel. Afterwards the people began to adopt the vile idols of their heathen neighbours. But in the paragraph before us the chief stages of this apostasy are:

1. The manufacture and worship of idols. (Ezekiel 16:16-18.)

2. The building of chambers for their idolatrous practices. (Ezekiel 16:24, Ezekiel 16:25.) Not content with the high places, or natural heights, set apart for worship, they erected these vaulted chambers in the thoroughfares of the city. "The natural heights," says Hengstenberg, "are too far from the people hungering after idols. They wish to plant idolatry in the city thoroughfare, and so build for themselves artificial heights. We must distinguish between the thought end its clothing. The thought is that the objects of idolatry became the prime impulse of the popular life, by which is to be understood much less religious than political adultery, though both went hand in hand."

3. The sacrifice of their children to Moloch. (Ezekiel 16:20, Ezekiel 16:21.) From Ezekiel 20:26 it appears that they offered their firstborn to this revolting heathen deity. The god was supposed to be present in the fire, and the children who were made to pass Through it were devoured by it. Aben Ezra says that "to cause to pass through" is the same as "to burn." And the Jews did this notwithstanding the most solemn and stern warnings against it. "The offender who devoted his offspring to Moloch was to be put to death by stoning; and in case the people of the land refused to inflict upon him this judgment, Jehovah would himself execute it, and cut him off from among his people (Le 18:21; 20:2-5)." But they had become guilty even of this atrocity. The Lord calls these children whom they so cruelly sacrificed, his children. "Thou hast slain my children." They were his because he is "the Father of spirits." His also because they were born under the covenant, and bore in themselves the mark of the covenant. So these people had gone from bad to worse until their sins were now calling loudly for vengeance. There is no standing still in sin. When man has departed from God, unless means be used and efforts be made to return unto him, he will depart ever to a greater distance; the breach between them will grow wider until it becomes a great and awful gulf. Beware of the first faint alienation of the heart from him. Stop the very beginnings of departure from him. Keep dose to him in true and tender affection, and loyal and loving service.


1. Their extreme readiness to depart from God. (Verses 25-34.) The nations

"My gold and my silver … mine oil and mine incense … my meat also I gave thee,"—these things he charges them with having applied to idolatrous uses. The 'Speaker's Commentary' points out an illustration of this in its notes on verse 33: "The picture is heightened by the contrast between one who as a prostitute receives hire for her shame, and one who as a wife is so utterly abandoned as to bestow her husband's goods to purchase her own dishonour. The conduct of Ahaz in purchasing aid from the King of Assyria with the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord (2 Kings 16:8) is an excellent illustration, and may perhaps be referred to in this very passage." And very often still men abuse the gifts of God to his dishonour, as in the employment of their abilities for base or unworthy purposes, the use of riches for vain or sinful objects, etc.

3. Their resolute persistence in departing from him. Nothing stopped them in their apostasy; or, if checked for a time, it was speedily resumed again. The bestowment of many and precious favours upon them did not bind them to the Lord. They actually made these (as we have seen) an occasion of apostasy. Nor did the infliction of chastisement effectually restrain their great and persistent unfaithfulness. Such chastisement is spoken of in verse 27. The blessings which God had promised to his people on condition of their fidelity to the covenant, and which in former times had been so abundantly bestowed (cf. verses 9-14), he diminished as a punishment for their sins. By their religious and political unfaithfulnesses they had been great losers "in land, and people, and influence, and splendour;" but still they were bent upon backsliding from him. Neither mercies nor judgments, rewards nor punishments, availed to secure their fidelity to the Lord their God. "My people are bent to backsliding from me." Their hearts were "fully set in them to do evil."—W.J.

Ezekiel 16:35-43

A picture of righteous retribution because of apostasy.

"Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord: Thus saith the Lord God; Because thy filthiness was poured out," etc. The scope and meaning of this paragraph is clearly and forcibly stated in the 'Speaker's Commentary:' "The punishment of Judah is represented by the same figure as her sin. She has been portrayed as an adulteress and a murderess. She is now represented as undergoing the punishment adjudged to an adulteress and murderess. The scene is a court of justice, before which the Lord himself appears to arraign the guilty woman. There are present those who are now her lovers, and those whom she has loved and deserted (the idolatrous nations with whom Judah has had guilty intercourse), to witness, to share, or to exult in, her disgrace. In proportion to her former honour shall be her present shame. As a woman suspected of infidelity to her husband had her head uncovered by way of disgrace, so this convicted adulteress shall be stripped bare, exposed to utter shame, shall be stoned and slain, and her house shall be made desolate. Only in her utter destruction shall the wrath of the Lord, the jealous God, cease." In our text—

I. THE SINS OF WHICH THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM WERE GUILTY ARE STATED. These have been set forth at length in the preceding paragraph, and we have considered them here. And, indeed, all the important points in the section now before us have come under our notice in earlier portions of the writings of Ezekiel, most of them more than once; a brief consideration of them will therefore be sufficient in this place. The sins of which the people are here convicted are these.

1. Sinful forgetfulness of their early history. "Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth" (verse 43; cf. verse 22). They forgot the low estate in which the Lord found them in Egypt, and from which he had raised them into a condition of national life, prosperity, and power. This forgetfulness involved base ingratitude.

2. Shameful apostasy from God. "Thus saith the Lord God; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered," etc. The "filthiness" of the Authorized Version should be "brass." The word is used either "for metals of all kinds, or goods and chattels generally, or money in particular It is put instead of the 'whoredoms' of verse 15, because, according to verse 33, these were purchased by means of presents" (Schroder).

3. The idolatrous and cruel sacrifice of their own children. "The blood of thy children which thou didst give unto them" (verse 36; cf. verses 20, 21).


1. The end of their prosperity and the destruction of their city. "I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place," etc. (verses 39, 41). There is unmistakable reference here to the siege of Jerusalem, and to the destruction, loss, and misery connected therewith. The people had abused their prosperity to the dishonour of God, and he would completely strip them of prosperity, deprive them of power, and leave them naked and bare as they were when the Lord first interposed for them (verse 7). "The unfaithful use of the gifts of God inevitably brings on their loss. God cannot be mocked."

2. Their violent death for their spiritual adultery and physical murder. "I will judge thee as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy They shall also bring up a company against thee," etc. (verses 38, 40). According to the Law of Moses, adultery was to be punished with death by stoning (Le Ezekiel 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:24; John 8:5); death was also the penalty of murder (Exodus 21:12). Such were the judgments of adulteresses and of murderers; and in the siege and capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar such judgments were inflicted upon the guilty people of that city.

3. Their violent death in the presence of and inflicted by the nations with whom they had sinned. (Verses 37, 41). The "many women" of verse 41 are the neighbouring nations. These nations should behold the downfall and degradation, the shame and misery, of the apostate people; and the Chaldeans should be the instruments for accomplishing their overthrow, into whose hands they were given by the Lord. It is often so ordered, in the providence of God, that the companions of sinners in their sins become the weapons by which they am punished for those sins. "This is the curse of sin," says Schroder, "that those with whom we have sinned make common cause with our enemies for our punishment …. Friends may in certain circumstances be the most painful rods in God's hand."

III. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SENTENCE IS INDICATED. "I will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God" (verse 43). The Revised Version is more correct: "I also will bring thy way upon thine head." Sinners "are dealt with not only as they deserved, but as they procured. It is the end which their sin, as a way, had a direct tendency to," which God will bring upon their head.

CONCLUSION. Our subject utters solemn warning against sin, especially on the part of those who have been much blessed by God; for the heinousness of sin is proportionate with the greatness of privilege, and the severity of punishment will correspond with the heinousness of sin.—W.J.

Ezekiel 16:44-52

A picture of comparative iniquity.

"Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying. As is the mother, so is her daughter," etc. The following observations are suggested by this paragraph.

I. THE HEINOUSNESS OF SIN IS PROPORTIONATE TO THE POSITION AND PRIVILEGES OF THE SINNERS. "The more mercies people enjoy, the greater are their sins if they answer not those mercies." It is by the application of this principle that the people of Judah are pronounced greater sinners than they of Sodom or Samaria. Judah was immeasurably richer in moral and religious advantages than Sodom. "They had Moses and the prophets;" they had a clearer and fuller revelation of the Divine will; they had more frequent warnings and exhortations from holy prophets of the Lord; they had regular religious ordinances, and other aids to a true and righteous life, which Sodom possessed not. The people of Judah had greater privileges than Samaria also, in having the temple of God in their midst, and in having kings of the line of David to reign over them, some of whom were eminent for their piety. Because of their grievous sins, notwithstanding their superior privileges, they are accounted more guilty than the people of Sodom and Samaria (Ezekiel 16:46-48). The sins of Sodom are specified by the prophet. "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread," etc. (Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 16:50). Her grossest, foulest sin is not mentioned here. Before it was destroyed, Sodom had become a moral plague spot upon the face of God's fair earth. And the sins of Samaria, or of the ten tribes, were many and dark. Yet the highly favoured people of Judah were accounted guiltier than either Sodom or Samaria, because they had committed their sins despite the greatest advantages and privileges. Their wickedness had became proverbial. It was common to say of them, "As is the mother, so is her daughter," etc. (Ezekiel 16:44, Ezekiel 16:45; and cf. Ezekiel 16:3). The principle with which we are dealing was clearly and explicitly stated by our Lord (Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 12:47, Luke 12:48). Viewed in this light, how heinous are the sins of Great Britain! This land has been must richly blessed by God with civil and religious freedom, with a splendid literature, a noble ancestry, an open Bible, a weekly day of rest and religious service, abundant provision for public worship, and countless Christian ministries. And if these great advantages be not truly prized and improved, a darker, deeper guilt will be ours than that of less favoured peoples.

II. THE MORE HEINOUS SINS OF A MORE FAVOURED PEOPLE JUSTIFY THE SINS OF PERSONS OF INFERIOR PRIVILEGES. "Thou hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done" (Ezekiel 16:51). "The justification is a comparative one: in relation to thee, Sodom and Samaria must appear as righteous." Great sins appear small when compared with greater ones. Thus professedly religious people, when they give way to sin, cause those who make no profession of religion to think less gravely, or even lightly, of sin. When religious people have a low standard of practical life and conduct, they thereby lower the standard of those who are about them. Sin in those who occupy the place of the people of God seems to excuse sin in those who occupy a lower position, and in this way affords encouragement to wickedness. Let those "who profess and call themselves Christians" take heed that they so live as not in any way or degree to justify or countenance sin in others.

III. THE GREATEST SINNERS ARE SOMETIMES MOST READY TO JUDGE OTHER SINNERS. "Thou also hast judged thy sisters" (Ezekiel 16:52). "Judah had concurred from the heart in the Divine judgment on Sodom and Samaria, and exalted herself above them on this account, as the Pharisee in the Gospel." They had spoken harshly of their fellow countrymen who were in exile, and with self-righteous assertion of their own privileges (Ezekiel 11:15). Yet in some respects, as we have seen, they were the greatest sinners. And still it is not the holy, but the wicked, who are most ready to condemn sin in others, and to judge others with rigorous severity. But mark the teaching of our Lord on this matter (Matthew 7:1-5; John 8:2-11).

IV. THE GREATEST SINNERS WILL MEET WITH THE SEVEREST PUNISHMENT. "Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they," etc. (Ezekiel 16:52). Punishment is proportionate with guilt. Terrible were the judgments of God upon Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 5:9-12; Lamentations 4:4-11). Jeremiah cries, "The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater thou the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her." "Sodom's punishment was sharp but short; Jerusalem's was sharp and long." "We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth." "The righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds."

CONCLUSION. Even the greatest sinners may obtain free and full forgiveness through the infinite mercy of God. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts," etc. (Isaiah 55:6, Isaiah 55:7).—W.J.

Ezekiel 16:60-63

A picture of reviewed favour.

"Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth," etc. There is perhaps a reference here to the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon to their own land. But it seems beyond doubt that the prophet points to the gospel covenant and its spiritual blessings. Two facts seem to us to afford conclusive proof of this.

I. THE RENEWED FAVOUR OF GOD TOWARDS HIS PEOPLE ORIGINATED WITH HIMSELF. "Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant." Notwithstanding their breach of the covenant, and their countless and enormous sins, God will return to them in blessing. And he will do so of his own unmerited and unsought grace. When Jesus Christ came into our world he came without any solicitation from man. "He came unto his own possessions, and his own people received him not." "God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The contrast between God and the Jews in respect to the covenants shows that the existence of the new one was entirely owing to his grace.

1. They forgot him and the covenant into which they entered with him. But he says, "I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth." He does not forget the engagements into which he enters, or the promises which he makes. "If we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself."

2. They outrageously broke the covenant. "Thou hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant" (verse 59). But the Lord says, "I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant." Clearly this was not of their merit, but of his mercy. "By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, that no man should glory."

II. THS RENEWED FAVOUR OF GOD TO HIS PEOPLE AWAKENS WITHIN THEM PENITENT RECOLLECTIONS. "Then shalt thou remember thy ways, and be ashamed." This remembrance is not mere recollection, but recollection and reflection upon the things remembered. Moved by the grace of God, the Jews would recall to mind their sinful ways, and consider them, and take to themselves shame because of them. Like the psalmist—

"I thought on my ways,

And turned my feet unto thy testimonies," etc.

(Psalms 119:59, Psalms 119:60.)

Like the prodigal also: "When he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare!" etc. (Luke 15:17-19). There is no real repentance without this remembrance and consideration of our ways; again, there is no real repentance except when such remembrance and consideration lead to shame and self-reproach. Now. according to our text, it is the grace of God which produces this desirable condition of mind and heart. "Law and terrors do but harden." "The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." Unmerited kindness is like coals of fire melting the hearts of sinners. When the mercy of God is realized by man it leads to loathing of sin, and sincere sorrow, because we have been guilty thereof, and lowly love towards him.

III. THE RENEWED FAVOUR OF GOD EXPRESSED IN THE BESTOWMENT OF RICH BLESSINGS. The blessings mentioned and referred to in the text are those of the new covenant which God would make with man. "I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant And I will establish my covenant with thee" (verses 60, 62; and cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34).

1. These blessings are spiritual. The knowledge of God is one of them. "And thou shalt know that I am the Lord." We have frequently read of their knowing him as a consequence of his judgments. Now we come to their knowing him as a result of his grace. This knowledge is more true and tender, more intimate and influential, than that. This is a saving acquaintance with him. "This is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." The forgiveness of sin is another of the blessings mentioned in the text. "When I am pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done" (verse 63), should be, as in the Revised Version, "When I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done." "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:34). Says Schroder, "As the covenant springs from pure mercy and faithfulness, so in its inmost essence it consists in forgiveness of sins." What a blessing this is] But the chief blessing of the covenant is not expressly mentioned by Ezekiel. God gives himself as the crowmng blessing of the covenant. "I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:33). Having him for our Portion, we have all good in him.

2. These blessings are universal. "Thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger." By these sisters probably Samaria and Sodom are meant (cf. verse 46). But they must he taken, in connection with Jerusalem, as representing the world wide extent of the blessings of the new covenant. The gospel is not for one nation or people, but for humanity, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" "He died for all;" "Who gave himself a ransom for all;" "The living God is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." And our Lord sent forth his servants into all the world to preach the gospel to the whole creation. Judah is said to receive these sisters, and they are said "to be given to her for daughters, because through her they should attain to the inheritance of blessing." "Salvation is of the Jews;" "Of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh." The first Christians were Jews. The apostles who offered the blessings of the new covenant unto the Gentiles, and received those of them who believed into the Church, were Jews.

3. These blessings are perpetual. "I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant." The first covenant was said to be "everlasting" (Genesis 17:7); and it was so in the sense that it led the way to and was fulfilled in this one. And this covenant shall never be abolished. With all its wealth of blessings it abides perpetually. God, the Supreme Blessing of it, is the soul's unchangeable and eternal Portion. "God is the Rock of my heart and my Portion forever."


1. Sincere repentance for sin. "That thou mayest remember, and be confounded." The repentance which consists in abhorrence of sin, and grief because we have sinned against so gracious a God and Father, and in love to him and to all goodness, is not decreased by the reception of his forgiveness and favour, but rather increased. The more we know of God and the more we enjoy of his grace, the more base and wicked will sin appear unto us. "Sanctified knowledge will produce sanctified shame, sorrow, and tears. When we apprehend God to have taken us into covenant with him, to be our God, to have done great things for us, to have promised great things to us, and to have been very good to us, then the remembrance of our wretched ways causeth a holy shame and a holy sorrow" (Greenhill).

2. Devout submission to his will. "And never open thy mouth any more" in murmuring, or complaint, or rebellion against him. It is the silence of trustful acquiescence in his will. "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it." "Thus Divine grace received into the heart produces gracious results in the lives of those who receive it."—W.J.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
thy time
6; Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Ruth 3:9; 1 Samuel 12:22; Isaiah 41:8,9; 43:4; 63:7-9; Jeremiah 2:2,3; Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:1; Malachi 1:2; Romans 5:8; 9:10-13
and I
Ruth 3:9
I sware
20:5,6; Exodus 19:4-8; 24:1-8; 32:13; Deuteronomy 4:31; Jeremiah 2:2,3; 31:32; Hosea 2:18-20
Reciprocal: Genesis 48:5 - are mine;  Exodus 2:8 - Go;  Deuteronomy 22:30 - discover;  Deuteronomy 23:5 - because the;  Proverbs 2:17 - forgetteth;  Ecclesiastes 3:8 - time to love;  Song of Solomon 4:9 - my spouse;  Isaiah 43:1 - thou art mine;  Isaiah 54:5 - thy Maker;  Isaiah 61:3 - beauty;  Isaiah 61:10 - as a;  Ezekiel 16:32 - GeneralEzekiel 16:45 - that loatheth;  Ezekiel 16:60 - I will remember;  Ezekiel 23:4 - they were;  Hosea 2:15 - as in the days;  Malachi 2:14 - thy companion;  Malachi 3:17 - they shall;  Matthew 19:9 - except;  Luke 1:72 - and;  John 3:29 - hath;  Romans 9:25 - beloved;  2 Corinthians 6:2 - a time;  Colossians 3:12 - beloved;  2 Thessalonians 2:13 - beloved;  Hebrews 8:9 - they continued

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

When I passed — This second passing by, may be understood of God's visiting and calling them out of Egypt.

Thy time — The time of thy misery was the time of love in me towards thee.

I spread my skirt — Espoused thee, as Ruth 3:9.

Entered into a covenant — This was done at mount Sinai, when the covenant between God and Israel was sealed and ratified. Those to whom God gives spiritual life, he takes into covenant with himself. By this covenant they become his, his subjects and servants; that speaks their duty: and at the same time his portion, his treasure; that speaks their privilege.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible


In chaps. 13-15 the prophet has shown how untrustworthy are all the Israelitish hopes that punishment will not fall upon them for their sins. He now in a most powerful allegory makes Jerusalem “to know her abominations,” and to see that her destruction is the natural and inevitable result of her unchaste deeds. Jerusalem, representing here the chosen people, is pictured as a child of disreputable origin, cast out and uncared for from the day of her birth because of the loathsomeness of her person, and only saved from death in her infancy by the divine Friend, who it seems immediately after this kind act restored her to her home (Ezekiel 16:7-8), where she grew up into maidenhood in a most neglected condition and was finally once more cast out, filthy in person, naked and bleeding (Ezekiel 16:9-10), when once again he saved her from herself and her dangerous environment, betrothed her to himself, took her into his own palace, gave her rich and precious ornaments, and she became his wife. Yet, with immeasurable ingratitude and iniquity, she gave to strangers the very life and beauty which her divine husband had created in her. Even his wedding presents were scattered among her lovers (heathen idolaters), her children were neglected and slain, and she became a prostitute, not because she needed money (Ezekiel 16:31), but only because of her innate unchastity (Ezekiel 16:30). This loathsome picture of unapproachable iniquity is seen to represent the misalliance of Jehovah with Judah, and justifies all the threatened punishment which Ezekiel has declared shall fall upon the unfaithful wife who has sunk to a lower degradation than the common harlot.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.Spread my skirt — The customary symbol for marriage. (See Ruth 3:19.)

Thou becamest mine — The marriageable age, the time of love had arrived, and the divine Friend now becomes a Lover. With the patriarchs God made a covenant of friendship, but in the Exodus he married himself to Israel. He himself says he “chose Israel” then (Ezekiel 20:5; compare Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:9; Deuteronomy 7:7-8; <19A512>Psalms 105:12, etc.).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.