Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ezekiel 23:1 - 23:21

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ezekiel 23:1 - 23:21


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The Spiritual Adultery of the two Kingdoms

v. 1. The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, in an inspired allegory setting forth the fact that both kingdoms were ripe for God's judgment,

v. 2. Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother,
namely, Israel and Judah, one nation by descent;

v. 3. and they committed whoredoms in Egypt,
being guilty of idolatry even at that time; they committed whoredoms, spiritual adultery, in their youth; there were their breasts pressed, and there they, the people with whom they sinned, bruised the teats of their virginity, both being immoral acts and a species of adultery.

v. 4. And the names of them were Aholah, the elder,
the meaning, "Her tent," referring to the fact that the first worship of God in Israel was in a tent, or tabernacle, and Aholibah, her sister, this name for Judah, meaning, "My tent in her," indicating that God appointed His worship in the midst of Judah. And they were Mine, they belonged to the Lord in the most peculiar sense before the apostasy under Jeroboam; and they bare sons and daughters, for they were at that time still considered the Lord's brides. Thus were their names: Samaria is Aholah, called the elder, or rather, greater, on account of the larger size of her territory, and Jerusalem Aholibah.

v. 5. And Aholah played the harlot when she was Mine,
forsaking the Lord in her idolatry; and she doted on her lovers, inflamed with her evil passion, on the Assyrians, her neighbors, with whom the people of the northern kingdom sought alliance and whose heathenish customs they aped,

v. 6. which were clothed with blue,
the royal purple of ancient times, Israel being seduced by the splendor and pomp of Assyria, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses, making a bold show intended to impress passionate Samaria.

v. 7. Thus she committed her whoredoms with them,
bestowing her wantonness upon them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria and with all on whom she doted, with the same passion for spiritual adultery; with all their idols she defiled herself, this being the essence of her transgression, shameless idolatry.

v. 8. Neither,
in addition to this new transgression, left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt, since the calves set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel were copies of Egyptian idols, of the Apis statues; for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her, the full measure of their idolatrous wickedness.

v. 9. Wherefore,
in just punishment, I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, who professed an affection for her which they were far from feeling, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted, with such foolishly passionate desire.

v. 10. These,
in making sport of her wantonness, discovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters, leading them into exile, and slew her with the sword, destroying the kingdom of which Samaria was the capital; and she became famous among women, the object of jeering speech and mockery; for they had executed judgment upon her, her shameful overthrow was notorious throughout the known world.

v. 11. And when her sister Aholibah saw this
, having the evil example of Samaria before her eyes always, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, Judah going even beyond Samaria in the extent of her idolatry, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms, outranking the northern kingdom in the spiritual adultery practiced in Jerusalem.

v. 12. She doted upon the Assyrians, her neighbors,
having conceived a sinful affection for the heathenish neighbors and seeking an alliance with them, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men, whose pomp and political splendor dazzled the Jews.

v. 13. Then I saw,
the Lord says in a statement of the true situation, that she was defiled, that they, Samaria and Jerusalem, took both one way, the way of transgression and wickedness,

v. 14. and that she increased her whoredoms,
becoming, with the passing of time, ever more shameless in her idolatry; for when she saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, probably in bas-reliefs colored in ocher,

v. 15. girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads,
with the flowing turbans which are so familiar from Assyrian sculpture, all of them princes to look to, appearing majestic amid imposing, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity, between the Black and the Caspian Sea;

v. 16. and as soon as she saw them with her eyes,
probably when her merchants went to the East on business trips, or when Assyrian sculpture was brought to Jerusalem to adorn the palaces of the wealthy, she doted upon them, desiring entangling alliances which God had expressly forbidden, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea, soliciting the friendship of the mightier empire.

v. 17. And the Babylonians,
gladly availing themselves of this opportunity, came to her into the bed of love, in the unholy alliance forbidden by the Lord, and they defiled her with their whoredom, with the excess of their idolatry, and she was polluted with them, as committing spiritual adultery, and her mind was alienated from them, for now the fickle Jews turned once more to the Egyptians.

v. 18. So she discovered her whoredoms,
openly parading them before the whole world, and discovered her nakedness, her most shameful condition. Then My mind was alienated from her, so that He turned from her in disgust and loathing, like as My mind was alienated from her sister.

v. 19. Yet,
in spite of this experience, which should have sobered her, she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, the lusts she had then practiced, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt, practicing idolatry even before the Exodus.

v. 20. For she doted upon their paramours,
upon her lovers, the eunichs, princes, and courtiers who were instrumental in bringing about the alliance, whose flesh, the member concerned, is as the flesh of asses, said in bitter irony, and whose issue is like the issue of horses, said of carnal desire.

v. 21. Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising the teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth,
literally, "on account of thy youthful breasts. " In the early history there had at least been an explanation of Judah's conduct, namely, the inexperienced sensuousness and carnality of the people. But here, in their later history, they were acting against better knowledge, willfully prostituting themselves and their sacred honor upon the altar of idolatry.