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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 16

Verses 1-63

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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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.