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The Unchaste Sisters, Oholah and Oholibah
The idolatries and foreign alliances of Jerusalem and Samaria are here described under the same strong figure which is used in Ezekiel 16. Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah (Jerusalem) were two sisters, both seduced in Egypt in their youth (Ezekiel 23:3), both espoused by God (Ezekiel 23:4), and both unfaithful to Him. Samaria took as her lovers first the Assyrians (Ezekiel 23:5-7), and then the Egyptians (Ezekiel 23:8), and was at length slain by the former (Ezekiel 23:9-10). Jerusalem, not warned by her sister’s fate, made first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians her paramours (Ezekiel 23:11-16). Being alienated from the latter she has turned to her early lovers of Egypt (Ezekiel 23:17-21), but she will be destroyed, like her sister, by the lovers whom she has just forsaken (Ezekiel 23:22-35). The sin and judgment of the two sisters are described afresh (Ezekiel 23:36-49).
3. Another instance of Ezekiel’s belief that Israel practised idolatry in Egypt: see Ezekiel 20:8. Of course the distinction between the two branches of the nation does not really go back so far.
4. Aholah.. Aholibah] RV ’Oholah.. Oholibah.’ The words perhaps mean ’her tent and ’my tent in her,’ respectively. It was an Eastern custom to give similar names to members of the same family. Samaria] stands for the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, of which it was the capital. Oholah is called the elder sister, probably because the northern kingdom was the larger and stronger of the two. Were mine] RV ’became mine,’ in marriage.
5. The Assyrians] In 2 Kings 15:17-20 we read that the northern kingdom became tributary to Assyria in the reign of Menahem. But the Assyrian monuments show that this subjection began as early as the reign of Jehu.
8. Egypt] The northern kingdom wavered for a time between an Assyrian and an Egyptian policy (Hosea 7:11). Its last king, Hoshea, revolted against Assyria and allied himself with Egypt (2 Kings 17:4). This was the cause of the destruction of his kingdom.
12. The Assyrians] The southern kingdom made alliance with Assyria in the days of Ahaz, who eagerly introduced foreign idolatries (2 Kings 16:7). Except in the reign of Hezekiah the Assyrian overlordship continued till that of Babylon took its place. These political relations were accompanied by religious defections.
14. Images of the Chaldeans] Such pictures were common on the walls of Babylonian palaces. Ezekiel imagines them as being seen in Jerusalem, and as awakening the nation’s desire for these unknown lovers.
17. Her mind (RV ’soul’) was alienated] Judah under Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1) and Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:20) became weary of Babylonian supremacy.
19. Egypt] Like Samaria, Jerusalem went back to her first seducers. Intrigues with Egypt were frequent from the days of Hezekiah onwards (Isaiah 30:31), and it was trust in Egypt which led to Zedekiah’s revolt and the nation’s fall: see Ezekiel 17:7.
23. Pekod.. Shoa.. Koa] Eastern peoples tributary to Babylon. They are all mentioned in the inscriptions. The Assyrians] These now formed part of the Babylonian Empire.
34. Pluck off] RV ’tear.’
39. Human sacrifice was combined with the forms of God’s worship. This only aggravated its guilt.
42. Sabeans] RV ’drunkards.’
45. The righteous men] The allegory carries out the forms of justice observed in an Israelite city, but we need not look for a counterpart to the righteous men in the actual history.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 23". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent