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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Ezekiel 23

Verses 1-10

EZEKIEL - CHAPTER 23

PARABLE OF TWO HARLOTS, JUDAH AND SAMARIA

Verses 1-10:

Verses 1-3 describe the harlotry of two sisters, Jerusalem and Samaria, capitals of the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, who had one mother, the Hebrew people, whose name both daughters had defamed with their harlotry and whoredoms, from the days of Egypt. These two kingdoms of Israel are described as having their origin in Egypt in the tribes of Ephraim and Judah. Their sin of idolatry began in Egypt, in their youth, when they "bruised the teats of their virginity," while yet unmarried, yet betrothed to be married to Jehovah, indicated by their having the covenant of circumcision there before they were married to Jehovah at Sinai, Exodus 19:1-8; Deuteronomy 2:23-24. They were yet practicing the idolatrous whoredoms of Egypt under the judgment of their offended God, though cared for by Him, Exodus 16:15; Joshua 24:14, Leviticus 17:7.

Verse 4 asserts that once both sisters, Aholah and Aholiban were His and bare sons and daughters whose names were Samaria which is Aholah and Jerusalem which is Aholibah. Samaria was the location of a temple of worship erected by the northern kindom of Israel, without Divine order or sanction, 1 Kings 12:31-33. Jehovah had ordained temple worship at Jerusalem, in Mt Zion where He had set or fixed His name, Psalms 132:13-14. Before the division of the kingdom of Israel, under the apostacy of Jeroboam, both people, as one, worshipped God at His sanctuary in Jerusalem, Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:10; Psalms 68:16; Psalms 27:4.

Verse 5 charges that Aholah, the elder sister, played the harlot when she was betrothed to the Lord, doting on her Assyrian lovers, her neighbors to the east, 2 Kings 15:19; Hosea 8:9; Hosea 12:1. The term "Assyrian" refers to her kinsmen; Ashur was a brother to Afphaxad, Abraham’s ancestor, Genesis 10:22; Genesis 10:24; Genesis 11:16-26.

Verse 6 describes Aholah the harlot’s idolatrous consorts clothed in blue uniforms, captains and rulers; All of them were desirable young men, attractive young horsemen, riding on horses, inciting and seducing the lecherous lust of this wanton virgin, gone prostitute after idolatry, with its lustful amenities, Isaiah 10:8.

Verse 7 certifies that this Aholah harlot of Samaria gave her body, in sexual, lustful abandon, to all the cavaliers whom she could attract, refusing nothing of herself to her paramour lovers. In association with all their idols she defiled herself repeatedly before God, Exodus 20:4-5.

Verse 8 adds that "neither left or deserted she her whoredoms brought out of Egypt," the calf gods, as set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel, answering to the Egyptian Bull-god, Apis; She also allied herself with Egypt politically, Isaiah 30:2-3; Isaiah 31:1; 2 Chronicles 12:2-4.

Verse 9 concludes that because of her abominations and pollutions before God, He delivered her into the harsh judgment hands of the Assyrians, to humiliate her as a "used-up" former lover, to cut her throat, leave her to die in her shame, Ezra 4:2; Ezra 4:10.

Verse 10 explains the base results of the Aholah prostitute’s fall. She became an example and a warning to neighboring people and countries of certain punishment for obstinate sins against an holy God; Thus her nakedness was said to be discovered, found out, Ezekiel 16:37; Ezekiel 16:41; Hosea 2:3; Hosea 2:10.

Verses 11-21

SINS OF AHOLIBAH OR JUDAH’S INGRATITUDE

Verses 11-21:

Verse 11 begins a description of the spiritual adultery of Judah by consorting with Assyria in sins more numerous and base than those of Aholah, or Samaria her sister. She corrupted herself in sinful intercourse with Assyria and her idols and entered into alliance with her. She went further by also forming impure connections with Egypt as she had done before in her sojourns there, making her guilt greater, Jeremiah 3:11.

Verse 12 recounts that Aholibah (Judah), like her adulterous sister Aholah (Samaria) before her, beheld the Assyrian uniformed men in gorgeous robes, coveted lustful relations with them. The Assyrians wore the finery of the Orient, fabricated in their cavalry garments, a thing that flattered them in the eyes of Aholibah, v. 6, 23. This led to the eventual idolatrous coalition with Syrian idolatry, as described 2 Kings 16:7-9. Her robes were similar to those lovers wore when visiting their mistresses.

Verses 13, 14 recounts that the Lord observed both sisters Aholah and Aholibah (Samaria and Judah) defiled in one way or course of conduct, in forsaking God. Judah, like Samaria before her, increased the number and tempo of her idolatrous defilements and whoredoms with the Assyrians. She beheld or gazed upon the gorgeously robed horsemen, portrayed upon the wall, perhaps brought to the royal place of Judah in Jerusalem, and hung there. The portrayals were in vermilion, as pictures of warriors in battle array, enticements to the people of rebellious Judah, Jeremiah 22:14; Jeremiah 50:2.

Verse 15 describes these princes and warriors of Chaldea as wearing lofty turbans (high turbans) in dyed (colorful) attire upon their heads, varying according to their ranks. Such may yet be seen on the monuments of ancient Nineveh, from Nimrod’s kingdom, the nativity center of these soldiers and horsemen of the Babylonians, or "moon worshipers," Genesis 10:10.

Verse 16, 17 explain that "as soon as she" Aholibah or Judah, saw them she "doted upon them," or flaunted herself lustfully upon them, sending messenger-love-notes to them into Chaldea, as recounted 2 Kings 24:1. They responded to her lust-longing overtures and "came to her into the bed of love and they defiled her with their whoredoms." It is added that she "was polluted with them and her mind was alienated or turned away from them," Genesis 3:6; Genesis 39:7; Psalms 119:37, Proverbs 6:25.

Verse 18 concludes that because she had so wantonly given herself in abandon to nakedness in whoredoms with the idolatrous Chaldeans, God Himself was alienated from her, to have no identity of sanction for her deeds, even as He had from Samaria, her sister, Jeremiah 6:8; Deuteronomy 32:19; Psalms 78:59; Zechariah 11:8.

Verse 19 describes Judah or Aholibah as becoming lustfully disgusted and abhorrent of the Assyrian lovers and love-gods; And with sinful, roving mind instead of repentance, she longed for her youthful days, and prostitute lovers of Egypt, where she began her role of harlotry, 2 Kings 23:29-35; See also Amos 6:8.

Verse 20 continues an explanation of her continuing sins. She "doted upon their paramours," threw herself lustfully toward the soldiers and princes of Egypt, saying "I’m available, "bring me your gods and I’ll give myself to you in naked abandon before them. Though their "flesh is as the flesh of asses, and their issue is like the issue of horses." This alludes to a licentious and lecherous state of barnyard morals and jungle ethics to which the Egyptians turned and to which Judah or Aholibah offered herself, Ezekiel 16:26; Leviticus 20:2.

Verse 21 charges that "thus" or just like this, Judah had called to remembrance the lewdness of her youthful years down in Egypt. There she had Willfully given up her virginity by the "bruising of her teats," in cohabiting with the Egyptians. She fell in sex orgies before their idol gods. Her ingratitude for all the goodness of the Living God in delivering her from that early oppression, sustaining her in her wilderness journey, planting her in a pleasant homeland of her own, and giving her an holy temple, was too much for God to tolerate further, Psalms 7:11-12; Proverbs 1:31; Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11-17.

Verses 22-35

THE TRANSGRESSION AND PUNISHMENT OF JERUSALEM

Verses 22-35:

Verse 22 affirms that Judah was to be punished by the very people with whom she had committed whoredoms. "Chickens come home to roost," Numbers 32:24; Galatians 6:7-8. God warned her, through Ezekiel, that He would bring her former lovers against her on every side, v. 28; Ezekiel 16:37. Illicit love, sooner or later, leads to open hatred, 2 Samuel 13:15.

Verse 23 describes three desirable young men, or three kinds, in the army of Babylon--1) Pekod means anticipated punishment, while 2) Shoa means wealth or opulence and 3) Koa means noble or princely. Each was symbolically descriptive of Babylon as an inflicter of judgment on Judah.

Verse 24 prophesies the coming of judgment upon Judah by Babylonian battle array, according to their sins, or in restrictive punishment in accord with their personal and national sins, Nahum 3:2; Jeremiah 47:3; With cruel barbarity the Babylonian army was to sweep down upon Zedekiah of Judah, burning men of Judah alive, roasting them in the fire, and putting out the eyes, 2 Samuel 24:14; Jeremiah 52:9; Jeremiah 52:11; Jeremiah 29:22.

Verses 25, 26 describe mutilation as a form of punishment for adulteresses, then practiced by the Chaldeans, Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians. The beauty of Judah’s whoremongering idolaters was to be totally debased and, or destroyed. Even her rich dresses and costly jewelry was to be stripped from her by her former paramours, Hosea 2:3; Hosea 2:9-10; Revelation 17:16; Revelation 18:14-17. See also Isaiah 3:17-24; 1 Peter 3:3-4.

Verse 27 asserts that by means of the cruel punishment, inflicted on the Jews by the Chaldeans, they would be made to cease from their idolatrous lewdness and whoredoms which they began in Egypt, and would never return to them again, Isaiah 27:9; Ezekiel 16:41; Ezekiel 22:15; Micah 5:10; Zechariah 13:2. From that Babylonian experience of captivity judgment time until today the Jews have never returned to idolatry, as foretold Hosea 3:4.

Verse 28 warned that the Lord would deliver both Judah and Israel into the hands of those whom they had come to hate, from whom their minds and affections had been alienated, v. 17; Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 34:10; Ezekiel 16:37.

Verses 29, 30 further foretold that all their labor or fruits of labor, all their possessions, would be taken as loot, or destroyed in their captivity; And they would be hatefully treated and exposed as bare, naked, polluted, and humiliated in their idolatrous whoredoms, as captive females are treated. It is concluded that all these things would come as judgment from the Lord because they had bowed down to idols and gone a whoring after their heathen people, Exodus 20:4-5.

Verses 31-33 explain that these forms of judgment should come upon Judah in particular, because she had gone a whoring after idolatry, even after seeing her sister’s fall and judgment, so that she was without excuse; Because of her willful rebellion she should drink the same cup of judgment of her sister, Jeremiah 25:15; She was to drink of that cup, literally drink the bitter dregs from the bottom of the cup, Psalms 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 17:10; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 18:6. Judah, like Samaria before her, was mocked and held in derision by the very paramours to whom she yielded her whole soul, naked in prostitution, before her Egyptian and Chaldean idols.

Verse 34 vividly describes how Judah would drink and suck out the bottom of the cup of bitter dregs, to drink them, breaking the very shard-containers to get the last of the dregs of judgment, Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17. They were to pluck or tear off their own breasts, with which they had allured and seduced her whoremongering paramours from her youth. Judah was to despise herself, because of her former prostituting adultery, which she had now come to despise, Numbers 32:24.

Verse 35 concludes that God demanded that Judah hear all these judgments because she had forgotten Him and cast Him behind her back, Isaiah 59:1-2; Ezekiel 22:12; Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 13:25. Consider the treatment of Gedaliah, the governor of Chaldea, as recounted, Jeremiah ch. 41; Psalms 9:17.

Verses 36-49

Verses 36-49:

Verses 36, 37 call on Ezekiel to restate the judgment indictments the Lord had against Aholah (Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel) and Aholibah (Judah, the southern kingdom). The summary charge of indictments are that they had: 1) Committed idolatrous adultery, 2) shed innocent blood for personal gain, and 3) caused their sons to pass through the fire, or burned their young children alive in the arms of Molech, the false god, Ezekiel 16:20-21; Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 16:45; Ezekiel 20:26; Ezekiel 20:31. See also Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 3:8.

Verses 38, 39 charge Samaria and Judah with profaning the sanctuary of the Lord, by callously offering sacrifices there on the same day they had hypocritically offered children in idolatrous sacrifice, by shamefully burning them alive in the arms of Molech, in the valley of Gehenna nearby, Jeremiah 7:9-10; 2 Kings 21:4. They profaned God’s house and God’s sabbaths by these idolatrous actions, Ezekiel 22:8. See also 2 Chronicles 33:4; 2 Chronicles 33:7; Jeremiah 23:11; Ezekiel 44:7.

Verse 40 charges the licentious sisters of Israel with deliberately sending for paramours from afar, and doing it continuously, as a repeated course of whoremongering after them, before their idol gods. They washed themselves, painted their eyes, and bejeweled themselves, as seductively as possible, to make themselves more attractive to their sent-for-lovers, as recounted 2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30.

Verse 41 explains that Judah sat or reclined upon a bed or bed­pillow with her table spread with oil and incense before her, to satisfy her lovers hunger before her adulterous consort with them; An exciting part of the way of adultery, both physical and spiritual is eating and drinking. Judah was politically making gifts to the Chaldeans, buying and worshipping their gods, along with her pretence to worship Jehovah God, an hypocritical thing, Isaiah 30:6; Proverbs 7:17; Ezekiel 16:18-19; Hosea 2:8; Jeremiah 44:17; Amos 6:4.

Verse 42 certifies that they of Judah were at ease, with seared conscience toward wrong, because of their long pursuit of idolatrous rebellion. They also brought the Sabeans, Arab from the desert in, to be consorts in and party to their whoremongering against God; They were Willfully enticed by the gifts of bracelets and crowns their lovers brought to them, to their own destruction, Job 1:15.

Verses 43, 44 raise the question whether or not the Egyptian, Chaldean, and Sabean whoremongers would go in and continue to have adulterous relations with Aholah (Samaria) and Aholibah (Judah), who had grown old and worn in a course of whoremongering. Would their paramours or lovers keep on consorting with a worn-out, "old adulteress?" This is the question, As sat an-empowered, they did, until the total captivity judgment had covered all the land of Israel.

Verse 45 asserts that righteous men should judge them according to the degree of their adulteress guilt and the manner of those who committed murder, in the shedding of innocent blood, Ezekiel 16:38; John 8:7. Heathen tyrants, like the Chaldeans, are here referred to as "righteous men," or men who were used of God to administer righteous judgment, on a Willfully rebellious nation, Isaiah 49:24; Habakkuk 1:3; Habakkuk 1:12-13.

Verses 46, 47 warn that the Lord would bring upon them . a company, to remove them from their land, stone them, John 8:5; slay them by the sword, and burn their houses with fire--as the Chaldeans did, Ezekiel 16:14; Ezekiel 21:9-10; 2 Chronicles 36:17; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Ezekiel 24:21.

Verses 48, 49 conclude that in this manner the Lord would cause idolatrous lewdness to cease from the land of Israel and all women would be taught not to do as they had done, Deuteronomy 13:11; Jeremiah 39:8; Jeremiah 52:13; 2 Peter 2:6. Israel was to bear the judgment of the sins of her idols until she came to know by her bitter suffering that God was a God of His word, Exodus 20:1-5; Psalms 119:160.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 23". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ezekiel-23.html. 1985.