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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Ezekiel 23

Verse 1

Eze 23:1-2. This entire chapter is on the subject of spiritual adultery which always means Idolatry in the Old Testament. The figures and other terms will be directly those pertaining to the unfaithfulness of women in the marriage relation, but. I am anxious that the reader always bear in mind that the real subject is idolatry. After all, the comparison is wholly fitting. When a woman becomes the wife of a certain man she cannot share her affections, either mentally or bodily, with any other man without being guilty of adultery against her husband. Likewise, when a man or group of men profess to have become united with God in their religious life, they have no right to patronize any other god or participate in any strange religious activities. If they do so they are guilty of spiritual adultery. So let me once more caution the reader not to get lost to the real subject as he sees the detailed picture of immoral conduct presented in this chapter. The women are the kingdom of Israel and Judah.

Verse 3

Eze 23:3. Committed whoredoms in Egypt, The two separate kingdoms had not come into existence when the children of Israel were living in Egypt and did not tor a number of years. But these people were infected with the disease while there and participated in the unrighteous conduct. Its effect upon them was indicated by their making the golden calf in less than three months after leaving the land. The expressions In this verse refer to the unlawful intimacies permitted by an unfaithful wife preparatory to the act of adultery.

Verse 4

Eze 23:4. We are given the names of the two women involved in the unholy case at hand. Samaria and Jerusalem are named because they were the capitals of the two kingdoms. Aholah is called the eider because the 10-tribe kingdom was formed first, it being the one that revolted from the lawful standard in. Jerusalem.

Verse 5

Eze 23:5. When she teas mine. Immorality is wrong in any woman, but it is worse when she commits it against, a man to whom she has been united in the lawful relationship. The Assyrians are named because at the time the 10-tribe kingdom was practicing her unfaithfulness (idolatry) the territory under consideration was under the control of that empire.

Verse 6

Eze 23:6. Aholah was attracted by the fine appearance of the men in the strangers' camp. Many a wife has been lured away from her husband by the showy appearance of another man.

Verse 7

Eze 23:7. The prophet combines the spiritual with the literal corruption in this verse. He accuses Aholah of whoredom with the Assyrians, and immediately says it was with all their idols she defiled herself. (See the comments at verses 1, 2.)

Verse 8

Eze 23:8. Neither left she means she had never left off the abominable practices she had learned in Egypt. Thus this unfaithful wife did not stop at the unlawful intimacies with one man, but took in others and so multiplied her pollutions.

Verse 9

Eze 23:9. This verse refers to the captivity of the 10-tribe kingdom by the Assyrian Empire. The account of this is in 2 Kings 17 tb chapter.

Verse 10

Eze 23:10. Aholah had doted on the Assyrians which means she had encouraged them to make ‘'advances” toward her. Following the encouragement they discovered her nakedness which means they “went all the way” and had unlawful intimacies with her. After satisfying their lust on her they took her children from her and also slew her with the sword. Literally tills means the Assyrians slew the leading men in the 10-tribe kingdom and took the other citizens into exile. She became famous means she became a conspicuous person by reason of her notorious conduct In the language of the world on such a subject she became known and was familiarly referred to as a “character" and was mentioned with a shrugging of the shoulders.

Verse 11

Eze 23:11. This verse does not mean that Aholibah (Judah) actually committed more idolatry than did her sister, for such was not the case. Every king of the 10-tribe kingdom without exception was an idolater and encour-aged it among his subjects. But Judah bad a number of faithful kings who tried to stem the tide of corruption. The contrast Is made on the basis of the superior advantages that Judah had over Israel. With increased advantages or opportunities come greater responsibilities. Judah had the bad exampie of Israel and its results before her eyes and should have profited by it Besides, she had possession of the temple and the lawful priesthood to strengthen her and that should have bound her closer to the Liord in a faithful life. But she seemed to overlook all these factors and committed the abomination of false worship. That is why it is said that she became more corrupt.

Verse 12

Eze 23:12. No doubt the people of Judah were interested in the gods of the Assyrians, but it was the Babylonians (or Chaldeans) that had to do with the chastisement of the unfaithful nation. However, at the time of which Ezekiel was writing the country called Babylon was under the control of Assyria and that is why it is said she doted upon the Assyrians. The attractions described are the same as were explained in verse 6.

Verse 13

Eze 23:13. Took both one way means Aholibah followed in the same way that was practiced by her sister Aholah,

Verse 14

Eze 23:14, Increased her whoredoms is explained at verse 11 in the light of the degree of responsibility. Chaldeans (or Babylonians) are mentioned because at tbe time Judah reached her crisis that empire was actually in power.

Verse 15

Eze 23:15, The attractiveness of men lured her away from devotion to her husband, in the same way that her sister had been enticed as per verse 6.

Verse 16

Eze 23:16. Doted upon them means she gave improper encouragement to them as her sister had done according to verse 5. She even became the aggressor and sent messengers to them with "suggestions.”

Verse 17

Eze 23:17. Such an attitude would be sure to interest men already disposed toward such indulgencies. They accepted the invitation and came to her and committed adultery with her. In actual practice it means the heathen nations would be glad t.o ,ioin with the people of Palestine in idolatrous practices.

Verse 18

Eze 23:18. Discovered her nakedness means she voluntarily assumed the position necessary for the act of adultery. Mind was alienated has the same meaning that is contained in cases where a husband charges a man with "alienating the affections of his wife.” Idols had alienated the mind of Judah away from the true love for God.

Verse 19

Eze 23:19. Some women will recall with shame their "youthful follies” and will try to make amends by a virtuous life in later years. But this wife recalled with pleasure those disgraceful years and sought to repeat them.

Verse 20

Eze 23:20. A paramour is an unlawful lover which is here applied to the false gods of heathendom. The terms about flesh and issue are used to picture a woman who is so lustful that the more beastlike a man la the more she would crave his advances.

Verse 21

Eze 23:21. This verse repeats the thoughts of earlier verses, referring to the unlawful intimacies permitted by a young wife to strange men.

Verse 22

Eze 23:22. Sometimes a corrupt woman will tire of her paramours and will "break” with them (from whom thy mind, is alienated). But they cannot always be east off so easily and will come back to cause trouble for the woman. Likewise, there came a time when Judah would fain have remained distinct from Babylon, But the Lord determined that she must continue her idolatrous practices with that heathen group, even doing so after being taken into their land for a period of exile.

Verse 23

Eze 23:23. This verse gives a list of the heathen peoples with whom Judah had committed idolatry (spiritual adultery) at one time or another. Most of them had been swallowed op by the great Babylonian Empire at the time of Judah’s captivity.

Verse 24

Eze 23:24. This is a literal prediction of the siege that the Babylonians planted about Jerusalem. Chariots and wagons are vehicles used for conveyances of men and materials in military operations. Wheels is from a word that indicates something very impressive because of its size, and somewhat like a whirlwind in its encircling formation. The other articles named are those used by soldiers in a siege or other war activities.

Verse 25

Eze 23:25. When God’B jealousy is mentioned we are reminded of Exo 20:5 where the subject is idolatry. That is the subject of this present chapter, described and condemned in the form of adultery, This verse predicts the severe treatment that Jeru-salem is to receive from the Babylonians in the last stage of the 70-year captivity, including a bitter siege of more than two years.

Verse 26

Eze 23:26. In line with an unfaithful wife that plays the part of a harlot, she is represented as having attired herself with gaudy and attractive garments as a lure for men. This verse shows that she will be stripped of those garments by these men.

Verse 27

Eze 23:27. Make thy lewdness to cease. Since idolatry is the real subject of all these comparisons, this expression is a prediction of the cure from idolatry that will result by cast-ing his wife (Judah) into the hands of her evil associates. This prediction was fulfilled according to the historical quotation given in connection with Isa 1:25 in volume 3 of this Commentary.

Verse 28

Eze 23:28. Whom thou hatest is to be understood in the same sense as mind is alienated, that was explained at verse 22.

Verse 29

Eze 23:29. Men will sometimes tire of the very woman who has catered to their lusts, then they will “turn on her” and mistreat, her with a vengeance. Likewise, the very heathen with whom Judah had played the harlot (idolatry) were to be given possession of her and they were to hold her as a captive for 70 years.

Verse 30

Eze 23:30. All these calamites were to come upon Judah as a punishment for her unfaithfulness to her husband who was the Lord.

Verse 31

Eze 23:31. Give her cup means that Judah was to receive the same cup or punishment as Israel and that was to be captivity. This was just, since she had taken up the same walk of life as that followed by her sister Israel.

Verse 32

Eze 23:32. Deep and large and it con- taineth much is used by way of emphasizing the statements of the preceding verse. The emphasis is certainly appropriate, for the subjugation of an established kingdom and the transferring of its population into a foreign iand would be a very great humiliation and cause much comment.

Verse 33

Eze 23:33. Drunkenness is figurative and means they would be overwhelmed with humiliation and sorrow, even as the sister (Israel) had been a century before.

Verse 34

Eze 23:34. The language is still figurative, using a cup as the basis of the figure. With that form of imagery in view, the emphasis is expressed by representing them as being so greedy that they crush the cup by their action. Pluck off breasts indicates a gesture of despair by snatching at their breasts. Such a movement was an ancient custom used in times of great sorrow or astonishment. (See Luk 18:13; Luk 23:48.)

Verse 35

Eze 23:35. When God’s servants turn to other persons or objects with their devotions it is because they have forgotten Him. Jesus taught this truth in Mat 6:24. Bear thy lewdness has a twofold bearing. One is that they would have to bear the punishment due their sins, and the other is they would have Lo continue their lewdness which was idolatry, for they actually did have to continue that in the captivity.

Verse 36

Eze 23:36. Wilt thou judge is in the form of a question, but it really is an order from the Lord to judge the two women. The prophet was to charge them with the abominations they had committed against Him,

Verse 37

Eze 23:37. This verse combines the figurative with the literal terms for the same abomination. It explains the adultery of these women (Aholah and Ahohbah; Samaria and Jerusalem) to be the practice of idolatry. They carried the service to the extent of offering their own children in sacrifice to the idols.

Verse 38

Eze 23:38. These wicked women went so far as to bring their immoral practice into the house provided by their husband, which is the meaning of the phrase defiled my sanctuary, for that was the house provided to shelter the sacred furniture.

Verse 39

Eze 23:39, These women are still being regarded as unfaithful wives, though this verse drops the figures and states the literal facts. The people of God actually made sacrifices of their children, and also set up idols in the temple.

Verse 40

Eze 23:40, These unfaithful wives were worse than the usual cases, for they even sent messengers to strange men to solicit their intimacies. This item is commented upon more fully at verse 16. When the men answered the invitation with their presence they found (he women adorned with the “make-up" of impure characters.

Verse 41

Eze 23:41, After decorating their bodies in a suggestive manner, the men found them occupying a stately bed, one that belonged properly to the use of persons of special honor, there to receive the embraces of these strange men. Near the bed was a table on which were the materials with which they could refresh themselves at intervals with their unlawful intimacies with these wives of another person.

Verse 42

Eze 23:42. So inordinate were Aholah and Akolibah that they accepted men of both high and low rank. In order to give themselves an appearance of dignity, these men adorned themselves with hand decorations, and for the appearance of royal standing they wore crowns on their heads.

Verse 43

Eze 23:43. Men who are intent on full gratification of their lusts do not generally care for a worn out and old woman. These wives of the Lord were old at that business, hence He asks if these men will be satisfied with them.

Verse 44

Eze 23:44. A woman that playeth the harlot is usually one who is attractive from the standpoint of youth and who has plenty of sex appeal. These women had so adorned themselves that they made so great and favorable an appearance as to lure the men on. Consequently they went in unto them and committed adultery.

Verse 45

Eze 23:45. These women were guilty of spiritual adultery (idolatry) and of literal bloodshed. Hence righteous men were to judge them according to their just deserts. This does not mean the men would be righteous as to their personal character, but in executing God’s judgment against the women they would be doing right.

Verse 46

Eze 23:46. This verse is an explanation of the preceding one. God was to use a foreign group to bring the unfaithful kingdoms into judgment and take them Into exile.

Verse 47

Eze 23:47. The things predicted here actually came to pass according to the historical account, given in 2 Kings 25 th chapter.

Verse 48

Eze 23:48. Cause lewdness to reuse is a prediction in figurative form that God's people would be cured of idolatry by the captivity. See the historical fulfillment of it at Isa 1:25. volume 3 of this Commentary.

Verse 49

Eze 23:49. The figurative and literal terms for the same thing are again used in this verse. Lewdness means the same as idols and the unfaithful people of the Lord were to bear the sins, which means they were to bear the punishment due their sins.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 23". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/ezekiel-23.html. 1952.