|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-49 A history of the apostacy of God's people from him, and the aggravation thereof. - In this parable, Samaria and Israel bear the name Aholah, her own tabernacle; because the places of worship those kingdoms had, were of their own devising. Jerusalem and Judah bear the name of Aholibah, my tabernacle is in her, because their temple was the place which God himself had chosen, to put his name there. The language and figures are according to those times. Will not such humbling representations of nature keep open perpetual repentance and sorrow in the soul, hiding pride from our eyes, and taking us from self-righteousness? Will it not also prompt the soul to look to God continually for grace, that by his Holy Spirit we may mortify the deeds of the body, and live in holy conversation and godliness?
Verse 4. - The occurrence of proper names is almost unique in the parables of the Bible, the Lazarus of Luke 16:20 being the only other instance. Their meaning is sufficiently clear. Aholah (but both names should begin with O rather than A) means "Her tent;" Aholibah, "My tent is in her." A parallel, which may have suggested the names, is found in the Aholibamah (equivalent to "My tent is in the high place") of Genesis 36:2, and another in the use of Ohel as a proper name in 1 Chronicles 3:20. The common element of the two names is the word that is commonly used for the sacred tent or tabernacle in the Pentateuch and elsewhere. The distinctive element of each points to the fact that the worship in Samaria was unauthorized. Her "tent" was hers, not Jehovah's. Of Jerusalem with its temple Jehovah could say, "My tent is in her," and this, as magnifying her privilege, also aggravated her guilt. Keil and others take the adjective here, as in Ezekiel 16:46, as meaning "greater" rather than "older." The former adjective is, of course, applicable to the greater power of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and, even if we retain the renderings of the Authorized Version, is probably the explanation of Samaria being named as the elder of the two.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the names of them were Aholah the elder,.... Or, "the greater" (m) meaning the ten tribes of Israel, which were more in number than Judah, and greater in power and riches; their name, Aholah, signifies "her tent or tabernacle", which was entirely their own, and not the Lord's: their worship, and places of worship, were of their own appointing, namely, their calves at Dan and Bethel; God had nothing to do with them, there he did not dwell; his tabernacle was not there, that was at Salem, Psalm 76:1,
and Aholibah her sister; which name signifies "my tent or tabernacle is in her": this is the name of Judah or the two tribes, in which stood the temple of the Lord, where he was worshipped, and where he dwelt: some think these were proper names of two Egyptian harlots; others think there is allusion to the wife of Esau, Genesis 36:2,
and they were mine; or, "I had them (n)"; when they were together; they were originally espoused unto him; he avouched them to be his people, and they avouched him to be their God; he chose them for himself above all other people, and they professed themselves to be his, and promised to serve and worship him; and for a while did continue in his service and worship: and they bare sons and daughters; to the Lord, whom they brought up in the fear of God, and taught them to serve him: the phrase is expressive of their increase, and of their happiness and prosperity, while they adhered to the pure worship of God:
thus were their names; this is the application of them: "Samaria is Aholah"; or Aholah signifies Samaria, which was the metropolis of Ephraim, and belonged to the ten tribes, and is put for the whole, Isaiah 7:9, "and Jerusalem Aholibah"; or Aholibah designs Jerusalem, the head city of Judah, and stands for the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
(m) "major", Junius and Tremellius, Polanus, Starckius. (n) "et habui eos", V. L. Heb.; "facte sunt mihi", Piscator; "sub uxores", Grotius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Aholah—that is, "Her tent" (put for worship, as the first worship of God in Israel was in a tent or tabernacle), as contrasted with Aholibah, that is, "My tent in her." The Beth-el worship of Samaria was of her own devising, not of God's appointment; the temple-worship of Jerusalem was expressly appointed by Jehovah, who "dwelt" there, "setting up His tabernacle among the people as His" (Ex 25:8; Le 26:11, 12; Jos 22:19; Ps 76:2).
the elder—Samaria is called "the elder" because she preceded Judah in her apostasy and its punishment.
they were mine—Previous to apostasy under Jeroboam, Samaria (Israel, or the ten tribes), equally with Judah, worshipped the true God. God therefore never renounced the right over Israel, but sent prophets, as Elijah and Elisha, to declare His will to them.
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