Ezekiel 23
Barnes' Notes
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
The seventh word of judgment. The allegory of Aholah and Aholibah.

Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
Of one mother - Israel and Judah were branches of the same stock.

And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.
And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.
Aholah ... and Aholibah - More correctly "Oholah" ("her own tent or tabernacle") and "Oholibah" ("My tent or tabernacle is in her"): names chosen to express that after the division Israel set up her own tabernacle in the place of the temple in which God dwelt 1 Kings 12:32, while with Judah the Temple of God still remained. The presence of God aggravated Judah's sins. In the times of the captivity it was customary among the Jews to give their children names connected with the temple or tabernacle.

And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,
Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
The army of the Assyrians is described. War-horses formed an important part in the armies of Assyria and Egypt; Israel was deficient in this respect Isaiah 36:8.

Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.
Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.
Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
For the cause which at last brought destruction on Israel, see marginal reference.

These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed judgment upon her.
Famous - Or, "infamous among women;" literally as in the margin, i. e., a byword among women.

And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
The idolatries of Manasseh's reign exceeded all that had gone before either in Israel or in Judah 2 Kings 21:1-16; 2 Chronicles 33:1-10.

She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.
Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,
And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion,
After Israel's captivity Judah intrigued first with Assyria, then with Babylon, courting their monarchs, imitating their customs, and learning their idolatries.

Pourtrayed upon the wall - The monuments of Nineveh show how the walls of its palaces were adorned with figures precisely answering to this description. There is evidence that these sculptures were highly colored with vermilion, or rather, red ochre.

Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity:
And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.
The sending of "messengers" refers to the act of Ahaz 2 Kings 16:7.

And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.
After Josiah's death and the usurpation of dominion by the Egyptians, the Babylonians were no doubt welcomed as friends 2 Kings 24:1. But the Jews were soon tired of their alliance and disgusted with their friends, and this led to the rebellion of Jehoiakim and the first captivity.

So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister.
Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.
Egypt - The kings of Judah played alternately Egypt against Babylon, and Babylon against Egypt. Jehoahaz was displaced by Necho for Jehoiakim, who then turned to the Chaldaeans, and afterward rebelling sought aid from Egypt. So Zedekiah was continually meditating help from Egypt, against which Jeremiah and Ezekiel were continually protesting.

For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.
Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.
Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side;
The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses.
Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa - Possibly words expressive of rank, or names of small Chaldaean tribes, selected for their resemblance to expressive Hebrew words.

And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments.
With chariots ... - Better "with armor, horsemen, and chariot."

And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire.
Take away thy nose and thine ears - Alluding to the barbarous custom of mutilating prisoners in the east Daniel 2:5. An Egyptian law prescribed this punishment for an adulteress.

Fire - A mode of capital punishment Jeremiah 29:22; Daniel 3.

They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels.
Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom brought from the land of Egypt: so that thou shalt not lift up thine eyes unto them, nor remember Egypt any more.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated:
And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.
Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister's cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much.
Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria.
Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations;
That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.
Blood - One of the chief sins of Manasseh was that he shed innocent blood 2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4.

Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.
The same day - The day when they made their offerings. See Ezekiel 23:39.

For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.
Yahweh was placed as it were in the list of deities, not acknowledged as the One God. Idols and idol-temples were erected close to the House of God, and yet the temple-service went on Jeremiah 32:34.

And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments,
The figure is that of a woman decked in all her beauty, sitting on a couch (not bed) at a banquet prepared for those whom she has invited. This further offence is not one of idolatry, but that of courting alliances with other powers which were not less readily made than broken.

Ezekiel 23:40

That ye have sent - Better, "they (i. e., Israel and Judah) sent."

And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.
And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with the men of the common sort were brought Sabeans from the wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful crowns upon their heads.
A voice ... - Or, The voice of the tumult was stilled thereby. The tumultuous cries of the invading army were stilled by these gifts. Others render being at ease, "living carelessly."

Of the common sort - See the margin - a multitudinous crowd.

Sabeans - Better as in the margin. The Chaldaeans were noted for their intemperance and revellings.

The wilderness - The desert tract which the Chalaeans had to pass from the north of Mesopotamia to the holy land. This verse describes the temporary effects of the alliance of Israel and Judah with the Assyrians and Babylonians. All became quiet, the allies received gifts (incense and oil) from Israel and Judah, and these in turn brought riches to Palestine, "bracelets upon their" (i. e., Aholah's and Aholibah's) "hands," and crowns "upon their heads."

Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now commit whoredoms with her, and she with them?
Will they now commit ... - Rather, Now shall there be committed her whoredom, even this; i. e., when Israel and Judah had courted these alliances God said in wrath, "This sin too shall be committed, and so (not "yet) they went in;" the alliances were made according to their desires, and then followed the consequent punishment.

Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot: so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.
And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.
The judgment to be executed by the hands of their allies.

Ezekiel 23:45

The righteous men - Or, righteous men. The allies are so called as the instruments of God's righteous judgments.

For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.
And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire.
Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness.
To cease - Because they are stricken and consumed. Compare marginal reference.

All women - i. e., all countries.

And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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