Ezekiel 16:16
And of your garments you did take, and decked your high places with divers colors, and played the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Deckedst thy high places with divers colours.—The use of colours, and especially of tapestry in colours, in the adornment of places of worship, was universal throughout the religions of antiquity. It formed a striking feature of the adornment of the Tabernacle, and what is censured here is the perversion of this, which should have been for the glory of God, to the honour of idols. Translate the last clause of the verse, as in apposition with what goes before, “Things which should not come, and that which should not take place.”

The three following verses emphasise the apostacy of Israel by taking up various particulars of the symbolical good gifts which God had given her, and showing how she had perverted them to idolatry. It was a chief feature of the charge against her that these gifts were from God, and that she had given them to another—a charge which must for ever remain true of the perversion of the talents God has given to any other than His own service.

16:1-58 In this chapter God's dealings with the Jewish nation, and their conduct towards him, are described, and their punishment through the surrounding nations, even those they most trusted in. This is done under the parable of an exposed infant rescued from death, educated, espoused, and richly provided for, but afterwards guilty of the most abandoned conduct, and punished for it; yet at last received into favour, and ashamed of her base conduct. We are not to judge of these expressions by modern ideas, but by those of the times and places in which they were used, where many of them would not sound as they do to us. The design was to raise hatred to idolatry, and such a parable was well suited for that purpose.Compare 2 Kings 23:7. Such decoration of idol-temples in the holy land showed how the ungrateful people were devoting the wealth and energies which Yahweh had given them to the service of those false gods, in whose worship He was especially dishonored.

The like things shall not come ... - The abominations reached the very utmost - nothing would hereafter be so bad as these had been.

16. deckedst … with divers colours—or, "didst make … of divers colors" [Fairbairn]; the metaphor and the literal are here mixed. The high places whereon they sacrificed to Astarte are here compared to tents of divers colors, which an impudent harlot would spread to show her house was open to all [Calvin]. Compare as to "woven hangings for Astarte" (the right translation for "grove") 2Ki 23:7.

the like … shall not come, neither shall … be—rather, "have not come, nor shall be." These thy doings are unparalleled in the past, and shall be so in the future.

Of thy garments; hers they were for use, by gift of God, but she looked on them as hers, without respect to either the giver or use intended. Those costly, royal robes, the very wedding clothes and furniture,

thou didst take; as an adulteress that parts with the rich gifts of her husband to oblige an adulterer.

Deckedst: by this it appears how shameless she was grown, that blushed not to be known, one that had turned her Husband’s bounty, that had abused the unparalleled kindness of her God, to the open and public service of her adulterer, her idol; thus she turned her glory into shame.

Thy high places, where both the idol’s altar and worship were fixed.

With divers colours, with those beautiful clothes and furniture I put upon thee to adorn thee; these hast thou made the carpets and hangings for the honour and service of idols.

The like things shall not come; so matchless is this adulteress, that none shall be so impudent, and do like her; as there was none before her that hath done so to be her example, so shall there be none to follow her in these things wherein she hath exceeded. And of thy garments thou didst take,.... Which were made of fine linen, silk, and broidered work; which God had given them, and they were richly clad with:

and deckedst thy high places with divers colours; that is, with garments of divers colours; either they erected tents on their high places, made with these; or they covered their altars with them, which were on their high places for the ornament of them, as harlots deck their beds to allure their lovers; see Proverbs 7:16; or "thou hast made for thyself high places spotted" (d); so the word is rendered in Genesis 30:32; alluding to garments spotted with the flesh by adulterers. The Targum is, "thou hast made for thyself high places covered with idols": and so the Septuagint version renders it, "idols sewed together". The word, in the Talmudic language (e), has the signification of sewing. These idols were decked as children's babies are; and so the Syriac version, "thou hast made for thyself babies"; images like babies, richly dressed with their garments above described, such as the papists now have;

and playedst the harlot thereon; committed idolatry on the high places; or "with them" (f); that is, with the images and idols decked with their garments, which were set on those high places:

the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so; the like idolatries shall set be committed any more; and after the Babylonish captivity worshipping of idols was not practised by the Jews; nor is it to this day: or such "things have not come yet", and there "shall not be" the like (g); the sense is, there never were such idolatries committed by this people before; and there hover shall be, or will be, the like afterwards. Kimchi's note is,

"the high places shall not come as these; as if it was said these shall not be in futurity; and there shall not be a man or a people that shall make like these for multitudes;''

so Ben Melech; and "high places", does agree with "come". The Targum joins this with the preceding clause,

""and playedst the harlot" with them, as is not right and fit''

(d) "et fecisti tibi excelsa maculosa", Montanus; "excelsa conspera maculis", Calvin; "latis maculis interstincta", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus. (e) T. Bab. Gittin. fol. 45. 2. Misn. Celim, c. 27. sect. 6. (f) "iisque", Ar. Interp. (g) "non eventurae sunt tales scortationes, nec erit qui sic scortetur", Piscator.

And of thy garments thou didst take, and didst deck thy high places with various colours, {m} and didst play the harlot upon them: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.

(m) This declares how the idolaters put their chief delight in those things which please the eyes and outward senses.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. She took of her “garments,” the flax and the wool which Jehovah had given her to cover herself withal (Hosea 2:9), and made tents upon the high places for the idols which she there worshipped. For “high places” cf. ch. Ezekiel 6:3. The “high places decked with divers colours” (R. V.) might be tents, or the reference might be to hangings or carpets. In 2 Kings 23:7 reference is made to women “who wove tents for Ashera;” cf. 1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29.

like things shall not come] Or, should not come. An exclamation of dislike and abhorrence of the shameful practices just referred to. The rendering given can hardly be extracted from the words, which are probably corrupt in some way, though already read by LXX. (with a different vocalization). Comp. perhaps ch. Ezekiel 20:29.Verse 16. - (For high places, see note on Ezekiel 6:6.) The words imply that the shrines upon them were decked with hangings of many coloured tapestry, presenting an appearance like that of a Persian carpet, as in 2 Kings 23:7, of the image of the Asherah. Those hangings were, as in Proverbs 7:16, the ornaments of the adulterous bed. The "high places" are named first, as the earliest form of idolatry. The like things shall not come. The words are obscure, and the text probably corrupt. As they stand, they seem to say that the world would never again witness so shameful an apostasy. The Vulgate, Sicut non est factum neque futurum est; extends the comparison to the past. Possibly, though it is a strain upon the grammar, the words may be rendered, "such things should not come, should not be." Israel, by nature unclean, miserable, and near to destruction (Ezekiel 16:3-5), is adopted by the Lord and clothed in splendour (Ezekiel 16:6-14). Ezekiel 16:1 and Ezekiel 16:2 form the introduction. - Ezekiel 16:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 16:2. Son of man, show Jerusalem her abominations. - The "abominations" of Jerusalem are the sins of the covenant nation, which were worse than the sinful abominations of Canaan and Sodom. The theme of this word of God is the declaration of these abominations. To this end the nation is first of all shown what it was by nature. - Ezekiel 16:3. And say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to Jerusalem, Thine origin and thy birth are from the land of the Canaanites; thy father was the Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite. Ezekiel 16:4. And as for thy birth, in the day of thy birth thy navel was not cut, and thou wast not bathed in water for cleansing; and not rubbed with salt, and not wrapped in bandages. Ezekiel 16:5. No eye looked upon thee with pity, to do one of these to thee in compassion; but thou wast cast into the field, in disgust at thy life, on the day of thy birth. - According to the allegory, which runs through the whole chapter, the figure adopted to depict the origin of the Israelitish nation is that Jerusalem, the existing representative of the nation, is described as a child, born of Canaanitish parents, mercilessly exposed after its birth, and on the point of perishing. Hitzig and Kliefoth show that they have completely misunderstood the allegory, when they not only explain the statement concerning the descent of Jerusalem, in Ezekiel 16:3, as relating to the city of that name, but restrict it to the city alone, on the ground that "Israel as a whole was not of Canaanitish origin, whereas the city of Jerusalem was radically a Canaanitish, Amoritish, and Hittite city." But were not all the cities of Israel radically Canaanaean? Or was Israel not altogether, but only half, of Aramaean descent? Regarded merely as a city, Jerusalem was neither of Amoritish nor Hittite origin, but simply a Jebusite city. And it is too obvious to need any proof, that the prophetic word does not refer to the city as a city, or to the mass of houses; but that Jerusalem, as the capital of the kingdom of Judah at that time, so far as its inhabitants were concerned, represents the people of Israel, or the covenant nation. It was not the mass of houses, but the population, - which was the foundling, - that excited Jehovah's compassion, and which He multiplied into myriads (Ezekiel 16:7), clothed in splendour, and chose as the bride with whom He concluded a marriage covenant. The descent and birth referred to are not physical, but spiritual descent. Spiritually, Israel sprang from the land of the Canaanites; and its father was the Amorite ad its mother a Hittite, in the same sense in which Jesus said to the Jews, "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44). The land of the Canaanites is mentioned as the land of the worst heathen abominations; and from among the Canaanitish tribes, the Amorites and Hittites are mentioned as father and mother, not because the Jebusites are placed between the two, in Numbers 13:29, as Hitzig supposes, but because they were recognised as the leaders in Canaanitish ungodliness. The iniquity of the Amorites (האמרי) was great even in Abraham's time, though not yet full or ripe for destruction (Genesis 15:16); and the daughters of Heth, whom Esau married, caused Rebekah great bitterness of spirit (Genesis 27:46). These facts furnish the substratum for our description. And they also help to explain the occurrence of האמרי with the article, and חתּית without it. The plurals מכרתיך and מלדתיך also point to spiritual descent; for physical generation and birth are both acts that take place once for all. מכרה or מכוּרה (Ezekiel 21:35; Ezekiel 29:14) is not the place of begetting, but generation itself, from כּוּר equals כּרה, to dig equals to beget (cf. Isaiah 51:1). It is not equivalent to מקוּר, or a plural corresponding to the Latin natales, origines. תולדת: birth.

Ezekiel 16:4 and Ezekiel 16:5 describe the circumstances connected with the birth. וּמלדתיך (Ezekiel 16:4) stands at the head as an absolute noun. At the birth of the child it did not receive the cleansing and care which were necessary for the preservation and strengthening of its life, but was exposed without pity. The construction הוּלדת אותך (the passive, with an accusative of the object) is the same as in Genesis 40:20, and many other passages of the earlier writings. כּרּת: for כּרת (Judges 6:28), Pual of כּרת; and שרּּך: from שׁר, with the reduplication of the r, which is very rare in Hebrew (vid., Ewald, 71). By cutting the navel-string, the child is liberated after birth from the blood of the mother, with which it was nourished in the womb. If the cutting be neglected, as well as the tying of the navel-string, which takes place at the same time, the child must perish when the decomposition of the placenta begins. The new-born child is then bathed, to cleanse it from the impurities attaching to it. משׁעי cannot be derived from שׁעה equals שׁעע; because neither the meaning to see, to look (שׁעה), nor the other meaning to smear (שׁעע), yields a suitable sense. Jos. Kimchi is evidently right in deriving it from משׁע, in Arabic m_', 2 and 4, to wipe off, cleanse. The termination י is the Aramaean form of the absolute state, for the Hebrew משׁעית, cleansing (cf. Ewald, 165a). After the washing, the body was rubbed with salt, according to a custom very widely spread in ancient times, and still met with here and there in the East (vid., Hieron. ad h. l. Galen, de Sanit. i. 7; Troilo Reisebeschr. p. 721); and that not merely for the purpose of making the skin drier and firmer, or of cleansing it more thoroughly, but probably from a regard to the virtue of salt as a protection from putrefaction, "to express in a symbolical manner a hope and desire for the vigorous health of the child" (Hitzig and Hvernick). And, finally, it was bound round with swaddling-clothes. Not one of these things, so indispensable to the preservation and strengthening of the child, was performed in the case of Israel at the time of its birth from any feeling of compassionate love (להמלה, infinitive, to show pity or compassion towards it); but it was cast into the field, i.e., exposed, in order that it might perish בּגועל in disgust at thy life (compare גּעל, to thrust away, reject, despise, Leviticus 26:11; Leviticus 15:30). The day of the birth of Jerusalem, i.e., of Israel, was the period of its sojourn in Egypt, where Israel as a nation was born, - the sons of Jacob who went down to Egypt having multiplied into a nation. The different traits in this picture are not to be interpreted as referring to historical peculiarities, but have their explanation in the totality of the figure. At the same time, they express much more than "that Israel not only stood upon a level with all other nations, so far as its origin and its nature were concerned, but was more helpless and neglected as to both its nature and its natural advantages, possessing a less gifted nature than other nations, and therefore inferior to the rest" (Kliefoth). The smaller gifts, or humbler natural advantages, are thoughts quite foreign to the words of the figure as well as to the context. Both the Canaanitish descent and the merciless exposure of the child point to a totally different point of view, as indicated by the allegory. The Canaanitish descent points to the moral depravity of the nature of Israel; and the neglected condition of the child is intended to show how little there was in the heathen surroundings of the youthful Israel in Canaan and Egypt that was adapted to foster its life and health, or to educate Israel and fit it for its future destination. To the Egyptians the Israelites were an abomination, as a race of shepherds; and not long after the death of Joseph, the Pharaohs began to oppress the growing nation.

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