Ezekiel 16:17
You have also taken your fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made to yourself images of men, and did commit prostitution with them,
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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.Possibly an allusion to the custom of bearing about shrines. Compare Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43. 17. my gold … my silver—(Hag 2:8).

images of men—rather, "of the phallus," the Hindu lingam, or membrum virile [Havernick], deified as the emblem of fecundity; man making his lust his god. English Version, however, is appropriate; Israel being represented as a woman playing the harlot with "male images," that is, images of male gods, as distinguished from female deities.

Thy fair jewels; she forgot the property was in God, she reckoned them her own. The word in Hebrew is of larger extent, and includes vessels, instruments, furniture of all sorts, with which, she was abundantly stored, even from their departure out of Egypt, when they spoiled the Egyptians, Exodus 11:2, where the selfsame phrase is used, and more since Solomon made gold and silver so common in Jerusalem, with which they made vessels for use, and furniture of all sorts for ornament.

My gold: the greater was the sin of this harlot, her ingratitude, and her injustice, that she robbed God, committed sacrilege, that she might have idols with which to defile herself by her idolatry.

I had given thee: had she received them of any other hand, the wrong had been the less; but she received them, every one of them, of the hand of God: lie gave her what the Egyptians lent, what David won from enemies, and what Solomon brought in by traffic; so Ho 2 aggravates Israel’s idolatry.

Madest; brutish stupidity! to make an idol, and account it a god!

Images; statues, molten and graven images; not one single image, but many; so idolatry, as adultery, is boundless.

Of men: idolaters had male and female idols; and this idolatress here, as mostly they did, doted on male idols. It is not unlike to that Ezekiel 8:14, which see. And possibly the Egyptian idolatry with Osiris or Adonis may be noted, or some more lewd image or portrait of Priapus, which might be confirmed from Ezekiel 16:26 23:19,20.

Didst commit whoredom with them; provoked by such representations to speculative uncleanness, and prepared for bodily uncleanness also, and proceeding to spiritual adultery with these shameful images. Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold, and of my silver, which I had given thee,.... Or "thy glorious vessels of gold and silver" (h); meaning either the vessels of gold and silver in the temple, as Jerom thinks, which they converted to idolatrous uses; or rather their own household vessels of gold and silver which God had given them, as the bounties of his providence, and he had still a right unto, and which they made use of to the dishonour of his name; which argued great ingratitude in them:

and madest to thyself images of men; images in the shape of men; some were in the shape of women, others in the shape of men; here only male images are mentioned, because the idolatrous Jews are represented by an adulterous woman committing adultery, with men; and these were made by themselves, of their jewels of gold and silver; or of their golden and silver vessels, which they had to eat and drink out of; these, they melted down and made idols of them in the form of men, just as the molten calf was made of the earrings of the women, Exodus 32:3; to which some refer this passage: and as it was a piece of egregious folly in themselves to part with their jewels and plate for such purposes, and of great ingratitude to God, their benefactor, so of the grossest stupidity and ignorance to worship images so made; which was equally as stupid, or more so, than if a woman should embrace the image of a man, instead of a man himself, as it follows:

and didst commit whoredom with them: the images: that is, idolatry, which is spiritual adultery.

(h) "vasa gloriae tuae de auro meo, et de argento meo", Pagninus, Montanus; "vasa tua insigniora et elegantiora, facta ex auro meo?" Vatablus.

Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and hast {n} made to thyself images of men, and hast committed harlotry with them,

(n) You have converted my vessels and instruments which I gave you to serve me with to the use of your idols.

17. Cf. Hosea 2:8, I multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.

images of men] Jerusalem being an unfaithful wife the idols are “men.” The images were of gods; and this prophet probably saw little distinction between an image of Jehovah and that of any other deity. It is likely that, apart from the calf-images, the symbols of Jehovah as well as of the other gods were of the human form; cf. as to the Teraphim, 1 Samuel 19:13. The supposition hazarded by some that the “male images” (marg.) were representations of the Phallus has little to support it. It is true that Jerome considers the “gruesome object” set up by Maacah the mother of Asa to be simulacrum Priapi (2 Chronicles 15:16, cf. 1 Kings 15:13), but this is mere conjecture; and the passage Isaiah 57:8 is too obscure to be depended upon (cf. Prof. W. R. Smith, Rel. of Sem. p. 437).

broidered … coveredst them] Cf. Ezekiel 16:10; Ezekiel 16:13. The practice of clothing the idols is illustrated by Jeremiah 10:9, “There is silver beaten into plates … blue and purple for their clothing; they are all the work of cunning men.”

hast set mine oil] didst set. The ref. is to the offerings made to the idols. The Lord calls it “mine” because due to him, or rather because given by him to Israel, Hosea 2:8, “she did not know that I gave her corn and wine and oil … I will take back my corn in the time thereof.”Verse 17. - Images of men, etc.; Hebrew, as falling in with the symbolism of the history, "male images." The words point to the teraphim, the penates, or household gods, of which we read in Genesis 31:19; Judges 18:14; 1 Samuel 19:13; Hosea 3:4; and which, like the statues of Baal-peor, may have exhibited the phallic type of idolatry. 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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