Ezekiel 16:18
And took your broidered garments, and covered them: and you have set my oil and my incense before them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Mine oil and mine incense - The oil was the produce of the land, the incense received in exchange for such produce. Both were the gifts of Yahweh and belonged to Him; yet the oil Exodus 25:6; Exodus 29:40 and the incense Exodus 30:34, prepared for the service of God, were used in idol-worship. In nature worship the worshippers were especially lavish in vegetable products like incense. 18. tookest thy … garments … coveredst them—that is, the idols, as if an adulteress were to cover her paramours with garments which she had received from the liberality of her husband.

my oil—the holy anointing oil sacred to God (Ex 30:22-25). Also that used in sacrifices (Le 2:1, 2).

Thy broidered garments, mentioned Ezekiel 16:10, given by him who espoused this woman. Coveredst them; didst clothe the adulterers with whom thou didst commit lewdness, or didst clothe the images which thou hadst made, as was the custom of idolaters to suit clothing to their idols.

Mine oil; either in lamps to burn before them, or used in their sacrificing to their idols; or literally, didst in thy feast with thine adulterous lovers entertain them with the oil I gave thee.

Mine incense; burnt before the idol incense, being one part of what they offered to idols; or burnt in the private house, to make it the more grateful to the adulterer, as Proverbs 7:16,17. And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them,.... The images of men, the idols they worshipped; see Jeremiah 10:4; so the Papists at this day cover their idols, the images of the Virgin Mary, and other saints, with rich apparel, to draw the attention, admiration, and reverence of the people to them:

and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them; the oil which the Lord gave them for food, the land of Canaan being a land of oil olive; or which was to light the lamps in the temple with; or was used in sacrifice to the Lord, particularly in the meat offerings; and the incense, which was offered unto him on the altar of incense; these were set upon the altars of idols, and before them, the male images before mentioned; see Hosea 2:8.

And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 18, 19. - Mine oil and mine incense. This, as afterwards in Ezekiel 23:41, was the crowning aggravation of the guilt. The very gifts of God, designed for his worship, were prostituted to that of his rivals. The "oil" is that of Exodus 30:23-25, perfumed and set apart for sacred uses. The act of covering the idol was, as in ver. 8, the symbol of the marriage union. In the sweet savour we have the familiar phrase of Ezekiel 6:13. The scene brought before us is that of a sacrificial feast, in which cakes of flour, honey, and oil were eaten whilst incense was offered. So we have the "adored liba" of Virgil, 'AEneid,' 7:109, or more fully in Tibullus, 'Eleg.,' 1:7, 53, 54, the "thuria honores," the "liba ... dulcia melle." Thus it was, etc. As in ver. 16, the description seems to rouse an instinctive abhorrence in the prophet's mind, which finds utterance in this form: "Yes, it was even so." The words are, however, taken by the LXX., Vulgate, and Luther as opening the following verse: "And it came to pass that." 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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