Ezekiel 16:3
And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.
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(3) Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan.—In the original the words “births” and “nativities” are in the plural, already indicating what the whole context makes plain, that the reference is not to the natural, but to the spiritual origin of Israel. So our Lord says to the Jews of His time, “Ye are of your father, the devil” (John 8:44; comp. Matthew 3:9); and Isaiah addresses his contemporaries as “rulers of Sodom” and “people of Gomorrha” (Isaiah 1:10). The word births, as indicated by the margin, comes from a verb meaning to cut or dig out, as stone from the quarry; and there is a play upon this sense in Isaiah 51:1. Israel’s character, her spiritual nativity, was thoroughly Canaanitish.

An Amorite . . . an Hittite.—These two tribes, especially the former, as the most prominent in Canaan, are frequently put for the whole (Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 1:44, with Numbers 14:45; Joshua 10:5; 2Kings 21:11, &c). The dealings of the patriarchs in Canaan were particularly with the Hittites (Genesis 23; Genesis 26:34-35; Genesis 27:46; Genesis 28:1; Genesis 28:6-8). This once great and powerful nation had almost faded from history; but their monuments and inscriptions are just now beginning to be discovered and deciphered.

Ezekiel 16:3. Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem — Unto the whole race of the Jews, and especially to the natives and inhabitants of that proud city, who thought it a singular privilege to be born or to live there, counting it a more holy place than the rest of the land of Canaan. Thy birth and thy nativity — The LXX. render it, Η ριζα σου και η γενεσις, thy root and thy generation, and so also the Vulgate. The word rendered birth, or root, however, מכרתין, seems rather to mean, commerce, or dealings, appearing to be derived from מכר, to sell. Accordingly Buxtorf translates it commercia tua, thy dealings. Houbigant, indeed, whom Bishop Newcome inclines to follow, prefers deriving the word from כרה, to dig, referring to Isaiah 51:1, and then the sense will be, thy origin, or thy rise, and thy nativity, is of the land of Canaan. If understood of the city of Jerusalem, the assertion is strictly true. It was a Canaanitish city, or strong hold, possessed and inhabited by the Jebusites, till David took it from them: see 2 Samuel 5:6. The father, therefore, of this city, might be properly said to be an Amorite, and its mother, a Hittite; these names comprehending all the idolatrous nations of Canaan, of which the Jebusites were a branch. Or if the Jews or Israelites be intended, their progenitors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sojourned in the land of Canaan long before the possession of it was given to their posterity; and the two latter were natives of that country. But as those are said to be our parents, in Scripture language, whose manners we imitate, the Jews or Israelites, may be here represented as being of Canaanitish origin, because they followed the manners of the idolatrous inhabitants of that country, rather than those of the pious patriarchs: see Ezekiel 16:45; John 8:44; Matthew 3:7. There is an expression of the same import in the history of Susannah, Ezekiel 16:56, that seems to be borrowed from this passage, O thou seed of Canaan, and not of Judah, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart.

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.Birth - See the margin; the word represents "origin" under the figure of "cutting out stone from a quarry" (compare Isaiah 51:1).

An Amorite - the Amorite, a term denoting the whole people. The Amorites, being a principal branch of the Canaanites, are often taken to represent the whole stock Genesis 15:16; 2 Kings 21:11.

An Hittite - Compare Genesis 26:34. The main idea is that the Israelites by their doings proved themselves to be the very children of the idolatrous nations who once occupied the land of Canaan. Compare Deuteronomy 20:17.

3. birth … nativity—thy origin and birth; literally, "thy diggings" (compare Isa 51:1) "and thy bringings forth."

of … Canaan—in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned before going to Egypt, and from which thou didst derive far more of thy innate characteristics than from the virtues of those thy progenitors (Eze 21:30).

an Amorite … an Hittite—These, being the most powerful tribes, stand for the whole of the Canaanite nations (compare Jos 1:4; Am 2:9), which were so abominably corrupt as to have been doomed to utter extermination by God (Le 18:24, 25, 28; De 18:12). Translate rather, "the Amorite … the Canaanite," that is, these two tribes personified; their wicked characteristics, respectively, were concentrated in the parentage of Israel (Ge 15:16). "The Hittite" is made their "mother"; alluding to Esau's wives, daughters of Heth, whose ways vexed Rebekah (Ge 26:34, 35; 27:46), but pleased the degenerate descendants of Jacob, so that these are called, in respect of morals, children of the Hittite (compare Eze 16:45).

The proud and blinded Jews thought their original more pure than that of the heathen; this was an old tradition among them, now that the prophet is to acquaint them with the truth of their polluted original, which they will storm and fret at, he comes thus prefacing his discourse with a Divine commission.

The Lord God; who is omniscient, knows all we are and do, who is so just and true, speaks not any thing but the very truth, who is supreme Judge and determiner of controversies. He tells the prophet what they were, and commands him to tell them.

Unto Jerusalem, i.e. the whole race of the Jews, as Ezekiel 16:2. Or, perhaps, in more special manner the inhabitants and natives of that proud city, who thought it a singular privilege to be born there, which the Jews counted more holy than the rest of the land of Canaan.

Thy birth; thine habitation and thy kindred, so our English of the time of 2 Elizabeth. Thy root whence thou didst spring, the rock whence thou wast cut, the place where thou grewest up, the company and commerce thou didst use, all were of the land of Canaan, and thou hast a fulness of their vicious nature, manners, and practices, both in civil and religious things, as vile and obnoxious to my curse as Canaan itself.

Thy father: if the prophet refer to Abraham, it must be understood of his state and religion before God called him, when he, as his father and kindred, worshipped strange gods beyond the river, Joshua 24:14, with Ezekiel 16:2. If the prophet refer to those that were in Egypt, the Jews’ ancestors that dwelt there, it is certain that many of them forgot Abraham’s God, closed with the Egyptian idolatry, and were polluted with idols, Joshua 24:2. If you refer it as a figurative speech, and call them fathers whom we reverence, consult, obey, and imitate, as well we may call such fathers, these were not the best and holiest of men, Matthew 3:7 12:34 23:33. O ye Jews, be it known to you, whatever you think, you have no cause to boast of your nobler or purer descent, your fountain was corrupt and poisonous.

Was; might have been, for likeness of manners.

An Amorite; either because this comprehended all the rest of the cursed nations; or because the Amorites, as the most powerful and mighty, so were the most wicked among them; it was the Amorites which were filling up their sins, Genesis 15:16.

Thy mother: sometimes the ill nature of a father is corrected in the child by the sweetness of the mother, but you Jews were not so happy, your mother was as bad every whit as your father; both prodigiously vile in their inclination, civil converse, and choice of their religion, and in the practice of it. The daughters of Heth were women of ill fame and worse manners, Genesis 27:46, enough to make a good soul weary of life. Such is your race, O ye Jews.

And say, thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem,.... To the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as the Targum:

thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; here the Jewish ancestors for a time dwelt and sojourned, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and so the Targum, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret the first word, "thy habitation" or "sojourning" (f): but whereas it follows, "and thy nativity", this does not solve the difficulty; which may be said to be of the land of Canaan, because their ancestors were born here; for though Abraham was a Chaldean he was called out of Chaldea into the land of Canaan, where Isaac was born; and so was Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes; besides, the Israelites were the successors of the Canaanites in their land, and so seemed to descend from them; and it is not unusual for such to be reckoned the children of those whom they succeed; to which may be added, that they were like to the Canaanites in their manners, particularly in their idolatries; and so their children, as such, are said to be the offspring and descendants of those whose examples they follow, or whom they imitate; see the history of Susannah in the Apocrypha:

"So he put him aside, and commanded to bring the other, and said unto him, O thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thine heart.'' (Susannah 1:56)

thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite; Abraham and Sarah, who were, properly speaking, the one the father, the other the mother, of the Jewish nation, were Chaldeans; and neither Amorites nor Hittites; yet, because they dwelt among them; are so called; and especially since before their conversion they were idolaters, as those were; besides, the Jews who descended from Judah, and from whom they have their name, very probably sprung from ancestors who might be Amorites and Hittites: since Judah married the daughter of a Canaanite, and such an one seems to be Tamar, he took for his son Er, and by whom he himself had two sons, Pharez and Zarah, from the former of which the kings of Judah lineally descended, Genesis 37:2; besides, the Jews were the successors of these people, and possessed their land, and imitated them in their wicked practices, Amos 2:10; and these two, the Amorite and Hittite, of all the seven nations, are mentioned, because they were the worst, and the most wicked, Genesis 15:16. The Jews (g) say Terah the father of Abraham, and his ancestors, came from Canaan.

(f) "habitationes tuae", Pagninus, Calvin; "mansiones tuae", Montanus; "habitatio tua", Vatablus, Grotius; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 30. 1.((g) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 2. & Gloss. in ib.

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD to Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land {a} of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

(a) You boast to be of the seed of Abraham, but you are degenerate and follow the abominations of the wicked Canaanites as children do the manners of their fathers, Isa 1:4,57:3.

3. Thy birth … land of Canaan] of the Canaanite. “Birth” is origin (ch. Ezekiel 21:30, Ezekiel 29:14), the figure being taken from a mine or a quarry, cf. Isaiah 51:1, “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” When Jerusalem’s origin is said to be from the land of the Canaanite several references seem combined, e.g. the fact that Jerusalem was a Canaanite city; that Israel first became a family in Canaan (Ezekiel 16:4); and that having originated there its moral character corresponded to its Canaanite origin and had cleaved to it all through its history.

an Amorite] the Amorite. The Amorites and Hittites are named as the two chief Canaanitish peoples, the whole population being sometimes called the Amorites (Genesis 15:16; Amos 2:9), and at other times the Hittites (Joshua 1:4). Jerusalem has the one for father, and the other for mother (Ezekiel 16:45).

Ezekiel 16:3Israel, 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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