Ezekiel 16:31
In that you build your eminent place in the head of every way, and make your high place in every street; and have not been as an harlot, in that you scorn hire;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) Eminent place.—See note on Ezekiel 16:24.

In that thou scornest him.—It was characteristic of both the kingdoms of Israel after the division, that the interference of foreign nations in their affairs was generally sought first by Israel itself and purchased at a heavy price. The people were so situated on the great highway between the rival nations of Egypt and Assyria, that their friendship ought to have been of value to either of them, and to have been sought with great inducements. But Israel, in its weakness and wickedness, more than threw itself away and purchased its own ruin. The particulars mentioned in this verse belong to the past rather than to the present, and all the tenses should be so translated.

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.Rather, didst build - didst make - wast not - scornest. In the marginal rendering, "thy daughters" must mean "thy smaller cities or villages." 31. Repetition of Eze 16:24.

not … as … harlot … thou scornest hire—Unlike an ordinary harlot thou dost prostitute thy person gratis, merely to satisfy thy lust. Jerome translates, "Thou hast not been as a harlot in scorning (that is, who ordinarily scorns) a hire offered," in order to get a larger one: nay, thou hast offered hire thyself to thy lovers (Eze 16:33, 34). But these verses show English Version to be preferable, for they state that Israel prostituted herself, not merely for any small reward without demanding more, but for "no reward."

Thou buildest; see Ezekiel 16:24; whereas the paramours of other lewd women build for them, as it is reported of Solomon, 1 Kings 11:7,8. Here, on the contrary, this unfaithful nation forsake their God, commit fornication with strange gods, and bear the charges both of building their temples, and furnishing them with sacrifices, and maintaining the priests.

Thine eminent place: see Ezekiel 16:24.

Every way: see Ezekiel 16:25.

In every street: see Ezekiel 16:24. Hast not been as an harlot; common harlots make gain of their looseness, and live by that gain, they make a prey of the men that come in to them; thou doest worse, thou lavishest out thy credit, wealth, and all, to maintain and please thine adulterers. Scornest; the Hebrew word is of two significations, and opposite to each other, for it bears, as our translation renders it, contempt, slighting, or disregarding; and so it suiteth with what follows, Ezekiel 16:32-34. It signifieth also to praise, value, and regard, as Buxtorf observes; and it will as well, if not better, be so rendered here, and be the character of a common harlot, which wandereth after her lovers with a design of receiving the rewards of her lewdness; and thus the Chaldee paraphrase reads it; so we shall need no parenthesis, nor begin the antithesis till the 32nd verse. In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way,.... Or brothel house, as before; See Gill on Ezekiel 16:24; which showed her to be a whore, and an imperious one:

and makest thine high place in every street; See Gill on Ezekiel 16:24;

and hast not been as an harlot: a common one, or as a harlot usually is:

in that thou scornest hire; which they do not; for it is for hire they prostitute themselves; and have their names, both in our language, and in the Latin tongue, from, thence.

In that thou buildest thy eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thy high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, {q} in that thou scornest hire;

(q) Meaning that some harlots contemn small rewards but no lovers gave a reward to Israel, but they gave to all others signifying that the idolaters bestow all their substance which they receive from God for his glory to serve their vile abominations.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. Recapitulation of the acts done in her unbridled licentiousness, with the addition of a trait shewing that her dissoluteness was without parallel—other harlots take hire, she gives it.

in that thou scornest hire] Rather: hast not been as an harlot, that scoffeth at her hire (R.V. marg.), lit. in scoffing at hire. The words describe a characteristic of harlots, not one of Jerusalem in which she is unlike them. On scoff or “mock at,” cf. ch. Ezekiel 22:5; 2 Kings 2:23; Habakkuk 1:10; Psalm 44:14; Jeremiah 20:8, &c. The harlot mocks at her hire in order to augment it; Jerusalem does not desire hire, she rather offers it (Ezekiel 16:33).Verse 31. - In that, etc. It is better to take the words as beginning a fresh sentence: "when thou didst build," etc. The historical survey of the harlot's progress is brought to a close, and the prophet points with bitter scorn to what aggravated its degradation. Other nations, like Tyre and Zidon, had risen to prosperity and eminence through their intercourse with foreigners. To Judah it had brought only subjection and the payment of tribute. She had given gifts to all her lovers, instead of receiving from them the rewards of her shame. She was as the adulterous wife who forsakes her husband, and gives what belonged to him to strangers. The conduct of Ahaz in stripping the Temple of its gold and silver to pay tribute to Assyria (2 Kings 16:8), gives an apt illustration of what the prophet means (comp. Hosea 12:1; Isaiah 30:6). The jewellery of gold and silver was used by Israel for צלמי זכר, idols of the male sex, to commit fornication with them. Ewald thinks that the allusion is to Penates (teraphim), which were set up in the house, with ornaments suspended upon them, and worshipped with lectisternia. But there is no more allusion to lectisternia here than in Ezekiel 23:41. And there is still less ground for thinking, as Vatke, Movers, and Hvernick do, of Lingam-or Phallus-worship, of which it is impossible to find the slightest trace among the Israelites. The arguments used by Hvernick have been already proved by Hitzig to have no force whatever. The context does not point to idols of any particular kind, but to the many varieties of Baal-worship; whilst the worship of Moloch is specially mentioned in Ezekiel 16:20. as being the greatest abomination of the whole. The fact that נתן לפּניהם, to set before them (the idols), does not refer to lectisternia, but to sacrifices offered as food for the gods, is indisputably evident from the words לריח ניחח, the technical expression for the sacrificial odour ascending to God (cf. Leviticus 1:9, Leviticus 1:13, etc.). ויּהי (Ezekiel 16:19), and it came to pass (sc., this abomination), merely serves to give emphatic expression to the disgust which it occasioned (Hitzig). - Ezekiel 16:20, Ezekiel 16:21. And not even content with this, the adulteress sacrificed the children which God had given her to idols. The revulsion of feeling produced by the abominations of the Moloch-worship is shown in the expression לאכול, thou didst sacrifice thy children to idols, that they might devour them; and still more in the reproachful question 'המעט, "was there too little in thy whoredom?" מן before תּזנוּתיך is used in a comparative sense, though not to signify "was this a smaller thing than thy whoredom?" which would mean far too little in this connection. The מן is rather used, as in Ezekiel 8:17 and Isaiah 49:6, in the sense of too: was thy whoredom, already described in Ezekiel 16:16-19, too little, that thou didst also slaughter thy children to idols? The Chetib תזנותך (Ezekiel 16:20 and Ezekiel 16:25) is a singular, as in Ezekiel 16:25 and Ezekiel 16:29; whereas the Keri has treated it as a plural, as in Ezekiel 16:15, Ezekiel 16:22, and Ezekiel 16:33, but without any satisfactory ground. The indignation comes out still more strongly in the description given of these abominations in Ezekiel 16:21 : "thou didst slay my sons" (whereas in Ezekiel 16:20 we have simply "thy sons, whom thou hast born to me"), "and didst give them up to them, בּהעביר, by making them pass through," sc. the fire. העביר is used here not merely or lustration or februation by fire, but for the actual burning of the children slain as sacrifices, so that it is equivalent to העביר בּאשׁ למּלך (2 Kings 23:10). By the process of burning, the sacrifices were given to Moloch to devour. Ezekiel has the Moloch-worship in his eye in the form which it had assumed from the times of Ahaz downwards, when the people began to burn their children to Moloch (cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:10), whereas all that can be proved to have been practised in earlier times by the Israelites was the passing of children through fire without either slaying or burning; a februation by fire (compare the remarks on this subject in the comm. on Leviticus 18:21). - Amidst all these abominations Israel did not remember its youth, or how the Lord had adopted it out of the deepest wretchedness to be His people, and had made it glorious through the abundance of His gifts. This base ingratitude shows the depth of its fall, and magnifies its guilt. For Ezekiel 16:22 compare Ezekiel 16:7 and Ezekiel 16:6.
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