Ezekiel 16:31
In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest 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). Ezekiel 16:31Extent and Magnitude of the Idolatry

Ezekiel 16:23. And it came to pass after all thy wickedness - Woe, woe to thee! is the saying of the Lord Jehovah - Ezekiel 16:24. Thou didst build thyself arches, and didst make thyself high places in all the streets. Ezekiel 16:25. Thou didst build thy high places at every cross road, and didst disgrace thy beauty, and stretch open thy feet for every one that passed by, and didst increase thy whoredom. Ezekiel 16:26. Thou didst commit fornication with the sons of Egypt thy neighbours, great in flesh, and didst increase thy whoredom to provoke me. Ezekiel 16:27. And, behold, I stretched out my hand against thee, and diminished thine allowance, and gave thee up to the desire of those who hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, who are ashamed of thy lewd way. Ezekiel 16:28. And thou didst commit fornication with the sons of Asshur, because thou art never satisfied; and didst commit fornication with them, and wast also not satisfied. Ezekiel 16:29. And thou didst increase thy whoredom to Canaan's land, Chaldaea, and even thereby wast not satisfied. Ezekiel 16:30. How languishing is thy heart! is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that thou doest all this, the doings of a dissolute prostitute. Ezekiel 16:31. When thou buildest thy arches at every cross road, and madest thy high places in every road, thou wast not like the harlot, since thou despisedst payment. Ezekiel 16:32. The adulterous wife taketh strangers instead of her husband. Ezekiel 16:33. Men give presents to all prostitutes; but thou gavest thy presents to all thy suitors, and didst reward them for coming to thee from all sides, for fornication with thee. Ezekiel 16:34. And there was in thee the very opposite of the women in thy whoredom, that men did not go whoring after thee. In that thou givest payment, and payment was not given to thee, thou wast the very opposite. - By אחרי כל־רעתך, the picture of the wide spread of idolatry, commenced in Ezekiel 16:22, is placed in the relation of chronological sequence to the description already given of the idolatry itself. For all sin, all evil, must first exist before it can spread. The spreading of idolatry was at the same time an increase of apostasy from God. This is not to be sought, however, in the face that Israel forsook the sanctuary, which God had appointed for it as the scene of His gracious presence, and built itself idol-temples (Kliefoth). It consisted rather in this, that it erected idolatrous altars and little temples at all street-corners and cross-roads (Ezekiel 16:24, Ezekiel 16:25), and committed adultery with all heathen nations (Ezekiel 16:26, Ezekiel 16:28, Ezekiel 16:29), and could not be induced to relinquish idolatry either by the chastisements of God (Ezekiel 16:27), or by the uselessness of such conduct (Ezekiel 16:32-34). כל־רעתך is the whole of the apostasy from the Lord depicted in Ezekiel 16:15-22, which prevailed more and more as idolatry spread. The picture of this extension of idolatry is introduced with woe! woe! to indicate at the outset the fearful judgment which Jerusalem was bringing upon itself thereby. The exclamation of woe is inserted parenthetically; for ותּבני (Ezekiel 16:24) forms the apodosis to ויהי in Ezekiel 16:23. גּב and רמה are to be taken as general terms; but, as the singular גּבּך with the plural רמתיך in Ezekiel 16:39 plainly shows, גּב is a collective word. Hvernick has very properly called attention to the analogy between גּב and קבּה in Numbers 25:8, which is used there to denote an apartment furnished or used for the service of Baal-peor. As קבּה, from קבב, signifies literally that which is arched, a vault; so גּב, from גּבב, is literally that which is curved or arched, a hump or back, and hence is used here for buildings erected for idolatrous purposes, small temples built on heights, which were probably so called to distinguish them as chapels for fornication. The ancient translations suggest this, viz.: lxx οἴκημα πορνικόν and ἔκθεμα, which Polychron. explains thus: προαγώγιον ἔνθα τὰς πόρνας τρέφειν εἴωθασι; Vulg.: lupanar and prostibulum. רמה signifies artificial heights, i.e., altars built upon eminences, commonly called bâmōth. The word râ̂̂mâh is probably chosen here with an allusion to the primary signification, height, as Jerome has said: quod excelsus sit ut volentibus fornicari procul appareat fornicationis locus et non necesse sit quaeri.

The increase of the whoredom, i.e., of the idolatry and illicit intercourse with heathenish ways, is individualized in Ezekiel 16:26-29 by a specification of historical facts. We cannot agree with Hitzig in restricting the illicit intercourse with Egypt (Ezekiel 16:26), Asshur (Ezekiel 16:28), and Chaldaea (Ezekiel 16:29) to political apostasy, as distinguished from the religious apostasy already depicted. There is nothing to indicate any such distinction. Under the figure of whoredom, both in what precedes and what follows, the inclination of Israel to heathen ways in all its extent, both religious and political, is embraced. Egypt stands first; for the apostasy of Israel from the Lord commenced with the worship of the golden calf, and the longing in the wilderness for the fleshpots of Egypt. From time immemorial Egypt was most deeply sunken in the heathenish worship of nature. The sons of Egypt as therefore described, in accordance with the allegory, as גּדלי , magni carne (bâzâr, a euphemism; cf. Ezekiel 23:20), i.e., according to the correct explanation of Theodoret: μεθ ̓ὑπερβολῆς τῇ τῶν εἰδώλων θεραπείᾳ προστετηκότας ου. The way in which God punished this erring conduct was, that, like a husband who endeavours by means of chastisement to induce his faithless wife to return, He diminished the supply of food, clothing, etc. (chōg, as in Proverbs 30:8), intended for the wife (for the fact compare Hosea 2:9-10); this He did by "not allowing Israel to attain to the glory and power which would otherwise have been conferred upon it; that is to say, by not permitting it to acquire the undisturbed and undivided possession of Canaan, but giving it up to the power and scorn of the princes of the Philistines" (Kliefoth). נתן בּנפשׁ, to give any one up to the desire of another. The daughters of the Philistines are the Philistian states, corresponding to the representation of Israel as an adulterous wife. The Philistines are mentioned as the principal foes, because Israel fell completely into their power at the end of the period of the Judges (cf. Judges 13-16; 1 Samuel 4:1); and they are referred to here, for the deeper humiliation of Israel, as having been ashamed of the licentious conduct of the Israelites, because they adhered to their gods, and did not exchange them for others as Israel had done (compare Jeremiah 2:10-11). זמּה (v. 27) is in apposition to דּרכּך: thy way, which is zimmâh. Zimmâh is applied to the sin of profligacy, as in Leviticus 18:17. - But Israel was not improved by this chastisement. It committed adultery with Asshur also from the times of Ahaz, who sought help from the Assyrians (2 Kings 16:7.); and even with this it was not satisfied; that is to say, the serious consequences brought upon the kingdom of Judah by seeking the friendship of Assyria did not sober it, so as to lead it to give up seeking for help from the heathen and their gods. In Ezekiel 16:28, תּזני אל is distinguished from תּזנים (זנה, with accus.). The former denotes the immoral pursuit of a person for the purpose of procuring his favour; the latter, adulterous intercourse with him, when his favour has been secured. The thought of the verse is this: Israel sought the favour of Assyria, because it was not satisfied with illicit intercourse with Egypt, and continued to cultivate it; yet it did not find satisfaction or sufficiency even in this, but increased its adultery אל־ארץ כּנען כּשׂדּימה, to the Canaan's-land Chaldaea. ארץ כּנען is not the proper name of the land of Canaan here, but an appellative designation applied to Chaldaea (Kasdim) or Babylonia, as in Ezekiel 17:4 (Raschi). The explanation of the words, as signifying the land of Canaan, is precluded by the fact that an allusion to Canaanitish idolatry and intercourse after the mention of Asshur would be out of place, and would not coincide with the historical order of things; since it cannot be shown that "a more general diffusion of the religious customs of Canaan took place after the Assyrian era." And it is still more decidedly precluded by the introduction of the word כּשׂדּימה, which cannot possibly mean as far as, or unto, Chaldaea, and can only be a more precise definition of ארץ כנען. The only thing about which a question can be raised, is the reason why the epithet כנען should have been applied to Chaldaea; whether it merely related to the commercial spirit, in which Babylon was by no means behind the Canaanitish Tyre and Sidon, or whether allusion was also made to the idolatry and immorality of Canaan. The former is by no means to be excluded, as we find that in Ezekiel 17:4 "the land of Canaan" is designated "a city of merchants" (rōkhelim). But we must not exclude the latter either, inasmuch as in the Belus- and Mylitta-worship of Babylon the voluptuous character of the Baal- and Astarte-worship of Canaan had degenerated into shameless unchastity (cf. Herodotus, i.199).

In Ezekiel 16:30, the contents of Ezekiel 16:16-29 are summed up in the verdict which the Lord pronounces upon the harlot and adulteress: "yet how languishing is thy heart!" אמלה (as a participle Kal απ. λεγ..; since the verb only occurs elsewhere in the Pual, and that in the sense of faded or pining away) can only signify a morbid pining or languishing, or the craving of immodest desire, which has grown into a disease. The form לבּה is also ἁπ. λεγ..; but it is analogous to the plural לבּות.

(Note: Hitzig objects to the two forms, which do not occur elsewhere; and with the help of the Sept. rendering τὶ διαθῶ τὴν θυγατέρα σου, which is a mere guess founded upon the false reading מה אמלה, he adopts the conjectural reading מה אמלה לבתּך, "what hope is there for thy daughter?" by which he enriches the Hebrew language with a new word (אמלה ), and the prophecy contained in this chapter with a thought which is completely foreign to it, and altogether unsuitable.)

שׁלּטת, powerful, commanding; as an epithet applied to zōnâh, one who knows no limit to her actions, unrestrained; hence in Arabic, insolent, shameless. Ezekiel 16:31 contains an independent sentence, which facilitates the transition to the thought expanded in Ezekiel 16:32-34, namely, that Jerusalem had surpassed all other harlots in her whoredoms. If we take Ezekiel 16:31 as dependent upon the protasis in Ezekiel 16:30, we not only get a very dragging style of expression, but the new thought expressed in Ezekiel 16:31 is reduced to a merely secondary idea; whereas the expansion of it in Ezekiel 16:32. shows that it introduces a new feature into the address. And if this is the case, ולא־הייתי cannot be taken as co-ordinate with עשׂיתי htiw etanidro-oc, but must be construed as the apodosis: "in thy building of rooms...thou wast not like the (ordinary) harlot, since thou disdainest payment." For the plural suffix attached to בּבנותיך, see the commentary on Ezekiel 6:8. The infinitive לקלּס answers to the Latin gerund in ndo (vid., Ewald, 237c and 280d), indicating wherein, or in what respect, the harlot Jerusalem differed from an ordinary prostitute; namely, in the fact that she disdained to receive payment for her prostitution. That this is the meaning of the words, is rendered indisputable by Ezekiel 16:32-34. But the majority of expositors have taken לקלּס as indicating the point of comparison between Israel and other harlots, i.e., as defining in what respect Israel resembled other prostitutes; and then, as this thought is at variance with what follows, have attempted to remove the discrepancy by various untenable explanations. Most of them resort to the explanation: thou wast not like the other prostitutes, who disdain to receive their payment offered for their prostitution, in the hope of thereby obtaining still more,

(Note: Jerome adopts this rendering: non facta es quasi meretrix fastidio augens pretium, and gives the following explanation: "thou hast not imitated the cunning prostitutes, who are accustomed to raise the price of lust by increasing the difficulties, and in this way to excite their lovers to greater frenzy." Rosenmller and Maurer have adopted a similar explanation: "thou differest greatly from other harlots, who despise the payment offered them by their lovers, that they may get still more; for thou acceptest any reward, being content with the lowest payment; yea, thou dost even offer a price to thine own lovers.")

an explanation which imports into the words a thought that has no existence in them at all. Hvernick seeks to fix upon קלס, by means of the Aramaean, the meaning to cry out (crying out payment), in opposition to the ordinary meaning of קלס, to disdain, or ridicule, in which sense Ezekiel also uses the noun קלּסה in Ezekiel 22:4. Hitzig falls back upon the handy method of altering the text; and finally, Kliefoth gives to ל the imaginary meaning "so far as," i.e., "to such a degree that," which cannot be defended either through Exodus 39:19 or from Deuteronomy 24:5.

With the loose way in which the infinitive construct with ל is used, we grant that the words are ambiguous, and might have the meaning which the majority of the commentators have discovered in them; but this view is by no means necessary, inasmuch as the subordinate idea introduced by לקלּס אתנן may refer quite as well to the subject of the sentence, "thou," as to the zōnâh with whom the subject is compared. Only in the latter case the קלּס would apply to other harlots as well as to Israel; whereas in the former it applies to Israel alone, and shows in what it was that Israel did not resemble ordinary prostitutes. But the explanation which followed was a sufficient safeguard against mistake. In this explanation adulteresses are mentioned first (v. 32), and then common prostitutes (vv. 33, 34). V. 32 must not be taken, as it has been by the majority of commentators, as an exclamation, or a reproof addressed to the adulteress Jerusalem: O thou adulterous wife, that taketh strangers instead of her husband! Such an exclamation as this does not suit the connection at all. But the verse is not to be struck out on that account, as Hitzig proposes. It has simply to be construed in another way, and taken as a statement of what adulteresses do (Kliefoth). They take strangers instead of their husband, and seek their recompense in the simple change, and the pleasure of being with other men. תּחת אישׁהּ, lit., under her husband, i.e., as a wife subject to her husband, as in the connection with זנה in Ezekiel 23:5 and Hosea 4:12 (see the comm. on Numbers 5:19). - Ezekiel 16:33, Ezekiel 16:34. Common prostitutes give themselves up for presents; but Israel, on the contrary, gave presents to its lovers, so that it did the very opposite to all other harlots, and the practice of ordinary prostitutes was left far behind by that of Israel. The change of forms נדא and נדן (a present) is probably to be explained simply on the ground that the form נדא was lengthened into נדן with a consonant as the termination, because the suffix could be attached more easily to the other. הפך, the reverse, the opposite, i.e., with the present context, something unheard of, which never occurred in the case of any other harlot. - Ezekiel has thus fulfilled the task appointed him in Ezekiel 16:2, to charge Jerusalem with her abominations. The address now turns to an announcement of the punishment.

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