And they shall burn your houses with fire, and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women: and I will cause you to cease from playing the harlot, and you also shall give no hire any more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Shall burn thine house.—Comp. Deuteronomy 13:16. The figurative and the literal sense here blend together; the house of the unfaithful wife shall be destroyed, and the houses of Jerusalem shall be burned.Exodus 21:12, and for adultery (Leviticus 20:10; e. g., by stoning, Ezekiel 16:40). The circumstances of the siege of Jerusalem corresponded with the punishment of the adulteress; the company gathered around her were the surrounding armies, the fury of the jealous husband was the fury of the attacking army, the stripping off her ornaments was the rapine of the siege, the stoning the battering-rams, the bloody death being the slaughter in the battle.
burn—(De 13:16; 2Ki 25:9).
women—the surrounding Gentile nations to whom thou shalt be an object of mocking (Ps 137:7).
I will cause thee to cease … harlot—(Eze 23:27). Thou shalt no longer be able to play the harlot through My judgments.
thou … shall give … no hire … any more—Thou shalt have none to give.They; that company mentioned Ezekiel 16:40.
Shall burn thine houses; as harlots and idolaters were to be punished; intimating also the burning Jerusalem, the temple and houses in it, as 2 Kings 25:9 2 Chronicles 36:19.
Execute, as God’s instruments to do his will, and also as men that satisfy their own rage, judgments, all kind of cruelty,
upon thee, O Jerusalem, and thine inhabitants, in the sight of many women; the people that were gathered to besiege, take, and spoil Jerusalem, and the daughters thereof. I
will cause thee: it is not said how this shall be done, whether by changing their minds, or by utterly ruining them; but this shall be done: this is the effect of the Divine judgments.
From playing the harlot; from idolatry, and adulteries, which attend it.
Thou also, who hast been so lavish and inclined to this course, shalt give no hire any more; so poor, thou canst not, or so changed, that thou wilt no more, hire paramours to come in to thee. Jeremiah 52:13; and as was commanded to be done to idolatrous cities, Deuteronomy 13:16; and this also may be said in allusion to the burning of adulterous persons, Genesis 38:24;
and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women; or provinces, as the Targum; meaning the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, who would rejoice in their ruin; the judgments design those before mentioned:
and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more; their idols, high places, and altars, being demolished, and they plundered of their substance; and after the Babylonish captivity the Jews never returned to idolatry any more.And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)41. thine houses with fire] A summary method of punishment often adopted, as by the Philistines on Samson’s father-in-law (Jdg 15:6); threatened by Ephraim on Jephthah (Jdg 12:1). Comp. also the summary act of Absalom against Joab for his inattention to the prince’s messages (2 Samuel 14:30), cf. Joshua 7:25.
sight of many women] The neighbouring states. There may be reference to a custom of making women witness the fate of the adulteress, that they might take warning.Verse 41. - They shall burn thine houris with fire, etc. (comp. 2 Kings 25:9 and Jeremiah 52:13, for the fulfilment of the prediction). The women stand for the "cities" which looked on, with awe or exultation, at the destruction of the guilty. Possibly, however, the words may include a literal sense, as in Lamentations 2:10.
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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