Ezekiel 16:51
Neither has Samaria committed half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and have justified your sisters in all your abominations which you have done.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(51) Hast justified thy sisters.—The same expression is repeated in the following verse. In both it is evidently used in a comparative sense. By the greatness of Judah’s sins even Sodom and Samaria were made to appear innocent in comparison.

Ezekiel 16:51-52. Neither hath Samaria — The kingdom of the ten tribes, founded in rebellion and idolatry; committed half of thy sins — The sin of Jerusalem was greater than that of Samaria, because God had placed his name and the ordinances of his worship there; and she had profaned his temple by placing idols in it, which was a degree of idolatry beyond any thing the ten tribes had been guilty of. And probably, with respect to other crimes, Jerusalem went beyond, or exceeded Samaria. But thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they — Hast worshipped more idols, and slain more prophets; and hast justified thy sisters, &c. — Not made them righteous, but declared them less unrighteous than thou art; hast made them appear less guilty through the greatness of thy sins. Thou also, who hast judged thy sisters — Hast condemned their apostacy, and judged their punishment just; bear thy shame — For wherein thou hast judged them, or declared them to be deservedly punished, thou hast condemned thyself, having been guilty of the same sins, and those accompanied with greater aggravations. The inhabitants of Judea allowed that the ten tribes were justly punished when they were carried into captivity, and yet fell into the same and greater crimes themselves.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.Justified thy sisters - Made them appear just in comparison with thee. 51. Samaria—the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel less guilty than Judah; for Judah betrayed greater ingratitude, having greater privileges, namely, the temple, the priesthood, and the regular order of kings.

justified thy sisters—made them appear almost innocent by comparison with thy guilt (Jer 3:11; Mt 12:41, 42).

Samaria; the ten tribes, or kingdom of Israel, founded in rebellion and idolatry.

Committed half of thy sins; a proverbial speech, usual in comparison to set forth the lesser part, as 1 Kings 10:7.

But thou hast multiplied: this explains the former.

More; more, or greater, the Hebrew word signifieth both.

Justified; not made them righteous, but declared them less unrighteous than thou in thy aboniinations; of the two they are less faulty. Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins,.... The sins of Samaria, or the ten tribes, of which Samaria was the metropolis, were the worshipping of the calves at Dan and Bethel; but the gods of Judah were according to the number of their cities, and they even set up their idols in the temple of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 2:28, Ezekiel 8:5; and, besides, their sins were aggravated by the benefits privileges they enjoyed; having the temple, the place of worship, among them; the priests of the Lord to officiate for them; the prophets to instruct and teach them; and many good kings to rule over them, who encouraged them in the pure worship of God, and set them examples; as also by their not taking warning at the captivity of the ten tribes, which were some years before; so that they were guilty of great ingratitude and obduracy:

but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they; than Samaria and her daughters, or the ten tribes; or than Sodom and Samaria, since both are intended in the next clause:

and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done; justified them in what they did; countenanced them in their wickedness, by doing the same abominations, and more, and much greater; saying, in effect, that they did right in what they did; and, by exceeding them in sin, made them to appear righteous in comparison of them; and gave them an opportunity of saying, in excuse for themselves, that the men of Judah had been guilty of more and greater sins than they, and yet had not been punished as they had been.

Neither {c} hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thy abominations more than they, and hast {d} justified thy sisters in all thy abominations which thou hast done.

(c) Which worshipped the calves in Bethel and Dan.

(d) You are so wicked that in respect to you Sodom and Samaria were just.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
51. hast justified] Jeremiah 3:11, “Backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.” The abominations of Judah set Samaria and Sodom in a comparatively righteous light.Verses 51, 52. - Thou hast justified, etc. The word has a touch of sarcasm. Sodom and Samaria might claim a verdict of acquittal ("justify," in its technical sense) as compared with Judah. They had not presented, as she had done, a confluence of all the worst idolatries. The words find something like an echo in our Lord's teaching Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:24. And, as is common m such cases," she had judged," i.e. had passed sentence of condemnation on those who were more righteous than herself. The Revised Version changes both meaning and punctuation: Bear thine own shame, in that thou hast given judgment for thy sisters; through thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they, they are more righteous than thou; but the Authorized Version seems preferable. It may be questioned whether the word for judged is ever used of an acquittal. The point of the sentence is that Judah condemned those who were less guilty than herself (comp. Romans 2:17-23). As Israel has been worse than all the heathen, Jehovah will punish it notwithstanding its election, so that its shame shall be uncovered before all the nations (Ezekiel 16:36-42), and the justice of the judgment to be inflicted upon it shall be made manifest (Ezekiel 16:43-52). According to these points of view, the threat of punishment divides itself into two parts in the following manner: - In the first (Ezekiel 16:35-42) we have, first of all (in Ezekiel 16:36), a recapitulation of the guilty conduct described in vv. 16-34; and secondly, an announcement of the punishment corresponding to the guilt, as the punishment of adultery and murder (Ezekiel 16:37 and Ezekiel 16:48), and a picture of its infliction, as retribution for the enormities committed (Ezekiel 16:39-42). In the second part (Ezekiel 16:43-52) there follows a proof of the justice of this judgment.

Ezekiel 16:35-42

The punishment will correspond to the sin. - Ezekiel 16:35. Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah! Ezekiel 16:36. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy brass has been lavished, and thy shame exposed in thy whoredom with thy lovers, and because of all the idols of thine abominations, and according to the blood of thy sons, which thou hast given them; Ezekiel 16:37. Therefore, behold, I will gather together all thy lovers, whom thou hast pleased, and all whom thou hast loved, together with all whom thou hast hated, and will gather them against thee from round about, and will expose thy shame to them, that they may see all thy shame. Ezekiel 16:38. I will judge thee according to the judgment of adulteresses and murderesses, and make thee into blood of wrath and jealousy. Ezekiel 16:39. And I will give thee into their hand, that they may destroy thy arches, and pull down thy heights; that they may strip thy clothes off thee, and take thy splendid jewellery, and leave thee naked and bare. Ezekiel 16:40. And they shall bring up a company against thee, and stone thee, and cut thee in pieces with their swords. Ezekiel 16:41. And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgment upon thee before the eyes of many women. Thus do I put an end to thy whoredom.; and thou wilt also give payment no more. Ezekiel 16:42. And I quiet my fury toward thee, and will turn away my jealousy from thee, that I may repose and vex myself no more. - In the brief summary of the guilt of the whore, the following objects are singled out, as those for which she is to be punished: (1) the pouring out of her brass and the exposure of her shame; (2) the idols of her abominations (with על before the noun, corresponding to יען before the infinitive); (3) the blood of her sons, with the preposition כּ, according to, to indicate the measure of her punishment. Two things are mentioned as constituting the first ground of punishment. The first is, "because thy brass has been poured out." Most of the commentators have explained this correctly, as referring to the fact that Israel had squandered the possessions received from the Lord, viz., gold, silver, jewellery, clothing, and food (Ezekiel 16:10-13 and Ezekiel 16:16-19), upon idolatry. The only difficulty connected with this is the use of the word nechōsheth, brass or copper, in the general sense of money or metal, as there are no other passages to support this use of the word. At the same time, the objection raised to this, namely, that nechōsheth cannot signify money, because the Hebrews had no copper coin, is an assertion without proof, since all that can be affirmed with certainty is, that the use of copper or brass as money is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament, with the exception of the passage before us. But we cannot infer with certainty from this that it was not then in use. As soon as the Hebrews began to stamp coins, bronze or copper coins were stamped as well as the silver shekels, and specimens of these are still in existence from the time of the Maccabees, with the inscription "Simon, prince of Israel" (cf. Cavedoni, Bibl. Numismatik, transl. by Werlhof, p. 20ff.). Judging from their size, these coins were in all probability worth a whole, a half, and a quarter gerah (Caved. pp. 50, 51). If, then, the silver shekel of the value of 21 grains contained twenty gerahs in Moses' time, and they had already silver pieces of the weight of a shekel and half shekel, whilst quarter shekels are also mentioned in the time of Samuel, there would certainly be metal coins in use of the value of a gerah for the purposes of trade and commerce, and these would in all probability be made of brass, copper, or bronze, as silver coins of the value of a penny would have been found too small. Consequently it cannot be positively denied that brass or copper may have been used as coin for the payment of a gerah, and therefore that the word nechōsheth may have been applied to money. We therefore adhere to the explanation that brass stands for money, which has been already adopted by the lxx and Jerome; and we do so all the more, because every attempt that has been made to fasten another meaning upon nechōsheth, whether by allegorical interpretation (Rabb.), or from the Arabic, or by altering the text, is not only arbitrary, but does not even yield a meaning that suits the context.

השׁפך, to be poured out equals squandered or lavished. To the squandering of the possessions bestowed by the Lord upon His congregation, there was added the exposure of its shame, i.e., the disgraceful sacrifice of the honour and dignity of the people of God, of which Israel had made itself guilty by its whoredom with idols, i.e., by falling into idolatry, and adopting heathen ways. על־מאהביך, to (towards), i.e., with thy lovers (על standing for אל, according to later usage: vid., Ewald, 217i, p. 561), is to be explained after the analogy of זנה אל, as signifying to commit adultery towards a person, i.e., with him. But it was not enough to sacrifice the gifts of the Lord, i.e., His possessions and His glory, to the heathen and their idols; Israel also made for itself כּל־גּלּוּלי תּועבות, all kinds of logs of abominations, i.e., of idols, upon which it hung its ornaments, and before which it set oil and incense, meal and honey (Ezekiel 16:18 and Ezekiel 16:19). And it was not even satisfied with this, but gave to its idols the blood of its sons, by slaying its children to Moloch (Ezekiel 16:20). Therefore (Ezekiel 16:37.) the Lord will uncover the shame of His people before all the nations. He will gather them together, both friend and foe, against Jerusalem, and let them execute the judgment. The punishment will correspond to the sin. Because Israel has cultivated friendship with the heathen, it shall now be given up altogether into their power. On the uncovering of the nakedness as a punishment, compare Hosea 2:12. The explanation of the figure follows in Ezekiel 16:38. The heathen nations shall inflict upon Jerusalem the punishment due to adultery and bloodshed. Jerusalem (i.e., Israel) had committed this twofold crime. It had committed adultery, by falling away from Jehovah into idolatry; and bloodshed, by the sacrifices offered to Moloch. The punishment for adultery was death by stoning (see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:40); and blood demanded blood (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12). 'וּנתתּיך דּם וגו' does not mean, "I will put blood in thee" (Ros.), or "I will cause thy blood to be shed in anger" (De Wette, Maurer, etc.); but I make thee into blood; which we must not soften down, as Hitzig proposes, into cause thee to bleed. The thought is rather the following: thou shalt be turned into blood, so that nothing but blood may be left of thee, and that the blood of fury and jealousy, as the working of the wrath and jealousy of God (compare Ezekiel 16:42). To this end the heathen will destroy all the objects of idolatry (גּב and רמות, Ezekiel 16:39, as in Ezekiel 16:24, Ezekiel 16:25), then take from the harlot both clothes and jewellery, and leave her naked, i.e., plunder Jerusalem and lay it waste, and, lastly, execute upon her the punishment of death by stoning and by sword; in other words, destroy both city and kingdom. The words 'העלוּ , they bring (up) against thee an assembly, may be explained from the ancient mode of administering justice, according to which the popular assembly (qâhâl, cf. Proverbs 5:14) sat in judgment on cases of adultery and capital crimes, and executed the sentence, as the law for stoning expressly enjoins (Leviticus 20:2; Numbers 15:36; Deuteronomy 22:21; compare my Bibl. Archol. II. p. 257). But they are also applicable to the foes, who would march against Jerusalem (for qâhâl in this sense, compare Ezekiel 17:17). The punishment of adultery (according to Leviticus 20:10) was death by stoning, as we may see from Leviticus 20:2-27 and Deuteronomy 22:24 compared with John 8:5. This was the usual mode of capital punishment under the Mosaic law, when judicial sentence of death was pronounced upon individuals (see my Archol. II. p. 264). The other form of punishment, slaying by the sword, was adopted when there were many criminals to be put to death, and was not decapitation, but cutting down or stabbing (bâthaq, to hew in pieces) with the sword (see my Archol. l.c.). The punishment of death was rendered more severe by the burning of the corpse (Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9). Consequently the burning of the houses in Ezekiel 16:41 is also to be regarded as intensifying the punishment; and it is in the same light that the threat is to be regarded, that the judgment would be executed "before the eyes of many women." The many women are the many heathen nations, according to the description of Jerusalem or Israel as an unfaithful wife. "As it is the greatest punishment to an adulterous woman to be exposed in her sin before the eyes of other women; so will the severest portion of Israel's punishment be, that it will stand exposed in its sin before the eyes of all other nations" (Kliefoth). This is the way in which God will put an end to the fornication, and appease His wrath and jealousy upon the harlot (Ezekiel 16:41 and Ezekiel 16:42). השׁבּית, with מן, to cause a person to cease to be or do anything. For Ezekiel 16:42, compare Ezekiel 5:13. By the execution of the judgment the jealousy (קנאה) of the injured husband is appeased.

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