Ezekiel 16:57
Before your wickedness was discovered, as at the time of your reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise you round about.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(57) Thy reproach of the daughters of Syria—The pronoun should be omitted, and the phrase read, “the reproach.” The time referred to, when Jerusalem was too proud to make mention of Sodom, was in the days of her prosperity. Later her “wickedness was discovered,” and her pride humbled by such disasters. as fell upon her, especially from the days of Ahaz onward. At that time she was hard pressed both by the Syrians and by the Philistines (2Kings 15:37; 2Chronicles 28:18-19), and impoverished herself to obtain aid from Assyria (2Kings 16:8); and such straits continued to mark her subsequent history. (See 2Kings 24:2.) In the weakness and disasters towards the close of her kingdom, Judah became an object of contempt to the surrounding nations, “despised “by Syria and Philistia alike. Another view less probably refers “thy reproach” to Judah’s exultation at the fall of Syria and the Philistines before the march of the Assyrians.

Ezekiel 16:57-59. As at the time of thy reproach, &c. — These words appear to begin a new sentence; which may be translated more intelligibly thus, by joining them to the following verse: “But when it was the time of thy becoming the reproach of the daughters of Syria,” &c. The words, with regard to what goes before, import thus much: In thy prosperity thou didst despise those who were no worse than thyself; but thou hast since, in thy turn, been insulted and invaded by thy neighbours, both Syrians and Philistines, whom God hath made use of as executioners of his judgments upon thee; thou hast been a remarkable instance of his vengeance, and God’s hand hath been heavy upon thee for all thine idolatries and abominations. The words relate to the frequent inroads which the Syrians and Philistines made into Judea, in the time of King Ahaz. Thou hast borne — Or, Thou shalt bear, thy lewdness, &c. — Thou shalt be punished according to thy wickedness. I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath, &c. — That solemn oath and covenant you entered into with me, to be my people, and serve no other god besides, Deuteronomy 29:12; Deuteronomy 29:14. Hereupon God threatens her, that since she had broken her oath and promise, he should not think himself obliged to make good any of the promises of favour and protection which he had made to her, but would give her up to ruin and desolation.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.Thy reproach - Rather, the "reproach." In his march toward Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar attacked and overthrew Damascus and other Syrian towns. The Jews exulted, not foreseeing that this was but a precursor of that ruin which should discover their own wickedness. 57. Before thy wickedness was discovered—manifested to all, namely, by the punishment inflicted on thee.

thy reproach of … Syria and … Philistines—the indignity and injuries done thee by Syria and the Philistines (2Ki 16:5; 2Ch 28:18; Isa 9:11, 12).

The time of her pride, security, and sin was when they were not afflicted, and despised by the Syrians.

Thy wickedness; thy abominable doings were made known to thyself, to thy friends and enemies too, by the execution of the severe menaces and sad predictions of my prophets, who foretold what punishments and what shame this sinful people should suffer by the hands of the Syrians, who should waste the Jews, and deride them, burn their cities, and carry citizens captives, as in the time of Ahaz over Judah, and Rezin over Syria.

All that are round about; the nations that were round about in vicinity, and combined in league against the house of David.

Her; either Jerusalem or Syria; rather this latter, the chief whereof were the Philistines, called here the daughters of the Philistines, as Isaiah 9:12.

Despise thee; contemn thee, as an impotent as well as wicked people, a people which had deserved to be enslaved, and over whom they might at pleasure make a king. Before thy wickedness was discovered,.... By the punishment of it, by the judgments of God brought upon them; then they were humbled, who before were proud and haughty; and might speak and think of the vengeance of God on Sodom, which before they made no mention of. It is a sad thing only to know sin, and to have it discovered only by the punishment of it:

as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines; this seems to refer to the times of Ahaz, when the Syrians smote the men of Judah; and carried many of them captive; and the Philistines invaded the cities of the low country, and southern parts of Judah, and took many of them, 2 Chronicles 28:5; at which time the wickedness of the Jews was discovered; and it was a plain case they had sinned against the Lord, by his suffering their enemies to come upon them, and prevail over them; which was to their reproach. The Syrians reproached them, and so did the Philistines:

which despise thee round about; they spoiled and plundered them on all sides; and treated them with scorn and contempt, who before were formidable and terrible to them: thus it is with a people when they are left of God, they are despised by men.

Before thy wickedness was {i} uncovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are around {k} her, the daughters of the Philistines, who despise thee on every side.

(i) That is, till you were brought under by the Syrians and Philistines, 2Ch 28:19.

(k) Which joined with the Syrians, or compassed about Jerusalem.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
57. was discovered] i.e. manifested. According to modes of thinking then prevalent calamity was the accepted proof of wickedness. Jerusalem’s wickedness was laid bare when her great calamities fell upon her, Lamentations 1:8-9.

the time of thy reproach] Better, with R.V. as at the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria—which is that which they cast upon Jerusalem, not conversely as A.V. The “time” must be the present, not any previous time, and the language expresses this awkwardly. LXX. read: as now thou art the reproach (“now” for “time,” and either finding or inserting the pron. “thou”). The rendering: before thy wickedness was discovered as (it is) now, a reproach &c. (Hitz. Corn.), is scarcely a Heb. construction. It would be easiest to change “time” into “thou” (cf. the opposite change “which” into “ten” ch. Ezekiel 40:49): as thou art the reproach.

Syria, and … round about her] The mention of Syria (Heb. Aram) is strange when the reference is to the downfall of Jerusalem. For Aram Syriac gives Edom (d. for r, cf. ch. Ezekiel 27:16) which is more natural (cf. ch. Ezekiel 35:12 seq., Ezekiel 25:5; Ezekiel 25:12; Ezekiel 25:15). Vulg. reads, round about thee, while Syr. wants the whole phrase. The ref. is to Jerusalem in any case. Ezekiel nowhere else brings Syria into connexion with Israel.

which despise thee] Or, do despite unto thee; cf. ch. Ezekiel 25:15.Verse 57. - For thy reproach, read, with the Revised Version, the reproach. The words point primarily to the disasters, not of Judah, but to those that fell on the cities of Syria and Philistia - the Assyrian and Chaldean invasions. (For the grouping of the two nations as enemies of Judab, see Isaiah 9:12; and for special acts of hostility, 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:6; and 2 Chronicles 28:18, 19.) This judgment is perfectly just; for Israel has not only forgotten the grace of its God manifested towards it in its election, but has even surpassed both Samaria and Sodom in its abominations. - Ezekiel 16:43. Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, and hast raged against me in all this; behold, I also give thy way upon thy head, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that I may not do that which is wrong above all thine abominations. Ezekiel 16:44. Behold, every one that useth proverbs will use this proverb concerning thee: as the mother, so the daughter. Ezekiel 16:45. Thou art the daughter of thy mother, who casteth off her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, who cast off their husbands and their children. Your mother is a Hittite, and your father an Amorite. Ezekiel 16:46. And thy great sister is Samaria with her daughters, who dwelleth at thy left; and thy sister, who is smaller than thou, who dwelleth at thy right, is Sodom with her daughters. Ezekiel 16:47. But thou hast not walked in their ways and done according to their abominations a little only; thou didst act more corruptly than they in all thy ways. Ezekiel 16:48. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, Sodom thy sister, she with her daughters hath not done as thou hast done with thy daughters. Ezekiel 16:49. Behold, this was the sin of Sodom, thy sister: pride, superabundance of food, and rest undisturbed had she with her daughters, and the hand of the poor and needy she did not hold. Ezekiel 16:50. They were haughty, and did abominations before me; and I swept them away when I saw it. Ezekiel 16:51. And Samaria, she hath not sinned to the half of thy sins; thou hast increased thine abominations more than they, and hast made thy sisters righteous by all thine abominations which thou hast done. Ezekiel 16:52. Bear, then, also thy shame, which thou hast adjudged to thy sisters. Through thy sins, which thou hast committed more abominably than they, they become more righteous than thou. Be thou, then, also put to shame, and bear thy disgrace, as thou hast justified thy sisters. - יען אשׁר, which corresponds to יען in Ezekiel 16:36, introduces a new train of thought. Most of the commentators take Ezekiel 16:43 in connection with what precedes, and place the pause at Ezekiel 16:44. But the perfect נתתּי shows that this is wrong. If Ezekiel 16:43 simply contained a recapitulation, or a concluding summary, of the threat of judgment in Ezekiel 16:35-42, the punishment would be announced in the future tense, as it is in Ezekiel 16:37. By the perfect נתתּי, on the contrary, the punishment is exhibited as a completed fact, and further reasons are then assigned in vindication of the justice of the divine procedure, which we find in Ezekiel 16:44. To this end the guilt of Jerusalem is mentioned once more: "thou didst not remember the days of thy youth," i.e., what thou didst experience in thy youth; the misery in which thou didst find thyself, and out of which I rescued thee and exalted thee to glory (Ezekiel 16:4-14). To this there was added rage against Jehovah, which manifested itself in idolatrous acts. רגז , to be excited upon or against any person, to rage; thus in Hithpael with אל in 2 Kings 19:27-28. For נתן דּרך , compare Ezekiel 9:10. The last clause of Ezekiel 16:43, 'ולא עשׂיתי וגו, has been misinterpreted in many ways. According to the Masoretic pointing, עשׂיתי is the second person; but this does not yield a suitable meaning. For עשׂה זמּה is not used in the sense adopted by the Targum, upon which the Masoretic pointing is undoubtedly based, and which Raschi, Kimchi, and Rosenmller retain, viz., cogitationem facere: "thou hast not take any thought concerning all thy abominations," i.e., has not felt any remorse. The true meaning is to commit a crime, a wrong, and is used for the most part of unnatural offences (cf. Judges 20:6; Hosea 6:9). There is all the more reason for retaining this meaning, that זמּה (apart from the plural זמּוה equals מזמּות) only occurs sensu malo, and for the most part in the sense of an immoral action (vid., Job 31:11). Consequently we should have to adopt the rendering: and thou no longer committest this immorality above all thine abominations. But in that case not only would עוד have to be supplied, but a distinction would be drawn between the abominations committed by Israel and the sin of lewdness, i.e., adultery, which is quite foreign to the connection and to the contents of the entire chapter; for, according to these, the abominations of Israel consisted in adultery or the sin of lewdness. We must therefore take עשׂיתי as the first person, as Symm. and Jerome have done, and explain the words from Leviticus 19:29, where the toleration by a father of the whoredom of a daughter is designated as zimmâh. If we adopt this interpretation, Jehovah says that He has punished the spiritual whoredom of Israel, in order that He may not add another act of wrong to the abominations of Israel by allowing such immorality to go on unpunished. If He did not punish, He would commit a zimmâh Himself, - in other words, would make Himself accessory to the sins of Israel.

The concluding characteristic of the moral degradation of Israel fits in very appropriately here in Ezekiel 16:44., in which Jerusalem is compared to Samaria and Sodom, both of which had been punished long ago with destruction on account of their sins. This characteristic is expressed in the form of proverbial sayings. Every one who speaks in proverbs (mōsheel, as in Numbers 21:27) will then say over thee: as the mother, so her daughter. Her abominable life is so conspicuous, that it strikes every one, and furnishes occasion for proverbial sayings. אמּה may be a feminine form of אם, as לבּה is of לב (Ezekiel 16:30); or it may also be a Raphe form for אמהּ: as her (the daughter's) mother, so her (the mother's) daughter (cf. Ewald, 174e, note, with 21, 223). The daughter is of course Jerusalem, as the representative of Israel. The mother is the Canaanitish race of Hittites and Amorites, whose immoral nature had been adopted by Israel (cf. Ezekiel 16:3 and Ezekiel 16:45). In Ezekiel 16:45 the sisterly relation is added to the maternal, to carry out the thought still further. Some difficulty arises here from the statement, that the mothers and the sisters despise their husbands and their children, or put them away. For it is unquestionable that the participle גּעלת belongs to אמּך, and not to בּת, from the parallel relative clause אשׁר גּעלוּ, which applies to the sisters. The husband of the wife Jerusalem is Jehovah, as the matrimonial head of the covenant nation or congregation of Israel. The children of the wives, viz., the mother, her daughter, and her sisters, are the children offered in sacrifice to Moloch. The worship of Moloch was found among the early Canaanites, and is here attributed to Samaria and Sodom also, though we have no other proofs of its existence there than the references made to it in the Old Testament. The husband, whom the mother and sisters have put away, cannot therefore be any other than Jehovah; from which it is evident that Ezekiel regarded idolatry generally as apostasy from Jehovah, and Jehovah as the God not only of the Israelites, but of the heathen also.

(Note: Theodoret has explained it correctly in this way: "He shows by this, that He is not the God of Jews only, but of Gentiles also; for God once gave oracles to them, before they chose the abomination of idolatry. Therefore he says that they also put away both the husband and the children by denying God, and slaying the children to demons.")

אחותך (Ezekiel 16:45) is a plural noun, as the relative clause which follows and Ezekiel 16:46 clearly show, and therefore is a contracted form of אחותיך (Ezekiel 16:51) or אחיותך (Ezekiel 16:52; vid., Ewald, 212b, p. 538). Samaria and Sodom are called sisters of Jerusalem, not because both cities belonged to the same mother-land of Canaan, for the origin of the cities does not come into consideration here at all, and the cities represent the kingdoms, as the additional words "her daughters," that is to say, the cities of a land or kingdom dependent upon the capital, clearly prove. Samaria and Sodom, with the daughter cities belonging to them, are sisters of Jerusalem in a spiritual sense, as animated by the same spirit of idolatry. Samaria is called the great (greater) sister of Jerusalem, and Sodom the smaller sister. This is not equivalent to the older and the younger, for Samaria was not more deeply sunk in idolatry than Sodom, nor was her idolatry more ancient than that of Sodom (Theodoret and Grotius); and Hvernick's explanation, that "the finer form of idolatry, the mixture of the worship of Jehovah with that of nature, as represented by Samaria, was the first to find an entrance into Judah, and this was afterwards followed by the coarser abominations of heathenism," is unsatisfactory, for the simple reason that, according to the historical books of the Old Testament, the coarser forms of idolatry forced their way into Judah at quite as early a period as the more refined. The idolatry of the time of Rehoboam and Abijam was not merely a mixture of Jehovah-worship with the worship of nature, but the introduction of heathen idols into Judah, along with which there is no doubt that the syncretistic worship of the high places was also practised. גּדול and קטן do not generally mean old and young, but great and small. The transferred meaning old and young can only apply to men and animals, when greatness and littleness are really signs of a difference in age; but it is altogether inapplicable to kingdoms or cities, the size of which is by no means dependent upon their age. Consequently the expressions great and small simply refer to the extent of the kingdoms or states here named, and correspond to the description given of their situation: "at the left hand," i.e., to the north, and "at the right hand," i.e., to the south of Jerusalem and Judah.

Jerusalem had not only equalled these sisters in sins and abominations, but had acted more corruptly than they (Ezekiel 16:47). The first hemistich of this verse, "thou walkest not in their ways," etc., is more precisely defined by ותּשׁחתי מהן in the second half. The link of connection between the two statements is formed by כּמעט קט yb d. This is generally rendered, "soon was there disgust," i.e., thou didst soon feel disgust at walking in their ways, and didst act still worse. But apart from the fact that while disgust at the way of the sisters might very well constitute a motive for forsaking those ways, i.e., relinquishing their abominations, it could not furnish a motive for surpassing those abominations. This explanation is exposed to the philological difficulty, that קט by itself cannot signify taeduit te, and the impersonal use of קוּט would at all events require לך, which could not be omitted, even if קט were intended for a substantive. These difficulties fall away if we interpret קט from the Arabic qaṭṭ omninô tantum, as Alb. Schultens has done, and connect the definition "a little only" with the preceding clause. We then obtain this very appropriate thought: thou didst walk in the ways of thy sisters; and that not a little only, but thou didst act still more corruptly than they. This is proved in Ezekiel 16:48. by an enumeration of the sins of Sodom. They were pride, satiety, - i.e., superabundance of bread (vid., Proverbs 30:9), - and careless rest or security, which produce haughtiness and harshness, or uncharitableness, towards the poor and wretched. In this way Sodom and her daughters (Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim) became proud and haughty, and committed abominations לפני, i.e., before Jehovah (alluding to Genesis 18:21); and God destroyed them when He saw this. The sins of Samaria (Ezekiel 16:51) are not specially mentioned, because the principal sin of this kingdom, namely, image-worship, was well known. It is simply stated, therefore, that she did not sin half so much as Jerusalem; and in fact, if we except the times of Ahab and his dynasty, pure heathenish idolatry did not exist in the kingdom of the ten tribes, so that Samaria seemed really a righteous city in comparison with the idolatry of Jerusalem and Judah, more especially from the time of Ahaz onward (vid., Jeremiah 3:11). The punishment of Samaria by the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes is also passed over as being well known to every Israelite; and in Ezekiel 16:52 the application is directly made to Jerusalem, i.e., to Judah: "Thou also, bear thy shame, thou who hast adjudged to thy sisters," - sc. by pronouncing an uncharitable judgment upon them, thinking thyself better than they, whereas thou hast sinned more abominably, so that they appear more righteous than thou. צדק, to be righteous, and צדּק, to justify, are used in a comparative sense. In comparison with the abominations of Jerusalem, the sins of Sodom and Samaria appeared perfectly trivial. After וגם אתּ , the announcement of punishment is repeated for the sake of emphasis, and that in the form of a consequence resulting from the sentence with regard to the nature of the sin: therefore be thou also put to shame, and bear thy disgrace.

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