Ezekiel 16:61
Then you shall remember your ways, and be ashamed, when you shall receive your sisters, your elder and your younger: and I will give them to you for daughters, but not by your covenant.
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(61) Give them unto thee for daughters.—The humiliation of Jerusalem must be so complete that she will gladly receive these once-despised enemies to the closest family relationship. We are not here to think of Sodom specifically, but (the concrete passing into the general) of that which Sodom represented, the heathen world at large. This shall be received with Jerusalem to the church of God; “but not by thy covenant.” The covenant with Israel, however it may have been preceded by a “preaching of the Gospel” to Abraham (Galatians 3:8), was distinctly a covenant of works, under which neither Jew nor Gentile could attain salvation (see Rom. and Gal. throughout). Not, therefore, by this should the nations of the earth be given to Jerusalem as representing the Church.

16:59-63 After a full warning of judgments, mercy is remembered, mercy is reserved. These closing verses are a precious promise, in part fulfilled at the return of the penitent and reformed Jews out of Babylon, but to have fuller accomplishment in gospel times. The Divine mercy should be powerful to melt our hearts into godly sorrow for sin. Nor will God ever leave the sinner to perish, who is humbled for his sins, and comes to trust in His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ; but will keep him by his power, through faith unto salvation.The promise of restoration must almost have sounded as strangely as the threat of punishment, including as it did those whom Judah hated and despised Ezekiel 16:61. The covenant of restoration was not to be like the old covenant. Not "by thy covenant," but "by My covenant." The people's covenant was the pledge of obedience. That had been found ineffectual. But the covenant of God was by "promise" Galatians 3:17. See 61. thou shalt remember—It is God who first remembers her before she remembers Him and her own ways before Him (Eze 16:60; Eze 20:43; 36:31).

ashamed—the fruit of repentance (2Co 7:10, 11). None please God unless those who displease themselves; a foretaste of the Gospel (Lu 18:9-14).

I will give them unto thee for daughters—(Isa 54:1; 60:3, 4; Ga 4:26, &c.). All the heathen nations, not merely Sodom and Samaria, are meant by "thy sisters, elder and younger." In Jerusalem first, individual believers were gathered into the elect Church. From Jerusalem the Gospel went forth to gather in individuals of the Gentiles; and Judah with Jerusalem shall also be the first nation which, as such, shall be converted to Christ; and to her the other nations shall attach themselves as believers in Messiah, Jerusalem's King (Ps 110:2; Isa 2:2, 3). "The king's daughter" in Ps 45:12-14 is Judah; her "companions," as "the daughter of Tyre," are the nations given to her as converts, here called "daughters."

not by thy covenant—This does not set aside the Old Testament in its spirit, but in its mere letter on which the Jews had rested, while they broke it: the latter ("thy covenant") was to give place to God's covenant of grace and promise in Christ who "fulfilled" the law. God means, "not that thou on thy part hast stood to the covenant, but that 'I am the Lord, I change not' (Mal 3:6) from My original love to thee in thy youth" (see Ro 3:3).

Then; when that new covenant, made and confirmed, shall operate and take effect.

Remember; consider and lay to heart, repent of, mourn for, loathe and abhor, and turn from all thy wicked ways, all thy evil practices and doings.

Be ashamed; though whilst thou wast an adulteress, and false to thy Husband, thou didst not blush, now thou shalt with a deep shame remember and detest thy lewdness.

Receive; admit into church communion, own them as members of the church of God.

Thy sisters; the Gentiles, now strangers, but then sisters.

Thine elder; or those that are greater and mightier than thou, or that by their power, wealth, and honour are as much above thee as the elder children are above the younger.

Thy younger; thy lesser or meaner sister.

I will give them unto thee; they shall be to thee as a gift bestowed in love.

For daughters: as daughters in duty hearken to and obey, so shall the Gentiles brought into the church hearken to the word of God, which sounded out from the Jews from Jerusalem.

By thy covenant; not by that old covenant which was violated, not by external ceremonies, which were a great part of the first covenant, but by that covenant which writes the law in the heart, and puts the fear of God into the inward parts. Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed,.... When covenant grace is manifested and applied, it brings persons to a sense of their sins, and to an ingenuous acknowledgment of them, with shame and blushing; they remember their evil ways in which they have walked, and blush at the thoughts of what they have been guilty of; and how they have sinned against a God of love, grace, and mercy; and what vile ungrateful creatures they have been:

when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger; Samaria and Sodom, Ezekiel 16:46; the ten tribes, or Benjamin and Simeon, whose part was in Judah, as Ben Melech; rather the Gentiles, even of all nations, ancient and modern, great and small, where the Gospel should come, and such of them as are called and converted by it; these, according to this prophecy, should be received into the communion of the church, to participate of all the privileges and ordinances of it, under the Gospel dispensation. The passage respects the calling of the Gentiles, and the incorporating of them into the Gospel church state. The Syriac version renders it, "when I shall receive thy sisters", &c. which the Targum interprets of greater and lesser provinces:

and I will give them unto thee for daughters; to be nursed up by the church, through the ministry of the word and ordinances, where they have a place, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; become members of the church, and so daughters of Jerusalem, the mother of us all, Galatians 4:26; to the laws, rules, and ordinances of which they submit, and yield an obedience, as daughters to their mother. The Targum is,

"I will deliver them unto thee for obedience.''

The Septuagint renders it, "for edification"; to be built up on their, most holy faith:

but not by thy covenant: made with the Israelites at Sinai, which genders to bondage, and under which the Jewish church with her children were in bondage, Galatians 4:24; but by virtue of the covenant of grace made with Christ; one article of which is, "I will be their father, and they shall be my sons and daughters", 2 Corinthians 6:18; or not on condition of observing the rites and ceremonies of the law, under which the former covenant was administered, the Gentiles being freed from that, the ceremonial law being abrogated by Christ; or, not because thou hast kept the covenant made with thee, therefore I give thee those (for that thou hast broken), but of my own mere grace and favour, so Jarchi: or I will give daughters to thee, which are not of thy covenant, of thy law, so Kimchi; who are not of the same religion, meaning the Gentiles; and so the phrase is the same with that in John 10:16; "which are not of this fold". There is an ancient exposition of the Jews, mentioned by Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, which renders it, "but not of that patrimony"; and explains it of the inheritance which God gave to Abraham between the pieces; as if the persons intended by those who are given for daughters did not belong thereunto.

Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive {n} thy sisters, thy elder and thy younger: and I will give them to thee for daughters, but not {o} by thy covenant.

(n) By which he shows that among the most wicked, he always had some seed of his Church, which he would cause to bear fruit in due time: and here he declares how he will call the Gentiles.

(o) But of my free mercy.

61. Sodom and Samaria, the sisters of Jerusalem, shall be restored also with her and given her for daughters. This restoration of her sinful sisters and her receiving them for daughters shall bring the sense of her own sin home to Jerusalem, and she shall be ashamed of all she has done.

not by thy covenant] This glory of receiving Samaria and Sodom and her other sister cities and nationalities for daughters shall not accrue to Jerusalem as the result of her former covenant with Jehovah, for that covenant of his she broke. It shall be like the new covenant itself, something altogether additional, an act of God’s goodness in no way depending on former relations (Ezekiel 16:62).Verse 61. - Then thou shalt remember thy ways, etc. The pardon which God gives is not, as men sometimes dream, a water of Lethe, blotting out the memory of the evil past. Ezekiel represents that memory as quickened to a new intensity in the very hour of restoration. The shame which it brings with it is necessary as the safeguard of the new blessedness. Thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger. It is significant that, as in the Revised Version, both the adjectives are now in the plural. What was possible for Sodom and Samaria was possible also, as for the cities more immediately connected with them, so also for other nations of the heathen world. They to should be admitted into fellowship, not now as alters, but as daughters, acknowledging, i.e., her superiority. The limitation which follows, not by thy covenant, asserts, as it were, the restored prerogative of Judah, much as St. Paul asserts it in Romans 9-11. Those who are within the covenant of Israel, including, as it does, those who are the heirs of the faith of Abraham as well as his children according to the flesh, are in a closer relation to him than others who share in what have been called (the phrase, perhaps, taking its origin from these very words) the "uncovenanted mercies" of God. 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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