Ezekiel 16:8
Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Now when I passed by thee.—Here, as in Ezekiel 16:6, omit the when, and render, “and I passed by thee.” Two separate visits are spoken of: the one in Israel’s infancy in Egypt, when God blessed and multiplied her (Ezekiel 16:6); the other when she had become a nation, and God entered into covenant with her in the Exodus and at Sinai. The verse describes this covenant in terms of the marriage relation, a figure very frequent in Scripture. On the phrase “spread my skirt,” comp. Ruth 3:9, and on “becamest mine,” Ruth 4:10.

Ezekiel 16:8-12. Now when I passed by thee, &c. — This second passing by may be understood of God’s visiting them in Egypt, and calling them out. Behold, thy time, &c. — The time of thy misery was the time of my love toward thee. And I spread my skirt over thee — I espoused thee and took thee under my protection as a husband doth his wife, Ruth 3:9. And covered thy nakedness — Enriched thee with the spoils and possessions of the Egyptians and Canaanites: see Ezekiel 16:10-11. Yea, I entered into covenant with thee — This was done in mount Sinai, when the covenant between God and Israel was sealed and ratified. Those to whom God gives spiritual life, he takes into covenant with himself. By this covenant they become his, his subjects and servants, which speaks their duty: and at the same time his portion and treasure, which speaks their privilege. Then I washed thee with water — It was a very ancient custom among the eastern people to purify virgins who were to be espoused. And I anointed thee with oil — Thus also were women, on some occasions, prepared for their nuptials. The washings and purifications of the law are probably intended to be signified by these metaphorical expressions; and the priesthood by the anointing with oil here spoken of. I clothed thee also with broidered work — Or, with needlework of divers colours. The expression may refer to the rich garments of the priests, and the covering and hangings of the tabernacle; or it may denote the gifts and graces bestowed upon them. And shod thee with badgers’ skins — Or, with sandals of a purple colour, as Bochart expounds the word תחשׁ. The eastern people had an art of curiously dressing and colouring the skins of badgers, of which they made their neatest shoes, for the richest and greatest personages. “This and the following verses allude to those parts of women’s attire which serve not only for use but for ornament also; and import that God did not only provide the Jews with necessaries, but likewise with superfluities.” I decked thee also with ornaments — This and the following expressions are descriptive of the great wealth and felicity of the Jewish people, particularly under David and Solomon. I put bracelets upon thy hands, &c. — Ornaments which none but persons of better quality used to wear, Genesis 24:47; Proverbs 1:9. And I put a jewel on thy forehead — The same which is called a nose-jewel, Isaiah 3:21. And a beautiful crown upon thy head — “Crowns, or garlands, were used in times of public rejoicing; from whence is derived that expression of St. Paul, A crown of rejoicing, 1 Thessalonians 2:19 : compare Isaiah 25:10. Virgins were sometimes adorned with crowns; and they were commonly put upon the heads of persons newly married, Song of Solomon 3:11.” — Lowth.

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.Now when ... - Or, Then I passed by thee ... and behold. The espousal of the damsel represents God's entering into covenant with the people in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai Exodus 34:27. 8. thy time of love—literally, "loves" (compare So 2:10-13). Thou wast of marriageable age, but none was willing to marry thee, naked as thou wast. I then regarded thee with a look of grace when the full time of thy deliverance was come (Ge 15:13, 14; Ac 7:6, 7). It is not she that makes the advance to God, but God to her; she has nothing to entitle her to such notice, yet He regards her not with mere benevolence, but with love, such as one cherishes to the person of his wife (So 1:3-6; Jer 31:3; Mal 1:2).

spread my skirt over thee—the mode of espousals (Ru 3:9). I betrothed thee (De 4:37; 10:15; Ho 11:1). The cloak is often used as a bed coverlet in the East. God explains what He means, "I entered into … covenant with thee," that is, at Sinai. So Israel became "the wife of God's covenant" (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Ho 2:19, 20; Mal 2:14).

thou … mine—(Ex 19:5; Jer 2:2).

When I passed by thee: see Ezekiel 16:6, of the phrase. This second passing by may well be understood of God’s visiting them and calling them out of Egypt.

Looked upon thee: see the phrase Ezekiel 16:6.

Thy time was the time of love; the time of thy misery was the time of love and pity in me towards thee, and the time of thy grown beautified state was the time of my love of delight, when I rejoiced in thee, and espoused thee to be my wife. Thy time, i.e. the season fittest for the discovery of my purposes towards thee, was the time of love, which is expressed in what follows in the verse,

I spread my skirt over thee, i.e. betrothed thee, as Ruth 3:9 Deu 22:30, engaged by marriage to love, cherish, protect, and safeguard.

Covered thy nakedness; what was and would be thy reproach my love and bounty covered, I clothed thee with spoils of Egypt, and gave time flocks, with the wool whereof thou mightest clothe thyself. If you take it figuratively, I covered all thy filthiness, and washed it away.

I sware unto thee; gave thee the greatest, most inviolable, and solemn assurance of my conjugal love, care, and faithfulness.

Entered into a covenant with thee: this was done at Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:5.

Saith the Lord God: the truth of all which the Lord doth avow in this form of asseveration.

Thou becamest mine; by the obligations of my kindness thou couldst be no less, by thy own voluntary act and consent, by promise and profession, Exodus 19:7,8.

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee,.... Which the Targum refers to the Lord's appearance to Moses in the bush; See Gill on Ezekiel 16:6;

behold, thy time was the time of love; which the Targum explains of the time of redemption of the people of Israel out of Egypt, which was an instance of the great love of God unto that people; and which time was fixed by him; and when it was come, at the exact and precise time, the redemption was wrought; see Genesis 15:13; and so there is a set time for the calling and conversion of God's elect, who are therefore said to be called according to purpose; and, when that time comes, all means are made to concur to bring it about: and this is a time of love; for though the love of God to his people is before all time, yet it is manifested in time; and there are particular times in which it is expressed unto them; and the time of conversion is one of them; and indeed it is the first time that there is a manifestation and application of the love of God made to the souls of his people: and this is a "time of loves" (o); as it is in the original text; denoting the large abundance of it which is now shown forth; and the various acts of it now done; as bringing of them out of a most miserable condition, out of a horrible pit; plucking them as brands out of the burning; quickening them when dead in sin; speaking comfortably to them, and applying pardoning grace and mercy to their souls: and it may include both the love of God to his people, and their love to him; for now is the love of their espousals, and the kindness of their youth, Jeremiah 2:2; the grace of love is now implanted, to God and Christ, to his people, word, worship, and ordinances, which before had no place in them:

and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; the Lord espoused the people of Israel to himself in the wilderness, after he had brought them out of Egypt, and took them under the wings of his protection; both which this phrase may be expressive of; see Ruth 3:9. Some understand this of his giving them the spoils of the Egyptians, and also the law: it may very well be applied to the righteousness of Christ, which is often compared to a garment, for which the skirt, a part, is put; and this is put on as a garment, and answers all the purposes of one; and particularly covers the nakedness of men, which their own righteousness will not do; this the Lord spreads over his people, and covers them with; and being clothed with this, they shall not be found naked:

yea, I sware unto thee; to his love expressed to his people, and to his covenant he entered into with them, neither of which shall ever be removed; and this makes to their abundant comfort; see Psalm 89:3;

and entered into covenant with thee, saith the Lord God; as he did with the people of Israel at Horeb, and which was a sort of a marriage contract with them; see Deuteronomy 29:1; the covenant of grace was made from everlasting with Christ, and the elect in him; but is made manifest at conversion, when the Lord makes himself known unto them as their covenant God; leads them to Christ the Mediator of it; sends his Spirit down into their hearts, to make them partakers of the grace of it; and shows them their interest in the blessings and promises of it; all which may be meant by the phrase here used:

and thou becamest mine; as Israel did at the time before mentioned, became the Lord's peculiar people, and were avouched as such by him, Exodus 19:5; so, in conversion, those who before were secretly the Lord's by electing and redeeming grace, become openly his by calling and sanctifying grace.

(o) "tempus amorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Starckius.

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered {d} thy nakedness: yea, I swore to thee, and entered into a covenant with {e} thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

(d) These words as blood, pollution, nakedness and filthiness are often repeated to beat down their pride, and to cause them to consider what they were before God received them to mercy, favoured them and covered their shame.

(e) That you should be a chaste wife to me, and that I should maintain you and endue you with all graces.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8–14. The child, now an adult virgin, taken to Himself in marriage by Jehovah:—the redemption of the people from Egypt, and covenant with them at Sinai to be their God

8. Now when I passed] Better in continuance of the historical narrative, and I passed by.

the time of love] The outcast child was now a marriageable woman.

spread my skirt] Cf. Ruth 3:9—a figure for marriage.

a covenant with thee] The marriage relation is a covenant, Proverbs 2:17; Malachi 2:14. On the “oath,” cf. Ezekiel 16:59.

thou becamest mine] She became his wife, Ruth 4:13; Hosea 3:3.

Verse 8. - The words point to the time of the love of the espousals of Jeremiah 2:2, interpreting the parable, when Israel had grown to the maturity of a nation's life, and gave promise, in spite of previous degradation, of capacities that would render it worthy of the love of the Divine Bridegroom. I spread my skirt over thee. Garments were often used as coverlets, and the act described was therefore, as in Ruth 3:9, the received symbol of a completed marriage (comp. Deuteronomy 22:30; Deuteronomy 27:20). The historical fact represented by the symbol here was probably the formal covenant between Jehovah and Israel (Exodus 24:6, 7). It was then that he became her God, and that she became his people. Ezekiel 16:8The Lord then went past again, and chose for His bride the virgin, who had already grown up to womanhood, and with whom He contracted marriage by the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai. עתּך, thy time, is more precisely defined as עת דּדים, the time of conjugal love. I spread my wing over thee, i.e., the lappet of my garment, which also served as a counterpane; in other words, I married thee (cf. Ruth. EZechariah 3:9), and thereby covered thy nakedness. "I swore to thee," sc. love and fidelity (cf. Hosea 2:21-22), and entered into a covenant with thee, i.e., into that gracious connection formed by the adoption of Israel as the possession of Jehovah, which is represented as a marriage covenant (compare Exodus 24:8 and Exodus 19:5-6, and Deuteronomy 5:2 : - אתך for אתּך). Ezekiel 16:9. describe how Jehovah provided for the purification, clothing, adorning, and maintenance of His wife. As the bride prepares herself for the wedding by washing and anointing, so did the Lord cleanse Israel from the blemishes and impurities which adhered to it from its birth. The rinsing from the blood must not be understood as specially referring either to the laws of purification given to the nation (Hitzig), or as relating solely to the purification effected by the covenant sacrifice (Hvernick). It embraces all that the Lord did for the purifying of the people from the pollution of sin, i.e., for its sanctification. The anointing with oil indicates the powers of the Spirit of God, which flowed to Israel from the divine covenant of grace. The clothing with costly garments, and adorning with all the jewellery of a wealthy lady or princess, points to the equipment of Israel with all the gifts that promote the beauty and glory of life. The clothing is described as made of the costliest materials with which queens were accustomed to clothe themselves. רקמה, embroidered cloth (Psalm 45:15). תּחשׁ, probably the sea-cow, Manati (see the comm. on Exodus 25:5). The word is used here for a fine description of leather of which ornamental sandals were made; a kind of morocco. "I bound thee round with byssus:" this refers to the headband; for חבשׁ is the technical expression for the binding or winding round of the turban-like headdress (cf. Ezekiel 24:17; Exodus 29:9; Leviticus 8:13), and is applied by the Targum to the headdress of the priests. Consequently covering with משׁי, as distinguished from clothing, can only refer to covering with the veil, one of the principal articles of a woman's toilet. The ἁπ. λεγ. משׁי (Ezekiel 16:10 and Ezekiel 16:13) is explained by the Rabbins as signifying silk. The lxx render it τρίχαπτον. According to Jerome, this is a word formed by the lxx: quod tantae subtilitatis fuerit vestimentum, ut pilorum et capillorum tenuitatem habere credatur. The jewellery included not only armlets, nose-rings, and ear-rings, which the daughters of Israel were generally accustomed to wear, but also necklaces and a crown, as ornaments worn by princesses and queens. For רביד, see comm. on Genesis 41:42. Ezekiel 16:13 sums up the contents of Ezekiel 16:9-12. Sheeshiy שׁשׁי is made to conform to משׁי; the food is referred to once more; and the result of the whole is said to have been, that Jerusalem became exceedingly beautiful, and flourished even to royal dignity. The latter cannot be taken as referring simply to the establishment of the monarchy under David, any more than merely to the spiritual sovereignty for which Israel was chosen from the very beginning (Exodus 19:5-6). The expression includes both, viz., the call of Israel to be a kingdom of priests, and the historical realization of this call through the Davidic sovereignty. The beauty, i.e., glory, of Israel became so great, that the name of fame of Israel sounded abroad in consequence among the nations. It was perfect, because the Lord had put His glory upon His Church. This, too, we must not restrict (as Hvernick does) to the far-sounding fame of Israel on its departure from Egypt (Exodus 15:14.); it refers pre-eminently to the glory of the theocracy under David and Solomon, the fame of which spread into all lands. - Thus had Israel been glorified by its God above all the nations, but it did not continue in fellowship with its God.
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