Ezekiel 23:14
And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion,
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(14) Men portrayed upon the wall.—Such portraitures, with evidence that they were once executed in brilliant colours, are characteristic both of Egypt and Assyria, where stone for sculpture abounded. From the close connection in race and customs between the Assyrians and Babylonians, it cannot be doubted that the same portraitures were also common upon the more perishable brick of the latter, of whom the prophet is now speaking. The monuments fully concur in representing the warriors of Assyria and Babylonia as delighting in extreme gorgeousness of apparel, but it is difficult to render into English with accuracy each particular of their dress. The exiles, whom Ezekiel immediately addressed, were familiar with these pictures, and his way of speaking of them was important in checking any disposition to fall into idolatries by means of them.

23:1-49 A history of the apostacy of God's people from him, and the aggravation thereof. - In this parable, Samaria and Israel bear the name Aholah, her own tabernacle; because the places of worship those kingdoms had, were of their own devising. Jerusalem and Judah bear the name of Aholibah, my tabernacle is in her, because their temple was the place which God himself had chosen, to put his name there. The language and figures are according to those times. Will not such humbling representations of nature keep open perpetual repentance and sorrow in the soul, hiding pride from our eyes, and taking us from self-righteousness? Will it not also prompt the soul to look to God continually for grace, that by his Holy Spirit we may mortify the deeds of the body, and live in holy conversation and godliness?After Israel's captivity Judah intrigued first with Assyria, then with Babylon, courting their monarchs, imitating their customs, and learning their idolatries.

Pourtrayed upon the wall - The monuments of Nineveh show how the walls of its palaces were adorned with figures precisely answering to this description. There is evidence that these sculptures were highly colored with vermilion, or rather, red ochre.

14. vermilion—the peculiar color of the Chaldeans, as purple was of the Assyrians. In striking agreement with this verse is the fact that the Assyrian sculptures lately discovered have painted and colored bas-reliefs in red, blue, and black. The Jews (for instance Jehoiakim, Jer 22:14) copied these (compare Eze 8:10). Increased her whoredoms; added to the number of her idolatries.

When she saw men portrayed upon the wall: wherever it was the Jews saw, there it was they doted on their persons and habits: it is probable enough they might see them in the idol temples, or in the house of the king of Judah, or of the great men, who promoted the friendships and leagues with these nations.

The images; the counterfeits of strangers, and such as were far off, as the Chaldeans were.

With vermilion; which, as it is a very glossy and shining colour, so, duly mixed with ceruse, doth lively express the colour of man’s flesh.

And that she increased her whoredoms,.... Added to the number of her idols, increased her idols, and even was guilty of more than her sister:

for when she saw men portrayed on the wall; of the temple, as idols were, Ezekiel 8:10 or upon the wall of a private house, where they were worshipped as household gods:

the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion: the images of their heroes, who after death were deified; and these, being drawn upon the wall with vermilion, which, being mixed with ceruse, made a flesh colour, were worshipped; as Bel, Nebo, Merodach, which are names of their idols, Isaiah 46:1 or these were graven on the walls, or etched out upon them with minium or red lead; or rather were "painted" (r), as some render the word, with minium, vermilion, or cinnabar, which are the same; See Gill on Jeremiah 22:14, and it may be observed, that it was usual with the Heathens to paint the images and statues of their gods with these. Thus Virgil (s) represents Pan, the god of Arcadia, coloured red with minium or vermilion; and Pausanius (t) speaks of the statue of Bacchus being besmeared with cinnabar: and Pliny (u) says the face of the image of Jupiter used to be anointed with minium or vermilion on festival days; and observes, that the nobles of Ethiopia used to colour themselves all over with it; this being the colour of the images of their gods, which they reckoned more august, majestic, and sacred. Hence the Romans, in their triumphs, used to paint themselves with vermilion; particularly it is said of Augustus Caesar, that he did this to make himself the more conspicuous and respectable, after the example of the Assyrians and Medes (w): and the triumphers chose to be rubbed all over with a red colour, that they might, according to Isidore (x), resemble the divine fire.

(r) "depictas sinopide", Pagninus; "pictas minio", Piscator. (s) "Pan deus Arcadiae venit, quem vidimus ipsi Sanguineis ebuli baccis, minioque rubentern." Bucolic. Eclog. 10. (t) Achaica, sive l. 7. p. 452. & Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 520. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 7. (w) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 6. p. 332. (x) Originum, l. 18. c. 2.

And that she increased her harlotries: for when she saw men {g} portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion,

(g) This declares that no words are able to sufficiently express the rage of idolaters and therefore the Holy Spirit here compares them to those who in their raging love and filthy lusts dote on the images and paintings of them after whom they lust.

14. and that she increased] Rather: And she added to her whoredoms, with full stop at Ezekiel 23:13. It was certainly the custom in Babylonia to draw figures of men and the like upon the walls; it is not probable, however, that such figures of Chaldean warriors had actually been seen in Jerusalem. The prophet combines the Babylonian custom with the reports of Chaldean military splendour current in Judah. Even when Babylon was still a vassal state of Assyria Hezekiah entered into intrigues with it, Isaiah 39. In later times it was the rivalry between Babylon and Egypt that drew Judah into the whirl of imperial politics, and left her from the time of the battle of Carchemish and the defeat of Egypt subject to Babylon (b.c. 604).

Verse 14. - The sin of Judah went a stop further than that of Samaria. She courted the alliance of the Chaldeans. Probably the sojourn of Manasseh at Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11) led him to see in that city a possible rival to Assyria. The embassy of Merodach-Baladan to Hezekiah (Isaiah 39.) implies, on the other hand, that Babylon was looking to Judah for support against Assyria. The prophet represents this political coquetting, so to speak, as another act of whoredom. Aholibah saw the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion (probably "red ochre:" colors seem to have been used largely both in Assyrian and Babylonian sculpture as in Egyptian, and Judah seems to have copied them, Jeremiah 22:14) and fell in love with them. As the passions of a Messalina might be roused by sensuous pictures of masculine beauty, so Judah was led on by what her envoys reported of the magnificence of the palaces, the strength of the armies, of the Chaldeans. The journey of Jonah to Nineveh, and those implied in Hosea 7:11, as well as the prophecy of Nahum, all indicate a more or less intimate knowledge of the Mesopotamian monarchies. The mission of Merodach-Baladan would be naturally followed by a return embassy from Judah. A later instance under Zedekiah meets us in Jeremiah 29:3. Ezekiel 23:14Whoredom of Judah

Ezekiel 23:11. And her sister Oholibah saw it, and carried on her coquetry still more wantonly than she had done, and her whoredom more than the whoredom of her sister. Ezekiel 23:12. She was inflamed with lust towards the sons of Asshur, governors and officers, standing near, clothed in perfect beauty, horsemen riding upon horses, choice men of good deportment. Ezekiel 23:13. And I saw that she had defiled herself; they both went one way. Ezekiel 23:14. And she carried her whoredom still further; she saw men engraved upon the wall, figures of Chaldeans engraved with red ochre, Ezekiel 23:15. Girded about the hips with girdles, with overhanging caps upon their heads, all of them knights in appearance, resembling the sons of Babel, the land of whose birth is Chaldea: Ezekiel 23:16. And she was inflamed with lust toward them, when her eyes saw them, and sent messengers to them to Chaldea. Ezekiel 23:17. Then the sons of Babylon came to her to the bed of love, and defiled her with their whoredom; and when she had defiled herself with them, her soul tore itself away from them. Ezekiel 23:18. And when she uncovered her whoredom, and uncovered her nakedness, my soul tore itself away from her, as my soul had torn itself away from her sister. Ezekiel 23:19. And she increased her whoredom, so that she remembered the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 23:20. And she burned toward their paramours, who have members like asses and heat like horses. Ezekiel 23:21. Thou lookest after the lewdness of thy youth, when they of Egypt handled thy bosom because of thy virgin breasts. - The train of thought in these verses is the following: - Judah went much further than Samaria. It not only indulged in sinful intercourse with Assyria, which led on to idolatry as the latter had done, but it also allowed itself to be led astray by the splendour of Chaldea, to form alliances with that imperial power, and to defile itself with her idolatry. And when it became tired of the Chaldeans, it formed impure connections with the Egyptians, as it had done once before during its sojourn in Egypt. The description of the Assyrians in Ezekiel 23:12 coincides with that in Ezekiel 23:5 and Ezekiel 23:6, except that some of the predicates are placed in a different order, and לבשׁי is substituted for לבשׁי תכלת. The former expression, which occurs again in Ezekiel 38:4, must really mean the same as תכלת 'לב. But it does not follow from this that מכלול signifies purple, as Hitzig maintains. The true meaning is perfection; and when used of the clothing, it signifies perfect beauty. The Septuagint rendering, εὺπάρυφα, with a beautiful border - more especially a variegated one - merely expresses the sense, but not the actual meaning of מכלול. The Chaldee rendering is לבשׁי גמר, perfecte induti. - There is great obscurity in the statement in Ezekiel 23:14 as to the way in which Judah was seduced to cultivate intercourse with the Chaldeans. She saw men engraved or drawn upon the wall (מחקּה, a participle Pual of חקק, engraved work, or sculpture). These figures were pictures of Chaldeans, engraved (drawn) with שׁשׁר, red ochre, a bright-red colour. חגורי, an adjective form חגור, wearing a girdle. טבוּלים, coloured cloth, from טבל, to colour; here, according to the context, variegated head-bands or turbans. סרוּח, the overhanging, used here of the cap. The reference is to the tiarae tinctae (Vulgate), the lofty turbans or caps, as they are to be seen upon the monuments of ancient Nineveh. שׁלישׁים, not chariot-warriors, but knights: "tristatae, the name of the second grade after the regal dignity" (Jerome. See the comm. on Exodus 14:7 and 2 Samuel 23:8).

The description of these engravings answers perfectly to the sculptures upon the inner walls of the Assyrian palaces in the monuments of Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Kouyunjik (see Layard's Nineveh and its Remains, and Vaux, Nineveh and Persepolis). The pictures of the Chaldeans are not mythological figures (Hvernick), but sculptures depicting war-scenes, triumphal processions of Chaldean rulers and warriors, with which the Assyrian palaces were adorned. We have not to look for these sculptures in Jerusalem or Palestine. This cannot be inferred from Ezekiel 8:10, as Hvernick supposes; nor established by Hitzig's argument, that the woman must have been in circumstances to see such pictures. The intercourse between Palestine and Nineveh, which was carried on even in Jonah's time, was quite sufficient to render it possible for the pictures to be seen. When Israelites travelled to Nineveh, and saw the palaces there, they could easily make the people acquainted with the glory of Nineveh by the accounts they would give on their return. It is no reply to this, to state that the woman does not send ambassadors till afterwards (Ezekiel 23:16), as Hitzig argues; for Judah sent ambassadors to Chaldea not to view the glories of Assyria, but to form alliances with the Chaldeans, or to sue for their favour. Such an embassy, for example, was sent to Babylon by Zedekiah (Jeremiah 29:3); and there is no doubt that in v. 16b Ezekiel has this in his mind. Others may have preceded this, concerning which the books of Kings and Chronicles are just as silent as they are concerning that of Zedekiah. The thought in these verses is therefore the following: - The acquaintance made by Israel (Judah) with the imperial splendour of the Chaldeans, as exhibited in the sculptures of their palaces, incited Judah to cultivate political and mercantile intercourse with this imperial power, which led to its becoming entangled in the heathen ways and idolatry of the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans themselves came and laid the foundation for an intercourse which led to the pollution of Judah with heathenism, and afterwards filled it with disgust, because it was brought thereby into dependence upon the Chaldeans. The consequence of all this was, that the Lord became tired of Judah (Ezekiel 23:17, Ezekiel 23:18). For instead of returning to the Lord, Judah turned to the other power of the world, namely, to Egypt; and in the time of Zedekiah renewed its ancient coquetry with that nation (Ezekiel 23:19-21 compared with Ezekiel 23:8). The form ותּעגּבה in Ezekiel 23:20, which the Keri also gives in Ezekiel 23:18, has taken ah as a feminine termination (not the cohortative ah), like תּרגּה in Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8:1 (vid., Delitzsch, Comm. on Job, en loc.). פּלּגשׁים are scorta mascula (here (Kimchi) - a drastically sarcastic epithet applied to the sârisim, the eunuchs, or courtiers. The figurative epithet answers to the licentious character of the Egyptian idolatry. The sexual heat both of horses and asses is referred to by Aristotle, Hist. anim. vi. 22, and Columella, de re rust. vi. 27; and that of the horse has already been applied to the idolatry of the people by Jeremiah (vid., Jeremiah 5:8). בּשׂר, as in Ezekiel 16:26. פּקד (Ezekiel 23:21), to look about for anything, i.e., to search for it; not to miss it, as Hvernick imagines.

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