Ezekiel 23:14
And that she increased her prostitutions: for when she saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. The Sisters Oholah and Oholibah

Ezekiel 23:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 23:2. Son of man, two women, daughters of one mother were they, Ezekiel 23:3. They committed whoredom in Egypt, in their youth they committed whoredom; there were their breasts pressed, and there men handled their virgin bosom. Ezekiel 23:4. Their names are Oholah, the greater, and Oholibah her sister; and they became mine, and bare sons and daughters. But their names are: Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. - The name אהליבה is formed from אהלי בהּ, "my tent in her;" and, accordingly, אהלה is to be derived from אהלהּ, "her tent," and not to be regarded as an abbreviation of אהלהּ בהּ, "her tent in her," as Hitzig and Kliefoth maintain. There is no ground for this assumption, as "her tent," in contrast with "my tent in her," expresses the thought with sufficient clearness, that she had a tent of her own, and the place where her tent was does not come into consideration. The "tent" is the sanctuary: both tabernacle and temple. These names characterize the two kingdoms according to their attitude toward the Lord. Jerusalem had the sanctuary of Jehovah; Samaria, on the other hand, had her own sanctuary, i.e., one invented by herself. Samaria and Jerusalem, as the historical names of the two kingdoms, represent Israel of the ten tribes and Judah. Oholah and Oholibah are daughters of one mother, because they were the two halves of the one Israel; and they are called women, because Jehovah had married them (Ezekiel 23:4). Oholah is called הגּדולה, the great, i.e., the greater sister (not the elder, see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:46); because ten tribes, the greater portion of Israel, belonged to Samaria, whereas Judah had only two tribes. They committed whoredom even in Egypt in their youth, for even in Egypt the Israelites defiled themselves with Egyptian idolatry (see the comm. on Ezekiel 20:7). מיעך, to press, to crush: the Pual is used here to denote lewd handling. In a similar manner the Piel עשּׂה is used to signify tractare, contrectare mammas, in an obscene sense.

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