Ezekiel 23:5
And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbors,
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(5) The Assyrians her neighbours.—Or, the Assyrians drawing near. They are described in Ezekiel 23:40 as those who “come from far.” The nearness here spoken of is to be understood not locally, but spiritually, of sympathy in idolatry. Of the earlier connection between Israel and Assyria there is little remaining record. In 2Kings 15:19-20, it is said that Pul exacted tribute of Menahem, and the mention seems to imply a still earlier intercourse. According to the Assyrian records, Jehu was tributary to Shalmaneser; Assyria, as representing the great northern power, in contrast to Egypt on the south, is probably used here in a sense broad enough to include also Syria.

Ezekiel 23:5-6. And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine — When she was under my government and protection. “After she had lived in covenant with me, and attended upon my service and worship all the time of the judges, and of David and Solomon, she fell off from my service, and was the first that established idolatry by a law, and consented to Jeroboam’s wicked device of setting up the golden calves.” In the Scripture language, the Jewish people are said to play the harlot with those whose religious ceremonies they imitated. And she doted on her lovers — That is, her foreign allies, whose idolatries she was fond of, and hoped by that means to procure their friendship and assistance: see note on Ezekiel 16:33; Ezekiel 16:37. On the Assyrians her neighbours — The king of Assyria was a very potent prince, and thereupon his alliance was courted both by the kings of Israel and Judah: see the margin. Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers — “As women are apt to fall in love with comely young men, well mounted and richly clothed; so the Israelites were enamoured with the state and bravery of the Assyrians, and thought themselves secure if they could but procure their alliance and friendship, and in order to it embraced their idolatries. Horsemen riding upon horses — Horses were scarce in Judea, which made the Jews apply themselves to the neighbouring counties for troops of horse, in the time of any hostile invasion.” — Lowth.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?Aholah ... and Aholibah - More correctly "Oholah" ("her own tent or tabernacle") and "Oholibah" ("My tent or tabernacle is in her"): names chosen to express that after the division Israel set up her own tabernacle in the place of the temple in which God dwelt 1 Kings 12:32, while with Judah the Temple of God still remained. The presence of God aggravated Judah's sins. In the times of the captivity it was customary among the Jews to give their children names connected with the temple or tabernacle. 5. when … mine—literally, "under Me," that is, subject to Me as her lawful husband.

neighbours—On the northeast the kingdom of Israel bordered on that of Assyria; for the latter had occupied much of Syria. Their neighborhood in locality was emblematical of their being near in corruption of morals and worship. The alliances of Israel with Assyria, which are the chief subject of reprobation here, tended to this (2Ki 15:19; 16:7, 9; 17:3; Ho 8:9).

Aholah, the kingdom of Israel, or the ten tribes,

played the harlot; united in confederacy in civil concerns, and in idolatry as to religious concerns, with the Assyrians.

When she was mine; when under my government and protection, or in my presence, or before I had abdicated and cast her off.

Doted; were madly enamoured with the Assyrian idols, temples, and manner of worship.

Her lovers; whom she loved, not that I find they so much loved her.

The Assyrians; so often mentioned, nothing needs be said of them.

Her neighbours; so they were now by their seizing of Syria, and possessing it as their own 2 Kings 15:19. And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine,.... His married wife, and so ought to have cleaved to him alone: or, under me (o); under his cover, power, and protection, and therefore it was their interest to serve him only: or, "instead of me" (p); or, as the Syriac version, "besides me": they worshipped other gods in the room of the true God, or other gods besides him. The Targum is,

"and Aholah erred from my worship;''

the ten tribes fell into idolatry, when they were God's professing people:

and she doted on her lovers; whom she loved even to madness; she was mad with love, to the idols, temples, altars, and idolatrous worship of the Heathens; particularly doted "on the Assyrians her neighbours"; who were become so by the conquest of Syria; and these they treated as their neighbours, and sought to have them to be their allies and confederates; courted their help and assistance, and gave them much money for that purpose; as Menahem gave to Pul king of Assyria a thousand talents of silver, to confirm the kingdom in his hand, 2 Kings 15:19.

(o) "sub me", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Tigurine version. Piscator, Cocceius, Starckius. (p) "Exteros excipiens loco meo", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus.

And Aholah played the harlot when {d} she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,

(d) When the Israelites were named the people of God, they became idolaters and forsook God, and put their trust in the Assyrians.

5–10. The intrigues of Samaria with Assyria

5. when she was mine] though my wife, lit. under me.

Assyrians her neighbours] In Ezekiel 16:26 the Egyptians are called Israel’s “neighbours,” but the Assyrians could hardly be so called, and indeed in Ezekiel 23:40 are referred to as “far off.” The word may mean “warriors” (the similar word “war” or “battle” 2 Samuel 17:11 and often). Corn, suggests, “famous,” the term used in Ezekiel 23:23. The verse should be connected with Ezekiel 23:6, as appears from Ezekiel 23:12—even on the Assyrians, warriors clothed with blue.Verse 5. - The history of both the sisters passes from the time of the Exodus to that of their separate existence, and starts, in fact, from their first intercourse with the great monarchies of Asia. So far it is less a survey of their successive stages of degradation, like that of Ezekiel 16, than a retrospect of their political alliances. Aholah played the harlot. The lovers, as in Ezekiel 16:33, are the nations with which the kings of Israel were in alliance, and of these the Assyrians are named as pre-eminent. The word neighbors, which in its literal sense is hardly applicable, is probably to be taken of spiritual affinity, or may be taken as "come near" is in Genesis 20:4; Ezekiel 18:6; Leviticus 20:16. The Assyrians were those who, in that sense, came near to the harlot city. We have in 2 Kings 15:20 the fact that Menahem paid tribute to Pul. Hosea 5:13 and Hosea 7:11 speak generally of such alliances. The black obelisk of Shalmaneser records the fact that Jehu paid tribute to him ('Records of the Past,' 5:41). In the last-named case the tribute consisted chiefly of vessels of gold, bowls, goblets, etc. The corrupt state of all classes in the kingdom is the immediate cause of its destruction. - Ezekiel 22:23. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 22:24. Son of man, say to it, Thou art a land which is not shined upon, nor rained upon in the day of anger. Ezekiel 22:25. Conspiracy of its prophets is within it; like a roaring lion, which rends in pieces the prey, they devour souls, take possessions and money; they multiply its widows within it. Ezekiel 22:26. Its priests violate my law and profane my holy things; they make no distinction between holy and unholy, and do not teach the difference between clean and unclean, and they hide their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Ezekiel 22:27. Its princes in the midst of it are like wolves, which rend prey in pieces, that they may shed blood, destroy souls, to acquire gain. Ezekiel 22:28. And its prophets plaster it with cement, seeing what is worthless, and diving lies for them, saying, "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah," when Jehovah hath not spoken. Ezekiel 22:29. The common people offer violence and commit theft; they crush the wretched and the poor, and oppress the foreigner against right. Ezekiel 22:30. I seek among them for a man who might build a wall and step into the breach before me on behalf of the land, that I might not destroy it, but I find none. Ezekiel 22:31. Therefore I pour out my anger upon them; I destroy them in the fire of my wrath, I give their way upon their head, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show the necessity for the predicted judgment still more clearly, in the third word of God contained in this chapter a description is given of the spread of deep corruption among all classes of the people, and the impossibility of saving the kingdom is plainly shown. The words אמר־להּ, "say unto her," are taken by most of the commentators as referring to Jerusalem, the abominations of which the prophet is commanded to declare. But although the clause, "thou art a land," etc. (Ezekiel 22:24), could unquestionably be made to harmonize with this, yet the words of Ezekiel 22:30, "I sought for a man who might stand in the gap before Jehovah for the land," indicate most unquestionably that this word of God is directed against the land of Judah, and consequently להּ must be taken as referring to ארץ which follows, the pronoun is this case being placed before the noun to which it refers, as in Numbers 24:17. Any allusion to the city of Jerusalem would therefore be somewhat out of place, inasmuch as in the preceding word of God the object referred to was not the city, but the house of Israel, or the nation generally, from which a transition is here made to the land, or the kingdom of Judah. The meaning of Ezekiel 22:24 is a disputed question. לא מטהרה היא, which is rendered ἡ οὐ βρεχομένηin the Sept., is taken by most of the expositors to mean, "it is not cleansed," the form מטהרה being correctly rendered as a participle Pual of טהר. But this rendering does not furnish any appropriate sense, unless the following words לא גּשׁמהּ are taken as a threat: there shall not be rain, or it shall not be rained upon in the day of wrath. But this view is hardly reconcilable with the form of the word. גּשׁמהּ, according to the Masoretic pointing with Mappik in the ה, is evidently meant to be taken as a noun גּשׁם equals גּשׁם. In that case, if the words were intended to contain a threat, יהיה ought not to be omitted. But without a verb the words contain a statement in harmony with what precedes. We regard the Chetib גשׁמה as the perfect Pual גּשׁמהּ. And let it not be objected to this that the Pual of this verb is not met with elsewhere, for the form of the noun גּשׁם with the u sound does not occur anywhere else. As a perfect Pual, לא גּשׁמהּ is a simple continuation of the participial clause לא מטהרה היא, containing like this an affirmation, and cannot possibly be taken as a threat or prediction. But "not cleansed" and "not rained upon" do not agree together, as rain is not a means of purification according to the Hebrew idea. It is true that in the law the withdrawal or suspension of rain is threatened as a punishment from God, and the pouring out of rain is promised as a theocratical blessing. But even if the words are taken in a tropical sense, as denoting a withdrawal of the blessings of divine grace, they will not harmonize with the other clause, "not cleansed." We therefore take מטהרה in the sense of "shined upon by the light," or provided with brightness; a meaning which is sustained by Exodus 24:10, where tohar occurs in the sense of splendour, and by the kindred word tzohar, light. In this way we obtain the suitable thought, land which has neither sunlight nor rain in the day of wrath, i.e., does not enjoy a single trace of the divine blessing, but is given up to the curse of barrenness.

The reason for this threat is given in Ezekiel 22:25., where a picture is drawn of the moral corruption of all ranks; viz., of the prophets (Ezekiel 22:25), the priests (Ezekiel 22:26), the princes (Ezekiel 22:27), and the common people (Ezekiel 22:29). There is something very striking in the allusion to the prophets in Ezekiel 22:25, not so much because they are mentioned again in Ezekiel 22:28, - for this may be accounted for on the ground that in the latter passage they are simply introduced as false advisers of the princes, - as on account of the statement made concerning them in Ezekiel 22:25, namely, that, like lions tearing their prey, they devour souls, etc.; a description which is not given either in Ezekiel 13 or elsewhere. Hitzig therefore proposes to alter נביאיה into נשׂיאיה, after the rendering ἀφηγούμενοι given by the lxx. This alteration of the text, which confines itself to a single letter, is rendered very plausible by the fact that almost the same is affirmed of the persons mentioned in Ezekiel 22:25 as of the princes in Ezekiel 22:27, and that in the passage in Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:3-4), which is so similar to the one before us, that Ezekiel appears to have had it in his mind, the princes (שׂריה) and the judges (שׁפטיה) are called the prophets and the priests. The נשׂיאים here would correspond to the שׂרים of Zephaniah, and the שׂרים to the שׁפטים. According to Ezekiel 22:6, the נשׂיאים would indicate primarily the members of the royal family, possibly including the chief officers of the crown; and the שׂרים eht dna ;n (Ezekiel 22:27) would be the heads of tribes, of families, and of fathers' houses, in whose hands the national administration of justice principally lay (cf. Exodus 18:19.; Deuteronomy 1:13-18; and my Bibl. Archol. ii. 149). I therefore prefer this conjecture, or correction, to the Masoretic reading, although the latter is supported by ancient witnesses, such as the Chaldee with its rendering ספרהא, scribes, and the version of Jerome. For the statement which the verse contains is not applicable to prophets, and the best explanation given of the Masoretic text - namely, that by Michaelis, "they have made a compact with one another as to what kind of teaching they would or would not give; and in order that their authority may continue undisturbed, they persecute even to blood those who do not act with them, or obey them, but rather contradict" - does not do justice to the words, but weakens their sense. קשׁר is not a predicate to 'נב, "they are (i.e., form) a conspiracy;" but 'נב is a genitive. At the same time, there is no necessity to take קשׁר in the sense of "company," a rendering which cannot be sustained. The fact that in what follows, where the comparison to lions is introduced, the נביאים (נשׂיאים) are the subject, simply proves that in the first clause also these men actually form the prominent idea. There is no ground for supplying המּה to 'כּארי (they are like, etc.); but the simile is to be linked on to the following clause. נפשׁ אכלוּ is to be explained from the comparison to a lion, which devours the prey that it has captured in its blood, in which is the soul, or nephesh (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11.). The thought is this: in their insatiable greed for riches they sacrifice men and put them to death, and thereby multiply the number of victims (for the fact, see Ezekiel 19:5, Ezekiel 19:7). What is stated in Ezekiel 22:26 concerning the priests is simply a further expansion of Zephaniah 3:4, where the first two clauses occur word for word; for קדשׁ in Zephaniah is really equivalent to קדשׁי, holy things and deeds. The desecration of the holy things consisted in the fact that they made no distinction between sacred and profane, clean and unclean. For the fact, compare Leviticus 10:10-11. Their covering their eyes from the Sabbaths showed itself in their permitting the Sabbaths to be desecrated by the people, without offering any opposition (cf. Jeremiah 17:27).

The comparison of the rulers (sārim) to ravening wolves is taken from Zephaniah 3:3. Destroying souls to acquire gain is perfectly applicable to unjust judges, inasmuch as, according to Exodus 18:21, the judges were to hate בּצע. All that is affirmed in Ezekiel 22:28 of the conduct of the false prophets is repeated for the most part verbatim from Ezekiel 13:10,Ezekiel 13:9, and Ezekiel 13:7. By להם, which points back to the three classes of men already mentioned, and not merely to the sārim, the prophets are represented as helpers of those who support the ungodly in their wicked ways, by oracles which assured them of prosperity. עם (Ezekiel 22:29), as distinguished from the spiritual and secular rulers of the nation, signifies the common people. With reference to their sins and wickednesses, see Ezekiel 18:7, Ezekiel 18:12, Ezekiel 18:18; and for the command against oppressing the poor and foreigners, compare Exodus 22:20-21; Deuteronomy 24:17. - The corruption is so universal, that not a man is to be found who could enter into the gap as a righteous man, or avert the judgment of destruction by his intercession. מהם refers not merely to the prophets, who did not enter into the gap according to Ezekiel 13:5, but to all the classes previously mentioned. At the same time, it does not follow from this, that entering into the gap by means of intercession cannot be the thing intended, as Hitzig supposes. The expression לפני בּעד הארץ clearly refers to intercession. This is apparent from the simple fact that, as Hitzig himself observes, the intercession of Abraham for Sodom (Genesis 18:13.) was floating before the mind of Ezekiel, since the concluding words of the verse contain an obvious allusion to Genesis 18:28. Because the Lord does not find a single righteous man, who might intercede for the land, He pours out His anger upon it, to destroy the inhabitants thereof. With reference to the fact and the separate words employed, compare Ezekiel 21:36; Ezekiel 7:4; Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21, and Ezekiel 16:43. It does not follow from the word ואשׁפּך, that Ezekiel "is speaking after the catastrophe" (Hitzig). For although ואשׁפּך expresses the consequence of Jehovah's seeking a righteous man and not finding one, it by no means follows from the occurrence of the preterite ולא מצאתי that ואשׁפּך is also a preterite. ואשׁפּך is simply connected with ואבקּשׁ as a consequence; and in both verbs the Vav consec. expresses the sequence of thought, and not of time. The seeking, therefore, with the result of not having found, cannot be understood in a chronological sense, i.e., as an event belonging to the past, for the simple reason that the preceding words do not record the chronological order of events. It merely depicts the existing moral condition of the people, and Ezekiel 22:30 sums up the result of the description in the thought that there was no one to be found who could enter in the gap before God. Consequently we cannot determine from the imperfect with Vav consec. either the time of the seeking and not finding, or that of the pouring out of the wrath.

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