Ezekiel 16: Jerusalem
as an adulterous wife & a prostitute
Comment : With over 60 verses this is easily the longest
prophecy we have so far encountered in Ezekiel which may suggest
something of the intensity of the feeling of the Lord towards
His people in this time. Because of the volume and complexity
of the prophecy, we have divided it into small manageable segments
with individual comments to aid understanding. The prophecy uses
much imagery to convey the guilt of Israel, past and present,
its failure to remain true to God, turning to the idol worship
of other nations with all the terrible accompanying things that
went with that.]
The Lord speaks of Israel's origins
word of the Lord came to me:
of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices
say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem: your
ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father
was an Amorite [see Judg 1:35]
and your mother a Hittite. [see
the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed
with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or
wrapped in cloths.
one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any
of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the
open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.
the Lord confronts Jerusalem, he speaks of the whole land, a land
taken from the Canaanites. Jerusalem had, of course, been previously
known in Canaan as Jebus. Although they took pride and considered
their history had originated in Abram, ‘a wandering Aramaean'
[Deut 26:5], nevertheless other peoples had been part of Canaan
and some have never been fully ousted from the land. Indeed when
Israel were born as a nation, taking the Land, no one realised
the significance of what was going on and probably their coming
was considered a local invasion, not the creation of a great nation.
An inglorious beginning.]
They became what they were because of the Lord's actions
I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you
lay there in your blood [i] I
said to you, ‘Live!'
I made you grow like a plant of the
field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts
had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.
passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old
enough for love, [iv] I spread
the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body.
[v] I gave you my solemn oath
and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord,
and you became mine.
‘“I bathed you with water and washed
the blood from you and put ointments on you.
clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine
leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with
adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace
round your neck,
I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful
crown on your head.
Lord, in this parable/allegory, portrays the development of the
infant nation until she was eventually seen in her finery. As
with any parable, it may be difficult to match activity with description
when simply the main purpose is to contain one main idea – Israel
came from nothing and the Lord having made her what she eventually
became under Solomon.]
The end product was a nation that stood on a par alongside any
you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine
linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey,
olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and
rose to be a queen.
your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty,
because the splendour I had given you made your beauty perfect,
declares the Sovereign Lord.
greatness and ‘beauty' of this nation is attested to best in 1
Kings 10 when the Queen of Sheba came to see if what had been
said about the nation was true and concluded, “ you
have far exceeded the report I heard.” [v.7] Such
was her stature among the nations.]
In her pride she turned from God to the religions of her neighbours
you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute.
You lavished your favours on anyone who passed by and your beauty
took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you
carried on your prostitution. You went to him, and he possessed
also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my
gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged
in prostitution with them.
you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered
my oil and incense before them.
the food I provided for you – the flour, olive oil and honey
I gave you to eat – you offered as fragrant incense before
them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign Lord.
you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed
them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?
slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.
all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not
remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare,
kicking about in your blood.
in prophecy the Lord speaks of prostitution it is always to describe
spiritual infidelity, the turning of Israel from their holy calling
and becoming a people who dallied with a variety of ‘other religions'.
This was seen throughout their history, starting in their early
days in Judges [e.g. Judg 2:11-13]. Solomon opened the door wider
through his many wives [1 Kings 11:3-5]. In all of this they used
their food for offerings to the gods, burned incense to them,
and even sacrificed their own children [see 2 Chron 28:3, 33:6,
2 Kings 17:17] to them, such had become the depth of their fall.]
They took this idolatry from a variety of nations
Woe to you, declares the Sovereign Lord. In addition to all your
built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrine in every public
every street corner you built your lofty shrines and degraded
your beauty, spreading your legs with increasing promiscuity to
anyone who passed by.
engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your
neighbours with large genitals, and aroused my anger with your
I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory;
I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of
the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct.
engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too,
because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were
you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia,
a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.
idolatry came from all the main nations or empires in the region.]
As ‘God's wife' they were more like prostitutes
am filled with fury against you, declares the Sovereign Lord,
when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!
you built your mounds at every street corner and made your lofty
shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute,
because you scorned payment.
adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!
image of God as the betrothed or wife of the Lord is common throughout
Old Testament prophetic scripture – a covenant relationship, the
One God to one nation, based on love, the union of which is intended
to bring multiplication – yet Israel never seemed to understand
that and so easily turned to the gods and religions of the surrounding
Yet they were even worse than prostitutes
prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers,
bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favours.
in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs
after you for your favours. You are the very opposite, for you
give payment and none is given to you.
you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord!
common prostitute was paid, but Israel uninhibitedly and freely
joined themselves to pagan religions.]
Rampant Idolatry will result in rampant judgment
is what the Sovereign Lord says: because [reason]
you poured out your lust and exposed
your naked body in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because
of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children's
am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure,
those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them
against you from all around and will strip you in front of them,
and they will see you stark naked.
of this the Lord let all those other nations prey on Israel.]
As the Law decreed death for adultery, that would happen to Israel
will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery
and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of
my wrath and jealous anger.
I will deliver you into the hands of your lovers, and they will
tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will
strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave
you stark naked.
will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you
to pieces with their swords.
will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the
sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and
you will no longer pay your lovers.
my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn
away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.
you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with
all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you
have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. Did you not add lewdness
to all your other detestable practices?
Law – Lev 20:10 – demanded death for adultery to maintain a pure
and holy nation and that will now apply to them as a nation.]
As a ‘family' Israel had failed
who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: ‘Like mother,
are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and
her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised
their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and
your father an Amorite.
elder sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her
daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of
you with her daughters, was Sodom.
not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices,
but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they.
surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom
and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
history of Israel, seen in this parable/allegory, saw the original
nation as mother, and now the recent nation as daughter, but both
had been as bad as the other. When the nation divided, the northern
kingdom with Samaria as its capital was seen to be just as bad
as its southern ‘sister'. Indeed the southern kingdom with Jerusalem
in its midst were sometimes so bad they were equated with Sodom,
that ancient city with such a bad reputation that it was destroyed
by God. But the truth is it got worse and worse and so, despite
all the warnings and pleadings of the Lord through His prophets,
this present people are even worse – as see in the temple picture
of chapter 8.]
It was an ever-worsening situation
this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were
overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
were [ii] haughty
and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with
them as you have seen.
did not commit half the sins you did. You have [iii]
done more detestable things than
they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things
you have done.
showed that although idolatry had returned again and again to
the nation, it was now worse that it had ever been.]
Face up to your guilty and shame and yet I will redeem
your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your
sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear
more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace,
for you have made your sisters appear righteous.
I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of
Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them,
that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have
done in giving them comfort.
up and stop self-justifying. You are worse now than ever before
and when the Lord restores [His remnant] they will acknowledge
and face their guilt and shame.]
your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters,
will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters
will return to what you were before.
would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride,
your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by
the daughters of Edom and all her neighbours and the daughters
of the Philistines – all those around you who despise you.
will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable
practices, declares the Lord.
there will be a restoring of the remnant who will rather not look
back on their past shame and mockery from surrounding nations.
In the meantime, before that, you will bear the consequences of
Another covenant after this one is concluded
is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve,
because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant.
I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your
youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your
sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger.
I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of
my covenant with you.
covenant will be applied and you will be punished, yet through
all that, I will establish a new covenant that will bring into
being a new people.]
A new covenant will yet be
I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that
I am the Lord.
when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will
remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because
of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'
is coming, as has already been hinted at, a new covenant [Ezek
11] creating a new people who will not look backwards at their
devastating chapter with its appraisals and assessments and comparisons
with the past. Three things stand out:
It has got worse
and worse to bring the coming judgment
Yet there is hope
in the future of a new covenant.]
to Chapter 17