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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 23: Two adulterous sisters


[Preliminary Comment: In this next word, two sisters are portrayed. It has been suggested that Oholah   means "her own tent", and Oholibah means "my tent is in her", and they are clearly portrayed [v.4] as Samaria [capital of the northern kingdom, Israel] and Jerusalem [capital of the southern kingdom, Judah]. Israel after Solomon, under Jeroboam basically established their own counterfeit religion – see 1 Kings 12:26-33 – her own tent or place of worship. Jerusalem was the place where the tabernacle and then the Temple resided, God's dwelling place in the midst of His people.]



v.1-4 The Two Sisters Identified, guilty of spiritual adultery with Egypt


v.1   The word of the Lord came to me:

v.2  ‘Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother.

v.3  They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed.

v.4  The elder one was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.


[Notes: Although Samaria had been overrun over a hundred and twenty years before the Lord, taking the big-picture, speaks of the two parts of the kingdom that was divided after Solomon. Both kingdoms came out of the same nation – Israel, up to Solomon – and both had often looked to Egypt and its gods. Adultery, or in this case ‘prostitution', in this context, were both references to spiritual mixing of religions. Moses, before he died, had been most emphatic about the nation never mixing with other idolatrous religions of their neighbours, but again and again they had failed in that respect.]



v.5-10 Samaria took on the idols of Assyria but we eventually taken by Assyria


v.5  ‘Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians – warriors

v.6  clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen.

v.7  She gave herself as a prostitute to all the elite of the Assyrians and defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after.

v.8  She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt, when during her youth men slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust on her.

v.9  ‘Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted.

v.10  They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her.


[Notes: Oholah, Samaria, had mixed here idolatry, from Jeroboam on, with that of other nations, notably of Assyria but it was Assyria that had invaded and took all her people into captivity in exile in other lands.]



v.11-21 Jerusalem mixed religion even more with other nations


v.11  ‘Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister.

v.12  She too lusted after the Assyrians – governors and commanders, warriors in full dress, mounted horsemen, all handsome young men.

v.13  I saw that she too defiled herself; both of them went the same way.

v.14  ‘But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red,

v.15   with belts round their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea.

v.16   As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea.

v.17  Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust.

v.18  When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister.

v.19  Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt.

v.20   There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

v.21  So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.


[Notes: Oholibah, Jerusalem, despite having the dwelling place of God in her midst, had been just as bad. Jehoram   (2 Chron 21:1-20), had been the first of the southern kings to turn away from the Lord. Ahaziah   (2 Chron 22:1-9) who followed was just as bad. Athaliah   (2 Chron 22:10-) who reigned for six years, equally so. The next four kings were better but when Ahaz   (2 Chron 28:1-27) reigned he also turned to the Baals. Later Manasseh (2 Chron 33) was terrible, Amon (2 Chron 33:21-25) was bad, Josiah briefly stemmed the tide before the last kings all showed up badly! The nation, covenanted to God, turned away from Him again and again to idols and gods of other nations.]



v.22-31 So the Lord will now bring these nations down on her


v.22  ‘Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stir up your lovers against you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side –

v.23  the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, the men of Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, handsome young men, all of them governors and commanders, chariot officers and men of high rank, all mounted on horses.

v.24  They will come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons and with a throng of people; they will take up positions against you on every side with large and small shields and with helmets. I will turn you over to them for punishment, and they will punish you according to their standards.

v.25  I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire.

v.26  They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewellery.

v.27  So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt any more.

v.28  ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to deliver you into the hands of those you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust.

v.29   They will deal with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you stark naked, and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed. Your lewdness and promiscuity

v.30 have brought this on you, because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself with their idols.

v.31 You have gone the way of your sister; so I will put her cup into your hand.


[Notes: The result of all this is that the Lord's patience has run out and He knows the only way to redeem the nation is to bring the invaders of the north to first strip them and then remove them.]



v.32-35 Even as Samaria were carried away, so will Jerusalem


v.32  ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

‘You will drink your sister's cup,
    a cup large and deep;
it will bring scorn and derision,
    for it holds so much.
v.33  You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,
    the cup of ruin and desolation,
    the cup of your sister Samaria.
v.34  You will drink it and drain it dry
    and chew on its pieces –
    and you will tear your breasts.

I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.

v.35 ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: since you have forgotten me and turned your back on me, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution.'


[Notes: The simple conclusion is that Jerusalem will go the same way as her ‘sister' Samaria and be taken into exile.]



v.36-42 Jerusalem's sins reiterated


v.36  The Lord said to me: ‘Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then confront them with their detestable practices,

v.37  for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They [i] committed adultery with their idols; they [ii] even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.

v.38  They have also done this to me: at that same time they [iii] defiled my sanctuary and [iv] desecrated my Sabbaths.

v.39  On the very day they sacrificed their children to their idols, they [v] entered my sanctuary and desecrated it. That is what they did in my house.

v.40  ‘They even [vi] sent messengers for men who came from far away, and when they arrived you bathed yourself for them, applied eye makeup and put on your jewellery.

v.41  You sat on an elegant couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed the incense and olive oil that belonged to me.

v.42   ‘The noise of a carefree crowd was around her; drunkards were brought from the desert along with men from the rabble, and they put bracelets on the wrists of the woman and her sister and beautiful crowns on their heads.


[Notes: The Lord requires Ezekiel to summarise the sins of these two parts of the chosen people so there can be no mistake as to the cause of what is about to happen.]



v.43-49 They blatantly committed adultery, the punishment of which is stoning


v.43  Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, “Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.”

v.44  And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah.

v.45  But righteous judges will sentence them to the punishment of women who commit adultery and shed blood, because they are adulterous and blood is on their hands.

v.46  ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: bring a mob against them and give them over to terror and plunder.

v.47  The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn down their houses.

v.48  ‘So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.

v.49  You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.'


[Notes: It is very simple: this nation called to true to the Lord and a demonstration to the world of His goodness and greatness, had utterly failed as they turned from Him and simply went after superstitious religions of deception. This was blatant spiritual adultery and in the law the punishment for adulty was stoning.]



Continue to Chapter 24