Ezekiel 16 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
In the parable of the worthless vine (ch.15), Israel's unfruitfulness was presented as cause for the fires of judgment upon Jerusalem.
     In the present chapter, another parable presents Israel's unfaithfulness to her Lord, in great contrast to His faithfulness to her. This parable reviews Israel's history (the LORD's tender care for Israel in her youth, and her subsequent unfaithfulness), and previews her future (in the near term, Judgment... in the distant future, Restoration).
     The Parable of the Adulterous Woman (ch.16)
a. Her youth, 16:1-14
1. Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,
3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem;
Thy birth and thy nativity [is] of the land of Canaan;
thy father [was] an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.
4 And [as for] thy nativity,
in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut,
neither wast thou washed in water to supple [thee];
thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
5 None eye pitied thee,
to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee;
but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person,
in the day that thou wast born.
...son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations {ie., loathsomeness, repulsiveness}...
It is natural for sinners to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Until we see the depth of our sinful condition, we will see no need to repent and turn to the Lord.
     So it was with Jerusalem. The people considered themselves chosen of God and treasured in His eyes. The city was the place where the LORD had chosen to place His name, and His House (the Temple). Yet, their willful rebellion was repulsive in His eyes. In this parable, He reveals what He saw in them.
...thy birth {HB=mekurah, origin, place from which dug} and... nativity...
...of the land of Canaan; thy father... an Amorite... thy mother an Hittite.
The people of Israel were extracted from the mass of humanity. As descendants of Noah's son Shem, they were closely related to Noah's son Ham, the father of Canaan, from whom descended the Hittites, the Amorites, and several other tribes of Canaan.
     Although the land of Canaan would become the land promised to Israel, the root word of the name {HB=kana', humble, humiliated} was also applied to the caravans of nomadic traders. At their beginning, the people of Israel were lowly wandering merchants, whose heritage was with the sinful and idolatrous nations around them (cp. Deu 20:17,18; Josh 24:14; 1Kin 21:26).
     The Lord 'dug them from the pit' of Adam's fallen race, when He called Abraham (Isa 51:1,2, mankind is 'the pit,' the LORD is 'the rock'). The Lord's favor was not based on any innate goodness within them, for there was none (cp. Eph 2:3).
...as for thy nativity {HB=moledeth, birth, family, lineage}...
...thy navel {ie., umbilical cord} was not cut... neither washed... not salted... not swaddled...
Israel was birthed in the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (whose God is the Rock, Isa 51:1,2).
     But in the eyes of the world, there was nothing special about them. The infant nation was little regarded. No one cared for their well-being. No one made provision for their needs. [Infants were 'salted' with salt water, as a disinfectant. They were wrapped in 'swaddling clothes' for warmth and protection. eg., Luk 2:7] In their early years, the children of Israel were outcasts, possessing no land of their own, but suffering abuse and persecution in lands possessed by other peoples (eg., Gen 15:13,16; Ex 1:11-14).
6. And when I passed by thee,
and saw thee polluted in thine own blood,
I said unto thee [when thou wast] in thy blood, Live;
yea, I said unto thee [when thou wast] in thy blood, Live.
7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field,
and thou hast increased and waxen great,
and thou art come to excellent ornaments:
[thy] breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown,
whereas thou [wast] naked and bare.
...I... saw thee polluted {HB=buwc, trodden down, kicking, desecrated} in thine own blood...
This refers to the blood of childbirth. The infant nation, helpless with none to care for her, struggling without direction or ability, rejected and oppressed by those around her, would have perished, if He had not intervened. eg., Ex 2:24,25; 3:7,8
...I said unto thee... Live.
...when thou wast in thy blood... (ie., on the verge of death).
This statement, that she was perishing until He provided Life, is doubled for emphasis.
     She would have died, if not for Him. In loving kindness, the LORD helped the helpless, by speaking life to the perishing. eg., Deu 9:4,5; Psa 105:10-15,26-37
     [Today also, it is through faith in His Word, that perishing sinners enter into life. Joh 3:16; Eph 2:4,5; Titus 3:3-7; 1Joh 1:1-3]
...I have caused thee to multiply...
...and thou hast increased and waxen great... come to excellent ornaments...
Not only did He save her life, but He nurtured her to bring her to maturity. He fulfilled His promise to multiply Abraham's seed (Gen 22:17), for the few, who went down into Egypt, had become a great multitude by the time that they departed (Ex 1:1-7; 12:37).
     The nation had grown strong and had become beautifully appointed, through the LORD's tender care and provision (eg., Deu 32:10-14).
...whereas thou wast naked and bare.
At first glance, the word 'whereas' seems to contrast her prior helpless condition (v.5,6) with her mature and presentable state.
However, note that there is no mention of clothing, to this point. Most translations make this clear. Examples...
  • "...thy breasts were fashioned, and thy hair grew: but thou wast naked and bare." [Darby]
  • "Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, but you were stark naked." [HCSB]
In their natural state, there was no covering for their sinful condition (Gen 3:6-10; Ex 32:1-6,25; cp. Psa 90:8; Heb 4:13; Rev 3:17,18).
8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee,
behold, thy time [was] the time of love;
and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness:
yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD,
and thou becamest mine.
9 Then washed I thee with water;
yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin,
and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.
11 I decked thee also with ornaments,
and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears,
and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver;
and thy raiment [was of] fine linen, and silk, and broidered work;
thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil:
and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty:
for it [was] perfect through my comeliness,
which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.
...I spread my skirt over thee... and entered into a covenant with thee... and thou becamest mine.
The LORD's love for Israel found expression when He entered into a marriage contract with the nation. Deu 7:6-8
He spread His skirt over her, and swore to her, that He would protect and provide for her. cp. Ruth 3:9
His covenant of marriage was the Mosaic Covenant, by which the nation was to become His own peculiar people. Ex 19:4-8; 24:1-8; Jer 2:2,3
...and I... covered thy nakedness...
...I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
An integral part of the Mosaic Covenant was the means of atonement {covering} for sin, as depicted in the pattern of the Tabernacle. Atonement for sin was secured by the blood sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat. But notice that it was the LORD who provided the covering, for in the fulness of time, His own blood would be the propitiation for sin, which the pattern foreshadowed. Rom 3:19-26; Gal 4:4,5; Heb 9:11-14
     The cleansing, depicted in the Tabernacle, was by blood and by water. The penalty for the sinner's guilt was met by the blood, of a substitutionary sacrifice. Having been sanctified, the priests washed in water to be cleansed of incidental defilement. [This is the heart cry, in Psa 51:7, 'purge me... wash me...' (A branch from a hyssop bush was used to sprinkle blood at the altar.)]
     Anointing with oil speaks of the Holy Spirit, by whom priests were sanctified {ie., set apart} and enabled for the service of the LORD (Ex 29:5-7; 40:9). Israel was to represent the LORD, in the sight of other nations.
     Again, the reality, foreshadowed in OT worship, was fulfilled by Christ for His people (Rev 1:5,6).
...I clothed thee... with...
Most of the materials mentioned, in v.10, were utilized in the Tabernacle and had symbolic significance. The embroidered work on the veil and inner curtains depicted the heavenly beauty in association with the LORD. The fine linen, which curtained the courtyard and clothed the priests, depicted the beauty of righteousness. Badger's skins formed the outer layer of the Tabernacle, as a protection from the defiling elements of the world. See Ex 26:14,36; 39:27-29
     Silk, an unusually expensive fabric, was not utilized in the Tabernacle. Mentioned here, it shows that the LORD spared no expense to beautify and bless the nation which He loves.
...I decked {ie., adorned} thee with ornaments... (v.11,12)
These items of jewelry were such as would be given to secure a bride. cp. Gen 24:22,47
The crown speaks of "Holiness to the LORD" (ie., complete separation unto Him alone), which was to characterize the LORD's high priest, and all who belong to Him (Ex 39:30)
...thus wast thou decked {ie., adorned}... and... didst prosper into a kingdom.
The LORD blessed Israel above all the other nations, with abundant provision for their material needs. Through His special relationship with them, the nation reflected His beauty to the world. Through His prospering, the just and righteous kingdom, established under David and Solomon, bore witness to the LORD's glory. 2Sam 8:15; 1Kin 4:21; 10:4-9
...and thy renown went forth among the heathen, for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness {ie., splendor, majesty}...
The nations came to see what made Israel so great (1Kin 10:24).
Israel should have pointed them to the LORD (Deu 4:5-8; cp. 1Cor 4:7).
b. Her sins, 16:15-34
15. But thou didst trust in thine own beauty,
and playedst the harlot because of thy renown,
and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.
16 And of thy garments thou didst take,
and deckedst thy high places with divers colours,
and playedst the harlot thereupon:
[the like things] shall not come, neither shall it be [so].
17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels
of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee,
and madest to thyself images of men,
and didst commit whoredom with them,
18 And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them:
and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
19 My meat also which I gave thee,
fine flour, and oil, and honey, [wherewith] I fed thee,
thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour:
and [thus] it was, saith the Lord GOD.
...thou didst trust in thine own beauty...
...and playedst the harlot {ie., acted as a prostitute, committed adultery} because of thy renown...
Israel's beauty was from the LORD.
      But while enjoying the attention which the world lavished upon them, the nation lost sight of the LORD, and placed their confidence in their own beauty. They had something that the world wanted, and they would secure their place in the world by making the best of it. (See Deu 32:15-18, where 'Jeshurun' meaning 'upright one' is another name for Israel.)
     They did not abandon their religious rituals, for the Temple and its trappings, were aspects of their beauty, and of interest to the nations. But their hearts no longer sought the LORD. They became self-focused and self-satisfied. Jer 7:4; Mic 3:11; Zeph 3:11; cp. Mat 3:9
     Christian, do not look down upon Israel for their failure, for you and I are also prone to wandering from the Lord, through friendship with the world (Rev 2:4; 1Joh 2:15-17).
...and pouredst out thy fornications on every one... his it was.
The prophets frequently referred to apostasy and idolatry as spiritual adultery (eg., Isa 1:21; 57:8; Jer 2:20; 3:1).
     The horror of unfaithfulness, to the God who loved, chose, and purchased His people for Himself, is like that of a wanton woman who despises her committed and loving husband and offers herself to all comers. Various aspects of this unfaithfulness will be illuminated by Ezekiel, in this and subsequent chapters. As lurid details multiply, the picture will become sickeningly clear, and commentary will become unnecessary.
     Though the prophets were primarily addressing the people of their day, we must remember that spiritual adultery is present in every age. No one is immune (1Cor 10:12; Jam 4:3-5).
...thou didst take... that which I gave thee... and set it before them...
In v.16-19, the nation took the wealth and beauty, which they had received from the LORD, and used it to construct idols (v.17) upon which they lavished the things which had once been dedicated to the LORD. With His gifts, they adorned the 'high places' which were dedicated to false gods. They also brought the false gods into the Temple, as some of the listed items include elements of the Temple and its worship (eg., the embroidered garments of the priests, v.10 with v.18; and even the sacrifices upon the altar, v.19). cp. Eze 7:20 (where 'his ornament' refers to the Temple); Hos 2:13; 10:1; Jer 2:27,28
20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters,
whom thou hast borne unto me,
and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured.
[Is this] of thy whoredoms a small matter,
21 That thou hast slain my children,
and delivered them to cause them to pass through [the fire] for them?
22 And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms
thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth,
when thou wast naked and bare, [and] wast polluted in thy blood.
...thou hast slain my children... to cause them to pass through the fire unto them...
Was their spiritual adultery (in turning from the LORD to serve false gods) too small an offense?
Was that the reason they had added offense to offense, by sacrificing the children whom the LORD had given them (Psa 127:3; Ex 13:2), to the idols of the false gods?
     The reference is to a hideous practice, in which infants were devoted to the Canaanite god, Molech, by being roasted alive in the idol's arms. Through Moses, the LORD had strongly forbidden Israel from doing such things (eg., Lev 18:21,26-29; 20:1-5; Deu 18:10). Yet, this practice was listed among the sins for which the northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive, 135 years before Jerusalem fell (2Kin 17:17,18). Even after that judgment, kings of the southern kingdom persisted in this perversion (eg., 2Kin 21:6), in spite of the LORD's denunciation and declaration of impending judgment (eg., Jer 7:30-33). Heedless of God's warnings, the southern kingdom would also experience His judgment (Psa 106:34-41).
     Ezekiel will address this issue several times in subsequent chapters.
...thou hast not remembered... (v.22); cp. v.6; Jer 2:2-8
At the nation's birth, the LORD had mercifully lifted them out of the filth, to which they had now willfully returned.
23 And it came to pass after all thy wickedness,
(woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)
24 [That] thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place,
and hast made thee an high place in every street.
25 Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way,
and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred,
and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by,
and multiplied thy whoredoms.
26 Thou hast also committed fornication
with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh;
and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee,
and have diminished thine ordinary [food]
{ie., appointed portion}
and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee,
the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.
...after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)...
Here, the LORD speaks of an additional form of adultery, for which the nation would suffer additional 'woe.'
  • In v.15-22, the nation's unfaithfulness was in worshipping false gods,
    rather than serving the LORD, alone.
  • In v.23-34, the nation's unfaithfulness was in wooing worldly friends,
    rather than walking with the LORD and placing their confidence in Him, alone.
...thou hast also built unto thee an 'eminent place' {HB=gab}, and hast made thee an 'high place' {HB=ramah} in every street.
The words for 'eminent place' and 'high place' both refer to an elevated area. Neither word is used, elsewhere, of the 'high places' which were dedicated to idolatrous worship. Apparently, Ezekiel is not substituting these words for the usual word for those centers of idolatry {HB=bamah, high place}, because he does use that word frequently (eg., v.16; Eze 20:29).
     Here, the reference is to a harlot's house (or, brothel), which was set in a prominent place, so as to be easily discovered. (cp. Prov 9:13-18, where another word {HB=marom, elevated places} is translated 'high places.')
...thou... hast made thy beauty to be abhorred... and multiplied thy whoredoms.
Israel was adorned with the beauty of the LORD, His true Word, and perfect Ways (v.14).
But forgetting Him, they freely gave themselves to pleasure their heathen neighbors, in hope of gaining the world's affection. Their illicit relationships, with several nearby nations, are identified in the next few verses.
...fornication with the Egyptians... (v.26,27)
Although the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt centuries earlier, many of the people still carried the gods of Egypt with them in their hearts (Eze 23:3,8,19-21). Furthermore, to gain the favor and military assistance of Egypt (and other nations), the kings of Israel, beginning with Solomon, entered into many ungodly alliances (1Kin 3:1; 11:1-8).
     As a warning of His displeasure with Israel, the LORD sometimes withheld her 'portion' (ie., her provision as His wife, eg., Hos 2:8-12; cp. Eze 14:13). He also withheld His protection, and allowed the surrounding nations to harrass them (eg., 2Chr 28:18,19).
     That the Philistines (an ungodly nation) were ashamed of Israel's lewdness, indicates the depths to which the chosen nation had descended (eg., Jer 6:7,15; Eze 5:6-8). [This thought makes the editor shudder, to think of the filth which "Christian" America exports to other nations (cp. the apostate church of the Tribulation period, Rev 17:1-4).]
28 Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians,
because thou wast unsatiable;
yea, thou hast played the harlot with them,
and yet couldest not be satisfied.
29 Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication
in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea;
and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
30 How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD,
seeing thou doest all these [things],
the work of an imperious whorish woman;
31 In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way,
and makest thine high place in every street;
and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire;
32 [But as] a wife that committeth adultery,
[which] taketh strangers instead of her husband!
33 They give gifts to all whores:
but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them,
that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.
34 And the contrary is in thee from [other] women in thy whoredoms,
whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms:
and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee,
therefore thou art contrary
{ie., opposite, reversed}.
...thou hast played the whore... with the Assyrians... thou wast insatiable...
...multiplied thy fornication... in... Canaan unto Chaldea.
Israel compromised itself, not only with the customs of their near neighbors to south and west, but also with those to the north and east... from Canaan to the region of Babylon and everywhere in between. They could not get enough of what the world had to offer. Their lustful desires could not be satisfied (cp. Jer 2:23,24).
...how weak is thine heart...
...thou doest... the work of an imperious whorish woman {ie., of a brazen prostitute}...
...and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire...
...thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hiredst them...
The nation shamelessly purchased the favors of ungodly nations. cp. Isa 3:8,9; Jer 3:3,20
The nation foolishly paid ungodly nations for military security. eg., Isa 30:3,6-7
In doing these things, they spurned the LORD, His favor, and His protection.
[Yet, like America today, they thought that God should bless them.]
c. Her condemnation, 16:35-52
35. Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:
36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out,
and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers,
and with all the idols of thy abominations,
and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;
37 Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers,
with whom thou hast taken pleasure,
and all [them] that thou hast loved,
with all [them] that thou hast hated;
I will even gather them round about against thee,
and will discover thy nakedness unto them,
that they may see all thy nakedness.
38 And I will judge thee,
as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged;
and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.
39 And I will also give thee into their hand,
and they shall throw down thine eminent place,
and shall break down thy high places:
they shall strip thee also of thy clothes,
and shall take thy fair jewels,
and leave thee naked and bare.
40 They shall also bring up a company against thee,
and they shall stone thee with stones,
and thrust thee through with their swords.
41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire,
and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women:
and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot,
and thou also shalt give no hire any more.
Because of Israel's spiritual adultery, with false gods, and with ungodly nations... and because of her slaying of her innocent children... the Lord GOD {ie., the Sovereign Eternal One} would turn her 'lovers' (eg., Assyria, Egypt and Babylon) into her enemies, and use them (alongside their historic enemies, eg., Edom, Moab, Ammon) to judge her.
...I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock... are judged... in fury and jealousy.
The prescribed punishment for adultery was death by stoning. The severe sentence was executed publicly ("...in the sight of many...") as an example, for the deterrence of sin (Deu 22:22-24).
     The judgment upon the nation would arise from the LORD's jealousy. For having 'spread His skirt' over her, in marriage (v.8), His righteous zeal required that she should be pure, and for Him alone. Ex 20:4-6; Deu 4:23-28
...I will... give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place {HB=gab}, and... thy high places {HB=ramah}...
The LORD would give her over to the hands of her 'lovers,' who would destroy the places where she had committed adultery with them, including the Temple and the high places at the head of every street (v.24 and related note). Eze 7:20-24; 24:21
...they shall strip thee also of thy clothes... and leave thee naked and bare.
The provisions which He had lovingly supplied, and which they had devoted to their lovers (v.10-20), would be taken away. The nation would be left, as He had found her, stark naked, with no covering for her sin (v.6,7).
...they shall also bring up a company against thee... and execute judgments upon thee...
     Hab 1:6-10; Mic 3:12; Jer 52:12,13
In a similar way, the 'lovers' of "the great whore" (the apostate church of the Tribulation period) will turn against her. But her destruction will be absolute, without any hope of recovery. (Rev 17:12-18, where 'the great city' is Rome.)
...I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot... thou shalt give no hire any more.
Without the wealth which the LORD had provided, the nation would no longer be able to hire false lovers.
Through her abuse at their hands, she would see the evil intent of those for whom she had once waited. Lam 4:17-19
Her idolatrous practices would cease, when the idols and the places dedicated to them were destroyed. Mic 5:10-14
Eventually, her heart would be turned back to her Lord. Hos 2:6-17
42 So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, {Eze 5:11-13}
and my jealousy shall depart from thee,
and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.
43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth,
but hast fretted
{ie., enraged} me in all these [things]; {Eze 6:9; Deu 32:21}
behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon [thine] head,
{Eze 7:3-4,8-10}
saith the Lord GOD:
and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.
The Lord's wrath would be pacified,
when her judgment would be accomplished, and her abominable practices extinguished.
44. Behold, every one that useth proverbs
shall use [this] proverb against thee,
saying, As [is] the mother, [so is] her daughter.
45 Thou [art] thy mother's daughter,
that lotheth her husband and her children;
and thou [art] the sister of thy sisters,
which lothed their husbands and their children:
your mother [was] an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.
46 And thine elder sister [is] Samaria,
she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand:
and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand,
[is] Sodom and her daughters.
47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways,
nor done after their abominations:
but, as [if that were] a very little [thing],
thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.
...thou art thy mother's daughter... the sister of thy sisters...
As mentioned, in v.3, the Jewish nation in Jerusalem was closely related to the people of Canaan (eg., Hittites and Amorites). Because of the wickedness of those nations, God had removed them, and had given their land to Israel (Gen15:16; Deu 12:29-31). But Israel had followed in their footsteps, like a daughter following her mother.
     Samaria was the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel (consisting of ten tribes of Israel), which had fallen into idolatry soon after the nation was divided. About a hundred years before Ezekiel's day, God had sent the Assyrians to conquer Samaria and to take the people captive, because of their sinful ways (2Kin 17:6-18). But the southern kingdom (Judah and Benjamin, the two remaining tribes of Israel), with its capital in Jerusalem, had followed in her sister's ways (2Kin 17:19).
     Sodom and her daughter cities had been destroyed for 'very grievous' sin, in the time of Abraham (Gen 18:20,21). Jerusalem had become a 'sister' to Sodom, by engaging in similar corruption (Isa 1:10).
...yet... thou wast corrupted more than they in their ways.
Fully aware that God had judged her predecessors, Jerusalem failed to heed the warnings, and intentionally increased her sinful practices beyond what they had done (eg., v.29, v.51; cp. Rom 1:32).
48 [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD,
Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters,
as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom,
pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me:
therefore I took them away as I saw [good]
{ie., when I saw it, Gen 18:20,21}.
51 Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins;
but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they,
and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done.
52 Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame
for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they:
they are more righteous than thou:
yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame,
in that thou hast justified thy sisters.
This paragraph continues the thought that the sins of Jerusalem were even more grievous than those of Sodom and Samaria.
Jerusalem knew that the LORD had judged the sins of these other people. They even agreed that those people were worthy of judgment (v.52; cp. Rom 2:1-5). Compared to Sodom, Israel had much fuller revelation of God's will and purposes (eg., Rom 3:1,2; 9:4,5). Yet, they arrogantly disregarded God's Word and pressed on, in their own way. Feeling secure in their 'advantages,' they failed to see that those things came with greater responsibility (cp. Luk 12:47,48).
...this was the sin of thy sister Sodom...
Verses 49,50 are misused by some to argue that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality, rather than a sexual perversion.
This passage indicates that the sin of Sodom proceeded from sinful hearts (cp. Mat 15:19).
  1. The Condition of their hearts... (v.49)
    • pride - ie., self-exaltation, arrogance.
      This is the heart, which while ignoring the LORD, looks in the mirror and says I am god and no other (cp. Eze 28:2; also Amos 6:8, where Israel's 'excellency' refers to their self-exaltation).
    • fulness of bread... abundance of idleness {ie., quiet ease} - ie., self-satisfaction. cp. Luk 12:16-21
      This is the heart that takes the LORD's provisions for granted. It is the attitude of the self-made man, dependent upon no one.
    • failure to assist the poor and needy - ie., self-focus.
      Contrary to the LORD's heart, this heart lavishes itself with its abundance, without consideration of helping others in need. cf. Prov 19:17
  2. The Abomination of their acts... (v.50)
    • "Thus they were haughty and committed..." [NASB] -
      This verse begins by identifying their heart attitude, as the root from which their actions sprang. Considering themselves above the Law and Lordship of God, they did their own will.
      'Regardless of what God says, I will do what I want to do... and I will do it openly.' (cp. Isa 3:8,9, where 'declare' means 'to make known'; and Prov 16:5, where popular opinion takes a foolish stand against the authority of God.)
    • ...and committed abomination before Me.-
      An abomination is a "loathsome, detestable thing." [Vine] Having no qualms about offending God, they willfully acted contrary to His heart, mind, and Word.
         A lack of hospitality is never referred to as an abomination. But the practice known as 'Sodomy' is. eg., Lev 18:22; Deu 23:17,18; cp. Rom 1:26-28
         Israel did worse than Sodom, in that they had God's Word, but ignored it. They condoned this practice even within His House. (The following references pertain to the removal of sodomites, by certain good kings during periods of spiritual revival. eg., 1Kin 15:12; 2Kin 23:7)
d. Her restoration, 16:53-63
53 When I shall bring again their captivity,
the captivity of Sodom and her daughters,
and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters,
then [will I bring again] the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:
54 That thou mayest bear thine own shame,
and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done,
in that thou art a comfort unto them.
55 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate,
and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate,
then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.
56 For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,
57 Before thy wickedness was discovered,
as at the time of [thy] reproach of the daughters of Syria,
and all [that are] round about her, the daughters of the Philistines,
which despise thee round about.
58 Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD.
59 For thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will even deal with thee as thou hast done,
which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
Jerusalem would not experience release from her judgment, until Sodom and Samaria were also restored.
But considering the wickedness of those cities, was their restoration even possible?
The judgment of Jerusalem would be harsh and prolonged.
They would be full of disgrace and confusion, which they had brought upon themselves, when they scorned their covenant relationship with the LORD, as the heathen nations watched (eg., v.8,14-15,35-37,43).
60. Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth,
and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed,
when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger:
and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
62 And I will establish my covenant with thee;
and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD:
63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded,
and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame,
when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.
...nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with thee...
What mercy and grace!
That the LORD should restore this nation that had so defiled His name, is far beyond all human expectation. Yet, in spite of Israel's unfaithfulness to Him, He remains eternally faithful to His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Lev 26:40-45; Jer 33:20-26
...I will establish my covenant with thee...
This is a new covenant, which differs from the previous covenant which Israel broke. Through this new covenant (not by the old covenant, v.61), Jerusalem's sinful sisters (eg., Sodom, Samaria, etc.) will also be brought into right relationship with the LORD.
     Jer 31:31-34; 32:38-41; Eze 11:17-21; 37:26,27
...and thou shalt know that I am the LORD...
In ch.5-19, this phrase [or variations, eg., "ye (or, they) shall know that I am the LORD (or, Lord GOD)"] occurs at least 20 times, in association with Israel's judgment, which would cause them to acknowledge His absolute authority.
     Here (v.62), is the first occurrence of this phrase, relative to Israel's future restoration. When, through the New Covenant, the LORD gives the children of Israel new hearts, they will know Him more fully. Hos 2:19,20; Heb 8:10-12; 12:24; 13:20,21
     Recognizing the depth of their sin, they will be speechless before His great grace. v.63; Rom 3:19-22; Titus 3:3-7
...that thou mayest remember and be confounded... because of thy shame...
...when I am pacified... for all that thou hast done.
Through the New Covenant, proud hearts which once boasted in their rebellion (eg., v.50), are humbled and broken under the weight of their sin, and the greatness of God's gracious provision of redemption (Rom 1:16-18).
     The promised redemption would come "when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done." The word for 'pacified' {HB=kaphar} is elsewhere translated 'make an atonement' (eg., Lev 17:11). The New Covenant provides remission for sin, through the shed blood of Christ. Through faith in Christ, the sinner is reconciled to God and no longer under His wrath (Rom 3:23-26; 5:1,2).
     Although the New Covenant is able to transform the worst sinner into a submissive child of God (1Tim 1:15), it does not provide blanket salvation for everyone. Christ came to seek and to save the lost. But unless you see your hopeless condition, you will see no need for the Savior (Luk 19:10; Joh 1:29). Christ died as the all sufficient sacrifice for "all", but only "as many as received Him" are born of God's Spirit into eternal life. Joh 1:11-13; 3:16-18,36; 1Joh 5:11,12
     Israel's restoration awaits the day, when perceiving and grieving their sinful condition, they will recognize and receive Him who was pierced to take away our sins (Zech 12:10- 13:1).

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