Ezekiel 23 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
Like the previous chapter, this chapter deals with the judgment upon Jerusalem, which was the just recompense for their sinful ways. However, here, the judgment of Jerusalem is compared to that which had already befallen Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel), about 130 years earlier. As in chapter 16, the cause of this judgment is presented in terms of spiritual adultery.
     - The Parable of Two Sisters -
a. Their identities, 23:1-4
1. The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
3 And they committed whoredoms in Egypt;
they committed whoredoms in their youth:
there were their breasts pressed,
and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.
4 And the names of them [were] Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister:
and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters.
Thus [were] their names; Samaria [is] Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.
...two... daughters of one mother...
Israel departed from Egypt and entered into the promised land as one nation, which had its roots in the promises of God to their forefathers. The division into two separate nations occurred, due to rebellion, early in the reign of Rehoboam, king Solomon's son.
     During Israel's sojourn in Egypt, they had committed spiritual adultery against the LORD, by serving heathen gods. However, enroute to the land of promise, they had been instructed to put away those idols. Ex 20:1-5; Josh 24:14
...the names of them... Aholah {HB='oholah, meaning 'her tent'}...
...and Aholibah {HB='oholibah, meaning 'My tent is in her'}...
The LORD's 'tent' refers to the Tabernacle, which contained the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat. It was there that the LORD said He would meet with His people, for there He displayed the way of redemption from sin, in the pattern of the Tabernacle and its sacrificial system. eg., Ex 29:42 (where 'Tabernacle' is HB='ohel); Num 9:15 (where 'Tabernacle' is HB=mishkan, 'dwelling place', and 'tent' is HB='ohel); also see Ex 25:21,22
     During Solomon's reign, the Ark of the Covenant with its blood sprinkled Mercy Seat, was moved from the portable Tabernacle into the Temple in Jerusalem. There, the continual sacrifices foreshadowed the Lamb of God, by whose blood His people would be purged of sin, purified with true righteousness, and prepared to meet the living and true God. (eg., see Mat 1:21; Joh 1:29; 1Joh 1:5-7); Rom 5:1,2.
     At the division of the nation, idolatrous worship centers were established in the northern kingdom, for political purposes (1Kin 12:25-30). These false 'tabernacles' were not of the LORD. While they provided an outlet for religious expression, this counterfeit religion was the invention of man. It provided no meeting place with God. Rather, it intentionally obscured the way, and hindered seekers from approaching and knowing the God of Israel.
...Aholah the elder...
Samaria was the elder of these sisters because...
  1. the northern kingdom was first in idolatrous apostasy.
  2. the northern tribes were (on average) older than the southern tribes (based on the birth order of Israel's sons). The ten northern tribes included Jacob's three eldest sons. The southern kingdom consisted of Judah and Benjamin (Jacob's fourth and twelfth sons).
b. Their infidelities, 23:5-21
5 And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine;
and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians [her] neighbours,
6 [Which were] clothed with blue, captains and rulers,
all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
7 Thus she committed her whoredoms with them,
with all them [that were] the chosen men of Assyria,
and with all on whom she doted:
with all their idols she defiled herself.
8 Neither left she her whoredoms [brought] from Egypt:
for in her youth they lay with her,
and they bruised the breasts of her virginity,
and poured their whoredom upon her.
9 Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers,
into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
10 These discovered her nakedness:
they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword:
and she became famous among women;
for they had executed judgment upon her.
...Aholah played the harlot when she was mine...
Prior to the division of the nation, all twelve tribes worshipped the LORD together in Jerusalem. But soon afterward, Jeroboam led the ten northern tribes into idolatrous worship. All of the kings, who followed him in ruling the northern kingdom, followed his ungodly ways. Through their broadening alliances with heathen nations, the religious perversion of Israel was deepened. King Ahab was a notable example (1Kin 16:31,32). In the early days of Isaiah's ministry, the northern kingdom of Israel was allied with Syria against Judah (the southern kingdom, Isa 7:1). For a time, Israel (the northern kingdom) purchased peace with Assyria (2Kin 15:17-20).
...clothed with blue, captains and rulers... all... desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
The Assyrian army was very impressive, from the blue uniforms of its captains, to the vigor of its soldiers and its formidable cavalry.
...all on whom she doted {lit., breathed after, ie., lusted after}... with all their idols she defiled herself.
The northern kingdom of Israel freely gave herself to the ways of the idolatrous Assyrians, in order to gain their favor and their powerful protection. Yet, she did not abandon the idolatrous religion of Egypt. In addition to her spiritual adultery, she committed political adultery in attempting to leverage the Egyptians against the Assyrians.
...wherefore I have delivered her... into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
Due to Israel's shift of allegiance, the Assyrian's destroyed Samaria and took its king and people captive, in 721 BC (2Kin 17:1-6).
...they discovered her nakedness... slew her with the sword...
...she became famous {ie., of renown}... for they executed judgment upon her.
The judgment, at the hands of her former allies, was determined by the LORD, for her sins against Him, as explained in 2Kin 17:7-18.
     The judgment of Samaria was a vivid warning and preview of the judgment which would befall Jerusalem, if she followed in her sister's ways. Yet, Judah failed to take the lesson to heart.
11. And when her sister Aholibah saw [this],
she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she,
and in her whoredoms more than her sister in [her] whoredoms.
12 She doted upon the Assyrians [her] neighbours,
(eg., 2Kin 16:7-15)
captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously,
horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.
13 Then I saw that she was defiled,
[that] they [took] both one way,
(eg., 2Kin 17:19)
14 And [that] she increased her whoredoms:
for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall,
the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion,
15 Girded with girdles upon their loins,
exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to,
after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea,
the land of their nativity:
(see Eze 16:3-6)
16 And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them,
and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.
(eg., Eze 16:29)
17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love,
and they defiled her with their whoredom,
and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.
18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness:
then my mind was alienated from her,
like as my mind was alienated from her sister.
19 Yet she multiplied her whoredoms,
in calling to remembrance the days of her youth,
wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.
20 For she doted upon their paramours,
whose flesh [is as] the flesh of asses,
and whose issue [is like] the issue of horses.
21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth,
in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.
...then I saw that she was defiled... they both took one way.
The southern kingdom, led by Jerusalem, followed the path of Samaria, in both spiritual and political adultery. Except, Jerusalem went even deeper into sin (Eze 16:46,47; Jer 3:8-11).
     She worshipped the false gods of her neighbors, and dedicated the things of the LORD, including the Temple, to their idols (Eze 16:15-22). She gave herself to political alliances with ungodly nations, for military and financial advantage... and, like her sister, she did not keep her commitments (Eze 16:26-30).
...she doted upon the Assyrians... when she saw... the Chaldeans... she doted upon them.
The Chaldeans {ie., Babylonians} were beautifully arrayed in red clothing, and wielded impressive power.
...the Babylonians {lit., children of Babel} came to her into the bed of love...
...her mind was alienated from them.
Unsatisfied with the perversions of Babel, Jerusalem went looking for other lovers. She rebelled against Babylon and again turned her affections toward Egypt and sought their attention and protection. (This refers to king Zedekiah's rebellion against Babylon. Eze 17:15,16; cp. 2Kin 24:20)
...my mind was alienated {HB=yaqa, torn away, dislocated, disconnected} against her...
(This word occurs in v.17,18a)
...as my mind was alienated {HB=naqa, filled with aversion, disgusted, estranged} from her sister.
(This word occurs in v.18b,22,28) - cp. Jer 15:1; Psa 106:39,40
c. Their punishment, 23:22-49
22. Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated,
and I will bring them against thee on every side;
23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa,
[and] all the Assyrians with them:
all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned,
all of them riding upon horses.
24 And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels,
and with an assembly of people,
[which] shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about:
and I will set judgment before them,
and they shall judge thee according to their judgments.
25 And I will set my jealousy against thee,
and they shall deal furiously with thee:
they shall take away thy nose and thine ears;
and thy remnant shall fall by the sword:
they shall take thy sons and thy daughters;
and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire.
26 They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes,
and take away thy fair jewels.
27 Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee,
and thy whoredom [brought] from the land of Egypt:
so that thou shalt not lift up thine eyes unto them,
nor remember Egypt any more.
...Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee...
The nations, which Judah had previously admired and sought for the benefit of their impressive and powerful armies, would turn those armies against Jerusalem. Pekod, Shoa, and Koa were regions of the Babylonian empire, located east of the Tigris River.
...I will set my jealousy against thee... they shall deal furiously with thee...
Judah would be punished, with the punishment due to an unfaithful wife. Eze 16:38-42
Her punishment would remove, not only her jewelry, but her personal beauty {nose and ears} and her posterity.
...I will make thy lewdness to cease from thee... so that thou shalt not... remember Egypt any more...
The LORD's purpose, in His severe judgment of Israel, is to rid the nation of its affinity to false gods and false confidences, so that she will eventually belong to Him alone. Eze 16:41; 22:15; Zech 13:2
28 For thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand [of them] whom thou hatest,
into the hand [of them] from whom thy mind is alienated:
29 And they shall deal with thee hatefully,
and shall take away all thy labour, and shall leave thee naked and bare:
and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered,
both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
30 I will do these [things] unto thee,
because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen,
[and] because thou art polluted with their idols.
31 Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister;
therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.
32 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Thou shalt drink of thy sister's cup deep and large:
thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision;
(eg., Eze 22:4,5)
it containeth much.
33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,
with the cup of astonishment and desolation,
with the cup of thy sister Samaria.
34 Thou shalt even drink it and suck [it] out,
and thou shalt break the sherds thereof,
and pluck off thine own breasts:
for I have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD.
35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back,
therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
Judah (like Israel) would drink the hatred of their former lovers, until they would loathe themselves for their rebellion, and until they would recognize that they have no one to turn to, other than the One from whom they had turned away (Eze 6:9,10). In that future day, the LORD will take the cup of His wrath away from His people, and cause their enemies to drink it (Isa 51:17-23).
But in Ezekiel's day, the time of judgment was upon the nation.
In the remainder of the chapter, he rehearses the reasons.
36. The LORD said moreover unto me;
Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah?
yea, declare unto them their abominations;
37 That they have committed adultery, and blood [is] in their hands,
and with their idols have they committed adultery,
and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me,
to pass for them through [the fire], to devour [them].
38 Moreover this they have done unto me:
they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day,
and have profaned my sabbaths.
39 For when they had slain their children to their idols,
then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it;
and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.
40 And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far,
unto whom a messenger [was] sent; and, lo, they came:
for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes,
and deckedst thyself with ornaments,
41 And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it,
whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.
42 And a voice of a multitude being at ease [was] with her:
and with the men of the common sort [were] brought Sabeans from the wilderness,
which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful crowns upon their heads.
43 Then said I unto [her that was] old in adulteries,
Will they now commit whoredoms with her, and she [with them]?
44 Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot:
so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.
45 And the righteous men,
they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses,
{Deu 22:21-24}
and after the manner of women that shed blood;
because they [are] adulteresses, and blood [is] in their hands.
...and with the men of the common sort [were] brought Sabeans from the wilderness...
The adulterous sisters were open to all suitors, not only the relatively refined Assyrians and Babylonians, but also the wild, uncivilized Sabeans (the term also connotes drunkenness).
'The righteous men,' who would judge the adulteresses, were the wicked heathen nations.
They would be 'right' to exercise the judgment which the LORD had decreed. However, those nations would also be judged, in due time. The prophet Habakkuk struggled with the LORD's use of wicked Babylon, to judge the wickedness of His own people (eg., Hab 1:13). Yet, he knew the LORD's ways are true and righteous. He will thoroughly judge the sin of all men, for there is none righteous (eg., Joh 8:7). But, for those who trust in Him alone, the LORD imputes righteousness (Hab 2:4). Apart from that gift, the wages of sin is death (Eze 18:20; Rom 6:23).
46 For thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will bring up a company upon them,
and will give them to be removed and spoiled.
{Jer 24:9,10}
47 And the company shall stone them with stones,
and dispatch them with their swords;
they shall slay their sons and their daughters,
and burn up their houses with fire.
48 Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land,
{cp. Mic 5:11-14}
that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness.
{Isa 26:9}
49 And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you,
and ye shall bear the sins of your idols:
and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.
Eze 6:7; 7:9; 20:38; Psa 9:16

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