|<< Ezek 21|
Ezekiel 22-23 Listen
You Jerusalemites are an abomination! (Ezekiel 22:1-16)
1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations.
3 Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD, The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself.
4 Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed; and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries.
5 Those that be near, and those that be far from thee, shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed.
6 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood.
7 In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.
8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.
9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.
10 In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.
11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.
12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.
13 Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.
14 Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it.
15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.
16 And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
This string of prophecies began in Ezekiel 20 (see notes). The elders of the exiled Jews had requested an audience with Ezekiel to get an idea of what to expect now. This prophecy details the manner in which Judah, led by her leaders in Jerusalem, had broken the Mosaic covenant. This passage is quite detailed in the specific rejection of principles of the law by Israel and Judah. Jerusalem is referred to by God as "the bloody city" in verse 2. This blood on the hands of its inhabitants is mentioned seven additional times throughout this chapter. In that same verse, Ezekiel is told, "...thou shalt shew her all her abominations."
The detailed list of specific sins are listed in verses 3-12, with the penalty found in verses 13-16. That penalty is summed up in verse 15, "And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee." This prophecy references the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the subsequent deportation of its influential citizens, an event recorded in II Kings 24 (see notes).
Incidentally, you will notice at the top of their list of sins in verses 3-4 is found the problem with which Israel always struggled - the false worship of idols. Every other rebellious act against God seemed to have at its roots this sin of idolatry.
God: You're the dross, and I'm the furnace! (Ezekiel 22:17-22)
17 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.
20 As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.
21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.
"Dross" is the waste material that comes off fine metals (silver, gold) when they are purified by fire. Jerusalem, get ready for a judgment by fire! And why? Ezekiel says in verse 19, "Because ye are all become dross." The penalty is creatively worded in verse 21, "I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath." Here's another prophecy regarding the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians recorded in II Kings 24 (see notes).
You have no righteous leadership! (Ezekiel 22:23-31)
23 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
24 Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.
25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
27 Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.
28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.
29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.
Jerusalem, all your leaders are wicked and your prophets are liars...and your regular ol' everyday people are corrupt too. I memorized verse 30 back in the late 1960s before I even understood the context: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." I thought it sounded sort of American-ish to me. Notice that Ezekiel specifically prophesies against the prophets (25, 28), priests (26) and princes (27) along with the common people (29) within Judah prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Good principled leaders have always been hard to find. How many ways can you prophesy the doom of Judah/Jerusalem? Well...here's one more in verse 31, "Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD."
Back to the ol' prostitute analogy (Ezekiel 23)
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.
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.
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, 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,
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:
16 And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.
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.
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.
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; 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.
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, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.
46 For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.
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, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness.
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.
Idolatry and worshipping false gods is often referred to as spiritual adultery or harlotry in the Old Testament. The Israelites were the people of God, and the Mosaic Law was very specific and severe in its punishment for physical adultery and harlotry among its people. On a national level, when the Israelites wandered away or blatantly forsook God (which they repeatedly did) the prophets of God always treated it with the same severity - as national spiritual adultery. You will recall that Ezekiel used the prostitute analogy back in Ezekiel 16 (see notes). Prostitution goes beyond mere adultery; it is the blatant disregard for the marriage vows altogether. We finish off this series of prophecies with another prostitute analogy - one depicting a period later in Israel's history. Notice that these two prostitutes are clearly identified in verse 4, Judah and Israel aka Southern Kingdom and Northern Kingdom aka Jerusalem and Samaria. Ezekiel's prophecy even gives feminine names to these representative prostitutes; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah. It's a very heavy prophecy.
Let's take a look at the two names assigned here by Ezekiel's prophecy:
Note: Both Hebrew names assigned in this prophecy have "tent" as the their root. The sense seems to be that the tent is the place of business for a prostitute.
The first prostitute, Samaria (Northern Kingdom) adopted the idolatrous practices of the surrounding nations and fell to the Assyrians (verses 5-10). Now Samaria's sister, Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom) is doing likewise and will get the same punishment, the punishment of an adulterous prostitute (verses 11-49). The prophecy against Judah/Jerusalem of their imminent fall to the Babylonians begins in verse 22. And if you need the reason for their fall spelled out very clearly, there it is in Ezekiel 23:30, "I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols." As a matter of fact, Ezekiel gives another mention of the sacrifice of their own children upon the pagan altars, a subject he also deals with in Ezekiel 16:20-21 (see notes). Ezekiel's prophecy gives God the credit for the fall of Jerusalem, but only because of Judah's idolatry. And just in case you are still wondering why Judah fell, there it is stated once again in verse 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."