Again the word of the LORD
came unto me, saying,
In this chapter the mercy of God to Jerusalem, (or the Jewish
Church and nation,) is set forth by the emblem of a person that
should take up an exposed infant, bring her up with great
tenderness, and afterwards marry her, 1-14.
She is then upbraided with her monstrous ingratitude in
departing from the worship of God, and polluting herself with
the idolatries of the nations around her, under the figure of
a woman that proves false to a tender and indulgent husband,
But, notwithstanding these her heinous provocations, God
promises, after she should suffer due correction, to restore
her again to his favour, 53-63.
The mode of describing apostasy from the true religion to the
worship of idols under the emblem of adultery, (a figure very
frequent in the sacred canon,) is pursued unth great force, and
at considerable length, both in this and the twenty-third
chapter; and is excellently calculated to excite in the Church
of God the highest detestation of all false worship.
NOTES ON CHAP. XVI
Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,
Verse 2. Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations
] And such a
revelation of impurity never was seen before or since. Surely the
state of the Jews, before the Babylonish captivity, was the most
profligate and corrupt of all the nations of the earth. This
chapter contains God's manifesto
against this most abominable
people; and although there are many metaphors
here, yet all is not
metaphorical. Where there was so much idolatry
, there must have
been adulteries, fornications, prostitutions, and lewdness of
every description. The description of the prophet is sufficiently
clear, except where there is a reference to ancient and obsolete customs
. What a description of crimes! The sixth satire of Juvenal
is its counterpart. General remarks are all that a
commentator is justified in bestowing on this very long, very
circumstantial, and caustic invective. For its key
, see on the thirteenth
verses. See Clarke on Eze 16:13
; "Eze 16:63"
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.a
Verse 3. Thy birth and thy nativity
is of the land of Canaan
would dishonour Abraham to say that you sprung from him
: ye are
. The Canaanites were accursed;
so are ye. Thy father
was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite.
tribes were the most famous, and probably the most corrupt, of all
the Canaanites. So Isaiah calls the princes of Judah rulers of Sodom
, Isa 1:10
; and John the Baptist calls the Pharisees a generation
or brood of vipers
, Mt 3:7
. There is a fine
specimen of this kind of catachresis
in Dido's invective against
Nec tibi Diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
Perflde; sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus, Hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tigres.
AEn. lib. iv. 365.
"False as thou art, and more than false, forsworn;
Not sprung from noble blood, nor goddess born:
But hewn from hardened entrails of a rock,--
And rough Hyrcanian tigers gave thee suck."
This is strong: but the invective of the prophet exceeds it far.
It is the essence of degradation to its subject; and shows the
Jews to be as base and contemptible as they were abominable and
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.b
Verse 4. As for thy nativity, &c.
] This verse refers to what is
ordinarily done for every infant on its birth. The umbilical cord
by which it received all its nourishment while in the womb, being
no longer necessary, is cut at a certain distance from the
abdomen: on this part a knot is tied, which firmly uniting the
sides of the tubes, they coalesce, and incarnate together. The
extra part of the cord on the outside of the ligature, being cut
off from the circulation by which it was originally fed, soon
drops off, and the part where the ligature was is called the
navel. In many places, when this was done, the infant was plunged
into cold water
; in all cases washed
, and sometimes with a mixture of salt and water
, in order to give a greater firmness to the
skin, and constringe the pores. The last process was swathing
body, to support mechanically the tender muscles till they should
acquire sufficient strength to support the body. But among savages
this latter process is either wholly neglected, or done very
slightly: and the less it is done, the better for the infant; as
this kind of unnatural compression
greatly impedes the circulation
of the blood, the pulsation
of the heart, and the due inflation of
the lungs; respiration, in many cases, being rendered oppressive
by the tightness of these bandages.
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.
Verse 5. Thou wast cast out in the open field
] This is an
allusion to the custom of some heathen and barbarous nations, who
exposed those children in the open fields to be devoured by wild
beasts who had any kind of deformity, or whom they could not
¶ 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.c
Verse 6. I said-Live
] I received the exposed child from the
death that awaited it, while in such a state as rendered it at
once an object of horror, and also of compassion.
Edere vagitus, et adhuc a matre rubentem.
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.d, e
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.
Verse 8. Was the time of love
] Thou wast marriageable. I spread my skirt over thee
] I espoused
thee. This was one of
their initiatory marriage ceremonies. See Ru 3:9
. I-entered into a covenant with thee
] Married thee. Espousing
Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.f
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.
Verse 10. I clothed thee also with broidered work
] Cloth on
which various figures
, in various colours
, were wrought by the
needle. With badgers' skin
] See Ex 25:5
. The same kind of skin with
which the tabernacle was covered. Fine linen
] beshesh, with cotton
. I have seen cloth of
this kind enveloping the finest mummies. I covered thee with silk.
. Very probably the
produce of the silk-worm.
I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.g
Verse 12. I put a jewel on thy forehead
] al appech
upon thy nose
. This is one of the most common ornaments among
ladies in the east. European translators, not knowing what to make
of a ring in the nose
, have rendered it, a jewel on thy forehead
, (though they have sometimes a piece of gold
fastened to the centre of their forehead
.) I have already spoken
of this Asiatic custom, so often referred to in the sacred
writings: see Ge 24:22, 42
; Ex 32:2
; Job 42:11
; Pr 11:22
; Isa 3:21
; Ho 2:13
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.
Verse 13. Thus wast thou decked, &c.
] The Targum
this of the tabernacle service
, the book of the law
, the sacerdotal vestments
, &c. Thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
] Here the figure explains
itself: by this wretched infant
, the low estate of the Jewish
nation in its origin
is pointed out; by the growing up of this child into woman's estate
, the increase and multiplication of the
people; by her being decked out and ornamented
, her tabernacle
service, and religious ordinances; by her betrothing
, the covenant
which God made with the Jews; by
, their apostasy
from God, and the
establishment of idolatrous worship
, with all its abominable
rites; by her fornication
with the Egyptians
, the sinful alliances which the Jews made with those
nations, and the incorporation of their
idolatrous worship with
that of Jehovah; by her lovers being brought against her
, and stripping her naked
, the delivery of the Jews into the hands of
the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, who stripped them of all
their excellencies, and at last carried them into captivity.
This is the key
to the whole of this long chapter of metaphors;
and the reader will do well to forget the figures
, and look at the facts
. The language
may in many places appear to us
exceptionable: but these are quite in conformity to those times
, and to every reader and hearer would appear perfectly
appropriate, nor would engender either a thought or passion of an
irregular or improper kind. Custom
prevents the abuse
. Among naked savages
irregular passions and
propensities are not known to predominate above those in civilized
life. And why? Because such sights are customary
, and therefore in
themselves innocent. And the same may be said of the language
which such states and circumstances of life are described. Had
Ezekiel spoken in such language as would have been called chaste
, it would have appeared to his
auditors as a strange dialect
, and would have lost at least one
half of its power
. Let this be the prophet's apology
for the apparent indelicacy of his metaphors; and mine, for not
entering into any particular discussion concerning them. See also
on Eze 16:63
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
¶ 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.
Verse 15. Thou didst trust in thine own beauty
strength, alliances, &c.; never considering that all they
possessed came from God; therefore it was his comeliness which he had put upon them
. Witness their original abject state
, and the
degree of eminence
to which they had arrived afterwards through
the protecting power of God.
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
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,h
Verse 17. And madest to thyself images of men
] tsalmey zachar, male images
are here meant, which were carried
about in the ceremonies of Osiris, Bacchus, and Adonis; and were
something like the lingam
among the Hindoos. Herodotus
, lib. ii,
c. 48, 49, gives us an account of these male images
was done at the worship of Bacchus in Egypt: and they who wish to
see more may consult Herodotus
as above. In this phallic
the women were principally concerned.
And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
Verse 18. Hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.
appears that they had made use of the holy vestments, and the
different kinds of offerings which belonged to the Lord, to honour
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
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,j
That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire
Verse 21. To cause them to pass through the fire
] Bp. Newcome
quotes a very apposite passage from Dionysius Halicarnass
Rom. lib. i., s. 88, p. 72, and marg. p. 75, Edit. Hudson: μεταδε
after this, having ordered that fires should be made before the
tents, he brings out the people to leap over the flames, for the
purifying of their pollutions." This example shows that we are not
always to take passing through the fire for being entirely
consumed by it. Among the Israelites this appears to have been
used as a rite of consecration.
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.
And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD
thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.k
Verse 24. Thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place
, a stew
; Vulg. lupanar
; Septuag. οικημα
πορνικον. So my old MS. Bible, a bordel house
. "Thou hast builded
thy stewes and bordell houses in every place."-Coverdale's
is an Italian
word: how it got so early into our
language I know not. Our modern word brothel
is a corruption of
translates, Tu hai edificato un bordello, "Thou hast
built a brothel." Houses of this kind were of a very ancient date.
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.
Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.
Verse 26. Great of flesh
] The most extensive idolaters. Bene
vasatis-longa mensura incognita nervy-Juv. Sat
. ix. 34. This is
Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food
, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.l
Verse 27. Have diminished thine ordinary
here the household provision made for a wife-food, clothing, and
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.
Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.
How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD
, seeing thou doest all these things
, the work of an imperious whorish woman;
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;m
a wife that committeth adultery, which
taketh strangers instead of her husband!
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.n
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.
¶ Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD
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;
Verse 36. Thy filthiness was poured out
this word signifies a sort of metal
, (brass,) it is generally
supposed to mean money
. They had given money
literally to these
heathen nations to procure their friendship and assistance; but
the word also means verdigris
, the poisonous rust of copper
. It is properly translated in our version filthiness, poisonous filth
. Does it not refer to that venereal virus
engendered by promiscuous connexions?
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.
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.o
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.p
Verse 39. They shall strip thee also of thy clothes-thy fair jewels
] Alluding to a lot common enough to prostitutes, their
maintainers in the end stripping them of all they had given them.
They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.
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.
So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.
Verse 42. I will be quiet and will be no more angry.
] I will
completely abandon thee; have nothing more to do with thee; think
no more of thee. When God in judgment ceases to reprehend, this is
the severest judgment.
Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things
; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine
head, saith the Lord GOD
: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.
Verse 43. Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth
former low beginning, when God made thee a people, who wast no
people. He who maintains not a proper recollection of past mercies
is not likely to abide steadfast in the faith. Ingratitude to God
is the commencement, if not the parent, of many crimes.
¶ Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this
proverb against thee, saying, As is
the mother, so is
Verse 44. As
is the mother
, so is her daughter.
] keimmah bittah
, "As the mother, her daughter." As is the cause
so is the effect
. As is the breeding
, so is the practice
. A silken purse
cannot be made out of a swine's ear
. What is bred
in the bone
seldom comes out of the flesh
. All such proverbs show
the necessity of early holy precepts
, supported by suitable example
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.
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.q
Verse 46. Thine elder sister
is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left
] It is supposed that the prophet by Sodom
in this place means the Israelites that dwelt beyond Jordan, in
the land of the Moabites
; or rather of the Moabites
themselves. Literally, Sodom could not be called the younger sister
of Jerusalem, as it existed before Jerusalem had a
name. In looking east
from Jerusalem, Samaria was on the left
Sodom on the right hand
; that is, the first
was on the north
on the south
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.r
I live, saith the Lord GOD
, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
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.
Verse 49. This was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom
] If we are
to take this place literally, Sodom
was guilty of other crimes
besides that for which she appears to have been especially
punished; in addition to her unnatural crime, She is charged with pride, luxury, idleness
, and uncharitableness
; and these were
sufficient to sink any city to the bottomless pit.
And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good
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.
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.
Verse 52. They are more righteous than thou
] tetsuddaknah mimmech
, "They shall be justified more than thou."
They are less guilty in the sight of God, for their crimes were
not accompanied with so many aggravations
. This phrase casts light
on Lu 18:14
: "This man went down to his house justified rather
than the other." Less blame in the sight of God was attached to
him. He always had fewer advantages, and now he was a true penitent
; while the other was boasting of what he had done
what he had not done
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:
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.
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.
For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,s, t
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.u, v
Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD
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.
¶ Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.
Verse 60. I will remember my covenant
] That is, the covenant I
made with Abraham in the day of thy youth
, when in him
thou didst begin
to be a nation.
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.
Verse 61. Thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger
] The Gentiles
, who were before
the Jews were called, and after
Jews were cast off, are here termed the elder
and younger sister
These were to be given to Jerusalem for daughters
; the latter
should be converted to God by the ministry of men who should
spring out of the Jewish Church. The former
, who were patriarchs
&c., profited by the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world
. Among the latter the Gospel was preached, first by Christ
and his apostles
, and since by persons raised up from among
themselves. But not by thy covenant.
] This was the ancient covenant
conditions of which they broke
, and the blessings of which they forfeited
; but by that new covenant
, or the renewal
Gentiles of that covenant
that was made originally
while he was a Gentile
, promising that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed
; that covenant
which respected the
incarnation of Christ, and was ratified by the blood of his cross.
And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am
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
Verse 63. When I am pacified toward thee
] This intimates that
the Jews shall certainly share in the blessings of the Gospel
covenant, and that they shall be restored to the favour and image
of God. And when
shall this be? Whenever they
please. They might
have enjoyed them eighteen hundred
years ago; but they would not
come, though all things were then ready
. They may enjoy them now
but they still choose
to shut their eyes against the light, and
contradict and blaspheme. As they do not turn to the Lord
, the veil
still continues on their hearts. Let their elder brethren
pray for them.
For a key
to the principal metaphors in this chapter, the reader
is referred to the note on the thirteenth
verse, which, if he
regard not, he will neither do justice to himself nor to the
prophet. The whole chapter is a tissue of invective; sharp,
cutting, and confounding; every where well sustained, in every
respect richly merited; and in no case leaving any room to the
delinquent for justification or response.