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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 16

 

 

Introduction

Ezekiel 16. Jerusalem the Ungrateful, the Unfaithful.—Again Ezekiel returns to the indictment which justifies the doom. This time it takes the form of a merciless exposure, in allegorical form, of her sins, which, from the beginning to the end of her history, constitute one unbroken record of black apostasy. Jerusalem (or Israel) is compared to an infant girl, abandoned immediately after birth, but saved, brought up, and married by Yahweh, whose care and love she rewarded with infidelities gross and innumerable. The idea is elaborated with a detail often offensive to modern taste, but the whole passage palpitates with moral indignation and religious passion, and is not seldom dashed with the bitterest irony.


Verses 1-14

Ezekiel 16. Jerusalem the Ungrateful, the Unfaithful.—Again Ezekiel returns to the indictment which justifies the doom. This time it takes the form of a merciless exposure, in allegorical form, of her sins, which, from the beginning to the end of her history, constitute one unbroken record of black apostasy. Jerusalem (or Israel) is compared to an infant girl, abandoned immediately after birth, but saved, brought up, and married by Yahweh, whose care and love she rewarded with infidelities gross and innumerable. The idea is elaborated with a detail often offensive to modern taste, but the whole passage palpitates with moral indignation and religious passion, and is not seldom dashed with the bitterest irony.

Ezekiel 16:1-14. Yahweh's Kindness.—Jerusalem (i.e. Israel), Ezekiel fiercely begins, was heathen from the first, child of Amorite and Hittite parents (names intended to represent the heathen predecessors of Israel in Canaan). With no prospect of a future for her, to say nothing of a distinguished future, Yahweh took loving care of her throughout the early centuries, and at Sinai entered into a (marriage) covenant with her, thereafter advancing her till in the days of David and Solomon she had reached not only power and prosperity but a certain international reputation.

Ezekiel 16:15-34. Israel's Ingratitude.—This love Israel requited with the most incredible treachery, which bespoke a truly adulterous heart. She forsook her own loving God for others: (a) she tainted and degraded His worship by carrying into it the cruel and immoral rites practised in the worship of the native gods of Canaan upon the accursed high places (Ezekiel 16:15-25), and (b) she (partly through political entanglements) deliberately adopted the worship of foreign gods of Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea (Babylonia), those empires whose secular power so profoundly impressed the shallow, susceptible heart of Israel. Her adulterous love for these alien cults had cost her both blood and money—the blood of her children slain in sacrifice (Ezekiel 20:25 f.*) and by the sword of the invading enemy, and endless tribute to her foreign over-lords (Ezekiel 16:26-34).

Ezekiel 16:35-58. The Doom.—But the "harlot" Jerusalem would have to pay the yet heavier price of being stripped, stoned, and burned—an all too plain allusion to the siege and firing of the city (Ezekiel 16:35-43). But the bitterest drop in Jerusalem's cup was to be told that she was not only as bad as her heathen mother, but worse than her rival sister Samaria (capital of the northern kingdom), worse even than the infamous Sodom to the south. They were righteous in comparison with her. (These places are mentioned because they are within the bounds of the ideal future kingdom whose centre will be Jerusalem.) But—and here hope begins to gleam through—one day the fortunes of Samaria and Sodom would be restored, and with them Judah too. A humiliating consolation for Judah the proud to be mentioned in company with Sodom, whose name she had erstwhile refused to take upon her lips. (In Ezekiel 16:57 for "Syria" read "Edom," which had exulted over the downfall of Judah; cf. Psalms 137.)

Ezekiel 16:59-63. The Promise.—In the end Yahweh's purpose of grace triumphs. After her stern discipline, Israel recalls with shame the long story of her sin, and Yahweh recalls His ancient love for her, re-enacts the covenant never to be broken any more, and bestows upon Israel the place of religious supremacy. The people accept these tokens of forgiveness in ashamed and grateful silence. (Ezekiel 16:61, Yahweh does what He does "not by thy covenant," i.e. not by reason of Israel's behaviour in the covenant relation, but of His own free grace.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 16:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ezekiel-16.html. 1919.

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