For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

16:1.  “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


16:2.  “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations (filthy practices),”


The prophet was commanded to declare to the people of Jerusalem - and therefore to the whole land since Jerusalem was its capital - the filthiness of their lifestyles, beginning with their idolatry and the gross immorality associated with it.


16:3.  “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.”


The statement relative to the Canaanite character of their birth and nativity is related to God’s having brought them out of Egyptian bondage, and having given them Canaan to be their land, on the condition that they exterminate the Canaanites.  This they had failed to do, however, settling down instead among them, and then adopting their filthy idolatrous lifestyles, so that spiritually they had very quickly become Amorite and Hittite in character, for Amorite means sayer; and Hittite, terror.  They professed to be God’s people, but they were a terror to those who did belong to Him, for those few obedient ones knew that the rebellion of the majority would bring the judgment of God upon the whole nation.


16:4.  “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.


The uncut navel cord speaks metaphorically of their never having been separated spiritually from Adam, so that, like all others born into this world, they had inherited his fallen, corrupt nature which is at enmity with God, and delights in sin.


Their being unwashed continues to emphasize that from birth, they, like all others, were unclean in God’s sight, for Adam’s spiritual contamination is transmitted to all his descendants.


“... to supple thee,” is also translated to prepare you for rubbing, this apparently referring to the process of cleansing the infant in preparation for rubbing its body with salt, following which it was wrapped in swaddling bands. 


While the exact spiritual analogy of every process may be difficult to determine, the whole picture is crystal clear: it is of Israel’s national origin which began in Egypt.  There they were like the neglected infant described above.  To their Egyptian taskmasters they were as worthless as that infant.


16:5.  “None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou was cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.”


This may well be the metaphoric description of the edict of Pharaoh which decreed that every male Hebrew child was to be killed at birth to prevent the multiplication of the people, see Ex 1:16.


16:6.  “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.”


This can scarcely have any application other than to God’s speaking to Moses relative to His decision to deliver His people out of the hands of their Egyptian taskmasters, “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land into a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey ....” Ex 3:7-8.


16:7.  “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.”


God continues His description of the nation as she was just prior to His delivering her out of the hand of her Egyptian oppressors.  She was like a beautiful young woman just come to marriageable age, but without any clothing to cover her nakedness.


16:8.  “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.”


This type was fulfilled on the night of the Passover, when God, loving Israel, chose her to be as it were His bride, thus entitling her to live in the enjoyment of His provision, protection, care, and love.


“I spread my skirt over thee ....”  This was the customary ritual in which a man placed the end of his robe over a woman thus signifying that he wanted her to become his wife.  The covenant mentioned here was that of marriage.


16:9.  “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.”


The typological picture here is of Israel on the night of the Passover, redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb, her bondage in Egypt ended, she having become the wife of her Great Kinsman Redeemer, Jehovah.  That night the whole nation was symbolically cleansed from sin, and anointed with oil, symbol of the unction of the Holy Spirit, though in reality only the small believing remnant within the unbelieving mass of the nation had been cleansed and had become God’s redeemed people.


Relative to the anointing with oil, it must be understood that there was no literal anointing that night either with oil or with the Holy Spirit.  The language is purely metaphoric, and is the language God uses here to describe them as a redeemed people, the redemption being literally from Egyptian bondage, and not from the spiritual bondage in which Satan holds all men until they are born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


16:10.  “I clothed thee with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.”


The language here is not just symbolic, for in Ex 12:35-36 it is recorded that, “... the children of Israel ... borrowed (demanded) of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent (gave) unto them such things as they required.  And they spoiled the Egyptians.”  What they demanded was the wages owing to generations who, as slaves, had served the Egyptians for nothing, so that their attire as described in this verse may well have been furnished by their former masters.


Spiritual eyes, however, will have no difficulty seeing in this a symbolic picture of what occurs at the moment of a sinner’s conversion.  As the prodigal son was stripped of his filthy rags, and clad in the best robe, and new shoes, so is the sinner stripped of the filthy rags of his self-righteousness, and is clothed instead in the spotless righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Nor should we miss the significance of the mention of the new shoes, both for the returned prodigal, and here for the liberated Israelites, for as the shoe separates the foot from the ground, so is the believer to walk in separation from the sinful world through which he travels on is way home to heaven.  Israel should have walked as a people redeemed and separated unto God, but they didn’t.


16:11.  “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.”


These jewels were part of what they had demanded from their former Egyptian masters, and their being adorned with them reminds us that believers are to display their equivalents, e.g., “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,” 1 Pe 3:4.


They were glorified by what God had given them, and they in turn were to live to glorify the Giver.  This applies also to us.  The

bracelets upon the hands ought to remind us that our actions are to be such as will glorify the Lord; while the neck chain may be the symbolic reminder that we belong to Him, and are to live our lives to His glory.


16:12.  “And I put a jewel upon thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.”


Many understand the jewel to have been attached to a pierced nostril, which of course is part of the head.  As the head speaks of the intellect, the jewel upon each Israelite’s forehead may be the symbolic reminder that conversion is to be accompanied by a renewal of our minds, as it is written, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good , and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Ro 12:2; and again, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Php 2:5-8.


The earrings in the ears scarcely need comment.  Our ears are to be constantly attuned to hear His voice, and to obey His commands.


The crown likewise scarcely needs comment.  Following the few brief years of our apprenticeship here on earth, we will reign with Christ, our positions in His eternal administration being in direct proportion to the faithfulness of our service here on earth, see Lk 19:15-19.


16:13.  “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 was exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.”


Beyond the literal gold and silver, etc., lies deeper spiritual truth.  Since gold speaks of glory; and silver, of redemption, the declaration here is that Israel, as constituted by the small believing remnant, had been redeemed, glorified, and clothed in the righteousness of which fine linen is the symbol; the silk and broidered work pointing to her beauty as a redeemed people.


Fine flour is a symbol of the written Word; and honey, of the deeper spiritual truth hidden beneath the literal language of Scripture; while oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, by Whom that deeper spiritual truth is revealed to obedient believers, but kept concealed from the disobedient and from the unbeliever.


The phenomenal beauty of Israel, redeemed, and walking in obedience before God, is the same spiritual beauty that marks every obedient believer, and which is essential if we would worship God as He desires, i.e., in spirit, and in truth, as it is written, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” 2 Chr 16:29; and again, “... the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him,” John 4:23.


“... and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.”  The believers of this present Church age have been constituted a royal kingdom of priests, as it is written, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Pe 2:9.


16:14.  “And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness (splendor), which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.”


When Israel had walked in obedience God had clothed her with glory, honor, and splendor; and the fame of her beauty had been spread among the surrounding nations.  This was in the reign of Solomon, the splendor of his kingdom causing the Queen of Sheba to exclaim, “... the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard .... Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice,” 1 Ki 10:7-9.


16:15.  “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.”


Foolish ungrateful Israel, puffed up with pride, despising her Husband God, the Benefactor Who had given her everything she possessed, turned from Him to prostrate herself before the idols of her heathen neighbors, giving to inanimate objects formed by men’s hands, the worship which belonged alone to Him.  And apostate Christendom has walked in her footsteps, for she too has turned from Him to worship money, pleasure, education, art, literature, music, to name but a few of the idols before which today’s world prostrates itself.


16:16.  “And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colors, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.”


The base ingrate had taken the fine linen, silk, embroidered garments, gold, silver, and jewels with which God had clothed and adorned her, and used them to adorn their wretched idols and shrines.


The latter part of the verse means that the like had never been done, nor would ever be done by any other people.  None of Israel’s heathen neighbors had ever been known to abandon its idol god for another.  To Israel alone belonged that terrible and fatal distinction.


16:17.  “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.”


The things God had given Israel for her enrichment and glory, she had used to manufacture idols - in the present context, it is generally believed, of the phallus - making herself a spiritual adulteress by giving to them the worship that belonged alone to Jehovah, Who had redeemed her out of Egyptian bondage to be His Own exclusive people.


16:18.  “And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou has set mine oil and mine incense before them.”


The costly embroidered garments, expensive perfumed oil, and incense which God had enabled them to acquire, and which were to have been used in connection with His worship, they had lavished upon their vile idols.


16:19.  “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 savor, and thus it was, saith the Lord God.”


Of all the good things God had given them for their food, the part that ought to have been offered to Him in worship as their grateful acknowledgment of Him as the Giver, they had presented instead to their inanimate idols.


16:20.  “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.”


This reveals the unbelievable depths of depravity to which Israel’s idolatry had carried her: she sacrificed her own infants in worship to idols, which was in fact her worship of devils, of whom Satan is the chief, see 1 Cor 10:20, “... the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils ....”


16:21.  “Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?”


Terrible as was the fact that they sacrificed their infants in the worship of idols, but even more terrible was the mode of immolation: the children were burnt alive, all of this diabolic cruelty being practiced in the name of worship!


16:22.  “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.”


Israel had forgotten her pitiable state when God first took her up, redeemed and cleansed her, and acted towards her as a loving Husband to his wife.  She who had been the object of His love and pity, had departed so far from Him as to have neither love for Him, nor love or pity for her own infants.


16:23.  “And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord God;)”


The double woe indicates the severity of the judgment with which God was about to punish their wickedness.


16:24.  “That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.”


The rampancy of their idolatry is declared here.  They had erected shrines in every public place for the worship of their false gods.


“Eminent place” is also translated “fornication chamber” because of the vile sexual practices associated with the idolatrous worship.


16:25.  “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.”


Her idolatrous shrines were everywhere, and like a harlot soliciting clients, she was tireless in encouraging all and sundry to participate in her spiritual evil.


16:26.  “Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.”


Not satisfied with her own idolatrous shrines, she had also adopted some of the practices of the Egyptians, “great of flesh” being translated lustful: sensual, and indicating that the idolatrous worship involved gross sexual sin.


16:27.  “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.”


“... diminished thine ordinary food.”  Though some understand this to refer to diminution of her territory, it seems more likely that it  means He had reduced the rations allotted them by their Babylonian masters, those involved being the captives in Babylon.  Those delivered to “the will of them that hate thee” appear to have been those who had been allowed to remain in the land, but who had become subject to the will of the Philistines, “the daughters of the Philistines” being a synonym for “the towns of the Philistines.”  So vile had Israel become that even the heathen Philistines were ashamed of her wickedness.


16:28.  “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.”


The reference here is to Israel’s having sought an alliance with Assyria, just as she had with Egypt, instead of depending on God to protect her against every foe.  Her continual quest for alliances with foreign powers is likened here to a harlot’s insatiable lust for paramours.        


16:29.  “Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.”


In addition to seeking alliances with the Canaanites whom she had failed to dispossess, she had also entered into an alliance with Chaldea (Babylon), but had then incurred the fury of Babylon by violating the treaty.  She could neither be trusted to keep her agreements with God nor with man.


16:30.  “How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;”


“How weak is thine heart” is also translated How lovesick is your heart: what a passion consumes you: how wild your lust.  God likens Israel’s conduct to that of an impudent harlot.


16:31.  “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:”


“... eminent ... high place” are terms used to designate the idol shrines which filled the land, having been set up in every public place and street corner.  And yet the one thing in which harlot Israel differed from her literal counterpart was that she neither looked for nor was paid anything for her harlotry: she indulged in her wickedness because she loved her false gods, while despising her true spiritual Husband and Benefactor, and only true God, Jehovah.


16:32.  “But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!”


Another difference between her and a literal harlot was that she had no financial need: she simply preferred strangers to her husband, the figure being of Israel’s preference for idols rather than for Jehovah.


16:33.  “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.”


The difference between harlot Israel and her literal counterpart was that the harlot was paid by her paramours, but lustful Israel paid them to come to her, the reference being to her inducements to other nations to form alliances with her, while she refused to put her trust in Jehovah.


16:34.  “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.”


Yet another difference between harlot Israel and her literal counterpart was that the paramour customarily sought out the harlot, and not the harlot the lover; but Israel had reversed the roles: she was the suitor rather than the pursued; she paid her clients rather than receiving payment from them.


16:35.  “Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord:”


16:36.  “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;”


Israel’s wickedness was great.  It had been like filthiness poured out continually and shamelessly, no attempt having been made to hide her dalliances with her heathen neighbors, or her idolatry which included the literal sacrifice of her children to her false gods.


16:37.  “Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou has 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.”


The lovers were the nations with whom Israel had made alliances.  God was going to assemble them against her, together with those who had been her enemies, delivering her into their hand, and exposing all her wickedness.


The lesson being taught in this is that he who lives for the things of the world will be destroyed by the world.


16:38.  “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.”


In turning from God to worship idols, Israel had been guilty of spiritual adultery; and in sacrificing her infants to her false gods she had been guilty of murder, the penalty for both crimes being death.  As she had thus shed innocent blood so now was her own blood to be shed by the Babylonians whom God was about to bring against her as His instrument of destruction.  That generation of Israel was doomed, for in their failure to repent in God’s time they had crossed irrevocably that invisible line that separates His mercy from His wrath.


16:39.  “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.”


Their “eminent place” was their principal idolatrous shrine, undoubtedly the one they had set up in Jerusalem.  It and all their shrines which they had set up on every hilltop (high place) or prominent place, would be thrown down by the invader, it being the practice of the conquering army to carry away the gods of the conquered, thus showing the inability of those gods to preserve their votaries from harm.


While the stripping of clothing and jewels relates primarily to the spoilation of Israel’s shrines, it obviously applies also to them as individuals.


16:40.  “They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.”


In addition to what they would suffer at the hand of the Babylonians, they would also become the prey of marauding bands who would pillage in the wake of the invaders.


In the present context “stone thee with stones” refers to the stones hurled by the machines of the Babylonians to batter down the walls of Jerusalem.


16:41.  “And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgments (justice) 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.”


Among those who would witness God’s judgment upon Israel would be “many women,” one possible reason for this being perhaps that God would have them see in His punishment of Israel’s spiritual adultery, a warning to them not to be guilty literally of the same crime.  It is generally accepted, however, that “many women” is used here figuratively of the surrounding nations.


As for God’s causing Israel “to cease from playing the harlot,” it is instructive to note that since the Babylonian captivity, Israel has never since been guilty of literal idolatry.


“... thou shalt give no hire any more” means that Israel would cease from seeking foreign alliances.


16:42.  “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.”


Idolatry by Israel would cease to be a cause for God’s anger against her, but that doesn’t mean to say that she would never again arouse is wrath by other means.  Her most terrible sin was that of slaying His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and for that crime He scattered her amongst the nations in AD 70, where she remains to this day, except for the few who have begun to trickle back to the land since 1948, that return being one of the proofs that this present age is about to end.


16:43.  “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.”


Israel, having forgotten the days when she had walked with God following her redemption from Egypt’s bondage, had fretted, i.e., enraged, exasperated, provoked Him, compelling Him to visit her with judgment instead of blessing, judgment accomplishing what love had failed to do, i.e., end her idolatry; and it is significant that since the Babylonian captivity, Israel has never since been guilty of that sin.


16:44.  “Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.”


16:45.  “Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that loatheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which loatheth their husbands and their children: your mother was  an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.”


Hittite, meaning terror; and Amorite, meaning a sayer, are used here metaphorically to describe Israel’s spiritual ancestry, for apart from the small believing remnant within the apostate mass of the nation, they had always been as described by the Lord when He denounced them as recorded in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil ....” and as He declared again in Mt 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”  They were Amorites.  Their religion was all talk.


But their having been descended also from a Hittite mother is a further metaphoric description of their spiritual state relative to terror.  Their religion was not only one of mere talk: it was   also one of fear, for it was a religion of works, and as such it robbed the sincere dupe of the certainty that he had ever done enough to merit entry into heaven.


As for their being daughters and siblings of women who hated their husbands and children, the type is easily read: the husband is God, and the children are the infants they sacrificed to their idols.


16:46.  “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.”


In Scripture the left is frequently used for the north; and the right, for the south.


Samaria is synonymous with a false worship which originated with Jeroboam’s setting up two golden calves, one at Dan in the north, and the other at Bethel in the south, under the pretext of making it easier for the people to worship by eliminating the need to travel to Jerusalem to keep the appointed feasts, see 1 Ki 12:25-29.


Samaria’s being here called Israel’s elder sister is the symbolic way of saying that Israel’s worship was according to human, not Divine appointment, and was therefore an abomination to God.


Sodom, synonymous with gross sexual perversion, has given its name to this very sin, which in both Testaments is declared a capital offence.  In the present context it brands Israel as being guilty of this same wickedness.


“... daughters” is used here to designate smaller towns subject to the jurisdiction of the larger town or city.


16:47.  “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.”


The New American Bible translates this verse, “Yet not only in their ways did you walk, and act as abominably as they did: in a very short time you became more corrupt in all your ways than they.”


Having begun to practice the gross sins of Samaria and Sodom, Israel in a very short time had excelled them in evil.


16:48.  “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.”


God had destroyed Sodom for her wickedness, yet Israel’s was even greater.


16:49.  “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.


16:50.  “And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”


Sodom’s iniquity consisted of pride, material riches, idleness, selfishness (neglect of the poor), haughtiness, and homosexuality, the city having given its name to this latter sin.  Today’s world, particularly western society, Christendom, is characterized by the same evils, and it is ominously significant that one of the signs of the end of this present evil age is that homosexuality will be rampant, see Lk 17:28-29.  But as God took away the Sodomites in a phenomenal judgment, so will He also banish every evildoer into hell at the end of the now imminent Great Tribulation, see Mt 25:31-46.


16:51.  “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.”


See verse 46 for comments relative to Samaria’s sin.


16:52.  “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.”


Other translations aid in the understanding of this verse, e.g., “You must bear the shame of having your sister judged more favorably than yourself.  In comparison with you and your abominations, she is adjudged less guilty than you,” The New  Berkley Version of the Bible; “... you are an argument in favor of your sisters!  In view of your sinful deeds, more abominable than theirs, they appear just in comparison with you,” The New American Bible; “... since the grossness of the sins for which you bear the guilt is more horrible than theirs, they now appear more virtuous than you are,” The Jerusalem Bible.


16:53.  “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.”


This is generally understood to mean that when God would restore Sodom and Samaria - which He will not - then would He restore that wicked generation of Israel, i.e., she would be destroyed, not restored.


“... bring again their captivity” is better translated, “restore their fortune ....” The Bible: An American Translation; “... reverse the doom of exile ....” Knox.


16:54.  “That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.”


The dreadful degree of Israel’s wickedness was that the sin of others would seem small by comparison, thus affording them some measure of comfort.


16:55.  “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.”


Some take this to mean that in a future day Israel, Sodom, and Samaria will be restored to a righteous state; while others understand it to be the affirmation of the doom of all three.  The latter seems the more likely in view of the fact that Sodom was totally destroyed, plus the fact that it has become a synonym for a sin which in both Testaments is a capital offence.  The doom of that generation of Israel was irrevocable.  It will be a new repentant generation of Israel that will inherit millennial blessings.


16:56.  “For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride.”


This has also been translated, “Yet was not Sodom a byword in your mouth, during your days of pride ....?”


In the days of Israel’s complacent self-righteousness she had despised Sodom as being synonymous with utter sinfulness, but now by comparison with Israel, Sodom was sinless.  How terrible was Israel’s sin! its enormity lying in the fact that she had sinned against greater light: she had been given the knowledge of God.


16:57.  “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.”


As it was before Israel’s sin was disclosed, and when she had charged Syria with wickedness, so now had she become the object of contempt and disgust of the Edomites and the Philistines and all the surrounding nations.


16:58.  “Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the Lord.”


Now she must suffer the penalty of her spiritual harlotry and filthy practices.


16:59.  “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.”


When God had redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage He had set before her all the requirements of His holy law, and she, foolishly failing to recognize her own weakness, had agreed to keep them, history attesting the completeness of her failure.  But now faced with the consequences, she brazenly refused to acknowledge her guilt, and adopted the attitude that that covenant was of little consequence.


16:60.  “Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.”


Israel might choose to forget that covenant, but God couldn’t without making Himself also a transgressor.  To refuse to execute the sentence against the guilty would be to impugn His Own holiness.  But in grace beyond human comprehension, He resolved the difficulty.  He gave His Own sinless Son to die, not only for Israel’s transgressions, but for those of the whole world, thus preserving His Own moral integrity, and providing a way of escape for guilty men.  It was in anticipation of that sacrifice that He could pardon Israel, if she would but repent, and make a new and better covenant with her, guaranteed by the blood of her Divine Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, and apart from any work on her part.


16:61.  “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.”


This looks on to a day still future, but imminent: the Millennium, there emerging out of the crucible of the terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation, a repentant converted remnant, not only of Israel, but also of the nations, to enjoy millennial blessing.  Then will the Gentiles be given to Israel as daughters, i.e., they will be blessed in subjection to her as the head of all the millennial nations.


“... but not by thy covenant.”  Millennial blessing will be based, not on the old covenant of law, but on the infinitely better one of grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior of repentant, believing Jew and Gentile alike.


16:62.  “And I will establish my covenant with thee: and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.”


16:63.  “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.”


Under the new covenant of grace, repentant and pardoned Israel will never again dare to open her mouth in self-vindication, but will demonstrate the reality of her repentance and self-abnegation by perfect loving obedience to her Savior God.


Relative to “thou shalt know that I am the Lord,” The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary makes the following pertinent remark, “... not as elsewhere by the judgments falling upon thee, but by my so marvelously restoring thee through grace.”

[Ezekiel 17]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough