Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
“The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,”
“Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:”
The “one mother” is taken by most exegetes to have
been Sarah, who is generally regarded as the mother from whom the nation is
“And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their
youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of
“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.
The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary
states that “Samaria is called the elder because she preceded Judah in her
apostasy and its punishment.”
Aholah, meaning her own tent; and Aholibah,
my tent is in her, are used here as figures or types of Samaria and
Judah respectively. The association of their names with a tent speaks
symbolically of the fact that they ought to have exhibited conduct becoming
God’s people as pilgrims and strangers on the earth, but sadly what each did
display instead was the reprehensible character of a harlot.
Aholibah’s name meaning my tent is in her is
particularly appropriate to her as the symbolic representative of Judah, God’s
tent (Temple) being in Jerusalem which was in Judah.
Aholah, meaning her own tent, is also
appropriate to her as the symbolic representative of Samaria, in which
Jeroboam had set up its own centers of worship with a golden calf in Bethel
and another in Dan, see 1 Ki 12:28-30
“... and they are mine.” In spite of what they had
become, God still owned them as His own. Their being “the daughters of one
mother” may, as already suggested, refer to their descent from Sarah; or in
the present context may be the symbolic announcement that they were the two
parts into which the mother nation had been divided in the days of Jeroboam
when he set up the idol calves at Dan and Bethel, and led the ten northern
tribes to worship there, while Judah and Benjamin continued to worship in
Their having been guilty of spiritual harlotry when
they were bondslaves in Egypt, informs us that even then Israel had practiced
idolatry; and their having borne sons and daughters tells us of their
multiplication while in Egypt.
23:5. “And Aholah played the harlot when she was
mine; and she doted on (was infatuated with) her lovers, on the Assyrians her
“Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable
young men, horsemen riding upon horses.”
This is the symbolic announcement of the fact that
Samaria, instead of looking to God for protection, had foolishly turned her
eyes toward Assyria, and had formed an alliance with that nation. The
meretricious grandeur ascribed here to those with whom Aholah was so enamored
declares that Israel was blinded by the seeming greatness of Assyria, and
forgetful of the omnipotence of her true Benefactor, Jehovah.
“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.”
Israel’s alliance with Assyria led to her adoption
of their gods, and her giving to their idols the worship that belonged only to
Jehovah, thus defiling herself in His sight.
“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
whoredoms upon her.”
Israel’s idolatry hadn’t begun with her Assyrian
alliance: it went back to the days of her Egyptian enslavement, when she was,
metaphorically speaking, a young girl. It was then in the days of her
national youth that she had manifested her proclivity for idolatry, giving
herself with wanton abandon to all the sexual evil associated with it.
“Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of
the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.”
“These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and
slew her with the sword: and she became famous (notorious) among women; for
they had executed judgment upon her.
Because Israel had abandoned Him and put her trust
in the Assyrians, God abandoned her to reap the results of her folly, with the
result that the very nation she relied upon for protection became her
destroyer, capturing her in 722 BC.
“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.”
“She doted upon (was infatuated with) the
Assyrians her neighbors, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen
riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.”
It might have been expected that Judah would have
profited by the judgment that overtook Israel (the ten northern tribes) at the
hand of Assyria, but she didn’t, and as a consequence was taken captive by
Babylon in 586 BC, Harran, last stronghold of Assyria, having fallen to
Babylon in 609 BC, bringing Assyria’s existence to an end.
“Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took
both one way,”
Israel and Judah had both pursued the same path of
folly. Having failed to walk with God in trusting obedience, they had aped
the idolatrous ways of their heathen neighbors, thus defiling themselves,
Israel making an alliance with Assyria; and Judah, with Babylon, only to
become captives of the very nations in whom they had trusted for protection.
“And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men portrayed upon the
wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion,”
“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:”
“And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon (was infatuated
with) them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.”
Having seen pictures of the Chaldeans
(Babylonians), and undoubtedly also having heard of their conquests, foolish
Israel, awed by outward appearances, was just as infatuated with them as she
had been with the Assyrians, and had hurried to seek an alliance with them. (Chaldea,
incidentally, was the land of their origin; Babylon, the land of their then
“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.”
The Babylonians’ coming to Israel “into the bed of
love” is a poetical way of saying that the early relations between the two
were marked by seeming goodwill and friendship; and their defiling her “with
their whoredom” is another way of saying that by worshiping the Babylonian
gods Israel polluted (defiled) herself. The alienation of her mind from them
refers to Israel’s soon becoming aware that Babylon was not a lover, but a
“So she discovered (uncovered) her whoredoms, and discovered (uncovered) her
nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated
from her sister.”
The first clause of this verse means that Judah
reveled in idolatry just as had Israel; and the second clause, that she was
shameless relative to her spiritual harlotry, making no attempt to hide it.
Confronted with her brazen idolatry, God turned
from her in disgust as He had from her sister Israel.
“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.”
Not only did she worship the gods of her heathen
neighbors, but she continued to worship the idols before which she had bowed
“For she doted (was infatuated with) their paramours, whose flesh is as the
flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.”
This refers to the gross sexual indulgences that
were part of Egypt’s idolatrous worship, the “paramours” being the male
prostitutes (selected for their sexual prowess) available for hire in all the
“Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy
teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.”
Judah yearned for the gross immorality that was an
integral part of Egypt’s idolatrous worship.
“Therefore, O Aholibah (Judah), 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;”
Aholibah was Judah, and the lovers were the
Babylonians with whom she had become disillusioned and disgusted, having found
them to be tyrannous taskmasters rather than lovers. God was going to bring
them against her to destroy her.
“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
Pekod, Shoa, and Koa are thought to have been
Aramaens from an area near the mouth of the Tigris river, and are only a few
of the many who would join Babylon in destroying Judah, all of them being
those to whom foolish Judah had looked for protection instead of to Jehovah.
“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.”
“... wheels” in the present context means “with
whirling clouds of dust” created by the countless horses, chariots, and
wagons; and buckler refers to a small shield carried on the arm, or, according
to others, a pointed hook at the end of a staff.
What is said here concerning judgment means that
God was leaving Judah’s attackers to judge her according to their own standard
of judgment, thus matching the punishment with the crime. As Judah had
depended on them to protect her, so now would she have to submit to their
judgment of her wickedness.
“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.”
Having aroused God’s jealous anger, Judah must
suffer the consequences. The Babylonians were notoriously cruel, one of their
barbarous practices being to cut off the noses and ears of their captives. It
was also the punishment they inflicted on an adulteress, her mutilation making
her undesirable to anyone else, and both Israel and Judah were spiritual
adulteresses; but God would see to it that no other nation would want to have
anything to do with them. Their taking Judah’s sons and daughters is
generally understood to mean that they would take them as slaves; and with
reference to the residue being devoured by the fire, it is unclear whether
they would be burned to death by the Babylonians, or would perish in the
flames of the burning city.
“They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair
Nakedness was another ignominy to be suffered by
the captives in addition to their being despoiled of their jewels and
“Thus will I make thy lewdness (debauchery) 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.”
The terrible judgments they would suffer at the
hand of the Babylonians would end the sexual immorality that accompanied their
idolatrous worship; nor would they ever again be guilty of idolatry. All the
vile practices learnt in Egypt would cease, and it is instructive to consider
that since the Babylonian captivity Israel has never been guilty of idolatry.
“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:”
The Babylonians with whom Judah had once been
infatuated, but now hated, were they into whose hand God was about to deliver
her, two Babylonian deportations of Israelites having already occurred, one in
606 BC, the second in 598 BC, and the third about to take place in 586 BC.
“And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labor,
and shall leave thee naked and bare:”
Impelled by deep hatred of Judah’s treachery,
Babylon would seize everything of value, and leave her destitute.
“And the nakedness (shame) of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy
lewdness and thy whoredoms. I will do these things unto thee, because thou
hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with
God would expose the shame of Judah’s idolatry, as
well as all the vile sexual practices that accompanied that so-called worship,
because she had run eagerly to ape the ways of her heathen neighbors, and had
polluted (defiled) herself by worshiping their idols.
“Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into
Israel, Judah’s equally vile sister, in whose steps
she had walked, was languishing in captivity in Assyria, to which she had been
carried in 722 BC, and God was now about to inflict the same punishment upon
Judah, using Babylon rather than the then fallen Assyria as His instrument.
She too would drink the “cup” of captivity in an alien land.
“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.”
The same cup which God had caused Israel to drink,
He would now compel her equally evil sister Judah to drain. It was a dreadful
cup, deep, wide, and overflowing with His fury, and the scorn and derision of
the nations - and Judah, by her wicked folly was the one who herself had
And so is it still. Every man is filling the cup
he will one day have to drink from eternally: the unbeliever filling his cup
with a measure of eternal punishment proportionate to the evil of his life,
and to be drunk eternally in the torment of the lake of fire; the believer
putting into his cup what will prove worthy of reward at the judgment seat of
Christ, the regret of most of us being that we added to the contents with such
a reluctant, niggardly hand.
“Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of
astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria.”
The cup to be drunk eternally by that wicked
generation of Judah would be one of horror, desolation, grief, ruin, pain,
sorrow and consternation. A similar cup will be drunk eternally by every man
who dies without having trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.
“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 would compel them to drain that cup to the very
last bitter drop, their misery being so great that metaphorically speaking,
they would tear off their own breasts.
“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.”
Because they had rejected God they must then suffer
the consequences of their filthy living and idolatry. Instead of being the
recipients of His blessing, they were about to become the objects of His
fierce anger, and suffer the punishment due to their wickedness.
“The Lord said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and
Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations (filthy crimes).”
This is less a question of whether Ezekiel would
pass judgment on Judah, than of the fact that he would pass judgment as he
rehearsed in their ears all the filthy crimes they had committed in brazen
defiance of God.
“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.”
Participation in the vile sexual practices of their
idolatry had not only consisted of literal adultery, but also of spiritual
unfaithfulness to God; and the blood upon their hands was that of their own
children whom they offered as food to their heathen God Milcom, their
immolation of those children consisting of the horrible act of burning them
“Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the
same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.”
“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.”
On the very same day that they had burnt their
children in sacrifice to their false gods, they had had the audacity to enter
the Temple and go through the charade of also worshiping Jehovah, and then
adding insult to injury by refusing to keep His sabbaths!
“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,”
“And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou
hast set mine incense and mine oil.”
It is generally believed that the men from far with
whom Judah sought an alliance were the Sabeans, rough desert dwellers who
mingled legitimate trading with raiding, and who were little to be trusted.
Yet Judah was willing to go to virtually any lengths to secure their
friendship, while turning her back on the only real Friend she had: Jehovah.
The “stately bed” and “table prepared,” and
“incense and mine (Jehovah’s) oil” indicate that figuratively Judah was
willing to use every artifice of the common harlot to secure an alliance with
the undependable Sabeans.
“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.”
This indicates the godless rabble of the nations
with whom Judah sought alliances, scholars being disagreed as to whether it
was those nations who gave bracelets and crowns to Judah and Israel, or vice
“Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now commit
whoredoms with her, and she with them?”
It is generally agreed that “unto her” is better
translated “of her,” as in the American Standard Version, “Then said I
of her that was old in adulteries, Now will they play the harlot with her and
she with them.” In terms of human experience this is the expression of Divine
wonder that Judah, after so many failed alliances, would still attempt to make
new ones, instead of simply casting herself upon Him in repentant submission.
“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.”
Israel and Judah had made themselves spiritual
harlots by turning their backs of Jehovah, and entering into alliances with
heathen nations, those nations making the alliances for their own benefit, not
that of Israel and Judah.
“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.”
Righteous men, generally assumed to have been the
prophets, would declare them worthy of death as adulteresses and murderesses,
the adultery being their turning from Jehovah to worship idols; and their
murder being the immolation of their own children as burnt offerings to Molech.
“For thus saith the Lord God; I will bring up a company upon them, and will
give them to be removed and spoiled.”
Babylon was the company that God would use as His
instrument to ravage Israel and Judah, and carry the guilty people off into
“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.”
The stoning with stones is generally understood to
have reference to the hurling of large stones into the city from machines
designed for that purpose mounted on top of the earthen mounds which the
Babylonians had piled up against the city walls. The fate of the harlot city
was to be similar to that of her literal counterpart.
“Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be
taught not to do after your lewdness.”
The lewdness, as already discussed, referred to the
vile sexual practices that were an integral part of idolatrous worship.
“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.”
The recompense of their lewdness would be the
appropriate punishment: death; and their bearing “the sins of your idols”
means that they would suffer the consequences of their idolatry.
“... and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” All
the suffering they were to endure was so that they might be brought to know
God, the tragedy of their fate being that it was the result of their having
cast away as a worthless thing that knowledge which they had once possessed.