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CHAPTER 23 Sep. 27 
Samaria and Jerusalem - Sisters in Prostitution
The word of Yahweh came again to me saying, 2Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother: 3and they played the prostitute in Egypt; they played the prostitute in their youth; there were their breasts pressed, and there were fondled the breasts of their virginity. 4Their names were Oholah the elder, and Oholibah her sister: and they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem Oholibah. 5Oholah played the prostitute when she was Mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours, 6who were clothed with blue, governors and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. 7She bestowed her prostitution on them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them; and on whoever she doted, with all their idols she defiled herself. 8Neither has she left her prostitution since the days of Egypt; for in her youth they lay with her, and they fondled the breasts of her virginity; and they poured out their prostitution on her. 9Therefore I delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians on whom she doted. 10These uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters and her they killed with the sword, and she became a byword among women; for they executed judgments on her. 11Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet was she more corrupt in her doting than she, and in her prostitution which was more than the prostitution of her sister. 12She doted on the Assyrians, governors and rulers, her neighbours, clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. 13I saw that she was defiled; they both took one way. 14She increased her prostitution; for she saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, 15dressed with girdles on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them princes to look on, after the likeness of the Babylonians in Chaldea, the land of their birth. 16As soon as she saw them she doted on them, and sent messengers to them into Chaldea. 17The Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their prostitution, and she was polluted with them, and her soul was alienated from them. 18So she displayed her prostitution, and uncovered her nakedness: then My soul was alienated from her, like as My soul was alienated from her sister. 19Yet she multiplied her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth, in which she had played the prostitute in the land of Egypt. 20She doted on their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. 21Thus you called to memory the lewdness of your youth, in the fondling of your bosom by the Egyptians for the breasts of your youth. 22Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will raise up your lovers against you, from whom your soul is alienated, and I will bring them against you on every side: 23the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them; desirable young men, governors and rulers all of them, princes and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. 24They shall come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons, and with a company of peoples; they shall set themselves against you with buckler and shield and helmet all around; and I will commit the judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their judgments. 25I will set My jealousy against you, and they shall deal with you in fury; they shall take away your nose and your ears; and your residue shall fall by the sword. They shall take your sons and your daughters; and your residue shall be devoured by the fire. 26They shall also strip you of your clothes, and take away your beautiful jewels. 27Thus will I make your lewdness to cease from you, and your prostitution brought from the land of Egypt; so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them, nor remember Egypt any more. 28For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will deliver you into the hand of those whom you hate, into the hand of those from whom your soul is alienated; 29and they shall deal with you in hatred, and shall take away all your labour, and shall leave you naked and bare; and the nakedness of your prostitution shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your prostitution. 30These things shall be done to you because you have played the prostitute after the nations, and because you are polluted with their idols. 31You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore will I give her cup into your hand. 32Thus says the Lord Yahweh: You will drink of your sister’s cup, which is deep and large; you will be ridiculed and held in derision; it contains much. 33You shall be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of your sister Samaria. 34You shall even drink it and drain it out, and you shall gnaw the broken pieces of it, and shall tear off your breasts; for I have spoken it, says the Lord Yahweh. 35Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because you have forgotten Me, and cast Me behind your back, therefore you also shall bear your lewdness and your prostitution. 36Yahweh said moreover to me: Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. 37For they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands; and with their idols have they committed adultery; and they have also caused their sons, whom they bore to Me, to pass through the fire to their idols to be devoured. 38Moreover this they have done to Me: they have defiled My sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned My Sabbaths. 39For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into My sanctuary to profane it; and behold, thus have they done in the midst of My house. 40Furthermore you have sent for men who come from far, to whom a messenger was sent, and behold, they came; for whom you did wash yourself, paint your eyes, and decorate yourself with ornaments, 41and sat on a stately bed, with a table prepared before it, whereupon you set My incense and My oil. 42The voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with men of the common sort were brought drunkards from the wilderness; and they put bracelets on both their hands, and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43Then I said of her who was an adulteress of old, Now will they play the prostitute with her, and she with them. 44They went in to her, as they go in to a prostitute: so went they in to Oholah and to Oholibah, the lewd women. 45Righteous men, they shall judge them with the judgment of adulteresses, and with the judgment of women who shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands. 46For thus says the Lord Yahweh: I will bring up a company against them, and will give them to be tossed back and forth and robbed. 47The company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire. 48Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness. 49They shall recompense your lewdness on you, and you shall bear the sins of your idols; and you shall know that I am the Lord Yahweh.


23:8 Neither has she left her prostitution since the days of Egypt- A reference to how Israel took the idols of Egypt with them through the Red Sea (16:8,9), just as we can take this world’s idols with us through the waters of baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2). 
23:11 Judah (the two tribe Kingdom) are portrayed here as more sinful than Israel (the ten tribe Kingdom), although the historical records in Kings and Chronicles suggest that Judah had more spiritual Kings than did Israel. We must conclude that occasional good leadership doesn’t therefore affect the entire community. Seeing relationship with God is so intensely personal, good leadership can only be of limited value, and it therefore shouldn’t be over-emphasized as the reason why a community are righteous or not.
23:14 Men portrayed on the wall- The context suggests this was some kind of visual pornography. There’s a lot of language in these verses which speak of her attraction to them visually. The impression is given of a totally superficial woman who became sexually obsessed- when married to God Himself. This is how we can become, unless we understand our covenant relationship with God to utterly preclude any other relationship.
23:19 Remembering the days of her youth – Israel’s memories and perception of their time in Egypt were very warped. It was a furnace of suffering for them, and yet they remembered fondly the food which the Egyptians ate (Num. 11:5), and the gods they worshipped. We need to understand our life before baptism for what it was, and not keep hankering after it.
23:22 Your lovers… from whom your soul is alienated- No illicit relationship can ever last, and the supposed love always turns to hate or alienation. Israel are the classic case- it was the nations whose gods she worshipped who came and destroyed her without mercy.
23:27 Your prostitution brought from the land of Egypt- It is repeatedly emphasized that Israel took Egypt’s idols with them (16:8,9 and elsewhere in this chapter). Yet Ezekiel is writing centuries afterwards. The faithless attitude Israel had when they left Egypt influenced their spiritual walk afterwards. How we start our walk with God is so important; and we should be very aware of this in raising children and in our attitude to new converts within the church.
23:34 Ezekiel speaks of how every act of idolatry was seen by God as the fickle wife of a faithful husband deceitfully liaising with another, worthless, man. And there is a similar shocking terror associated with our infidelities to the Lord who bought us for His own. The self-hatred of repentant Israel before they accept the new covenant is described with a purposefully terrible idiom: a woman plucking off her own breasts. These words must be seen in the context of Israel offering these parts of her body to the hands of the Gentiles (:3,8). And now, with her own hands, Israel would fain pluck off her breasts in realization of her degradation. This self-loathing must be part of every true repentance; for we too, in advance of Israel, ought to have repented a like repentance, and entered the very same covenant. Just reflect upon the self-loathing in repentance of 6:9; 20:43; Job 40:4; 42:6. This is how sin is serious. Alternatively, we can read this self-hatred as an Old Testament form of what Jesus repeatedly warned about- the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” which will be experienced by those rejected at the judgment seat (Mt. 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30).