A parable showing the first low estate of the Jewish nation, its prosperity, idolatries, and punishment.
Verses 1-58 In this chapter God's dealings with the Jewish nation, and their conduct towards him, are described, and their punishment through the surrounding nations, even those they most trusted in. This is done under the parable of an exposed infant rescued from death, educated, espoused, and richly provided for, but afterwards guilty of the most abandoned conduct, and punished for it; yet at last received into favour, and ashamed of her base conduct. We are not to judge of these expressions by modern ideas, but by those of the times and places in which they were used, where many of them would not sound as they do to us. The design was to raise hatred to idolatry, and such a parable was well suited for that purpose.
Verses 59-63 After a full warning of judgments, mercy is remembered, mercy is reserved. These closing verses are a precious promise, in part fulfilled at the return of the penitent and reformed Jews out of Babylon, but to have fuller accomplishment in gospel times. The Divine mercy should be powerful to melt our hearts into godly sorrow for sin. Nor will God ever leave the sinner to perish, who is humbled for his sins, and comes to trust in His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ; but will keep him by his power, through faith unto salvation.
Ezekiel 16:1-63 . DETAILED APPLICATION OF THE PARABOLICAL DELINEATION OF THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER TO JERUSALEM PERSONIFIED AS A DAUGHTER.
(1) Taken up by God's gratuitous favor from infancy ( Ezekiel 16:1-7 ); (2) and, when grown up, joined to Him in spiritual marriage ( Ezekiel 16:8-14 ); (3) her unfaithfulness, her sin ( Ezekiel 16:15-34 ); (4) the judgment ( Ezekiel 16:35-52 ); (5) her unlooked-for restoration ( Ezekiel 16:53 to the close).
2. cause Jerusalem to know--Men often are so blind as not to perceive their guilt which is patent to all. "Jerusalem" represents the whole kingdom of Judah.
3. birth . . . nativity--thy origin and birth; literally, "thy diggings" (compare Isaiah 51:1 ) "and thy bringings forth."
of . . . Canaan--in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned before going to Egypt, and from which thou didst derive far more of thy innate characteristics than from the virtues of those thy progenitors ( Ezekiel 21:30 ).
an Amorite . . . an Hittite--These, being the most powerful tribes, stand for the whole of the Canaanite nations (compare Joshua 1:4 , Amos 2:9 ), which were so abominably corrupt as to have been doomed to utter extermination by God ( Leviticus 18:24 Leviticus 18:25 Leviticus 18:28 , Deuteronomy 18:12 ). Translate rather, "the Amorite . . . the Canaanite," that is, these two tribes personified; their wicked characteristics, respectively, were concentrated in the parentage of Israel ( Genesis 15:16 ). "The Hittite" is made their "mother"; alluding to Esau's wives, daughters of Heth, whose ways vexed Rebekah ( Genesis 26:34 Genesis 26:35 , 27:46 ), but pleased the degenerate descendants of Jacob, so that these are called, in respect of morals, children of the Hittite (compare Ezekiel 16:45 ).
4. Israel's helplessness in her first struggling into national existence, under the image of an infant ( Hosea 2:3 ) cast forth without receiving the commonest acts of parental regard. Its very life was a miracle ( Exodus 1:15-22 ).
navel . . . not cut--Without proper attention to the navel cord, the infant just born is liable to die.
neither . . . washed in water to supple thee--that is, to make the skin soft. Rather, "for purification"; from an Arabic root [MAURER]. GESENIUS translates as the Margin, "that thou mightest (be presented to thy parents to) be looked upon," as is customary on the birth of a child.
salted--Anciently they rubbed infants with salt to make the skin firm.
5. cast . . . in . . . open field--The exposure of infants was common in ancient times.
to the loathing of thy person--referring to the unsightly aspect of the exposed infant. FAIRBAIRN translates, "With contempt (or disdainful indifference) of thy life."
6. when I passed by--as if a traveller.
polluted in . . . blood--but PISCATOR, "ready to be trodden on."
I said--In contrast to Israel's helplessness stands God's omnipotent word of grace which bids the outcast little one "live."
in thy blood--Though thou wast foul with blood, I said, "Live" [GROTIUS]. "Live in thy blood," that is, Live, but live a life exposed to many deaths, as was the case in the beginnings of Israel's national existence, in order to magnify the grace of God [CALVIN]. The former view is preferable. Spiritually, till the sinner is made sensible of his abject helplessness, he will not appreciate the provisions of God's grace.
7. caused . . . to multiply--literally, "I . . . made thee a myriad."
bud of . . . field--the produce of the field. In two hundred fifty years they increased from seventy-five persons to eight hundred thousand ( Acts 7:14 ) [CALVIN]. But see Exodus 12:37 Exodus 12:38 .
excellent ornaments--literally, "ornament of ornaments."
naked . . . bare--( Hosea 2:3 ). Literally, "nakedness . . . bareness" itself; more emphatic.
8. thy time of love--literally, "loves" (compare Solomon 2:10-13 ). Thou wast of marriageable age, but none was willing to marry thee, naked as thou wast. I then regarded thee with a look of grace when the full time of thy deliverance was come ( Genesis 15:13 Genesis 15:14 , Acts 7:6 Acts 7:7 ). It is not she that makes the advance to God, but God to her; she has nothing to entitle her to such notice, yet He regards her not with mere benevolence, but with love, such as one cherishes to the person of his wife ( Solomon 1:3-6 Jeremiah 31:3 Malachi 1:2 ).
spread my skirt over thee--the mode of espousals ( Ruth 3:9 ). I betrothed thee ( Deuteronomy 4:37 , 10:15 , Hosea 11:1 ). The cloak is often used as a bed coverlet in the East. God explains what He means, "I entered into . . . covenant with thee," that is, at Sinai. So Israel became "the wife of God's covenant" ( Isaiah 54:5 , Jeremiah 3:14 , Hosea 2:19 Hosea 2:20 , Malachi 2:14 ).
thou . . . mine--( Exodus 19:5 , Jeremiah 2:2 ).
9. washed I thee--as brides used to pass through a preparatory purification ( Esther 2:12 ). So Israel, before the giving of the law at Sinai ( Exodus 19:14 ); "Moses sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes." So believers ( 1 Corinthians 6:11 ).
oil--emblem of the Levitical priesthood, the type of Messiah ( Psalms 45:7 ).
10. Psalms 45:13 Psalms 45:14 , similarly describes the Church (Israel, the appointed mother of Christendom) adorned as a bride (so Isaiah 61:10 ). It is Messiah who provides the wedding garment ( Revelation 3:18 , 19:8 ).
badgers' skin--tahash; others translate, "seal skins." They formed the over-covering of the tabernacle, which was, as it were, the nuptial tent of God and Israel ( Exodus 26:14 ), and the material of the shoes worn by the Hebrews on festival days.
fine linen--used by the priests ( Leviticus 6:10 ); emblem of purity.
11. The marriage gifts to Rebekah ( Genesis 24:22 Genesis 24:47 ).
12. jewel on thy forehead--rather, "a ring in thy nose" ( Isaiah 3:21 ).
a crown--at once the badge of a bride, and of her being made a queen, as being consort of the King; the very name Israel meaning "a prince of God." So they are called "a kingdom of priests" ( Exodus 19:6 ; compare Revelation 1:6 ). Though the external blessings bestowed on Israel were great, yet not these, but the internal and spiritual, form the main reference in the kingly marriage to which Israel was advanced.
13. flour . . . honey . . . oil--These three mixed form the sweetest cakes; not dry bread and leeks as in Egypt. From raiment He passes to food ( Deuteronomy 32:13 Deuteronomy 32:14 ).
exceeding beautiful-- Psalms 48:2 , the city; also, Psalms 29:2 , the temple.
prosper into a kingdom--exercising empire over surrounding nations.
14. thy renown . . . among . . . heathen--The theocracy reached its highest point under Solomon, when distant potentates heard of his "fame" ( 1 Kings 10:1 , &c.), for example, the queen of Sheba, Hiram, &c. ( Lamentations 2:15 ).
my comeliness--It was not thine own, but imparted by Me.
15. Instead of attributing the glory of her privileges and gifts to God, Israel prided herself on them as her own ( Deuteronomy 32:15 , Jeremiah 7:4 , Micah 3:11 ), and then wantonly devoted them to her idols ( Hosea 2:8 ; compare Luke 15:12 Luke 15:13 ).
playedst . . . harlot because of thy renown--"didst play the wanton upon thy name" [FAIRBAIRN], namely, by allowing thy renown to lead thee into idolatry and leagues with idolaters ( Isaiah 1:21 , 57:8 , Jeremiah 3:2 Jeremiah 3:6 ). English Version is better, "because of thy renown," that is, relying on it; answering to "thou didst trust in thine own beauty."
his it was--Thy beauty was yielded up to every passer-by Israel's zest for the worship of foul idols was but an anxiety to have the approbation of heaven for their carnal lusts, of which the idols were the personification; hence, too, their tendency to wander from Jehovah, who was a restraint on corrupt nature.
16. deckedst . . . with divers colours--or, "didst make . . . of divers colors" [FAIRBAIRN]; the metaphor and the literal are here mixed. The high places whereon they sacrificed to Astarte are here compared to tents of divers colors, which an impudent harlot would spread to show her house was open to all [CALVIN]. Compare as to "woven hangings for Astarte" (the right translation for "grove") 2 Kings 23:7 .
the like . . . shall not come, neither shall . . . be--rather, "have not come, nor shall be." These thy doings are unparalleled in the past, and shall be so in the future.
17. my gold . . . my silver--( Haggai 2:8 ).
images of men--rather, "of the phallus," the Hindu lingam, or membrum virile [HAVERNICK], deified as the emblem of fecundity; man making his lust his god. English Version, however, is appropriate; Israel being represented as a woman playing the harlot with "male images," that is, images of male gods, as distinguished from female deities.
18. tookest thy . . . garments . . . coveredst them--that is, the idols, as if an adulteress were to cover her paramours with garments which she had received from the liberality of her husband.
my oil--the holy anointing oil sacred to God ( Exodus 30:22-25 ). Also that used in sacrifices ( Leviticus 2:1 Leviticus 2:2 ).
19. My meat . . . I gave--( Hosea 2:8 ).
set it before them--as a minchah or "meat offering" ( Leviticus 2:1 ).
a sweet savour--literally "a savor of rest," that is, whereby they might be propitiated, and be at peace ("rest") with you; how ridiculous to seek to propitiate gods of wood!
thus it was--The fact cannot be denied, for I saw it, and say it was so, saith Jehovah.
20, 21. sons and . . . daughters borne unto me--Though "thy children," yet they belong "unto Me," rather than to thee, for they were born under the immutable covenant with Israel, which even Israel's sin could not set aside, and they have received the sign of adoption as Mine, namely, circumcision. This aggravates the guilt of sacrificing them to Molech.
to be devoured--not merely to pass through the fire, as sometimes children were made to do ( Leviticus 18:21 ) without hurt, but to pass through so as to be made the food of the flame in honor of idols
Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain my children--rather, "Were thy whoredoms a small matter (that is, not enough, but) that thou hast slain (that is, must also slay)," &c. As if thy unchastity was not enough, thou hast added this unnatural and sacrilegious cruelty ( Micah 6:7 ).
22. not remembered . . . youth--Forgetfulness of God's love is the source of all sins. Israel forgot her deliverance by God in the infancy of her national life. See Ezekiel 16:43 , to which Ezekiel 16:60 forms a lovely contrast ( Jeremiah 2:2 , Hosea 11:1 ).
23. woe, woe unto thee, &c.--This parenthetical exclamation has an awful effect coming like a lightning flash of judgment amidst the black clouds of Israel's guilt.
24. eminent place--rather, "a fornication-chamber," often connected with the impure rites of idolatry; spiritual fornication, on "an eminent place," answering to "fornication-chamber," is mainly meant, with an allusion also to the literal fornication associated with it ( Jeremiah 2:20 , 3:2 ).
25. at every head of the way--in the most frequented places ( Proverbs 9:14 ).
thy beauty . . . abhorred, . . . opened . . . feet to every one--The wanton advances were all on Israel's part; the idolatrous nations yielded to her nothing in return. She had yielded so much that, like a worn-out prostitute, her tempters became weary of her. When the Church lowers her testimony for God to the carnal tastes of the world, with a view to conciliation, she loses everything and gains nothing.
26. fornication with . . . Egyptians--alliances with Egypt, cemented by sharing their idolatries.
great of flesh--of powerful virile parts; figuratively for the gross and lustful religion of Egypt (for example, Isis, &c.), which alone could satisfy the abominable lust of Israel ( Ezekiel 20:7 Ezekiel 20:8 , Ezekiel 23:19 Ezekiel 23:20 Ezekiel 23:21 ).
to provoke me--wantonly and purposely.
27. The consequent judgments, which, however, proved of no avail in reforming the people ( Isaiah 9:13 , Jeremiah 5:3 ).
delivered thee unto . . . Philistines--( 2 Kings 16:6 , 2 Chronicles 28:18 2 Chronicles 28:19 ).
ashamed of thy lewd way--The Philistines were less wanton in idolatry, in that they did not, like Israel, adopt the idols of every foreign country but were content with their own ( Ezekiel 16:57 , Jeremiah 2:11 ).
28. unsatiable--Not satisfied with whoredoms with neighbors, thou hast gone off to the distant Assyrians, that is, hast sought a league with them, and with it adopted their idolatries.
29. multiplied . . . fornication in . . . Canaan unto Chaldea--Thou hast multiplied thy idolatries "in Canaan" by sending "unto Chaldea" to borrow from thence the Chaldean rites, to add to the abominations already practised "in Canaan," before the carrying away of Jehoiachin to Chaldea. The name "Canaan" is used to imply that they had made Judea as much the scene of abominations as it was in the days of the corrupt Canaanites. The land had become utterly Canaanitish ( Ezekiel 23:14 , &c.).
30. weak . . . heart--Sin weakens the intellect ("heart") as, on the contrary, "the way of the Lord is strength to the upright" ( Proverbs 10:29 ).
31. Repetition of Ezekiel 16:24 .
not . . . as . . . harlot . . . thou scornest hire--Unlike an ordinary harlot thou dost prostitute thy person gratis, merely to satisfy thy lust. JEROME translates, "Thou hast not been as a harlot in scorning (that is, who ordinarily scorns) a hire offered," in order to get a larger one: nay, thou hast offered hire thyself to thy lovers ( Ezekiel 16:33 Ezekiel 16:34 ). But these verses show English Version to be preferable, for they state that Israel prostituted herself, not merely for any small reward without demanding more, but for "no reward."
32. instead of her husband--referring to Numbers 5:19 Numbers 5:20 Numbers 5:29 . FAIRBAIRN translates, "whilst under her husband."
33, 34. Israel hired her paramours, instead of being, like other harlots, hired by them; she also followed them without their following her.
35. Here begins the threat of wrath to be poured out on her.
36. filthiness--literally, "brass"; metaphor for the lowest part of the person [CALVIN]. English Version is better: thy filthy lewdness is poured out without restraint (compare Jeremiah 13:27 ). As silver is an emblem of purity, brass typifies "filthiness," because it easily contracts rust. HENDERSON explains it, "Because thy money was lavished on thy lovers" ( Ezekiel 16:31 Ezekiel 16:33 Ezekiel 16:34 ).
blood of thy children--( Ezekiel 16:20 , Jeremiah 2:34 ).
37. thy lovers--the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. The law of retribution is the more signally exemplified by God employing, as His instruments of judgment on Israel, those very nations whose alliance and idols Israel had so eagerly sought, besides giving her up to those who had been always her enemies. "God will make him, who leaves God for the world, disgraced even in the eyes of the world, and indeed the more so the nearer he formerly stood to Himself" [HENGSTENBERG], ( Isaiah 47:3 , Jeremiah 13:26 , Hosea 2:12 , Nahum 3:5 ).
all . . . thou hast hated--the Edomites and Philistines; also Moab and Ammon especially ( Deuteronomy 23:3 ).
I . . . will discover thy nakedness--punishment in kind, as she had "discovered her nakedness through whoredoms" ( Ezekiel 16:36 ); the sin and its penalty corresponded. I will expose thee to public infamy.
38-40. judge thee, as women that break wedlock--( Leviticus 20:10 ; compare Ezekiel 16:2 ). In the case of individual adulteresses, stoning was the penalty ( John 8:4 John 8:5 ). In the case of communities, the sword. Also apostasy ( Deuteronomy 13:10 ) and sacrificing children to Molech ( Leviticus 20:1-5 ) incurred stoning. Thus the penalty was doubly due to Israel; so the other which was decreed against an apostate city ( Deuteronomy 13:15 Deuteronomy 13:16 ) is added, "they shall stone thee with stones and thrust thee through with . . . swords." The Chaldeans hurled stones on Jerusalem at the siege and slew with the sword on its capture.
shed blood . . . judged--( Genesis 9:6 ).
jealousy--image taken from the fury of a husband in jealousy shedding the blood of an unfaithful wife, such as Israel had been towards God, her husband spiritually. Literally, "I will make thee (to become) blood of fury and jealousy."
39. thine eminent place--literally, "fornication-chamber" a place of spiritual fornication with idols, to please the Chaldeans ( Ezekiel 23:14-17 ).
strip thee of . . . clothes--( Ezekiel 23:26 , Hosea 2:3 ). They shall dismantle thy city of its walls.
fair jewels--literally, "vessels of thy fairness" or beauty; the vessels of the temple [GROTIUS]. All the gifts wherewith God hath adorned thee [CALVIN].
40. ( Ezekiel 23:10 Ezekiel 23:47 ). Compare as to the destruction under Titus, Luke 19:43 Luke 19:44 .
41. The result of the awful judgment shall be, when divine vengeance has run its course, it shall cease.
burn--( Deuteronomy 13:16 , 2 Kings 25:9 ).
women--the surrounding Gentile nations to whom thou shalt be an object of mocking ( Psalms 137:7 ).
I will cause thee to cease . . . harlot--( Ezekiel 23:27 ). Thou shalt no longer be able to play the harlot through My judgments.
thou . . . shall give . . . no hire . . . any more--Thou shalt have none to give.
42. my fury . . . rest--when My justice has exacted the full penalty commensurate with thy awful guilt a mitigation of the penalty that is here foretold, but such an utter destruction of all the guilty that there shall be no need of further punishment [CALVIN].
43. ( Ezekiel 16:22 , Psalms 78:42 ). In gratitude for God's favors to her in her early history.
fretted me--( Isaiah 63:10 , Ephesians 4:30 ).
thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations--that is, this the wickedness (compare Zechariah 5:8 ), peculiarly hateful to God, namely, spiritual unchastity or idolatry, over and "above" (that is, besides) all thine other abominations. I will put it out of thy power to commit it by cutting thee off. FAIRBAIRN translates, "I will not do what is scandalous (namely, encouraging thee in thy sin by letting it pass with impunity) upon all thine abominations"; referring to Leviticus 19:29 , the conduct of a father who encouraged his daughter in harlotry. English Version is much better.
44. As . . . mother . . . her daughter--"Is," and "so is," are not in the original; the ellipsis gives the proverb (but two words in the Hebrew) epigrammatic brevity. Jerusalem proved herself a true daughter of the Hittite mother in sin ( Ezekiel 16:3 ).
45. mother's . . . that loatheth her husband--that is, God ("haters of God," Romans 1:30 ); therefore the knowledge of the true God had originally been in Canaan, handed down from Noah (hence we find Melchisedek, king of Salem, in Canaan, "priest of the most high God," Genesis 14:18 ), but Canaan apostatized from it; this was what constituted the blackness of the Canaanites' guilt.
loathed . . . children--whom she put to death in honor of Saturn; a practice common among the Phoenicians.
sister of thy sisters--Thou art akin in guilt to Samaria and Sodom, to which thou art akin by birth. Moab and Ammon, the incestuous children of Lot, nephew of Abraham, Israel's progenitor, had their origin from Sodom; so Sodom might be called Judah's sister. Samaria, answering to the ten tribes of Israel, is, of course, sister to Judah.
46. elder sister . . . Samaria--older than Sodom, to whom Judah was less nearly related by kindred than she was to Samaria. Sodom is therefore called her younger sister; Samaria, her "elder sister" [GROTIUS]. Samaria is called the "elder," because in a moral respect more nearly related to Judah [FAIRBAIRN]. Samaria had made the calves at Dan and Beth-el in imitation of the cherubim.
her daughters--the inferior towns subject to Samaria (compare Numbers 21:25 , Margin).
left--The Orientals faced the east in marking the directions of the sky; thus the north was "left," the south "right."
Sodom . . . daughters--Ammon and Moab, offshoots from Sodom; also the towns subject to it.
47. their abominations--Milcom and Chemosh, the "abominations of Ammon and Moab" ( 1 Kings 11:5 1 Kings 11:7 ).
corrupted more than they--So it is expressly recorded of Manasseh ( 2 Kings 21:9 ).
48. Sodom--( Matthew 11:24 ). Judah's guilt was not positively, but relatively, greater than Sodom's; because it was in the midst of such higher privileges, and such solemn warnings; a fortiori, the guilt of unbelievers in the midst of the highest of all lights, namely, the Gospel, is the greatest.
49. pride--inherited by Moab, her offspring ( Isaiah 16:6 , Jeremiah 48:26 ), and by Ammon ( Jeremiah 49:4 ). God, the heart-searcher, here specifies as Sodom's sin, not merely her notorious lusts, but the secret spring of them, "pride" flowing from "fullness of bread," caused by the fertility of the soil ( Genesis 13:10 ), and producing "idleness."
abundance of idleness--literally, "the secure carelessness of ease" or idleness.
neither did she strengthen . . . the poor--Pride is always cruel; it arrogates to itself all things, and despises brethren, for whose needs it therefore has no feeling; as Moab had not for the outcast Jews ( Isaiah 16:3 Isaiah 16:4 , Jeremiah 48:27 , Luke 16:19-21 , 5:1-5 ).
50. haughty--puffed up with prosperity.
abomination before me--"sinners before the Lord" ( Genesis 13:13 ); said of those whose sin is so heinous as to cry out to God for immediate judgments; presumptuous sins, daring God to the face ( Genesis 18:20 , 19:5 ).
I took them away--( Genesis 19:24 ).
as I saw good--rather, "according to what I saw"; referring to Genesis 18:21 , where God says, "I will go down, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto Me."
51. Samaria--the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel less guilty than Judah; for Judah betrayed greater ingratitude, having greater privileges, namely, the temple, the priesthood, and the regular order of kings.
justified thy sisters--made them appear almost innocent by comparison with thy guilt ( Jeremiah 3:11 , Matthew 12:41 Matthew 12:42 ).
52. Thou . . . which hast judged . . . bear thine own--( Matthew 7:1 Matthew 7:2 , Romans 2:1 Romans 2:17-23 ). Judah had judged Sodom (representing "the heathen nations") and Samaria (Israel), saying they were justly punished, as if she herself was innocent ( Luke 13:2 ).
thy shame--ignominious punishment.
53. Here follows a promise of restoration. Even the sore chastisements coming on Judah would fail to reform its people; God's returning goodness alone would effect this, to show how entirely of grace was to be their restoration. The restoration of her erring sisters is mentioned before hers, even as their punishment preceded her punishment; so all self-boasting is excluded [FAIRBAIRN]. "Ye shall, indeed, at some time or other return, but Moab and Ammon shall return with you, and some of the ten tribes" [GROTIUS].
bring again . . . captivity--that is, change the affliction into prosperity (so Job 42:10 ). Sodom itself was not so restored ( Jeremiah 20:16 ), but Ammon and Moab (her representatives, as sprung from Lot who dwelt in Sodom) were ( Jeremiah 48:47 , 49:6 ); probably most of the ten tribes and the adjoining nations, Ammon and Moab, &c., were in part restored under Cyrus; but the full realization of the restoration is yet future; the heathen nations to be brought to Christ being typified by "Sodom," whose sins they now reproduce ( Deuteronomy 32:32 ).
captivity of thy captives--literally, "of thy captivities." However, the gracious promise rather begins with the "nevertheless" ( Ezekiel 16:60 ), not here; for Ezekiel 16:59 is a threat, not a promise. The sense here thus is, Thou shalt be restored when Sodom and Samaria are, but not till then ( Ezekiel 16:55 ), that is, never. This applies to the guilty who should be utterly destroyed ( Ezekiel 16:41 Ezekiel 16:42 ); but it does not contradict the subsequent promise of restoration to their posterity ( Numbers 14:29-33 ), and to the elect remnant of grace [CALVIN].
54. bear thine own shame--by being put on a level with those whom thou hast so much despised.
thou art a comfort unto them--since they see thee as miserable as themselves. It is a kind of melancholy "comfort" to those chastised to see others as sorely punished as themselves ( Ezekiel 14:22 Ezekiel 14:23 ).
56. Sodom was not mentioned--literally, "was not for a report." Thou didst not deign to mention her name as if her case could possibly apply as a warning to thee, but it did apply ( 2 Peter 2:6 ).
57. Before thy wickedness was discovered--manifested to all, namely, by the punishment inflicted on thee.
thy reproach of . . . Syria and . . . Philistines--the indignity and injuries done thee by Syria and the Philistines ( 2 Kings 16:5 , 2 Chronicles 28:18 , Isaiah 9:11 Isaiah 9:12 ).
58. borne thy lewdness--that is, the punishment of it ( Ezekiel 23:49 ). I do not treat thee with excessive rigor. Thy sin and punishment are exactly commensurate.
59. the oath--the covenant between God and Israel ( Deuteronomy 29:12 Deuteronomy 29:14 ). As thou hast despised it, so will I despise thee. No covenant is one-sided; where Israel broke faith, God's promise of favor ceased.
60. The promise here bursts forth unexpectedly like the sun from the dark clouds. With all her forgetfulness of God, God still remembers her; showing that her redemption is altogether of grace. Contrast "I will remember," with "thou hast not remembered" ( Ezekiel 16:22 Ezekiel 16:43 ); also "My covenant," with "Thy covenant" ( Ezekiel 16:61 , Psalms 106:45 ); then the effect produced on her is ( Ezekiel 16:63 ) "that thou mayest remember." God's promise was one of promise and of grace. The law, in its letter, was Israel's (thy) covenant, and in this restricted view was long subsequent ( Galatians 3:17 ). Israel interpreted it as a covenant of works, which she while boasting of, failed to fulfil, and so fell under its condemnation ( 2 Corinthians 3:3 2 Corinthians 3:6 ). The law, in its spirit, contains the germ of the Gospel; the New Testament is the full development of the Old, the husk of the outer form being laid aside when the inner spirit was fulfilled in Messiah. God's covenant with Israel, in the person of Abraham, was the reason why, notwithstanding all her guilt, mercy was, and is, in store for her. Therefore the heathen or Gentile nations must come to her for blessings, not she to them.
everlasting covenant--( Ezekiel 37:26 , 2 Samuel 23:5 , Isaiah 55:3 ). The temporary forms of the law were to be laid aside, that in its permanent and "everlasting" spirit it might be established ( Jeremiah 31:31-37 , 32:40 , Jeremiah 50:4 Jeremiah 50:5 , Hebrews 8:8-13 ).
61. thou shalt remember--It is God who first remembers her before she remembers Him and her own ways before Him ( Ezekiel 16:60 , Ezekiel 20:43 , 36:31 ).
ashamed--the fruit of repentance ( 2 Corinthians 7:10 2 Corinthians 7:11 ). None please God unless those who displease themselves; a foretaste of the Gospel ( Luke 18:9-14 ).
I will give them unto thee for daughters--( Isaiah 54:1 , Isaiah 60:3 Isaiah 60:4 , Galatians 4:26 , &c.). All the heathen nations, not merely Sodom and Samaria, are meant by "thy sisters, elder and younger." In Jerusalem first, individual believers were gathered into the elect Church. From Jerusalem the Gospel went forth to gather in individuals of the Gentiles; and Judah with Jerusalem shall also be the first nation which, as such, shall be converted to Christ; and to her the other nations shall attach themselves as believers in Messiah, Jerusalem's King ( Psalms 110:2 , Isaiah 2:2 Isaiah 2:3 ). "The king's daughter" in Psalms 45:12-14 is Judah; her "companions," as "the daughter of Tyre," are the nations given to her as converts, here called "daughters."
not by thy covenant--This does not set aside the Old Testament in its spirit, but in its mere letter on which the Jews had rested, while they broke it: the latter ("thy covenant") was to give place to God's covenant of grace and promise in Christ who "fulfilled" the law. God means, "not that thou on thy part hast stood to the covenant, but that 'I am the Lord, I change not' ( Malachi 3:6 ) from My original love to thee in thy youth" (see Romans 3:3 ).
62. ( Hosea 2:19 Hosea 2:20 ).
thou shalt know that I am the Lord--not, as elsewhere, by the judgments falling on thee, but by My so marvellously restoring thee through grace.
63. never open thy mouth--in vindication, or even palliation, of thyself, or expostulation with God for His dealings ( Romans 3:19 ), when thou seest thine own exceeding unworthiness, and My superabounding grace which has so wonderfully overcome with love thy sin ( Romans 5:20 ). "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" ( 1 Corinthians 11:31 ).
all that thou hast done--enhancing the grace of God which has pardoned so many and so great sins. Nothing so melts into love and humility as the sense of the riches of God's pardoning grace ( Luke 7:47 ).