Ezekiel 16

Jerusalem as an Adulterous Wife

1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices
3 and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
4 On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.
5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.
6 “ ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”[a]
7 I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.
8 “ ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.
9 “ ‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you.
10 I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments.
11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck,
12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.
13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.
14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.
15 “ ‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.
16 You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. You went to him, and he possessed your beauty.[b]
17 You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them.
18 And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them.
19 Also the food I provided for you—the flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat—you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign LORD.
20 “ ‘And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?
21 You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.
22 In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood.
23 “ ‘Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign LORD. In addition to all your other wickedness,
24 you built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrine in every public square.
25 At every street corner you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, spreading your legs with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by.
26 You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your neighbors with large genitals, and aroused my anger with your increasing promiscuity.
27 So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct.
28 You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied.
29 Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia,[c] a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.
30 “ ‘I am filled with fury against you,[d] declares the Sovereign LORD, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!
31 When you built your mounds at every street corner and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment.
32 “ ‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!
33 All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors.
34 So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.
35 “ ‘Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the LORD!
36 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your naked body in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood,
37 therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see you stark naked.
38 I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.
39 Then I will deliver you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you stark naked.
40 They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords.
41 They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers.
42 Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.
43 “ ‘Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign LORD. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?
44 “ ‘Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: “Like mother, like daughter.”
45 You are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.
46 Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom.
47 You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they.
48 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
49 “ ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
51 Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done.
52 Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.
53 “ ‘However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them,
54 so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort.
55 And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before.
56 You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride,
57 before your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom[e] and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you.
58 You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the LORD.
59 “ ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant.
60 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you.
62 So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.
63 Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ ”

Ezekiel 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

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.

Cross References 118

  • 1. S Isaiah 57:12; Ezekiel 23:36
  • 2. Ezekiel 8:17; Ezekiel 20:4; Ezekiel 22:2
  • 3. Genesis 11:25-29; Ezekiel 21:30
  • 4. S Genesis 12:18
  • 5. S Genesis 15:16
  • 6. ver 45; S Genesis 10:15; S Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 24:14-15
  • 7. Hosea 2:3
  • 8. ver 22; S Exodus 19:4; Ezekiel 18:23,32
  • 9. S Deuteronomy 1:10
  • 10. S Exodus 1:7
  • 11. Ruth 3:9
  • 12. ver 59; S Jeremiah 11:10; Malachi 2:14
  • 13. Jeremiah 2:2; Hos 2:7,19-20
  • 14. S Ruth 3:3
  • 15. S Exodus 26:36; S Isaiah 19:9
  • 16. Ezekiel 27:16
  • 17. ver 18; S Isaiah 3:23
  • 18. S Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40
  • 19. Isaiah 3:19; Ezekiel 23:42
  • 20. S Genesis 41:42; S Psalms 73:6
  • 21. Isaiah 3:21
  • 22. S Genesis 35:4
  • 23. S Isaiah 28:5; S Jeremiah 13:18
  • 24. Proverbs 1:9; S Isaiah 3:19
  • 25. Esther 5:1
  • 26. 1 Samuel 10:1
  • 27. Deuteronomy 32:13-14; S 1 Kings 4:21; S Esther 2:9,17
  • 28. 1 Kings 10:24
  • 29. S Esther 1:11; S Psalms 48:2; S Lamentations 2:15
  • 30. S Ezekiel 5:5
  • 31. ver 25
  • 32. S Isaiah 57:8; S Jeremiah 2:20; Ezekiel 23:3; Ezekiel 27:3
  • 33. S Isaiah 57:7
  • 34. S 2 Kings 23:7
  • 35. S Ezekiel 7:20; Hosea 2:13
  • 36. S Jeremiah 44:5
  • 37. Hosea 2:8
  • 38. S Jeremiah 7:31
  • 39. Exodus 13:2
  • 40. Psalms 106:37-38; S Isaiah 57:5; Ezekiel 23:37
  • 41. S 2 Kings 17:17; S Jeremiah 19:5
  • 42. S Psalms 25:7; S Psalms 88:15; Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1
  • 43. Hosea 2:3
  • 44. ver 6
  • 45. Ezekiel 24:6
  • 46. ver 31; Isaiah 57:7
  • 47. Psalms 78:58; S Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:2; S Jeremiah 44:21; Ezekiel 20:28
  • 48. S Jeremiah 3:2
  • 49. ver 15; S Proverbs 9:14
  • 50. S Isaiah 23:17
  • 51. S Jeremiah 3:1
  • 52. S 1 Kings 14:9; S Ezekiel 8:17
  • 53. S Isaiah 57:8; Jeremiah 11:15; Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 23:19-21
  • 54. Ezekiel 20:33; Ezekiel 25:13
  • 55. S Jeremiah 34:20
  • 56. S 2 Chronicles 28:18
  • 57. S 2 Kings 16:7
  • 58. Isaiah 57:8
  • 59. S Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 23:14-17
  • 60. Nahum 3:4
  • 61. S Jeremiah 3:3
  • 62. S ver 24
  • 63. S Genesis 30:15
  • 64. Isaiah 30:6; Isaiah 57:9
  • 65. Hosea 8:9-10
  • 66. S Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 23:10
  • 67. Hosea 2:3
  • 68. S Isaiah 47:3; S Jeremiah 13:22; Ezekiel 23:22; Hosea 2:10; Hosea 8:10; Revelation 17:16
  • 69. S Genesis 38:24; Ezekiel 23:45
  • 70. S Leviticus 20:10; Psalms 79:3,5; Ezekiel 23:25; Zephaniah 1:17
  • 71. S 2 Kings 18:11
  • 72. Ezekiel 21:31; Ezekiel 23:26; Hosea 2:3
  • 73. John 8:5,7
  • 74. S Deuteronomy 13:16; S Jeremiah 19:13
  • 75. Ezekiel 23:10
  • 76. Ezekiel 22:15; Ezekiel 23:27,48
  • 77. 2 Samuel 24:25; Isaiah 40:1-2; Isaiah 54:9; S Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 39:29
  • 78. S Exodus 15:24; Psalms 78:42
  • 79. Ezekiel 22:31
  • 80. ver 22; Ezekiel 11:21
  • 81. S Psalms 49:4
  • 82. S Ezekiel 14:5
  • 83. Jeremiah 44:19
  • 84. ver 3; Ezekiel 23:2
  • 85. S Jeremiah 3:7
  • 86. Genesis 13:10-13; S Genesis 18:20; Jeremiah 3:8-11; Ezekiel 23:4; Revelation 11:8
  • 87. 2 Kings 21:9; S Ezekiel 5:7
  • 88. S Genesis 15:2
  • 89. S Genesis 19:25
  • 90. Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:23-24
  • 91. Genesis 13:13; S Isaiah 1:10
  • 92. Psalms 138:6; Ezekiel 28:2
  • 93. Isaiah 22:13
  • 94. S Genesis 13:13; Genesis 19:9; S Jeremiah 5:28; Eze 18:7,12,16; Amos 6:4-6; Luke 12:16-20; Luke 16:19; James 5:5
  • 95. Psalms 18:27
  • 96. Genesis 18:20-21; S Genesis 19:5
  • 97. Jeremiah 3:8-11; Ezekiel 5:6-7; Ezekiel 23:11
  • 98. S Jeremiah 3:11
  • 99. Ezekiel 23:35
  • 100. S Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 19:24-25; S Jeremiah 48:47
  • 101. Ezekiel 39:25
  • 102. S Jeremiah 2:26; Ezekiel 14:22
  • 103. Ezekiel 36:11; Malachi 3:4
  • 104. S Psalms 137:3
  • 105. 2 Kings 16:6
  • 106. Ezekiel 23:49
  • 107. S ver 8; Ezekiel 17:19
  • 108. S Genesis 6:18; S Genesis 9:15
  • 109. S Psalms 25:7; S Jeremiah 2:2
  • 110. S Genesis 9:16; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 37:26
  • 111. ver 63; Ezekiel 20:43; Ezekiel 43:10; Ezekiel 44:13
  • 112. S Isaiah 43:6
  • 113. S Deuteronomy 29:14
  • 114. S Jeremiah 24:7; Eze 20:37,43-44; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 37:26; Hosea 2:19-20
  • 115. Psalms 65:3; Psalms 78:38; Psalms 79:9
  • 116. Ezekiel 36:31-32
  • 117. Romans 3:19
  • 118. Psalms 39:9; Daniel 9:7-8

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. A few Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts repeat "and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”"
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this sentence is uncertain.
  • [c]. Or "Chaldea"
  • [d]. Or "How feverish is your heart,"
  • [e]. Many Hebrew manuscripts and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Vulgate "Aram"

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the Jewish nation is represented under the simile of a female infant, whose birth, breeding, marriage, grandeur, and conduct, are described, in order to show the wickedness and ingratitude of, his people; who, on account thereof, are threatened with judgments; though mercy is promised to a remnant that should repent. The prophet is directed to make known to Jerusalem her abominable sins, Eze 16:1,2; and, in order to this, is bid to take up the following parable of a female infant; whose descent, birth, and wretched condition, at the time of it, are pointed at, Eze 16:3-5; which are expressive of the low and forlorn estate of the Jews originally; and then follow the benefits and blessings of God bestowed upon them, both in their infant and adult state; the preserving them alive in Egypt, and their multiplication there; and afterwards the covenant made with them, when brought out from thence; and the Lord's espousal of them to himself, as his own people, having a strong affection for them, Eze 16:6-8; the large provision of good things he made for them, both in the wilderness, and especially in the land of Canaan; the riches he bestowed upon them, and the flourishing and prosperous kingdom he raised them to, which made them famous among all the nations round about them, Eze 16:9-14; and yet, after all this, such was the ingratitude of this people, as to commit spiritual whoredom, that is, idolatry, to a very great degree, Eze 16:15; which is aggravated by their converting and applying the good things which the Lord gave them to idolatrous uses, Eze 16:16-19; by sacrificing their sons and daughters to idols, which were the Lord's, Eze 16:20,21; by not calling to mind the former wretched estate out of which they were brought, Eze 16:22; by building high places in every street and way, and there committing idolatries, Eze 16:23-25; by the various nations, whose examples they followed, and with whom they joined, as the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, Eze 16:26-29; and by the great difference between them and all other harlots, whom they exceeded, Eze 16:30-34; wherefore, on account of all this, they are threatened to be dealt with as an adulterous woman; made a spectacle of; condemned to die, to be stripped, stoned, and burned, Eze 16:35-43; and, that the Lord might appear to be just in executing such judgments on them, they are declared to be as bad as the Hittites and Amorites their parents; and worse than their sisters Samaria and Sodom; and therefore could expect to fare no better than they; and should become proverb and a byword, and bear their sins, shame, and punishment, in the sight of their neighbours, and be despised by them, Eze 16:44-59; nevertheless, the covenant of grace made with his chosen people among them should stand firm; which being manifested to them, would be a means of bringing them to a sense of sin, shame for it, and an acknowledgment of the Lord's grace and goodness to them Eze 16:60-63.

Ezekiel 16 Commentaries

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