Ezekiel 23 Commentary

Two prostitute sisters (23:1-35)

God’s chosen nation was saved from Egypt and settled in Canaan, but it soon divided into two, the northern kingdom Israel (capital: Samaria) and the southern kingdom Judah (capital: Jerusalem). The prophet likens these two kingdoms to two sisters who became prostitutes (23:1-4).

The prostitution of Israel and Judah was their unfaithfulness to God in forming military alliances with foreign nations instead of trusting in him. Israel, the northern kingdom, was impressed with the might of Assyria, but in forming an alliance with the superior power she accepted also that country’s gods (5-8).

Assyria, having used Israel for its own satisfaction, then savagely attacked and killed her (9-10).

Judah failed to learn from Israel’s experience. She too made alliances, first with Assyria and later with Babylon (Chaldea) (11-16). Then, with the feeling of disgust that often follows immorality, Judah turned away from Babylon. Soon she went lusting again, this time seeking the favours of Egypt, hoping for Egyptian aid to fight against Babylon (17-21).

Therefore, Judah’s former lover, Babylon, with the assistance of other peoples from the Babylonian region, will return and attack her (22-24). It will be a time of terrible suffering as the people are cruelly humiliated, butchered and plundered (25-27), yet the whole terrifying experience will be a fitting punishment because of Judah’s disgusting prostitution (28-30). She will suffer the same fate as her sister kingdom to the north. She too will drink the cup of God’s wrath (31-35).

Judgment on the two sisters (23:36-49)

The prophet links the two kingdoms for his summary of God’s judgment on them. Both kingdoms had copied the religious practices of their treaty partners, even to the extent of offering their children as blood sacrifices to foreign gods. They deliberately broke God’s law and defiled his temple (36-39).

Both kingdoms acted like prostitutes, enticing foreign nations so that they could join with them in unions that were immoral and ungodly (40-41). These foreign nations are likened to pleasure-seeking men from the desert who bring jewellery and ornaments to pay the prostitutes for their services (42-44). As righteous judges sentence prostitutes to a fitting punishment, so God will now judge Judah (45). As an adulteress is stoned to death and her property burnt, so will Jerusalem and her people be destroyed (46- 49).

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