Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
APPLICATION OF THE
DELINEATION OF THE
PERSONIFIED AS A
(1) Taken up by God's gratuitous favor from infancy
(2) and, when grown up, joined to Him in spiritual marriage
(3) her unfaithfulness, her sin
(4) the judgment
(5) her unlooked-for restoration
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
"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
an Amorite . . . an Hittite--These, being the most powerful tribes,
stand for the whole of the Canaanite nations (compare
which were so abominably corrupt as to have been doomed to utter
extermination by God
(Le 18:24, 25, 28;
Translate rather, "the Amorite . . . the
Canaanite," that is, these two tribes personified; their wicked
characteristics, respectively, were concentrated in the parentage of
"The Hittite" is made their "mother"; alluding to Esau's wives,
daughters of Heth, whose ways vexed Rebekah
(Ge 26:34, 35; 27:46),
but pleased the degenerate descendants of Jacob, so that these are
called, in respect of morals, children of the Hittite (compare
4. Israel's helplessness in her first struggling into national
existence, under the image of an infant
cast forth without receiving the commonest acts of parental regard. Its
very life was a miracle
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
GESENIUS translates as the Margin, "that thou mightest (be presented
to thy parents to) be looked upon," as is customary on the birth of
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"
"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
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
[CALVIN]. But see
Ex 12:37, 38.
excellent ornaments--literally, "ornament of ornaments."
naked . . . bare--
Literally, "nakedness . . . bareness" itself; more
8. thy time of love--literally, "loves" (compare
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
(Ge 15:13, 14;
Ac 7:6, 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
spread my skirt over thee--the mode of espousals
I betrothed thee
(De 4:37; 10:15;
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"
Ho 2:19, 20;
thou . . . mine--
9. washed I thee--as brides used to pass through a preparatory
So Israel, before the giving of the law at Sinai
"Moses sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes." So
oil--emblem of the Levitical priesthood, the type of Messiah
Ps 45:13, 14,
similarly describes the Church (Israel, the appointed mother of
Christendom) adorned as a bride (so
It is Messiah who provides the wedding garment
(Re 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
and the material of the shoes worn by the Hebrews on festival days.
fine linen--used by the priests
emblem of purity.
11. The marriage gifts to Rebekah
(Ge 24:22, 47).
12. jewel on thy forehead--rather, "a ring in thy nose"
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"
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
(De 32:13, 14).
the city; also,
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"
&c.), for example, the queen of Sheba, Hiram, &c.
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
and then wantonly devoted them to her idols
Lu 15:12, 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
(Isa 1:21; 57:8;
Jer 3:2, 6).
English Version is better, "because of thy renown," that is,
relying on it; answering to "thou didst trust in thine own
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")
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--
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
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
Also that used in sacrifices
(Le 2:1, 2).
19. My meat . . . I gave--
set it before them--as a minchah or "meat offering"
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
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
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
forms a lovely contrast
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
(Jer 2:20; 3:2).
25. at every head of the way--in the most frequented places
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
(Eze 20:7, 8; 23:19, 20, 21).
to provoke me--wantonly and purposely.
27. The consequent judgments, which, however, proved of no avail in
reforming the people
delivered thee unto . . . Philistines--
2Ch 28:18, 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
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
30. weak . . . heart--Sin weakens the intellect
("heart") as, on the contrary, "the way of the Lord is strength to the
31. Repetition of
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
(Eze 16:33, 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
Nu 5:19, 20, 29.
FAIRBAIRN translates, "whilst under her
33, 34. Israel hired her paramours, instead of being, like other
harlots, hired by them; she also followed them without their following
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
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"
(Eze 16:31, 33, 34).
blood of thy children--
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],
all . . . thou hast hated--the Edomites and Philistines; also Moab
and Ammon especially
I . . . will discover thy nakedness--punishment in
kind, as she had "discovered her nakedness through whoredoms"
the sin and its penalty corresponded. I will expose thee to public
38-40. judge thee, as women that break wedlock--
In the case of individual adulteresses, stoning was the
(Joh 8:4, 5).
In the case of communities, the sword. Also apostasy
and sacrificing children to Molech
incurred stoning. Thus the penalty was doubly due to Israel; so the
other which was decreed against an apostate city
(De 13:15, 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--
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"
the temple which Israel had converted into a place of spiritual
fornication with idols, to please the Chaldeans
strip thee of . . . clothes--
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].
(Eze 23:10, 47).
Compare as to the destruction under Titus,
Lu 19:43, 44.
41. The result of the awful judgment shall be, when divine vengeance
has run its course, it shall cease.
women--the surrounding Gentile nations to whom thou shalt be an object
I will cause thee to cease . . . harlot--
Thou shalt no longer be able to play the harlot through My
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 (see on
It is not 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].
In gratitude for God's favors to her in her early history.
thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations--that
is, this the wickedness (compare
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
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
45. mother's . . . that loatheth her husband--that is,
God ("haters of God,"
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,"
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 Phœnicians.
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
had made the calves at Dan and Beth-el in imitation of the cherubim.
her daughters--the inferior towns subject to Samaria (compare
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
(1Ki 11:5, 7).
corrupted more than they--So it is expressly recorded of Manasseh
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
49. pride--inherited by Moab, her offspring
and by Ammon
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
and producing "idleness."
abundance of idleness--literally, "the secure carelessness of ease"
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
(Isa 16:3, 4;
50. haughty--puffed up with prosperity.
abomination before me--"sinners before the Lord"
said of those whose sin is so heinous as to cry out to God for
immediate judgments; presumptuous sins, daring God to the face
(Ge 18:20; 19:5).
I took them away--
as I saw good--rather, "according to what I saw"; referring to
where God says, "I will go down, and see whether they have done
altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto
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
justified thy sisters--made them appear almost innocent by comparison
with thy guilt
Mt 12:41, 42).
52. Thou . . . which hast judged . . . bear thine own--
(Mt 7:1, 2;
Ro 2:1, 17-23).
Judah had judged Sodom (representing "the heathen nations") and Samaria
(Israel), saying they were justly punished, as if she herself was
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
Sodom itself was not so restored
but Ammon and Moab (her representatives, as sprung from Lot who dwelt
in Sodom) were
(Jer 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
captivity of thy captives--literally, "of thy captivities." However,
the gracious promise rather begins with the "nevertheless"
not here; for
is a threat, not a promise. The sense here thus is, Thou shalt be
restored when Sodom and Samaria are, but not till then
that is, never. This applies to the guilty who should be utterly
(Eze 16:41, 42);
but it does not contradict the subsequent promise of restoration to
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
(Eze 14:22, 23).
55. (See on
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
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
Isa 9:11, 12).
58. borne thy lewdness--that is, the punishment of it
I do not treat thee with excessive rigor. Thy sin and punishment are
59. the oath--the covenant between God and Israel
(De 29:12, 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"
(Eze 16:22, 43);
also "My covenant," with "Thy covenant"
then the effect produced on her is
"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
Israel interpreted it as a covenant of works, which she while boasting
of, failed to fulfil, and so fell under its condemnation
(2Co 3:3, 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.
The temporary forms of the law were to be laid aside, that in its
permanent and "everlasting" spirit it might be established
(Jer 31:31-37; 32:40; 50:4, 5;
61. thou shalt remember--It is God who first remembers her before she
remembers Him and her own ways before Him
Eze 20:43; 36:31).
ashamed--the fruit of repentance
(2Co 7:10, 11).
None please God unless those who displease themselves; a foretaste of
I will give them unto thee for daughters--
(Isa 54:1; 60:3, 4;
&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
Isa 2:2, 3).
"The king's daughter" in
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'
from My original love to thee in thy youth" (see
(Ho 2:19, 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
when thou seest thine own exceeding unworthiness, and My superabounding
grace which has so wonderfully overcome with love thy sin
"If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged"
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