Ezekiel 16 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Ezekiel 16)

Verse 3

[3] And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

Jerusalem — The whole race of the Jews.

Thy birth — Thy root whence thou didst spring.

Thy father — Abraham, before God called him, (as his father and kindred) worshipped strange gods beyond the river, Joshua 24:14.

An Amorite — This comprehended all the rest of the cursed nations.

Verse 4

[4] And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

In the day — In the day I called Abraham to leave his idolatry.

Salted — Salt was used to purge, dry, and strengthen the new-born child.

Nor swaddled — So forlorn was the state of the Jews in their birth, without beauty, without strength, without friend.

Verse 5

[5] None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

To the loathing — In contempt of thee as unlovely and worthless; and in abhorrence of thee as loathsome to the beholder. This seems to have reference to the exposing of the male children of the Israelites in Egypt. And it is an apt illustration of the Natural State of all the children of men. In the day that we were born, we were shapen in iniquity: our understandings darkened, our minds alienated from the life of God: all polluted with sin, which rendered us loathsome in the eyes of God.

Verse 6

[6] And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

When I passed by — God here speaks after the manner of men.

Live — This is such a command as sends forth a power to effect what is commanded; he gave that life: he spake, and it was done.

Verse 7

[7] I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.

Thou art come — Thou wast adorned with the choicest blessings of Divine Providence.

Thy breasts — Grown up and fashioned under God's own hand in order to be solemnly affianced to God.

Verse 8

[8] Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

When I passed — This second passing by, may be understood of God's visiting and calling them out of Egypt.

Thy time — The time of thy misery was the time of love in me towards thee.

I spread my skirt — Espoused thee, as Ruth 3:9.

Entered into a covenant — This was done at mount Sinai, when the covenant between God and Israel was sealed and ratified. Those to whom God gives spiritual life, he takes into covenant with himself. By this covenant they become his, his subjects and servants; that speaks their duty: and at the same time his portion, his treasure; that speaks their privilege.

Verse 9

[9] Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.

Washed — It was a very ancient custom among the eastern people, to purify virgins who were to be espoused.

And I anointed — They were anointed that were to be married, as Ruth 3:3.

Verse 10

[10] I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.

Broidered — Rich and beautiful needle-work.

Badgers skin — The eastern people had an art of curiously dressing and colouring the skins of those beasts, of which they made their neatest shoes, for the richest and greatest personages.

Verse 11

[11] I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.

A chain — Of gold, in token of honour and authority.

Verse 14

[14] And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.

My comeliness — "That is, thro' the beauty of their holiness, as they were a people devoted to God. This was it that put a lustre upon all their other honours, and was indeed the perfection of their beauty. Sanctified souls are truly beautiful in God's sight, and they themselves may take the comfort of it. But God must have all the glory for whatever comeliness they have, it is that which God has put upon them."

Verse 15

[15] But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.

Playedst the harlot — Thou didst go a whoring after idols.

Thy renown — Her renown abroad drew to her idolatrous strangers, who brought their idols with them.

Pouredst out — Didst readily prostitute thyself to them; every stranger, who passed thro' thee, might find room for his idol, and idolatry.

He it was — Thy person was at the command of every adulterer.

Verse 16

[16] And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.

Thy garments — Those costly, royal robes, the very wedding clothes.

High places — Where the idol was.

With divers colours — With those beautiful clothes I put upon thee.

The like things — As there was none before her that had done thus, so shall there be none to follow her in these things.

Verse 17

[17] Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them,

Images — Statues, molten and graven images.

Commit whoredom — Idolatry, spiritual adultery. And possibly here is an allusion to the rites of Adonis, or the images of Priapus.

Verse 18

[18] And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.

Coveredst — Didst clothe the images thou hadst made.

Set mine oil — In lamps to burn before them.

Verse 19

[19] My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD.

For a sweet savour — To gain the favour of the idol.

Thus it was — All which is undeniable.

Verse 20

[20] Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter,

And those — These very children of mine hast thou destroyed.

Sacrificed — Not only consecrating them to be priests to dumb idols; but even burning them in sacrifice to Molech.

Devoured — Consumed to ashes.

Is this — Were thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast proceeded to this unnatural cruelty?

Verse 21

[21] That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?

For them — For the idols.

Verse 24

[24] That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.

In every street — Idol temples were in every street; both in Jerusalem and her cities.

Verse 25

[25] Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms.

At every head of the way — Not content with what was done in the city, she built her idol temples in the country, wherever it was likely passengers would come.

Verse 26

[26] Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.

Great of flesh — Naturally of a big, make, and men of great stature.

Verse 30

[30] How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;

How weak — Unstable, like water.

An imperious woman — A woman, that knows no superior, nor will be neither guided nor governed.

Verse 31

[31] In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire;

Not as an harlot — Common harlots make gain of their looseness, and live by that gain; thou dost worse, thou lavishest out thy credit, wealth, and all, to maintain thine adulterers.

Verse 34

[34] And the contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary.

Contrary — Here we may see, what the nature of men is, when God leaves them to themselves: yea, tho' they have the greatest advantage, to be better, and to do better.

Verse 38

[38] And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.

Blood — Thou gavest the blood of thy children to idols in sacrifice; I will give thee thine own blood to drink.

Verse 42

[42] So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.

My jealousy — The jealousy whereto you have provoked me, will never cease, 'till these judgments have utterly destroyed you, as the anger of an abused husband ceases in the publick punishment of the adulteress.

No more angry — I will no more concern myself about thee.

Verse 44

[44] Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.

The mother — Old Jerusalem, when the seat of the Jebusites, or the land of Canaan, when full of the idolatrous, bloody, barbarous nations.

Her daughter — Jerusalem, or the Jews who are more like those accursed nations in sin, than near them in place of abode.

Verse 45

[45] Thou art thy mother's daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.

Thou — The nation of the Jews.

Thy mother's daughter — As much in thy inclinations, as for thy original.

Loatheth — That was weary of the best husband.

Verse 46

[46] And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

Thine elder sister — The greater for power, riches, and numbers of people.

Her daughters — The lesser cities of the kingdom of Israel.

Thy left hand — Northward as you look toward the east.

Thy younger sister — Which was smaller and less populous.

Thy right hand — Southward from Jerusalem.

Verse 47

[47] Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.

Not walked after their ways — For they, all things considered, were less sinners than thou.

Nor done — Their doings were abominable, but thine have been worse.

Verse 49

[49] Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

This was — The fountain and occasion of all.

Fulness of bread — Excess in eating and drinking.

Strengthen — She refused to help strangers.

Verse 51

[51] Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done.

Hast justified — Not made them righteous, but declared them less unrighteous, than thou; of the two they are less faulty.

Verse 52

[52] Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.

Hast judged — Condemned their apostacy, and hast judged their punishment just.

Verse 53

[53] When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:

When — Sodom and Samaria never were restored to that state they had been in; nor were the two tribes ever made so rich, mighty, and renowned, though God brought some of them out of Babylon: the words confirm an irrecoverably low, and despised state, of the Jews in their temporals.

Then — Then, not before.

Verse 54

[54] That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.

A comfort — Encouraging sinners like those of Sodom and Samaria.

Verse 56

[56] For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,

Not mentioned — The sins of Sodom, and her plagues, were not minded or mentioned by thee.

Verse 57

[57] Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.

Before — The time of her pride was, when they were not yet afflicted, and despised by the Syrians.

And all — The nations that were round about and combined in league against the house of David.

Her — Syria, the chief whereof were the Philistines.

Verse 58

[58] Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD.

Thy lewdness — The punishment thereof.

Verse 59

[59] For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

In breaking the covenant — So will I break my covenant with thee.

Verse 60

[60] Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.

Nevertheless — The Lord having denounced a perpetual punishment to the impenitent body of the Jewish nation, doth now promise to the remnant, that they shall be remembered, and obtain covenanted mercy.

My covenant — In which I promised I would not utterly cut off the seed of Israel, nor fail to send the redeemer, who should turn away iniquity from Jacob.

With thee — In the loins of Abraham, and solemnly renewed after their coming out of Egypt, which is the time, called the days of thy youth, Isaiah 44:2.

Establish — Confirm and ratify. It shall be sure, and unfailing.

An everlasting covenant — Of long continuance, as to their condition in the land of Canaan, and in what is spiritual, it shall be absolutely everlasting.

Verse 61

[61] Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.

Then — When that new covenant shall take effect.

Receive — Admit into church-communion, the Gentiles, now strangers, but then sisters.

Thine elder — Those that are greater and mightier than thou; that by their power, wealth and honour are as much above thee as the elder children are above the younger.

Thy younger — Thy lesser or meaner sister.

For daughters — As daughters hearken to, and obey, so shall the Gentiles brought into the church, hearken to the word of God, which sounded out from Jerusalem.

But not — Not by that old covenant which was violated; nor by external ceremonies, which were a great part of the first covenant, but by that covenant which writes the law in the heart, and puts the fear of God into the inward parts.

Verse 63

[63] That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.

Open thy mouth — Neither to justify thyself, or to condemn others, or to quarrel with thy God.

Because of thy shame — Such a confusion for thy sin will cover thee. Indeed the more we feel of God's love, the more ashamed we are that ever we offended him. And the more our shame for sin is increased, the more will our comfort in God be increased also.