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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Ezekiel

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16.1–63 : The allegory of the unfaithful wife.

1–8 : Jerusalem, the Foundling.

3 :

Jerusalem's historical ancestry here suggests a predisposition to apostasy. The Canaanites and Amorites were West Semitic ethno‐linguistic groups. The Hittites were an Indo‐European people located in Asia Minor, some of whom are depicted living in Palestine with the Canaanites (Gen 23; 2 Sam 11.3 ). Israel often assimilated such residents (Josh 3.10 ) of Palestine, their practices, and their cities (e.g., Jerusalem).

4 :

Rubbing the skin with salt was believed to make it firm and clean.

5–7 :

By God's intervention, this abandoned and exposed infant grew into full womanhood. Breasts and pubic hair indicate sexual maturity.

8 :

Covering a woman with a garment symbolized marriage (Ruth 3.9 ). Covenant, used of the marriage contract in Mal 2.14 .

9–14 : The beautiful bride.

9 :

The blood may signify the breaking of the bride's hymen. (Divine procreation is assumed below, v. 20 .) Alternatively, the birth blood of v. 6 may still be in mind (due to the time compression of the allegory).

15–34 : Sexual betrayal.

The image of Israel as a sexually unfaithful wife was first popularized by Hosea, for whom the image had both literal reference to fertility rituals (Hos 4.10–14 ) and metaphorical reference to religious apostasy in general (Hos 2.13 ). Ezekiel adopts the image as a metaphor from Hosea and Jeremiah (Jer 3.1–13 ), intensifies it to shocking extremes, and expands it into a quasi‐biography of Israel's infidelity. This biography will climax in Jerusalem's destruction.

20–22 :

Children were offered as human sacrifices ( 20.26,31; 23.37; Jer 7.31 ), against the prohibitions of Lev 18.21; 20.2 .

23–34 :

The traditions of Zion (see Introduction), in which Ezekiel was steeped, advocated trust in God's exclusive sovereignty over geopolitics (cf. Isa 7.8–9 ). Given this divine prerogative, foreign alliances were a form of unfaithfulness.

26 :

Lustful neighbors, the Hebrew denotes their oversized genitals (cf. 23.20 ).

27 :

A probable reference to Judean territory having been given to the Philistine cities of Ashdod, Ekron, and Gaza by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 BCE.

28 :

Judah willingly became an Assyrian vassal in 734 BCE (see 2 Kings 16.7–8 ) and remained one, with only occasional exceptions, for the next century.

29 :

Chaldea, Babylonia.

33 :

Gifts, see 2 Kings 16.8 .

35–43 : The threat of punishment.

Foreign nations (her lovers) will turn against her. God will divorce her and expose her to be stoned (Lev 20.10 ).

44–58 : Additional accusation.

This section elaborates the preceding theme, showing Jerusalem to be so much worse than Samaria (2 Kings 17 ) and Sodom (Gen 19 ), both of which were destroyed, that they appear righteous by comparison (Jer 3.11 ).

46 :

Elder sister, better, “bigger sister” (which makes more sense historically). Likewise, Sodom is a “smaller” sister, not a younger one.

49 :

The characteristic sin of Sodom is injustice toward the poor and needy.

53–58 :

God will restore all three sisters, humiliating Jerusalem by putting it on the same footing as Samaria and Sodom.

57 :

Aram should probably be read as “Edom” (see textual note a; cf. 36.5 ).

59–63 : Jerusalem's restoration.

God will remember the covenant with the ancestors of the exiles, as was anticipated by Lev 26.43–45 .

62 :

Will establish my covenant (see also v. 60 ), this phrase is characteristic of the “Holiness Collection” (e.g., Gen 17.7; Ex 6.4; Lev 26.9 ).

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