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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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23.1–49 : The allegory of the sisters, Oholah and Oholibah

(cf. ch 16 ).

1–4 :

Introduction.

3 :

In Egypt, Israel's apostasy was deep‐rooted ( 20.5–9 ).

4 :

The word play Oholah, “her [own] tent,” (i.e., Samaria), and Oholibah, “my tent [is] in her” (i.e., Jerusalem), may suggest that though the Northern Kingdom had shrines to Yahweh, God's real dwelling (tent) was in Jerusalem, thus emphasizing the enormity of Judah's apostasy. Oholah/Samaria is a “bigger” sister, not an elder one (see 16.46n.). Ezekiel borrowed the image of the marrying of sisters from Jeremiah (Jer 3.6–11 ).

5–10 :

Oholah. The Northern Kingdom is condemned for its alliances with Assyria (e.g., 2 Kings 15.19; 17.3 ). Like Isaiah ( 7.1–9 ), and Jeremiah ( 4.30 ; same rare word for “lovers” as in Ezek 23.5, 9 ), Ezekiel viewed foreign alliances as disloyalty to God. for Ezekiel, true realism had to do not with political pragmatism but with trusting in God's geopolitical prerogative.

10 :

The fall of Samaria to Assyria in 722 BCE.

11–21 :

Indictment of Oholibah. Judah had allied itself with Assyria (2 Kings 16.7–9 ) and then with Babylon (“Chaldea”; see 17.13; 2 Kings 24.1,17; cf. Isa 39.1–8 ).

17 :

Judah swung to an anti‐Babylonian policy (2 Kings 24.20; Jer 27.3 ).

19 :

The passage moves to the contemporary event of Judah's alliance with Egypt ( 17.7,15 ).

20 :

The reference is to oversized genitals and ejaculations; cf. 16.26n. Horses are proverbially oversexed (Jer 5.8 ).

22–35 :

Announcements about Oholibah's punishment.

23 :

Kindred allies of the Babylonians included Pekod (an east Aramean tribe), Shoa, and Koa (unknown tribes). Assyrian troops were coopted by their Babylonian conquerors.

32–34 :

The poem of the cup of wrath (Jer 25.15–29; Hab 2.16; Ob 16 ) links Jerusalem's fate with Samaria's.

36–49 : Subordinate oracle.

As adulterers are stoned (Lev 20.10 ), so the adultery (i.e., child sacrifice, profanation of the sabbath, foreign alliances) of Samaria and Judah has been and will be punished—with death.

37 :

16.20–22n.

40 :

Cf. vv. 16–17 .

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