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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ezekiel 16

A parable showing the first low estate of the Jewish nation, its prosperity, idolatries, and punishment.

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A parable showing the first low estate of the Jewish nation, its prosperity, idolatries, and punishment

1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.

13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.

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.

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.

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.

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,

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

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.

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,

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

22 And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood.

23 And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the LORD GOD;)

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

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.

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

27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.

28 Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.

29 Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied therewith.

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

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;

32 But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!

33 They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.

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.

35 Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:

36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;

37 Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.

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.

39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.

40 They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.

41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.

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.

43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

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

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.

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.

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.

48 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

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.

50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

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.

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.

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:

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.

55 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:

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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. Cethite, or “Hethite.” These two were probably the most abandoned of Chanaan. Daniel (xiii. 56.) give the infamous judges the like appellation; and Isaias (i. 10.) calls the Jews princes of Sodom. C. — So Dido says to Eneas:

Nec te diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor

Perfide sed duris genuit te cautibus, &c. Æn. iv. H.

— But we nowhere find such a vehement and continued reprimand. The prophet seems to quit his proper character to make (C.) the abominations of the people known and detested. C. iii. 8. H.

Ver. 4. Cut. By this the infant received nourishment in the womb. Now it seems to be exposed by its parents. C. — The Jews in Egypt were abandoned to idolatry and distress. Theod. in Cant. — Health. Many plunged the infant in cold water to brace its nerves, (C.) or to wash it. Salt was also used to dry up the humidity and stop the pores, (S. Jer.) or it was mixed with water to harden the skin and navel. Avicen. Gall. San. i. 7. — Clouts, to keep the body straight. The negroes who neglect this are stronger and better proportioned, (C.) and too much restraint is known to be detrimental to the tender limbs. H.

Ver. 5. Born, as it were in Egypt. He represents the Jews as a female from her infancy, till she be advanced in years.

Ver. 6. Thy blood, unwashed after being born. v. 4. C. — The Jews were solicitous to increase their numbers, and exposed none. Tacit. Hist. v. — But other nations did, if they thought the child would be troublesome, or a disgrace. C. — The prophet sends this admonition from Chaldea, and shews how God had selected his people from among the barbarous nations, and decorated them with many privileges of the law, sacrifices, &c. W.

Ver. 7. Woman’s. Heb. “the ornament of ornaments;” hadaiim instead of harim in Sept. “the city of cities,” (C.) or the highest glory, being arrived at that age when decorations are most sought after. — Fashioned. Lit. “swelling.” Sept. “erect.” H. — Hair, (pilus.) Women are allowed by canon law to marry at twelve. C.

Ver. 8. Lovers. Heb. dodim, “breasts, (H.) or espousals;” (Aq.) “loving.” Sym. — Garment, as a husband. Ruth iii. 9. Jer. ii. 2.

Ver. 9. Oil, used after bathing, or with perfume. C.

Ver. 10. Embroidery. Lit. “various colours.” H. — But this is the import. Ps. xliv. 10. — Violet, or dark blue, appropriated to princes. — Linen, or cotton. Ex. xxv. Prov. xxxi. 24. C. — Fine. Lit. “thin.” Heb. Mesi, (H.) “silken.” Jarchi. Pagn. &c. Silk was used much later at Rome, (C.) and was reprobated as not covering the body sufficiently.

Cois tibi penè videre est

Ut nudam. Hor. i. Sat. ii.

Sen. Ben. vii. 9. — Sept. trichapto, according to Hesyc. &c. denotes “a silk ribbon for the hair;” (C.) a robe as delicate as hair, (S. Jer.) or a transparent veil for the head. Theod. — Such are still worn in the East. Hair is used in the veil opposite to the eyes, that the ladies may see without being seen. C.

Ver. 12. Forehead. Lit. “mouth.” Heb. “nose.” H. — Women wore rings where spectacles are placed, and had others hung at their noses, so as to touch the mouth. People who are not acquainted with this odd custom, which is still prevalent in Africa and Asia, suppose that the ornament hung upon the forehead, as S. Jerom does. See Gen. xxiv. 22. C.

Ver. 13. Linen. Heb. mossi. v. 11. H. — Chal. understands these ornaments to pertain to the tabernacle, which was set up in the wilderness. — Oil, enjoying a most fertile country, (C.) and the noblest sacrifices. H. — And wast, &c. The kingdom had subsisted 1500 years. C. — Sept. omit this, for fear of giving umbrage to the Egyptians, according to S. Jerom, as if they could be ignorant of this circumstance. C. — Grabe supplies, “thou wast directed to the kingdom.” H.

Ver. 15. Renown, or name; thus dishonouring me, thy husband. Is. iv. 1.

Ver. 16. Places: pavilions, (A. Lap. 4 K. xvii. 30. C.) or idols stuffed, (S. Jer. Theod.) and outwardly adorned. Such might easily be procured or removed. 1 K. xix. 13. — Hereafter, with impunity. The Jews were guilty of greater ingratitude than other nations.

Ver. 17. My gold, for the temple, or thy most precious ornaments, which were sacrificed to gratify thy lubricity, (C.) or to form the golden calf, &c. Ex. xxxii. H. — Obscene representations were also used in the worship of Osiris. Herod. ii. 48.

Ver. 18. Oil, or perfume. which no man was allowed to use. Ex. xxx. 9. 38.

Ver. 20. Thy sons: so he calls them to shew his indignation, though he acknowledges them for his, (v. 21.) to enhance the crime. Who could have thought that such cruel sacrifices would ever take place! 4 K. xxiii. C. — Adulteresses bring in the children of others; but the Jews sacrifice their own to idols. 4 K. xvi. &c. W.

Ver. 25. Sign; altars of idols. H. — She makes no secret of her apostacy. The Greeks and Romans marked the houses of prostitutes, that honest men might avoid them. “The deemed the profession of such a crime a sufficient punishment to repress impure women.” Tacit. Annal.

Ver. 26. Bodies. Lit. “flesh.” H. Juv. ix. 34. M. — The Egyptians are tall, but meagre. Valle. Ep. xi. — They were the most dissolute in their worship, and corrupted most other nations as well as the Jews. C. xx. 8. and xxiii. 3.

Ver. 27. Justification; law, &c. Heb. “thy right,” or allowance. Ex. xxi. 10. — Hate thee. To be abandoned to the will of a rival, is most dreadful for a woman. The Jews were subjected to the nations which they had despised, as they are still to Christians. Even other less favoured idolaters were astonished (C.) at their apostacy. H.

Ver. 28. Assyrians, adoring the sun, Baal, &c. C.

Ver. 31. Price, before she will yield, (H.) or who follow such practices for a livelihood. C. — Heb. “in that thou scornest hire.” Prot. Sept. “gathering rewards.” The difference consisted in Jerusalem’s sinning through mere wantonness, and even to her loss.

Ver. 34. Fornication unpunished, or comparable with thine. v. 16. H. — All such actions are abominable; but still more so, when the woman solicts. W.

Ver. 36. Money. Lit. “brass,” (H.) to adorn idols. C. — Prot. “thy filthiness;” (H.) virus. Pagn. &c. C.

Ver. 37. Nakedness. Friends and enemies (H.) saw that idols afforded no protection. C. vi. 3. Jer. xiii. 26.

Ver. 38. Judge; punish thee by stoning to death. Lev. xx. 10. The walls of the Jews were battered to the ground.

Ver. 39. House; the temple, which thou hast profaned, and the high places. The idols shall be plundered, in which thou hast trusted.

Ver. 41. Women: nations assembled against Jerusalem.

Ver. 42. No more. I will entirely repudiate thee, so as to observe thy conduct no longer, (C.) with the eyes of an husband. H. — This is the most terrible effect of God’s wrath, (C.) when the sinner is left to himself. Osee iv. 14. S. Jer.

Ver. 43. Youth, when thou wast destitute, (v. 4.) and more grateful for my favours, Jeremias ii. 2. — Head. I have punished thee, yet not as thy deeds require. H.

Ver. 44. Daughter. They too commonly (C.) follow bad parents. Juv. vi. 239. and xiv. 25. — Jerusalem is more wicked than the Cethite, (H.) her mother, v. 3. C. — Even this nation had once received the principles of the true religion for the patriarchs, but cast them off to embrace idolatry, and to destroy her children. H. — Jerusalem was formerly and is till wicked. W.

Ver. 46. Right: southward. — Sodom. The city was more ancient than Jerusalem. Hence it here designates Ruben, (H.) and the Jews east of the Jordan; (Prado) or rather Moab and Ammon, (v. 55. C.) and the rest of the Gentiles. H. — Samaria shewed Jerusalem the road to idolatry, and therefore is called her elder sister. The number of the ten tribes was also greater than that of the kingdom of Juda, which became corrupt as Sodom, only by degrees. Theod.

Ver. 47. Ways, but hast done even worse. — Almost. He seems to diminish their crimes, (C.) as if it could hardly be believed that Jerusalem should be more abandoned. Heb. and Sept. “that would be but little: yea, thou hast done more,” &c. H.

Ver. 49. Sodom, &c. That is, these were the steps by which the Sodomites came to fall into those abominations for which they were destroyed. For pride, gluttony, and idleness, are the high road to all kinds of lust; especially when they are accompanied with a neglect of the works of mercy. Ch. — These crimes alone are great enough; (Lu. xvi. 19.) and the prophets never accuse the Jews of unnatural lust. Hence Ezechiel takes no notice of it here, as he probably refers to the manners of the Moabites, &c. who were then living. Is. xvi. 6. C. — Abundance and idleness produce crimes; temperance and labour bring forth good fruit. W.

Ver. 50. Seen. This would seem to allude to the Israelites beyond the Jordan, who had been led away into Assyria. The Moabites, &c. beheld the downfall of Jerusalem, (H.) and were treated in like manner, only five years later. Jos. Jer. xlviii. &c.

Ver. 51. Justified, as they are comparatively innocent. S. Aug. c. Faust. xxii. 61. — They had not the like advantages, (Mat. xi. 23.) nor the example of others’ punishment to open their eyes. Thou hast pleaded for or with them, and hast lost thy cause. C.

Ver. 53. Back, &c. This relates to the conversion of the Gentiles out of all nations, and of many of the Jews, to the Church of Christ. Ch. — Cyrus also liberated the tribes on the east as well as on the west of the Jordan, (H.) and in general all the captive nations. C. — And restore. Heb. “the captivity, even the captivity of Sodom.” Sept. “I will turn away their aversions, the,” &c. I will give them a more docile spirit. H.

Ver. 54. Them. It affords some consolation to have partners in misery. C.

Ver. 55. Ancient state. That is, to their former state of liberty, and their ancient possessions. In the spiritual sense, to the true liberty and the happy inheritance of the children of God, through faith in Christ. Ch. — All will be treated alike, whether Jew or Gentile. H. — When Sodom or the Gentiles shall have embraced the gospel, then also will the Jews. Rom. x. W.

Ver. 56. Pride. Thou scornedst to mention her, (Ps. xv. 4. C.) or wouldst not take warning. S. Jer.

Ver. 59. Covenant at Sinai, or under Josue. viii. Ex. xix. 7.

Ver. 60. Covenant. After punishing thee I will fulfill my promises, as we see was done (C.) after the captivity, and (H.) in the Christian Church. C. — All shall be converted, not by the Jewish but by the evangelical covenant. W.

Ver. 61. Daughters. The countries were conquered by the Machabees. All nations embrace the gospel. — Covenant. It is broken. I will, out of pity, re-establish it, or a better, to last for ever under Christ, free from the servitude and fear of the old law. C.