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Yehezkiel 23:3-21

23:3 They engaged in prostitution in Egypt; in their youth they engaged in prostitution. Their breasts were squeezed there; lovers 1  fondled their virgin nipples there. 23:4 Oholah was the name of the older and Oholibah 2  the name of her younger sister. They became mine, and gave birth to sons and daughters. 3  Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

23:5 “Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was mine. 4  She lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians 5  – warriors 6  23:6 clothed in blue, governors and officials, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. 23:7 She bestowed her sexual favors on them; all of them were the choicest young men of Assyria. She defiled herself with all whom she desired 7  – with all their idols. 23:8 She did not abandon the prostitution she had practiced in Egypt; for in her youth men had sex with her, fondled her virgin breasts, and ravished her. 8  23:9 Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians 9  for whom she lusted. 23:10 They exposed her nakedness, seized her sons and daughters, and killed her with the sword. She became notorious 10  among women, and they executed judgments against her.

23:11 “Her sister Oholibah watched this, 11  but she became more corrupt in her lust than her sister had been, and her acts of prostitution were more numerous than those of her sister. 23:12 She lusted after the Assyrians – governors and officials, warriors in full armor, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. 23:13 I saw that she was defiled; both of them followed the same path. 23:14 But she increased her prostitution. She saw men carved on the wall, images of the Chaldeans carved in bright red, 12  23:15 wearing belts on their waists and flowing turbans on their heads, all of them looking like officers, the image of Babylonians 13  whose native land is Chaldea. 23:16 When she saw them, 14  she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 15  23:17 The Babylonians crawled into bed with her. 16  They defiled her with their lust; after she was defiled by them, she 17  became disgusted with them. 23:18 When she lustfully exposed her nakedness, 18  I 19  was disgusted with her, just as I 20  had been disgusted with her sister. 23:19 Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. 23:20 She lusted after their genitals – as large as those of donkeys, 21  and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions. 23:21 This is how you assessed 22  the obscene conduct of your youth, when the Egyptians fondled 23  your nipples and squeezed 24  your young breasts.

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[23:3]  1 tn In the Hebrew text the subject is left unstated and must be supplied from the context.

[23:4]  2 tn The names Oholah and Oholibah are both derived from the word meaning “tent.” The meaning of Oholah is “her tent,” while Oholibah means “my tent is in her.”

[23:4]  3 sn In this allegory the Lord is depicted as being the husband of two wives. The OT law prohibited a man from marrying sisters (Lev 18:18), but the practice is attested in the OT (cf. Jacob). The metaphor is utilized here for illustrative purposes and does not mean that the Lord condoned such a practice or bigamy in general.

[23:5]  4 tn Heb “while she was under me.” The expression indicates that Oholah is viewed as the Lord’s wife. See Num 5:19-20, 29.

[23:5]  sn Played the harlot refers to alliances with pagan nations in this context. In Ezek 16 harlotry described the sin of idolatry.

[23:5]  5 tn Heb “Assyria.”

[23:5]  6 tn The term apparently refers to Assyrian military officers; it is better construed with the description that follows. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 1:738.

[23:7]  7 tn Heb “lusted after.”

[23:8]  8 tn Heb “and poured out their harlotry on her.”

[23:9]  9 tn Heb “I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the sons of Assyria.”

[23:10]  10 tn Heb “name.”

[23:11]  11 tn The word “this” is not in the original text.

[23:14]  12 tn The only other occurrence of the Hebrew term is in Jer 22:14.

[23:15]  13 tn Heb “the sons of Babel.”

[23:16]  14 tn Heb “at the appearance of her eyes.”

[23:16]  15 sn The Chaldeans were prominent tribal groups of Babylonia. The imagery is reminiscent of events in the reigns of Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20:12-15) and Jehoiakim (2 Kgs 23:34-24:1).

[23:17]  16 tn Heb “The sons of Babel came to her on a bed of love.”

[23:17]  17 tn Heb “her soul.”

[23:18]  18 tn Heb “She exposed her harlotry and she exposed her nakedness.”

[23:18]  19 tn Heb “my soul.”

[23:18]  20 tn Heb “my soul.”

[23:20]  21 tn Heb “She lusted after their concubines (?) whose flesh was the flesh of donkeys.” The phrase “their concubines” is extremely problematic here. The pronoun is masculine plural, suggesting that the Egyptian men are in view, but how concubines would fit into the picture envisioned here is not clear. Some suggest that Ezekiel uses the term in an idiomatic sense of “paramour,” but this still fails to explain how the pronoun relates to the noun. It is more likely that the term refers here to the Egyptians’ genitals. The relative pronoun that follows introduces a more specific description of their genitals.

[23:21]  22 tn Or “you took note of.” The Hebrew verb פָּקַד (paqad) in the Qal implies evaluating something and then acting in light of that judgment; here the prophet depicts Judah as approving of her youthful unfaithfulness and then magnifying it at the present time. Some translations assume the verb should be repointed as a Niphal, rendering “you missed” or by extension “you longed for,” but such an extension of the Niphal “to be missing” is otherwise unattested.

[23:21]  23 tn Heb “when (they) did,” but the verb makes no sense here and is better emended to “when (they) fondled,” a verb used in vv. 3 and 8. See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:43.

[23:21]  24 tn Heb “for the sake of,” but the expression is awkward and is better emended to read “to squeeze.” See L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 2:43.

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