Ezekiel 16

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Read Ezekiel 16

Jerusalem as an Adulterous Wife

16 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lordsays to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.

“‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.

“‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenantwith you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.

“‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. 10 I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose,earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. 14 And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.

15 “‘But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. You went to him, and he possessed your beauty. 17 You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them. 18 And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them. 19 Also the food I provided for you—the flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat—you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign Lord.

20 “‘And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?21 You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. 22 In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood.

23 “‘Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign Lord. In addition to all your other wickedness, 24 you built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrinein every public square. 25 At every street corner you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, spreading your legs with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by. 26 You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians,your neighbors with large genitals, and aroused my anger with your increasing promiscuity. 27 So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct. 28 You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied. 29 Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.

30 “‘I am filled with fury against you, declares the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute! 31 When you built your mounds at every street corner and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment.

32 “‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! 33 All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. 34 So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.

35 “‘Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord! 36 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your naked body in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood,37 therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see you stark naked. 38 I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. 39 Then I will deliver you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you stark naked. 40 They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. 41 They will burn downyour houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers.42 Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.

43 “‘Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?

44 “‘Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: “Like mother, like daughter.” 45 You are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. 46 Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. 47 You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. 48 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.

49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. 51 Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. 52 Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

53 “‘However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them, 54 so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort. 55 And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before. 56 You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride, 57 before your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you. 58 You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the Lord.

59 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. 60 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. 62 So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. 63 Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

Go Deeper

Chapter 16 is the longest single allegory in the Bible, metaphorically talking about God’s relationship with Jerusalem. Throughout this extended metaphor, we see the way God directly pursues His people amidst them actively turning away from Him. 

There are 19 verbs that describe this personified relationship, but the general idea is this: The Isrealites were lost and rejected, but God noticed them. Deuteronomy 7 tells us that this had nothing to do with us, but was because of His love for us that “He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers.” The Lord brought them into a covenant and provided for them, they even flourished during King David and some of Solomon’s years. This changes in verse 15 when the story shifts from being taken care of by God to trusting in themselves. (1 Corinthians 4:7). They abused His blessings, turned to the things of this world, and exalted themselves. Yet they were not satisfied. 

It’s important to note that the purpose of this extended metaphor is the message as a whole and to not get lost in the thick of the individual details. One important theme of this metaphor is the idea of taking what has been given as a gift and making an idol out of it. 

Rather than turning back to God, their idolatry led them deeper into sin, costing them more than gaining. Tara-Leigh Cobble of The Bible Recap says, “Idolatry always demands more, making us needier, more frantic, and insecure.” What is clearly on display isn’t just their actions but their heart. Amidst excess, we can easily forget who it belongs to. And when we think that it is of our own doing, we lavish in the things given to us, forgetting the poor and needy. God mentions in verse 49 that this is what was wrong with Sodom- the city completely destroyed in Genesis 19. 

When we forget the source of all that has been given to us, rather than being faithful stewards of what has been given to us, we become entitled and greedy. God makes it clear that His wrath will be upon them, but He doesn’t end the story there. God promises to restore Jerusalem and promises an everlasting covenant. This new covenant, one that will atone for all we have done (v. 63) is because of Jesus! How cool is it to see this promised future throughout the whole story of the Bible!


  1. How does the poetic repetition emphasize a contrast between what God did for the people compared to what they did to Him?
  2. Read Job 41:11 in response to verse 49. How does this influence the way we treat our resources?
  3. What does this teach you about God’s character?

By the Way

The marriage covenant described here is in reference to the covenant confirmed in Exodus 24:7-8 at Mount Sinai.

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3 thoughts on “Ezekiel 16”

  1. All throughout scripture the marriage covenant is seen as sacred. The one between man & wife is to mirror Christ and his bride, the church. Yet throughout history and still today, we’ve gotten it mostly wrong by seeking satisfaction in things that only rob us of paradise. What a startling narrative Ezekiel is giving in this chapter to those who have abandoned God and slipped into things too grievous to think on, like prostitution and child sacrifice. Pushing God aside they chose spiritual adultery over the One who truly loved them. Yet God is waiting with open arms to restore the prodigals who come back home, proof that no one is beyond his reach of forgiveness. To all of the wanderers and wayfarers, he tenderly calls us to come home.

  2. Our Father is such a loving Father. I act so entitled. He has shown His grace and mercy to me throughout my life. I keep making it about me and what I want out of this life. Complacent, I go to the mountain top, hang out with God and it is good, oh, so good. Then life continues but not on the mountain top. It is in the valley but God is still oh, so good, but I forget. I let life pull me back into the muck and mire of this world. BUT GOD shows up in little(big) ways all through the day to remind me I am not of this world and I can be weird!! WOOHOO!! This is not my home, I must continually turn from the ways of world to what the Holy Spirit is guiding me to and through.

    God I am so thankful for mountain top times!!! I am so grateful for Your love, grace and mercy. God thank You for giving me guidance in this crazy world. God help me have ears to hear You about all, eyes to see what You need me to see for this day. Thank You for Your words coming out of my mouth to glorify You in whatever situation I am in. God let You effervesce out of me in a glorifying to You way in Jesus name amen

  3. Ezekiel has been a hard read. God angry. His anger subsiding. Holy anger. Consequences of sin. The suffering not just of an individual but of a people group. It leads me to pray prayers of repentance. To intercede for Myanmar, North Korea, Ukraine. Oh Jesus may deliverance and healing come. May we your bride remain faithful and may our love for you be a sweet fragrance that draws people to freedom in Jesus. May we use the wealth you give us in a way that is a part of your kingdom coming, your will being done… on earth as in heaven.

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