Lumped Together: Ezekiel 20 – 29

The Judgment on Israel. The Two Prostitutes. An Extreme Sign.
Prophecies Against… Laments Over…

Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, ‘Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.’

Ezekiel 23:43 (NIV)


Two sisters named Oholah and Oholibah engaged in prostitution in their native land of Egypt. God held onto them fondly, describing them as His daughters. After their youth, they continued in their prostitution rather than tossing it off as a childhood passionate fling. They lusted specifically for the Assyrians, handsome in body and great in power. Oholah succumbed to the dark path of sexual immorality and soon became entranced by the foreign gods presented by her lovers. God dealt with her severely for her sins, delivering her into the arms of her lovers. Her children faced the sword first, and then her.

Oholibah went even further in her sin. She turned her sights to the Babylonians and in her lust called upon them to visit her. These were incredibly handsome and sexually astute men, which sent her passions berserk. All of this stemmed from the lewdness of her youth, continued straight on into adulthood. God laid down an even harsher punishment for her behavior. He allowed the Babylonians to come upon her from all sides, where they cut off her ears and nose and threw her in the fire.

Ezekiel 23 recounts this story in odd fashion. As a book comprised almost entirely of prophecy, the writer takes a sharp turn away from his prior subjects towards this moralistic parable, presented without much context. After the story concludes, Ezekiel gives us a bit of analysis, positing that these sisters condemned themselves for:

…defiling themselves with idols (30)
…turning their backs on God (35a)
…prostituting themselves (35b)
…committing adultery (37a)
…sacrificing their children and eating them (37b)
…defiling God’s sanctuary (38a)
…desecrating the Sabbath (38b)

That is quite the laundry list of offenses, one that goes far beyond what is described in the story itself. All judgment aside about what constitutes offensive behavior, I felt oddly betrayed by this passage, especially with the “additional sins” tacked onto the end. Because the questions that kept coming to mind was:


“All sins are equal in the eyes of God,” I often heard as a kid in church. And as children do, we went to extremes. “So murder is the same as lying?” We quipped back. “Yes,” the stoic adult often replied, “It is all the same in His eyes.” But that statute always felt phony to me, because it seemed then that God wasn’t very intelligent. Intellectually, we must know that a woman who prostitutes herself cannot be held to the same standard as someone who KILLS AND EATS HER CHILDREN.

Maybe it’s just me.

And why is the sex firing squad always aimed at women?


Apparently the men of Babylon were… ahem… well endowed:

There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. (23:20) 

Yeah, that does nothing for me.

One thought on “Lumped Together: Ezekiel 20 – 29

  1. I had some trouble with Jeremiah too and now I’m woirkng on Ezekiel. It hasn’t been easy keeping up and unfortunately I had a couple of weeks where I didn’t really do any reading. So I have to backtrack every day after my regular reading to finish up a chunk from the middle of Psalms to the end of Isaiah. I’m determined to finish by the end of the month and often finsh my daily reading late at night when everyone else is sleeping. I’m also looking forward to getting into the New Testament! I’m glad I have been doing this reading plan and I have learned that there are some books like Jeremiah and Ezekiel that would be good to go back and study more deeply as I found it hard to gain anything from them.Have a lovely day!Margaret


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