23:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 23:2 “Son of man, there were two women who were daughters of the same mother. 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.
23:22 “Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look here, 25 I am about to stir up against you the lovers with whom you were disgusted; I will bring them against you from every side: 23:23 the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, 26 Shoa, 27 and Koa, 28 and all the Assyrians with them, desirable young men, all of them governors and officials, officers and nobles, all of them riding on horses. 23:24 They will attack 29 you with weapons, 30 chariots, wagons, and with a huge army; 31 they will array themselves against you on every side with large shields, small shields, and helmets. I will assign them the task of judgment; 32 they will punish you according to their laws. 23:25 I will direct 33 my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in rage. They will cut off your nose and your ears, 34 and your survivors will die 35 by the sword. They will seize your sons and daughters, and your survivors will be consumed by fire. 23:26 They will strip your clothes off you and take away your beautiful jewelry. 23:27 So I will put an end to your obscene conduct and your prostitution which you have practiced in the land of Egypt. 36 You will not seek their help 37 or remember Egypt anymore.
23:28 “For this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look here, 38 I am about to deliver you over to 39 those whom you hate, to those with whom you were disgusted. 23:29 They will treat you with hatred, take away all you have labored for, 40 and leave you naked and bare. Your nakedness will be exposed, just as when you engaged in prostitution and obscene conduct. 41 23:30 I will do these things to you 42 because you engaged in prostitution with the nations, polluting yourself with their idols. 23:31 You have followed the ways of your sister, so I will place her cup of judgment 43 in your hand. 23:32 “This is what the sovereign Lord says: “You will drink your sister’s deep and wide cup; 44 you will be scorned and derided, for it holds a great deal. 23:33 You will be overcome by 45 drunkenness and sorrow. The cup of your sister Samaria is a cup of horror and desolation. 23:34 You will drain it dry, 46 gnaw its pieces, 47 and tear out your breasts, 48 for I have spoken, declares the sovereign Lord.
23:36 The Lord said to me: “Son of man, are you willing to pronounce judgment 51 on Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominable deeds! 23:37 For they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and their sons, whom they bore to me, 52 they have passed through the fire as food to their idols. 53 23:38 Moreover, they have done this to me: In the very same day 54 they desecrated my sanctuary and profaned my Sabbaths. 23:39 On the same day they slaughtered their sons for their idols, they came to my sanctuary to desecrate it. This is what they have done in the middle of my house.
23:40 “They even sent for men from far away; when the messenger arrived, those men set out. 55 For them you bathed, 56 painted your eyes, and decorated yourself with jewelry. 23:41 You sat on a magnificent couch, with a table arranged in front of it where you placed my incense and my olive oil. 23:42 The sound of a carefree crowd accompanied her, 57 including all kinds of men; 58 even Sabeans 59 were brought from the desert. The sisters 60 put bracelets on their wrists and beautiful crowns on their heads. 23:43 Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, ‘Now they will commit immoral acts with her.’ 23:44 They had sex with her 61 as one does with a prostitute. In this way they had sex with Oholah and Oholibah, promiscuous women. 23:45 But upright men will punish them appropriately for their adultery and bloodshed, 62 because they are adulteresses and blood is on their hands.
23:46 “For this is what the sovereign Lord says: Bring up an army 63 against them and subject them 64 to terror and plunder. 23:47 That army will pelt them with stones and slash them with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn their houses. 65 23:48 I will put an end to the obscene conduct in the land; all the women will learn a lesson from this and not engage in obscene conduct. 23:49 They will repay you for your obscene conduct, and you will be punished for idol worship. 66 Then you will know that I am the sovereign Lord.”
[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.
[23:20] 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.
[23:25] sn This method of punishment is attested among ancient Egyptian and Hittite civilizations. See W. Zimmerli, Ezekiel (Hermeneia), 1:489.
[23:31] 43 tn Heb “her cup.” A cup of intoxicating strong drink is used, here and elsewhere, as a metaphor for judgment because both leave one confused and reeling. (See Jer 25:15, 17, 28; Hab 2:16.) The cup of wrath is a theme also found in the NT (Mark 14:36).
[23:34] 47 tn D. I. Block compares this to the idiom of “licking the plate” (Ezekiel [NICOT], 1:754, n. 137). The text is difficult as the word translated “gnaw” is rare. The noun is used of the shattered pieces of pottery and so could envision a broken cup. But the Piel verb form is used in only one other place (Num 24:8), where it is a denominative from the noun “bone” and seems to mean to “break (bones).” Why it would be collocated with “sherds” is not clear. For this reason some emend the phrase to read “consume its dregs” (see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 2:44) or emend the verb to read “swallow,” as if the intoxicated Oholibah breaks the cup and then eats the very sherds in an effort to get every last drop of the beverage that dampens them.
[23:34] 48 sn The severe action is more extreme than beating the breasts in anguish (Isa 32:12; Nah 2:7). It is also ironic for these are the very breasts she so blatantly offered to her lovers (vv. 3, 21).
[23:36] 51 tn Heb “will you judge.” Here the imperfect form of the verb is probably used with a desiderative nuance. Addressed to the prophet, “judge” means to warn of or pronounce God’s impending judgment. See 20:4; 22:2.
[23:40] 56 tn The Hebrew verb form is feminine singular, indicating that Oholibah (Judah) is specifically addressed here. This address continues through verse 42a (note “her”), but then both sisters are described in verse 42b, where the feminine pronouns are again plural.