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Ezekiel 16:44-46

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

44. Ecce quisquis proverbiat 136136     “Verbally.” — Calvin. super te proverbiabit dicendo, Sicut mater filia ejus.

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.

45. Filia matris tuae es quae abjecit 137137     Or, “repudiated, abominated.” — Calvin. maritum suum et filios suos: et soror sororis tuae 138138     I rather think the place corrupt, and that אחותך, achothek, is put for אחותיך, achothik, for it follows — “who have turned away from their husbands;” and this does not agree with a single sister: then shortly after the Prophet will say, that the Jews had two sisters, Sodom and Samaria; and surely what follows cannot be understood of one woman; for it says, “they have despised their husbands.” — Calvin. Newcome agrees with this emendation of Calvin’s; so also does Maldonatus, the Jesuit, Comment. in Ezekiel, etc. quae repudiarunt maritos suos, et filios suos. Mater vestra Chitaea, et pater vester Amorrhaeus.

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.

46. Et soror tua major Samaria est, et filiae ejus, quae habitant ad sinistram tuam: et soror tua minor prae te, quae habitat a dextris tuis, Sodoma et filiae, ejus.


Here the Prophet uses another form of speech; for he says that the Jews deserved to be subject to the taunting proverbs of those who delight in wickedness. The sense is, that they were worthy of extreme infamy, so that their disgrace was bandied about in vulgar sayings. This is one point: he now adds, that proverbs of this kind were the Jews’ desert — the daughter is like her mother and sisters Then he says, their mother was a Hittite, and their sisters Samaria and Sodom. We must briefly treat these clauses in order. When the Prophet speaks of proverbs, he doubtless means what I have touched on, namely, that the crimes of the nation deserved that their infamy should fly abroad on the tongues of all; for there are many sins which are hidden, through either their being spared, or their not seeming to be much noticed. If any one surpass all others in cruelty, avarice, lust, and other vices, his disgrace will be notorious, and he will be pointed at by vulgar proverbs. Hence Ezekiel dwells on the people’s wickedness, since they supply material for all men to laugh at their expense; for he alludes to buffoons and wits, and such as are ingenious in fabricating vulgar sayings.

The maker of proverbs shall utter this proverb against thee: like mother like daughter. There is no doubt that they used this saying at that period, and it often happens that daughters’ faults are like their mothers’. Daughters indeed often degenerate from the best mothers, and matrons will be found who excel in the virtues of modesty, chastity, sobriety, and watchfulness, while their daughters are rash and proud, luxurious, lustful, and intemperate; but it usually happens that a mother has wicked daughters like herself: this happens less by nature than by education; for a woman of a perverse inclination will think that a stigma attaches to herself if her daughter is better than she is, and so she will wish to form her after her own morals; hence it happens that few daughters are found modest whose mothers are immodest: few sober who have been brought up by drunkards. Since therefore experience always taught the similarity between mothers and daughters, hence this proverb was in the mouth of every one. Proverbs, however, are not always true, but only on the whole; but God sometimes extends his pity so far that the daughter of a wicked woman is honorable and well conducted. But this is very rare: hence this proverbial saying cannot be rejected, — like mother like daughter. It now follows: thou art the daughter of thy mother; that is, altogether like her: and this phrase is equally common among us, “Thou art thy father’s son,” namely, you are like him in thy sins. Thus the Prophet means that the nation was like their mother, since it differed in nothing from the Canaanites and the Hittites. He adds also, sister and their daughters, as if he would collect the whole family. He says that Samaria is their elder sister, and Sodom their younger. I know not whether those who think that Samaria is called older than Jerusalem, through its revolting first from the worship of God, have sufficient grounds for their interpretation: for as we go on we shall see that Samaria is compared with Sodom, and since Sodom is the worst, it is very naturally compared with it. For Jerusalem will afterwards be placed in the highest rank, because it had surpassed them all in enormity. Samaria therefore is one of the sisters, and so is Sodom these towns are called daughters, for we know that Sodom was not the only one destroyed by fire from heaven, since there were five cities. (Genesis 10:19, and Genesis 19:25.) We see, then, why those smaller cities near at hand were called daughters of Sodom, and as far as Samaria is concerned, it was the head of the kingdom of Israel: hence all the cities of the ten tribes were called its daughters.

With relation to the father, the Prophet says here more than he had ventured before. He says, their father was an, Amorite, as if the Jews had sprung from profane nations, and did not draw their origin from a holy parent; and the Prophet very often makes this objection, not that they were spurious or descended according to the flesh from the uncircumcised Gentiles, but because they were unworthy of their father Abraham, through being degenerate. In fine, God here signifies that the parents of the Jews were not only profane nations but utterly reprobate, and those whom God for very just reasons had ordered to be destroyed, since they had contaminated the earth with their crimes far too long. He says that the Jews were like a daughter sprung from most abandoned parents. As to his saying, that the mother as well as sisters had despised their husbands, this may seem absurd. But we know that in proverbs, parables, examples, and comparisons, all things ought not to be exacted with the utmost nicety. When Christ’s coming is said to be stealthy, (Matthew 24:43, 44,) if any one here desires to be cunning and inquires how Christ is like a thief, that will be absurd. And also in this place when it is said, thy mother has abandoned her husband and her sons, and thy sisters have done the same. God simply means that both the mother and sisters of Jerusalem were impure and perfidious women; and cruel also, since they not only had violated the marriage pledge and had thus broken through all chastity, but were like ferocious beasts against their own sons. (Luke 12:39, 40; 1 Thessalonians 5:2.) He reproves the crime which we yesterday exposed, that of the Jews burning their own sons. In fine, he means to compare the Jews with the Canaanites, the Samaritans, and the Sodomites, in both perfidy and cruelty. Hence they are first condemned for throwing away all modesty and conjugal fidelity, and next for forgetting all humanity. It now follows —

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