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Ezekiel 16:23-25

23. And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)

23. Et fuit post omnem malitiam tuam, Vae vae tibi, dicit Dominator Iehovah.

24. That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.

24. Et aedificasti tibi excelsum, et fecisti tibi excelsum in omni platea. 101101     In every street.” — Calvin.

25. Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms.

25. Ad omne caput 102102     Or, “beginning.” — Calvin. viae aedificasti excelsum tuum: et abominabilem fecisti tuam pulchritudinem: et divaricasti 103103     “Thou have poured forth, or opened; but we may use the proper word, you has spread.” — Calvin. pedes tuos omni transeunti, et multiplicasti tuas scortationes.


The first verse is variously explained. Some read the clause separately, ויהי אחרי כל רעתך, vihi achri kel regnethekit was after all thy wickedness: and they think that God threatens the Jews here as he did in Hosea, (Hosea 2:9,10.) For after God had there complained that his wool and his flax had been taken away, and offered as gifts to idols, he afterwards adds, I will demand all things back again, and then all thy beauty shall be taken from thee, and thy nakedness shall be laid bare, so that you shall be deservedly ashamed. Thus then they explain these words, that the condition of the Jews should be as it formerly was; as if he had said in one word, I will so avenge myself, that whether you will or not, you shall be compelled to feel the disgrace of your nakedness, since I will manifest it again. But this sense seems forced; therefore I unite it with the remainder of the verse which follows it. Thus then the language of the Prophet flows on: and it was after all thy wickedness that you built a high place for thyself you made for thyself a lofty place in every street: there are two different words, but the sense is the same: you did set up thy high places in all the principal ways, and so, says he, thy beauty became abominable. But this is inserted by way of parenthesis, Alas! alas for thee! This exclamation is abruptly interposed. But, at the same time, I have no doubt that these things all adhere together, since the Jews added sin to sin, and never made an end of sinning. He says, therefore, after they had been perfidious and ungrateful to God, after they had basely devoted all they had to perverse worship, then this new crime was added, that they had erected high places in every street and in every path.

If any one objects that this was not a greater crime than others, the answer is easy, that God does not speak of one high place only, or of one altar, but he comprehends all the signs of idolatry by which they had infected the land; for it was the height of impudence to erect everywhere the standard of their superstitions. For every high place and every altar was a testimony of their backsliding; just as if they had openly boasted that they would not magnify the worship of the law, and intended purposely to overthrow whatever God had prescribed. God therefore, not without cause, burns with wrath because the Jews had erected high places and altars everywhere. Now, then, we understand the Holy Spirit’s meaning as far as these words are concerned. It is added, after all thy wickedness, says he; that is, in addition to all thy crimes, this sin and impudence is added, that you have built not only one, but innumerable high places in every street, nay, in every pathway of importance, that is, in the most celebrated places. For the heads of the pathways are the most conspicuous places, and whatever is done there is more exposed to the eyes of all.

We must now notice the exclamation which is interposed. Alas! alas! for thee, says the Lord Jehovah. Since the Jews, through their sloth, were not at all attentive to the reproofs of the prophets, that God might waken them up, he here pronounces his curse twice. It is clear that they were not moved by it: but this vehemence tended to their severer condemnation, since, though they were drowned and sunk in deep sleep, yet they might be raised by this formidable voice. There is no doubt that they applauded themselves for their own superstitions; but it is on that account profitable to estimate the weight of these words of God. For we gather from hence, that when idolaters indulge in their own fictions, and think themselves entirely free from blame, the word of God is sufficient, by which he thunders against them, saying, alas! alas! for thee. Hence men cease to judge according to their own notions, and are rather attentive to the sentence of God, and acknowledge his curse passing on them when they think that they are rightly discharging the duty of piety in worshipping idols.

He now adds, that he made their beauty to be abhorred. I have no doubt that the Prophet alludes to the filthiness of abandoned women; and even the Latins called them “worn out,” whose foulness arises from their utterly giving themselves up to every wickedness. The Prophet then says that the people were not only like an abandoned woman who engages in impure amours, but that their conduct was gross in the extreme; for though many gratify improper desires through intemperate lust, yet they fastidiously reject those foul and shameless females who are notorious for profligacy. The Prophet means, then, that the people had come to such a pitch of abomination, just as the most abandoned of the sex. He now adds, you have spread thy feet to every passer-by, and have multiplied thy fornications. This is taken also from the conduct of harlots and confirms what we have already explained, that the Jews indulged not only in one kind of idolatry, but were prone to all abominations, like females who beset the paths, and address all they meet, and not only so, but shamelessly spread their feet everywhere to entice admirers.

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