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Ezekiel 16:35-37

35. Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:

35. Propterea, meretrix, audi sermonem Iehovae.

36. Thus says the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;

36. Sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, quia effusum fuit infimum tuum, 118118     Properly “thy money;” but it is taken metaphorically for “thy lower parts.” — Calvin. et detecta fuit turpitudo tua 119119     Or, “nakedness.” — Calvin. in scortationibus tuis erga amatores tuos, et erga omnia idola abominationum tuarum, et in sanguinibus filiorum tuorum quos dedisti illis.

37. Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.

37. Propterea ecce congregabo cunctos amatores tuos, quibus te oblectasti erga eos, et omnes quos dilexisti, et quos odisti: congregabo inquam, eos contra te a circuitu, et retegam 120120     Or, “I will discover.” — Calvin. pudenda tua 121121     Or, “thy disgrace.” — Calvin. coram ipsis, et videbunt totam turpitudinem tuam.


After God has inveighed against the people’s sins, and treated the whole nation as guilty, he now pronounces judgment on their wickedness. He repeats shortly what he had said, as a judge explains the reason of his sentence. Since, says he, the lower parts of thy body and thy disgrace has been discovered before thy lovers. This is the reason of the judgment, whence it is collected that God is induced to treat his people harshly for just and necessary causes. It now follows: therefore, says he, I will assemble all thy lovers, with those also whom you hate, I will assemble them, and uncover thy shame before them. We may now see what the Jews are threatened with, namely, a disgraceful destruction, so that they become a common laughingstock without any one to succor them; for the diction is metaphorical when he speaks of lovers and of parts of the body; for by lovers he here means the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldeeans. Whence their opinion is refuted who think that the Prophet treats only of superstitions. Nor can this language be transferred to idols, since we know that false gods were not spectators of the punishment which the Prophet denounces against the Jews. Whence it follows that this language will only suit those persons to whose protection the Jews trusted, so as to treat God’s help as useless. Since, then, such is the metaphorical sense of the passage, we understand that shame means spoliation and slaughter; nay, the destruction of both the kingdom and city, and even of the temple. Thus the nation was a common laughingstock, and in this way like a foul and aged harlot. Now we understand the Prophet’s intention. As to Jerome translating “wealth,” it is altogether adverse to the Prophet’s meaning; there is no doubt that he means the lower part of the body, and it follows in the same sense, thy shame was uncovered. But at the same time God expresses why it was done, namely, for fornication, as if an abandoned woman were to act so disgracefully. He now says it was done towards your lovers, towards the idols of your abominations: על, gnel, is here taken for towards or against. He distinguishes between lovers and idols. Those who think that the Prophet treats only of superstitious think the copula superfluous; but there is no doubt that the Prophet means, on one side, the Assyrians, and Egyptians, and Chaldeeans; and on the other, false gods.

And in bloods, says he. He here adds another crime, namely, that of barbarous cruelty, because they did not spare their own sons, as we saw before: many offered up their children, and some were found so excited as to cast them into the fire: it was indeed a monstrous crime when they hesitated not to rage against their own offspring: but they were so carried away by insane zeal that they burnt, up their children when others only drew them through the fire. Hence the Prophet again accuses them of cruelty for offering their children to idols, and so pouring forth innocent blood. Now follows the punishment. Behold, says he, I collect all thy lovers. We said that this ought to be understood of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldreans, all of whom looked upon the slaughter of that perverse and perfidious nation, but none of them helped her. God therefore pronounces the destruction of the people just like that of a harlot abandoned by her lovers, and perishing through hunger, want, and other miseries: for it very often happens that a person under the impulse of love prefers a harlot to his own life; for he will throw off all regard for his wife; he will be disrespectful to both his father and mother, and will break through every restraint to enjoy her company: but when such persons are grown old, and their hair becomes white, which represents the winter of life, and when wrinkles deform the face, then they are despised, and especially if they suffer through disease. So also the Prophet now says that the Jews would be despised by all, so that their lovers should be compelled to behold that example; and meanwhile they scarcely deign to look at the foul appearance which had formerly sweetly delighted them.

Then he proceeds further, namely, that their enemies should behold their ignominy: we know that the Jews were surrounded on all sides by enemies, and that all their neighbors were hostile to them. The Prophet now says that the nations disgrace should be exposed before their lovers, that is, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Chaldaeans, Philistilles, Edomites, and other nations. This passage teaches us, that although the reason for God’s judgments does not always clearly appear, yet they are never too severe; and when he condescends to afford us a reason, he grants us a gratuitous indulgence. But when he silently executes his judgments, let us learn to acquiesce in his justice, and not to cry out if he exceeds moderation; because when he has once explained that his severity is only justice, hence we must gather the general rule, that whenever he seems to treat his people too severely and harshly, yet he has just reasons for it. Let us learn, also, that the Jews only suffered a just recompense when God so cursed all their counsels. They thought themselves very provident and circumspect when they engaged in alliances with Egyptians and Assyrians. But all their plans turned out unhappily for them, since they consulted their own will contrary to that of God. Let us learn, then, if we wish to promote our own salvation, and to obtain a prosperous result, to do nothing without God’s permission, and not to undertake any deliberations except those which God has dictated and suggested by his word and Spirit. For here every future event is shown to us as in a glass when we wish to be wiser than they ought, and than God permits them. It now follows —

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