J. Israel and Judah, the Harlot Sisters (23:1–49)

This chapter clearly is a continuation of ch. 22. However, the focus of this descriptive allegory is not so much the sexual immorality of society generally, although this is part of it, but more specifically the gross immorality of the Canaanite religion, which had overwhelmed Israelite religion. By using the terms Oholah (Heb. for “her tent”) and Oholibah (Heb. for “my tent is in her”), Ezekiel specifically referred to the religious shrines in both Israel and Judah. The Canaanite fertility cult with its male and female prostitutes long had characterized both the North (see 1Ki 12) and the South (1Ki 14:22-24). Religious corruption, worship of the gods of other nations, also had dire political implications, for it implied alliances with these pagan nations. Ironically, but so typically true, these lovers of Judah would soon turn against her and wreak horrible torture and suffering upon her once they had used her for their own purposes (vv. 22-27). As this chapter so vividly demonstrates, the sin of adultery may be personal, spiritual, or national. It is nothing less than the betrayal of the person, cause, or God to whom we profess complete commitment.