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Oholah and Oholibah as Symbols of God’s Corrupt People

23 And the word of Yahweh came[a] to me, saying,[b] “Son of man,[c] there were two women, the daughters of one mother, and they prostituted themselves in Egypt in their childhood; they were prostituting themselves there, and their breasts were fondled, and there they caressed the bosoms of their virginity. Now as for their names, the older was Oholah, and Oholibah was her sister. And they became mine,[d] and they bore sons and daughters, and their names[e] are Samaria for Oholah, and Jerusalem for Oholibah. And Oholah prostituted herself while she was still mine,[f] and she lusted for her lovers, for Assyria who was nearby, clothed in blue cloth, governors and prefects, handsome young men[g] and all of them horsemen, experts on horseback.[h] And she bestowed her fornication on them, on the choice ones of the Assyrians,[i] all of them, and with every one after which she lusted; with all of their idols she defiled herself. And her whorings from the time of Egypt she did not abandon, for they slept with her in her childhood, and they caressed the bosoms of her virginity, and they poured out their fornication on her. Therefore I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians[j] after whom she lusted.[k] 10 They uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters, and they killed her with the sword. And she became a name for the women, and they executed judgments against her.

11 “And though Oholibah her sister saw, yet in her lust she behaved more corruptly than her,[l] and her whoring was more than the prostitution of her sister. 12 She lusted after the Assyrians,[m] governors and prefects, warriors[n] clothed in[o] perfection,[p] expert horsemen,[q] all of them handsome young men.[r] 13 And I saw that she was defiled; they had both taken the same path![s] 14 And she increased her whorings, and she saw men carved[t] on the wall, images of Chaldeans[u] carved in red, 15 belted with a belt at[v] their waist with turbans on their heads, all of them giving the appearance of adjutants,[w] the image[x] of the Babylonians;[y] Chaldea was the land of their birth. 16 And she lusted for them when her eyes saw them,[z] and she sent messengers to them at Chaldea. 17 And so the Babylonians[aa] came to her for the bed of lovemaking; and they defiled her with their fornication, and she was defiled by them, and she turned from them. 18 And she revealed her whorings, and she revealed her nakedness, and so I turned from her just as[ab] I turned from her sister. 19 Yet[ac] she increased her whorings, recalling[ad] the days of her childhood when she was prostituted[ae] in the land of Egypt. 20 And she lusted after her male lovers whose genitalia were the genitalia of male donkeys and their seminal emission was the seminal emission of horses. 21 And you longed after the obscene conduct of your youth when your bosom was caressed by Egypt, fondling your young breasts.

22 “Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord Yahweh: ‘Look! I am stirring up your lovers against you concerning whom you turned away, and I will bring them against you from all around: 23 the Babylonians[af] and all of the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, all of the Assyrians[ag] along with them, handsome young men,[ah] governors and prefects, all of them adjutants[ai] and excellent horsemen.[aj] 24 And they will come against you with an army chariot and wagon and with a crowd[ak] of peoples; they will set themselves against you from all around with large shield and small shield and helmet. And I will give before them[al] judgment, and they will judge you with their judgments. 25 And I will direct my zeal against you, and they will deal with you in anger; your nose and your ears they will remove, and those who are left,[am] they will fall by the sword, and they will take your sons and your daughters, and your remnant[an] will be consumed by fire. 26 And they will strip you of your clothes, and they will take your splendid jewelry.[ao] 27 And I will put an end to your obscene conduct coming from you and your fornication from the land of Egypt, and you will not lift your eyes to them; and you will not remember Egypt again.’ 28 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: ‘Look! I am giving you into the hand of those you hated, into the hand of those from whom[ap] you turned away. 29 And they will deal with you in hatred, and they will take all of your acquisitions, and they will leave you naked and in bareness; and the nakedness of your fornication and your obscene conduct and your whorings will be exposed. 30 These things are accomplished[aq] against[ar] you since you prostituted yourself after the nations, and on account of that, you defiled yourself by their idols. 31 You went in the same way of your sister, and I will give her cup into your hand.”’

32 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “You will drink the deep and wide[as] cup of your sister; you will be as laughter and as scorn; the cup holds so much![at] 33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, for a cup of horror and desolation is the cup of your sister, Samaria. 34 And you will drink it, and you will drain it, and its potsherds you will gnaw, and you will tear out your breasts, for I myself[au] spoke,” declares[av] the Lord Yahweh. 35 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Because you have forgotten me, and you threw me behind your back, now in turn[aw] you bear your obscene conduct and your whorings.”

36 And Yahweh said to me, “Son of man,[ax] will you judge Oholah and Oholibah and declare their abominable deeds to[ay] them? 37 For they committed adultery, and blood is on their hands, and they committed adultery with their idols, and even their children that they had borne for me—they sacrificed them as food! 38 Also they did this to me: they defiled my sanctuary on that day, and they profaned my Sabbaths, 39 and when they slaughtered their children for their idols, they came to my sanctuary on that day to profane it. And look, this is what they did in my house![az] 40 What is worse,[ba] they sent for men who come[bb] from a distant place, to whom a messenger was sent to them, and look! They came! Men for whom you bathed and painted your eyes, and you adorned yourself with an ornament. 41 And you sat on a magnificent couch and a table prepared before her,[bc] and my incense and my olive oil you put on her.[bd] 42 And a sound of a carefree crowd was with it,[be] and in addition to these men, a crowd of drunken men[bf] was brought in[bg] from the desert,[bh] and they put bracelets on their arms and a crown of splendor on their heads. 43 And I said to[bi] the one worn out with adulteries, ‘Now they will prostitute her concerning her fornication, even her.’[bj] 44 And so they went to her like going to a female[bk] prostitute; and thus they went to Oholah and to Oholibah, the women of obscene conduct. 45 But righteous men, they will judge them with the judgment of committing adultery, and with the judgment of shedding blood; for they were committing adultery, and blood was on their hands.”

46 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Bring up against them an assembly, and make them as a thing of horror and as plunder. 47 And an assembly must stone them with stones,[bl] and they must cut them down. With their swords they shall kill their sons and their daughters, and with fire they shall burn their houses. 48 And I will cause obscene conduct to cease from the land,[bm] and all of the women will be warned, and they will not do according to your wickedness. 49 And they will repay your obscene conduct upon you, and the guilt of your idols you will bear, and you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh.


  1. Ezekiel 23:1 Literally “was”
  2. Ezekiel 23:1 Literally “to say”
  3. Ezekiel 23:2 Or “mortal,” or “son of humankind”
  4. Ezekiel 23:4 Literally “they were for me”
  5. Ezekiel 23:4 Hebrew “name”
  6. Ezekiel 23:5 Literally “under me”
  7. Ezekiel 23:6 Literally “young men of handsomeness/beauty”
  8. Ezekiel 23:6 Literally “riders of horsemen”
  9. Ezekiel 23:7 Literally “sons of Assyria”
  10. Ezekiel 23:9 Literally “sons of Assyria”
  11. Ezekiel 23:9 Literally “which she lusted for them”
  12. Ezekiel 23:11 Literally “she behaved corruptly in lust from her”
  13. Ezekiel 23:12 Literally “sons of Assyria”
  14. Ezekiel 23:12 Hebrew uncertain
  15. Ezekiel 23:12 Or “to”
  16. Ezekiel 23:12 Or “in full armor” or “wonderfully dressed”
  17. Ezekiel 23:12 Literally “horsemen, riders of horses”
  18. Ezekiel 23:12 Literally “young men of handsomeness”
  19. Ezekiel 23:13 Literally “way one was for the two of them”
  20. Ezekiel 23:14 Or “portrayed”
  21. Ezekiel 23:14 According to the reading tradition (Qere)
  22. Ezekiel 23:15 Or “around”
  23. Ezekiel 23:15 Or “officers”
  24. Ezekiel 23:15 Or “likeness”
  25. Ezekiel 23:15 Literally “sons of Babylon”
  26. Ezekiel 23:16 Literally “at the sight of her eyes”
  27. Ezekiel 23:17 Literally “sons of Babylon”
  28. Ezekiel 23:18 Literally “as that”
  29. Ezekiel 23:19 Or “And”
  30. Ezekiel 23:19 Or “remembering”
  31. Ezekiel 23:19 Or “prostituted herself
  32. Ezekiel 23:23 Literally “sons of Babylon”
  33. Ezekiel 23:23 Literally “sons of Assyria”
  34. Ezekiel 23:23 Literally “young men of beauty/handsomeness”
  35. Ezekiel 23:23 Or “officers”
  36. Ezekiel 23:23 Literally “ones called riders of horses”
  37. Ezekiel 23:24 Or “horde” or “host of”
  38. Ezekiel 23:24 Literally “to the face of them”
  39. Ezekiel 23:25 Literally “and remainder your”
  40. Ezekiel 23:25 Literally “and remainder your”
  41. Ezekiel 23:26 Literally “the jewelry of splendor your”; or “your beautiful jewelry”
  42. Ezekiel 23:28 Literally “them”
  43. Ezekiel 23:30 Or “done”
  44. Ezekiel 23:30 Hebrew “in”
  45. Ezekiel 23:32 Or place “drink deep and wide the cup”
  46. Ezekiel 23:32 Literally “a large among to hold”
  47. Ezekiel 23:34 Literally “I, I”
  48. Ezekiel 23:34 Literally “declaration of”
  49. Ezekiel 23:35 Or “also”
  50. Ezekiel 23:36 Or “mortal,” or “son of humankind”
  51. Ezekiel 23:36 Or “for”
  52. Ezekiel 23:39 Literally “thus they did in the midst of house my”
  53. Ezekiel 23:40 Literally “and also for/indeed”
  54. Ezekiel 23:40 Literally “coming”
  55. Ezekiel 23:41 Literally “to the face of her”
  56. Ezekiel 23:41 Or “it”
  57. Ezekiel 23:42 Or “her”
  58. Ezekiel 23:42 A problematic verse; reading according to the reading tradition (Qere)
  59. Ezekiel 23:42 Literally “from an abundance of men being brought in drunken”
  60. Ezekiel 23:42 Or “wilderness”
  61. Ezekiel 23:43 Or “about”
  62. Ezekiel 23:43 Or “that she did”
  63. Ezekiel 23:44 Or “a woman”
  64. Ezekiel 23:47 Hebrew “stone”
  65. Ezekiel 23:48 Or “I will put an end to obscene conduct from the land”