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Two Sinful Sisters

23 The Lord said:

Ezekiel, son of man, listen to this story about two sisters. While they were young and living in Egypt, they became prostitutes. The older one was named Oholah, which stands for Samaria; the younger one was Oholibah, which stands for Jerusalem.[a] They became my wives and gave birth to my children.

Even though Oholah was my wife, she continued to be a prostitute and chased after Assyrian lovers. She offered herself to soldiers in purple uniforms, to every handsome, high-ranking officer, and to cavalry troops. She had sex with all the important Assyrian officials and even worshiped their disgusting idols. Once she started doing these things in Egypt, she never stopped. Men slept with her, and she was always ready for sex.

So I gave Oholah to the Assyrian lovers she wanted so badly. 10 They ripped off her clothes, then captured her children and killed her. Women everywhere talked about what had happened to Oholah.

11 Oholibah saw all this, but she was more sinful and wanted sex more than her sister Oholah ever did. 12 Oholibah also chased after good-looking Assyrian officers, uniformed soldiers, and cavalry troops. 13 Just like her sister, she did vulgar things.

14 But Oholibah behaved worse than her sister. Oholibah saw images of Babylonian men carved into walls and painted red. 15 They had belts around their waists and large turbans on their heads, and they reminded her of Babylonian cavalry officers. 16 As soon as she looked at them, she wanted to have sex with them. And so, she sent messengers to bring them to her. 17 Men from Babylonia came and had sex with her so many times that she got disgusted with them. 18 She let everyone see her naked body and didn’t care if they knew she was a prostitute. That’s why I turned my back on her, just as I had done with her older sister.

19 Oholibah didn’t stop there, but became even more immoral and acted as she had back in Egypt. 20 She eagerly wanted to go to bed with Egyptian men, who were famous for their sexual powers. 21 And she longed for the days when she was a young prostitute, when men enjoyed having sex with her.

The Lord Will Punish Oholibah

22 The Lord God said:

Oholibah,[b] though you no longer want to be around your lovers, they will surround you like enemies, when I turn them against you. 23 I will gather all the handsome young officials and the high-ranking cavalry officers from Babylonia and Assyria, as well as from the Chaldean tribes of Pekod, Shoa, and Koa. 24 Their large armies will come from the north[c] with chariots and wagons carrying weapons. They will wear shields and helmets and will surround you, and I will let them judge and sentence you according to their own laws. 25 I am angry with you, so I will let them be very cruel. They will cut off your nose and ears; they will kill your children and put to death anyone in your family who is still alive. 26 Your clothes and jewelry will be torn off. 27 I will stop your wickedness and the prostitution you started back in Egypt. You will never want to think about those days again.

28 I, the Lord God, am ready to hand you over to those hateful enemies that you find so disgusting. 29 They will cruelly take away everything you have worked for and strip you naked. Then everyone will see you for the prostitute you really are. Your own vulgar sins 30 have led to this. You were the one determined to have sex with men from other nations and to worship their idols. 31 You have turned out no better than your older sister, and now you must drink from the cup filled with my anger.

32 I, the Lord God, gave your sister a large, deep cup filled with my anger. And when you drink from that cup, you will be mocked and insulted. 33 You will end up drunk and devastated, because that cup is filled with horror and ruin. 34 But you must drink every drop! Then smash the cup to pieces and use them to cut your breasts in sorrow. I, the Lord God, have spoken.

35 You have completely rejected me, and so I promise that you will be punished for the disgusting things you did as a prostitute.

The Two Sisters Are Condemned

36 The Lord said:

Ezekiel, son of man, it’s time for you to tell Oholah and Oholibah[d] that they are guilty. Remind them of their evil ways! 37 They have been unfaithful by worshiping idols, and they have committed murder by sacrificing my own children as offerings to idols. 38-39 They came into my temple that same day, and that made it unfit as a place to worship me. They have even stopped respecting the Sabbath.

40 They sent messengers to attract men from far away. When those men arrived, the two sisters took baths and put on eye shadow and jewelry. 41 They sat on a fancy couch, and in front of them was a table for the olive oil and incense that had belonged to me. 42 Their room was always filled with a noisy crowd of drunkards brought in from the desert. These men gave the women bracelets and beautiful crowns, 43 and I noticed that the men were eager to have sex with these women, though they were exhausted from being prostitutes.[e] 44 In fact, the men had sex over and over with Oholah and Oholibah, the two sinful sisters. 45 But good men will someday accuse those two of murder and of being unfaithful, because they are certainly guilty.

46 So I, the Lord God, now say to these sisters:

I will call together an angry mob that will abuse and rob you. 47 They will stone you to death and cut you to pieces; they will kill your children and burn down your houses. 48 I will get rid of sinful prostitution in this country, so that women everywhere will be warned not to act as you have. 49 You will be punished for becoming prostitutes and for worshiping idols, and you will know that I am the Lord God.

Footnotes

  1. 23.4 Samaria. . . Jerusalem: After the nation of Israel was divided, the northern kingdom was called “Israel,” and the southern kingdom was called “Judah.” Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom, and Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom.
  2. 23.22 Oholibah: That is, Jerusalem (see verse 4).
  3. 23.24 from the north: One ancient translation; Hebrew “with weapons.”
  4. 23.36 Oholah and Oholibah: That is, Samaria and Jerusalem (see verse 4).
  5. 23.43 prostitutes: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 43.