The Queen Becomes a Harlot
“15But thou didst trust in thy beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy whoredoms on every one that passed by; his it was.” (ASV, 1901)
This is the second part of the parable and covers verses 15- 34. It begins with the success and beauty of the “Queen”, which is a reference to the blessings the Nation Israel enjoyed under the reign of King Solomon. God says,” But thou didst trust in thy beauty.” Israel had wealth, culture and beauty because she had God. While outwardly brilliant, a society may be inwardly corrupt. This was the case with the old heathen nations, and is where America is heading. Civilized wickedness means elaborate and creative wickedness. It shows up in the cessation of moral behavior, to the point the immoral practices become law. This was the case with all nations who fell from some greatness, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Sin becomes the norm, and it brought them down.
The Jews knew that their blessings came from God. Israel was supposed to be a light to the surrounding nations (Deuteronomy 4:6-8). But instead of trusting in God alone, she became narcissistic and thought she had achieved all her greatness by herself. King Solomon initiated alliances with heathen nations to strengthen his kingdom. It began when King Solomon made a marriage alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt early in his political career by taking Pharaoh’s daughter to be one of his wives (I Kings 3:1). This practice continued and became the downfall of his empire:
I Kings 11:1-8
“1Now king Solomon loved many foreign women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites; 2of the nations concerning which Jehovah said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6And Solomon did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and went not fully after Jehovah, as did David his father. 7Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, in the mount that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8And so did he for all his foreign wives, who burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” (ASV, 1901)
These actions were in direct violation of the Mosaic Law (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4). God said these practices would be a “snare” or “trap” for them, and God promised His anger would be kindled to the point of destroying them. Once the nearby nations desired the Jews, because of the blessings (beauty) they had, the Jews surrendered themselves to the pagans instead of teaching the pagans about God. Many of Israel’s kings after Solomon went formed alliances with foreign women to the chagrin of God and His Word. Some examples are listed here:
Asa King of Judah trusts Syria
II Chronicles 16:7-9
“7And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and hast not relied on Jehovah thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand. 8Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge host, with chariots and horsemen exceeding many? yet, because thou didst rely on Jehovah, he delivered them into thy hand. 9For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (ASV, 1901).
Ahab Marries the Daughter of the Sidonians
I Kings 16:31-33
“31And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33And Ahab made the Asherah; and Ahab did yet more to provoke Jehovah, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” (ASV, 1901)
Amaziah Worships the gods of Seir
II Chronicles 25:14-15
“14Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them. 15Wherefore the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, who said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which have not delivered their own people out of thy hand?” (ASV, 1901)
Ahaz Bows to Assyria
II Kings 16:7-8
“7So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me. 8And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.” (ASV, 1901).
II Chronicles 28:20-21
“20And Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. 21For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of Jehovah, and out of the house of the king and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but it helped him not.” (ASV, 1901).
This spiritual failure, which God refers to as “harlotry”, is evident on at least three levels:
- Political harlotry: which is turning to foreign governments for help and advice instead of God.
- Spiritual harlotry: which is not worshipping God, but worshipping pagan gods, goddesses, and in effect, worshiping demons (I Corinthians10: 20).
- Physical harlotry: which is defined as being unfaithful to one’s spouse, having sex with strangers, adopting the abominations of sacred prostitution, practicing human sacrifice, and forgetting justice, mercy and love.
The Harlot Makes High Places
“16And thou didst take of thy garments, and madest for thee high places decked with divers colors, and playedst the harlot upon them: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.” (ASV, 1901)
“High places” are areas of worship dedicated to idol worship, which were elevated above ground, or on raised altars in low lands such as a valley (Numbers 33:52; Leviticus 26:30). This was especially practiced among the Moabites (Isaiah 16:12). These shrines often included an altar, and a sacred object, such as a stone pillar or wooden pole in various shapes representing the object of worship (for example, animals, stars and planets, goddesses, and fertility deities). They were elaborately adorned. The words in verse 16 imply that the shrines upon “the high places” were adorned with multi-colored tapestries, much like that of a Persian carpet. The hangings, or carpets were the harlot women’s bed in the Proverbs designed to attract men to her house:
“16I have spread my couch with carpets of tapestry, With striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.” (ASV, 1901)
Ezekiel 16:16 closes with “the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.” Essentially God is saying this behavior is not proper, and should NOT be done.
God’s Gifts Given To Idolatry
“17Thou didst also take thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest for thee images of men, and didst play the harlot with them; 18and thou tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them, and didst set mine oil and mine incense before them 19My bread also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou didst even set it before them for a sweet savor; and thus it was, saith the Lord Jehovah.” (ASV, 1901)
The very blessings that God had given the Jews were made into objects of their unnatural, raging sexual lust. They made phallic symbols out of gold and silver. Isaiah mentions autoerotic activity with cast metal phallic objects (Isaiah 57:8). Jerusalem was given over to sexual idolatry of the worst type. Additional disdain for the gifts from God included taking the embroidered clothes and putting them on the metal images of foreign gods and phallic symbols. This practice was done in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and Jerusalem was essentially just “doing what everyone else does” (II Kings 23:7). In addition, they took the provisions of fine flour, olive oil, and honey and offered it before these non-gods, as if they could actually provide for them as Jehovah God had done (Hosea 2:8).
Killing The Children
“20Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Were thy whoredoms a small matter, 21that thou hast slain my children, and delivered them up, in causing them to pass through the fire unto them.” (ASV, 1901)
Worse of all was their offering up their own children as human sacrifices to these idols of stone and wood adorned with jewels and elaborate tapestries. How deluded they had become to kill their own children! The practice gradually crept into the Nation Israel, and by Ezekiel’s time, child sacrifice was practiced openly in Jerusalem (II Kings 21:6; Jeremiah 7:30–31; 32:35). God asks, “Was your harlotry not enough that you slaughtered my children and made them pass through the fire for the idols?” In other words, He asks, “Your actions were heartbreaking enough, but did you have to include our children, too?” The practice of child sacrifice to the pagan god Molech included a ritualized slaughter followed by burning the bodies to ashes (II Kings 23:10; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2–5). Sometimes they just cast the infants into the red-hot ovens while they were still alive. God calls these children “my children” since all children are God’s. This phrase “my children” specifically meant either the first-born son, or a son older than an infant, who was going to be devoted to God in studying to be a priest.
How Soon They Forgot
“22And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast weltering in thy blood.” (ASV, 1901)
They did not remember all the acts of kindness that the great God of the Universe had given to them. Out of all the world’s population He had chosen them, and they were to be a demonstration of what He would do if only the world would turn to Him in love and obedience. He was kind to them in Egypt. Even though He knew what they would do to Him in disobedience, He brought them out of Egypt and into the Promise Land.
The spiritual adultery that will characterize the end of the Church age will be even greater than that of Jerusalem during this time. It will be practiced worldwide, in spite of the Messiah has been here offering salvation to those who will believe in him as their Saviour. The apostasy of ancient Israel will not compare to the rising of the final apostasy in which Satan’s chosen man, the Anti-Christ, will demand and receive the worship that rightly belongs to the Lord. The Antichrist’s characteristics are apparent in our present day, ultra prideful leaders who embody the man of sin. When he arrives, it will be the consummation of the greatest departure from, and defiance towards God, the world has ever seen, and will result in a judgment that also will be greater than what the Jews have ever suffered.
All Her Wickedness
23And it is come to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord Jehovah) 24that thou hast built unto thee a vaulted place, and hast made thee a lofty place in every street (ASV, 1901).
God’s response was to cry, “woe, woe” to Israel, and is an expression of lament and horror that was given just prior to a disaster. God was horrified that they would not listen to His prophets, but increased their places of sinning. He says that because you were disloyal to Me, you will once again become naked and forsaken as you were in the days I called you out of the abandonment where I found you. Jerusalem developed an ever-increasing lust for idols. Her harlotry moved from the “high places” to the common places as shrines to foreign gods were erected at every location and on every street.
The Degree of Sin
25Thou hast built thy lofty place at the head of every way, and hast made thy beauty an abomination, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredom (ASV, 1901).
Now God says that they desecrated their holiness and opened their legs, or “feet” to every one that passed by. (In Hebrew leg and feet are both called regalime). This is an obvious expression of flaunting their lewdness in offering their spiritual fornication to everyone. It reflects their shameless abandon of going after idols and the open sexual behavior associated with it. The Israelites sought this out, and courted them all to increase her harlotry. The “multiplication of her whoredom” means the idolatrous nations yielded to her, and gave nothing in return. She had yielded so much that, like a worn-out prostitute, her tempters became weary of her.
Fornication With Neighbors
26Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians, thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast multiplied thy whoredom, to provoke me to anger. 27Behold therefore, I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, that are ashamed of thy lewd way. 28Thou hast played the harlot also with the Assyrians, because thou wast insatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet thou wast not satisfied. 29Thou hast moreover multiplied thy whoredom unto the land of traffic, unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith (ASV, 1901).
Her desire for idolatry drove her to seek out “lovers” other than her husband to satisfy her lust. Her whoredoms included Egypt (v. 26), Assyria (v. 28), and Babylon (v. 29). The fact that God mentions these nations implies not only Jerusalem’s desire for new foreign gods to worship, but also her foreign intrigues and alliances started by King Solomon continued and expanded under subsequent kings after the kingdom split in two.
The Jew’s desire for spiritual fornication with the Egyptians was not just for carnal desire. God says that they wanted to intentionally provoke Him to anger. He brought famine upon them as a result of their attitude toward Him such as in the days of the Judges (Ruth 1:1). Jerusalem’s abominations became so great that the daughters of the Philistines became ashamed of her lewd way. They “played the harlot also with the Assyrians” because they could not control their lust. Not only did they follow the basest and most corrupt idolatries that further degraded Jerusalem, but developed a corresponding moral degradation.
The Canaanites (“thy neighbors”) and the other nation’s most shameless and vilest practices of the flesh were performed in the midst of the idolatrous city. Isaiah commented on this saying, “How is the faithful city become a harlot” (Isaiah 1:21)! As is always the case with lust, it can never be satisfied as God says to them in verse 28, “and yet thou wast not satisfied.” They had made Judea as much the scene of abominations as the corrupt Canaanites, and the land had become utterly Canaanitish. They were dragging these practices with them on the road to “Chaldea”, or Babylon.
The Magnitude of Wickedness
30How weak is thy heart, saith the Lord Jehovah, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an impudent harlot; 31in that thou buildest thy vaulted place at the head of every way, and makest thy lofty place in every street, and hast not been as a harlot, in that thou scornest hire 32A wife that committeth adultery! that taketh strangers instead of her husband! 33They give gifts to all harlots; but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and bribest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredoms. 34And thou art different from other women in thy whoredoms, in that none followeth thee to play the harlot; and whereas thou givest hire, and no hire is given unto thee, therefore thou art different (ASV, 1901).
Their heart has been completely cut-off from the wickedness of their ways. They were no longer able to discern good from evil. Their hearts were hardened to the point that they were ruled by lust and deceit. Normally, a harlot would down play the beautiful gifts given to her to obtain a better one, or to get more. God says the Jews however would make do with anything. Jerusalem was worse then a brazen prostitute. She was an adulterous wife as well as a prostitute because she preferred strangers to her own husband. Jerusalem was a corrupt spiritual adulterer. She had even resorted to paying bribes (rather than receiving a fee) to get the attention that earlier had been lavishly bestowed on her. Such a reversal showed her debased preference to idolatry and foreign alliances. As she left God and His protective laws, He then withheld His blessings that He had so freely given to them in earlier days.
Normally one would expect nations to be loyal to their own gods and denigrate the gods of another nation. Israel rejected their own God by denigrating Him and following after the gods of the nations surrounding them. The stress in this verse is the depravity of Israel in comparison to the nations that they chose to follow. Instead of realizing her sin and returning to the true God, she sought out still more gods and offered larger “bribes” to induce these other gods to bless her. Jerusalem was squandering her wealth on things that could not begin to bless her as the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had done. Israel prostituted herself, not merely for any small reward without demanding more, but for “no reward.”
Daniel E. Woodhead