11 November 2017 Bible Reading
In today’s reading from Ezekiel 23, we have the allegory of two sisters who are harlots, representing Samaria and Jerusalem. Both seek to partner with other nations rather than accept the rule or “marriage” of the Lord.
Like chapter 16, Ezekiel speaks of the people in terms of two sisters, Oholah (= Samaria) and Oholibah (= Jerusalem). God marries them both, and they bear him children. But all along they commit adultery and prostitution. These sexual acts stand for the people’s allegiance to foreign nations like Assyria and Babylon (23:5, 11, 15). In the end, God hands them over to their “lovers,” the foreign nations, who, in a graphic image of mob violence, strip them naked, plunder them, slaughter their children, and then murder them.
Today’s passage in Hebrews references Deuteronomy 32:35; Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 135:14; and Habakkuk 2:3-4.
23 Yahweh’s word came again to me, saying, 2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother: 3 and they played the prostitute in Egypt; they played the prostitute in their youth; there were their breasts pressed, and there was handled the bosom of their virginity. 4 Their names were Oholah the elder, and Oholibah her sister: and they became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem Oholibah. 5 Oholah played the prostitute when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbors, 6 who were clothed with blue, governors and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. 7 She gave herself as a prostitute to them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them; and on whoever she doted, with all their idols she defiled herself. 8 Neither has she left her prostitution since leaving Egypt; for in her youth they lay with her, and they handled the bosom of her virginity; and they poured out their prostitution on her. 9 Therefore I delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, on whom she doted. 10 These uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters; and her they killed with the sword: and she became a byword among women; for they executed judgments on her. 11 Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet was she more corrupt in her doting than she, and in her prostitution which were more than the prostitution of her sister. 12 She doted on the Assyrians, governors and rulers, her neighbors, clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. 13 I saw that she was defiled; they both took one way. 14 She increased her prostitution; for she saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, 15 dressed with girdles on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them princes to look on, after the likeness of the Babylonians in Chaldea, the land of their birth. 16 As soon as she saw them she doted on them, and sent messengers to them into Chaldea. 17 The Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their prostitution, and she was polluted with them, and her soul was alienated from them. 18 So she uncovered her prostitution, and uncovered her nakedness: then my soul was alienated from her, like as my soul was alienated from her sister. 19 Yet she multiplied her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth, in which she had played the prostitute in the land of Egypt. 20 She doted on their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. 21 Thus you called to memory the lewdness of your youth, in the handling of your bosom by the Egyptians for the breasts of your youth. 22 Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will raise up your lovers against you, from whom your soul is alienated, and I will bring them against you on every side: 23 the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, and all the Assyrians with them; desirable young men, governors and rulers all of them, princes and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. 24 They shall come against you with weapons, chariots, and wagons, and with a company of peoples; they shall set themselves against you with buckler and shield and helmet all around; and I will commit the judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their judgments. 25 I will set my jealousy against you, and they shall deal with you in fury; they shall take away your nose and your ears; and your residue shall fall by the sword: they shall take your sons and your daughters; and your residue shall be devoured by the fire. 26 They shall also strip you of your clothes, and take away your beautiful jewels. 27 Thus will I make your lewdness to cease from you, and your prostitution from the land of Egypt; so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them, nor remember Egypt any more. 28 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will deliver you into the hand of them whom you hate, into the hand of them from whom your soul is alienated; 29 and they shall deal with you in hatred, and shall take away all your labor, and shall leave you naked and bare; and the nakedness of your prostitution shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your prostitution. 30 These things shall be done to you, because you have played the prostitute after the nations, and because you are polluted with their idols. 31 You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore will I give her cup into your hand. 32 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: You will drink of your sister’s cup, which is deep and large; you will be ridiculed and held in derision; it contains much. 33 You shall be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of your sister Samaria. 34 You shall even drink it and drain it out, and you shall gnaw the broken pieces of it, and shall tear your breasts; for I have spoken it, says the Lord Yahweh. 35 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because you have forgotten me, and cast me behind your back, therefore you also bear your lewdness and your prostitution. 36 Yahweh said moreover to me: Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? then declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands; and with their idols have they committed adultery; and they have also caused their sons, whom they bore to me, to pass through the fire to them to be devoured. 38 Moreover this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths. 39 For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and behold, thus have they done in the middle of my house. 40 Furthermore you have sent for men who come from far, to whom a messenger was sent, and behold, they came; for whom you did wash yourself, paint your eyes, and decorate yourself with ornaments, 41 and sit on a stately bed, with a table prepared before it, whereupon you set my incense and my oil. 42 The voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with men of the common sort were brought drunkards from the wilderness; and they put bracelets on their hands, and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43 Then I said of her who was old in adulteries, Now they will play the prostitute with her, and she with them. 44 They went in to her, as they go in to a prostitute: so went they in to Oholah and to Oholibah, the lewd women. 45 Righteous men, they shall judge them with the judgment of adulteresses, and with the judgment of women who shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands. 46 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: I will bring up a company against them, and will give them to be tossed back and forth and robbed. 47 The company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire. 48 Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness. 49 They shall recompense your lewdness on you, and you shall bear the sins of your idols; and you shall know that I am the Lord Yahweh.
18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 and having a great priest over God’s house, 22 let’s draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having our body washed with pure water, 23 let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful.
24 Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. 28 A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think he will be judged worthy of who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But remember the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings; 33 partly, being exposed to both reproaches and oppressions; and partly, becoming partakers with those who were treated so. 34 For you both had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an enduring one in the heavens. 35 Therefore don’t throw away your boldness, which has a great reward. 36 For you need endurance so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.
37 “In a very little while,
he who comes will come, and will not wait.
38 But the righteous will live by faith.
If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.
109 God of my praise, don’t remain silent,
2 for they have opened the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of deceit against me.
They have spoken to me with a lying tongue.
3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
and fought against me without a cause.
4 In return for my love, they are my adversaries;
but I am in prayer.
5 They have rewarded me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
6 Set a wicked man over him.
Let an adversary stand at his right hand.
7 When he is judged, let him come out guilty.
Let his prayer be turned into sin.
8 Let his days be few.
Let another take his office.
9 Let his children be fatherless,
and his wife a widow.
10 Let his children be wandering beggars.
Let them be sought from their ruins.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has.
Let strangers plunder the fruit of his labor.
12 Let there be no one to extend kindness to him,
neither let there be anyone to have pity on his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off.
In the generation following let their name be blotted out.
14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered by Yahweh.
Don’t let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15 Let them be before Yahweh continually,
that he may cut off their memory from the earth;
16 because he didn’t remember to show kindness,
but persecuted the poor and needy man,
the broken in heart, to kill them.
17 Yes, he loved cursing, and it came to him.
He didn’t delight in blessing, and it was far from him.
18 He clothed himself also with cursing as with his garment.
It came into his inward parts like water,
like oil into his bones.
19 Let it be to him as the clothing with which he covers himself,
for the belt that is always around him.
20 This is the reward of my adversaries from Yahweh,
of those who speak evil against my soul.
21 But deal with me, Yahweh the Lord, for your name’s sake,
because your loving kindness is good, deliver me;
22 for I am poor and needy.
My heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like an evening shadow.
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting.
My body is thin and lacks fat.
25 I have also become a reproach to them.
When they see me, they shake their head.
26 Help me, Yahweh, my God.
Save me according to your loving kindness;
27 that they may know that this is your hand;
that you, Yahweh, have done it.
28 They may curse, but you bless.
When they arise, they will be shamed,
but your servant shall rejoice.
29 Let my adversaries be clothed with dishonor.
Let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe.
30 I will give great thanks to Yahweh with my mouth.
Yes, I will praise him among the multitude.
31 For he will stand at the right hand of the needy,
to save him from those who judge his soul.
13 Take his garment when he puts up collateral for a stranger.
Hold it for a wayward woman!