The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)
Ezekiel 16 - God's Faithless Bride
The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.
I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to you, "Live! and grow up like a plant of the field." You grew up and became tall and arrived at full womanhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.
I passed by you again and looked on you; you were at the age for love. I spread the edge of my cloak over you, and covered your nakedness: I pledged myself to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and with sandals of fine leather; I bound you in fine linen and covered you with rich fabric. I adorned you with ornaments: I put bracelets on your arms, a chain on your neck, a ring on your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. You were adorned with gold and silver, while your clothing was of fine linen, rich fabric, and embroidered cloth. You had choice flour and honey and oil for food. You grew exceedingly beautiful, fit to be a queen. Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendor that I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God.
But you trusted in your beauty, and played the whore because of your fame, and lavished your whorings on any passer-by. You took some of your garments, and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore; nothing like this has ever been or ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and my silver that I had given you, and made for yourself male images, and with them played the whore; and you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you--I fed you with choice flour and oil and honey--you set it before them as a pleasing odor; and so it was, says the Lord God. You took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. As if your whorings were not enough! You slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering to them. And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, flailing about in your blood.
After all your wickedness (woe, woe to you! says the Lord GOD), you built yourself a platform and made yourself a lofty place in every square; at the head of every street you built your lofty place and prostituted your beauty, offering yourself to every passer-by, and multiplying your whoring. You played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger. Therefore I stretched out my hand against you, reduced your rations, and gave you up to the will of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. You played the whore with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. You multiplied your whoring with Chaldea, the land of merchants; and even with this you were not satisfied.
How sick is your heart, says the Lord God, that you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen whore; building your platform at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square! Yet you were not like a whore, because you scorned payment. Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Gifts are given to all whores; but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from all around for your whorings. So you were different from other women in your whorings: no one solicited you to play the whore; and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; you were different.
Therefore, O whore, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whoring with your lovers, and because of all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, therefore, I will gather all your lovers, with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated; I will gather them against you from all around, and will uncover your nakedness to them, so that they may see all your nakedness. I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring blood upon you in wrath and jealousy. I will deliver you into their hands, and they shall throw down your platform and break down your lofty places; they shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful objects and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a mob against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. They shall burn your houses and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women; I will stop you from playing the whore, and you shall also make no more payments. So I will satisfy my fury on you, and my jealousy shall turn away from you; I will be calm, and will be angry no longer. Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things; therefore, I have returned your deeds upon your head, says the Lord God.
Have you not committed lewdness beyond all your abominations? See, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you, "Like mother, like daughter." You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. You not only followed their ways, and acted according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live, says the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. Samaria has not committed half your sins; you have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have brought about for your sisters a more favorable judgment; because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.
I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes along with theirs, in order that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you are a mockery to the daughters of Aram and all her neighbors, and to the daughters of the Philistines, those all around who despise you. You must bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, says the LORD.
An Everlasting Covenant
Yes, thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath, breaking the covenant; yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways, and be ashamed when I take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and give them to you as daughters, but not on account of my covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord GOD.
Just to get it out of the way: God is a creepy bastard.
Gotta love how incredibly passive Jerusalem is in this entire affair. She was born alone and untouched, left to her own devices which apparently means she just sat there because she can't possibly do anything herself. She flailed aimlessly in her own blood (menstrual?) until God happened along and told her to get up and grow. She does as told and then when God comes by her again and sees her at the "age of love" he basically just descends upon her and takes her as his bride without any input from Jerusalem herself in this entire affair. God dresses her up in fine cloth and jewelry and even makes sure to remind her that the only reason she has gained fame is because of the "splendor that I had bestowed upon you."
So let's go over the beginning of this again. God finds Jerusalem, takes as his bride and pretties her up and then basically tells her that he made her and he owns her. Big implication in this whole affair being that what God has given God can take away just like that. No matter that Jerusalem hasn't had any actual input in any of this, God is calling all the shots. (Seriously, God, just because the the bagpipe didn't say no doesn't mean she's okay with it)
But then, oh no! Jerusalem starts WHORING around. And yes, I take A LOT of offense at the number of times the word "whore" is used in this chapter alone. I bolded all the instances of the word "whore" or "whoring" (I didn't bother counting any synonyms for "whore" or "whoring") and there is a whopping 21 instances of those words in this chapter. The chapter is only 63 verses long and it's mentioned 21 times? Really? It was actually physically hard to read the rest of the chapter after about the first 5 uses of the word "whore." And after number 15 I was about ready to throw the damned book across the floor and throw a match at it.
So yeah, Jerusalem is apparently cheating on God, a "man" whom she never seemed to want to be with in the first place. She was taken. Conquered. Made property. Essentially raped and decorated with jewels meant to entrap her to a "man" she would have never actively attached herself to if she'd had any say in the matter. Are we surprised that Jerusalem isn't 100% faithful to God here? Especially when other tribal gods, as we've read previously, are much more friendly and willing to aid her? God takes her, openly shows the unequal power balance in the relationship (I made you and I can break you), and then is never really especially protective of her or loving to her. But, as we have learned so much through the last few books, cheating on God is a VERY big no no (pretty much the ONLY big no no in the "good book") and thus God proceeds to punish Jerusalem for the "abominations" she has committed.
Now, I find it interesting when God mentions how he shall punish Jerusalem "as women who have committed adultery and shed blood are judged." Now, looking back at the laws set down for adultery in Leviticus 20:10-16, "If a man commits adultery with his neighbors wife then both he and the wife shall be put to death. The man who lies with his father's wife has seen his father's nakedness, and both he and the wife shall be put to death. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law then both shall be put to death. If a man takes a wife and her mother also that is depravity, and they shall all be burned to death. If a woman approaches an animal to have sex with it then she and the animal shall be put to death."
So, why, when God talks about Jerusalem's punishment for her adultery, does God allow those Jerusalem committed adultery with to get involved with Jerusalem's punishment? If we're going by the very rules God himself set up, BOTH parties should be killed/beaten, not just the wife. And yet, here we have God punishing Jerusalem by having her lovers break her, strip her, leave her bare and cut her. God even makes a point of this basically being a message to women everywhere. Jerusalem is being made an example so that women may know exactly what can be expected if they ever try to "stray" from the husbands and "whore" around with other men. Obviously, most of these stories about women in the Bible and the extreme punishments they face are meant to be lessons for other women (for example, Jezebel), but this is the first instance in which it is very clearly stated what the intent and purpose of this graphic depiction of Jerusalem's punishment is meant to do.
Even when God restores Jerusalem's fortunes it's meant as a punishment. "I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes along with theirs, in order that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them... I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God." God restores Jerusalem only so that she may continue to suffer. I know I referenced the To The Pain scene from Princess Bride already, but again it is very relevant. God wants to leave Jerusalem alive so that she may continue to be shamed by those around her who have denigrated her and seen her nakedness. So that she may forever remember the pain that she was put through when she dared to cheat on God. So that Jerusalem will be alive and remember and thus be silenced for fear that she may incur God's wrath yet again. The bit about her being left "confounded" is odd, since that basically implies that Jerusalem is left alive and wounded without any real idea of why it all happened to her. All she is meant to know is that she is God's bitch and if she doesn't stay quiet and completely under his will and command she will face that same pain again.
Jerusalem remembers the pain but she does not know exactly why she has been made to suffer this pain? Is this because she is too stupid (and female) to really understand what she did wrong? I mean, God did find her flailing in her own blood, seemingly without the presence of mind to even get up out of her own filth. Or is this because God, as is his usual modus operandi, punished Jerusalem without telling her why (for an example of this, see Job, which will of course make it almost impossible for her to not make the same mistake twice.
I think, from now on, if anyone ever asks me why I think the Bible is garbage this chapter will be my answer. It's like all the bullshit sexist messages of the Bible all rolled into one. Women are passive. Women are too stupid to do anything without a man telling them what to do. Women are too evil to be trusted and must be kept under strict and unyielding control by men to keep them in line. Women are always consenting to sex, especially when they are incapable of simply just don't say no. Rape and torture is an acceptable punishment for a woman who has cheated on her spouse. Women are bought by men when they are married and adorned with jewelry (ie. engagement rings) and are thus property and without wills and desires of their own. Even when you punish a woman, she is too stupid to understand exactly what happened which is why no punishment is too severe and no form of control too ridiculous. Women are best when they sit down and shut up and just let the man do all the thinking and talking.
Yep, I think this will be my go to chapter from now on. Thank you, Bible, for distilling all your woman hating into one convenient chapter so that it'll be much easier for me to reference the biggest shitstain of the Bible in 8 easy syllables: E-ze-ki-el-chap-ter-six-teen.
Monday: More Ezekiel