Bible Study: Ezekiel 16 – Opposite of Harlots!

The book of Ezekiel is one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. It was authored by Ezekiel who was set as a watchman to the house of Israel.

Ezek 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:

The sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel is about the history of the adulterous wife of God which is Jerusalem (His people), her abominations and God’s jealousy, fury, judgment on her and a hope of a future covenant that will bring her back to God.

Birth of Jerusalem

Ezek 16:1-6 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, “and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 

God is referring to how the city of Jerusalem came into existence.

Josh 10:5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.

Josh 15:8 And the border went up by the Valley of the Son of Hinnom to the southern slope of the Jebusite city (which is Jerusalem). The border went up to the top of the mountain that lies before the Valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the Valley of Rephaim northward.

2Sam 5:6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.”

When Joshua invaded the land of Canaan, we see the city of Jerusalem which was a Jebusite city being ruled by an Amorite king.

Josh 1:4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.

Judg 1:26 And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.

All the land of Hittites were promised to Israelite people. Jerusalem was ruled by an Amorite king. We also see the city of Luz (Bethel) which is 10 miles north of Jerusalem was from the land of Hittites.

Gen 10:15-18 Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed.

Heth and Amorite were brothers and their father was Canaan. Mother is used to represent to whom the land belongs to. For instance, God is calling Israel as mother when He is referring to her daughters Jerusalem and Samaria later in this chapter. Based on what God spoke, it seems when the city of Jerusalem was newly built by Hittites which was invaded by Jebusites to become a Jebusite city. It was again invaded by Amorites and this Jebusite city was ruled by an Amorite king.

Gen 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

It is possible Salem was the earlier name of Jerusalem. When Jebusites invaded, it may have been called Jerusalem.

Josh 10:1 Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them,

We also see some hints from the last name of kings of Jerusalem or their titles – Melchizedek, Adoni-Zedek.

Ezek 16:7 I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare.

The comparison of the growth of a woman to maturity as admired by God could mean both for a city or His people.
  • City: It could refer to the spiritual growth of the inhabitants of Jerusalem who may have worshiped the true God when it was created, since Melchizedek, king of Salem was a high priest of God.
  • Israelites: It could also represent Jacob based on the below verse where the virgin breasts were there embraced and pressed referring to Idolatry of Israelite people in Egypt.

Ezek 23:3 They committed harlotry in Egypt, They committed harlotry in their youth; Their breasts were there embraced, Their virgin bosom was there pressed.

But Jerusalem is naked and bare.

And David dwelt in the strong hold; therefore he called it the city of David. And he fortified the city round about (1Chr 11:7-8, LXX).

Ps 51:18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.

  • City: It could represent the newly built Jerusalem city having no walls. The walls of Jerusalem was later built by king David when He conquered as per the above verse.
  • Israelites: It could also mean the people of Israel having no rule over their land as we see in proverbs.

Prov 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

We are able to see a pattern of illustration using the city Jerusalem to show His people their abominations which are not only for the people of Israel but also for the city of Jerusalem.

God Married Jerusalem


Ezek 16:8 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD.

Similar to the above pattern, God made covenant with both the city Jerusalem and the children of Israel.

Num 25:12 “Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace;2Chr 7:12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.

  • City: God answered the prayer of Solomon and chose Jerusalem for Himself as a house of sacrifice.
  • Israelites: God made a covenant with the children of Israel at mount Sinai.
God washed and beautified Jerusalem, and she was succeeded to royalty.

Ezek 16:9-14 “Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord GOD.

God does the following on Jerusalem to beautify her.
  1. Washed in water (God sanctified and cleansed Jerusalem and made it holy, Eph 5:25-26)
  2. Washed off her blood (Washed the shedding of blood in wars while invading Canaan etc., 1Chr 22:8)
  3. Anointed with oil (Separated for God or made holy, Exod 40:9)
  4. Clothed in embroidered cloth (Referring to the steadiness – opposite of trembling, Ezek 26:16)
  5. Gave sandals of badger skin (The good news of salvation is of Jews, Eph 6:15)
  6. Clothed with fine linen (Righteous acts of saints, Rev 19:8)
  7. Covered with silk (Gave riches and luxury, Rev 18:12).
  8. Adorned with ornaments, (Salvation and Righteousness, Isa 61:10)
    1. Bracelets on wrists
    2. Chain on neck
    3. Jewel in nose
    4. Earrings in ears
    5. Beautiful crown on head.
  9. Ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil (God blessed with the produce of the land, Deut 32:13).

With all these, the children of Israel was exceedingly blessed.

1Kgs 10:27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.

This also true for Jerusalem as a city where silver was as common as stone during the days of king Solomon.

The Adulterous Wife

Ezek 16:15 “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.

Most Christians pray earnestly for a blessing from God. When God listens to their prayers and blesses them, they trust on their blessings more and even refuse to acknowledge that those blessings were from God.

Deut 32:12-15 So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him. He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock; Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs; And rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the choicest wheat; And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes. But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

Children of Israel forsook God and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

Ezek 16:16-19 “You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them. You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My incense before them. Also My food which I gave you–the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you–you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was,” says the Lord GOD.

Children of Israel forsook their God and went after other gods. They used the blessings which God gave as offerings to other gods and played idolatry.

Ezek 16:20-21 “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?

This child sacrifice is the greatest sin which Israel had done during the reign of Manasseh which made God to punish Israel in-spite of all the good which Josiah later did.

2Kgs 17:17-18 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.

Jer 7:30-31 “For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight,” says the LORD. “They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.

In modern days, people don’t worship Baal or sacrifice their children in fire but instead, they worship themselves to abort and kill their own child for the sake of their own pleasure.

The Brazen Harlot

Ezek 16:22-26 “And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood. Then it was so, after all your wickedness–‘Woe, woe to you!’ says the Lord GOD– that you also built for yourself a shrine, and made a high place for yourself in every street. You built your high places at the head of every road, and made your beauty to be abhorred. You offered yourself to everyone who passed by, and multiplied your acts of harlotry. You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger.

Jerusalem had become a harlot, who not only forgot her savior and God but started worshiping other gods.

Ezek 16:27 “Behold, therefore, I stretched out My hand against you, diminished your allotment, and gave you up to the will of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior.

God was indeed very angry and gave Jerusalem to the daughters of Philistines to rule over them. We can remember Goliath who was a Philistine killed by David.

Ezek 16:28-30 “You also played the harlot with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; indeed you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. Moreover you multiplied your acts of harlotry as far as the land of the trader, Chaldea; and even then you were not satisfied. How degenerate is your heart!” says the Lord GOD, “seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot.

The children of Israel not only worshiped other gods from Egypt and from the land of Canaan, but also went after Assyrians and  Chaldeans to worship their gods and serve them. If God said ‘How degenerate was the heart of children of Israel in their deeds which were of a brazen harlot, how much we are required to learn from the mistakes of Israel to reject falsehood and walk in the path of righteousness and holiness in ways that please Him?

Opposite of Harlots

Ezek 16:31-35 “You erected your shrine at the head of every road, and built your high place in every street. Yet you were not like a harlot, because you scorned payment. You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband. Men make payment to all harlots, but you made your payments to all your lovers, and hired them to come to you from all around for your harlotry. You are the opposite of other women in your harlotry, because no one solicited you to be a harlot. In that you gave payment but no payment was given you, therefore you are the opposite. ‘Now then, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD!

The children of Israel erected shrines at the head of every road and built high places in every street. Today within Christianity, we see Catholics doing the same mistake, having shrines worshiping the idols of Jesus and Mary.

1Sam 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” 

Col 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Many Christians are having a stubbornness of heart, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which are all compared to idolatry. Just like the ancient Israelite people, many who call themselves Christians even make payments to do these sins.

God’s Fury and Jealousy

Ezek 16:36-37 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because your filthiness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your harlotry with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children which you gave to them, surely, 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 from all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.

What God is saying is that, He will make gentiles whose idols the children of Israel worshiped and served, to destroy the walls of Jerusalem and make it bare and desolate.

Ezek 16:38 “And I will judge you as women who break wedlock or shed blood are judged; I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy.

How will women who broke wedlock or one who shed blood are judged as per the law?

Deut 22:20-24 “But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you. If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die–the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

  • If a virgin played harlot – stone her at the door of her father’s house
  • If a betrothed woman played harlot  – stone her to death at the gates outside the city
  • If a married woman played harlot  – shall die.

Gen 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.

Exod 21:12 “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.

The law says the married women who played harlot must be put to death. And, whoever shed blood will also be put to death.

Ezek 16:39-43 “I will also give you into their hand, and they shall throw down your shrines and break down your high places. They shall also strip you of your clothes, take your beautiful jewelry, and leave you naked and bare. They shall also bring up an assembly against you, and they shall stone you with stones and thrust you through with their swords. They shall burn your houses with fire, and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women; and I will make you cease playing the harlot, and you shall no longer hire lovers.So I will lay to rest My fury toward you, and My jealousy shall depart from you. I will be quiet, and be angry no more. Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but agitated Me with all these things, surely I will also recompense your deeds on your own head,” says the Lord GOD. “And you shall not commit lewdness in addition to all your abominations.

Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by Babylonians and then by Romans.

Matt 23:37-38 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate;

When Jesus entered Jerusalem before His crucifixion, it was desolate, referring to the spiritual state of the people who are not willing to come to God.

Like Mother, like Daughter!

Ezek 16:44-46 “Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: ‘Like mother, like daughter!’ You are your mother’s daughter, loathing husband and children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children; your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters.

We already earlier that Jerusalem, which belongs to Hittites was ruled by Amorites. But how are Samaria and Sodom related to Jerusalem?

1Kgs 16:23-24 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah. And he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; then he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Samaria, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill.

Samaria was purchased for 2 talents of silver which later became the capital of the kingdom of Israel. But why was it called the elder sister of Jerusalem when it was established much later in Israelite history? Also, why was Sodom called the younger sister of Jerusalem when it was established at the time of Abraham itself and got destroyed even before Jerusalem or Samaria was built?

What God may be referring here is the length of each practicing idolatry relating it to who is elder. For instance, Samaria (kingdom of Israel) was practicing idoldary soon after the split of the unified kingdom of Israel until their captivity (~300 years). Jerusalem however, had less kings for a shorter period compared to Samaria who practiced idolatry but the sin was very serious esp., child sacrifice during King Manasseh. Compared to Jerusalem and Samaria, the length of sin practiced in Sodom was very short (~30 years) before they were destroyed.

Ezek 16:47-52 “You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you became more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. Samaria did not commit half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and have justified your sisters by all the abominations which you have done. You who judged your sisters, bear your own shame also, because the sins which you committed were more abominable than theirs; they are more righteous than you. Yes, be disgraced also, and bear your own shame, because you justified your sisters.

While Jerusalem did not commit idolatry for a long period as Samaria or like Sodom for a short time, their sins are so horrible and unimaginable sacrificing children to Baal and making them walk through fire.

Some Christians quote the sins of Sodom mentioned here to even justify homosexuality as if it is not mentioned. God had clearly mentioned they committed abomination before God.

Jude 1:7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

It is further explicitly mentioned by Jude to keep away from sexual immorality giving the example of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with vengeance of eternal fire.


Returning from Captivity

Ezek 16:53-59 “When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them, that you may bear your own shame and be disgraced by all that you did when you comforted them. When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state. For your sister Sodom was not a byword in your mouth in the days of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered. It was like the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria and all those around her, and of the daughters of the Philistines, who despise you everywhere. You have paid for your lewdness and your abominations,” says the LORD. For thus says the Lord GOD: “I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant.

We know the captives of Jerusalem are the children of Israel from the kingdom of Judah and the captives of Samaria are the children of Israel from the kingdom of Israel. But who are the captives of Sodom? We know none of the people of Sodom survived except Lot and the people of Zoar who were spared based on Lot’s request.

Isa 15:5 “My heart will cry out for Moab; His fugitives [shall flee] to Zoar, [Like] a three-year-old heifer. For by the Ascent of Luhith They will go up with weeping; For in the way of Horonaim They will raise up a cry of destruction,

Deut 2:9 “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you [any] of their land [as] a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot [as] a possession.’

It seems the captives of Sodom is a reference to the captivity of Moab, the descendants of Lot. These captives will return in latter days.

Jer 30:3 ‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’ ”

Jer 48:46-47 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perish; For your sons have been taken captive, And your daughters captive. Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days,” says the LORD. Thus far [is] the judgment of Moab.


We know the captivity of Judah (generally identified as Jews) had returned. If we look at the map of Israel today, the conquered West bank and Gaza consists most of the northern kingdom of Israel, Sodom and Palestine. Could this prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, where West bank is given as daughters to the children of Israel?

A New Covenant

Ezek 16:60-63 Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord GOD.

God will establish His covenant with Israel. It is indeed the fulfillment of the New Covenant. When Samaria and Sodom, and their daughters were given as daughters to Jerusalem, God will establish His covenant with Israel and provide an atonement for all Israel had done. We know Christ is the perfect sacrifice and He is the Passover lamb. We also know the Day of Atonement is a future event which Christ is yet to fulfill.

The first covenant is about the children of Israel inheriting the promised land of Canaan. The second covenant is about the seed of Abraham through faith inheriting the kingdom of God. While we are not under the first covenant, Christ will fulfill all the requirements of the law and will receive the fullness of the promise of the first covenant, that is to establish the kingdom of Israel and the King forever. The second covenant is about inheriting not the kingdom of Israel but the kingdom of Heaven where He is already a King. It is through Christ, we inherit all the promises.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become [the kingdoms] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

Is it possible that Christ will come in clouds to establish His covenant which He gave and fulfill the pending fall feasts of the Lord when West bank is annexed to Israel?

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