Ezekiel 16:1-63

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YHWH’s “word” or message came to Ezekiel. The Targum identifies this message as a “word of prophecy from before the Lord.” (16:1) Ezekiel was addressed as “son of man,” reminding him that he was a mortal in the service of the eternal God YHWH. As YHWH’s prophet, Ezekiel was to “make known to Jerusalem her abominations” or the disgusting conduct and practices of the city’s inhabitants. According to the Septuagint, he was to “testify” to Jerusalem concerning her “lawless deeds.” (16:2)

YHWH is quoted as indicating Jerusalem to have had a Canaanite origin. Although Jerusalem was a Jebusite city, the Jebusites appear to be included as being represented by the two prominent peoples that anciently occupied the land — the Amorites and the Hittites. On this basis, the “father” of Jerusalem was identified as the “Amorite,” and the “mother” as the Hittite. (16:3)

Ancient Jerusalem is portrayed as an unwanted baby girl that was exposed to the elements and left to perish. Her umbilical cord had not been cut (her breasts had not been bound [LXX]), and she had not been washed, rubbed with salt, and swaddled. (16:4; see the Notes section.) No “eye” looked with pity upon the abandoned baby girl, with no one compassionately doing any one of the aforementioned acts that were customary for newborn babies. She had simply been tossed on the surface of a field, for she was abhorred from the “day” of her birth, apparently because of not being desired as a baby boy would have been. (16:5; see the Notes section.)

YHWH represented himself as passing by and seeing Jerusalem like a baby girl that was kicking about in the blood from the time of birth. While still in her blood, he said to her, “Live.” The imperative is repeated, assuring that the baby girl would not die but would grow up. In the Septuagint, the verb for “live” is not repeated, and the entire phrase in which the verb “live” appears may be rendered, “From your blood [is] life.” (16:6; see the Notes section.)

On account of what YHWH did for her, the abandoned baby girl flourished like abundant vegetation in a field, grew up, and became “great” or tall. The reference to her arrival at “ornament of ornament” could mean that she grew up to be a beautiful woman, a woman with fully developed breasts and luxuriant hair. Still, she continued to be nude, without attire and adornment with costly jewelry. (16:7)

YHWH is represented as passing by and seeing the mature young woman that Jerusalem had become, a woman ready to be loved as a wife. He then is portrayed as spreading the skirt of his garment (“wings” [LXX]) over her, covering her nudity and, with an oath-bound covenant or agreement, making her his own. The reference to spreading the skirt” may here represent an engagement. (16:8; compare Ruth 3:9 and see the Notes section.) YHWH is depicted as washing the young woman with water, removing all traces of blood, and applying oil to her body. (16:9; see the Notes section.) He then clothed her with an embroidered robe and leather (“hyacinth” [LXX]) footwear, bound or girded her in fine linen, covered her with costly fabric (possibly silk [a veil of hair (LXX)]) (16:10; see the Notes section), adorned her with ornaments, putting bracelets on her wrists or arms and a chain or necklace around her neck (16:11; see the Notes section), and placed a ring in her nose, earrings in her ears, and a beautiful crown on her head. (16:12; see the Notes section.)

Under YHWH’s care, Jerusalem is portrayed as a woman who adorned herself with gold and silver and dressed herself with fine linen, costly fabric (possibly silk [a veil of hair (LXX)]), and embroidered cloth. Her food included fine flour, honey, and olive oil. She became very beautiful and attained a standing for royal estate. (16:13; see the Notes section.) On account of her beauty, the “name” or reputation of Jerusalem went out among the nations. Her “beauty” was “perfect” or flawless in view of the splendor that YHWH had bestowed on her. (16:14)

Instead of appreciating what YHWH had done for her, Jerusalem (as representing the people) trusted in her beauty and, because of the “name” or reputation she had come to have among the nations, engaged in prostitution, making herself available to everyone passing by. Her prostitution involved idol worship, a flagrant violation of the covenant concluded with the Israelites at Mount Sinai and which covenant bound the people to YHWH like a wife to her husband. (16:15; see the Notes section.)

Jerusalem is represented as taking some of her garments and making colorful “high places” or colorful shrines for idolatrous worship and there prostituting herself. The Masoretic Text then concludes with obscure wording, “not coming in, and not shall be.” In the Septuagint, there is similar wording, “you shall by no means enter, nor shall it by any means be” or take place. Renderings in modern translations include: “Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur.” (NIV) “It has never happened before, nor will it happen again!” (NAB, revised edition) “These things should never have happened!” (CEV) “… not in the future; not in time to come.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) (16:16)

From beautiful ornaments, from YHWH’s gold and his silver that he had given her, Jerusalem fashioned images of the male figure and engaged in prostitution with them. As violations of her covenant obligations to her Owner YHWH, her idolatrous practices constituted prostitution. (16:17) She took her embroidered garments and used them to dress the images and placed the oil and incense that belonged to YHWH before the idols (literally, “their faces”). The oil and incense were his, for trees and plants are the products of his creation. (16:18) Likewise all food products belonged to him. Yet the people (as represented by Jerusalem) took the “bread” or food, the fine flour, olive oil, and honey with which YHWH had fed them, and placed these before the idols (literally, “before their faces”) as a pleasing aroma. (16:19) Even more shocking was the practice of taking their sons and daughters, children who belonged to YHWH, and sacrificing them to the nonexistent deities that the idols represented. This occasioned the rhetorical question, “Was that not enough of your harlotries?” (16:20) The people slaughtered YHWH’s sons, for the Israelites were his people. They passed their sons through the fire as an offering to nonexistent deities. (16:21)

Jerusalem (as representing the unfaithful Israelites), while engaging in disgusting practices and harlotries — idolatry — gave no thought to what YHWH had done for her. She did not remember the “days” or time of youth when she was in an abandoned, helpless, and nude state, kicking about in the blood associated with her birth. (16:22)

After Jerusalem (as representing the people of the kingdom of Judah) had made herself guilty of “all [her] evil” or wrongdoing, the Lord YHWH declared “woe, woe” to her. In the Targum, the woe or calamity is expressed against the people who had sinned and had not repented. (16:23; see the Notes section.) Apparently for idolatrous purposes (practices represented as prostitution), Jerusalem is portrayed as having built a mound [a “whorehouse” [LXX]) for herself and an elevated place (having made or given public notice [LXX]) for herself in every square.(16:24; see the Notes section.) To be noticed as being available to engage in abominable acts, Jerusalem is depicted as having built an elevated place (“brothels” [LXX]) at the “head of every way” or street. She then made her beauty something abhorrent, for she offered herself (literally, spread out her feet or legs) to every passerby (joined the passerby in idol worship [Targum]) and increased her acts of harlotry (the number of “idols” [Targum]). (16:25)

Besides involvement in idolatrous practices, the prostitution of Jerusalem (as representing the people, particularly the king and princes in the realm of the kingdom of Judah) included forming alliances with foreign powers for military protection. This, too, was an act of disloyalty to YHWH, for the people and their rulers were to put their full trust in him for their well-being and security. Jerusalem prostituted herself to the “sons of Egypt, her neighbors.” These Egyptians are described as “great of flesh,” or as having a large male organ, apparently to heighten the image of Jerusalem’s willingness to prostitute herself to them. Jerusalem thus greatly offended YHWH with her frequent acts of prostitution. (16:26)

To punish Jerusalem (as representing the people of the kingdom of Judah), YHWH stretched out his “hand” (the striking power of his strength [Targum]) against her. He diminished her “allotted portion,” probably meaning that he permitted enemy forces to seize part of the territory of the kingdom of Judah. The Hebrew word for “allotted portion” can also mean something that is prescribed or a statute. This explains why the Septuagint indicates the reference to be to laws. According to the interpretation of the Targum, God withheld “good.” He gave Jerusalem (probably meaning part of the territory of the kingdom of Judah) to the “soul” of those hating her. The ones hating her are identified as the “daughters of the Philistines [allophyles (LXX)],” and the “soul” of these enemies probably is to be understood as meaning their “desire.” Even the Philistines found the lewd conduct of Jerusalem shocking and, therefore, are spoken of as having been “humiliated” or “put to shame” on account of it. According to the Septuagint, the allophyles or the people of another tribe turned Jerusalem aside from her way in which she behaved impiously. The Targum contains a significantly different interpretation. It says that, if God had sent his prophets to the Philistine cities, they would have responded submissively. (16:27)

Jerusalem is represented as prostituting herself to the “sons [daughters (LXX)] of Asshur” or Assyria, but was not sated with her repeated acts of harlotry. As in the case of the Egyptians, prostitution with the Assyrians involved entering into a military alliance with them. (16:28; see 2 Kings 16:7-9.)

The designation “Canaan” also was used to refer to merchants. In this context, “land of Canaan” evidently refers to Chaldea or Babylonia as a land of merchants. Jerusalem did prostitute herself with Chaldea. (See 2 Kings 20:12-18; Isaiah 39:1-7.) Numerous modern translations make this significance more specific than does the Hebrew text. “You increased your prostitutions again, now going to Chaldea, the land of traders; but despite this, you still were not satisfied.” (NAB, revised edition) “Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.” (NIV) “You added to your lovers by embracing Babylonia, the land of merchants, but you still weren’t satisfied.” (NLT) “So you went after Babylonians. But those merchants could not satisfy you either.” (CEV) (16:29; see the Notes section.)

Regarding Jerusalem, the words YHWH is quoted as saying may be translated, “How weak [is] your heart!” Translators have variously rendered these words. “How wild your lust!” (NAB, revised edition) “How weak-willed you are …” (NIV) “What a sick heart you have …” (NLT) “You would have done anything to get what you wanted.” (CEV) “How simple-minded you are!” (NJB) Based on a different vocalization of the Hebrew text, the expression may be translated, “How I was filled with your rage” (probably meaning YHWH’s fury against Jerusalem). This significance is found either in the main text or in the footnotes of a number of translations. “How you anger me!” (REB) “I am filled with anger.” (NJB, footnote) “How furious I was with you.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition], footnote) The reason for the statement about Jerusalem was that she had engaged in the deeds of a brazen prostitute, for the people of the kingdom of Judah had been guilty of idolatry and, through their kings and princes, guilty of entering alliances with foreign powers. (16:30; see the Notes section.)

“At the head of every way” or street, Jerusalem (the people of the kingdom of Judah) had built a “mound” (a “brothel” [LXX]) and an elevated place (a “platform” [LXX]) or a site for engaging in practices that constituted prostitution from YHWH’s standpoint. Unlike a prostitute, however, Jerusalem scorned hire, not seeking any payment. (16:31) The reference to an adulterous wife who takes “strangers instead of her husband” apparently applies to Jerusalem or God’s people who proved to be unfaithful to him. The Targum is explicit in making the application to the congregation of Israel as being like a wife whom her husband loves but who is unfaithful to him, abandons him, and pursues strangers. (16:32; see the Notes section.) “All harlots” receive “gifts” or payments for their services, but Jerusalem is portrayed as having given gifts to “all [her] lovers” and even bribing others to come to her. This she did, through the kings and princes of the kingdom of Judah, when seeking alliances with foreign powers. (16:33; see the Notes section.) In her harlotries, Jerusalem differed from other women, with no prostitution like hers being practiced. She paid hire and received no hire. Neither the idolatrous practices in which the people of the kingdom of Judah engaged nor their alliances with foreign powers benefited them. (16:34)

“Therefore,” in view of what she (or the people of the kingdom of Judah) had done, Jerusalem is addressed as a prostitute and called upon to “hear” or to listen to the “word of YHWH.” (16:35) The Lord YHWH is quoted as directing attention to her abominable acts. Her shame (menstruation or the uncleanness resulting therefrom) had been laid bare and her nakedness exposed (literally, poured out) in her harlotries with her lovers and all her abominable idols (literally, “dungy things” [an expression of contempt]). To the nonexistent deities that the idols represented, Jerusalem (the people of the kingdom of Judah) had sacrificed their sons and thus gave their “blood” to them. (16:36; see the Notes section.)

The “lovers” of Jerusalem were all the foreign powers with whom the people of the kingdom of Judah, through their kings and princes, made alliances. From all around, YHWH purposed to gather against her all the lovers with whom Jerusalem took pleasure and also those whom she hated and to expose her “nakedness” (“evil deeds” [LXX]) to them so that they might see all her “nakedness” (“shame” [LXX]). (16:37)

YHWH’s judgment against Jerusalem would be severe. It would be the judgment that was rendered against adulteresses and women guilty of bloodshed. Jerusalem (or the people of the kingdom of Judah) would experience having YHWH bring upon her the “blood of wrath and jealousy.” This could mean that, in expression of his “wrath and jealousy” on account of her unfaithfulness, she would have her blood shed. (16:38) YHWH would deliver Jerusalem into the “hand” or power of her former lovers and of those whom she hated. They would cast down her “mound” or lofty place (“brothel” [LXX]) and break down her “elevated places” (“platform” [LXX]). In this context, the “mound” and the “elevated places” could designate sites used for idolatrous worship. Her former lovers and those whom she hated would strip off the garments of Jerusalem, seize her beautiful ornaments, and leave her naked and exposed. The kingdom of Judah, with its capital city Jerusalem, would be reduced to ruins, and many of the people would perish. Survivors would be taken into exile as captives. (16:39) This would happen when YHWH would bring against Jerusalem an enemy host that would hurl stones at her and slay her “with their swords.” (16:40) The warring host would burn the houses of Jerusalem, executing judgments against her “before many women.” In this case, “many women” could refer to the populace of other cities that would witness the destruction of Jerusalem. By means of the severe punishment, YHWH would stop Jerusalem (or the surviving people of the kingdom of Judah) from whoring (or engaging in idolatry) and no longer giving hire to those whoring with her (either in idolatrous practices or through alliances). (16:41; see the Notes section.)

After his rage against Jerusalem had been brought to rest or been satisfied, YHWH would turn his jealousy away from her or from the people of the kingdom of Judah, remain quiet or calm, and no longer be angry (“anxious” [LXX]). (16:42)

Jerusalem did not remember the “days of [her] youth” or the time when YHWH first turned his attention to her and the Israelites experienced his loving care. The Israelites failed to show appreciation for what he had done for them and provoked him with their idolatry, alliances with foreign powers, and other deeds that were contrary to his commands. Therefore, he determined to requite their deeds upon their head, causing them to experience the serious consequences for their “way” or wayward course of conduct. The lewdness, depravity, or obscenity (“impiety” [LXX]) that Jerusalem added to her abominations may refer to the disgusting ceremonial prostitution in which the people engaged at the sites for idolatrous worship and their horrendous practice of child sacrifice. “Abominations” (“lawless deeds” [LXX]) would have included idolatry and corrupt practices like oppression of the poor. (16:43)

The introductory “look” serves to focus attention on the thought that is about to be expressed. Regarding Jerusalem, the proverb used against her would be, “Like mother, her daughter.” Jerusalem had been a Canaanite city before King David made the place his capital. As a result of this change from a Canaanite city to an Israelite city, Jerusalem became the “daughter” of her “mother.” Eventually, her actions as the daughter, or the conduct and deeds of the Israelites, came to be disgusting like those of her Canaanite mother and, in fact, proved to be even more abominable. (16:44)

Jerusalem is spoken of as the “daughter” of her “mother” and the “sister” of her “sisters.” Regarding the “mother” and the “sisters,” the text says that each of them loathed their “husband” and “sons” (“children” [LXX]). Possibly the loathing of husbands and sons or children alludes to the abominable practices of ceremonial prostitution and child sacrifice at sites for idolatrous worship. In the Targum, the reference is to the “daughter of the land of Canaan” and acting like the Canaanites whose parents and children were banished. The sisters are identified as Sodom and Gomorrah. The mother of the Israelites is identified as Sarah who lived among the Hittites but did not act like them, and the father as Abraham who lived among the Amorites but did not conduct himself according to their counsel. Both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, however, identify the mother as a Hittite and the father as an Amorite, indicating that Jerusalem (or the people of the kingdom of Judah) engaged in abominable practices like those of the people of the ancient Jebusite or Canaanite city. As in verse 3, Hittites and Amorites, the most prominent peoples of Canaan, represent all the Canaanites, including the Jebusites. (16:45) The older sister is identified as Samaria with her “daughters” or neighboring towns. Her dwelling or location had been “left” (when facing east) or north of Jerusalem. To the “right” (when facing east) or south of Jerusalem had been the dwelling or location of the younger sister, Sodom with her “daughters” or neighboring towns. (16:46; see the Notes section.)

At first, Jerusalem (or the people) did not follow the course of or act according to the disgusting practices of Samaria and Sodom (the people in those places). Then, within a short time, Jerusalem, “in all [her] ways,” conducted herself more corruptly than had Samaria and Sodom. (16:47) YHWH is quoted as solemnly declaring, “As I live.” This solemn declaration precedes the statement that Sodom and her “daughters” or neighboring towns had not acted like Jerusalem and her “daughters” or neighboring towns. The conduct of the people of the kingdom of Judah was even more shocking than that of Samaria and Sodom. (16:48)

The initial “look” directs attention to the serious guilt of Sodom the “sister” of Jerusalem. Sodom’s guilt (“lawlessness” [LXX]) is identified as having been “pride,” an inordinate elevated view of self coupled with a disregard and even disdain for others. Sodom and her “daughters” or neighboring cities were “sated with bread” (overfed or gluttonous) and at ease and undisturbed or in a complacent and carefree state. Although having an abundance, Sodom refused to “strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” or deliberately refrained from responding with compassionate help. (16:49) She and her daughters were haughty and did what was abominable before the “face” of YHWH or before him, and he removed them when he “saw.” The Masoretic Text contains no specific reference to what YHWH saw, and many modern translations render the words according to the reading of a number of other Hebrew manuscripts. “I did away with them as you have seen.” (NIV) “As you have seen, I removed them.” (NAB, revised edition) “So I wiped her out, as you have seen.” (NLT) In case the original wording is “I saw,” the meaning could be that YHWH took notice of what Sodom and her daughters were doing. (16:50; see Genesis 18:20, 21.)

The sin of Samaria (representing the sin of the people of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) was not even half of Jerusalem’s sin. Jerusalem (representing the people of the kingdom of Judah) engaged in more abominations than Samaria. By comparison, Jerusalem, in view of all the committed abominations, made her “sisters” Samaria and Sodom appear righteous. (16:51) It was shameful for Jerusalem to have done this. Therefore, she had to bear her disgrace for having made a favorable case for her “sisters.” By reason of all the sins Jerusalem had committed, conducting herself more detestably than her “sisters,” they were revealed as being more righteous than she was. (16:52)

The people who perished at the time of the destruction of Sodom and the ancestors of those who perished were long dead, and no identifiable descendants were then living. Also no survivors of the Assyrian conquest of Samaria were alive when Ezekiel prophesied. Accordingly, for the “captivity” or the body of captives (“fortunes,” according to numerous modern translations) to be gathered, to be “turned back” (LXX), or restored, particularly for “Sodom and her daughters” or neighboring towns, would require a resurrection and future judgment. (Compare Matthew 11:23, 24; Luke 10:12-15.) In the case of “Samaria and her daughters” or neighboring towns, only descendants of those who survived the conquest of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel could be restored to their land. For Jerusalem or the people of the kingdom of Judah, restoration to their land would have included the return of exiled survivors of the Babylonian conquest and their offspring. The prophetic words provided hope for a future restoration to Jerusalem “in the midst of” or along with “Sodom and her daughters” and “Samaria and her daughters.” (16:53) That there would be a restoration for Jerusalem despite all the detestable practices of the people of the kingdom of Judah would be a consolation for “Sodom and her daughters” and “Samaria and her daughters,” apparently from the standpoint of there being a hope of a reversal of their fortunes in the future. This is because their conduct was not as abominable as that of Jerusalem or the people of the kingdom of Judah and so their judgment could not be more severe and be without any possibility of any future change in their condition. At the same time, by comparison, Jerusalem would have to bear her disgrace at that time. (16:54; see the Notes section.)

The divine promise was that the “sisters” of Jerusalem (“Sodom and her daughters” or neighboring towns and “Samaria and her daughters” or neighboring towns) would “return to their former estate [be restored (LXX)]” and so would Jerusalem and her “daughters” or neighboring towns. (16:55) In the “day” or time of Jerusalem’s “pride,” when the people of the kingdom of Judah, took great pride in their position, considering themselves to be YHWH’s people, Sodom was a byword, occasioning but an expression of contempt from the mouth. (16:56) This was before the wickedness of Jerusalem was exposed, and the people of the kingdom of Judah then suffered the consequences for their unfaithfulness to YHWH. All basis for pride ended, and Jerusalem became the object of reproach from the “daughters of Aram [Syria]” or Edom (according to the reading of other Hebrew manuscripts) and from all her “daughters” or neighboring peoples round about. On all sides, the “daughters of the Philistines [allophyles (LXX), those of another tribe]” or the people of Philistia despised Jerusalem. (16:57) It was then that Jerusalem or the people of the kingdom of Judah had to bear the consequences for having been guilty of lewdness (impieties [LXX] or godless actions) and abominations (lawless deeds [LXX]). (16:58)

The Lord YHWH declared that he would deal with Jerusalem according to what the people of the kingdom of Judah had done. They had violated the covenant that had been concluded with their ancestors before they entered the land of Canaan. This covenant was associated with YHWH’s oath or solemn declaration, promising blessings for obedience to his commands and warning of curses for disobedience. (Deuteronomy 27:9, 10, 15-26; 28:1-68; 29:1) By violating the commands that were part of the covenant, the people of the kingdom of Judah despised YHWH’s oath. Therefore, they were dealt with accordingly and experienced the curses regarding which they had been warned. (16:59; see the Notes section.)

Despite the disobedience of his people, YHWH would remember his covenant that had been concluded with them centuries earlier (“in the days of your youth”). The feminine singular suffix meaning “your” is part of the Hebrew word for “youth” and refers to Jerusalem, and here represents the people who were bound by the terms of the covenant that had been concluded with their ancestors. Unlike the people, YHWH remembered this covenant and dealt with them accordingly. He promised to establish an eternal covenant with them (literally, “you,” with the singular feminine suffix referring to Jerusalem as representing the people). This “eternal covenant” apparently is the same as the “new covenant” mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31-33. (16:60) At the time of the establishment of the “eternal covenant,” Jerusalem (representing the people) would remember her ways or past wayward conduct and be ashamed upon receiving her sisters (the older ones [Samaria and her daughters]) and the younger ones [Sodom and her daughters]). YHWH would give them to Jerusalem as “daughters [for a building (LXX)].” The concluding phrase (“not on account of your covenant”) is obscure. Possibly it means that uniting others to YHWH’s people, persons who would become like “daughters” to them, was not a feature set forth in the covenant. The fulfillment may point to the time when both Jews and non-Jews would become one people as beneficiaries of the new covenant and have an equal standing as beloved children of God forgiven of their sins on the basis of their faith in the promised Messiah, Anointed One, or Christ — Jesus the unique Son of God. (16:61; Acts 10:34-43; Ephesians 2:11-22; see the Notes section.)

YHWH is quoted as declaring, “And I, I myself, will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am YHWH.” The suffix that is translated “you” is feminine gender and singular. It applies to Jerusalem and is referred to representatively as designating the people. At the time of the establishment of the covenant with them, the people would “know” or recognize YHWH as their God to whom they should be exclusively devoted. (16:62) They would then remember and be ashamed. This apparently concerns remembering their former transgressions and being ashamed of their waywardness. As a people restored to YHWH’s favor, they would not open their “mouth” or make any expression because of their shame on account of wrongdoing. The Lord YHWH promised that he would make an atonement for or forgive them for all that they had done. (16:63)


Regarding the wording of verse 4, the Targum refers to the congregation of Israel while enslaved and oppressed in Egypt as being like a newborn baby that is abandoned in a field.

According to the Septuagint rendering of the words in verse 5, God is the one whose eye did not spare the baby girl that represented Jerusalem. The Targum, however, identifies Pharaoh as the one with the eye that did not look with pity on the Israelites. He did not do even one good thing for them but decreed their extermination when commanding that male babies be cast into the Nile River.

The Targum does not refer to the defiling blood associated with birth (verse 6), but first mentions the “blood of the circumcision” and then indicates that God would redeem his people “by the blood of the Passover lambs.”

In verse 7, the Septuagint does not contain the expression “ornament of ornaments” but refers to entering into “cities of cities” or into the largest of cities. In the Targum, the focus is on the Israelites who were in Egypt. They became numerous and strong as a people, and the time for their redemption from enslavement and oppression arrived on account of the good deeds of their forefathers.

The Septuagint (in verse 8) does not refer to a “time of love” but reads, “time of those passing through” or of temporary lodgers. In the Targum, the focus continues to be on the Israelites in Egypt. God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush because the time for the redemption of the Israelites had arrived so that they might become his people.

The Targum interprets the wording of verse 9 to refer to redeeming the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt, putting an end to the horrific tyranny to which they had been subjected, and leading them to freedom. For the wording in verses 10 through 13, the Targum continues with a description of what God did for the Israelites. He provided them with garments from the precious things of their enemies, put costly shoes on their feet, consecrated priests who would serve him while wearing linen headgear and the high priest while dressed in colorful garments, improved the people with the “perfection of the words of the Torah” and sanctified them with the “holiness of [his] great name.” God placed the ark of the covenant among the people, caused his cloud to cover them, appointed an angel to lead them in the way, put his tabernacle in their midst, fed them manna, and made them prosper.

In verse 13, the Septuagint does not include any reference to “royal estate.”

Verse 15 of the Masoretic Text concludes with the words that may be translated, “let it be to him.” This could mean “let the act of prostitution be to the one passing by.” Rahlfs’ printed Greek text ends the verse with the phrase that may be rendered, “what should not be,” but these words are not included in fourth-century Codex Vaticanus.

In verse 23, the text of the Septuagint is shorter and continues with the wording of verse 24. “And it came to be after all your evil deeds, says the Lord, you also built a whorehouse for yourself and gave public notice for yourself in every square.”

Printed Greek texts of the Septuagint, in verse 29, read, “And you multiplied your covenants with the land of the Chaldeans.” The oldest extant Greek text (P967), however, says, “And you multiplied your covenants with the land of the Canaanites and Chaldeans.”

In verse 30, the Septuagint departs significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. It quotes the Lord as saying, “What shall I decree for your daughter … in that you have done all these things, the work of a whoring woman? And you have whored three times among your daughters.”

The text of verses 32 and 33 in the Septuagint may have arisen through a misreading of the Hebrew wording. Jerusalem is portrayed as being like an adulterous wife who takes payments “from her man” or husband and gives payments to all who whore with her.

In verse 36 of the Septuagint, the reference is to Jerusalem as pouring out brass or copper (money). For this reason, her shame would be revealed in her harlotry with her lovers and in all the thoughts of her lawless doings and through all the blood of her children that she had given to the idols (the nonexistent deities that the idols represented).

In verse 41, Rahlfs’ printed Greek text says “your harlotry,” but the ancient Greek codex (P967) does not include the word “your.”

The former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, with its capital in Samaria, included the descendants of the oldest sons of Jacob. On this basis, Samaria could be regarded as being the “older sister.” Sodom may be identified as the “younger sister” because of having been a smaller city. If the reference to older and younger relates to the size of both places, Samaria may be viewed as the older sister because of being the larger city. (Verses 46 and 61)

In verse 54, the wording of the Septuagint departs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. It indicates that Jerusalem would have to bear her pain or torment and would be disgraced for all that she had done in provoking God to anger.

The text of verse 59 in the Septuagint does not mention the “oath” but refers to dishonoring “these things.” In the oldest extant Greek text (P967), the introductory words (“thus says the Lord”) are omitted.

In Hebrew, the consonants for “as daughters” and “for a building” are the same. This explains why the Septuagint says “building” in verse 61. The interpretation of the Targum relates to warfare. It indicates that, even though the people did not heed the Torah, God would hand over to them countries that were stronger and those that were smaller than their own.