Oholah and Oholibah as Symbols of God’s Corrupt People
23 And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother, 3 and they prostituted themselves in Egypt in their childhood; they were prostituting themselves there, and their breasts were fondled, and there they caressed the bosoms of their virginity. 4 Now as for their names, the older was Oholah, and Oholibah was her sister. And they became mine, and they bore sons and daughters, and their names are Samaria for Oholah, and Jerusalem for Oholibah. 5 And Oholah prostituted herself while she was still mine, and she lusted for her lovers, for Assyria who was nearby, 6 clothed in blue cloth, governors and prefects, handsome young men and all of them horsemen, experts on horseback. 7 And she bestowed her fornication on them, on the choice ones of the Assyrians, all of them, and with every one after which she lusted; with all of their idols she defiled herself. 8 And her whorings from the time of Egypt she did not abandon, for they slept with her in her childhood, and they caressed the bosoms of her virginity, and they poured out their fornication on her. 9 Therefore I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians after whom she lusted. 10 They uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters, and they killed her with the sword. And she became a name for the women, and they executed judgments against her.
11 “And though Oholibah her sister saw, yet in her lust she behaved more corruptly than her, and her whoring was more than the prostitution of her sister. 12 She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and prefects, warriors clothed in perfection, expert horsemen, all of them handsome young men. 13 And I saw that she was defiled; they had both taken the same path! 14 And she increased her whorings, and she saw men carved on the wall, images of Chaldeans carved in red, 15 belted with a belt at their waist with turbans on their heads, all of them giving the appearance of adjutants, the image of the Babylonians; Chaldea was the land of their birth. 16 And she lusted for them when her eyes saw them, and she sent messengers to them at Chaldea. 17 And so the Babylonians came to her for the bed of lovemaking; and they defiled her with their fornication, and she was defiled by them, and she turned from them. 18 And she revealed her whorings, and she revealed her nakedness, and so I turned from her just as I turned from her sister. 19 Yet she increased her whorings, recalling the days of her childhood when she was prostituted in the land of Egypt. 20 And she lusted after her male lovers whose genitalia were the genitalia of male donkeys and their seminal emission was the seminal emission of horses. 21 And you longed after the obscene conduct of your youth when your bosom was caressed by Egypt, fondling your young breasts.
22 “Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord Yahweh: ‘Look! I am stirring up your lovers against you concerning whom you turned away, and I will bring them against you from all around: 23 the Babylonians and all of the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, all of the Assyrians along with them, handsome young men, governors and prefects, all of them adjutants and excellent horsemen. 24 And they will come against you with an army chariot and wagon and with a crowd of peoples; they will set themselves against you from all around with large shield and small shield and helmet. And I will give before them judgment, and they will judge you with their judgments. 25 And I will direct my zeal against you, and they will deal with you in anger; your nose and your ears they will remove, and those who are left, they will fall by the sword, and they will take your sons and your daughters, and your remnant will be consumed by fire. 26 And they will strip you of your clothes, and they will take your splendid jewelry. 27 And I will put an end to your obscene conduct coming from you and your fornication from the land of Egypt, and you will not lift your eyes to them; and you will not remember Egypt again.’ 28 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: ‘Look! I am giving you into the hand of those you hated, into the hand of those from whom you turned away. 29 And they will deal with you in hatred, and they will take all of your acquisitions, and they will leave you naked and in bareness; and the nakedness of your fornication and your obscene conduct and your whorings will be exposed. 30 These things are accomplished against you since you prostituted yourself after the nations, and on account of that, you defiled yourself by their idols. 31 You went in the same way of your sister, and I will give her cup into your hand.” ’
32 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “You will drink the deep and wide cup of your sister; you will be as laughter and as scorn; the cup holds so much! 33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, for a cup of horror and desolation is the cup of your sister, Samaria. 34 And you will drink it, and you will drain it, and its potsherds you will gnaw, and you will tear out your breasts, for I myself spoke,” declares the Lord Yahweh. 35 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Because you have forgotten me, and you threw me behind your back, now in turn you bear your obscene conduct and your whorings.”
36 And Yahweh said to me, “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah and declare their abominable deeds to them? 37 For they committed adultery, and blood is on their hands, and they committed adultery with their idols, and even their children that they had borne for me—they sacrificed them as food! 38 Also they did this to me: they defiled my sanctuary on that day, and they profaned my Sabbaths, 39 and when they slaughtered their children for their idols, they came to my sanctuary on that day to profane it. And look, this is what they did in my house! 40 What is worse, they sent for men who come from a distant place, to whom a messenger was sent to them, and look! They came! Men for whom you bathed and painted your eyes, and you adorned yourself with an ornament. 41 And you sat on a magnificent couch and a table prepared before her, and my incense and my olive oil you put on her. 42 And a sound of a carefree crowd was with it, and in addition to these men, a crowd of drunken men was brought in from the desert, and they put bracelets on their arms and a crown of splendor on their heads. 43 And I said to the one worn out with adulteries, ‘Now they will prostitute her concerning her fornication, even her.’ 44 And so they went to her like going to a female prostitute; and thus they went to Oholah and to Oholibah, the women of obscene conduct. 45 But righteous men, they will judge them with the judgment of committing adultery, and with the judgment of shedding blood; for they were committing adultery, and blood was on their hands.”
46 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Bring up against them an assembly, and make them as a thing of horror and as plunder. 47 And an assembly must stone them with stones, and they must cut them down. With their swords they shall kill their sons and their daughters, and with fire they shall burn their houses. 48 And I will cause obscene conduct to cease from the land, and all of the women will be warned, and they will not do according to your wickedness. 49 And they will repay your obscene conduct upon you, and the guilt of your idols you will bear, and you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh.
The Two Witnesses
11 And a measuring rod similar in appearance to a staff was given to me, saying, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship in it. 2 And leave out the courtyard outside of the temple, and do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample the holy city for forty two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, dressed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and consumes their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, in this way he must be killed. 6 These have the authority to shut the sky, so that it does not rain during the days of their prophecy. And they have authority over the waters, to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they wish.
7 And when they have completed their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war with them and will conquer them and will kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is called symbolically Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 And those from peoples and tribes and languages and nations will see their dead bodies three and a half days, and they will not allow their dead bodies to be placed in a tomb. 10 And those who live on the earth will rejoice over them, and will celebrate and will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who live on the earth.
11 And after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here,” and they went up into heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And at that hour a great earthquake took place, and a tenth of the city collapsed, and seven thousand people were killed by the earthquake, and the rest became terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe has passed. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly!
9 “Because of the multitude of oppressions, they cry out;
they cry for help because of the arm of the mighty.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than the animals of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’
12 There they cry out, but he does not answer
because of the pride of evildoers.
13 “Surely God does not hear an empty plea,
and Shaddai does not regard it.
14 How much less when you say that you do not see him,
that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!
15 But now, because his anger does not punish,
and he does not acknowledge the transgression at all,
16 therefore Job opens his mouth in empty talk—
without knowledge he multiplies words.”
When God’s people turn from Him, the biblical story becomes solemn, sad, and explicit.
“Now as for their names, the older was Oholah, and Oholibah was her sister. And they became mine, and they bore sons and daughters, and their names are Samaria for Oholah, and Jerusalem for Oholibah. And Oholah prostituted herself while she was still mine [being Yahweh’s], and she lusted for her lovers, for Assyria who was nearby.… Therefore I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians after whom she lusted” (Ezek 23:4–5, 9).
There is a firm rebuke in Yahweh’s words spoken through Ezekiel—the sin becomes the punishment. But this sad picture also reveals Yahweh’s perspective and the pain that He feels when we walk away from Him.
Ezekiel’s words should prompt us to ask questions. How often have we been blinded by our lust for “greener grasses”? How often have we sacrificed God’s plan and potential for our lives at the altar of selfish desires? How often has “want” controlled us to the point of betraying the God who created us?
Our remorse should guide us into making better choices. We can walk away from the pursuit of our own desires and walk into the life that Yahweh offers us. The “two witnesses” in Rev 11:1–14 make this very decision. Appalled by the horrifying scene of their generation (e.g., Rev 9:13–21), they find hope and power in seeking Yahweh. Rather than allowing the evil of their generation to control or change them, they seek Yahweh. For doing so, they inherit power to do His work (Rev 11:2–6).
Each sad moment in history—indeed every single moment—is an opportunity to do the will of God. Today we have an opportunity to deny the narrative of our generation (and previous ones) in favor of God.
What selfish desires is God overturning in your life?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.