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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 23


Thus the word of the LORD came to me:


Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother,


who even as young girls played the harlot in Egypt. There the Egyptians caressed their bosoms and fondled their virginal breasts.


1 Oholah was the name of the elder, and the name of her sister was Oholibah. They became mine and bore sons and daughters. (As for their names: Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.)


Oholah became a harlot faithless to me; she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians, warriors


dressed in purple, governors and officers, all of them attractive young men, knights mounted on horses.


Thus she gave herself as a harlot to them, to all the elite of the Assyrians, and she defiled herself with all those for whom she lusted (with all their idols).


She did not give up the harlotry which she had begun in Egypt, when they had lain with her as a young girl, fondling her virginal breasts and pouring out their impurities on her.


Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians for whom she had lusted.


They exposed her nakedness, her sons and daughters they took away, and herself they slew with the sword. Thus she became a byword for women, for they punished her grievously.


Though her sister Oholibah saw all this, her lust was more depraved than her sister's, and she outdid her in harlotry.


She too lusted after the Assyrians, governors and officers, warriors impeccably clothed, knights mounted on horses, all of them attractive young men.


I saw that she had defiled herself. Both had gone down the same path,


yet she went further in her harlotry. When she saw men drawn on the wall, the images of Chaldeans drawn with vermillion,


with sashes girded about their waists, flowing turbans on their heads, all looking like chariot warriors, the portraits of Babylonians, natives of Chaldea,


she lusted for them; no sooner had she set eyes on them than she sent messengers to them in Chaldea.


Then the Babylonians came to her, to the love couch, and defiled her with their intercourse. As soon as she was defiled by them, she became disgusted with them.


Her harlotry was discovered and her shame was revealed, and I became disgusted with her as I had become disgusted with her sister.


But she played the harlot all the more, recalling the days of her girlhood, when she had been a harlot in the land of Egypt.


She lusted for the lechers of Egypt, whose members are like that of an ass, and whose heat is like that of stallions.


You yearned for the lewdness of your girlhood, when the Egyptians fondled your breasts, caressing your bosom.


Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: I will now stir up your lovers against you, those with whom you are disgusted, and I will bring them against you from every side:


2 the men of Babylon and all of Chaldea, Pekod, Shoa and Koa, along with all those of Assyria, attractive young men, all of them governors and officers, charioteers and warriors, all of them horsemen.


They shall come against you from the north with chariots and wagons and many peoples. Shields, bucklers, and helmets they shall array against you everywhere.


I will leave it to them to judge, and they will judge you by their own ordinances. I will let loose my jealousy against you, so that they shall deal with you in fury, cutting off your nose and ears; and what is left of you shall fall by the sword. They shall take away your sons and daughters, and what is left of you shall be devoured by fire.


They shall strip off your clothes and seize your splendid ornaments.


I will put an end to your lewdness and to the harlotry you began in Egypt; you shall no longer look toward it, nor shall you remember Egypt again.


For thus says the Lord GOD: I am now handing you over to those whom you hate, to those who fill you with disgust.


They shall deal with you in hatred, seizing all that you have worked for and leaving you stark naked, so that your indecent nakedness is exposed. Your lewdness and harlotry


have brought these things upon you, because you played the harlot with the nations by defiling yourself with their idols.


Because you followed in the path of your sister, I will hand you her cup.


Thus says the Lord GOD: The cup of your sister you shall drink, so wide and deep, which holds so much,


Filled with destruction and grief, a cup of dismay, the cup of your sister.


You shall drain it dry, and gnaw at the very sherds of the cup, and you shall tear out your breasts; for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD.


Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, it is for you to bear the penalty of your lewdness and harlotry.


Then the LORD said to me: Son of man, would you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then make known to them their abominations.


For they committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; to feed them they immolated the children they had borne me.


(This, too, they did to me: they defiled my sanctuary and desecrated my sabbaths.


On the very day they slew their children for their idols, they entered my sanctuary to desecrate it. Thus they acted within my house.)


3 Moreover, they sent for men who had to come from afar, to whom messengers were sent. And so they came - and for them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and put on ornaments.


You sat on a couch prepared for them, with a table spread before it, on which you had set my incense and oil.


Then was heard the shout of a carefree mob in the city, and these were men brought in from the desert, who put bracelets on the women's arms and splendid diadems on their heads.


So I said: "Oh, this woman jaded with adulteries! Now they will commit whoredom with her, and as for her. . . ."


And indeed they did come to her as men come to a harlot. Thus they came to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women.


But just men shall punish them with the sentence meted out to adulteresses and murderesses, for they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands.


Thus says the Lord GOD: Summon an assembly against them, and deliver them over to terror and plunder.


The assembly shall stone them and hack them to pieces with their swords. They shall slay their sons and daughters, and burn their houses with fire.


Thus I will put an end to lewdness in the land, and all the women will be warned not to imitate your lewdness.


They shall inflict on you the penalty of your lewdness, and you shall pay for your sins of idolatry. Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.



1 [4] Oholah . . . Oholibah: symbolic names. The first, standing for Samaria, may be read to mean "her own tent"; the latter, standing for Jerusalem, means "My tent is in her." The references seem to be to the schismatic temple and cult of the Lord in Samaria, as opposed to their authentic counterpart in Jerusalem.

2 [23] Pekod, Shoa and Koa: peoples living about the Tigris, part of "greater Babylonia."

3 [40] Men who had to come from afar: ambassadors from Assyria and Babylon. Alliances with these countries aided in the corruption of both Israel and Judah.

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