Old Testament

Ezekiel 23
Two Lewd Sisters Act Like Prostitutes
231The word of the Lord came to me.
2Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother. 3They acted like prostitutes in Egypt, where they were prostitutes during their youth. There they let their breasts be fondled. There they let men caress their virgin nipples.[]
4The older sister was named Oholah, and her sister was named Oholibah.[] They became mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. (As for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah.)
5Oholah acted like a prostitute instead of being faithful to me. She lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians—bodyguards 6clothed in purple, governors and commanders, all of them desirable young men, cavalrymen riding horses.[] 7She bestowed her favors upon all the elite of the Assyrians, and along with all those for whom she lusted, she defiled herself with all their filthy idols. 8She did not give up the whoring she had practiced since Egypt, when men lay down with her during her youth. They caressed her virgin nipples and poured out their lust upon her. 9Therefore, I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, after whom she had lusted. 10They exposed her nakedness. They took away her sons and her daughters and killed her with the sword. She became notorious among women because of the punishments they inflicted upon her.
11Although her sister Oholibah saw this, she behaved even more obscenely and lustfully than her sister, and her lustful whoring was even worse than her sister's whoring. 12She lusted after the Assyrians—governors, commanders, bodyguards in full uniform, and cavalrymen riding horses, all of them desirable young men. 13Then I saw that she too had defiled herself. Both of them had gone the same way. 14In fact, Oholibah intensified her whoring by looking at figures of men engraved on the wall, images of Chaldeans incised in bright red, 15with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads. All of them looked like elite officers, like Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. 16At the mere sight of them she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17The Babylonians came to her bed to make love, and they defiled her with their whoring. But after she had been defiled by them, she tore herself away from them in disgust. 18Because she had acted like a whore so openly and exposed her nakedness, I tore myself away from her in disgust, just as I had torn myself away from her sister in disgust. 19Yet she increased her whoring. She remembered the days of her youth when she acted like a prostitute in the land of Egypt. 20She lusted after her paramours, whose genitals[] were like the genitals of donkeys and whose ejaculation was like the ejaculation of horses. 21So you revisited the lewdness of your youth when your nipples were caressed in Egypt, and your young breasts were fondled.[]
22Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Lord God says. Hear this loud and clear! I am about to rouse your lovers against you, those you had turned away from in disgust. I will bring them against you from all sides: 23the sons of the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, desirable young men, governors and commanders all of them, elite officers and men of high rank, all of them riding on horses. 24They will come against you with weapons, chariots, and wagons, and with a horde of people. With shields, armor,[] and helmets, they will take up positions against you on all sides.
I will give you up to them for judgment, and they will judge you according to their own standards. 25I will turn my jealousy against you, and they will deal with you in wrath. They will cut off your nose and your ears, and your survivors will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and your daughters, and your survivors will be devoured by fire. 26They will strip you of your clothing and take away your beautiful jewelry. 27I will put an end to your depravity and to the whoring you began in the land of Egypt. You will not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt anymore. 28For this is what the Lord God says. Listen! I am about to deliver you into the hands of those you hate, into the hands of those you turned away from in disgust. 29They will treat you hatefully. They will take away everything you have worked for and leave you completely naked. Your whorish nakedness will be exposed. Your depravity and your acts of prostitution 30have brought these things upon you because of your whoring after the nations, because you defiled yourself with their filthy idols. 31Because you walked in the way of your sister, I will put her cup into your hand.
32This is what the Lord God says. You will drink your sister's cup, a cup deep and wide. It will cause you derision and ridicule because it is so full. 33You will be filled with drunkenness and grief by the cup of horror and devastation, the cup of your sister Samaria. 34You will drink it and drain it. You will gnaw its broken pieces and tear your breasts. For I have spoken, declares the Lord God. 35Therefore, this is what the Lord God says. Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must also bear the penalty of your depravity and your whoring.
36The Lord also said this to me:
Son of man, will you bring charges against Oholah and Oholibah? Make their abominations known to them.
37They have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their filthy idols. They have even offered up their children, whom they bore for me, to the idols as food.
38What is more, they have done this to me: They defiled my sanctuary on the same day they desecrated my Sabbaths. 39When they slaughtered their children for their filthy idols, they entered my sanctuary on that same day to defile it. Just look! This is what they did in my own house.
40They even sent for men to come from far away, men to whom they had sent a messenger, and those men came.
For them you[] bathed. You applied eye shadow and put on your jewelry. 41You sat on an expensive couch. In front of it you set a table, on which you placed my incense and my perfumed oil.
42The noise of a carefree crowd surrounded her. In addition to the large throng of all kinds of men, they even brought drunkards[] from the desert. They put bracelets on their arms and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43Then I said about the woman worn out with adulteries, “Let them keep using her as a whore because that is what she is.”[] 44So they used her the way one uses a whore. So they used Oholah and Oholibah, those depraved women. 45But righteous men will punish them with the punishment due to adulteresses and the punishment due to murderers, for they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands.
46So this is what the Lord God says. I will bring an army against them and hand them over to terror and plunder. 47The army will stone them and cut them down with their swords. They will slaughter their sons and daughters and burn down their houses with fire.
48In this way I will remove depravity from the land, so that all women may take warning not to act in such a depraved way as you do. 49They will impose upon you the penalty for your depravity, and you will bear the punishment for your sinful worship of your filthy idols. Then you will know that I am the Lord God.


  • 23:3 As he does elsewhere in the book, Ezekiel uses blunt language to condemn Israel's sins of physical and spiritual adultery.
  • 23:4 Oholah means her tent. Samaria had its own sanctuary, not the Lord's. Oholibah means my tent is in her. Jerusalem had the true sanctuary of the Lord, but they did not honor it.
  • 23:6 Or charioteers
  • 23:20 Literally flesh. Once again Ezekiel uses blunt, direct language.
  • 23:21 The translation your young breasts were fondled is based on the parallel actions in verses 3 and 8. The Hebrew in verse 21 reads for the sake of your young breasts. The two readings fondle and for the sake of look almost identical in Hebrew script.
  • 23:24 Or small and large shields
  • 23:40 As is often the case in prophecy, there are a number of rapid switches between words addressed to the prophet and to the people, and between words addressed to the people and words about the people.
  • 23:42 Or Sabeans
  • 23:43 The verse is obscure. Literally the Hebrew reads now her whoredom itself will go whoring, and she.