Two Harlot Sisters

Aurelius Augustine spent most of his life battling the bondage to sexual appetite and philosophical pride. When he was 31 the power of God through His word, broke the bondage to sexual lust and living with a concubine. Augustine said this, “You made us for Yourself, an … More



To illustrate the nation’s unfaithfulness, the Lord used an allegory in which He compared Samaria and Jerusalem to two promiscuous sisters named Oholah and Oholibah (vv. 1-21). The sisters had been prostitutes from their youth in Egypt (vv. 1-4). Though belonging to the Lord (whether as wives or children is not clear), they courted the favor of foreign nations. Oholah sought alliances with the Assyrians. She is portrayed as lusting after the Assyrian soldiers and prostituting herself among their officers. Ironically, her lovers killed her and carried away her children. Oholah represented Samaria, and Oholibah represented Jerusalem. These two “sisters,” the capital cities of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, represented the people of those two kingdoms. The sin of Oholah, the older sister, was her (Samaria’s) association with the Assyrians (vv. 5-10).

The judgment of the older sister Oholah (Samaria) should have been a warning to the younger sister Oholibah (Jerusalem). Unfortunately she failed to heed the warning. In fact she was more depraved than her sister (vv. 11-18). Jerusalem followed the immoral course charted by her sister: she too lusted after the Assyrians. Judah curried the favor of Assyria rather than relying on her God. Israel and Syria had banded together to oppose Assyria, and they sought to bring Judah into the alliance. When King Ahaz refused, they attacked Judah hoping to dethrone Ahaz and to replace him with a king who would support their uprising. Rather than trusting in God for deliverance (as Isaiah the prophet urged him to do), Ahaz sent to Assyria to enlist her aid and protection. With that act Judah became a vassal of Assyria for the next century (2 Kings 16:5-9).

Jerusalem’s faithlessness cost her the only true protection she ever had. Yet instead of repenting of her sin, she sought additional human help, becoming more and more promiscuous. Her cycle of sin brought her back to the very nation with which she had originally been defiled and which had enslaved her-Egypt (vv. 19-21). To show his absolute disgust in this course of action, Ezekiel used coarse language (v. 20), not to be vulgar, but to portray graphically the utter spiritual degradation to which Judah had fallen.


I can never trust myself but only the Lord to keep me spiritually pure as I stay close to Him

Ezekiel 23:1-21 (English Standard Version)

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