Ezekiel 16:7-14: Second Rescue

He has saved me by his death;
he has washed me with his blood;
he has hid me in his wounds.
— Charles Wesley (Journal Friday May 19th, 1738)

The young girl, has a new problem. In the first six verses of this chapter, the child was discarded by her parents and left naked to the elements. Yahweh rescued her—adopted her as his own.

Now years have passed, and the baby has grown into a young woman. The problem is still her nakedness. She was available for anyone to take advantage of.  Once again, Yahweh steps in.

In case you are offended by this twist in the narrative, remember it’s an allegory. God is not revealing himself to be some incestuous monster, nor is he advocating it. This story is told in a series of snapshots, with this scene illustrating the second rescue.

. . .

Yahweh’s generosity to the young woman is overwhelming. He makes no less than six altruistic gestures on her
behalf (NRSV):

  • “I spread the edge of my cloak over you” (v. 8).

This is more than a compassionate stranger giving someone their coat. This was a formal declaration of courtship. Essentially, Yahweh engaged himself to the young woman.

We can see this tradition illustrated in Ruth’s story. She asked Boaz to “spread [his] cloak over [his] servant” (Ruth 3:9).  With that symbolic act, the two parties were formally betrothed.

  • “I pledged myself to you” (v. 8).

This takes the situation one step further. These words are ancient marriage vows. It’s interesting to note that Yahweh takes all the initiative in this story. There is no mention of the woman reaching out for Yahweh—only Yahweh doing what is best for the young woman. Now, they are married.

  • “I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you” (v. 9).

This washing was an act of tenderness on behalf of Yahweh. It was meant to tell the woman of his love for her, as well as to wash her past away. She was no longer an orphan, or a vulnerable naked woman—she was a beloved wife.

  • “I clothed you with embroidered cloth” (v. 10).
  • “I adorned you with ornaments” (v. 11).
  • “You had choice flour and honey and oil for food” (v. 13).

With these three acts, Yahweh prepared the young woman to be a queen. The crown he placed on her head (v. 12) confirmed it. She was given the best of everything—clothes, jewelery, and food. There was nothing Yahweh would not do for his new bride.

. . .

The immediate result of Yahweh’s actions are predictable. The young woman grew very beautiful—fit to be a queen. Her fame grew spread through all the other lands. Her beauty became legendary.

This is the story of Israel. God rescued her as a child, and made a covenant with her. Israel grew in fame as she left Egypt and (after a delay) entered Canaan, driving out the old inhabitants as she proceeded. So long as she obeyed her divine husband, she was successful. God gave her everything she needed to be victorious.

Unfortunately, Israel did not remain pure—nor did the young woman in this allegory.

. . .

Generous God, thank you for providing for all of our needs. Help us to always remember to thank you for your generosity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 16:1-6 | Inauspicious Entry

Ezekiel 16:15-22 | Adulterous Idolatry >

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