Biblical Commentary The Bible

Dis­gust­ing Lan­guage : The Prob­lem of Ezekiel 23

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    Does the Bible use lan­guage not fit­ting for God?”

This was the ques­tion that a mis­sion­ary rhetor­i­cal­ly posed to his read­ers in an amus­ing but vain attempt to defend” the inap­pro­pri­ate and unnat­ur­al lan­guage of Ezekiel 23. The fun­ny thing that this author has noticed about his whole defence” (and which also prompt­ed this author to write this short com­men­tary) is that even though he open­ly accused Mus­lims of being igno­rant” about the mat­ter, he reduced the whole pas­sage of Ezekiel 23 to a link and a sum­ma­ry. Is the mis­sion­ary act­ing prud­ish” in try­ing to dis­miss the whole issue away so casu­al­ly ? It cer­tain­ly seems so to this author.

Ezekiel 23 And Its Problems

Ezekiel 23, with its explic­it and sex­u­al­ly charged lan­guage, stands as one of the most con­tro­ver­sial chap­ters in the Bible, prompt­ing a sig­nif­i­cant reeval­u­a­tion of the appro­pri­ate­ness of cer­tain nar­ra­tives with­in sacred texts. This chap­ter, which alle­gor­i­cal­ly por­trays the king­doms of Israel and Judah through the fig­ures of Oho­lah and Oholibah engaged in acts of infi­deli­ty, has ignit­ed debates over the lim­its of lan­guage and imagery in con­vey­ing divine mes­sages. The explic­it nature of this chap­ter rais­es pro­found con­cerns about its place in a text revered by many as holy and divine­ly inspired.

We wish to set­tle the mat­ter once and for all by pub­lish­ing in full the scans from the whole chap­ter of Ezekiel 23 so that read­ers may under­stand the Mus­lim objec­tion to this pas­sage. Please be advised that we do not rec­om­mend any­one who has not yet reached the age of puber­ty to read this dis­gust­ing and sor­did pas­sage.

Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians—warriors clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

The mis­sion­ary has also made the accu­sa­tion that :

    “[i]t is only igno­rance of the inspired scrip­tures that results in such out­ra­gious [sic] claim.” 

On the con­trary, we object to the pas­sage not because of its main mes­sage, but because of its erot­ic imagery and inap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage. Fur­ther­more, it is described as a his­tor­i­cal event and the read­er would uncon­scious­ly form imagery which is unwor­thy of being attrib­uted to God Almighty.

We would like to ask the read­er : would it be appro­pri­ate for a par­ent to rent a porno­graph­ic video and show it to his chil­dren below 8 years old, while all the time say­ing, Do not com­mit for­ni­ca­tion, it is an evil and a sin to do so”? Would any­one in their right mind do such a thing ?

This is what the mis­sion­ary igno­rant­ly expects us to believe.

The Qur’an­ic Approach to Moral Instruction

He also expects us to swal­low the idea that the so-called strong imagery” of the fol­low­ing verse of the Qur’an is as objec­tion­able as the erot­ic pas­sage of Ezekiel 23 :

And do not spy, nei­ther back­bite one anoth­er ; would any of you like to eat the flesh of his broth­er dead?” (Qur’an, 49:12)

The Qur’an in this verse does not give a detailed imagery of how one eats the flesh of anoth­er. Rather, it sim­ply anal­o­gis­es back­bit­ing to the act of can­ni­bal­ism. It does not con­tain any objec­tion­able lan­guage, it does not describe how can­ni­bal­ism is attempt­ed in detail and most cer­tain­ly it does not emit erot­ic imagery not befit­ting of God Almighty.

The Qur’an address­es moral and eth­i­cal issues with a focus on dig­ni­ty, often using metaphor­i­cal lan­guage that is rich in mean­ing but avoids explic­it or graph­ic descrip­tions that could be con­sid­ered inap­pro­pri­ate. This approach is root­ed in the Islam­ic prin­ci­ple of Ḥayā’ (mod­esty or shy­ness) which encom­pass­es not just phys­i­cal mod­esty but also extends to speech and con­duct. The Qur’an, for exam­ple, dis­cuss­es var­i­ous sins includ­ing those of a sex­u­al nature, but does so in a man­ner that main­tains a respect­ful and dig­ni­fied tone, suit­able for all audi­ences, includ­ing the young and sensitive.

In con­clu­sion, the Mus­lim objec­tion to Ezekiel 23 is a valid one. The Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary should explain to his read­ers what ben­e­fit does the lan­guage of Ezekiel 23 offer, apart from incit­ing its read­ers to sub­mit to their erot­ic feel­ings to com­mit rape and fornication ?

Our Chal­lenge To The Missionary

It is also amus­ing that the mis­sion­ary decid­ed to quote the Prophet (P) and then con­ve­nient­ly” dis­par­age the late Sheikh Ahmed Dee­dat, the doyen of Mus­lim respons­es to Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary attacks, of blas­phe­my. Our response to his alle­ga­tion is that we chal­lenge this mis­sion­ary to edu­cate his own chil­dren on the evils of for­ni­ca­tion by ask­ing them to act out the event live in a play or school dra­ma, word for word as per record­ed in Ezekiel 23.

I would be most hap­py to lend a hand in writ­ing out such a script and will allow to let his own chil­dren to be the prin­ci­pal actors in such a play or school dra­ma for Sun­day school.

Cer­tain­ly, this is not an out­ra­geous” demand if the mis­sion­ary him­self does not con­sid­er this to be blas­phe­my” or find any prob­lems with the text of Ezekiel 23. This chal­lenge is also open to his fel­low missionaries.

Until the mis­sion­ary or his cohorts have the courage to meet our above chal­lenge, we as Mus­lims will con­tin­ue to crit­i­cise the inap­pro­pri­ate and steamy lan­guage of Ezekiel 23, and object to its unnat­ur­al imagery. Such a pas­sage is most cer­tain­ly not inspired” from God Almighty.

And only God knows best !


The author would like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to thank Broth­er Shah Kir­it bin Kaku­lal Gov­in­ji for his input on the Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary response to the Mus­lim crit­i­cism of Ezekiel 23.Endmark

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  1. *Sigh*

    How about instead of attack­ing each oth­er we do as broth­ers due and give log­i­cal rea­son­ing for answers ?

    Yes, Ezekiel 23 may seem very immoral in itself just by describ­ing things in detail, that we may find improp­er but you have to remem­ber we are read­ing it in Eng­lish, not in Greek. It makes per­fect sense that the way it’s trans­lat­ed may seem dis­gust­ing but it’s very pos­si­ble to a Greek that the way it’s explained is fine. You have to also take into con­sid­er­a­tion the cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences. In cer­tain cul­tures there are cer­tain tra­di­tions that may seem very immoral, improp­er, and dis­gust­ing but to them it’s harm­less. You have to remem­ber, we are imper­fect beings cre­at­ed by god who were giv­en free will to do what we please. Just because god knows our future, does­n’t mean he’s the one who has cho­sen our fate, we are the fate wielders.

    Yes, I am a Chris­t­ian, a Gen­tile if you like. I have Mus­lim friends, and I debate with them in a polite man­ner as any­one else should. My friend who is indeed a Mus­lim would even agree with me on this his­tor­i­cal” doc­u­ment that it’s not authen­tic but is a copy of many copies in which it could be mis­trans­lat­ed. Point is, whether it is or not, the pas­sage Ezekiel 23 is try­ing to make has been made.

    Also, I’m not prop­er­ly equipped with enough knowl­edge to debate with every­one here, I was just try­ing to explain from a log­i­cal point of view the issue.

  2. shadowofears Reply

    Atleast Mus­lims will stop back­bit­ing when they imag­ine of eat­ing his own broth­er flesh but what about Chris­tians when they read such pas­sages would that stop them from involv­ing in sex.

  3. I won­der if God fell in love with these filthy girls know­ing not how they would devel­op and act in future, after all god is all-know­ing and all powerful…y could­nt he stop them. On the top of it, after what has hap­pened with God, he is com­plain­ing like a child what they did to me. This must be some dra­ma play­er god. God nev­er does any­thing like that. y??????? coz He is God.

  4. shadowofears Reply

    If Chris­tians want respect for them­selves they have to respect oth­er reli​gion​.It does­n’t trou­ble me if Chris­t­ian don’t believe in Peophet Muhammed but it does when they make fun of him​.Do Chris­tians think it is an insult to their reli­gion when Mus­lims write Peace Be Upon Him after Jesus name.There is no need for Chris­tians to trash oth­er reli­gions instead they should make more sense in ther doc­ter­ines they worship.

  5. Strong lan­guage is the sign of pro­found anger of God and utter cor­rup­tion and idol­a­try of Israel at that time.”

    My God dont use that kind of lan­guage. COME’ON.… Ezekiel 23 is BANNED in South Africa…it is cat­e­gorised as PORN.

    truth, if before you per­sist to argue any fur­ther, try to read­ing aloud this doc­u­ment (you con­sid­er as Word of God”) to your:-

    1. Nieces/​nephews, sons/​daughters
    2. Girl­friend’s younger sister/​brother..
    3. bet­ter still, her parents
    4. Busi­ness meet­ings… to bless the meet­ing, of course
    5. Din­ner with your Bud­dhist, Hin­du and Mus­lim friends (whom you are try­ing to convert)

    and, of course, with all of the above attending…

    6. your Church (please,please,please.… and video­tape it, please,please,please)

    truth”-or what­ev­er you wish to call yrself.. choose a hum­bler name like mine.

  6. Hel­lo Truth

    I am not sug­gest­ing that we need to be ashamed of our body parts, but only that it appears to me to be high­ly improp­er to indulge in penis size com­par­isons. God can pro­nounce His Judge­ment with­out com­par­ing penis­es, no ? Like­wise, anger can be pro­nounced in oth­er ways…but to talk about penis­es is going a lit­tle too far I think.

    I can­not get inside the mind of the author, but per­haps he was mak­ing use of some lit­er­ary device ? God knows best…but I would­n’t want to recite this pas­sage to others…

  7. Adam and Eve were naked but they did not ashamed. Shame came after they broke the com­mand­mend of God. God is cre­ater of body organs why He has to be ashamed. I n Ezekiel God is not talk­ing to chil­dren but He is pro­nounc­ing His judge­ment through His prophet. Strong lan­guage is the sign of pro­found anger of God and utter cor­rup­tion and idol­a­try of Israel at that time.

  8. Hel­lo cheayee.

    I do not have a prob­lem in speak­ing in descrip­tive or harsh terms, but penis size and semen com­par­isons ? What point” does that bring out ? I think none. It only con­jures up am image in your mind which I won’t both­er elaborating.

  9. *hmmm*

    No idea. But I think that using descrip­tive terms was prob­a­bly the eas­i­est way of bring­ing the point out (because that way we could under­stand it)?

  10. What real­ly both­ers me is that why would the author be so fasi­nat­ed with the size of penis­es and com­pare them with those of don­key’s ? Could­n’t he make his point with­out mak­ing such a graph­ic com­par­i­son, which real­ly does not answer.

    I have seen Chris­tians in the past claim­ing that the author want­ed to bring out the sins of the peo­ple in the strongest pos­si­ble terms. Fine, but was the penis com­par­i­son so necessary ?

    Now we can­not get inside God’s head to know what he can or can­not say, yet I can’t help but won­der if God would speak to human­i­ty in such a low­ly manner…

  11. I remem­ber sev­en years back, I was talk­ing with my chris­t­ian neigh­bour whether he had read his bible. He said he read only those chap­ters from the bible which his moth­er allowed him to read. I said why is this, why did­n’t his moth­er allowed him to read whole Bible. He said his moth­er said him that when he would grow old­er only then she would allow him to read as those chap­ters are for adults.

    I am damn sure his moth­er had not allowed her son to read Ezekiel 23 because this chap­ter is for adults only.

  12. *yawn*.

    This is the first time I have read this chapter.…

    Why do you care whether it uses lan­guage not fit for the Chris­t­ian God ? (unless you are Chris­t­ian, then it should both­er you mah). I read the pas­sage and I do not find any­thing alarming.

    If not, don’t both­er lor. Only cre­at­ing trou­ble for your­self. True or not ?

    Sure, the lan­guage sounds dis­gust­ing. The ques­tion is, do you under­stand what it is saying ?

    The gen­er­al idea of the pas­sage states
    the peo­ple of Samaria and Jerusalem

    (are like pros­ti­tutes who have turned away from their lovers because they have wor­shipped oth­er gods but not God himself).

    God is the jeal­ous God who pun­ish­es His peo­ple (in this case, the Jews) who turned from Him to oth­er gods, in this case, the gods wor­shipped by the Assyr­i­ans, Chaldeans,Pekoa, Shoa and Koa.

    Until the peo­ple turn away and repent from their false gods, Jeho­vah will not save them, because HE wants them to come to Him with will­ing hearts.

    You should read the Book of Hosea in the Old Tes­ta­ment and com­pare it to this.

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