Ezekiel 16:47—Did Israel imitate the heathen or not?
Problem: In Ezekiel 5:7, the Israelites were condemned because they had “multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around” them. Yet, here in Ezekiel 16:47 they were condemned by God who said, “You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations.”
Solution: There are two possible explanations of this discrepancy. Some scholars hold that the Israelites had imitated the pagan nations in some regards, but not in all. They had not gone so far as to incur the same judgment of God as the heathen around them, even though their present course was not consistent with God’s Law.
Others believe that both texts indicate they were not merely imitating the heathen, but that they had gone far beyond them in their moral corruption. When the last passage is taken in its entirety, this becomes more clear: “You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you became more corrupt than they in your ways.” In other words, “They were not like them; they were worse than them!” They were not following the heathen; they were so bad that they were the leaders in evil.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.