Ezekiel 16 is a rather spectacular allegory that compares Jerusalem to a prostitute. God ends the story with this promise:

“For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.”—Ezekiel 16:59-63 (ESV)

My question is about the highlighted phrase. When the Lord GOD atones for Jerusalem, does He intend for the city (metaphorically the people living there) to be silent and shamed forever? Are we meant to read the atonement as merely covering the legal guilt incurred by the breaking of the covenant and not the shame of it?

  • This question came from thinking about this week's challenge. Dec 2, 2011 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


It is an interesting image which I've read a few commentators take different approaches toward.

What is it that they are never to speak about again because of their shame? Assuming for a moment that it is not simply a blanket muteness then what subject is it that Jerusalem (and perhaps, by extension, all those who have received atonement) are to remain silent upon?

Is it the sin itself? One commentator describes how we remember sin even after reconciliation and that keeps "a man back from pride".

Luther takes that as a sort of base, that Jerusalem will not speak back against God because of they are heartbroken over their sins.

I think that, if we understand it as being about speaking against God's will then yes, Jerusalem is seen as silent forever because of their sin because at no point will there be a better reaction than "that was wrong, but paid for".

This doesn't need to be in conflict with other (e.g NT) images of being released from sin and shame in eternity since there is given an alternative source of pride and boasting (e.g. Gal 6:14).

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