Ezekiel 16:8 KJV

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love;...

What exactly is "time of love" referenced by this verse?

2 Answers 2


Ezekiel chapter 16 employs a vivid and exotic metaphor to depict the marriage covenant between God and the Israelites. This covenant was initially established at Mount Sinai, as described in Exodus 19:3-8. Let's delve into Ezekiel 16:8;

Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.

Approximate 500 years before the Mosaic covenant, God had already chosen Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By the time Jacob's family moved to Egypt, they numbered only seventy people. Despite the passage of 400 years in Egypt, where the Israelites may have been prone to forget Him, God remained faithful to His covenant with Abraham, as He reminded Moses in Exodus 3:7-8

7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

In Ezekiel 16:8, the phrases "Later I passed by" and "you were old enough for love" symbolize a period of waiting. God's intention extended beyond merely choosing a select few; He chose an entire nation - and ultimately, all of humanity. To accomplish this grand purpose, patience for the right time becomes necessary. As Proverb chapter 3 reveals

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Just as we await our salvation through the second coming of Christ, it is essential to test our faith during challenging times, understand the truth that God's love never fails.

  • @ Vincent Wong Thank you for a very in-depth answer.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Mar 28 at 3:53

This entire chapter is an expression of God's intimate love and jealousy for Israel as his wife. The context implies an indication of Israel's sexual maturity and resulting marriage with God. In verse 7, Israel's breasts and hair have grown. She is naked, indicating her innocence. The LORD looks upon her and perceives that "now is the time of love." Israel is ready to become God's bride, so he covers her with the corner of his cloak, swears a marital oath to her and she becomes his.

NABRE translation:

7 I helped you grow up like a field plant, so that you grew, maturing into a woman with breasts developed and hair grown; but still you were stark naked. 8 I passed by you again and saw that you were now old enough for love. So I spread the corner of my cloak over you to cover your nakedness; I swore an oath to you and entered into covenant with you—oracle of the Lord God—and you became mine.

"Time of love" in vs. 8 is thus an expression of Israel's innocent blossoming and God's attraction to her. Other translations make this explicit:

  • TLB - Later, when I passed by and saw you again, you were old enough for marriage
  • NIV - I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love.
  • ERV - I looked you over. I saw you were ready for love.
  • CEV - When I saw you again, you were old enough to have sex.

Conclusion: The meaning of "time for love" in this verse is that the young woman - representing Israel - has become ready to enter into a marriage covenant with God.

  • @ Dan Fefferman Thank you for your response Dan. This may be a verse that has both physical and spiritual insites. Do verses 6&9, which form a bracket for the mentioned verse, speak to you in any way?
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Mar 27 at 19:34
  • Yes, vs, 6 expresses God's compassion for the infant Israel who was born into a violent culture - her father was an Amorite, your mother a Hittite - with no one to properly care for her. In vs. 9 God tenderly bathes her and anoints her... preparing her to become his bride. Commented Mar 27 at 19:43
  • I see something different, as well. Looking forward to other's view.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Mar 27 at 19:49
  • +1. Agreed - good, simple answer. This is further emphasizes in the previous verse where the prophet records that "your breasts were grown".
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 27 at 20:50

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