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Ezekiel 23:20 Meaning and Explanation of She Lusted after Her Lovers

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What does  Ezekiel 23:20  mean?

In the book Ezekiel 23:20, they tell us about Aholah and Aholibah, two women who were married by God, who tells the prophet a story full of sexual content, but all to give a particular moral… Get to know him!

This biblical quote is often heavily referenced in discussions of the Bible, either to argue that the sacred texts should be viewed as mythology or to count it as a funny curiosity, but what exactly does it say?

“There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.”

In some translations, the word “genitals” is changed to “members” or “flows”, while “ass” can be changed to “donkey” but the fact is that they are referring to something explicitly sexual, or at least it seems that way …

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Ezekiel 23:20: the story of Aholah and Aholibah

Ezekiel tells us what God said to him in chapter 23, dealing with the story of two sisters he married, Aholah, the eldest, and Aholibah, the youngest. God tells him that the two sisters allowed their “virgin breasts” to be handled from a very young age, but that even so, he decided to join them and that both gave him many sons and daughters; however, in verse 5, Ezekiel quickly recounts that Aholah began to be unfaithful to God and became the mistress of the Assyrians.

Verses 5 through 10 tell us how Aholah engages sexually with these handsome young men wearing purple garments. Aholah continued to practice the prostitution that “began in Egypt” and that he “slept with many”, but also mentions that he contaminated himself with the “smelly idols that belonged to his mistresses”. Finally, the prophet relates that God grew tired of her and handed her over to her lovers to the Assyrians, who stripped her naked, took her sons and daughters from her, and later murdered her.

Then, verse 11, speaks of Aholibah, who despite witnessing what her elder sister did began to “play the harlot even more than her”…

Aholibah also “fell madly in love” with the Assyrians, but he also emphasizes that he went “further” than his sister, since later he fell in love with the Babylonians of Chaldea and even sent messengers to this land.

God tells Ezekiel that he got tired of her as before he had tired of his sister, and that is when the controversial passage appears where it appears that Aholibah fell in love with these handsome men with donkey penises and horse semen.

God says that he will then punish Aholibah, who had already “satiated” with her lovers, but that he would also hand her over and unleash all his fury against her.
He then prompts Ezekiel to judge both sisters, because they sacrificed their children to “smelly idols” and that they did so in God’s own house, who also tells the prophet that “he will put an end to these sins: “prostitution” and “idolatry”, and adds that just men will “punish adulterous women.”

The Babylonians, with whom Aholibah slept, believed in deities, or “idols” such as the goddess Ishtar – Image: Wikimedia

Ezekiel concludes God’s testimony by claiming that “sins of lewdness” will fall upon them, and that is when all will know that he is (God) the Lord Almighty.

So, this is a chapter of the Torah that seeks to condemn infidelity on the part of women, but… is it referring to that?

 

The true meaning

Actually, according to the most accepted explanation (at least by Christianity), Aholah and Aholibah were pejorative personifications to refer to Samaria (now the West Bank), of the kingdom of Israel, and Jerusalem in the kingdom of Judea, respectively. Yes, he was talking about the cities, these references being highly sexualized, simply metaphors of how these territories voluntarily surrendered to neighboring nations and began to worship other idols, and that for that they were deserving of “the wrath of God”; this is why it is seen prophetically.

Even, according to those who have decided to believe in this hypothesis of the peculiar history of high sexual content, maintain that these prophecies were eventually fulfilled, due to the enormous number of wars and coups that have occurred in these territories, especially in ancient time.

Although apparently, this legend does not necessarily speak about unfaithful women with a large sexual appetite provoking the wrath of God, it will always be interesting to remember Ezekiel 23: 20, the peculiar biblical passage that speaks of men with “donkey penises”…

EZEKIEL 23:20
The city of Jerusalem

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Ezekiel 23:20

1. “There…”
God is specifically referring to Egypt when Israel was enslaved there.

2. “…she lusted after her lovers,”
The Israelites bore some of the responsibility for their enslavement in Egypt and appropriated that culture a little too readily even while they were slaves.

3. “whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.”
Meant to illustrate their great earthly power, it also is meant to be a disgusting image of adultery against God. The lewd imagery was chosen for a reason. God is like a jealous husband and our forsaking of him or idols is as disgraceful and gross as this image portrays.

Ezekiel 23 20

Ezekiel 23:20 Bible verse and Translation

NIV
There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

NLT
She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse.

ESV
and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses.

BSB
and lusted after their lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions.

KJV
For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

NKJV
For she lusted for her paramours, Whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys, And whose issue is like the issue of horses.

NASB
She lusted after their lovers, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and whose discharge is like the discharge of horses.

NASB 1995
“She lusted after their paramours, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

NASB 1977
“And she lusted after their paramours, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

Amp
For she lusted after her lovers [there], whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

CSV
and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions.

HSB
and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions.

American Standard Version
And she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And she copulated with their Servants, whose flesh was like the flesh of donkeys, and their genitals like the genitals of horses

Brenton Septuagint Translation
and thou didst dote upon the Chaldeans, whose flesh is as the flesh of the asses, and their members as the members of horses.

Contemporary English Version
She eagerly wanted to go to bed with Egyptian men, who were famous for their sexual powers.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And she was mad with lust after lying with them whose flesh is as the flesh of asses: and whose issue as the issue of horses.

ERV
And she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

GNT
She was filled with lust for oversexed men who had all the lustfulness of donkeys or stallions.” (

GOD’S WORD® Translation
She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose semen was like that of horses.

International Standard Version
She lusted after her paramours, whose genitals are like those of donkeys, and whose emissions are like those of horses.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And she doted upon concubinage with them, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

Literal Standard Version
And she lusts on their lovers, Whose flesh [is] the flesh of donkeys, And the emission of horses—their emission.

NET Bible
She lusted after their genitals–as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions.

New Heart English Bible
She doted on their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

World English Bible
She doted on their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

Young’s Literal Translation
And she doteth on their paramours, Whose flesh is the flesh of asses, And the issue of horses — their issue.