Who are Oholah and Oholibah?
The names have to do with a tent, perhaps a sanctuary or other place of worship.
Both refer to the dwelling of God. That both names are so similar denotes how alike the two women are who stand for the northern kingdom and southern kingdom of God’s people respectively.
What is “promiscuity” and “lewdness”?
If you ever need a definition, Ezekiel provides it. He mentions these terms more than any other Old Testament writer.
Both refer to sexual activity outside of marriage, and if you are wondering what constitutes such activity, you only have to read chapter 23. In my younger days, we referred to “getting to first base” (or second, or third – you get the idea, and if not, read verses 8 and 21). Does this count as sexual activity? In God’s eyes, it does. There is a recreational, fun, aspect of sex, but to maintain the holiness God created it to have, it must be confined to a committed relationship held together in marriage.
Lest you think God is too hard on the women in this text and totally oblivious to the culpability of the men, understand that the men here stand for people of the world, those not God’s people. These actions may be characteristic of the age and society in which we live, but they become most repugnant to God when they are characteristic of His people – the daughters.
Sexual promiscuity leads ultimately to shame, degradation, ruin and finally, judgment. It is not an insignificant matter with God, and He demonstrates it here. It’s not that the text was written to talk about sex. It wasn’t. It was written to deal with unfaithfulness to God – the worst of all sins. But it is instructive to note that when God draws a picture of the worst sin imaginable, he paints it in terms of sexual promiscuity, giving us a notion of how he feels about both.