OHOLAH and OHOLIBAH (A. V. Aholah, Aholibah):

Symbolic names of two sisters mentioned in the twenty-third chapter of Ezekiel: Oholah, the taller sister, representing Samaria, as the capital of the larger kingdom, Israel; while the shorter one, Oholibah, is the representative of Jerusalem, the capital of the smaller kingdom, Judah. Both are represented as the wives of God who deceive their husband and commit adultery. Oholah applies to a powerful lover, Assur (Assyria), but at the same time does not forget her old paramour, Egypt, to whom also she has surrendered herself. Assur, however, takes advantage of her, merely to destroy her later. Oholibah is much more wanton than Oholah. She heeds not the lesson taught by the misfortune of her elder sister, and also has intercourse with Egypt and Assyria. After these have perished, she sins with Chaldea.

The symbolic meanings of the names themselves serve to complete the entire picture. "Oholah" means "tent," and is meant to signify that the tent of God is Samaria, the capital of Israel. "Oholibah" signifies "My [God's] tent is therein"; that is, the Temple which is located in the center of the territory of Judea, on Zion. It is remarkable that the prophet, contrary to Lev. xviii. 18, represents two sisters as the simultaneous wives of a single husband.

The picture of the wife who is faithless to her husband is not a new one, having been employed by Hosea, 200 years before Ezekiel (Hos. i., iii.). Further, the coquetting of Israel and Judea with their neighbor states, Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon, was likewise censured by earlier prophets (Amos v. 26; Hos. vii. 11; Isa. ii. 14; Jer. xix. 13). However, the figure of Jehovah Himself taking wives is original with Ezekiel.

In a "ḳinah" (lamentation) for the Ninth of Ab Samaria and Oholibah lament over their sins and misfortunes, in the form of a dialogue. Samaria complains that Assur destroys her and leads her sons into exile. To this Oholibah answers that Samaria's misfortune is not so great as hers, Oholah having only once fallen a victim to the enemy, whereas she (Oholibah) has twice been the victim of her offenses. The ḳinah begins with the words "Shomron ḳol titten" = "Samaria plaintively raises her voice."

E. G. H. S. O.
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