Bible Question:

Are swaddling clothes a sign? How do you relate them to Ezekiel 16:4? How is this a sign?

Bible Answer:

Ezekiel 16:4 describes the nation of Israel. In verses 1-2, God begins by speaking to Ezekiel, the prophet and gives him a message to communicate to the people of Jerusalem.

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem, Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.'” Ezekiel 16:1-5 (NASB)

God gives Jerusalem a history lesson. He starts at the time the city of Jerusalem was established when the Amorites and Hittites occupied it (Genesis 14:7, 18; 15:20-21). It is important to note that the Amorites and Hittites were in the land when Jerusalem is first mentioned in Scripture in Genesis 14:18. Salem was another name for Jerusalem (see Jerusalem – The Focus of the World). The message? Unbelievers occupied Jerusalem initially.

The description that follows refers to a custom of the day where the navel cord of the baby is cut at birth. Then the newborn was washed, rubbed with salt as an antiseptic, and then wrapped in cloths or swaddling clothes. But God describes Jerusalem as a baby who was ignored at birth, a baby someone wanted to kill. God says she was thrown into the open field – exposed to the weather and the animals of the field to die.

What is God’s point? The city of Jerusalem symbolized Israel. God did not care for her in the beginning because her founding “parents” were unbelievers. Yet, Jerusalem is God’s city. Later in Revelation we read,

. . . and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. Revelation 3:12 (NASB)

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2 (NASB)

God claims Jerusalem as His city and after the old heavens and old earth are destroyed, a new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. This is where God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, will dwell (Revelation 21:3-5). Jerusalem has a special place in God’s heart.


The swaddling clothes in Ezekiel 16:4 are not a sign and has no connection to the birth of Christ (Luke 2:7, 12). The reference to swaddling clothes is not the main point of the passage. It is only a passing comment to eventually make a greater point about God’s love for Israel and Israel’s indifference to Him. Scripture repeatedly tells us that God is the One seeking a loving relationship with us and  men and women are usually indifferent. God pursues and we run from Him. God seeks us! Are you seeking Him each day? Are you seeking to know His thoughts, ways, and heart? Seek Him in the morning, afternoon or evening. Seek Him in scripture and through prayer. He wants us to be seeking Him!

Suggested Links:

Searching For God
Was Jesus born on December 25?
Jerusalem – The Focus of the World
Jesus Is Born In Bethlehem