Abstract Ezek 16 and 23 have been subjected recently to much critical review, especially from feminist scholars. The present article acknowledges their work but seeks to take the discussion back to a formal analysis of the image of the adulterous wife, with a special focus on Ezek 16 and its use of the ‘disclosure of abomination’ formula. The use of this formula locates the oracle within the legal register but framed in terms of a unilateral covenant. The effect of such a formula and its employment is to silence the woman and give only the accuser/judge a voice. But the use of the formula is figurative and plays to the larger allegorical function of the oracle which, it is argued, places the prophet towards the literate end of the oracy/literacy continuum.