Nehemiah's prayer to God shows a legal description of what literally happened in real life and real times. He uses an economy of words. There are many things he could have gone into in great and specific detail, but he gives an overview of how they turned away from the one way that God showed to them.
This is what modern nations have done. This is what Israel has given the world to drink, influencing them through the power of our example, because we have had the wealth to enable us to provide it for them to consume, and thus they desire too to emulate us in our gross idolatry.
The sexual designation of what is written of her sin is used because sexual sins are the most common and the most disgusting way that unfaithfulness in marriage is shown to the public. Everybody can relate to it. However, the real spiritual sin behind all of these sexual terms is gross idolatry—idolatry on a massive, nationwide scale of people who should have known better. Israel simply did whatever it wanted to do, when and as it wanted to do it. Its harlotry is clearly the breaking of the terms of the marriage covenant. The harlotry is unfaithfulness, disloyalty. It is spiritual in nature. It is primarily idolatry, but all other sins are encompassed within the term "idolatry."
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)
The record is clear. Israel rejected God and His way right from the beginning of their relationship. They not only rejected Him and His way but also became a major vehicle for facilitating the spread of the false ways of the heathen all over the world. Modern Israel has followed the same path as her ancestors. As Israel migrated into and through northwestern Europe and settled into the lands God had set aside for them, becoming wealthy, she has given the world a poisonous cultural brew to drink, influencing them through the power of her example. She has the wealth to enable her people to export it to other nations for their consumption and inevitable emulation.
God calls Israel's sins "fornication" because sexual sins are the most common way unfaithfulness in marriage is revealed to the public. Everybody can relate to it. However, the real spiritual sin behind all these sexual terms is gross idolatry. Israel simply did whatever she wanted to do, whenever and however she wanted to do it. The harlotry implied is clearly the breaking of the terms of the marriage covenant. Her harlotry is unfaithfulness and disloyalty, which are spiritual in nature. Her sin is primarily idolatry, but all other sins are included.
Israelites were unfaithful in conducting business both domestically and internationally, unfaithful in managing God's great, green earth, unfaithful in forgetting who their great blessings came from, and unfaithful in the way they treated one another in their personal marriages.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Seven): How Can Israel Be the Great Whore?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Nehemiah 9:17: