God Deals Justly with Individuals
18 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel,
‘[a]The fathers eat sour grapes [they sin],
But the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
3 As I live,” says the Lord God, “you are certainly not going to use this proverb [as an excuse] in Israel anymore. 4 Behold (pay close attention), all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.(A)
5 “But if a man is righteous (keeps the law) and practices justice and righteousness, 6 and does not eat [at the pagan shrines] on the mountains or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her [monthly] time of impurity— 7 if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, 8 if he [b]does not charge interest or take a percentage of increase [on what he lends in compassion], if he keeps his hand from sin and executes true justice between man and man, 9 if he walks in My statutes and [keeps] My ordinances so as to act with integrity; [then] he is [truly] righteous and shall certainly live,” says the Lord God.(B)
10 “If he is the father of a violent son who sheds blood, and who does any of these things to a brother 11 (though the father did not do any of these things), that is, the son even eats [the food set before idols] at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore [to the debtor] his pledge, but raises his eyes to the idols, and commits repulsive acts, 13 and charges interest and takes [a percentage of] increase on what he has loaned; will he then live? He will not live! He has done all these disgusting things, he shall surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.
14 “Now behold, if this [wicked] man has a son who has observed all the sins which his father committed, and considers [thoughtfully what he has observed] and does not do like his father: 15 He does not eat [food set before idols] at the mountain shrines or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 or oppress anyone, or take anything in pledge, or commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, 17 he keeps his hand from [oppressing] the poor, does not receive interest or increase [from the needy], but executes My ordinances and walks in My statutes; he shall not die for the sin (guilt) of his father; he shall certainly live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did that which is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his sin.
19 “Yet do you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s sin?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has kept all My statutes and has done them, he shall certainly live. 20 The person who sins [is the one that] will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the sin of the father, nor will the father bear the punishment for the sin of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be on himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on himself.
21 “But if the wicked man turns [away] from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall certainly live; he shall not die. 22 All of his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced [for his moral and spiritual integrity in every area and relationship], he will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” says the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn [away] from his [malevolent] acts and live?
24 “But when the righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits sin and acts in accordance with all the repulsive things that the wicked man does, will he live? All of his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered because of the treachery that he has committed and for his sin which he has committed; for them he shall die. 25 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits sin and dies because of it, it is for his sin which he has committed that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall certainly live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right!’ O house of Israel, are My ways not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?
30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each one in accordance with his conduct,” says the Lord God. “Repent (change your way of thinking) and turn away from all your transgressions, so that sin may not become a stumbling block to you.(C) 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed [against Me], and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, O house of Israel?(D) 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live!”
- Ezekiel 18:2 This proverb is generally interpreted to mean that the subsequent generations suffer (‘the children’s teeth are set on edge’) for the sins of their ancestors (‘the fathers eat sour grapes’). The Israelites were using this well-known proverb as an excuse to blame their forefathers for their suffering and misfortune instead of acknowledging their guilt and taking personal responsibility for their sin.
- Ezekiel 18:8 Israelites were allowed to charge interest on loans made to Gentile foreigners, but not on loans to impoverished countrymen (Deut 23:20).
New International Version
The One Who Sins Will Die
18 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:
“‘The parents eat sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?(A)
3 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb(B) in Israel. 4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins(C) is the one who will die.(D)
5 “Suppose there is a righteous man
who does what is just and right.
6 He does not eat at the mountain(E) shrines
or look to the idols(F) of Israel.
He does not defile his neighbor’s wife
or have sexual relations with a woman during her period.(G)
7 He does not oppress(H) anyone,
but returns what he took in pledge(I) for a loan.
He does not commit robbery(J)
but gives his food to the hungry(K)
and provides clothing for the naked.(L)
8 He does not lend to them at interest
or take a profit from them.(M)
He withholds his hand from doing wrong
and judges fairly(N) between two parties.
9 He follows my decrees(O)
and faithfully keeps my laws.
That man is righteous;(P)
he will surely live,(Q)
declares the Sovereign Lord.
“He eats at the mountain shrines.(S)
He defiles his neighbor’s wife.
12 He oppresses the poor(T) and needy.
He commits robbery.
He does not return what he took in pledge.(U)
He looks to the idols.
He does detestable things.(V)
13 He lends at interest and takes a profit.(W)
Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.(X)
14 “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things:(Y)
15 “He does not eat at the mountain shrines(Z)
or look to the idols(AA) of Israel.
He does not defile his neighbor’s wife.
16 He does not oppress anyone
or require a pledge for a loan.
He does not commit robbery
but gives his food to the hungry(AB)
and provides clothing for the naked.(AC)
17 He withholds his hand from mistreating the poor
and takes no interest or profit from them.
He keeps my laws(AD) and follows my decrees.
He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. 18 But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.
19 “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live.(AE) 20 The one who sins is the one who will die.(AF) The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.(AG)
21 “But if(AH) a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees(AI) and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.(AJ) 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live.(AK) 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased(AL) when they turn from their ways and live?(AM)
24 “But if a righteous person turns(AN) from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness(AO) they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.(AP)
25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’(AQ) Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust?(AR) Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. 27 But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life.(AS) 28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die.(AT) 29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent!(AU) Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.(AV) 31 Rid(AW) yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart(AX) and a new spirit. Why(AY) will you die, people of Israel?(AZ) 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent(BA) and live!(BB)
- Ezekiel 18:10 Or things to a brother