Now, see, if he beget a son, that sees all his father's sins which he has done, and considers, and does not such like,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Doeth not such like.—This is the third case—that of the righteous son of a wicked father. The general principle is the same, that each man is to be judged according to his own individual character. The son of the righteous man has advantages, and the son of the wicked has hindrances in the way of righteousness which are not specified here, although elsewhere we are abundantly taught that responsibility is directly proportioned to privilege; but here the object is only to set forth in the clearest way, and apart from any other issues, the single fact of individual responsibility. In each case the particular examples of sin are somewhat varied, to show that they are mentioned only as examples, in order to set forth more clearly the general principle.Genesis 2:7; i. e., it distinguishes "personality" from "nationality," and this introduces that fresh and higher idea of "life" and "death," which is not so much "life" and "death" in a future state, as "life" and "death" as equivalent to communion with or separation from God - that idea of life and death which was explained by our Lord in the Gospel of John John 8, and by Paul in Romans 8.
seeth … and considereth—The same Hebrew stands for both verbs, "seeth … yea, seeth." The repetition implies the attentive observation needed, in order that the son may not be led astray by his father's bad example; as sons generally are blind to parents sins, and even imitate them as if they were virtues.
Seeth all his father’s sins; the kinds, or many of the several sorts, of his sins, for it is not possible the son should see all the particular acts of sin done by his father.
Considereth looks thoroughly into these things, and weighs the importance of them; considers God is our Sovereign, ought to be obeyed, will bless the obedient, will punish the disobedient; that his blessing is the life and welfare, his curse is the death and misery, of souls; that every man should look particularly to his own duty and happiness; that it is better to be happy with God, obeying him, than to perish with a father by imitating his vices; that God will be gracious to the obedient, according to his rich grace, though they be the children of irreligious idolaters and adulterers, &c.; on which or such-like considerations, if the son choose holiness, and walk in it, he shall live, his end shall not be, because his doings were not, like his father’s.
that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done; not every particular action, but the principal of them; however, the several sorts and kinds of sin he was addicted to, and which were done publicly enough, and obvious to view; and yet does not imitate them, as children are apt to do:
and considereth: the evil nature and tendency of them; how abominable to God; how contrary to his law; how scandalous and reproachful in themselves, and how pernicious and destructive in their effects and consequences. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, read, "and feareth":
and doeth not such like; he fears God; and because the fear of God is before his eyes, and on his heart, which was wanting in his father, therefore he cannot do the things he did; the fear of offending him, the fear of his goodness, and of his judgments, both have an influence to restrain from sin.Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. and considereth] Lit. even seeth, so Ezekiel 18:28. With a different punctuation the word would mean: and feareth, as R.V.Verses 14-17. - Now, lo! etc. The law of personal responsibility had been pressed on its darker side. It is now asserted in its brighter, and that with the special emphasis indicated in its opening words. The proverb of the "sour grapes" receives a direct contradiction. The son of the evil doer way take warning by his father's example, and repent, as Ezekiel exhorted those among whom he lived to do. In that case he need fear no inherited or transmitted curse. He shall surely live; Hebrew, living he shall live. That truth came to Ezekiel as with the force of a new apocalypse, and it is obviously "exceeding broad," with far-reaching consequences both in ethics and theology. Ezekiel 18:1-4). The righteous lives through his righteousness (Ezekiel 18:5-9), but cannot save his wicked son thereby (Ezekiel 18:10-13); whilst the son who avoids the sins and wickedness of his father, will live through his own righteousness (Ezekiel 18:14-20). The man who repents and avoids sin is not even charged with his own sin; and, on the other hand, the man who forsakes the way of righteousness, and gives himself up to unrighteousness, will not be protected from death even by his own former righteousness (Ezekiel 18:21-29). Thus will God judge every man according to his way; and it is only by repentance that Israel itself can live (Ezekiel 18:30-32). The exposition of these truths is closely connected with the substance and design of the preceding and following prophecies. In the earlier words of God, Ezekiel had taken from rebellious Israel every support of false confidence in the preservation of the kingdom from destruction. But as an impenitent sinner, even when he can no longer evade the punishment of his sins, endeavours as much as possible to transfer the guilt from himself to others, and comforts himself with the thought that he has to suffer for sins that other shave committed, and hardens himself against the chastisement of God through such false consolation as this; so even among the people of Israel, when the divine judgments burst upon them, the delusion arose that the existing generation had to suffer for the fathers' sins. If, then, the judgment were ever to bear the fruit of Israel's conversion and renovation, which God designed, the impenitent generation must be deprived even of this pretext for covering over its sins and quieting its conscience, by the demonstration of the justice which characterized the government of God in His kingdom.
The proverb and the word of God. - Ezekiel 18:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 18:2. Why do you use this proverb in the land of Israel, saying, Fathers eat sour grapes, and the sons' teeth are set on edge. Ezekiel 18:3. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, this proverb shall not be used any more in Israel. Ezekiel 18:4. Behold, all souls are mine; as the father's soul, so also the soul of the son, - they are mine; the soul which sinneth, it shall die. - On Ezekiel 18:2 compare Ezekiel 12:22. מה־לּכם, what is to you, what are you thinking of, that...? is a question of amazement. על־אדמת , in the land of Israel (Ezekiel 12:22), not "concerning the land of Israel," as Hvernick assumes. The proverb was not, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes," for we have not אכלוּ, as in Jeremiah 31:29, but יאכלוּ, they eat, are accustomed to eat, and אבות has no article, because it applies to all who eat sour grapes. Bōsĕr, unripe, sour grapes, like bēsĕr in Job 16:33 (see the comm. in loc.). The meaning of the proverb is self-evident. The sour grapes which the fathers eat are the sins which they commit; the setting of the children's teeth on edge is the consequence thereof, i.e., the suffering which the children have to endure. The same proverb is quoted in Jeremiah 31:29-30, and there also it is condemned as an error. The origin of such a proverb is easily to be accounted for from the inclination of the natural man to transfer to others the guilt which has brought suffering upon himself, more especially as the law teaches that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children (Exodus 20:5), and the prophets announce that the Lord would put away Judah from before His face on account of the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 24:3; Jeremiah 15:4), while Jeremiah complains in Lamentations 5:7 that the people are bearing the fathers' sins. Nevertheless the proverb contained a most dangerous and fatal error, for which the teaching of the law concerning the visitation of the sins of the fathers, etc., was not accountable, and which Jeremiah, who expressly mentions the doctrine of the law (Jeremiah 32:18), condemns as strongly as Ezekiel. God will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children who hate Him, and who also walk in the footsteps of their fathers' sins; but to those who love Him, and keep His commandments, He will show mercy to the thousandth generation. The proverb, on the other hand, teaches that the children would have to atone for their fathers' sins without any culpability of their own. How remote such a perversion of the truth as to the transmission of sins and their consequences, viz., their punishment, was from the law of Moses, is evident from the express command in Deuteronomy 24:16, that the children were not to be put to death with the fathers for the sins which the latter had committed, but that every one was to die for his own sin. What God here enjoins upon the judicial authorities must apply to the infliction of his own judgments. Consequently what Ezekiel says in the following verses in opposition to the delusion, which this proverb helped to spread abroad, is simply a commentary upon the words, "every one shall die for his own sin," and not a correction of the law, which is the interpretation that many have put upon these prophetic utterances of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 18:3, the Lord declares with an oath that this proverb shall not be used any more. The apodosis to 'אם יהיה וגו, which is not expressed, would be an imprecation, so that the oath contains a solemn prohibition. God will take care that this proverb shall not be used any more in Israel, not so much by the fact that He will not give them any further occasion to make use of it, as by the way in which He will convince them, through the judgments which He sends, of the justice of His ways. The following is Calvin's admirable paraphrase: "I will soon deprive you of this boasting of yours; for your iniquity shall be made manifest, so that all the world may see that you are but enduring just punishment, which you yourselves have deserved, and that you cannot cast it upon your fathers, as you have hitherto attempted to do." At the same time, this only gives one side; we must also add the other, which is brought out so prominently in Jeremiah 31:29., namely, that after the judgment God will manifest His grace so gloriously in the forgiveness of sins, that those who are forgiven will fully recognise the justice of the judgments inflicted. Experience of the love and compassion of the Lord, manifesting itself in the forgiveness of sin, bows down the heart so deeply that the pardoned sinner has no longer any doubt of the justice of the judgments of God. "In Israel" is added, to show that such a proverb is opposed to the dignity of Israel. In Ezekiel 18:4, the reason assigned fore the declaration thus solemnly confirmed by an oath commences with a general thought which contains the thesis for further discussion. All souls are mine, the soul of the father as well as that of the son, saith the Lord. In these words, as Calvin has well said, "God does not merely vindicate His government or His authority, but shows that He is moved with paternal affection towards the whole of the human race which He created and formed." There is no necessity for God to punish the one for the other, the son for the father, say because of the possibility that the guilty person might evade Him; and as the Father of all, He cannot treat the one in a different manner from the other, but can only punish the one by whom punishment has been deserved. The soul that sinneth shall die. הנּפשׁ is used here, as in many other passages, for "man," and מוּת is equivalent to suffering death as a punishment. "Death" is used to denote the complete destruction with which transgressors are threatened by the law, as in Deuteronomy 30:15 (compare Jeremiah 21:8; Proverbs 11:10). This sentence is explained in the verses which follow (vv. 5-20).
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