Ezekiel 18:14
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,
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(14) 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.

18:1-20 The soul that sinneth it shall die. As to eternity, every man was, is, and will be dealt with, as his conduct shows him to have been under the old covenant of works, or the new covenant of grace. Whatever outward sufferings come upon men through the sins of others, they deserve for their own sins all they suffer; and the Lord overrules every event for the eternal good of believers. All souls are in the hand of the great Creator: he will deal with them in justice or mercy; nor will any perish for the sins of another, who is not in some sense worthy of death for his own. We all have sinned, and our souls must be lost, if God deal with us according to his holy law; but we are invited to come to Christ. If a man who had shown his faith by his works, had a wicked son, whose character and conduct were the reverse of his parent's, could it be expected he should escape the Divine vengeance on account of his father's piety? Surely not. And should a wicked man have a son who walked before God as righteous, this man would not perish for his father's sins. If the son was not free from evils in this life, still he should be partaker of salvation. The question here is not about the meritorious ground of justification, but about the Lord's dealings with the righteous and the wicked.Live ... die - In the writings of Ezekiel there is a development of the meaning of "life" and "death." In the holy land the sanctions of divine government were in great degree temporal; so that the promise of "life" for "obedience," the threatening of "death" for "disobedience," in the Books of Moses, were regarded simply as temporal and national. In their exile this could not continue in its full extent, and the universality of the misfortune necessarily made men look deeper into the words of God. The word "soul" denotes a "person" viewed as an "individual," possessing the "life" which God breathed into man when he became a "living soul" 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. 14-18. The third case: a son who walks not in the steps of an unrighteous father, but in the ways of God; for example, Josiah, the pious son of guilty Amon; Hezekiah, of Ahaz (2Ki 16:1-20; 18:1-37; 21:1-22:20).

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.

A third instance in a supposed son’s son to clear the case fully. The just father lives, his unjust son dieth; but the grandson of the just, seeing his father’s sins, and fleeing them, lives. It is rare that the children of debauched parents do think or discern evil in their parents’ courses, but blindly follow them, without putting difference between what is good and what is bad in that the latter doth; such suffer for their own sins more than for their fathers: but if it be so that the son of a wicked father act like a man, bring his father’s doings to the rule, and thereby discover the wickedness and danger of them, and do not the like, he shall not suffer for his father’s sins.

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.

Now, lo, if he beget a son,.... That is, the wicked man before mentioned; if he begets a son who proves a good man, which sometimes is the case, as Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, and Josiah the son of Amon:

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,
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 18:14The son who avoids his father's sin will live; but the father will die for his own sins. - Ezekiel 18:14. And behold, he begetteth a son, who seeth all his father's sins which he doeth; he seeth them, and doeth not such things. Ezekiel 18:15. He eateth not upon the mountains, and lifteth not up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel; he defileth not his neighbour's wife, Ezekiel 18:16. And oppresseth no one; he doth not withhold a pledge, and committeth not robbery; giveth his bread to the hungry, and covereth the naked with clothes. Ezekiel 18:17. He holdeth back his hand from the distressed one, taketh not usury and interest, doeth my rights, walketh in my statutes; he will not die for the sin of his father; he shall live. Ezekiel 18:18. His father, because he hath practised oppression, committed robbery upon his brother, and hath done that which is not good in the midst of his people; behold, he shall die for his sin. Ezekiel 18:19. And do ye say, Why doth the son not help to bear the father's sin? But the son hath done right and righteousness, hath kept all my statutes, and done them; he shall live. Ezekiel 18:20. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. A son shall not help to bear the father's sin, and a father shall not help to bear the sin of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. - The case supposed in these verses forms the antithesis to the preceding one; the father is the transgressor in this instance, and the son a keeper of the law. The subject to הוליד in Ezekiel 18:14 is not the righteous man described in Ezekiel 18:15, but a man who is described immediately afterwards as a transgressor of the commandments of God. The Chetib וירא bite in the last clause of Ezekiel 18:14 is not to be read ויּרא, καὶ φοβηθῇ, et timuerit, as it has been by the translators of the Septuagint and Vulgate; nor is it to be altered into ויּראה, as it has been by the Masoretes, to make it accord with Ezekiel 18:28; but it is the apocopated form ויּרא, as in the preceding clause, and the object is to be repeated from what precedes, as in the similar case which we find in Exodus 20:15, (18). Ewald and Hitzig propose to alter מעני in Ezekiel 18:17 into מעול after Ezekiel 18:8, but without the slightest necessity. The lxx are not to be taken as an authority for this, since the Chaldee and Syriac have both read and rendered עני; and Ezekiel, when repeating the same sentences, is accustomed to make variations in particular words. Holding back the hand from the distressed, is equivalent to abstaining from seizing upon him for the purpose of crushing him (compare Ezekiel 18:12); בּתוך, in the midst of his countrymen equals בּתוך עמּו, is adopted from the language of the Pentateuch. מת after הנּה is a participle. The question, "Why does the son not help to bear?" is not a direct objection on the part of the people, but is to be taken as a pretext, which the people might offer on the ground of the law, that God would visit the sin of the fathers upon the sons in justification of their proverb. Ezekiel cites this pretext for the purpose of meeting it by stating the reason why this does not occur. נשׂא ב, to carry, near or with, to join in carrying, or help to carry (cf. Numbers 11:17). This proved the proverb to be false, and confirmed the assertion made in Ezekiel 18:4, to which the address therefore returns (Ezekiel 18:20). The righteousness of the righteous man will come upon him, i.e., upon the righteous man, namely, in its consequences. The righteous man will receive the blessing of righteousness, but the unrighteous man the curse of his wickedness. There is no necessity for the article, which the Keri proposes to insert before רשׁע.
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