Neither has oppressed any, has not withheld the pledge, neither has spoiled by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry, and has covered the naked with a garment,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.Ezekiel 18:6,7. Ezekiel 18:7.
hath not withholden the pledge; or, hath not pledged the pledge (h). The meaning is, not that he had not given one, but had not taken one. So the Targum,
"the pledge he hath not taken;''
or, if he did, he did not keep it beyond the time the law directs, but restored it to him whose it was;
neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment. The rest of the verse is the same with Ezekiel 18:7.Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. withholden the pledge] taken aught to pledge, as R.V.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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