Ezekiel 18:3
As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezekiel 18:3. As I live; saith the Lord, ye shall not have occasion to use this proverb any more in Israel — I will make such a visible discrimination between the righteous and the wicked, between those that tread in the steps of their forefathers and those who take warning by their examples, that you shall not have any further room to use this proverb among you. God threatens, it must be acknowledged, to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, both in the Old Testament and the New: see Exodus 20:5; Matthew 23:35. But this is to be understood only, 1st, With respect to the temporal punishments of this world, not with respect to the eternal punishments of the next; and, 2d, When the children walk in the wicked steps of their parents, and so by degrees fill up the measure of national iniquity: see notes on Jeremiah 15:4; Jeremiah 31:29, where this matter is more fully explained. “The Scripture takes notice of a certain measure of iniquity, which is filling up from one generation to another, till at last it makes a nation or family ripe for destruction. And although those persons on whom this vengeance falls suffer no more than their own personal sins deserved, yet, because the sins of former generations, which they equal or outdo, make it time for God utterly to destroy them, the punishments due to the sins of many ages and generations are said to fall upon them.” — Dr. Sherlock.

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.Concerning the land of Israel - Rather, "in the land of Israel," i. e., upon Israel's soil, the last place where such a paganish saying should be expected. The saying was general among the people both in Palestine and in exile; and expressed the excuse wherewith they ascribed their miserable condition to anyone's fault but their own - to a blind fate such as the pagan recognized, instead of the discriminating judgment of an All-holy God. 3. ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb—because I will let it be seen by the whole world in the very fact that you are not righteous, as ye fancy yourselves, but wicked, and that you suffer only the just penalty of your guilt; while the elect righteous remnant alone escapes. Either you who use it shall die for it, or because I will vindicate my proceedings so that all who consider your punishments shall see you deserve all that you suffer.

As I live, saith the Lord God,.... This is a form of an oath; the Lord here swears by his life, by himself, because he could swear by no greater, Hebrews 6:13; and it expresses how displeased he was with the above proverb, and how much he resented it, as well as the certainty of what follows; which, it might be depended on, would be assuredly done, since the Lord not only said it, but swore unto it:

ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel; signifying that he would no longer defer the execution of his judgments, but immediately bring them upon them; so that or the future there would be no use of the proverb; no occasion to make mention of it in the next generation; and, moreover, that he would make it so manifest to themselves and others, by his dealings with them, that it should be seen, and known, and acknowledged by all, that it was for their own sins and transgressions that they were visited and corrected.

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. ye shall not have occasion] Or, it shall not be permitted you.

Verse 3. - Stress is laid on the fact that the proverb which implied unrighteousness in God is no longer to be used in Israel. There, among the, people in whom he was manifesting his righteousness for the education of mankind, it should be seen to have no force whatever. The thought was an essentially heathen thought - a half-truth distorted into a falsehood. Ezekiel 18:3In the word of God contained in this chapter, the delusion that God visits the sins of fathers upon innocent children is overthrown, and the truth is clearly set forth that every man bears the guilt and punishment of his own sins (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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