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Ezekiel 18 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Individual Retribution

18 The Lord’s message came to me: “What do you mean by quoting this proverb concerning the land of Israel:

“‘The fathers eat sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth become numb?’[a]

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord,[b] you will not quote this proverb in Israel anymore! Indeed! All lives are mine—the life of the father as well as the life of the son is mine. The one[c] who sins will die.

“Suppose a man is righteous. He practices what is just and right, does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains[d] or pray to the idols[e] of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not approach a woman for marital relations[f] during her period, does not oppress anyone, but gives the debtor back whatever was given in pledge,[g] does not commit robbery,[h] but gives his bread to the hungry and clothes the naked, does not engage in usury or charge interest,[i] but refrains[j] from wrongdoing, promotes true justice[k] between men, and follows my statutes and observes my regulations by carrying them out.[l] That man[m] is righteous; he will certainly live,[n] declares the Sovereign Lord.

10 “Suppose such a man has[o] a violent son who sheds blood and does any of these things[p] mentioned previously 11 (though the father did not do any of them).[q] He eats pagan sacrifices on the mountains,[r] defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and the needy,[s] commits robbery, does not give back what was given in pledge, prays to[t] idols, performs abominable acts, 13 engages in usury, and charges interest. Will he live? He will not! Because he has done all these abominable deeds he will certainly die.[u] He will bear the responsibility for his own death.[v]

14 “But suppose he in turn has a son who notices all the sins his father commits, considers them, and does not follow his father’s example.[w] 15 He does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains, does not pray to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not oppress anyone or keep what has been given in pledge, does not commit robbery, gives his food to the hungry and clothes the naked, 17 refrains from wrongdoing,[x] does not engage in usury or charge interest, carries out my regulations, and follows my statutes. He will not die for his father’s iniquity;[y] he will surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practices extortion, robs his brother, and does what is not good among his people, he will die for his iniquity.

19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not suffer[z] for his father’s iniquity?’ When the son does what is just and right, and observes all my statutes and carries them out, he will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. A son will not suffer[aa] for his father’s iniquity, and a father will not suffer[ab] for his son’s iniquity; the righteous person will be judged according to his righteousness, and the wicked person according to his wickedness.[ac]

21 “But if the wicked person turns from all the sin he has committed and observes all my statutes and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. 22 None of the sins he has committed will be held[ad] against him; because of the righteousness he has done, he will live. 23 Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the Sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live?

24 “But if a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing according to all the abominable practices the wicked carry out, will he live? All his righteous acts will not be remembered; because of the unfaithful acts he has done and the sin he has committed, he will die.[ae]

25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord’s conduct[af] is unjust!’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my conduct unjust? Is it not your conduct that is unjust? 26 When a righteous person turns back from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing, he will die for it;[ag] because of the wrongdoing he has done, he will die. 27 When a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life. 28 Because he considered[ah] and turned from all the sins he had done, he will surely live; he will not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s conduct is unjust!’ Is my conduct unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your conduct that is unjust?

30 “Therefore, I will judge each person according to his conduct,[ai] O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent[aj] and turn from all your wickedness; then it will not be an obstacle leading to iniquity.[ak] 31 Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit![al] Why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no delight in the death of anyone,[am] declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!


  1. Ezekiel 18:2 tn This word occurs three times, in the Qal stem here and the parallel passage in Jer 31:29-30, and in the Piel stem at Eccl 10:10. In the latter passage it refers to the bluntness of an ax that has not been sharpened. Here the “bluntness” of the teeth is not due to grinding them down because of the bitter taste of sour grapes but to the fact that they have lost their “edge,” “bite,” or “sharpness” because they are numb from the sour taste. For this meaning for the word, see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 2:197.
  2. Ezekiel 18:3 tn This expression occurs often in Ezekiel (5:11; 14:16, 18, 20; 16:48; 17:16, 19; 20:3, 31, 33; 33:11, 27; 34:8; 35:6, 11).
  3. Ezekiel 18:4 tn Heb “life.”
  4. Ezekiel 18:6 tn Heb “on the mountains he does not eat.” The mountains are often mentioned as the place where idolatrous sacrifices were eaten (Ezek 20:28; 22:9; 34:6).
  5. Ezekiel 18:6 tn Heb “does not lift up his eyes.” This refers to looking to idols for help.
  6. Ezekiel 18:6 tn The expression קָרַב אֶל (qarav ʾel) means “draw near to” or “approach,” but is also used as a euphemism for the intended purpose of sexual relations (Lev 18:14; Deut 22:14; Isa 8:3).
  7. Ezekiel 18:7 tn Heb “restores to the debtor his pledge.” The root occurs in Exod 22:25 in reference to restoring a man’s garment as a pledge before nightfall.
  8. Ezekiel 18:7 tn The Hebrew term refers to seizure of property, usually by the rich (Isa 3:14; 10:2; Mic 2:2; see Lev 5:21, 22 HT [6:2, 3 ET]).
  9. Ezekiel 18:8 sn This law was given in Lev 25:36.
  10. Ezekiel 18:8 tn Heb, “turns back his hand.”
  11. Ezekiel 18:8 tn Heb “justice of truth.”
  12. Ezekiel 18:9 tc The MT reads לַעֲשׂוֹת אֱמֶת (laʿasot ʾemet, “to do with integrity”), while the LXX reads “to do them,” presupposing לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתָם (laʿasot ʾotam). The ם (mem) and ת (tav) have been reversed in the MT. The LXX reflects the original, supported by similar phrasing in Ezekiel 11:20; 20:19.
  13. Ezekiel 18:9 tn Heb “he.”
  14. Ezekiel 18:9 tn Heb “living, he will live.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.
  15. Ezekiel 18:10 tn Heb “begets.”
  16. Ezekiel 18:10 tn Heb “and he does, a brother, from one of these.” If “brother” is retained, it may be an adverbial accusative: “against a brother” (i.e., fellow Israelite). But the form is likely dittographic, as the consonants that spell “brother” אח (alef-het) occur in the following word).
  17. Ezekiel 18:11 tn Heb “and he all of these did not do.” The parenthetical note refers back to the father described in the preceding verses.
  18. Ezekiel 18:11 sn See note on “mountains” in v. 6.
  19. Ezekiel 18:12 sn The poor and needy are often mentioned together in the OT (Deut 24:14; Jer 22:16; Ezek 16:49; Pss 12:6; 35:10; 37:14).
  20. Ezekiel 18:12 tn Heb “lifts up his eyes.”
  21. Ezekiel 18:13 tn Heb “be put to death.” The translation follows an alternative reading that appears in several ancient textual witnesses.
  22. Ezekiel 18:13 tn Heb “his blood will be upon him.”
  23. Ezekiel 18:14 tn Heb “and he sees and does not do likewise.”
  24. Ezekiel 18:17 tc This translation follows the LXX. The MT reads: “restrains his hand from the poor,” which makes no sense here.
  25. Ezekiel 18:17 tn Or “in his father’s punishment.” The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity/punishment” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here and in vv. 18, 19, 20; 3:18, 19; 4:17; 7:13, 16; 24:23; 33:6, 8, 9; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment for iniquity.”
  26. Ezekiel 18:19 tn Heb “lift up, bear.”
  27. Ezekiel 18:20 tn Heb “lift up, bear.”
  28. Ezekiel 18:20 tn Heb “lift up, bear.”
  29. Ezekiel 18:20 tn Heb “the righteousness of the righteous one will be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked one will be upon him.”
  30. Ezekiel 18:22 tn Heb “remembered.”
  31. Ezekiel 18:24 tn Heb “because of them he will die.”
  32. Ezekiel 18:25 tn Heb “way.”
  33. Ezekiel 18:26 tn Heb “for them” or “because of them.”
  34. Ezekiel 18:28 tn Heb “he saw.”
  35. Ezekiel 18:30 tn Heb “ways.”
  36. Ezekiel 18:30 tn The verbs and persons in this verse are plural whereas the individual has been the subject of the chapter.
  37. Ezekiel 18:30 tn Or “leading to punishment.”
  38. Ezekiel 18:31 sn In Ezek 11:19 and 36:26 the new heart and new spirit are promised as future blessings.
  39. Ezekiel 18:32 tn Heb “the death of the one dying.”
New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.


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