Personal Responsibility for Sin

18 The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel:

‘The fathers eat sour grapes,(A)
and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?(B)

As I live”—this is the declaration of the Lord God—“you will no longer use this proverb in Israel.(C) Look, every life belongs to me.(D) The life of the father is like the life of the son—both belong to me. The person who sins is the one who will die.(E)

“Suppose a man is righteous and does what is just and right: He does not eat at the mountain shrines[a](F) or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife(G) or approach a woman during her menstrual impurity.(H) He doesn’t oppress anyone(I) but returns his collateral to the debtor.(J) He does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry(K) and covers the naked with clothing. He doesn’t lend at interest or for profit(L) but keeps his hand from injustice and carries out true justice between men.(M) He follows my statutes and keeps my ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.”(N) This is the declaration of the Lord God.

10 “But suppose the man has a violent son, who sheds blood(O) and does any of these things, 11 though the father has done none of them. Indeed, when the son eats at the mountain shrines and defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 and when he oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, and does not return collateral, and when he looks to the idols, commits detestable acts,(P) 13 and lends at interest or for profit, will he live? He will not live! Since he has committed all these detestable acts, he will certainly die. His death will be his own fault.[b](Q)

14 “Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise. 15 He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife. 16 He doesn’t oppress anyone, hold collateral, or commit robbery. He gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing. 17 He keeps his hand from harming the poor, not taking interest or profit on a loan. He practices my ordinances and follows my statutes. Such a person will not die for his father’s iniquity. He will certainly live.

18 “As for his father, he will die for his own iniquity because he practiced fraud, robbed his brother, and did among his people what was not good.(R) 19 But you may ask, ‘Why doesn’t the son suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ (S) Since the son has done what is just and right, carefully observing all my statutes, he will certainly live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die.(T) A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity.(U) The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him,(V) and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.(W)

21 “But if the wicked person turns from all the sins he has committed,(X) keeps all my statutes, and does what is just and right, he will certainly live; he will not die. 22 None of the transgressions he has committed will be held against him.(Y) He will live because of the righteousness he has practiced.(Z) 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” (AA) This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives? 24 But when a righteous person turns from his righteousness(AB) and acts unjustly, committing the same detestable acts that the wicked do, will he live? None of the righteous acts he did will be remembered.(AC) He will die because of the treachery he has engaged in and the sin he has committed.

25 “But you say, ‘The Lord’s way isn’t fair.’(AD) Now listen, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair? 26 When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and acts unjustly, he will die for this. He will die because of the injustice he has committed. 27 But if a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life. 28 He will certainly live because he thought it over and turned from all the transgressions he had committed; he will not die. 29 But the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s way isn’t fair.’ Is it my ways that are unfair, house of Israel? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair?

30 “Therefore, house of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways.”(AE) This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Repent and turn from all your rebellious acts, so they will not become a sinful stumbling block to you. 31 Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.(AF) Why should you die, house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “So repent and live!

A Lament for Israel’s Princes

19 “As for you, take up a lament for the princes of Israel,(AG) and say:

What was your mother? A lioness!
She lay down among the lions;
she reared her cubs among the young lions.
She brought up one of her cubs,
and he became a young lion.(AH)
After he learned to tear prey,
he devoured people.
When the nations heard about him,
he was caught in their pit.
Then they led him away with hooks
to the land of Egypt.(AI)

When she saw that she waited in vain,
that her hope was lost,
she took another of her cubs
and made him a young lion.
He prowled among the lions,(AJ)
and he became a young lion.
After he learned to tear prey,
he devoured people.
He devastated their strongholds[c]
and destroyed their cities.
The land and everything in it shuddered
at the sound of his roaring.
Then the nations from the surrounding provinces
set out against him.(AK)
They spread their net over him;
he was caught in their pit.
They put a wooden yoke on him[d] with hooks(AL)
and led him away to the king of Babylon.
They brought him into the fortresses
so his roar could no longer be heard
on the mountains of Israel.(AM)

10 Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,[e](AN)
planted by the water;
it was fruitful and full of branches(AO)
because of abundant water.
11 It had strong branches, fit for the scepters of rulers;
its height towered among the clouds.[f]
So it was conspicuous for its height
as well as its many branches.
12 But it was uprooted in fury,(AP)
thrown to the ground,
and the east wind dried up its fruit.
Its strong branches were torn off and dried up;(AQ)
fire consumed them.
13 Now it is planted in the wilderness,(AR)
in a dry and thirsty land.
14 Fire has gone out from its main branch[g]
and has devoured its fruit,
so that it no longer has a strong branch,
a scepter for ruling.(AS)

This is a lament and should be used as a lament.”

Footnotes

  1. 18:6 Lit the mountains, also in vv. 11,15
  2. 18:13 Lit His blood will be on him
  3. 19:7 Tg, Aq; MT reads knew their widows
  4. 19:9 Or put him in a cage
  5. 19:10 Some Hb mss; other Hb mss read blood
  6. 19:11 Or thick foliage
  7. 19:14 Lit from the branch of its parts

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