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Individual Retribution

18 The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”?(A) As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins who shall die.(B)

If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period,(C) does not oppress anyone but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,(D) does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties,(E) follows my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances, acting faithfully—such a one is righteous; he shall surely live, says the Lord God.(F)

10 If he has a son who is violent, a shedder of blood,(G) 11 who does any of these things (though his father[a] does none of them), who eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination,(H) 13 takes advance or accrued interest, shall he then live? He shall not. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely be put to death; his blood shall be upon himself.(I)

14 But if this son has a son who sees all the sins that his father has done, considers, and does not do likewise,(J) 15 who does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not wrong anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,(K) 17 withholds his hand from iniquity,[b] takes no advance or accrued interest, observes my ordinances, and follows my statutes, he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, he died for his iniquity.

19 Yet you say, “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” When the son has done what is lawful and right and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.(L) 20 The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be their own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be their own.(M)

21 But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die.(N) 22 None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them, for the righteousness that they have done they shall live.(O) 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?(P) 24 But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered, for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die.(Q)

25 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?(R) 26 When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed, they shall die. 27 Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. 28 Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin.[c](S) 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?(T) 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.(U)

Israel Degraded

19 As for you, raise up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,(V) and say:

What a lioness was your mother
    among lions!
She lay down among young lions,
    rearing her cubs.(W)
She raised up one of her cubs;
    he became a young lion,
and he learned to catch prey;
    he devoured humans.(X)
The nations heard about him;
    he was caught in their pit,
and they brought him with hooks
    to the land of Egypt.(Y)
When she saw that she was thwarted,
    that her hope was lost,
she took another of her cubs
    and made him a young lion.(Z)
He prowled among the lions;
    he became a young lion,
and he learned to catch prey;
    he devoured people.(AA)
And he ravaged their strongholds[d]
    and laid waste their towns;
the land was appalled, and all in it,
    at the sound of his roaring.(AB)
The nations set upon him
    from the provinces all around;
they spread their net over him;
    he was caught in their pit.(AC)
With hooks they put him in a neck collar
    and brought him to the king of Babylon;
    they brought him into custody,
so that his voice should be heard no more
    on the mountains of Israel.(AD)
10 Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard[e]
    transplanted by the water,
fruitful and full of branches
    from abundant water.(AE)
11 Its strongest stem became
    a ruler’s scepter;[f]
it towered aloft
    among the clouds;
it stood out in its height
    with its mass of branches.(AF)
12 But it was plucked up in fury,
    cast down to the ground;
the east wind dried it up;
    its fruit was stripped off;
its strong stem was withered;
    the fire consumed it.(AG)
13 Now it is transplanted into the wilderness,
    into a dry and thirsty land.(AH)
14 And fire has gone out from its stem,
    has consumed its branches and fruit,
so that there remains in it no strong stem,
    no scepter for ruling.

This is a lamentation, and it is used as a lamentation.(AI)


  1. 18.11 Heb he
  2. 18.17 Gk: Heb the poor
  3. 18.30 Or so that they shall not be a stumbling block of iniquity to you
  4. 19.7 Tg: Heb his widows
  5. 19.10 Cn: Heb in your blood
  6. 19.11 Heb Its strongest stems became rulers’ scepters

Friendship with the World

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it, so you commit murder. And you covet[a] something and cannot obtain it, so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.(A) Adulterers![b] Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.(B) Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks to no purpose? Does the spirit that God caused to dwell[c] in us desire envy?(C) But God gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

“God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”(D)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.(E) Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.(F) Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.(G)

Warning against Judging Another

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another speaks evil against the law and judges the law, but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.(H) 12 There is one lawgiver and judge[d] who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?(I)

Boasting about Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.”(J) 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.(K) 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”(L) 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it commits sin.(M)


  1. 4.2 Or you murder and you covet
  2. 4.4 Gk Adulterous women; other ancient authorities read Adulterous men and women
  3. 4.5 Other ancient authorities read the spirit that dwells
  4. 4.12 Other ancient authorities lack and judge