Ezekiel 18


וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   18:1

Ezek. 18:1   And the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

מַה־לָּכֶם אַתֶּם מֹשְׁלִים אֶת־הַמָּשָׁל הַזֶּה עַל־אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר אָבֹות יֹאכְלוּ בֹסֶר וְשִׁנֵּי הַבָּנִים   18:2 תִקְהֶינָה׃

Ezek. 18:2   “How is it you are speaking this proverb about the land of Israel saying,

                        ‘Fathers eat sour grapes,

                                 but the teeth of the children

                         shall be blunted?’”

The second-person pronouns in this verse and the rest are plural (masculine), indicating that the God Figure’s message is being directed to the house of Israel, not to Ezekiel.

חַי־אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה אִם־יִהְיֶה לָכֶם עֹוד מְשֹׁל הַמָּשָׁל הַזֶּה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל׃   18:3

Ezek. 18:3   “As I live, declares the Master, the Lord, this proverb shall not be a proverb for you in Israel any more.”

הֵן כָּל־הַנְּפָשֹׁות לִי הֵנָּה כְּנֶפֶשׁ הָאָב וּכְנֶפֶשׁ הַבֵּן לִי־הֵנָּה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַחֹטֵאת הִיא תָמוּת׃   18:4

Ezek. 18:4   “Behold, all the souls belong to Me.  Alike, as the soul of the father, also shall be the soul of the son; they are Mine:  The sinful soul, it must die.”

See my discussion about the death of the soul after v. 18:20.

וְאִישׁ כִּי־יִהְיֶה צַדִּיק וְעָשָׂה מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה׃   18:5

Ezek. 18:5   “So if someone would be lawful and do justice and righteousness,

אֶל־הֶהָרִים לֹא אָכָל וְעֵינָיו לֹא נָשָׂא אֶל־גִּלּוּלֵי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת־אֵשֶׁת רֵעֵהוּ לֹא טִמֵּא וְאֶל־אִשָּׁה   18:6   נִדָּה לֹא יִקְרָב׃

Ezek. 18:6   does not eat to the mountains, and his eyes do not lift to the idols of the house of Israel, and does not defile the wife of his neighbor, and would not come near to an impure woman,

וְאִישׁ לֹא יֹונֶה חֲבֹלָתֹו חֹוב יָשִׁיב גְּזֵלָה לֹא יִגְזֹל לַחְמֹו לְרָעֵב יִתֵּן וְעֵירֹם יְכַסֶּה־בָּגֶד׃   18:7

Ezek. 18:7   and no one could force his pledge, would repay a debt, would not commit robbery, would give his bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked,

בַּנֶּשֶׁךְ לֹא־יִתֵּן וְתַרְבִּית לֹא יִקָּח מֵעָוֶל יָשִׁיב יָדֹו מִשְׁפַּט אֱמֶת יַעֲשֶׂה בֵּין אִישׁ לְאִישׁ׃   18:8

Ezek. 18:8   would not give with interest, and would not take a bonus, would withdraw his hand from injustice, exercise true justice between anyone to another,

בְּחֻקֹּותַי יְהַלֵּךְ וּמִשְׁפָּטַי שָׁמַר לַעֲשֹׂות אֱמֶת צַדִּיק הוּא חָיֹה יִחְיֶה נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   18:9

Ezek. 18:9   would live by My statutes, and keeps My ordinances, doing faithfully, he is righteous, surely he shall live, declares the Master, the Lord.”

וְהֹולִיד בֵּן־פָּרִיץ שֹׁפֵךְ דָּם וְעָשָׂה אָח מֵאַחַד מֵאֵלֶּה׃   18:10

Ezek. 18:10   “But should one beget a violent son, a shedder of blood, or a brother would do from any of these things –

וְהוּא אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה לֹא עָשָׂה כִּי גַם אֶל־הֶהָרִים אָכַל וְאֶת־אֵשֶׁת רֵעֵהוּ טִמֵּא׃   18:11

Ezek. 18:11   but he himself had not done any of them -- and he has also eaten to the mountains, or defiled the wife of his neighbor,

עָנִי וְאֶבְיֹון הֹונָה גְּזֵלֹות גָּזָל חֲבֹל לֹא יָשִׁיב וְאֶל־הַגִּלּוּלִים נָשָׂא עֵינָיו תֹּועֵבָה עָשָׂה׃   18:12

Ezek. 18:12   has mistreated the poor and the needy, committed robberies, would not restore a pledge, or has lifted up his eyes to the idols, has done an abomination,

בַּנֶּשֶׁךְ נָתַן וְתַרְבִּית לָקַח וָחָי לֹא יִחְיֶה אֵת כָּל־הַתֹּועֵבֹות הָאֵלֶּה עָשָׂה מֹות יוּמָת דָּמָיו בֹּו יִהְיֶה׃   18:13

Ezek. 18:13   has given with interest, or has taken a bonus; yet would he live?  He shall not live.  He has done all of these abominations; surely he must be put to death.  His blood shall be on him.”

From v. 18:10 to this verse, I believe Ezekiel has again been a bit reckless in his use of pronouns.  Third-person pronouns (he and his) refer almost entirely to the son of v. 18:10.  However, one such pronoun, I’m fairly sure, refers to the father.  That’s the first he in v. 18:11.  Otherwise, these four verses don’t make much sense.  As I see it, the Lord is contrasting an evil son (or brother, to be all-inclusive) and his righteous father.  Thus He is addressing the proverb of v. 18:2.

וְהִנֵּה הֹולִיד בֵּן וַיַּרְא אֶת־כָּל־חַטֹּאת אָבִיו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּרְאֶה וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה כָּהֵן׃   18:14

Ezek. 18:14   “But behold, one has begotten a son, and he sees all the sins of his father that he does and discerns, and would not do anything the same,

עַל־הֶהָרִים לֹא אָכָל וְעֵינָיו לֹא נָשָׂא אֶל־גִּלּוּלֵי בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־אֵשֶׁת רֵעֵהוּ לֹא טִמֵּא׃   18:15

Ezek. 18:15   does not eat to the mountains, or his eyes do not lift up to the idols of the house of Israel, has not defiled the wife of his neighbor,

וְאִישׁ לֹא הֹונָה חֲבֹל לֹא חָבָל וּגְזֵלָה לֹא גָזָל לַחְמֹו לְרָעֵב נָתָן וְעֵרֹום כִּסָּה־בָגֶד׃   18:16

Ezek. 18:16   and has not mistreated any, has not bound a pledge, and has not committed a robbery, has given his bread to the hungry, and clothed the naked,

מֵעָנִי הֵשִׁיב יָדֹו נֶשֶׁךְ וְתַרְבִּית לֹא לָקָח מִשְׁפָּטַי עָשָׂה בְּחֻקֹּותַי הָלָךְ הוּא לֹא יָמוּת בַּעֲוֹן אָבִיו   18:17       חָיֹה יִחְיֶה׃

Ezek. 18:17   brought back his hand from the poor, has not taken interest or a bonus, has performed My ordinances, lived by My statutes.  He shall not die because of the iniquity of his father; surely he shall live.”

From v. 18:14 to this one, we have a reversal; the Lord is now contrasting a righteous son and an evil father.

אָבִיו כִּי־עָשַׁק עֹשֶׁק גָּזַל גֵּזֶל אָח וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא־טֹוב עָשָׂה בְּתֹוךְ עַמָּיו וְהִנֵּה־מֵת בַּעֲוֹנֹו׃   18:18

Ezek. 18:18   “Because his father cruelly oppressed, committed the robbery of a brother, and did what is not good in the midst of his people, then behold, he dies because of his iniquity.”

וַאֲמַרְתֶּם מַדֻּעַ לֹא־נָשָׂא הַבֵּן בַּעֲוֹן הָאָב וְהַבֵּן מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה עָשָׂה אֵת כָּל־חֻקֹּותַי שָׁמַר וַיַּעֲשֶׂה   18:19     אֹתָם חָיֹה יִחְיֶה׃

Ezek. 18:19   “But you might say, ‘Why is not the son swept away because of the iniquity of the father?’  Well, the son accomplishes justice and righteousness; he observes all My statutes, and he keeps them; surely he shall live.”

הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַחֹטֵאת הִיא תָמוּת בֵּן לֹא־יִשָּׂא בַּעֲוֹן הָאָב וְאָב לֹא יִשָּׂא בַּעֲוֹן הַבֵּן צִדְקַת הַצַּדִּיק עָלָיו   18:20     תִּהְיֶה וְרִשְׁעַת (רָשָׁע) [הָרָשָׁע] עָלָיו תִּהְיֶה׃

Ezek. 18:20   “The sinful soul, it must die.  A son shall not be swept away because of the iniquity of the father, and a father shall not be swept away because of the iniquity of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous one shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked one shall be upon him.”

I wonder about all this talk regarding the life of the righteous and the death of the wicked.  Is this meant to be actual in the lives of all of us?  Or is it figurative?  Any adult can see that those who appear righteous often do not live, and the wicked often do not die.  So what does the Lord mean here?  Well, I think He tells us in the first words of this verse: The soul of a sinner must die.  Notice also what the Lord says in v. 18:4 above.  Life and death must apply to the soul.  I believe that if a soul dies that means it is not gathered to its ancestors on the death of the body, and the soul that lives is gathered to its ancestors on the death of the body.  This reflects the expressions in the Torah that describe the death of a Jew (see, for example, Gene. 49:33).                                          {Return to Ezek. 21:10]

The word in the parentheses needs a heh prefix.  The correct spelling is in the brackets.

וְהָרָשָׁע כִּי יָשׁוּב מִכָּל־(חַטָּאתֹו) [חַטֹּאתָיו] אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וְשָׁמַר אֶת־כָּל־חֻקֹותַי וְעָשָׂה מִשְׁפָּט   18:21 וּצְדָקָה חָיֹה יִחְיֶה לֹא יָמוּת׃

Ezek. 18:21   “Yet if the wicked one should turn from all his sins that he had committed and keep all My statutes and accomplish justice and righteousness, surely he shall live, not die.”

The word in the parentheses is missing a yad, thus making it singular, although it should be plural.  The correction is in the brackets.

כָּל־פְּשָׁעָיו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לֹא יִזָּכְרוּ לֹו בְּצִדְקָתֹו אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה יִחְיֶה׃   18:22

Ezek. 18:22   “All his transgressions that he had made will not be remembered with regard to him; by his righteousness that he does, he will live.”

Once more the Lord makes clear that His forgiveness is by grace.  All we have to do is renounce our sinful ways, and we are forgiven, the Lord “forgets” our sins.

הֶחָפֹץ אֶחְפֹּץ מֹות רָשָׁע נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הֲלֹוא בְּשׁוּבֹו מִדְּרָכָיו וְחָיָה׃   18:23

Ezek. 18:23   “Should I take pleasure at all in the death of a wicked one, declares the Master, the Lord, not rather in his return from his ways that he would live?”

See how the Lord honors His gift of free will!  He continually places before each of us sinners the choice to change his/her ways and turn away from transgression.  Amazing!  The Lord is truly righteous, loving, and forgiving throughout all of eternity.

וּבְשׁוּב צַדִּיק מִצִּדְקָתֹו וְעָשָׂה עָוֶל כְּכֹל הַתֹּועֵבֹות אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה הָרָשָׁע יַעֲשֶׂה וָחָי כָּל־(צִדְקָתֹו)   18:24 [צִדְקֹתָיו] אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה לֹא תִזָּכַרְנָה בְּמַעֲלֹו אֲשֶׁר־מָעַל וּבְחַטָּאתֹו אֲשֶׁר־חָטָא בָּם יָמוּת׃

Ezek. 18:24   “And when a righteous one turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, according to all the abominations that the wicked one does, he would do, then shall he live?  All his righteousness that he had accomplished will not be remembered because of his transgressions that he commits and because of his sins that he sins; because of them, he shall die.”

And in this opposite situation, the same is true.  Past wickedness will not be “remembered,” and neither will past righteousness.  By the way, there’s an error in the word in the parentheses.  It is singular and should be plural.  The correction made by inserting a yad is in the brackets.

וַאֲמַרְתֶּם לֹא יִתָּכֵן דֶּרֶךְ אֲדֹנָי שִׁמְעוּ־נָא בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲדַרְכִּי לֹא יִתָּכֵן הֲלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם לֹא יִתָּכֵנוּ׃   18:25

Ezek. 18:25   “Now you will say, ‘The way of the Master would be unequal.’  Now hear, you of the house of Israel!  Would My way not be equal?  Could not your ways be unequal?”

בְּשׁוּב־צַדִּיק מִצִּדְקָתֹו וְעָשָׂה עָוֶל וּמֵת עֲלֵיהֶם בְּעַוְלֹו אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה יָמוּת׃    18:26

Ezek. 18:26   “When a righteous one turns from his righteousness and commits unjust acts, then he must die because of them; because of his unjust acts that he committed, he must die.”

וּבְשׁוּב רָשָׁע מֵרִשְׁעָתֹו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה הוּא אֶת־נַפְשֹׁו יְחַיֶּה׃   18:27

Ezek. 18:27   “Also when a wicked one turns from his wickedness that he had committed and accomplishes justice and righteousness, that his soul shall be restored.”

וַיִּרְאֶה (וַיָּשֹׁוב) [וַיָּשָׁב] מִכָּל־פְּשָׁעָיו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה חָיֹו יִחְיֶה לֹא יָמוּת׃   18:28

Ezek. 18:28   “So he considers, then turns from all his transgressions that he had committed; surely he shall live, not die.”

The word in the parentheses is in error.   It should be spelled without the inside vav.  The correction is in the brackets.

וְאָמְרוּ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יִתָּכֵן דֶּרֶךְ אֲדֹנָי הַדְּרָכַי לֹא יִתָּכְנּוּ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם לֹא יִתָּכֵן׃   18:29

Ezek. 18:29   “Still the house of Israel say, ‘The way of the Master is not equal.’  Are My ways not equal, house of Israel?  Could not your ways be unequal?”

לָכֵן אִישׁ כִּדְרָכָיו אֶשְׁפֹּט אֶתְכֶם בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה שׁוּבוּ וְהָשִׁיבוּ מִכָּל־פִּשְׁעֵיכֶם   18:30               וְלֹא־יִהְיֶה לָכֶם לְמִכְשֹׁול עָוֹן׃

Ezek. 18:30   “Therefore I will judge each of you according to his ways, house of Israel, declares the Master, the Lord.  Turn back, and be restored from all your transgressions, so there would not be a stumbling block of guilt for you.”

הַשְׁלִיכוּ מֵעֲלֵיכֶם אֶת־כָּל־פִּשְׁעֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר פְּשַׁעְתֶּם בָּם וַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם לֵב חָדָשׁ וְרוּחַ חֲדָשָׁה וְלָמָּה   18:31        תָמֻתוּ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

Ezek. 18:31   “Cast off from yourselves all your transgressions in which you persist and make for yourselves a new heart and a fresh spirit, for why should you die, house of Israel?”

The second-person pronoun, you in the phrase why should you die, near the end of the verse is plural.  So the members of the house of Israel are being addressed, not the house itself.

כִּי לֹא אֶחְפֹּץ בְּמֹות הַמֵּת נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה וְהָשִׁיבוּ וִחְיוּ׃   18:32

Ezek. 18:32   “For I will not take ‘pleasure’ in the death of the perished, declares the Master, the Lord.  So repent, and live.”                                                                      [Return to Psal. 11:7]

I believe this chapter is the relating of another vision, for the same reason as before:  The entire chapter, less v. 18:1, consists of the Lord’s dictating to Ezekiel.  In fact, in this chapter He doesn’t even tell Ezekiel that he should say this to anyone.  It must have been enough that he write it down. 

Before leaving this chapter, I have to express my thoughts about it.  At first glance, this chapter would seem to contradict Exod. 20:5 and 20:6.  But a careful reading of those verses (as emphasized in my remarks there) indicates that there is no contradiction at all.  In those two verses, God’s loving compassion and teaching are a bit obscured by what I believe to be understated words.  In this chapter, God’s love and compassion are described clearly and plainly, without being obscured by peripheral -- albeit important -- words.


[Return to Ezekiel Chapters]   [Prev.:  Ezek. 17]   [Next:  Ezek. 19]