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Yehezkiel 18:1-9

Individual Retribution

18:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 18:2 “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?’ 1 

18:3 “As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, 2  you will not quote this proverb in Israel anymore! 18:4 Indeed! All lives are mine – the life of the father as well as the life of the son is mine. The one 3  who sins will die.

18:5 “Suppose a man is righteous. He practices what is just and right, 18:6 does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains 4  or pray to the idols 5  of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not have sexual relations with a 6  woman during her period, 18:7 does not oppress anyone, but gives the debtor back whatever was given in pledge, 7  does not commit robbery, 8  but gives his bread to the hungry and clothes the naked, 18:8 does not engage in usury or charge interest, 9  but refrains 10  from wrongdoing, promotes true justice 11  between men, 18:9 and follows my statutes and observes my regulations by carrying them out. 12  That man 13  is righteous; he will certainly live, 14  declares the sovereign Lord.

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[18:2]  1 tn This word only occurs here and in the parallel passage in Jer 31:29-30 in the Qal stem and in Eccl 10:10 in the Piel stem. In the latter passage it refers to the bluntness of an ax that has not been sharpened. Here the idea is of the “bluntness” of the teeth, not from having ground them down due to 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.

[18:3]  2 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).

[18:4]  3 tn Heb “life.”

[18:6]  4 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).

[18:6]  5 tn Heb, “does not lift up his eyes.” This refers to looking to idols for help.

[18:6]  6 tn Heb, “does not draw near to.” “Draw near” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse (Lev 18:14; Deut 22:14; Isa 8:3).

[18:7]  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.

[18:7]  8 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]).

[18:8]  9 sn This law was given in Lev 25:36.

[18:8]  10 tn Heb, “turns back his hand.”

[18:8]  11 tn Heb “justice of truth.”

[18:9]  12 tc The MT reads לַעֲשׂוֹת אֱמֶת (laasotemet, “to do with integrity”), while the LXX reads “to do them,” presupposing לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתָם (laasototam). The ם (mem) and ת (tav) have been reversed in the MT. The LXX refelcts the original, supported by similar phrasing in Ezekiel 11:20; 20:19.

[18:9]  13 tn Heb “he.”

[18:9]  14 tn Heb “living, he will live.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.

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