King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ezekiel 18

God has no respect of persons. (1-20) The Divine providence is vindicated. (21-29) A gracious invitation to repentance. (30-32)

Ezekiel 18 Audio:

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God has no respect of persons

1 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,

2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?

3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.

4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,

6 And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,

7 And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;

8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,

9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.

10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,

11 And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,

12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,

13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,

15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,

16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,

17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.

18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.

19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.

20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

The Divine providence is vindicated

21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

25 Yet ye say, The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the LORD is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

A gracious invitation to repentance

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Edge. Those in captivity would not allow that they were punished for their own sins: God convinces them of the contrary. W. — They knew that he often visited the sins of the fathers upon the children, (Ex. xx. 5. and xxiv. 5. C.) when they also hated him, (H.) and that many had suffered for their parents’ faults, like those of Saul, David, &c. C. — But these were all guilty of original sin at least, and death is not always a real misfortune. H. — God seems to allow that the complaints had hitherto had some grounds, (Jer. xxxi.) but that they should be removed after the captivity, and still more effectually by the death of Christ, who came to redeem sinners, and rejected none. By baptism he cancels original sin, the sour grape, and those who cannot receive it are not innocent. C. — God chastises the body, but not the soul of children, for their parents’ faults: (M.) and this conduct is a trial for them, which may increase their glory. H.

Ver. 4. Mine. He insinuates the vocation of the Gentiles and the general redemption. All will be treated according to their works. C.

Ver. 6. Mountains: of the sacrifices there offered to idols; (Ch.) or partaken in their usual feasts. Some irregularly worshipped God in these high places, under many pious kings; and were tolerated, (C.) though condemned for so doing. H. — Woman. The pagans abstained by the light of reason. C. — The contrary practice, “it is said,” would give rise to lepers or monsters, (S. Jer.) as experience evinces. C. — It was forbidden in the Christian Church. S. Aug. q. 64. in Lev. xx. 18. S. Greg. resp. 10. ad Aug. C. — But no such questions are now asked. The prophet insists on this no more. v. 11, 15.

Ver. 7. Wronged. Lit. “constristated.” H. — Heb. “oppressed,” maliciously.

Ver. 8. Increase more than what he lent, on any pretext. S. Jer. C.

Ver. 10. Robber. Heb. “breaker;” rude and lawless. Sept. “pestilent.”

Ver. 12. Abomination. This refers to the woman, (v. 6.) or to idolatry.

Ver. 13. Him. He alone is answerable, and shall suffer.

Ver. 20. Sinneth. God never acted otherwise, though the Jews seem to have thought so. Temporal afflictions are the source of merit, and generally fall to the share of the saints, particularly under the new law.

Ver. 21. Penance. The end determines all. If a person be then found just or unjust at his departure, he will be treated accordingly. W.

Ver. 23. Will. God sincerely wishes that the sinner should be converted. If he refuse grace, it is only in punishment of former transgressions. S. Aug. ep. 217. — He wills antecedently their salvation, (1 Tim. ii. 4.) though he has a consequent will to punish them, as they speak in the schools, because they themselves will not be saved. Sanct. C. — God’s absolute will is always fulfilled, not that which is conditional. S. Jo. Dam. (Fide ii. 29.) S. Tho. p. 1. q. 19. a. 6. — He does enough by offering his graces and the death of Christ, to shew that his will is sincere; though by a consequent will his justice punishes the impenitent. Thus a virtuous judge would have all to observe the laws and live: but finding some transgress, so as to become pernicious, he punishes them with death. W.

Ver. 24. Remembered, to procure him pardon; yet he will suffer less than if he had never done any good. C.

Ver. 25. Not right, in thus punishing or rewarding for the last act; (Theod.) or rather, God shews that those who complain are guilty.

Ver. 27. Alive. Mortal sin destroys that life of grace. C.

Ver. 30. Do penance. This is requisite, as well as a change of conduct. W.

Ver. 31. New. We can do no good of ourselves: but we are admonished of our free-will, that we may do what we can, and ask for grace. Trid. Ses. vi. 5. 11. Jam. i. 5. and 2 Cor. iii. 5. S. Aug. &c.) C.