Individual Retribution1The word of the Lord came to me: 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?’ ▼
▼ 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.
3 “As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, ▼ you will not quote this proverb in Israel anymore! 4Indeed! All lives are mine – the life of the father as well as the life of the son is mine. The one ▼
▼ Heb “life.”who sins will die.
5 “Suppose a man is righteous. He practices what is just and right, 6does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains ▼ or pray to the idols ▼
▼ Heb, “does not lift up his eyes.” This refers to looking to idols for help.of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not have sexual relations with a ▼ woman during her period, 7does not oppress anyone, but gives the debtor back whatever was given in pledge, ▼ does not commit robbery, ▼ but gives his bread to the hungry and clothes the naked, 8does not engage in usury or charge interest, ▼ but refrains ▼
▼ Heb, “turns back his hand.”from wrongdoing, promotes true justice ▼
▼ Heb “justice of truth.”between men, 9and follows my statutes and observes my regulations by carrying them out. ▼ That man ▼
▼ Heb “he.”is righteous; he will certainly live, ▼
▼ Heb “living, he will live.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.declares the sovereign Lord.
10 “Suppose such a man has ▼
▼ Heb “begets.”a violent son who sheds blood and does any of these things ▼
▼ Heb “and he does, a brother, from one of these.” If “brother” is retained, it may be an adverbial accusative, “against a brother” (i.e., fellow Israelite). But the form is likely dittographic (note the אח [aleph-heth] combination in the following form).mentioned previously 11(though the father did not do any of them). ▼
▼ Heb “and he all of these did not do.” The parenthetical note refers back to the father described in the preceding verses.He eats pagan sacrifices on the mountains, ▼ defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12oppresses the poor and the needy, ▼ commits robbery, does not give back what was given in pledge, prays to ▼
▼ Heb “lifts up his eyes.”idols, performs abominable acts, 13engages in usury and charges interest. Will he live? He will not! Because he has done all these abominable deeds he will certainly die. ▼
▼ Heb “be put to death.” The translation follows an alternative reading that appears in several ancient textual witnesses.He will bear the responsibility for his own death. ▼
▼ Heb “his blood will be upon him.”
14 “But suppose he in turn has a son who notices all the sins his father commits, considers them, and does not follow his father’s example. ▼
▼ Heb “and he sees and does not do likewise.”15He does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains, does not pray to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16does not oppress anyone or keep what has been given in pledge, does not commit robbery, gives his food to the hungry, and clothes the naked, 17refrains from wrongdoing, ▼
▼ This translation follows the LXX. The MT reads “restrains his hand from the poor,” which makes no sense here.does not engage in usury or charge interest, carries out my regulations and follows my statutes. He will not die for his father’s iniquity; ▼ he will surely live. 18As for his father, because he practices extortion, robs his brother, and does what is not good among his people, he will die for his iniquity.
19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not suffer ▼ for his father’s iniquity?’ When the son does what is just and right, and observes all my statutes and carries them out, he will surely live. 20The person who sins is the one who will die. A son will not suffer ▼ for his father’s iniquity, and a father will not suffer ▼ for his son’s iniquity; the righteous person will be judged according to his righteousness, and the wicked person according to his wickedness. ▼
▼ Heb “the righteousness of the righteous one will be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked one will be upon him.”
21 “But if the wicked person turns from all the sin he has committed and observes all my statutes and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. 22None of the sins he has committed will be held ▼
▼ Heb “remembered.”against him; because of the righteousness he has done, he will live. 23Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live?
24 “But if a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing according to all the abominable practices the wicked carry out, will he live? All his righteous acts will not be remembered; because of the unfaithful acts he has done and the sin he has committed, he will die. ▼
▼ Heb “because of them he will die.”
25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord’s conduct ▼
▼ Heb “way.”is unjust!’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my conduct unjust? Is it not your conduct that is unjust? 26When a righteous person turns back from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing, he will die for it; ▼
▼ Heb “for them” or “because of them.”because of the wrongdoing he has done, he will die. 27When a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life. 28Because he considered ▼
▼ Heb “he saw.”and turned from all the sins he had done, he will surely live; he will not die. 29Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s conduct is unjust!’ Is my conduct unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your conduct that is unjust?
30 “Therefore I will judge each person according to his conduct, ▼
▼ Heb “ways.”O house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord. Repent ▼
▼ The verbs and persons in this verse are plural whereas the individual has been the subject of the chapter.and turn from all your wickedness; then it will not be an obstacle leading to iniquity. ▼
▼ Or “leading to punishment.”31Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! ▼ Why should you die, O house of Israel? 32For I take no delight in the death of anyone, ▼
▼ Heb “the death of the one dying.”declares the sovereign Lord. Repent and live!
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