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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ezekiel 18

 

 

Verse 1

Ezekiel 18:1 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,

Ver. 1. And the word of the Lord came unto me.] This is oft prefaced by the prophets to make their sermons more authoritative and authentic. Pausanias telleth us that some heathen sages, to add weight to their works, were wont to prefix Yεος, Yεος, i.e., God, God.


Verse 2

Ezekiel 18:2 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?

Ver. 2. What mean you?] Or, What is come to you? - quoe vos dimentia cepit? - that you do so toss this sinful and senseless proverb among you, both at Jerusalem [Jeremiah 31:29] and also here at Babylon.

Delicta parentum

Immeritus Iudaeae luis? ”

Must I be blasphemed rather than you faulted? Is it for your fathers’ sins only that ye suffer? And do ye thus think to put off the reproofs of the prophets, as if yourselves had not seconded and outsinned your fathers, and are therefore justly punished?

The fathers have eaten sour grapes.] Sin is no better. It is an "evil and a bitter thing to forsake the Lord." {Jeremiah 2:19} What wild sour grapes your fathers both bred and fed upon, see Isaiah 5:2; Isaiah 5:8; Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 5:20-22; and it was woe, woe unto them.

And the children’s teeth are set on edge.] Or, Stupefied. But is there not a cause? and are there not sins enough with you, even with you, to procure your ruth and your ruin? but that I must be injurious rather than you be found obnoxious?


Verse 3

Ezekiel 18:3 [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have [occasion] any more to use this proverb in Israel.

Ver. 3. Ye shall not have occasion any more.] For I will shortly take an order with you; and not by words, but by blows, vindicate my just judgments from your cavils and scurrilities.


Verse 4

Ezekiel 18:4 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.

Ver. 4. Behold all souls are mine.] So that to show my sovereignty I may do with them as I see good. Howbeit, let me tell you that I slay none but for his sins, i.e., idque ipsi sua iniustitia eventit, non iniuria mea, the fault is merely in himself; so little reason is there that you should be thus quarrelsome and contumelious against me.

The soul that sinneth it shall die,] i.e., Shall suffer for his sin either here or hereafter, without repentance. Every man shall bear his own burden, every tub shall stand upon its own bottom, and every fox yield his own skin to the flayer, as the Jews at this day proverbially can say.


Verse 5

Ezekiel 18:5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,

Ver. 5. But if a man be just.] Keep faith and a good conscience; do good acts, and have good aims; do all as well as any, not this or that, but this and that too, as here it followeth, duties of piety, and duties of charity.


Verse 6

Ezekiel 18:6 [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,

Ver. 6. And hath not eaten upon the mountains,] i.e., Hath not offered there to idols; for at their sacrifices they feasted. [Exodus 32:1-6] The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. See Ezekiel 20:28, Hosea 4:13.

Neither hath lift up his eyes to the idols.] As every Papist doth daily, and is therefore no righteous person, such as is here described. Neither helpeth it, that they are the "idols of the house of Israel," and not the idols of the nations.

Neither hath come near to a menstruous woman.] Though his own wife. [Leviticus 18:19; Leviticus 20:18] Adulter enim est uxoris propriae ardentior amator, said a heathen; There is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. [Ecclesiastes 3:5]


Verse 7

Ezekiel 18:7 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;

Ver. 7. And hath not oppressed any.] Either by force or fraud.

Hath given his bread to the hungry.] Negative goodness alone is little worth. Men must not only rob the hospital, as we say, spoil the poor by violence, but "draw forth their souls," and their sheaves both, "to the hungry," and clothe the naked with a garment, or they cannot have the comfort and credit of just men.


Verse 8

Ezekiel 18:8 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,

Ver. 8. He that hath not given forth upon usury.] Of this sin, see what I have said elsewhere. [Exodus 22:25 Psalms 15:5 Nehemiah 5:10]

Neither hath taken any increase.] Interest we call it now, after the French, who first helped us to that fine word. (a) But let the patrons of usury consider that what distinctions soever they bring for it, God alloweth here of no usury, but condemneth both Neshec the biting, and Tarbith the toothless usury, as equally naught.

That hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity.] Whether it be injury to another, revenge, raking together riches of unrighteousness, reaching after honours, &c.

Hath executed true judgment.] Without partiality or passion, whether he be a judge or an arbitrator.


Verse 9

Ezekiel 18:9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he [is] just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.

Ver. 9. Hath walked in my statutes.] Qui leges iuraque servat. It is as if the prophet had said There are many more characters of a righteous man, but I shall shut up all with this: He that is right in his obedience for matter, manner, motive, and end, he is the man I mean; "He shall surely live."


Verse 10

Ezekiel 18:10 If he beget a son [that is] a robber, a shedder of blood, and [that] doeth the like to [any] one of these [things],

Ver. 10. If he beget a son.] As he may; for grace is not hereditary. Heroum filii noxae.

That is a robber.] Effractor. A breach maker, whether upon the laws of God, or of men; one that is a pestilent son, as the Septuagint here have it, a plague to his parents, and to his country.

And that doth the like to any one of these things.] Or, That doth to his brother besides any of these, as there are mille artes nocendi.


Verse 11

Ezekiel 18:11 And that doeth not any of those [duties], but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,

Ver. 11. And that doth not any of these duties.] Bare omissions may undo a man. Not robbing only, but the not relieving of the poor, was the rich man’s ruin.


Verse 12

Ezekiel 18:12 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,

Ver. 12. Hath committed abomination.] Such is every of the sins here instanced, whatsoever some can say in defence of them. Hath given forth upon usury, and all.


Verse 13

Ezekiel 18:13 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.

Ver. 13. He hath done all these abominations.] Or, If he have done but one of them, and undo it not again by true repentance.

He shall surely die.] Neither shall his father’s righteousness privilege him, or prevail at all for him.

His blood shall be upon him.] He is felo de se, his own death’s man, and his mends he hath in his own hands, as they say.


Verse 14

Ezekiel 18:14 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,

Ver. 14. Now, lo, if he beget a son that seeth.] And withal sigheth, his eye affecting his heart with grief and dislike.

And considereth,] viz., Of the ill consequence of those courses, et cavet et pavet. And consider and be frightened.


Verse 15

Ezekiel 18:15 [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,

Ver. 15. That hath not eaten.] See on Ezekiel 18:6.


Verse 16

Ezekiel 18:16 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,

Ver. 16. See on Ezekiel 18:7.


Verse 17

Ezekiel 18:17 [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.

Ver. 17. See on Ezekiel 18:8-9.


Verse 18

Ezekiel 18:18 [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.

Ver. 18. Spoiled his brother by violence.] A man had as good deal with a Cossack or a cannibal as with a truly covetous criminal. "They hunt every man his brother with a net." [Micah 7:2]

And did that which is not good among his people.] It should be every man’s care to be some way serviceable to God and profitable to men. Let no man turn himself into a cipher, nay, into an excrement, that lives in the world to no purpose, yea, to bad purpose. Oh it is good to do something whereby the world may be the better, and not to come hither merely as rats and mice, only to devour victuals, and to run squeaking up and down.


Verse 19

Ezekiel 18:19 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.

Ver. 19. Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?] Thus these unreasonable refractories will not be said, but continue chatting against God, quasi dicant, certe tu non potes negare, &c. (a) Some are ατοποι; [2 Thessalonians 3:2] they have no topics; there is no talking to them; they will not be set down with right reason.

When the son hath done that is lawful and right.] What a meek, sweet, and satisfactory answer doth God make to these importunate complainers against him! Here we have their replication and his duplication; as Ezekiel 18:25, we have their triplication and his quadruplication. Oh the infinite patience of our good God!


Verse 20

Ezekiel 18:20 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.

Ver. 20. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.] The innocent son shall not, unless it be in temporals only, and that in some cases. [Deuteronomy 24:16 2 Kings 14:6 2 Chronicles 15:4] It was the cruel manner of Uladus, prince of Valachia, together with the offender, to execute the whole family, yea, sometimes the whole kindred. (a) A like cruelty was used in Scotland by the Pope’s appointment upon the kindred of those that had slain David Beaton, in revenge of the death of that butcherly bishop. (b) Lavater (c) telleth us here, out of the annals of the Switzers, his countrymen, that when Albertus, the son of Rodolphus Caesar, was slain by his nephew John Hapsburg and some other nobles, his children, Duke Leopold and Agnes Queen of Hungary, put to death not the murderers only, but their children and kinsfolk also not a few, and utterly overturned divers strongholds in Switzerland. But this was not the way of God, nor did it prosper in their hand. Cruelty calleth aloud for vengeance.

The righteousness,] i.e., It shall be well with the righteous, and woe with the wicked. [Isaiah 3:10-11]


Verse 21

Ezekiel 18:21 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.

Ver. 21. But if the wicked will turn, &c.] That is, saith Theodoret, so far am I from punishing one for the sins of another, that I am ready to receive a returning sinner, how far or how fast soever he hath run out.

And keep all my statutes.] For the best and rightest repentance is a new life, saith Luther.


Verse 22

Ezekiel 18:22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

Ver. 22. All his transgressions.] So true is that of an ancient, Quem poenitet peccasse, poene est innocens - Penitence is nearly as good as innocence.

In his righteousness.] Or, For his righteousness, tanquam ob causum sine qua non, et ob promissionem Dei, (a) not of merit, but mercy and free grace.


Verse 23

Ezekiel 18:23 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?

Ver. 23. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?] No, verily; for then he should do nothing but do and undo, make a world and unmake it again, since we provoke him continually; but he is longsuffering.

Atque dolet quoties cogitur esse ferox.

And not that he should return.] Had not I rather pardon than punish? Is not this last my work, my strange work [Isaiah 28:21]


Verse 24

Ezekiel 18:24 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.

Ver. 24. But when the righteous.] He that is good in his own eyes, and passeth for good in the esteem of others, but yet is not really righteous, if such a one do utterly fall away, and lose that little that he seemed to have, what wonder? Comman grace can never hold out, or stretch to eternity. Bellarmine saith well, That which is true grace, veritate essentiae, only may be lost: not that that is true veritate firma soliditatis, with the truth of firm solidity; which latter, being rightly understood, may be called special, as the other common grace.


Verse 25

Ezekiel 18:25 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?

Ver. 25. Yet ye say.] Ye will still hold your own, and no reason shall persuade you. A stubborn man standeth as a stake in a stream, lets all pass by him, but he standeth still where he was.

Is not my way equal?] This he had said before but he saith it again, Dις και τρις τα καλα. Cicero, aggravating the fact of a parricide, useth these words, Matrem tuam occidisti: quid dicam amplius? Matrem tuam occidisti - Thou hast killed thy mother, man: what should I say more? then hast killed thy mother, I tell thee.

Are not your ways unequal?] They are so, and that apparently: but that your mouth is out of taste, and ye cannot relish truth; your eyes are sore, and ye cannot behold the sunbeams; you are prejudiced, biased, perverted.


Verse 26

Ezekiel 18:26 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.

Ver. 26. When a righteous man turneth,] q.d, Shall I say the selfsame over again to you? I had need do so surely, and all little enough.

And dieth in them,] sc., In his wicked ways: this undoeth him. It is not falling into the water that drowneth a man, but long lying under it.


Verse 27

Ezekiel 18:27 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.

Ver. 27. Again, when the wicked man turneth away.] This also he had said before, [Ezekiel 18:21-23] but men had need to hear this sweet promise over and over, because there is in the best a natural Novatianism to doubt and question pardon for sins, if great and grievous ones especially.


Verse 28

Ezekiel 18:28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Ver. 29. Because he considereth.] Consideration necessarily precedeth conversion. [Psalms 119:59 Lamentations 3:40 Jeremiah 8:6] The prodigal came to himself first, and then went home to his father. See on Ezekiel 18:14.


Verse 29

Ezekiel 18:29 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?

Ver. 29. Yet saith the house of Israel.] Yet; for all that I can say to the contrary. They will still hold their own; they will be dicti sui domini, &c., such was their impudence and petulance. God therefore gives over the confutation, and comes to the conclusion of this contestation.


Verse 30

Ezekiel 18:30 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.

Ver. 30. Therefore I will judge you.] I will word it no longer with you, but clear up and vindicate my justice, which you have calumniated, in your deserved destruction, except ye repent.

Repent and turn yourselves.] Or, Others. Lay aside your complaints and contumelies against me, and take notice that the best thing you can do is to "take hold of my strength that ye may make peace with me, and ye shall make peace with me." [Isaiah 27:5]


Verse 31

Ezekiel 18:31 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?

Ver. 31. Cast away from you, &c.] And so evidence the soundness of your repentance. He that repenteth with a contradiction, as continuing in his sins, shall be pardoned with a contradiction - that is, cast into hell.

All your transgression.] All, as well as any; else ye do but take pains to go to hell. Gideon’s one bastard slew all his seventy sons; so will one bastardly sin, reserved and allowed, slay the soul. Men should do by their sins as our forefathers did by the Danes here, make an utter riddance of them; and as the Sicilians did by the French among them, whom they not only massacred to a man, but also ripped up all their own women that were with child by the French, that not one drop of French blood might remain among them.

Make you a new heart.] Wait upon God for it in the constant use of means, that ye may bring forth fruits meet for repentance.


Verse 32

Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn [yourselves], and live ye.

Ver. 32. For I have no pleasure.] See on Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 33:11.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 18:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ezekiel-18.html. 1865-1868.

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