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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 24:16

 

 

"Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, etc. - This law is explained and illustrated in sufficient detail, Ezekiel 18.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A caution addressed to earthly judges. Among other Oriental nations the family of a criminal was commonly involved in his punishment (compare Esther 9:13-14). In Israel it was not to be so; compare marginal references.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-24.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children,.... By the civil magistrates, for sins committed by them of a capital nature, and which are worthy of death:

neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; for sins committed by them that deserve it:

every man shall be put to death for his own sin: which is but just and reasonable; see Ezekiel 18:4; which is no contradiction to Exodus 20:5; that respects what God himself would do, this what Israel, or the civil magistrates in it, should do; this is a command on Israel, as Aben Ezra observes; that the declaration of the sovereign Being, who is not bound by any law. Jarchi interprets these words differently, as that the one should not be put to death by the testimony of the other; and it is a rule with the Jews,"that an oath of witness is taken of men, and not of women; of those that are not akin, and not of those that are nearly relatedF16Misn. Shebuot, c. 4. sect. 1. :'on which one of the commentators observesF17Bartenora in ib. that such that are near akin are not fit to bear testimony, because it is written, "the father shall not be put to death for the children"; that is, for the testimony of the children. Jarchi indeed mentions the other sense, for the sins of the children, which has been given, and is undoubtedly the true sense of the text. The Targum of Jonathan gives both;"fathers should not be put to death, neither by the testimony, nor for the sins of the children; and children shall not be put to death, neither by the testimony, nor for the sins of fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin by proper witnesses.'


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-24.html. 1999.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

The LORD hath reserved to himself This privilege, of punishing the sin of the fathers upon the children, but he hath no where given this authority to others. Exodus 20:5.


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Not put to death — If the one be free from the guilt of the others sin, except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deuteronomy 13:1-18; Joshua 7:24. For though God do visit the father's sins upon the children, Exodus 20:5, yet he will not suffer men to do so.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-24.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Here also God manifests how great is His regard for human life, so that blood should not be shed indiscriminately, when he forbids that children should be involved in the punishment of their parents. Nor was this Law by any means supererogatory, because on account of one man’s crime his whole race was often severely dealt with. It is not without cause, therefore, that God interposes for the protection of the innocent, and does not allow the punishment to travel further than where the crime exists. And surely our natural common sense dictates that it is an act of barbarous madness to put children to death out of hatred to their father. If any should object, what we have already seen, that God avenges “unto the third and fourth generation,” the reply is easy, that He is a law unto Himself, and that He does not rush by a blind impulse to the exercise of vengeance, so as to confound the innocent with the reprobate, but that He so visits the iniquity of the fathers upon their children, as to temper extreme severity with the greatest equity. Moreover, He has not so bound Himself by an inflexible rule as not to be free, if it so pleases Him, to depart from the Law; as, for example, He commanded the whole race of Canaan to be rooted out, because the land would not be purged except by the extermination of their defilements; and, since they were all reprobate, the children, no less than their fathers, were doomed to just destruction. Nay, we read that, after Saul’s death, his guilt was expiated by the death of his children, (2 Samuel 21:0;) still, by this special exception, the Supreme Lawgiver did not abrogate what He had commanded; but would have His own admirable wisdom acquiesced in, which is the fountain from whence all laws proceed.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-24.html. 1840-57.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 16. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers See what we have said respecting this subject on Exodus 20. It is supposed by some, that there was a law in Moses's time, among the AEgyptians, or other neighbour nations, that relations should suffer for the crimes of relations. Thus Ammianus Marcellinus tells us, that by the law of the Persians, in the case of desertion, and some other crimes, the whole kindred perished for the guilt of one, ob noxam unius, omnis propinquitas perit. So we read in Quint. Curt. lib. vi. c. 11. that among the Macedonians, the relations of those who plotted against the king's life were put to death as well as themselves; on the contrary, king Amaziah is praised for not putting to death the sons of his father's murderers; agreeably to this law of Moses, as well as to that maxim of common equity, that, as faults are personal, so ought the punishment to be. See Grotius de Jure B. & P. lib. ii. c. 21


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Understand it thus, if the one be free from the guilt of the other’s sin, and except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deu 13 Jos 7:24. For this law is given to men, not to God; and though God do visit the father’s sins upon the children, Exo 20, yet he will not suffer men to do so.

For his own sin, understand only, and not for any other man’s sin.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children — Among the Eastern nations the family of the guilty criminal was frequently made to suffer, the innocent with the guilty. Comp. Esther 9:13-14.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/deuteronomy-24.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

No One Shall Die For Another’s Sin (Deuteronomy 24:16).

Fair play and consideration for others was even to reach to those responsible for justice. This idea of personal responsibility was not late. It appears in early law codes outside Israel, although as we would expect, in varying degrees. The unrighteous must be condemned and the innocent justified.

Deuteronomy 24:16

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor shall the children be put to death for the fathers. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.’

The root principle of justice was to be that every man died for his own sin, and not for the sins of others (compare Numbers 27:3). The Law Code of Hammurabi sometimes applied the principle of ‘a life for a life’ in terms of the fact that if a man killed someone else’s son, his own son must be killed in recompense. This was never to be so in Israel. Each man was accountable for himself and himself alone as far as justice was concerned.

This is not contradictory to the principle that the sins of the fathers will be visited on the third and the fourth generation (Deuteronomy 5:9). There God was warning of how sin could, and regularly did, work out. He was warning of the consequences that could result. That is a very different thing from the administering of individual justice. The consequences brought about by evil in our lives are inevitable results, not God’s deliberate judgments.


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/deuteronomy-24.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Individual responsibility24:16

The Israelites were not to punish children for the crimes their parents committed. To do so charged them with guilt unjustly.

". . . it was a common thing among heathen nations-e.g, the Persians, Macedonians, and others-for the children and families of criminals to be also put to death (cf. Esther ix13 , 14 ...)." [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, 3:420.]

In the cases where God executed the families of criminals, He may have done so because the family members were also responsible for the crime ( Deuteronomy 24:16; cf. Joshua 7:24-26). In any case God has the right to do things that He does not allow His people to do. It is one thing for children to suffer physically and socially because of their parents" sins ( Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9). It is something else for human authorities to punish them for criminal acts that they have not committed.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/deuteronomy-24.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 24:16. Not be put to death — If the one be free from the guilt of the other’s sin, except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deuteronomy 13:15; Joshua 7:24. For though God do visit the father’s sins upon the children, (Exodus 20.,) yet he will not suffer men to do so.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Sin. Judges have no right to punish any but those who have transgressed. (Calmet) --- God may for reasons known to himself, which cannot be unjust, visit the sins of the fathers upon their children; (Exodus xx. 5) and hence, (Josue vii.) he ordered the family of Achan to be involved in his punishment. Temporal sufferings, or death itself, are not however always a misfortune. They frequently prove a source of inconceivable blessings, Romans v. 3. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins understand, that fathers and children are not to be received as witnesses against each other, (Onkelos) which seems foreign to the sense of the present law. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

for the children. This is Jehovah"s law for man. His own right of judgment remains. Compare 2 Kings 14:6. 2 Chronicles 25:4.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-24.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children. God, the sovereign author and proprietor of life, may, in certain circumstances, command this penalty; but the rule was addressed for the guidance of earthly magistrates, and it established the equitable principle that none should be responsible for the crimes of others, and that impartial justice should be blended with mercy in all their decisions.

This law had a special reference to the commission of idolatry, which was not only a sin against God, but a crime against the state; and as treason in many of the most civilized states is punished both by the death of the offender and also by the confiscation of property, which involves his family in poverty and degradation, so God, as the King of the Israelite nation, declared it to be a principle in His providential procedure to visit this "iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation" (see the note at Exodus 20:5). In carrying this principle into execution, human tribunals frequently err on the score of excessive severity; but in the Jewish state it was applied with unerring justice. 'For the Deity,' says Dr. Warburton ('Divine Legation,' b.

v., sec. 5), 'though He allowed capital punishment to be inflicted for the crime of less majesty on the person of the offender, by the delegated administration of the law, yet, concerning his family or posterity, he reserved the inquisition of the crime to Himself, and expressly forbade the magistrate to meddle with it in the common course of justice' (see the note at 2 Kings 14:6; also Graves' 'Lectures on the Pentateuch,' 2:, pp. 240, 241).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-24.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/deuteronomy-24.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
2 Kings 14:5,6; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Jeremiah 31:29,30; Ezekiel 18:20

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-24.html.

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