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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ezekiel 18

Verse 1

The last verse of Ezekiel 17:0 gives occasion for a declaration of the principle upon which God’s providential dispensations proceed, namely, that every individual shall be equitably dealt with - a principle that precludes the children from either presuming on the father’s merits or despairing on account of the father’s guilt. This chapter is an enlargement of Jeremiah 31:29, and sets forth fully the doctrine of individual responsibility.

Verse 2

Concerning the land of Israel - Rather, “in the land of Israel,” i. e., upon Israel’s soil, the last place where such a paganish saying should be expected. The saying was general among the people both in Palestine and in exile; and expressed the excuse wherewith they ascribed their miserable condition to anyone’s fault but their own - to a blind fate such as the pagan recognized, instead of the discriminating judgment of an All-holy God.

Verse 4

All souls are mine - Man is not simply to ascribe his existence to earthly parents, but to acknowledge as his Father Him who created man in His own image, and who gave and gives him the spirit of life. The relation of father to son is merged in the common relation of all (father and son alike) as sons to their heavenly Father.

Verse 6

Eaten, upon the mountains - At the feast of idols, in contradiction to the command of Deuteronomy 12:17.

Idols of the house of Israel - Idolatry was so popular that certain idols were counted as belonging to the people of Israel, of whom Yahweh was the true God.

Verse 8

Usury - is the profit exacted for the loan of money, “increase” that which is taken for goods; both are forbidden Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19. The placing out of capital at interest for commercial purposes is not taken into consideration. The case is that of money lent to a brother in distress.

Verses 9-13

Live ... die - In the writings of Ezekiel there is a development of the meaning of “life” and “death.” In the holy land the sanctions of divine government were in great degree temporal; so that the promise of “life” for “obedience,” the threatening of “death” for “disobedience,” in the Books of Moses, were regarded simply as temporal and national. In their exile this could not continue in its full extent, and the universality of the misfortune necessarily made men look deeper into the words of God. The word “soul” denotes a “person” viewed as an “individual,” possessing the “life” which God breathed into man when he became a “living soul” Genesis 2:7; i. e., it distinguishes “personality” from “nationality,” and this introduces that fresh and higher idea of “life” and “death,” which is not so much “life” and “death” in a future state, as “life” and “death” as equivalent to communion with or separation from God - that idea of life and death which was explained by our Lord in the Gospel of John John 8:0, and by Paul in Romans 8:0.

Verse 19

Why?... - Rather, “Why doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?”

Verse 25

Equal - literally, “weighed out, balanced.” Man’s ways are arbitrary, God’s ways are governed by a self-imposed law, which makes all consistent and harmonious.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.