The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Ezechiel
Word came to me from the Lord: Strange,
that a proverb should be current in Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are being set on edge!
As I am a living God, the Lord says, this proverb shall be current in Israel no more.
What, is not every soul at my disposal, father and son alike? It is the guilty soul that must die.
Is a man loyal to me, does he live innocently and uprightly?
Is he one who never feasted at mountain-shrines, or looked for help to the false gods that are worshipped in Israel; never came between his neighbour’s sheets or had commerce with a woman when she was defiled?
Does he keep clear of oppression, giving back the pledge he took from his neighbour, and seizing nothing by violence? Does he feed the hungry, clothe the naked?
Does he shun usury and extortion? Does he refuse the bribe, and judge honestly between man and man?
Does he follow my commandments, hold fast to my ordinances, as a true man should? Here is a loyal servant of mine; life for him, he shall live on, says the Lord God.
But now, what if son he begets that is a man of violence, a murderer; lends himself to any of those practices
which his father ever shunned?✻ At hill-shrine eats he, neighbour’s wife wrongs he,
the friendless poor oppresses; gets him ill gains, withholds the pledge, betakes himself to false god and foul rite;
a usurer besides and an extortioner. Shall he live on? Nay, no life for him; he must die the death his foul crimes have earned him.
Son of his, in turn, warned by such a father’s doom, forswears that ill example.
Not for him the hill-feast, the false gods of the country-side, the adulterous bed;
never a wrong done, a pledge withheld, gain dishonestly come by; feeds he the hungry, clothes the naked,
and keeps clear of oppression, and usury, and extortion; what of him? Doer of my will, keeper of my law, he shall not die for his father’s sins; he shall live on.
His father, a man of wrong and violence, that deserved ill of his countrymen, has paid for his guilt by death;
would you have the son, too, make amends for it? Nay, but here is a man upright and honest, that holds fast by decrees of mine and obeys them; he must live on.
It is the guilty soul that must die; not for the son the father’s punishment, not for the father the son’s; good shall befall the good, evil the evil.
It may be the wicked man will repent of all his sinful deeds, and learn to keep my commandments, and live honestly and uprightly; if so, he shall live on; life, not death, for him.
All his transgressions shall be forgotten, and his uprightness shall bring him life.
What pleasure should I find in the death of a sinner, the Lord God says, when he might have turned back from his evil ways, and found life instead?
It may be the innocent man will lose his innocence, and begin to live as foul a life as that other in his wickedness; if so, shall he be spared? No, all his upright life shall be forgotten; a traitor, shall he not die in his treachery, a sinner in his sins?
And yet you say, The Lord is inconsiderate in his dealings! Listen, sons of Israel; it is your dealings that are inconsiderate, not mine.
The innocent man loses his innocence, and lives amiss; it is death I deal to him; he dies for his guilty deeds.
The wicked man abandons his wicked ways, and learns to live honestly and uprightly; he wins life by it.
He bethinks himself, and turns away from his evil doings; there is life, not death, for him.
What, should the sons of Israel hold the Lord inconsiderate? It is you who are inconsiderate, men of Israel, not he.
Each by his own life you shall be judged, men of Israel, the Lord God says. Come back, and make amends for all this guilt of yours, that shall else be your undoing;
away with them, your defiant rebellions against me; a new heart, a new spirit! Why must you choose death, men of Israel?
Die who will, his death is none of my contriving, says the Lord God; come back to me, and live!
The Holy Bible