1 The word of Jehovah came unto me again, saying,
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?
3 As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
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.
1, 2 It is said, if the fathers are evil, their offspring also are evil. P. P.
2-4 The sons and posterity shall not incur punishment on account of the evil of their parents, but everyone on account of his own evil. By sour grapes is signified to appropriate to themselves the falsity of evil. The teeth here mean falsities in ultimates, or in the sensual man. To set on edge means the appropriation of falsity from evil. E. 556.
3, 4 But the offspring are not condemned on their father’s account, but everyone on his own account. P. P.
4, 10. The soul is used to stand for the life of the spirit of man, which is called his spiritual life. E. 750.
5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
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 neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a woman in her impurity,
5 Judgment and justice -lawful and right. Judgment is predicated of truth, and justice of good. S. 85.
Justice has relation to the good of truth, and judgment to the truth of good. R. 668.
Justice is predicated of love, and judgment of wisdom. T. 51.
5, 6 Here the man who has not eaten upon the mountains is said to be just, which means that the worship of such a man is not from infernal loves. Not lifting up the eyes to idols means whose worship is not from the falsities of doctrine, for idols signify those falsities. Defiling his neighbor’s wife means who has not adulterated the good of the church, and of the Word. A menstrous woman means defiled truths by the lusts of falsities. E. 555.
5-9 There are some of the offspring who do not commit evils, or act contrary to the goods and truths of the church, and these are saved. P. P.
5-9, 21 The just man is thus described. Those are called just in the Word who from the Lord are in the good of charity toward the neighbor, for the Lord alone is just.
5, 7 To cover the naked with a garment is to instruct those in truths who desire them. A. 5433.
5, 8 To put out his silver to usury is to teach for the sake of gain alone, and thus to do good for the sake of recompense. A. 9210.
5, 9 Doing the judgment of God means doing the Divine truth, that is acting according to it. A. 9857.
7 and hath not wronged any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath taken nought by robbery, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
8 he that hath not given forth upon interest, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true justice between man and man,
9 hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept mine ordinances, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord Jehovah.
7 Ignorance of good and truth is indicated by the naked. R. 213.
To cover with a garment signifies to instruct in truths. E. 402.
9 All laws, as far as they belonged to the representative church, were in general called judgments, and statutes. A. 8972.
See Chapter V., 6, 7, E. 946.
10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth any one of these things,
11 and that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbor’s wife,
12 hath wronged the poor and needy, hath taken by robbery, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
13 hath given forth upon interest, 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.
10-13 A son who is violent and a shedder of blood is described, and all the works of charity which it destroys are told, thus a son who is violent and a shedder of blood is a destroyer of charity and faith. A. 6353.
In the Word it is often said concerning those who are condemned to death, that their blood should be upon them, by which, in the spiritual sense is understood that damnation was upon them on account of the falsities and evils by which they destroyed the truth and goods of the church. E. 329.
It is otherwise with the offspring who commit evils, or act contrary to the goods and truths of the church, these are condemned. P. P.
12 See Chapter XVI., 49. R. 209.
See Chapter XVI., 49. E. 238.
14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins, which he hath done, and feareth, and doeth not such like;
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 neighbor’s wife,
16 neither hath wronged any, hath not taken aught to pledge, neither hath taken by robbery, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
17 that hath withdrawn his hand from the poor, that hath not received interest nor increase, hath executed mine ordinances, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
14-17 But he who does not do this is saved, P. P.
16 To give bread to the hungry, in the spiritual sense, is to instruct from the good of charity those who desire to obtain truths. To cover the naked with a garment signifies also to treat in a similar way those who are not in truth. E. 195.
17 See Chapter XVIII., 5, 8. A. 9210.
18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother, and did that which is not good among his people, behold, he shall die in his iniquity.
19 Yet say ye, Wherefore 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.
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.
18 although the fathers are condemned. P. P.
19, 20 To bear sins, when not said of the priesthood, means to be damned, and thus to die. A. 9937.
Everyone is dealt with according to his deeds. P. P.
20 It was also of the Divine law that a son should not bear the iniquity of his father. A. 1093.
It was an old custom among the Gentiles, when anyone sinned, to make his companions also guilty of the offence, and even to punish a whole house for the crime of one in it. But such a law is derived from hell, where all companions conspire together for evil. A. 5764.
By bearing iniquity is signified real damnation, when it is said of those who do evils from an evil heart. A. 9965.
Who does not see that it would be contrary to the Divine justice to visit the iniquity of the parents upon the sons. Hence it is evident that the terms third and fourth generation are not to be taken in the literal sense. E. 532.
21 But if the wicked 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.
22 None of his transgressions that he hath committed shall be remembered against him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? saith the Lord Jehovah; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live?
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? None of his righteous deeds that he hath done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
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?
21-23 The impious man who is converted is saved. P. P.
21, 22, 24 The meaning is that sins are so accounted and imputed after death. M. 487.
24 Transgression signifies evil against truth, which is less, and sin, evil against good, which is more grievous. Hence both are spoken of. A. 6563.
While the pious man, if he becomes impious, is condemned. P. P.
26 When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth therein; in his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.
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.
28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
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?
30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord Jehovah. Return ye, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
26-29 Both are of Divine justice. P. P.
30-32 Exhortation to be converted, because the Lord wished the salvation of all. P. P.
31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah: wherefore turn yourselves, and live.
31 A new heart stands for a new will, and a new spirit for a new understanding. A. 9819.
Spirit means the life of the regenerate, which is called spiritual life. L. 49.
By a new heart is meant the will of good, and by a new spirit the understanding of truth. T. 143.
Man’s spirit in his mind, and whatever proceeds from him. T. 156.
A new heart here means a new will, and a new spirit means a new understanding. T. 601.
By the heart is signified the good of love, and by the spirit the truth of faith, the latter is also signified by soul. E. 183.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Compiled by Robert S. Fischer 1925)