Ezekiel 18-20

Good morning! Today’s passage (Ezekiel 18-20) continues both themes from the past several days. We see here a description of divine justice that only takes into account the righteousness or wrongdoings of a given person, freeing subsequent generations from paying the burden incurred by sinful ancestors. We also see several parables in Ezekiel 19, though neither of them plays on the distasteful assumptions of domestic violence that were the cornerstone of yesterday’s texts. The parables speak for themselves, so I’ll focus on the new order of things, as presented in Ezekiel 18 and 20.

God announces in Ezekiel 18 the retirement of a punishment system whereby children bear the brunt for sins their parents commit. Now, according to the prophet, each person is responsible for the hardship them themselves cause. A new maxim comes to the fore: “The person who sins shall die.” Therefore, a person has greater control over their happiness, since their only responsibility is for their own actions. By maintaining the moral code epitomized in the ten commandments, and the purity code laid out in Leviticus and Numbers, a person “shall surely live, says the Lord God.” Furthermore, God recognizes the honest repentance and redemption of sinners, equipping everyone who asks to grow in a new way.

How ironic then that in this dawning age of “personal responsibility”, Ezekiel 20 suggests the sins of ancestors are what keep God from having mercy on Israel! This suggests the overlap of competing narratives, not all of which are settled at the time of Ezekiel’s final composition. I find fascinating the suggestion that some of the laws and commandments given to Israel were false ones, made to test the obedience of the Hebrew people. I hope this applies to child-sacrifice practices in particular! Through further obedience, God promises a regeneration of Israel and their old ways. The chapter ends with a curious little curse from Ezekiel on the land of the Negeb, following God’s orders. Happy reading

Read Ezekiel 18-20.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Ezekiel 21-23. Thanks for reading!

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