The word of the LORD came to me:
"What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel: The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?
As I live"-- [this is] the declaration of the Lord God-- "you will no longer use this proverb in Israel.
Look, every life belongs to Me. The life of the father is like the life of the son-- both belong to Me. The person who sins is the one who will die.
"Now suppose a man is righteous and does what is just and right:
He does not eat at the mountain [shrines] or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor's wife or come near a woman during her menstrual impurity.
He doesn't oppress anyone but returns his collateral to the debtor. He does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing.
He doesn't lend at interest or for profit but keeps his hand from wrongdoing and carries out true justice between men.
He follows My statutes and keeps My ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live." [This is] the declaration of the Lord God.
"Now suppose the man has a violent son, who sheds blood and does any of these [things],
though the father has done none of them. Indeed, when the son eats at the mountain [shrines] and defiles his neighbor's wife,
and [when] he oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, and does not return collateral, and [when] he raises his eyes to the idols, commits abominations,
and lends at interest or for profit, will he live? He will not live! Since he has committed all these abominations, he will certainly die. His blood will be on him.
"Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise.
He does not eat at the mountain [shrines] or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor's wife.
He doesn't oppress anyone, hold collateral, or commit robbery. He gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing.
He keeps his hand from [harming] the poor, not taking interest or profit [on a loan]. He practices My ordinances and follows My statutes. Such a person will not die for his father's iniquity. He will certainly live.
"As for his father, he will die for his own iniquity because he practiced fraud, robbed [his] brother, and did what was wrong among his people.
But you may ask: Why doesn't the son suffer punishment for the father's iniquity? Since the son has done what is just and right, carefully observing all My statues, he will certainly live.
The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won't suffer punishment for the father's iniquity, and a father won't suffer punishment for the son's iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.
"Now if the wicked person turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is just and right, he will certainly live; he will not die.
None of the transgressions he has committed will be held against him. He will live because of the righteousness he has practiced.
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" [This is] the declaration of the Lord God. "Instead, don't I [take pleasure] when he turns from his ways and lives?
But when a righteous person turns from his righteousness and practices iniquity, committing the same abominations that the wicked do, will he live? None of the righteous acts he did will be remembered. He will die because of the treachery he has engaged in and the sin he has committed.
"But you say: The Lord's way isn't fair. Now listen, house of Israel: Is it My way that is unfair? Instead, isn't it your ways that are unfair?
When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and practices iniquity, he will die for this. He will die because of the iniquity he has practiced.
But if a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life.
He will certainly live because he thought it over and turned from all the transgressions he had committed; he will not die.
But the house of Israel says: The Lord's way isn't fair. Is it My ways that are unfair, house of Israel? Instead, isn't it your ways that are unfair?
"Therefore, house of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways." [This is] the declaration of the Lord God. "Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so they will not be a stumbling block that causes your punishment.
Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel?
For I take no pleasure in anyone's death." [This is] the declaration of the Lord God. "So repent and live!