The Meaning of Ezekiel 18:4 Explained

Ezekiel 18:4

KJV: 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.

YLT: Lo, all the souls are Mine, As the soul of the father, So also the soul of the son -- they are Mine, The soul that is sinning -- it doth die.

Darby: Behold, all the 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.

ASV: 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.

Discover Ezekiel 18:4

What does Ezekiel 18:4 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The true principle, in contrast to their proverb, was that everyone is personally responsible to God, the present generation and former generations. We bear the guilt of our own sinfulness, which results in our death, not the guilt of someone else (cf. Ezekiel 3:18-21). "Souls" (Heb. nephesh) means "lives" (cf. Ezekiel 13:20), not disembodied spirits.
"The story of Achan in Joshua 7:1-26 is a classic example of corporate responsibility. Achan sinned, but his whole family suffered for his sin. Such a passage is difficult to understand unless we see the biblical distinction between guilt and consequences. In Achan"s case he was the guilty party ( Ezekiel 7:21), but his family, who may have shared guilt by remaining silent about his misdeed, shared at least the consequences of his guilt, which was death by stoning. This was the point made in Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:6-7. Individually each person is responsible for his or her own guilt of sin. But we must always be aware that the consequences of sin will affect others who may be innocent of the guilt for that particular sin. This is true even when the sin is forgiven. God promised to remove the guilt of sin, but most often the consequences remain. David is a good example. Though he was forgiven of his sins of adultery and murder, he still suffered the consequences ( 2 Samuel 12:11-20)." [1]

Chapter Summary: Ezekiel 18

1  God defends his justice
31  and exhorts to repentance

What do the individual words in Ezekiel 18:4 mean?

Behold all souls Mine are the soul of the father and as well as the soul of the son Mine are the soul who sins it shall die -
הֵ֤ן כָּל־ הַנְּפָשׁוֹת֙ לִ֣י הֵ֔נָּה כְּנֶ֧פֶשׁ הָאָ֛ב וּכְנֶ֥פֶשׁ הַבֵּ֖ן לִי־ הֵ֑נָּה הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַחֹטֵ֖את הִ֥יא תָמֽוּת ס

הֵ֤ן  Behold 
Parse: Interjection
Root: הֵן  
Sense: behold, lo, though hypothetical part.
הַנְּפָשׁוֹת֙  souls 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine plural
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
לִ֣י  Mine 
Parse: Preposition, first person common singular
הֵ֔נָּה  are 
Parse: Pronoun, third person feminine plural
Root: הֵנָּה  
Sense: they, these, the same, who.
כְּנֶ֧פֶשׁ  the  soul 
Parse: Preposition-k, Noun, feminine singular construct
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
הָאָ֛ב  of  the  father 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: אָב  
Sense: father of an individual.
וּכְנֶ֥פֶשׁ  and  as  well  as  the  soul 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Preposition-k, Noun, feminine singular construct
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
הַבֵּ֖ן  of  the  son 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: בֵּן 
Sense: son, grandson, child, member of a group.
לִי־  Mine 
Parse: Preposition, first person common singular
הֵ֑נָּה  are 
Parse: Pronoun, third person feminine plural
Root: הֵנָּה  
Sense: they, these, the same, who.
הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ  the  soul 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
הַחֹטֵ֖את  who  sins 
Parse: Article, Verb, Qal, Participle, feminine singular
Root: חָטָא 
Sense: to sin, miss, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt, forfeit, purify from uncleanness.
הִ֥יא  it 
Parse: Pronoun, third person feminine singular
Root: הוּא 
Sense: he, she, it.
תָמֽוּת  shall  die 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person feminine singular
Root: מוּת  
Sense: to die, kill, have one executed.
ס  - 
Parse: Punctuation

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