171The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “tell the Israelites a parable 3to let them know what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them: there was a giant eagle with beautiful feathers and huge wings, spread wide. He flew to the Lebanon Mountains and broke off the top of a cedar tree, 4which he carried to a land of commerce, and placed in a city of merchants. 5Then he took a young plant from the land of Israel and planted it in a fertile field,17.5 Hebrew has an additional word, the meaning of which is unclear. where there was always water to make it grow. 6The plant sprouted and became a low, wide-spreading grapevine. The branches grew upward towards the eagle, and the roots grew deep. The vine was covered with branches and leaves.
7“There was another giant eagle with huge wings and thick plumage. And now the vine sent its roots towards him and turned its leaves towards him, in the hope that he would give it more water than there was in the garden where it was growing.17.7 And now the vine… growing; or And now the vine turned away from the garden where it was growing and sent its roots towards him and turned its leaves towards him, in the hope that he would give it water. 8But the vine had already been planted in a fertile, well-watered field so that it could grow leaves and bear grapes and be a magnificent vine.
9“So I, the Sovereign LORD, ask: will this vine live and grow? Won't the first eagle pull it up by its roots, pull off the grapes, and break off the branches and let them wither? It will not take much strength or a mighty nation to pull it up. 10Yes, it is planted, but will it live and grow? Won't it wither when the east wind strikes it? Won't it wither there where it is growing?”
11The LORD said to me, 12
“Ask these rebels if they know what the parable means. Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem and took the king and his officials back with him to Babylonia. 13He took one of the king's family, made a treaty with him, and made him swear to be loyal. He took important men as hostages 14to keep the nation from rising again and to make sure that the treaty would be kept. 15But the king of Judah rebelled and sent agents to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Can he get away with that? He cannot break the treaty and go unpunished!
16“As surely as I am the living God,” says the Sovereign LORD, “this king will die in Babylonia because he broke his oath and the treaty he had made with the king of Babylonia, who put him on the throne. 17Even the powerful army of the king of Egypt will not be able to help him fight when the Babylonians build earthworks and dig trenches in order to kill many people. 18He broke his oath and the treaty he had made. He did all these things, and now he will not escape.”
19The Sovereign LORD says, “As surely as I am the living God, I will punish him for breaking the treaty which he swore in my name to keep. 20I will spread out a hunter's net and catch him in it. I will take him to Babylonia and punish him there, because he was unfaithful to me. 21His best soldiers will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken.”
22This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“I will take the top of a tall cedar
and break off a tender sprout;
I will plant it on a high mountain,
23on Israel's highest mountain.
It will grow branches and bear seed
and become a magnificent cedar.
Birds of every kind will live there
and find shelter in its shade.
24All the trees in the land will know
that I am the LORD.
I cut down the tall trees
and make the small trees grow tall.
I wither up the green trees
and make the dry trees become green.I, the LORD, have spoken. I will do what I have said I would do.”
181The LORD spoke to me 2
and said, “What is this proverb people keep repeating in the land of Israel?
‘The parents ate the sour grapes,
But the children got the sour taste.’
3“As surely as I am the living God,” says the Sovereign LORD, “you will not repeat this proverb in Israel any more. 4The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die.
5“Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest. 6He doesn't worship the idols of the Israelites or eat the sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines. He doesn't seduce another man's wife or have intercourse with a woman during her period. 7He doesn't cheat or rob anyone. He returns what a borrower gives him as security; he feeds the hungry and gives clothing to the naked. 8He doesn't lend money for profit. He refuses to do evil and gives an honest decision in any dispute. 9
Such a man obeys my commands and carefully keeps my laws. He is righteous, and he will live,” says the Sovereign LORD.
10“Then suppose this man has a son who robs and kills, who does any18.10 Some ancient translations who does any; Hebrew unclear. of these things 11that the father never did. He eats sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines and seduces other men's wives. 12He cheats the poor, he robs, he keeps what a borrower gives him as security. He goes to pagan shrines, worships disgusting idols, 13and lends money for profit. Will he live? No, he will not. He has done all these disgusting things, and so he will die. He will be to blame for his own death.
14“Now suppose this second man has a son. He sees all the sins his father practised, but does not follow his example. 15He doesn't worship the idols of the Israelites or eat the sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines. He doesn't seduce another man's wife 16or oppress anyone or rob anyone. He returns what a borrower gives him as security. He feeds the hungry and gives clothing to the naked. 17He refuses to do evil18.17 Some ancient translations (see also verse 8) to do evil; Hebrew from the poor. and doesn't lend money for profit. He keeps my laws and obeys my commands. He will not die because of his father's sins, but he will certainly live. 18His father, on the other hand, cheated and robbed,18.18 Some ancient translations robbed; Hebrew unclear. and always did evil to everyone. And so he died because of the sins he himself had committed.
19“But you ask, ‘Why shouldn't the son suffer because of his father's sins?’ The answer is that the son did what was right and good. He kept my laws and followed them carefully, and so he will certainly live. 20
It is the one who sins who will die. A son is not to suffer because of his father's sins, nor a father because of the sins of his son. A good person will be rewarded for doing good, and an evil person will suffer for the evil he does.
21“If an evil person stops sinning and keeps my laws, if he does what is right and good, he will not die; he will certainly live. 22All his sins will be forgiven, and he will live, because he did what is right. 23Do you think I enjoy seeing an evil person die?” asks the Sovereign LORD. “No, I would rather see him repent and live.
24“But if a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing all the evil, disgusting things that evil people do, will he go on living? No! None of the good he did will be remembered. He will die because of his unfaithfulness and his sins.
25“But you say, ‘What the Lord does isn't right.’ Listen to me, you Israelites. Do you think my way of doing things isn't right? It is your way that isn't right. 26When a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing evil and then dies, he dies because of the evil he has done. 27When someone evil stops sinning and does what is right and good, he saves his life. 28He realizes what he is doing and stops sinning, so he will certainly not die, but go on living. 29And you Israelites say, ‘What the Lord does isn't right.’ You think my way isn't right, do you? It is your way that isn't right.
30“Now I, the Sovereign LORD, am telling you Israelites that I will judge each of you by what you have done. Turn away from all the evil you are doing, and don't let your sin destroy you. 31Give up all the evil you have been doing, and get yourselves new minds and hearts. Why do you Israelites want to die? 32I do not want anyone to die,” says the Sovereign LORD. “Turn away from your sins and live.”
191The LORD told me to sing this song of sorrow for two princes of Israel:
2What a lioness your mother was!
She reared her cubs among the fierce male lions.
3She reared a cub and taught him to hunt;
he learnt to eat people.
4The nations heard about him
and trapped him in a pit.
With hooks they dragged him off to Egypt.
5She waited until she saw all hope was gone.
Then she reared another of her cubs,
and he grew into a fierce lion.
6When he was full-grown,
he prowled with the other lions.
He too learnt to hunt and eat people.
7He wrecked forts,19.7 One ancient translation wrecked forts; Hebrew unclear. he ruined towns.
The people of the land were terrified
every time he roared.
8The nations gathered to fight him;
people came from everywhere.
They spread their hunting nets
and caught him in their trap.
9They put him in a cage
and took him to the king of Babylonia.
They kept him under guard,
so that his roar would never be heard again
on the hills of Israel.
10Your mother was like a grapevine19.10 Hebrew has an additional word, the meaning of which is unclear.
planted near a stream.
Because there was plenty of water,
the vine was covered with leaves and fruit.
11Its branches were strong,
and grew to be royal sceptres.
The vine grew tall enough to reach the clouds;
everyone saw how leafy and tall it was.
12But angry hands pulled it up by the roots
and threw it to the ground.
The east wind dried up its fruit.
Its branches were broken off;
they dried up and were burnt.
13Now it is planted in the desert,
in a dry and waterless land.
14The stem of the vine caught fire;
fire burnt up its branches and fruit.
The branches will never again be strong,
will never be royal sceptres.This is a song of sorrow; it has been sung again and again.