Visiting the Iniquity of the Fathers on the Children (1 of 2)

Num 14 18 a

Q. Isn’t this a contradiction in the Bible:
• Num 14:18 The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’
• Ezk 18:20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
How do you reconcile the two passages?

A. This does present itself as a dilemma. On the one hand, what Num 14:18 teaches is repeated three times in the Pentateuch:

Ex 20:5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
• Ex 34:7 who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
• Deut 5:9 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

The concept, though not the exact wording, is also in:
Lev 26:39 So those of you who may be left will rot away because of their iniquity in the lands of your enemies; and also because of the iniquities of their forefathers they will rot away with them.

Ezekiel 18 20 a

On the other hand, the idea in Ezk 18:20 is taught in just as many passages:

Deut 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.
• 2 Kings 14:6 But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the book of the Law of Moses, as the LORD commanded, saying, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.”
• 2 Chron 25:4 However, he did not put their children to death, but did as it is written in the law in the book of Moses, which the LORD commanded, saying, “Fathers shall not be put to death for sons, nor sons be put to death for fathers, but each shall be put to death for his own sin.”
• Jer 31:30 But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.

Do they really contradict each other?

(To be continued)

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