The fathers shall not be put to death for the children
By the civil magistrates, for sins committed by them of a capital nature, and which are worthy of death:
neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers;
for sins committed by them that deserve it:
every man shall be put to death for his own sin:
which is but just and reasonable; see ( Ezekiel 18:4 ) ; which is no contradiction to ( Exodus 20:5 ) ; that respects what God himself would do, this what Israel, or the civil magistrates in it, should do; this is a command on Israel, as Aben Ezra observes; that the declaration of the sovereign Being, who is not bound by any law. Jarchi interprets these words differently, as that the one should not be put to death by the testimony of the other; and it is a rule with the Jews,
``that an oath of witness is taken of men, and not of women; of those that are not akin, and not of those that are nearly related F16:''on which one of the commentators observes F17 that such that are near akin are not fit to bear testimony, because it is written, "the father shall not be put to death for the children"; that is, for the testimony of the children. Jarchi indeed mentions the other sense, for the sins of the children, which has been given, and is undoubtedly the true sense of the text. The Targum of Jonathan gives both;
``fathers should not be put to death, neither by the testimony, nor for the sins of the children; and children shall not be put to death, neither by the testimony, nor for the sins of fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin by proper witnesses.''
F16 Misn. Shebuot, c. 4. sect. 1.
F17 Bartenora in ib.