ABC:Isaiah 14

From BibleStrength

Verse 21 claims the Bible is wrong about "the sins of the father."[1] also asserts a contradiction exists on this topic.[2]

This is on the surface one of the more puzzling riddles in the Bible, but in substance is very similar to the riddle found in Galatians 6 where one verse refers to accountability in this life and the other to accountability in this one. Additional verses referencing people not being put to death for the sins of their forebears are as follows:

Verses showing God punishes later generations:

Therefore both principles are well-established by the Bible.

As pointed out by[3] the original commandment of slaughter for the sins of the father referred to idolatry which tended to ingrain itself in the culture, thus the children would keep repeating their parent's sins. The Bible repeatedly spoke of kings walking in the ways of their fathers, showing this was commonplace, a natural re-enactment of their descendant's iniquities.

The following can be observed from the above verses:

  • A long succession of Israel's and Judah's kings repeatedly did evil, specifically idolatry (which included child sacrifice similar to abortion today - 2 Kings 16:2, 17:17; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Psalms 106:37-38; Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5, 32:35; Ezekiel 20:31, 23:37) and were said to do the sins of their fathers.
  • In some cases of particularly egregious evil in misleading the nations of Israel and Judah God appears to have had whole households destroyed of particularly wicked rulers. (1 Kings 15:25, 16:12,18)
  • In one rare case a ruler, Josiah, was said to walk in the good deeds of his father David. ([[ABC:2 Kings 22|2 Kings 22:1-2) However, the many evil rulers also mentioned above were also David's descendants. So interestingly they were considered the lineage of a wicked descendant if doing evil but of a good descendant if doing good.


So what then is the answer? To me it appears that in cases of particularly evil idolatry, the evil households of very wicked rulers were destroyed entirely. Yes, they were destroyed for the "sins of their fathers" but only because they were engaging in them as well as illustrated by the numerous examples above!

Furthermore, passages like Jeremiah 31:29-31 and Ezekiel 18:19-24 are clearly referring to God's eternal judgment upon individuals of destruction in Hell or salvation in Heaven for eternity. With regards to this, every person bears their own burden (Galatians 6:5). God does not punish people for eternity because of the sins of their fathers. However, to try and keep the world from becoming horribly evil, God is sometimes forced to intervene and destroy whole nations at times that engage in horribly evil practices like child sacrifice.

The ancient world engaged in horrible evils and with the exception of Noah, the only man on the planet said to be doing good, appeared to have become so utterly despicable God removed Enoch from it rather than leave Enoch with the horrible human race. (Genesis 5:24, 6:5-8) God then destroyed the wicked world to recreate it anew.

In the same way the evil nations in Canaan were ordered to be utterly destroyed by God for their wicked practices that included child sacrifice. (Leviticus 18:21) God did so to try and destroy the practices from the world so that Israel and other nations would not adopt them. (Exodus 23:33, 34:12-15; Deuteronomy 7:16, 12:30, 29:18) The end result of Israel's disobedience was that they did adopt the evil of child sacrifice of the wicked nations. (Psalms 106:36-40)

Thus, while God does visit punishment upon wicked peoples during this life for the "sins of the fathers" to slow the spread of evil in this world run by Satan, God determines eternal life by individual actions. God is merciful to those who repent and turn from the ways of their fathers:

Furthermore, for purposes of human law, the Mosaic Law, it was commanded that nobody be punished for a relative's actions. (Deuteronomy 24:16) Only God is considered wise enough to judge a family's guilt according to the "third and fourth generations" (Exodus 20:5) and even then God quickly pardons individuals who turn to Him, do what is right, and repent.

In the case of Nineveh seen in Jonah 3, God pronounced a judgment on the city for the sins of their fathers, essentially, continual wicked practice generation after generation. However, the city repented and turned to God, and a merciful God pardoned the city - more interested in having people do right than keeping His word - though His word was ultimately fulfilled as Nineveh was destroyed years later apparently as revealed by excavations of the long-lost city which scholars had previously thought didn't exist.

Spiritual lineage

Jesus interestingly provided another facet to this riddle by using the passage to illustrate the difference between God as one's Father and Satan as the father of the wicked - in such a case who one's 'father' is will very much determine their eternal destiny and deeds, for if God is their Father they will do what is right, and if Satan is one's father they will do evil deeds.

This principle was mentioned likewise in the Old Testament:

Paul explained it as lineage according to promises God gave Abraham being through faith, not genetics or physical parentage. Thus the lineage is through faith, not 'seed' or physical lineage, and one is Abraham's descendant or child through faith and blessed accordingly, regardless of race. Paul explains it is not by circumcision (i.e. Jewish heritage) that the promise to Abraham is decided but by faith.

This was originally a puzzle to the early church at first as well, who thought only Jews could become Christians. Not until God showed Peter otherwise through a vision that this could change did the church marvel at the fact that Gentiles (non-Jews) could also be saved and follow Christ as well.

At any rate, this riddle of whether Abraham's seed could include non-Jews, and whether non-Jews could be saved and become disciples of Jesus, was one of the major controversies in the early church as seen in the book of Acts.


  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from
  2. Bible Contradictions. TheThinkingAtheist.
  3. Are children punished for the sins of their fathers? Retrieved from