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EZEKIEL 14:16 even though these three men were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered,

These three men’ refers to Noah, Daniel and Job. We know this from the previous verse (Verse 14).

EZEKIEL 14:14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.

So, from these two verses, can we deduce that Noah’s sons were not righteous? Neither his wife? That there was only 1 on the whole earth?

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    This is consistent with the Hebrew habit of naming the patriarch as the one who stands for and is the label for the entire group. hence "Jacob" meaning the nation of Israel; "Esau" meaning the entire nation of of Edom, etc.
    – Dottard
    Sep 29 at 23:54
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So, from these two verses, can we deduce that Noah’s sons were not righteous? Neither his wife? That there was only 1 on the whole earth?

Let's answer this one part at a time.

Addressing the Wife

Unless specifically singled out separately, a man and his wife were always considered a unit, with the wife being included with the mention of her husband. A most obvious example of this is found in the "begats" where only the man's name is mentioned for having had a child; clearly, the man did not have the child without his wife's help. But God sets the precedent for this with Adam and Eve in saying that He "called their name Adam" (Genesis 5:2). Thus, the man's name encompasses his wife as well.

In this passage in Ezekiel, wives are not singled out for separate mention. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that with their husband's name they are also identified.

Consider Job's case in support of this:

And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:12, KJV)

God did not permit Satan to touch Job himself--but any of his possessions, including his children, were permitted. Unless we choose to see Satan as being kindhearted enough to preserve Job's wife, it becomes clear that God includes her with Job "himself," for she was protected throughout his trial.

So "Job" equals the man plus his wife; comprising two human beings.

Addressing the Sons and Daughters

The text says plainly that the righteousness of the three named would be unable to save their children. Daniel, being a eunuch, had neither wife nor children--so God is clearly speaking metaphorically.

However, as we look at both of the other two, we see good reason to believe that their children were not as righteous as they were.

Job's sons and daughters were all destroyed while eating and drinking wine at what appears to have been a party at their eldest brother's house. While no details of this occasion are given beyond this, it is suggestive of a lack of temperance or morality. The fact that they were destroyed implies that they were not so righteous as was their father--and supports our text in Ezekiel where God says plainly that the father's righteousness could not save his children.

Noah's case is similar. We know that Ham did something wicked for which his son Canaan was cursed by Noah; and we also know that Japheth was the oldest and yet was not the recipient of the birthright blessing which would have placed him in the line of Christ. As with Cain versus Seth, and Jacob versus Esau, when the birthright passed to a younger brother, a lack of righteousness on the part of the older one is the reason. We can reasonably conclude, therefore, that at least two of the three of Noah's sons were not righteous, even though God had graciously spared them through the Flood.

Conclusion

In this text of Ezekiel, God is stating a principle: one can only be saved by his or her own righteousness, and not by that of another--to include one's parents. It is possible, however, to read between the lines and to see that the children of the righteous men named were not as righteous as they were.

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  • Thanks. Your answer provides much ‘food’ for thought. So +1 for that. However, some of your outline (possibly) raises new Qs. You say the ‘sons’ were “not as righteous” as Noah - so are you suggesting there are ‘degrees’ of righteousness? And, you need a certain level to ‘count’? And, would a ‘man’s’ righteousness today save his wife? If not, why/where the change?
    – Dave
    Sep 30 at 2:05
  • Dave, I do not believe that a man's righteousness will save his wife. A husband and wife may not, just because of their marriage, both be righteous. Consider Nabal and Abigail as one example. But when God does not single out the man as distinct from his wife, as when God just says "Adam" or "Job", we can assume that both the husband and the wife are included. In Noah's case, his son Shem was righteous. I was speaking in terms of all three of them in saying they were not as righteous. Perhaps there are degrees of righteousness, but in this case I was looking more at the percentage.
    – Polyhat
    Sep 30 at 2:22
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Ezekiel 14:

14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.

16as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate.

20 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness.

So, from these verses, can we deduce that Noah’s sons were not righteous?

No, at least not in the sense of first-order logical deduction.

Genesis 15:

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Their sons might have believed the LORD.

Genesis 9:

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons

Noah blessed Shem:

26 He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!

This is a strong indication that Shem was righteous.

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  • Thanks Tony. An outline/answer that reflects your usual answering style! I agree that there is clear evidence that (at least some) of Noah’s sons could be ‘seen’ to be (have become) righteous after the flood - I’m sure that a catastrophic event like this, that their father had been warning about, happened - that that would have that effect - but I’m not (yet) convinced they were righteous prior to the flood - as per Ezekiel 13.
    – Dave
    Sep 30 at 17:53
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Noah was righteous - but what about his sons?

Noah and his family were all righteous, after all, they worked for about 40 years to construct the ark. After the flood God blessed them saying:

Genesis 9:1-7 NET

God’s Covenant with Humankind through Noah

9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you.[a] Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.[b] 3 You may eat any moving thing that lives.[c] As I gave you[d] the green plants, I now give[e] you everything.4 “But[f] you must not eat meat[g] with its life (that is,[h] its blood) in it.

5 For your lifeblood[j] I will surely exact punishment,[k] from[l] every living creature I will exact punishment. From each person[m] I will exact punishment for the life of the individual[n] since the man was his relative.[o] 6 “Whoever sheds human blood,[p] by other humans[q] must his blood be shed for in God’s image[r]God[s] has made humankind. 7 “But as for you,[t] be fruitful and multiply; increase abundantly on the earth and multiply on it.”

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  • Thanks for the contribution. Yes, as I said in a comment to Tony, I have no issue with accepting their (possible) righteousness after that catastrophic event. (Your verse is post flood) - But prior to it? IMO you can not easily put aside Ezekiel 13.
    – Dave
    Sep 30 at 20:14
  • Dave: I believe that true worship had been practiced before the Flood by Noah’s wife, and Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law. Hence based on Ezekiel they would not have been saved. Sep 30 at 20:29

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