Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Read Chapter 34
George Leo Haydock
Keepest. So the Targum of Jerusalem reads. Hebrew and Septuagint have, "keepeth. "
No man All have sinned, Romans iii. 23. Hebrew, "who will not clear the guilty "which is followed by the Chaldean and Septuagint. God is a just judge, who will assuredly punish the impenitent. Yet even in justice, he will remember mercy, and will stop at the third and fourth generation, (Calmet) when the influence of the progenitors' example can have but small influence upon their descendants. If, however, they prove guilty, they must expect chastisement, Exodus xx. 5.
What does it mean that the Lord now says through Moses, “You visit the iniquity of fathers on their sons and grandsons”? In these two passages a different sense is found, but the mind of the hearer is taught to inquire subtly along the path of discernment. We inherit original sin from our parents, and unless we are washed by the grace of baptism, we bear even our parents’ sins, because up to that point we are one with them. So God will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon their sons, for, through original sin, the soul of the offspring is stained by the guilt of the parent. But then God does not visit the iniquity of fathers on their sons, because, when we are freed from original guilt through baptism, we no longer have our parents’ guilt but only the guilt for sins we ourselves committed. This passage can also be understood in another way, because when each one imitates the iniquity of his sinful parent, he is rendered guilty through his parent’s fault. But whoever does not imitate ...