“The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge” is an age-long slogan that has continued to draw my attention to certain troubling personal or collective experiences of the modern person(s), most of which defy any satisfactory explanation. The mystery condemns humanity to a high level of irreconcilable confusion in our knowledge of and relationship with God.
Meanwhile, the authenticity of this slogan remains questionable as well as illogical if it actually underscores the measure of strangeness implied in someone’s teeth feeling rough when another person had eaten sour grapes. In spite of the inconsistency and certain level of impossibility that this proverb could propound, even today, it still forms part of popular parlance. People recall it whenever they feel they suffer unjustly for offences they did not commit.
Moreover, the unstated assumptions drawn from this superstitious ideology refer not only to the case of children suffering penalties for their parents deeds, but it is also a general criticism of God’s way of dealing with human beings. In other words, God is unjust for the punishment of an innocent son due to the sins of the father. Against this backdrop therefore, certain clarifications become very relevant as a theological response to certain experiences of our people, which often lead to moral and social degeneration of individuals or groups. Hence, there is urgent necessity to, announce to us freedom from transgenerational retribution and to draw our attention to covenantal responsibility.
Well, this is a critical issue that tecsthought has dedicated to flow through the month of October, and so cannot be summarized in one article. Nevertheless, it is worthy to note here that like all proverbs which develop out of experience, Ezekiel’s contemporaries, who were in exile, thought that the proverb “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge” gives proper explanation to their pitiable situations, whereby so many things were going so terribly off beam. Therefore, they confirmed the cause of their many troubles in the sins of their ancestors rather than in their own sins.
Besides, many reasons add up to develop this global picture. In Israel, the covenant is the context that gives meaning to all relationships. The major cause of affliction and suffering for both individuals and people is the breaking of God’s law. Biblical law is covenant law, and the covenant forms the people into a corporate entity or group solidarity in which the individual exist because of the group. The individual’s identity was absorbed into the identity of his family, clan people or nation as a group having a personality of its own (cf. A.cody, Ezekiel, 1984, p.87). The group solidarity developed into a transgenerational solidarity. And this principle of transgenerational solidarity could be illustrated by the cry of the crowd before Pilate “his blood be on us and our children” (Matt.27:25). So, the validity of this cry remains a poser till next week edition. God bless you!