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Blessings for Obedience

28

If you will only obey the Lord your God, by diligently observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth; 2all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God:

3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your livestock, both the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock.

5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

7 The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. 8The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns, and in all that you undertake; he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 9The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. 10All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. 11The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you. 12The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. 13The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; you shall be only at the top, and not at the bottom—if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, by diligently observing them, 14and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I am commanding you today, either to the right or to the left, following other gods to serve them.

Warnings against Disobedience

15 But if you will not obey the Lord your God by diligently observing all his commandments and decrees, which I am commanding you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you:

16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.

17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock.

19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 The Lord will send upon you disaster, panic, and frustration in everything you attempt to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21The Lord will make the pestilence cling to you until it has consumed you off the land that you are entering to possess. 22The Lord will afflict you with consumption, fever, inflammation, with fiery heat and drought, and with blight and mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. 23The sky over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you iron. 24The Lord will change the rain of your land into powder, and only dust shall come down upon you from the sky until you are destroyed.

25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out against them one way and flee before them seven ways. You shall become an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26Your corpses shall be food for every bird of the air and animal of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. 27The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt, with ulcers, scurvy, and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness, and confusion of mind; 29you shall grope about at noon as blind people grope in darkness, but you shall be unable to find your way; and you shall be continually abused and robbed, without anyone to help. 30You shall become engaged to a woman, but another man shall lie with her. You shall build a house, but not live in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but not enjoy its fruit. 31Your ox shall be butchered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it. Your donkey shall be stolen in front of you, and shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, without anyone to help you. 32Your sons and daughters shall be given to another people, while you look on; you will strain your eyes looking for them all day but be powerless to do anything. 33A people whom you do not know shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors; you shall be continually abused and crushed, 34and driven mad by the sight that your eyes shall see. 35The Lord will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36The Lord will bring you, and the king whom you set over you, to a nation that neither you nor your ancestors have known, where you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone. 37You shall become an object of horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you.

38 You shall carry much seed into the field but shall gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. 39You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off. 41You shall have sons and daughters, but they shall not remain yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42All your trees and the fruit of your ground the cicada shall take over. 43Aliens residing among you shall ascend above you higher and higher, while you shall descend lower and lower. 44They shall lend to you but you shall not lend to them; they shall be the head and you shall be the tail.

45 All these curses shall come upon you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God, by observing the commandments and the decrees that he commanded you. 46They shall be among you and your descendants as a sign and a portent forever.

47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and with gladness of heart for the abundance of everything, 48therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and lack of everything. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. 49The Lord will bring a nation from far away, from the end of the earth, to swoop down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, 50a grim-faced nation showing no respect to the old or favor to the young. 51It shall consume the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your ground until you are destroyed, leaving you neither grain, wine, and oil, nor the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock, until it has made you perish. 52It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout your land; it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout the land that the Lord your God has given you. 53In the desperate straits to which the enemy siege reduces you, you will eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your own sons and daughters whom the Lord your God has given you. 54Even the most refined and gentle of men among you will begrudge food to his own brother, to the wife whom he embraces, and to the last of his remaining children, 55giving to none of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because nothing else remains to him, in the desperate straits to which the enemy siege will reduce you in all your towns. 56She who is the most refined and gentle among you, so gentle and refined that she does not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground, will begrudge food to the husband whom she embraces, to her own son, and to her own daughter, 57begrudging even the afterbirth that comes out from between her thighs, and the children that she bears, because she is eating them in secret for lack of anything else, in the desperate straits to which the enemy siege will reduce you in your towns.

58 If you do not diligently observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, fearing this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59then the Lord will overwhelm both you and your offspring with severe and lasting afflictions and grievous and lasting maladies. 60He will bring back upon you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were in dread, and they shall cling to you. 61Every other malady and affliction, even though not recorded in the book of this law, the Lord will inflict on you until you are destroyed. 62Although once you were as numerous as the stars in heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63And just as the Lord took delight in making you prosperous and numerous, so the Lord will take delight in bringing you to ruin and destruction; you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to possess. 64The Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65Among those nations you shall find no ease, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a languishing spirit. 66Your life shall hang in doubt before you; night and day you shall be in dread, with no assurance of your life. 67In the morning you shall say, “If only it were evening!” and at evening you shall say, “If only it were morning!”—because of the dread that your heart shall feel and the sights that your eyes shall see. 68The Lord will bring you back in ships to Egypt, by a route that I promised you would never see again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.


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De 28:1-68. The Blessings for Obedience.

1. if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God—In this chapter the blessings and curses are enumerated at length, and in various minute details, so that on the first entrance of the Israelites into the land of promise, their whole destiny was laid before them, as it was to result from their obedience or the contrary.

2. all these blessings shall come on thee—Their national obedience was to be rewarded by extraordinary and universal prosperity.

7. flee before thee seven ways—that is, in various directions, as always happens in a rout.

10. called by the name of the Lord—That they are really and actually His people (De 14:1; 26:18).

11. the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods—Beside the natural capabilities of Canaan, its extraordinary fruitfulness was traceable to the special blessing of Heaven.

12. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure—The seasonable supply of the early and latter rain was one of the principal means by which their land was so uncommonly fruitful.

thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow—that is, thou shalt be in such affluent circumstances, as to be capable, out of thy superfluous wealth, to give aid to thy poorer neighbors.

13, 14. the head, and not the tail—an Oriental form of expression, indicating the possession of independent power and great dignity and acknowledged excellence (Isa 9:14; 19:15).

15-20. But … if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord—Curses that were to follow them in the event of disobedience are now enumerated, and they are almost exact counterparts of the blessings which were described in the preceding context as the reward of a faithful adherence to the covenant.

21. pestilence—some fatal epidemic. There is no reason, however, to think that the plague, which is the great modern scourge of the East, is referred to.

22. a consumption—a wasting disorder; but the modern tuberculosis is almost unknown in Asia.

fever … inflammation … extreme burning—Fever is rendered "burning ague" (Le 26:16), and the others mentioned along with it evidently point to those febrile affections which are of malignant character and great frequency in the East.

the sword—rather, "dryness"—the effect on the human body of such violent disorders.

blasting, and with mildew—two atmospheric influences fatal to grain.

23. heaven … brass … earth … iron—strong Oriental figures used to describe the effects of long-continued drought. This want of regular and seasonable rain is allowed by the most intelligent observers to be one great cause of the present sterility of Palestine.

24. the rain of thy land powder and dust—an allusion probably to the dreadful effects of tornadoes in the East, which, raising the sands in immense twisted pillars, drive them along with the fury of a tempest. These shifting sands are most destructive to cultivated lands; and in consequence of their encroachments, many once fertile regions of the East are now barren deserts.

27. the botch of Egypt—a troublesome eruption, marked by red pimples, to which, at the rising of the Nile, the Egyptians are subject.

emerods—fistulæ or piles.

scab—scurvy.

itch—the disease commonly known by that name; but it is far more malignant in the East than is ever witnessed in our part of the world.

28. madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart—They would be bewildered and paralyzed with terror at the extent of their calamities.

29-33. thou shalt grope at noonday—a general description of the painful uncertainty in which they would live. During the Middle Ages the Jews were driven from society into hiding-places which they were afraid to leave, not knowing from what quarter they might be assailed and their children dragged into captivity, from which no friend could rescue, and no money ransom them.

35. the Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs—This is an exact description of elephantiasis, a horrible disease, something like leprosy, which attacks particularly the lower extremities.

36. The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king, &c.—This shows how widespread would be the national calamity; and at the same time how hopeless, when he who should have been their defender shared the captive fate of his subjects.

there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone—The Hebrew exiles, with some honorable exceptions, were seduced or compelled into idolatry in the Assyrian and Babylonish captivities (Jer 44:17-19). Thus, the sin to which they had too often betrayed a perverse fondness, a deep-rooted propensity, became their punishment and their misery.

37. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee, &c.—The annals of almost every nation, for eighteen hundred years, afford abundant proofs that this has been, as it still is, the case—the very name of Jew being a universally recognized term for extreme degradation and wretchedness.

49. The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far—the invasion of the Romans—"they came from far." The soldiers of the invading army were taken from France, Spain, and Britain—then considered "the end of the earth." Julius Severus, the commander, afterwards Vespasian and Hadrian, left Britain for the scene of contest. Moreover, the ensign on the standards of the Roman army was "an eagle"; and the dialects spoken by the soldiers of the different nations that composed that army were altogether unintelligible to the Jews.

50. A nation of fierce countenance—a just description of the Romans, who were not only bold and unyielding, but ruthless and implacable.

51. he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, &c.—According to the Jewish historian, every district of the country through which they passed was strewn with the wrecks of their devastation.

52. he shall besiege thee … until thy high and fenced walls come down—All the fortified places to which the people betook themselves for safety were burnt or demolished, and the walls of Jerusalem itself razed to the ground.

53-57. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body—(See 2Ki 6:29; La 4:10). Such were the dreadful extremities to which the inhabitants during the siege were reduced that many women sustained a wretched existence by eating the flesh of their own children. Parental affection was extinguished, and the nearest relatives were jealously, avoided, lest they should discover and demand a share of the revolting viands.

62. ye shall be left few in number—There has been, ever since the destruction of Jerusalem, only an inconsiderable remnant of Jews existing in that land—aliens in the land of their fathers; and of all classes of the inhabitants they are the most degraded and miserable beings, dependent for their support on contributions from other lands.

63. ye shall be plucked from off the land—Hadrian issued a proclamation, forbidding any Jews to reside in Judea, or even to approach its confines.

64. the Lord shall scatter thee among all people—There is, perhaps, not a country in the world where Jews are not to be found. Who that looks on this condition of the Hebrews is not filled with awe, when he considers the fulfilment of this prophecy?

68. The Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships—The accomplishment of this prediction took place under Titus, when, according to Josephus, multitudes of Jews were transported in ships to the land of the Nile, and sold as slaves. "Here, then, are instances of prophecies delivered above three thousand years ago; and yet, as we see, being fulfilled in the world at this very time; and what stronger proofs can we desire of the divine legation of Moses? How these instances may affect others I know not; but for myself, I must acknowledge, they not only convince but amaze and astonish me beyond expression; they are truly, as Moses foretold (De 28:45, 46) they would be, 'a sign and a wonder for ever'" [Bishop Newton].




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