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Deuteronomy 28

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Blessings on Obedience The Conclusion of Moses Second Address The Blessing of Obedience Promised Blessings
28:1-14 28:1-2 28:1-2 28:1-2
  28:3 28:3 28:3-8
  28:4 28:4  
  28:5 28:5  
  28:6 28:6  
  28:7-14 28:7  
    28:8  
    28:9-14 28:9-14
Curses on Disobedience   The Consequences of Disobedience Curses
28:15-19 28:15 28:15 28:15
  28:16 28:16 28:16-19
  28:17 28:17  
  28:18 28:18  
  28:19 28:19  
28:20-46 28:20-24 28:20-24 28:20-26
  28:25-44 28:25-29  
      28:27-29a
      28:29b-35
    28:30-35  
    28:36-37 28:36-37
    28:38-42 28:38-42
    28:43-44 28:43-44
  28:45-46 28:45-52 28:45-46
      Of War and Exile to Come
28:47-57 28:47-57   28:47-48
      28:49-57
    28:53-57  
28:58-63 28:58-63 28:58-63 28:58-62a
      28:62b-68
28:64-68 28:64-68    

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

BACKGROUND STUDY

This is part of a literary unit, chapters 27-28, which is often referred to as "the cursing and blessing" section of the Covenant.

A. I think the whole OT can be seen as a consequence of Israel's inability to perform the Covenant stipulations, and thereby, was visited with the curses of 27:15-26; 28:15-68.

B. YHWH wanted Israel to be a revelatory channel for all the world to come to know Him. He wanted to bless Israel to gain the attention of the nations and thereby to attract the nations unto Himself. See SPECIAL TOPIC: BOB'S EVANGELICAL BIASES at 4:6.

C. The curses for disobedience are more numerous than the promised blessings.

This same structure is paralleled in the treaties of the ancient Near East (see Meredith G. Kline, Treaty of the Great Kings: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy and D. Brent Sandy and Ronald L. Giese, Jr., Cracking Old Testament Codes, pp. 125-128.

D. This cursing and blessing section is parallel to Leviticus 26.

E. This is the second sermon of Moses (i.e., chapters 5-28). The first sermon looked back to YHWH's gracious, powerful extraction of Israel from Egypt and His presence and provision through the wilderness wandering period.

The second sermon focuses on YHWH's will for national Israel in the Promised Land. He establishes Israel's distinctiveness so as to reveal Himself to the world.

The third sermon (chapters 29-32) deal with covenant renewal and affirmation of Israel's loyalty and obedience to YHWH alone.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:1-2
  
1"Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God:"

28:1,2,9,13 "if you will" This clearly shows the conditional nature of the Mosaic Law and for that matter, all OT covenants (see SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT at 4:13) except with Noah (cf. Gen. 9:8-17). This conditional aspect is also seen in the NT (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21 and Eph. 2:8-9 and 10). The "if you will . . .I will" nature of the covenant shows the needed response expected on the believer's part. The tragedy is that fallen humanity cannot and will not conform or perform, therefore, the OT demands the need for a NT (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-32; Gal. 3:15-29).

28:1,2,13 "diligently obey. . .being careful to do all His commandments" The first verbal "diligently obey" is an infinitive absolute and a Qal imperfect of the same root (BDB 1033, KB 1570), which was a grammatical way of showing emphasis. This is followed by two Qal infinitive constructs:

1. "being careful" - BDB 1036, KB 1581

2. "to do" - BDB 793, KB 889

It must be stated that believers' ongoing covenant relationship with God is affected by their obedience to the light and truth they have and live.

▣ "commandments" See Special Topic at 4:1.

▣ "which I command you today" This verb (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel participle) is repeated throughout this chapter (cf. vv.1,8,13,15,45). YHWH is sovereign. He always sets the limits and content of the covenant and initiates the encounter with humans.

28:1 "God will set you high above all the nations of the earth" The purpose of the elevation is revelation (cf. 26:19; 28:13)! God wants to draw the world to Himself through Israel (cf. Gen. 12:3; 22:18;Exod. 19:5-6). See SPECIAL TOPIC: BOB'S EVANGELICAL BIASES at 4:6.

28:2 "blessings" The term (BDB 139) is related to the root "to kneel" (BDB 138). YHWH offers Israel the choice (cf. 11:26-31; 30:1,19). This conformity to YHWH's covenant requirements determines their destiny!

▣ "will come upon you" This idiomatic phrase (BDB 97, KB 112, Qal perfect) is used here for blessing, but in v. 15 for the curses.

▣ "overtake" The verb (BDB 673, KB 727, Hiphil) is used of:

1. blessing, pursuing, and overtaking Israel because of her obedience, v. 2

2. cursing, pursuing, and overtaking Israel because of her disobedience, vv. 15,45

 

▣ "obey" In v. 1 this term (BDB 1033, KB 1570) was an intensified Qal infinitive absolute and a Qal imperfect. Here it is a Qal imperfect (cf. vv. 15,49; 30:10,12,13,17; 31:12) and in vv. 45, 62 a Qal perfect (cf. 30:8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:3
  
3"Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country."

28:3 "Blessed shall you be in the city. . .in the country" This is a metaphorical way of expressing universal blessing (cf. v. 4-6, 8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:4

 4"Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock."

28:4 "Blessed. . .offspring of your body. . .the herd. . .crops. . .flock" Many and healthy cattle and children were a sign of prosperity and wealth. The man with large families, large herds, was one who was blessed by God (cf. 7:13; 28:4,11; 30:9). These were physical signs of God's blessings (cf. Gen. 1:22,28).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:5
  
5"Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl."

28:5 "Blessed. ..basket" This basket was used to carry fruit or grain (cf. 26:2). This speaks of prosperity in agriculture.

▣ "Blessed. . .kneading bowl" This was a bowl used to prepare family meals (i.e., daily bread). This was a way of saying, "there will always be food on the table." The opposite is stated in v. 17.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:6
 6
"Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out."

28:6 "Blessed. . .when you come in. . .when you go out" This is a Hebraic idiom (cf. 31:2; Ps. 121:8; Isa. 37:28) for a blessed life in all areas (cf. contrast in v. 19).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:7-14
  
7"The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways. 8The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. 9The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. 11The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, 14and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them."

28:7 "enemies" This participle (BDB 33, KB 38 Qal participle) is used eight times in this chapter (cf. vv. 7,25,31,48,53,55,57,68). It refers to the active hostility of a person or group against a person or group. YHWH promised to be an enemy to Israel's enemies (cf. Exod. 23:22), but because of covenant disobedience He is now an enemy to Israel!

If Israel is obedient YHWH will fight her enemies (cf. 30:7; 33:27-29).

▣ "will flee before you seven ways" This idiom refers to the fearful, unorganized retreat of Israel's enemies (cf. vv. 20, 25). See SPECIAL TOPIC: SYMBOLIC NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE at 23:3.

28:8 "blessing upon. . .barns" This refers to grain storehouses (cf. Prov. 3:10). Later Judaism says this refers to YHWH blessing one in secret.

▣ "in the land which the Lord your God gives you" This goes back to the promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:1-3. The land was God's special promise fulfilled in the Exodus/conquest.

28:9 "the Lord will establish you" This verb (BDB 877, KB 1086, Hiphil imperfect) basically means "to raise up." It is used in several different senses in Deuteronomy in the Hiphil (i.e., [1] confirm a covenant, cf. 8:18; [2] being on the scene, cf. 18:15,18; [3] raise up fallen livestock, cf. 22:4; and [4] to set up memorial stones, cf. 27:3). Here it is used in the metaphorical sense of "establish," as in 25:7 and 29:13.

▣ "a holy people" The word "holy" means "set apart for God's service" (BDB 871 and 872, see Special Topic at 5:12, cf. Exod. 19:5-6). Israel was meant to be a kingdom of priests to bring all the nations to YHWH.

▣ "walk" This is a biblical metaphor for lifestyle faith and obedience (cf. 5:33; 8:6; 10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 26:17; 30:16).

28:10 "So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord" The phrase "called by the name of the Lord" (BDB 894, KB 1128, Niphal perfect) denotes YHWH's ownership of Israel (cf. II Sam. 6:2; Isa. 43:7; Jer. 7:10-12; 14:9; 15:16; 32:34; Dan. 9:18,19; Amos 9:12).

YHWH wanted Israel to be a revelatory channel for all the world to come to know Him. He wanted to bless Israel to gain the attention of the nations and thereby to attract the nations unto Himself (cf. v. 25, 37). See Special Topic at 4:6.

▣ "afraid of you" The blessings of YHWH, both in domestic and military areas, will cause fear/reverence (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal perfect, cf. 7:19; 17:13) on the part of superstitious pagans of the surrounding nations.

Israel was not to fear (BDB 431, KB 432) because YHWH was with them, for them, and fought on their behalf (e.g., 1:21,29; 3:2,22; 7:18; 20:1,3; 31:6,8).

28:11 This is a summary verse of God's blessing to an obedient covenant people (e.g., 11:14).

28:12 "His good storehouse" This (BDB 373 II and 69) was a symbol of heaven and rain (cf. vv. 23-24; Ps. 85:12; Mal. 3:10). It is possibly a sarcastic reference to Ba'al worship. Ba'al was the Canaanite god of prosperity (i.e., rain, cf. I Kings 17-18). Yet, it was YHWH who provided all blessings to His people (cf. v. 47; 11:14; Lev. 26:4).

▣ "to give rain to your land in its season" This verb (BDB 678, KB 733) is used regularly in this chapter for YHWH's covenant gifts of blessing (cf. vv. 1,7,8,11,12,13).

Not only will YHWH open the windows of heaven and send rain, but He will do it at the appropriate time (i.e., early and later rains, the time of planting and the time of maturing crops).

▣ "you shall lend to many nations but you shall not borrow" This was another sign of God's blessing that they had surplus to loan (cf. 23:20)! The results of disobedience are sharply contrasted in v. 44!

28:13 This verse has two idioms of prosperity and power:

1. the head and not the tail

2. you only shall be above, not be underneath

But note the conditional element. The same idiom was used in v. 1, "being careful to do" (two infinitive constructs). The reversal caused by disobedience is seen in v. 44.

28:14 "do not turn aside. . .to the right or to the left" It is used literally in Num. 20:17; 22:26; Deut. 2:27, but usually it is a Hebrew idiom for "any deviation from the standard or clearly marked path is sin" (cf. 5:32; 17:11,20; Josh. 1:7; 23:6; II Kgs. 22:2). Notice here, idolatry is specifically referenced (cf. 5:7-9; 27:15; Exod. 20:23; 34:17).

NASB, NRSV"which I command you today"
NKJV"which I command you this day"
TEV
NJB"the words which I am laying down for you today"

This phrase seems to imply a special day of giving the law (cf. vv. 1,13,14,15). However, 'olam can refer to a period of time. See Special Topic at 4:40. The reason for the question is exactly to what does "the book" of vv. 58 and 61 refer?:

1. all of Deuteronomy

2. one of Moses' sermons in Deuteronomy

3. larger body of legislation including parts of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:15
  
15"But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:"

28:15-37 This section of cursings does not demand a literal interpretation. Rather, they were to build up an impression of disaster. These kinds of blights will follow if disobedience occurs. It was a way of building up a mindset on what will happen if Israel violates YHWH's law.

28:15 "to observe to do" This is the exact terminology and grammatical form found in vv. 1,13; 32:46. Similar forms of the same terms are found in 28:58 and 29:8. Obedience is crucial. Obedience is not the foundation of the covenant, but its natural outflow! The covenant is established in the love and sovereignty of YHWH, but its continuance and fruitfulness is maintained by obedience. If you love Me, keep My commandments!

▣ "His commandments and His statutes" See Special Topic at 4:1.

▣ "curses" This is a noun form from the root "to be small" (BDB 886-887, cf. 27:15-26, 28:15-68). These curses were meant to cause Israel to return to YHWH.

▣ "overtake" See note at v. 2.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:16
 16
"Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country."

28:16-19 These verses parallel completely. Verses 3-6 are the blessings; vv. 16-19 are the cursings.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:17
 17
"Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:18
 18
"Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock."

2:18

NASB, NJB"offspring of your body"
NKJV"fruit of your body"
NRSV"fruit of your womb"
TEV"children"

The literal phrase is, "the fruit of your womb." Many healthy, happy children were one of the blessings (cf. vv. 4,11), but disobedience brought covenant promise reversal!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:19
 19
"Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:20-24
  
20"The Lord will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you 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 He has consumed you from the land where you are entering to possess it. 22The Lord will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish. 23The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. 24The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed."

28:20 "confusion" This is a word (BDB 223) that is used of defeat in battle (cf. 7:23). It is opposite of vv. 7 and 25. The confusion will be upon Israel if she disobeys God's word.

▣ "rebuke" This term (BDB 172) is found only here in the OT.

▣ "until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly" Notice the parallelism:

1. "destroyed" - BDB 1029, KB 1552, Niphal infinitive construct, cf. 4:26; 6:15

2. "perish" - BDB 1, KB 2, Qal infinitive construct, cf. Lev. 26:38; Deut. 4:26; 8:19-20; 11:17; 30:18-20; Josh. 23:13,16 plus the adverb "quickly" (BDB 555 II)

 

▣ "on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me" Notice that deviation from the commandments is seen as forsaking YHWH!

28:21 "pestilence" This (BDB 184) refers to a plague (cf. Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12) like YHWH sent on Egypt (cf. Exod. 5:3; 9:15).

▣ "cling" The verb (BDB 179, KB 209, Hiphil) is jussive in form. YHWH's judgment will stick close to them until it has finished its task (i.e., "consumed you," BDB 477, KB 476, Piel infinitive construct).

The term is used for what Israel was to do to YHWH (i.e., cling to Him, cf. 10:20; 11:22; 30:20).

28:22 "sword" Note the list of things YHWH will send against a disobedient Israel:

1. consumption (BDB 1006, cf. Lev. 26:16), a disease of the lungs

2. fever (BDB 869, cf. Lev. 26:16)

3. inflamation (BDB 196)

4. fiery heat (BDB 359, #2,3, and 4 all involve heat; this one seems to imply drought conditions, cf. NRSV)

5. sword (BDB 352)

6. blight (BDB 995, smut on crops, cf. I Kgs. 8:37; II Chr. 6:28; Amos 4:9)

7. mildew (BDB 439, cf. I Kgs. 8:37; II Chr. 6:28; Amos 4:9; Hag. 2:17; the word means "green," therefore, a "green mildew")

Both humans and agriculture will suffer and die! Notice the symbolic number of afflictions (i.e., seven; there are also seven blessings listed in this chapter). See Special Topic at 23:3.

28:23 "iron" Iron is often a metaphor for difficulties:

1. the land will not produce, because of no rain it turns as hard as metal, v. 23, cf. Lev. 26:19

2. the yoke of iron is placed on Israel's neck, v. 48

3. Egypt as an iron furnace of affliction, cf. 4:20

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:25-26
 25
"The Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away."

28:25 "you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them" This is a metaphor describing Israel's military planning as being totally useless. Seven is a numerical symbol for "perfection." Israel will be in total retreat. The promises of "holy war" have been reversed!

▣ "you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth" Israel will be used by YHWH to reveal Himself to the world; either positively (i.e., the blessings) or negatively (i.e., the curses, cf. v. 37; II Chr. 29:8; Jer. 15:4). YHWH wanted to use Israel to reach all mankind (see SPECIAL TOPIC: BOB'S EVANGELICAL BIASES at 4:6). This is a reversal of His purposes!

28:26 "Your carcasses shall be food" For Israel it was a great tragedy to be unburied and thus able to be picked apart by animals (cf. I Sam. 17:44-46). Because of the mentioning of "birds," many see this as an eschatological reference (cf. Isa. 18:14; Jer. 7:33; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezek. 29:5; 32:4; 39:4).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:27-37
 27
"The Lord will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. 28The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; 29and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you. 30You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit. 31Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and will not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have none to save you. 32Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do. 33A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually. 34You shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see. 35The Lord will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36The Lord will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone. 37You shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among all the people where the Lord drives you."

28:27 "with the boils of Egypt" Notice the list of plagues and problems (plagues of Egypt and reversal of covenant blessings) YHWH will visit on Israel if they do not obey His covenant. To whom much is given, much is required (e.g., Luke 12:48).

1.   NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV "boils," cf. vv. 27,35
    NJB "Egyptian ulcers"
    JPSOA "inflamation"
    BDB 1006, cf. Exod. 9:9-11. It refers to some king of abscess.
       
2.   NASB, JPSOA "tumors," v. 27
    NKJV "emerods"
    NRSV  "ulcers"
    TEV  "sores"
    NJB  "swelling in the groin"
   

BDB 779 II, cf. I Sam. 5:6,9,12. Many scholars have interpreted this as the symptoms of plague (i.e., buboes, large darkened, swollen areas, cf. I Sam. 5:9-6:17, which, by implication, associates it with mice)

       
3.   NASB, NKJV  "the scab," v. 27
    NRSV, NJB  "scurvy"
    JPSOA  "boil-scars"
    BDB 173, cf. Lev. 21:20; 22:22
       
4.   NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB "the itch," v. 27
    BDB 360 III. This term is found only here in the OT and refers to skin irritation caused by mites (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 278).
       
5.   NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB  "madness," vv. 28,35
   

TEV 

"lose your mind"
    BDB 993, cf. Zech. 12:4  
       
6.   NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB "blindness, vv. 28,29
   

BDB 734, cf. Lam. 4:14; Zeph. 1:17

       
7.   NASB  "bewilderment of heart," v. 28
    NKJV  "confusion of heart"
    NRSV  "confusion of mind"
    TEV  "confusion"
    NJB "distraction of mind"
    BDB 1069, cf. Zech. 12:4  
       
8.   NASB, NKJV  "oppressed ... continually," v. 29
    NRSV  "continually abused"
    TEV  "constantly oppressed"
    NJB  "exploited"
    BDB 798, Qal passive participle, cf. Lev. 6:2
       
9.   NASB, TEV  "robbed continually," v. 29
    NKJV  "plundered continually"
    NRSV  "continually robbed"
    NJB  "plundered"
    BDB 159, Qal passive participle, cf. Lev. 6:2
       
10.   NASB  "wife ... violated," v. 30
    NKJV, NRSV  "lie with her"
    BDB 993, KB 1415, Qal imperfect
       
11.   your home lived in by another, v. 30  
12.   your vineyard enjoyed by another, v. 30  
13.   your livestock taken by another, v. 31  
14.   your children taken, v. 32  
15.   your crops given to another, v. 33
16.   your labors enjoyed by another, v. 33  
       
17.   NASB, NKJV  "oppressed," v. 33
    NRSV  "abused"
    TEV  "oppression"
    NJB  "exploited"
    BDB 798, KB 897, Qal passive participle, cf. v. 29; I Sam. 12:4; Amos 4:1
       
18.   NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB  "crushed," v. 33
   

TEV 

"harsh treatment"
    BDB 954, KB 1285, Qal passive participle, cf. I Sam. 12:3-4; Amos 4:1
       
19.   NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB "driven mad," v. 34
    TEV  "make you lose your mind"
    BDB 993, KB 1415, Pual participle, cf. v. 30
       
20.   NASB  "strike you. . .with sore boils," v. 35
    NKJV  "strike you. . .with severe boils"
    NRSV  "strike you. . .with grievous boils"
    TEV  "will cover you. . .painful sores, boils"
    NJB  "strike you down with foul ulcers"
    BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil imperfect and two objects, BDB 1006 and 948
       
21.   your king removed and replaced by pagan rulers, v. 36
22.   you shall serve foreign gods, v. 36
       
23.   you will become:  
    a.  
    NASB  "a horror," v. 37
    NKJV  "an astonishment"
    NRSV  "object of horror"
    NJB  "the astonishment"
    BDB 1031 I, cf. II Kgs. 22:19; Jer. 5:30; 25:9,11,18,38; 29:18; 42:18; 44:12,22; 49:13,17; 50:23; 51:37,41
    b.  
    NASB, NKJV, NRSV  "a proverb," v. 37
    NJB  "the byword"
    BDB 605, cf. I Kgs. 9:7; Jer. 24:9
    c.  
    NASB  "a taunt," v. 37
    NKJV, NRSV  "a byword"
    NJB  "the laughing-stock"
    BDB 1042, cf. I Kgs. 9:7; Jer. 24:9
       
24.   NASB  "the Lord will drive you"
    NKJV, NRSV  "the Lord will lead you"
    NJB  "Yahweh is taking you"

This verb (BDB 624 I, KB 675, Piel imperfect) is used of leading livestock (e.g., Exod. 3:1). It became a metaphor of (1) leading people in judgment (e.g., 4:27; I Sam. 30:2,22; Isa. 20:4) or (2) YHWH leading as a caring shepherd (cf. Ps. 48:14; 78:26,52; 80:1). Humans will be led (shepherd) or driven (judge) by their faith obedience.

This reminds them of the plague of the boils on the Egyptians (cf. Exod. 9:8ff). These plagues are now visited on disobedient Israel (cf. 7:15; 28:60,61).

28:32 Notice the plight of these Israeli parents:

1. children given to other people (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal passive participle)

2. they see it happening (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal active participle)

3. their eyes fail with longing all the day (the term, BDB 479, is found only here in the OT)

4. they have no power to stop it (BDB 34 II, construct BDB 43)

 

28:33 "oppressed" This term was used regularly of the wealthy taking advantage of the poor and socially ostracized, but here it is used of YHWH breaking His disobedient people.

28:35 "from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head" This is a metaphor for widespread sickness of which one cannot be healed (cf. Job 2:7; Isa. 1:5-6).

28:36 "your king" Moses recognized that there would be a king someday (cf. 17:14-20). The Israelites were a tribal society. There was no king until Saul (cf. I Samuel 8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:38-44
  
38"You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it. 39You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them. 40You shall have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives will drop off. 41You shall have sons and daughters but they will not be yours, for they will go into captivity. 42The cricket shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground. 43The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower. 44He shall lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail."

28:38-42 Again notice the list of Israel's attempts at prosperity, which will be thwarted by YHWH:

    Their Actions  Results
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
  much seed, v. 38
plant vineyards, v. 39
plant olive trees, v. 40
have children, v. 41
trees and produce, v. 42
locusts destroy
worms destroy
olives drop off
children taken captive
crickets destroy

The promised prosperity of YHWH is negated by the covenant disobedience of Israel!

 

28:40 "anoint yourself" The people of the ancient Near East put olive oil on their faces as a symbol of prosperity and joy (e.g., Ruth 3:3; II Sam. 12:20; 14:2).

28:43-44 These two verses describe the role reversal of Israelites and resident aliens (sojourners, BDB 158):

1. aliens shall rise above you

a. they higher and higher (BDB 751)

b. you lower and lower (BDB 641)

[the reversal of v. 13]

2. alien shall lend to you

[the reversal of v. 12]

3. alien shall be the head

[the reversal of v. 13]

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:45-46
  
45"So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever."

28:45-48 Notice the cause and effect of YHWH's covenant judgments:

1. the cause

a. Israel would not listen (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal perfect) and keep (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal infinitive construct) YHWH's commandments and statutes, v. 45

b. Israel did not serve (BDB 712, KB 773, Qal perfect [twice]) YHWH, v. 47:

(1) with joy

(2) with a glad heart

(3) thankfully for the abundance of all things

2. the effect

a. curses

(1) shall come on you, v. 45, BDB 97, KB 112, Qal perfect

(2) pursue you, v. 45, BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal perfect

(3) overtake you, v. 45, BDB 673, KB 727, Hiphil perfect

(4) until you are destroyed, v. 45, BDB 1029, KB 1552, Niphal infinitive construct, cf. 4:25-26

b. enemies

(1)  you shall serve your enemies, v. 48

(a) in hunger (BDB 944)

(b) in thirst (BDB 854)

(c) in nakedness (BDB 735)

(d) lack of all things

(e) put iron yoke on you

(f) until destroyed (BDB 1029, KB 1552, Hiphil infinitive construct, cf. 4:25-26)

 

28:46 "forever" See Special Topic at 4:40.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:47-48
 47
"Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:49-57
  
49"The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, 50a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young. 51Moreover, it shall eat the offspring of your herd and the produce of your ground until you are destroyed, who also leaves you no grain, new wine, or oil, nor the increase of your herd or the young of your flock until they have caused you to perish. 52It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the Lord your God has given you. 53Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you. 54The man who is refined and very delicate among you shall be hostile toward his brother and toward the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain, 55so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children which he will eat, since he has nothing else left, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in all your towns. 56The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, 57and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in your towns."

28:49-57 The consequences of disobedience are continued. This paragraph lists the problems related to siege warfare in the ancient Near East:

1. The invaded described:

a. invader brought by YHWH, v. 49

b. a nation from afar, v. 49

c. a nation with a strong and swift army, v. 49

d. a nation with an unknown language, v. 49

e. a nation with no respect for those whom they invade, v. 50

f. a nation that will consume all the produce and livestock of Israel for food, v. 51

g. a nation who will besiege every fortified city in Israel, v. 52

2. The consequences for Israel:

a. they will perish for lack of food, v. 51

b. Israel shall eat her own young, v. 53 (cf. Lev. 26:29) and not share even this food (cf. v. 57)

c. gentle (BDB 940) men and women will lose their natural and family affections and turn hostile, vv. 54,56

d. they will not share their children as food, v. 57

 

28:49 "The Lord will bring a nation against you" This refers to Assyria (cf. Hos. 8:1) and/or Babylon (cf. Jer. 5:15).

28:50 "no respect for the old; nor show favor to the young" The Assyrians especially, but also the Babylonians, would kill the elderly (opposite of Lev. 19:32) and the children as a way of demoralizing the population before they were deported to a distant region and resettled in someone else's houses.

28:51 In this verse the invading nations are described in terms of a total devastation of resources similar to the locust plagues of Joel, Amos, and Micah.

28:52 "high and fortified walls in which you trusted" Israel would be trusting (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal active participle) in their military preparations (cf. II Chr. 32:7-8)!

28:53-57 "you shall eat the offspring of your own body" This shows the desperate nature of a siege (i.e., cannibalism, cf. Lev. 26:29; II Kgs. 6:24-30; Jer. 19:9; Lam. 2:20; 4:10; Ezek. 5:10).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 28:58-68
  
58"If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59then the Lord will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses. 60He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they will cling to you. 61Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the Lord will bring on you until you are destroyed. 62Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63It shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. 64Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. 65Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. 66So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. 67In the morning you shall say, 'Would that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Would that it were morning!' because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see. 68The Lord will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, 'You will never see it again!' And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer."

28:58-68 "if. . .then" Notice the covenant obligations and the consequences for disobedience:

1. "if you"

a. "are not careful to observe all the words of this law" (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal imperfect and BDB 793, KB 889, Qal infinitive construct)

b. "to fear this honored and awesome name, the Lord your God" (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal infinitive construct, cf. 4:10; 5:29; 6:2,13,24; 10:12,20; 13:4; 14:23; 17:19; 28:58; 31:12,13)

c. note vv. 1,13,15,58; 29:9; 31:12; 32:46. Obedience is crucial!

2. "then"

a. YHWH will bring plagues, v. 59

(1) extraordinary (BDB 810, KB 927, Hiphil perfect)

(2) severe (BDB 152)

(3) lasting (BDB 52, KB 63, Niphal perfect)

(4) miserable, (BDB 948)

(5) chronic (BDB 52, KB 63, Niphal perfect)

b. YHWH will bring back the plagues (BDB 188, cf. 7:15), of which the Israelites were afraid (BDB 388, KB 386, Qal perfect), of Egypt to cling (BDB 179, KB 209, Qal perfect) to them, v. 60

c. YHWH will bring every sickness (BDB 315) and every plague (BDB 646, cf. Lev. 26:21) not mentioned in the book of the law, v. 61

d. YHWH will reverse His promise of prosperity and abundance, vv. 62-63

e. YHWH will reverse the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land and scatter (BDB 806, KB 918, Hiphil perfect) His covenant people, v. 64

(1) serve other gods, v. 64

(2) find no rest, v. 65

(3) have trembling heart, v. 65

(4) failing eyes, v. 65

(5) despair of soul, v. 65

(6) be in dread night and day, vv. 66,67

(7) no assurance of life, v. 66 ( See Special Topic at 1:32)

(8) slavery, v. 68

 

28:58

NASB"this honored and awesome name"
NKJV, NRSV"the glorious and awesome name"
TEV"this wonderful and awesome name"
NJB"this glorious and awe-inspiring name"

The "name" stands for the person and character of YHWH (e.g., Job 1:21; Isa. 48:9-11; Ezek. 20:44; Amos 2:7). He is described by the two Niphal participles:

1. BDB 457, KB 455, from the verb, "to be heavy or weighty," used metaphorically for honorable or glorious (cf. Isa. 26:15; 66:5; Ezek. 28:22; 39:13)

2. BDB 431, KB 432, from the verb, "to fear," used in the sense of reverential awe of YHWH and His redemptive acts (e.g., 7:21; 10:17,21; Neh. 1:5; 4:14; 9:32; Ps. 145:6)

 

28:61 "the words of this law which are written in this book" It is uncertain what this refers to specifically:

1. the entire Torah

2. the laws of Exodus - Numbers

3. all of Deuteronomy (cf. 31:24)

4. parts of Deuteronomy

a. law codes

b. cursing and blessing

Of course "book" means scroll, but this does assert that Moses wrote or had someone record YHWH's law dictated through him (cf. 27:3,8; 28:58; 29:21,29; 30:10).

28:62 "few in number" This was a reversal of the Abrahamic promises. God promised that they would be (1) like the "stars of heaven" (cf. Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 26:4); (2) like "the sand" (cf. Gen. 22:17; 32:12); and (3) like "the dust" (cf. Gen. 13:16; 28:14; Num. 23:10).

28:63 "the Lord delighted over you" This verb (BDB 965, KB 1314) is used in two ways:

1. to bless (Qal perfect, cf. 30:9)

a. prosper you (BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil infinitive construct)

b. multiply you (BDB 915 I, KB 1176, Hiphil infinitive construct)

2. to curse (Qal imperfect)

a. perish (BDB 1, KB 2, Hiphil infinitive construct)

b. destroy (BDB 1029, KB 1552, Hiphil infinitive construct)

c. torn from the land (BDB 650, KB 702, Niphal perfect)

YHWH both rewards and disciplines His children. The discipline is for the purpose of restoration and inclusion.

▣ "you will be torn from the land" The verb (BDB 650, KB 702, Niphal perfect) is often used of YHWH's judgment (cf. Ps. 52:5; Pro. 15:25). This was a total reversal of the Abrahamic promises (cf. Gen. 12:1-3).

28:64 "the Lord will scatter you among all peoples" This refers to exile, a reverse exodus (cf. v. 68.)

▣ "no resting place" This (BDB 629 I) was also used twice for the Genesis 8 account of the flood of Noah's day:

1. the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, v. 4

2. the dove sent out to find dry land could not find a place to rest, v. 9

YHWH wants His people to have a place of rest (i.e., the Promised Land, cf. 3:20; 12:9-10; 25:19; Josh. 1:13,15; 21:44), but their willful covenant disobedience brought a reverse exodus (i.e., exile, cf. Ps. 95:11).

28:65 "failing of eyes" This chapter mentions loss of sight several times:

1. blindness as YHWH's judgment on covenant disobedience, vv. 28-29

2. judgment seen before your eyes, vv. 30-33

3. what you see will drive you mad, v. 34

4. metaphor for premeditated violence against another family member (i.e., "eye shall be evil toward"), vv. 54-56

5. Egyptian plagues, one of which was utter darkness, vv. 60-61

6. "failing eyes," a metaphor for fear and despair, utter hopelessness, vv. 65-66

7. sight caused further dread, v. 67

 

28:66-67

NASB, NRSV"dread"
NKJV"fear"
TEV"terror. . .fear"
NJB"afraid. . .terror"
JPSOA"terror. . .dread"

This term (BDB 808 I) means "trembling," or "shaking," caused by fear or joy! Here it is fear (e.g., Isa. 33:14). YHWH wanted to cause "dread" in Israel's enemies (cf. 2:25; 11:25), but because of their disobedience they were the fearful ones!

28:68 "the Lord will bring you back to Egypt" The reversal of the Exodus. The re-captivity of Israel!

▣ "by the way about which I spoke to you" This reference to this statement by YHWH is uncertain.

▣ "there will be no buyer" The verb "to buy" (BDB 888, KB 1111, Qal active participle) was often used of YHWH purchasing Israel out of Egyptian bondage (cf. Exod. 15:16; Ps. 74:2), but here it is used of the fate of Israel whereby even Egypt would not buy them back as slaves. They were totally rejected by God and man.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is the cursing section so much longer than the blessing?

2. What is the purpose of this chapter?

3. How is works-righteousness related to the blessing enjoined here?

4. Why is God's judgment so severe?

5. Have these things occurred in Israel's history?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods