Deuteronomy 28

CHAPTER XXVIII

The blessings which God pronounces on the obedient, 1-6.

Particular privileges which the faithful shall receive, 7-13.

The curses pronounced against the ungodly and idolatrous, 14-19.

A detailed account of the miseries which should be inflicted on

them, should they neglect the commandments of the Lord, 20.

They shall be smitten with the pestilence, 21;

with consumption, fever, &c., 22;

drought and barrenness, 23, 24;

they shall be defeated by their enemies, 25, 26;

they shall be afflicted with the botch of Egypt, 27;

with madness and blindness, 28, 29;

they shall be disappointed in all their projects, 30;

deprived of all their possessions, and afflicted in all their

members, 31-35;

they and their king shall go into captivity, 36,

and become a by-word among the nations, 37.

Their land shall be unfruitful, and they shall be the lowest of

all people, 38-44.

All these curses shall come on them should they be disobedient,

45-48.

Character of the people by whom they should be subdued, 49, 50.

Particulars of their dreadful sufferings, 51-57.

A recapitulation of their wretchedness, 58-63.

The prediction that they shall be scattered among all the

nations of the earth, 64-68.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXVIII

Verse 2. All these blessings shall come on thee] God shall

pour out his blessing from heaven upon thee. And overtake thee.

Upright men are represented as going to the kingdom of God, and

God's blessings as following and overtaking them in their heavenly

journey. There are several things in this verse worthy of the

most careful observation:-

1. If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. The

voice of God must be heard; without a Divine revelation how can

the Divine will be known? And if not known, it cannot be

fulfilled.

2. When God speaks, men must hearken to the words of his mouth.

He who does not hearken will not obey.

3. He who hearkens to the words of God must set out for the

kingdom of heaven. The curse must fall on him who stands in the

way of sinners, and will overtake them who loiter in the way of

righteousness.

4. Those who run in the way of God's testimonies shall have an

abundance of blessing. Blessings shall come upon them, and

blessings shall overtake them-in every part of their march through

life they shall continue to receive the fulfilment of the various

promises of God which relate to all circumstances, vicissitudes,

trials, stages of life, &c., &c., each overtaking them in the time

and place where most needed.

Verse 3. In the city] In all civil employments. In the

field-in all agricultural pursuits.

Verse 4. Fruit of thy body] All thy children. Increase of thy

kine, &c.; every animal employed in domestic and agricultural

purposes shall be under the especial protection of Divine

Providence.

Verse 5. Thy basket] Thy olive gathering and vintage, as the

basket was employed to collect those fruits.

Store.] mishereth, kneading-trough, or

remainder; all that is laid up for future use, as well as what is

prepared for present consumption. Some think that by basket all

their property abroad may be meant, and by store all that they

have at home, i. e., all that is in the fields, and all that is in

the houses. The following note of Mr. Harmer is important:-

"Commentators seem to be at a great loss how to explain the

basket and the store mentioned De 28:5, 17. Why Moses, who in

the other verses mentions things in general, should in this case

be so minute as to mention baskets, seems strange; and they that

interpret either the first or the second of these words of the

repositories of their corn, &c., forget that their barns or

storehouses are spoken of presently after this in De 28:8. Might

I be permitted to give my opinion here, I should say that the

basket, tene, in this place means their travelling baskets,

and the other word mishereth, (their store,) signifies their

leathern bags, in both which they were wont to carry things in

travelling. The first of these words occurs nowhere else in the

Scriptures but in the account that is given us of the conveyance

in which they were to carry their first-fruits to Jerusalem; the

other nowhere but in the description of the hurrying journey of

Israel out of Egypt, where it means the utensils in which they

then carried their dough, which I have shown elsewhere in these

papers means a piece of leather drawn together by rings, and

forming a kind of bag. Agreeably to this, Hasselquist informs us

that the Eastern people use baskets in travelling; for, speaking

of that species of the palm tree which produces dates, and its

great usefulness to the people of those countries, he tells us

that of the leaves of this tree they make baskets, or rather a

kind of short bags, which are used in Turkey on journeys and in

their houses; pages 261, 262. Hampers and panniers are English

terms denoting travelling baskets, as tene seems to be a Hebrew

word of the same general import, though their forms might very

much differ, as it is certain that of the travelling baskets

mentioned by Hasselquist now does.

"In like manner as they now carry meal, figs, and raisins, in a

goat's skin in Barbary for a viaticum, they might do the same

anciently, and consequently might carry merchandise after the same

manner, particularly their honey, oil, and balm, mentioned

Eze 27:17. They were the proper vessels for such things. So Sir

J. Chardin, who was so long in the East, and observed their customs

with so much care, supposed, in a manuscript note on Ge 43:11,

that the balm and the honey sent by Jacob into Egypt for a present

were carried in a goat or kid's skin, in which all sorts of

things, both dry and liquid, are wont to be carried in the East.

"Understood after this manner, the passage promises Israel

success in their commerce, as the next verse (the 6th) promises

them personal safety in their going out and in their return. In

this view the passage appears with due distinctness, and a noble

extent."-Observations, vol. 2:, p. 181.

Verse 6. When thou comest in] From thy employment, thou shalt

find that no evil has happened to the family or dwelling in thy

absence.

When thou goest out] Thy way shall be made prosperous before

thee, and thou shalt have the Divine blessing in all thy labours.

Verse 7. The Lord shall cause thine enemies, &c.] This is a

promise of security from foreign invasion, or total discomfiture

of the invaders, should they enter the land. They shall come

against thee one way-in the firmest and most united manner. And

flee seven ways-shall be utterly broken, confounded, and finally

routed.

Verse 8. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee] Every

thing that thou hast shall come by Divine appointment; thou shalt

have nothing casually, but every thing, both spiritual and

temporal, shall come by the immediate command of God.

Verse 9. The Lord shall establish thee a holy people unto

himself] This is the sum of all blessings, to be made holy, and

be preserved in holiness.

If thou shalt keep, &c.] Here is the solemn condition; if they

did not keep God's testimonies, taking them for the regulators of

their lives, and according to their direction walking in his ways,

under the influence and aids of his grace, then the curses, and

not the blessings, must be their portion. See De 28:15, &c.

Verse 12. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure] The

clouds, so that a sufficiency of fructifying showers should

descend at all requisite times, and the vegetative principle in

the earth should unfold and exert itself, so that their crops

should be abundant.

Verse 14. Thou shalt not go aside-to the right hand or to the

left] The way of obedience is a straight way; it goes right

forward; he who declines either to right or left from this path

goes astray and misses heaven.

Verse 20. Cursing] This shall be thy state; vexation-grief,

trouble, and anguish of heart; rebuke-continual judgments, and

marks of God's displeasure.

Verse 21. The pestilence cleave unto thee]

yadbek Yehovah becha eth haddaber, the Lord shall CEMENT the

pestilence or plague to thee. Sept., προσκολλησεικυριοςειςσε

τονθανατον, The Lord will GLUE-inseparably attach, the death unto

thee. How dreadful a plague it must be that ravages without

intermission, any person may conceive who has ever heard the name.

Verse 22. Consumption] shachepheth, atrophy

through lack of food; from shacaph, to be in want.

Fever] kaddachath, from kadach, to be

kindled, burn, sparkle; a burning inflammatory fever.

Inflammation] dalleketh, from dalak, to

pursue eagerly, to burn after; probably a rapidly consuming

cancer.

Extreme burning] charchur, burning upon burning,

scald upon scald; from char, to be heated, enraged, &c. This

probably refers, not only to excruciating inflammations on the

body, but also to the irritation and agony of a mind utterly

abandoned by God, and lost to hope. What an accumulation of

misery! how formidable! and especially in a land where great heat

was prevalent and dreadful.

Sword] War in general, enemies without, and civil broils

within. This was remarkably the case in the last siege of

Jerusalem.

Blasting] shiddaphon, probably either the blighting east

wind that ruined vegetation, or those awful pestilential winds

which suffocate both man and beast wherever they come. These

often prevail in different parts of the East, and several examples

have already been given. See Clarke on Ge 41:6.

Mildew] yerakon, an exudation of the vegetative

juice from different parts of the stalk, by which the maturity and

perfection of the plant are utterly prevented. It comes from

yarak, to throw out moisture.

Of these seven plagues, the five former were to fall on their

bodies, the two latter upon their substance. What a fearful thing

it is to fall into the hands of the living God!

Verse 23. Thy heaven-shall be brass, and the earth-iron.] The

atmosphere should not be replenished with aqueous vapours, in

consequence of which they should have neither the early nor the

latter rain; hence the earth-the ground, must be wholly

intractable, and, through its hardness, incapable of cultivation.

God shows them by this that he is Lord of nature; and that drought

and sterility are not casualties, but proceed from the immediate

appointment of the Lord.

Verse 24. The rain of thy land powder and dust] As their

heavens-atmosphere, clouds, &c., were to be as brass-yielding no

rain; so the surface of the earth must be reduced to powder; and

this, being frequently taken up by the strong winds, would fall

down in showers instead of rain. Whole caravans have been buried

under showers of sand; and Thevenot, a French traveller, who had

observed these showers of dust, &c., says, "They grievously annoy

all they fall on, filling their eyes, ears, nostrils, &c."-Travels

in the East, part 1, book ii., chap. 80. The ophthalmia in Egypt

appears to be chiefly owing to a very fine sand, the particles of

which are like broken glass, which are carried about by the wind,

and, entering into the ciliary glands, produce grievous and

continual inflammations.

Verse 27. The Lord will smite thee with the botch]

shechin, a violent inflammatory swelling. In Job 2:7, one of the

Hexapla versions renders it ελεφας, the elephantiasis, a disease

the most horrid that can possibly afflict human nature. In this

disorder, the whole body is covered with a most loathsome scurf;

the joints are all preternaturally enlarged, and the skin swells

up and grows into folds like that of an elephant, whence the

disease has its name. The skin, through its rigidity, breaks

across at all the joints, and a most abominable ichor flows from

all the chinks, &c. See an account of it in Aretaeus, whose

language is sufficient to chill the blood of a maniac, could he

attend to the description given by this great master, of this most

loathsome and abominable of all the natural productions of death

and sin. This was called the botch of Egypt, as being peculiar to

that country, and particularly in the vicinity of the Nile. Hence

those words of Lucretius:-

Est Elephas morbus, qui circum flumina Nili

Nascitur, AEgypto in media; nec praeterea usquam.

Lib. vi., ver. 1112.

Emerods] ophalim, from aphal, to be

elevated, raised up; swellings, protuberances; probably the

bleeding piles.

Scab] garab does not occur as a verb in the Hebrew

Bible, but [Arabic] gharb, in Arabic, signifies a distemper in the

corner of the eye, (Castel.,) and may amount to the Egyptian

ophthalmia, which is so epidemic and distressing in that country:

some suppose the scurvy to be intended.

Itch] cheres, a burning itch, probably something of the

erysipelatous kind, or what is commonly called St. Anthony's fire.

Whereof thou canst not be healed.] For as they were inflicted

by GOD'S justice, they could not of course be cured by human art.

Verse 28. The Lord shall smite thee with madness]

shiggaon, distraction, so that thou shalt not know what to do.

And blindness] ivvaron, blindness, both physical and

mental; the garab, (De 28:27,) destroying their eyes, and the

judgments of God confounding their understandings.

Astonishment] timmahon, stupidity and amazement. By

the just judgments of God they were so completely confounded, as

not to discern the means by which they might prevent or remove

their calamities, and to adopt those which led directly to their

ruin. How true is the ancient saying, Quos Deus vult perdere,

prius dementat! "Those whom God is determined to destroy, he first

infatuates." But this applies not exclusively to the poor Jews:

how miserably infatuated have the powers of the continent of Europe

been, in all their councils and measures, for several years past!

And what is the result? They have fallen-most deplorably fallen!

Verse 29. Thou shalt be only oppressed, &c.] Perhaps no people

under the sun have been more oppressed and spoiled than the

rebellious Jews. Indeed, this has been their portion, with but

little intermission, for nearly 1,800 years. And still they grope

at noon day, as the blind gropeth in darkness-they do not yet

discover, notwithstanding the effulgence of the light by which

they are encompassed, that the rejection of their own Messiah is

the cause of all their calamities.

Verse 30. Thou shalt betroth a wife, &c.] Can any heart

imagine any thing more grievous than the evils threatened in this

and the following verses? To be on the brink of all social and

domestic happiness, and then to be suddenly deprived of all, and

see an enemy possess and enjoy every thing that was dear to them,

must excite them to the utmost pitch of distraction and madness.

They have, it is true, grievously sinned; but, O ye Christians,

have they not grievously suffered for it? Is not the stroke of God

heavy enough upon them? Do not then, by unkind treatment or cruel

Oppression, increase their miseries. They are, above all others,

the men who have seen affliction by the stroke of his rod;

La 3:1.

Verse 32. Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto

another people] In several countries, particularly in Spain and

Portugal, the children of the Jews have been taken from them by

order of government, and educated in the Popish faith. There have

been some instances of Jewish children being taken from their

parents even in Protestant countries.

Verse 35. With a sore botch] shechin, an inflammatory

swelling, a burning boil. See De 28:27.

Verse 36. - 45. Can any thing be conceived more dreadful than

the calamities threatened in these verses?

Verse 48. Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies] Because

they would not serve GOD, therefore they became slaves to men.

Verse 49. A nation-from far] Probably the Romans.

As the eagle flieth] The very animal on all the Roman

standards. The Roman eagle is proverbial.

Whose tongue thou shalt not understand] The Latin language,

than which none was more foreign to the structure and idiom of the

Hebrew.

Verse 52. He-Nebuchadnezzar first, (2Ki 25:1, 2, &c.,) and

Titus next; shall besiege thee-beset thee round on every side, and

cast a trench around thee: viz., lines of circumvallation, as our

Lord predicted; (see Mt 24:1, &c., and Lu 21:5, &c.;)

in all thy gates throughout all thy land-all thy fenced cities,

which points out that their subjugation should be complete, as

both Jerusalem and all their fortified places should be taken.

This was done literally by Nebuchadnezzar and the Romans.

Verse 56. The tender and delicate woman] This was literally

fulfilled when Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans; a woman named

Mary, of a noble family, driven to distraction by famine, boiled

and ate her own child! See a similar case 2Ki 6:29; and

See Clarke on Le 26:29.

Verse 57. Toward her young one-and toward her children which

she shall bear] There seems to be a species of tautology in the

two clauses of this verse, which may be prevented by translating

the last word, shilyathah, literally, her secondines, which

is the meaning of the Arabic [Arabic] sala, not badly understood

by the Septuagint, χοριοναυτης, the chorion or exterior membrane,

which invests the foetus in the womb; and still better translated

by Luther, [Anglo-Saxon] the after-birth; which saying of Moses

strongly marks the deepest distress, when the mother is

represented as feeling the most poignant regret that her child was

brought forth into such a state of suffering and death; and 2dly,

that it was likely, from the favourable circumstances after the

birth, that she herself should survive her inlaying. No words

can more forcibly depict the miseries of those dreadful times. On

this ground I see no absolute need for Kennicott's criticism, who,

instead of ubeshilyathah, against her secondines, reads

ubashelah, and she shall boll, and translates the 56th and

57th verses as follows: "The tender and delicate woman among you,

who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the

ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil

toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward

her daughter. 57.

And she shall boil that which cometh out from between her feet,

even her children, which she shall bear, for she shall eat them,

for want of all things, secretly." These words, says he, being

prophetical, are fulfilled in 2Ki 6:29, for we read there that

two women of Samaria having agreed to eat their own children, one

was actually boiled, where the very same word, bashal is

used. See Kennicott's Dissertations,

See Clarke on 1Ch 11:11, &c., p. 421.

Verse 64. The Lord shall scatter thee among all people] How

literally has this been fulfilled! The people of the Jews are

scattered over every nation under heaven.

Verse 65. No ease-a trembling heart, and failing of eyes] The

trembling of heart may refer to their state of continual

insecurity, being, under every kind of government, proscribed,

and, even under the most mild, uncertain of toleration and

protection; and the failing of eyes, to their vain and

ever-disappointed expectation of the Messiah.

Verse 68. And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again] That

is, into another state of slavery and bondage similar to that of

Egypt, out of which they had been lately brought. And there ye

shall be sold, that is, be exposed to sale, or expose yourself to

sale as the word hithmaccartem may be rendered; they were

vagrants, and wished to become slaves that they might be provided

with the necessaries of life. And no man shall buy you; even the

Romans thought it a reproach to have a Jew for a slave, they had

become so despicable to all mankind. When Jerusalem was taken by

Titus, many of the captives, which were above seventeen years of

age, were sent into the works in Egypt. See Josephus, Antiq., b.

xii, 100:1, 2, War b. vi., c. 9, s. 2; and above all, see

Bp. Newton's Dissertations on the Prophecies.

THE first verse of the next chapter, in some of the most correct

Hebrew Bibles, makes the 69th of this; and very properly, as the

second verse of the following chapter begins a new subject.

This is an astonishing chapter: in it are prophecies delivered

more than 3,000 years ago, and now fulfilling.

O God, how immense is thy wisdom, and how profound thy counsels!

To thee alone are known all thy works from the beginning to the

end. What an irrefragable proof does this chapter, compared with

the past and present state of the Jewish people, afford of the

truth and Divine origin of the Pentateuch!

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