The curses correspond in form and number Deuteronomy 28:15-19 to the blessings Deuteronomy 28:3-6, and the special modes in which these threats should be executed are described in five groups of denunciations Deuteronomy 28:20-26
First series of judgments. The curse of God should rest on all they did, and should issue in manifold forms of disease, in famine, and in defeat in war.
“Blasting” denotes (compare Genesis 41:23) the result of the scorching east wind; “mildew” that of an untimely blight falling on the green ear, withering it and marring its produce.
When the heat is very great the atmosphere in Palestine is often filled with dust and sand; the wind is a burning sirocco, and the air comparable to the glowing heat at the mouth of a furnace.
Shalt be removed - See the margin. The threat differs from that in Leviticus 26:33, which refers to a dispersion of the people among the pagan. Here it is meant that they should be tossed to and fro at the will of others, driven from one country to another without any certain settlement.
Second series of judgments on the body, mind, and outward circumstances of the sinners.
The “botch” (rather “boil;” see Exodus 9:9), the “emerods” or tumors 1 Samuel 5:6, 1 Samuel 5:9, the “scab” and “itch” represent the various forms of the loathsome skin diseases which are common in Syria and Egypt.
Mental maladies shah be added to those sore bodily plagues, and should Deuteronomy 28:29-34 reduce the sufferers to powerlessness before their enemies and oppressors.
See the marginal references for the fulfillment of these judgments.
Third series of judgments, affecting every kind of labor and enterprise until it had accomplished the total ruin of the nation, and its subjection to its enemies.
Worms - i. e. the vine-weevil. Naturalists prescribed elaborate precautions against its ravages.
Cast - Some prefer “shall be spoiled” or “plundered.”
Deuteronomy 28:43, Deuteronomy 28:44
Fourth series of judgments, descriptive of the calamities and horrors which should ensue when Israel should be subjugated by its foreign foes.
The description (compare the marginal references) applies undoubtedly to the Chaldeans, and in a degree to other nations also whom God raised up as ministers of vengeance upon apostate Israel (e. g. the Medes). But it only needs to read this part of the denunciation, and to compare it with the narrative of Josephus, to see that its full and exact accomplishment took place in the wars of Vespasian and Titus against the Jews, as indeed the Jews themselves generally admit.
The eagle - The Roman ensign; compare Matthew 24:28; and consult throughout this passage the marginal references.
Evil - i. e. grudging; compare Deuteronomy 15:9.
Young one - The “afterbirth” (see the margin). The Hebrew text in fact suggests an extremity of horror which the King James Version fails to exhibit. Compare 2 Kings 6:29.
Fifth series of judgments. The uprooting of Israel from the promised land, and its dispersion among other nations. Examine the marginal references.
In this book - i. e. in the book of the Law, or the Pentateuch in so far as it contains commands of God to Israel. Deuteronomy is included, but not exclusively intended. So Deuteronomy 28:61; compare Deuteronomy 27:3 and note, Deuteronomy 31:9.
Thy life shall hang in doubt before thee - i. e. shall be hanging as it were on a thread, and that before thine own eyes. The fathers regard this passage as suggesting in a secondary or mystical sense Christ hanging on the cross, as the life of the Jews who would not believe in Him.
This is the climax. As the Exodus from Egypt was as it were the birth of the nation into its covenant relationship with God, so the return to the house of bondage is in like manner the death of it. The mode of conveyance, “in ships,” is added to heighten the contrast. They crossed the sea from Egypt with a high hand. the waves being parted before them. They should go back again cooped up in slaveships.
There ye shall be sold - Rather, “there shall ye offer yourselves, or be offered for sale.” This denunciation was literally fulfilled on more than one occasion: most signally when many thousand Jews were sold into slavery and sent into Egypt by Titus; but also under Hadrian, when numbers were sold at Rachel‘s grave Genesis 35:19.
No man shall buy you - i. e. no one shall venture even to employ you as slaves, regarding you as accursed of God, and to be shunned in everything.
God pronounced upon his people a curse if they would not hearken unto his voice to observe to do all his commandments. “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.” 4aSG 123.1
God would have his people clearly understand that they will be visited according to their obedience or transgression. Wickedness and disease have increased with every successive generation. The land has labored under the curse which man has brought upon it because of continued disobedience. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate.” Many marvel that the human race have so degenerated, physically, mentally, and morally. They do not understand that it is the violation of God's constitution and laws, and the violation of the laws of health, that has produced this sad degeneracy. The transgression of God's commandments has caused his prospering hand to be removed. 4aSG 123.2Read in context »
Traditions and customs have become so interwoven with the belief of the medical profession that physicians need to be taught the very first principles of the way of the Lord. The physician ministers to the body in healing, yet all the work is the Lord's. He must cooperate with the physicians, else there cannot be success. MM 119.1
Please read carefully the fifteenth chapter of Exodus. The Lord gave Moses a message of encouragement for the children of Israel. They did not deserve the good He had done and was doing for them, yet He made a covenant of mercy with them, saying, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Read also the seventh, eighth, and twenty-eighth chapters of Deuteronomy. MM 119.2
The Lord had a lesson to teach the children of Israel. The waters of Marah were an object lesson, representing the diseases brought upon human beings because of sin. It is no mystery that the inhabitants of the earth are suffering from disease of every stripe and type. It is because they transgress the law of God. Thus did the children of Israel. They broke down the barriers which God in His providence had erected to preserve them from disease, that they might live in health and holiness and so learn obedience in their journeying through the wilderness. They journeyed under the special direction of Christ, who had given Himself as a sacrifice to preserve a people who would ever keep God in their remembrance, notwithstanding Satan's masterly temptations. Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, it was Christ's desire to keep under His sheltering wing of preservation all who would do His will. MM 119.3Read in context »
Moses had written in a book all the laws and judgments given him of God, and had faithfully recorded all his instructions given them by the way, and all the miracles which he had performed for them, and all the murmurings of the children of Israel. Moses had also recorded his being overcome in consequence of their murmurings. 4aSG 53.1
All the people were assembled before him, and he read the events of their past history out of the book which he had written. He read, also, the promises of God to them if they would be obedient, and the curses which would come upon them if they were disobedient. 4aSG 53.2
He related to the people his great sorrow because of his fault at Meribah. “And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand; for what God is there in Heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me. And the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes; for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” 4aSG 53.3
Moses told them that for their rebellion the Lord had several times purposed to destroy them. But he had interceded for them so earnestly that God had graciously spared them. He reminded them of the miracles which the Lord did unto Pharaoh and all the land of Egypt. He said to them, “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it.” 4aSG 53.4Read in context »
All the people were assembled before him, and he read the events of their past history out of the book which he had written. He read also the promises of God to them if they would be obedient, and the curses which would come upon them if they were disobedient. SR 171.1
Moses told them that, for their rebellion, the Lord had several times purposed to destroy them, but he had interceded for them so earnestly that God had graciously spared them. He reminded them of the miracles which the Lord did unto Pharaoh and all the land of Egypt. He said to them, “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which He did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it.” Deuteronomy 11:7, 8. SR 171.2
Moses especially warned the children of Israel against being seduced into idolatry. He earnestly charged them to obey the commandments of God. If they would prove obedient and love the Lord and serve Him with their undivided affections, He would give them rain in due season and cause their vegetation to flourish, and increase their cattle. They should also enjoy especial and exalted privileges, and should triumph over their enemies. SR 171.3
Moses instructed the children of Israel in an earnest, impressive manner. He knew that it was his last opportunity to address them. He then finished writing in a book all the laws, judgments, and statutes which God had given him, also the various regulations respecting sacrificial offerings. He placed the book in the hands of men in the sacred office and requested that, for safe keeping, it should be put in the side of the ark, for God's care was continually upon that sacred chest. This book of Moses was to be preserved, that the judges of Israel might refer to it if any case should come up to make it necessary. An erring people often understand God's requirements to suit their own case; therefore the book of Moses was preserved in a most sacred place, for future reference. SR 171.4Read in context »