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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 28

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8


Verses 1-8:

The condition of Israel’s receiving God’s blessing: obedience to His laws. If they gave this obedience, blessings rich and full would be theirs.

"Shall come on," bo," come in." The first occurrence of this word is Genesis 6:18, where it is translated "come into," referring to God’s invitation to Noah and his family to enter the ark. It denotes entrance into a place or people.

"Overtake," nasag, "to cause to reach, attain." The first occurrence of this word is Genesis 31:2, where it refers to Laban’s pursuit of Jacob.

In the language pictures the blessings personified as actual persons who pursue the obedient child of God and move in to dwell with him.

Israel’s blessings were to be in house and field, representing domestic and business activities, and relationships with other nations.

"Basket," tene (see Deuteronomy 26:2), represents the fruits of the earth or field.

"Store," mishereth, "kneading trough," denotes the use of these for the supply of one’s daily needs.

God’s blessings would put Israel in a position of supremacy over other nations who might be tempted to rise up against them in battle, see Psalms 18:37-40.

"Storehouses," asamin, "barns," used only here and Proverbs 3:10, q.v.

Verses 9-14

Verses 9-14:

Jehovah promised to establish Israel as His own holy people. All He asked in return was that they obey His commandments and walk in the ways He had established for them.

Israel enjoyed the unique distinction of being known by the Name of Jehovah. No other nation in history can make this claim.

Material prosperity, and • a peace in which to enjoy it, is a by­product of obedience.

As Israel obeyed God’s laws regarding the cultivation of their fields, the land itself prospered. Rain came at the proper seasons. The crops were bountiful.

As Israel obeyed God’s laws regarding their livestock, their flocks increased.

As Israel’s natural bounty increased, so did their material wealth. This all came about because they obeyed God’s laws regarding their daily living.

Israel’s prosperity meant that other nations would seek them out, to share in their wealth. Israel would become a leading banking and lending nation, but would not herself be forced to borrow from anyone.

Obedience to God’s commands assured Israel of the role of leading nation among the world community of nations.

Obedience to God and application of His righteous principles guarantees prosperity today. This prosperity may not be reflected in one’s statement of net worth, but it may consist of spiritual prosperity and godly character. Compare verse 14 with Deuteronomy 5:32-33; and Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

Disobedience and apostasy would bring not only the withholding of blessings, but the inflicting of curses. The curses listed in this text correspond to and are the antithesis of the blessings listed in verses 3-7. The curses listed are divided into five groups: Group 1: Verses 20-26. Group 2: Verses 27-34. Group 3: Verses 35-46. Group 4: Verses 47-57. Group 5: Verses 58-68.

Verses 20-26

Verses 20-26:

The first group of curses: the curses listed in this text would come upon the disobedient and fill them with terror, threatening them with ruin. As a consequence of their rebellion, Jehovah would send upon them:

(1) cursing, meerah, not a swearing with words of imprecation, but a judgment of destruction. ,

(2) Vexation, mehumah, "trouble, ,destruction," also translated "trouble (Proverbs 15:16; Isaiah 22:5), and tumult (Amos 3:9; Zechariah 14:13)."

(3) Rebuke, migereth, the only occurrence of this term in Scripture. It suggests reproach and ill-favor.

(4) Pestilence, deber, "plague," likely a generic term denoting any fatal epidemic.

(5) Consumption, shachepheth, "wasting away," a term denoting any wasting away of a body part, as a "withered hand," Matthew 12:10.

(6) Fever, qaddachath, burning heat."

(7) Inflammation, delleqeth, the only occurrence of this term in the Old Testament.

(8) Extreme burning, charchur.

The latter four calamities listed appear to describe the nature of the "pestilences" to come upon the disobedient.

(9) Sword, chereb, symbolic of ceaseless warfare.

(10) Blasting, shiddaphon, "blight," see also 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chronicles 6:28; Amos 4:9; Haggai 2:17

(11) Mildew, yeraqon, "greenness, paleness."

The latter two calamities are blights which attack the grain, both in the field and after the harvest when the grain is stored.

(12) Pursue, radaph, see Leviticus 26:17; Leviticus 26:36-37

(13) Devastating drought is predicted (verses 23, 24) upon the land as judgment for the disobedient.

(14) Utter defeat in battle (verses 25, 26), in contrast to victory promised in verse 7. The unburied bodies of their fallen warriors would be left exposed on the battlefield, for the carrion birds and animals.

Verses 27-34

Verses 27-34:

The second group of curses: those in this group include affliction with various diseases, with humiliating calamities, and oppression at the hand of their enemies.

(1) Botch, schechin, "inflammation," of Egypt, a form of disease peculiar in Egypt, possibly elephantaisis.

(2) Emerods, ophel, tumors, possibly piles or hemorrhoids.

(3) Scab, garab, a kind of malignant scurvy.

(4) Itch, cheres, implying a burning; itching disease, of which there are many varieties in the Orient.

These plagues affect the individual physically.

In addition to the physical ailments which would result from disobedience, there were the psychological distresses.

(1) Madness, shiggaon, "erring," insanity, inability to make proper decisions.

(2) Blindness, ivvaron, "closing," see also Zechariah 12:4. Likely this term is symbolic of lack of clear perception.

(3) Astonishment, timmahon, "wonder," denoting mental confusion.

This confusion of mind, will, and emotions would cause the disobedient to grope, mashash, like a blind man seeking to find his way but stumbling over the slightest obstacle in his path, see Isaiah 42:19; La 4:14; Matthew 15:14.

God warned that disobedience would cause Him to permit them to be utterly spoiled. Their dearest possessions would be taken from them:

(1) Family: the wife and children.

(2) Field: the ancestral inheritance.

(3) Livestock: cattle, sheep, donkeys.

The sight of this utter devastation would drive them to madness.

Verses 35-37

Verses 35-37:

The third group of curses (verses 35-36): this amplifies those already listed, and emphasizes that these calamities would separate them from God and bring them under the rule of foreign nations.

First, the men of military age would be stricken in their legs, and be smitten with incurable botch (see verse 27), from head to foot.

Then, foreign nations would be permitted to attack, conquer, and enslave them, and compel them under threat of death to worship false gods.

"Astonishment, shammah, also translated "desolation," 2 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 24:12; Jeremiah 49:13, et.al.

"Proverb," mashal, a widely known saying, here denoting that the calamity was widely known and quoted.

"Byword," sheninah, "taunt, sharp saying," see Jeremiah 24:9.

Verses 38-42

Verses 38-42:

The third group of curses (continued): disobedience brings plague and pestilence upon the land and its produce, in the form of insects which devour the seed, crops, and harvest, and blights which render the trees sterile.

Compare verse 41 with verse 32.

Verses 43-44

Verses 43, 44:

The third group (continued): instead of Israel’s being a blessing to the foreigners who lived in the Land, the foreigners would become Israel’s rulers and oppressors.

Compare this text with verses 12, 13.

Verses 45-46

Verses 45, 46:

The third group (concluded): compare this text with verses 1, 2.

Verses 47-57

Verses 47-57:

The fourth group of curses: God desired Israel to serve and obey Him with joy, because of love for Him, Deuteronomy 6:5-7; Exodus 25:2; Exodus 35:29. In return, He promised to bless and prosper them. But if they refused to do this, and served from a sense of obligation only, they would come under the yoke of cruel nations and serve them in hunger, thirst, and slavery.

The description of the conquering nation that would enslave and deport Israel from their Land generally fits those nations which God raised up periodically to invade Israel and chastise them:

(1) The Assyrians, Isaiah 5:26-30; 2 Kings 15:19. They were notorious for their barbaric treatment of conquered people, and for their idolatry. They invaded the northern kingdom of Israel, and deported the inhabitants into other lands, 2 Kings 17:5-6.

(2) The Chaldeans (Babylon), 2 Kings 20:12-18. Under Nebuchadnezzar they invaded the southern kingdom of Judah, and carried the inhabitants into slavery in Babylon, 2 Kings 24:1-20; 2 Chronicles 36:14-21; Jeremiah 25:9-12.

(3) The Romans, who gained sovereignty over all Palestine and Asia Minor in the First Century B.C. Certain elements of the Jews were constantly inciting to rebellion. This culminated in the siege of Jerusalem, which began in the Spring of 70 A.D., under the direction of the Roman emperor Titus. The Jews defended the city with fierce loyalty. Conditions in Jerusalem became desperate. So scarce was food that some actually killed and ate their own children. After 143 days, the city fell to the Romans. Over one million people were slain in the campaign. The Temple was burned, along with much of the city. Then, in 134 A.D. another rebellion led by Bar Cochba was overwhelmingly crushed, and what was left of the city was utterly destroyed. The foundations were plowed up, and the Temple site was sown with salt. Two years later, the Romans built a new city on the site, Aeolia Capitolina. All Jews were excluded from this city for over two centuries.

The destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of the Jews was foretold by Jesus, Matthew 24:1; Matthew 24:1; Luke 19:41-44. This was the fulfillment of the curse pronounced in the present text, as the penalty for disobedience to Jehovah’s Law.

Verses 58-62

Verses 58:62:

The fifth group of curses: The terrible prospect of the invasion and destruction of the cities and the land would not be the end of their punishment for disobedience. In addition, the violation of God’s dietary and sanitary laws would bring various and devastating diseases upon them.

"This book," the book of the Law, Deuteronomy 17:18; Numbers 5:23.

"This. . .name," see Exodus 3:13-14; Exodus 6:3; Leviticus 24:11.

Israel’s population would be decimated by their enemies, and by the diseases which would come upon them, because of their disobedience.

Verses 63-68

Verses 63-68:

The fifth group (continued): dispersion among the nations, to the far reaches of the earth. Compare this text with Ezekiel 36:6-20.

Since the dispersion of the Jews in the First Century, they have been scattered throughout the earth. They have endured horrible persecutions in many lands. Each century has seen its pogroms against them, culminating in the Holocaust of the 1930’s and 1940’s, in which over six million were slain. Persecution continues today in many of the totalitarian states.

God has promised to restore Israel, and return them to their Land, and once more to rule over them, Ezekiel 36:21-37; Ezekiel 28; Luke 21:24; Romans 11:25-27.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 28". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-28.html. 1985.
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