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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 28

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-68

Deuteronomy 28:1-68 The Blessings and Curses of the Law Deuteronomy 28:1-68 lists the blessings and curses under the Law of Moses. The fact that this chapter repeatedly refers to God as “the Lord thy God” implies that He is in covenant with His people Israel and that He is bound by His oath to bless them as well as judge them. In other words, He is “their God.”

The Purpose of Blessings and Curses - The world sees blessings and curses as good and bad coming from God. Therefore, a man or nation walking in these divine blessings serve as a testimony to others of true righteousness. We see how these divine blessings serve as testimonies of God’s standard of righteousness when we read about the lives of men like Abraham, Job and kings David and Solomon. Their generation recognized God’s hand upon their lives. In contrast, the prophets often testified to backslidden Israel and Judah of these divine curses as a means of bringing God’s people to repentance.

The Depths of Blessings and Curses - Deuteronomy 28:1-68 comes the closest to revealing the true depths of divine, eternal blessings and curses. The blessings that God’s children will receive in heaven weighed against the curses that mankind will receive in hell under eternal damnation are indescribable. While a young seminary student, one Sunday afternoon, I was laying on my bed meditating on God's Word when a revelation came into my spirit of the amazing heights of God's wonderful blessings and the horrors of God's curses. This spiritual insight was beyond my being able to explain it. But the Lord was showing to me a deeper insight into this area than just natural understanding. The depths of these blessings and curses will be revealed to us when men enter eternity, whether heaven or hell.

Christ’s Message Regarding Blessings and Curses - If the Christological contents of Deuteronomy 28:1-68 about the blessings and curses could be summarized in one verse, it would be John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

An abundant life is expressed in Christian nations that live in spiritual, mental, physical, and financial prosperity. The Lord spoke to me and said that the sciences and arts are an expression of God’s divine nature. God reveals His divine nature through His creation (Job 38-41), and the sciences are the tools that mankind uses to explore His creation. The arts are an expression of man’s heart and emotions, and when the Spirit of God is allowed to inspire mankind, he speaks in poetry and song, in paintings and other works of art. (March 24, 2009)

One reason Satan tries to destroy social developments, education and prosperity is because it reflects Heaven on earth. Those who have had the opportunity to visit Heaven testify to the beauty of residential homes, streets, forests, gardens, and the city itself. We strive to build our homes and lives with comfort and beauty, of which we will have an immeasurable amount in Heaven. We build parks, zoos, and lay our cities, industrial plants, national parks, etc., in an organized and well managed way that reflects what we will find in Heaven.

Thematic Scheme - S. R. Driver provides a thematic scheme for outlining Deuteronomy 28:1-68. He notes that the lists of blessings and curses “open symmetrically” (Deuteronomy 28:1-7 and Deuteronomy 28:15-19). Both passages begin with conditional statements. While Deuteronomy 28:1-6 repeats the phrase, “blessed is,” Deuteronomy 28:15-19 repeats “cursed is.” These verses are not in perfect symmetry, but they do provide a poetic symmetry that clearly begins each of these two sections on the blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) and curses (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). In addition, Driver notes that the extensive passage of curses is not developed into “a series of stages,” but rather in “a series of parallel pictures” (20-26, 27-37, 38-44, 49-57, 58-68), with each parallel sequence ending in a “national calamity.” He notes that the last two pictures (49-57, 58-68) declare the most destructive language of these curses. [31]

[31] S. R. Driver, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 303.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 Introductory Statement about the Law of Blessings and Curses - Deuteronomy 28:1-2 serves as an introductory statement to the long list of blessings and curses that follow. These two verses place emphasis upon Israel’s degree of obedience. They could partially obey, or fully obey, the commandments of the Lord. The list of blessings that follows in Deuteronomy 28:3-14 shows the results of full obedience. Partial obedience would bring partial blessings into the land, and full obedience would bring the fullness of these blessings.

The condition to walking in the fullness of God’s blessings is diligence in obeying the Word of God. Such diligence and carefulness in God’s Word describes a person in which the true meaning of the Ten Commandments is embedded in one’s heart. Everything he does is based upon these divine principles. It reflects a man who is controlled by a conscience that is based upon integrity rather than deceit and covetousness, which rule the ungodly walk by. God raised up a single man, Abraham, and taught him integrity and righteousness. Out of his loins was birthed seventy souls, whom God brought into Egypt to keep them and multiply them, to multiply a people who follow in Abraham’s steps of faith in God with a lifestyle of integrity.

God has brought out a nation to plant them in the Promised Land and establish righteousness and integrity upon the earth. It would be a nation ruled by godly principles instilled within the people’s hearts. It would be a people who walked in integrity and not in deceit for the first time in history.

Prior to Abraham, God had worked His plan of redemption in the lives of individuals; but this failed to establish righteousness upon the earth. God then divided the people into seventy nations with seventy different languages. However, He did not choose one of these nations to establish righteousness. Instead, He found a man named Abraham who would obey Him, and He took him to a land of promise, and birthed a nation from his loins. He took these seventy souls and hid them in Goshen in Egypt until they had multiplied enough to take and occupy the land of Canaan.

Within the context of the book of Deuteronomy God has called Israel out of Egypt, given them His laws of integrity, and put them in the desert for forty years to be disciplined into obedience, so that they would learn to follow these laws. Now that they are ready to follow His Word, God speaks through Moses to prepare them to enter and possess their promised land. If they will now apply these laws of integrity, the people will prosper in the land.

Throughout history, the Jews have prospered in foreign lands. The reason for their prosperity is not because of their ethnicity, but because from childhood Jews are taught the Torah, the Old Testament laws of integrity. It is because of these laws instilled within their hearts that they prosper in any nation under any situation.

Keith Johnson said, “Prosperity is a by-product of your obedience.” [32]

[32] Keith Johnson, “Sermon,” ( Revival Now Conference, Calvary Cathedral Internationa, Fort Worth, Texas), 19 April 2009.

Illustration: Jewish Devotion to the Word of God - Devout Jews of antiquity gave much attention to learning their traditions and exercised a disciplined lifestyle when compared to the heathens around them. They understood the authority of the Word of God over their lives. They brought up their young children to memorize the Old Testament and to learn their culture. Thus, Jews often prosper in the societies in which they live.

Deuteronomy 28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

Deuteronomy 28:1 “if thou shalt hearken diligently” Comments - The Hebrew text literally reads, “If hearing you shall hear.” It is constructed with the conditional particle אִם “’im,” followed by the double use of the verb שׁמע “shâma‛,” meaning “to hear,” first as an infinitive construct “hearing,” and second as the imperfect “you shall hear.” This is a construction commonly used in the Hebrew language for emphasis, since the language has few adjectives; thus the KJV and ASV read, “if thou shalt hearken diligently”; the NIV reads, “if you fully obey.”

Comments - The idea of hearing or listening and obeying the Word of God not only includes the study of the Scriptures, but includes divinely inspired ideas that are dropped into our spirit by the Spirit of God, and words that God speaks to us, etc. The Lord will lead and guides us into prosperity and blessings when we are led by the Spirit of God.

Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

Deuteronomy 28:2 “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee” Comments - Our obedience will result in these blessings coming upon us, without us having to beg God to bless us. Yet a man named Jabez did ask God to bless him and the Lord answered his prayer (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).

1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”

These blessings shall come upon God’s children as the Lord will “cause” (Deuteronomy 28:7), “command” (Deuteronomy 28:8), “establish” (Deuteronomy 28:9), “grant” (Deuteronomy 28:11), “open” (Deuteronomy 28:12), and “make” (Deuteronomy 28:13) these blessings to overtake us.

Deuteronomy 28:3 “if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God” Comments - This statement is repeated a second time for emphasis, opening and closing this statement in Deuteronomy 28:1-2.

Deuteronomy 28:3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

Deuteronomy 28:3 “Blessed shalt thou be in the city” - Comments - If Israel will obey God’s Word, He will give them wisdom in civil management, in laying out civil codes, in constructing streets and transportation systems, buildings, sewer systems, electrical plants, etc. He will anoint men and woman as civil, mechanical and industrial engineers to design needs for cities as bridges, dams and railroads. Men and women will be anointed in architecture, interior design, and home furnishings. For example, Thomas Edison will invent the light bulb, etc.

“and blessed shalt thou be in the field” Comments - God will give them wisdom in land management, in designing agricultural fields, and in the development and preservation of forestry, wetlands, rivers and lakes, wildlife parks, etc.

Deuteronomy 28:4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

Deuteronomy 28:4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body” Comments - God will give them wisdom in child bearing and child rearing, so that children grow up health and full of wisdom to take prosperity to new heights for future generations. There will be medical breakthroughs in order to cure diseases and provide a healthy lifestyle.

“and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep” Comments - God will give them wisdom in farming methods, in animal husbandry, in breeding and genetics, etc. They will form agricultural organizations, such as the 4-H Club, and county agricultural extension agencies.

Deuteronomy 28:5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

Deuteronomy 28:5 Comments - God will give them wisdom in techniques for harvesting the fields, and in grain storage and food processing. They will design factories to manage and process the abundance of the harvest. Men and woman will be anointed as chiefs and designing cutlery. People will open feed stores, shopping centers and grocery stores. There will be breakthroughs in nutrition and healthy food sources.

Deuteronomy 28:6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

Deuteronomy 28:6 Comments - God will give them wisdom in the transport industry, anointing people to invent automobiles, airplanes, trains, submarines, boats and ships, spacecraft, snow mobiles, etc., wherever man needs to travel. They will design enormous road construction feats that marvel those passing by. They will discover fossil fuels, electricity, and nuclear fuels to power such mighty transport. Henry Ford will design the model-T automobile.

Deuteronomy 28:7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

Deuteronomy 28:7 Comments - God will give them wisdom in waging war against hostile nations who propagate ungodliness. They will invent weapons of war that defeat the strongest enemies. R. G. Laterno designed tanks and other heavy equipment during World War II that brought prosperity to the U. S.

Deuteronomy 28:8 The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Deuteronomy 28:8 Comments - God will bless them in managing their prosperity and wealth, in establishing financial institutions, such as banking, insurance, investment planning, real estate, etc.

Deuteronomy 28:9 The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.

Deuteronomy 28:9 Comments - God will bless them as a nation in civil and constitutional law, in establishing sound governance and civil obedience, in building institutions and non-profit organizations, such as synagogues, churches, schools and universities, orphanages, mental institutions, and homes for the elderly and disabled, throughout the land.

Deuteronomy 28:10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.

Deuteronomy 28:9 Comments - Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to transform a nation, and a nation can only be transformed through obedience to God’s Word. The developed nations of the world give financial aid to impoverished nations on earth. However, these impoverished nations are poor because of a corrupt mindset. No amount of financial aid will change the mindset of a nation. Only faith in God and obedience will transform a nation.

Deuteronomy 28:11 And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

Deuteronomy 28:11 Comments Deuteronomy 28:11 is similar to Deuteronomy 28:4 in that both refer to the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle. However, Deuteronomy 28:11 refers to prosperity, which is the produce of God’s blessings as described in Deuteronomy 28:4. As God pours out His blessings upon a people that will obey His Word so that these blessings are managed properly, then prosperity will spring forth.

Deuteronomy 28:12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

Deuteronomy 28:12 “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand” - Comments Before a nation can lend to others, it must itself become prosperous. Deuteronomy 28:3-11 describes the development of prosperity within a God-fearing nation. It is now ready to lend to other nations.

Deuteronomy 28:12 “and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow” Comments - God will allow their prosperity to overflow into other nations, lending them aid through banking institutions, charitable organizations, opening the door through foreign missions for opportunities to testify of the blessings that come from serving the God of Israel.

Deuteronomy 28:12 “and to bless all the work of thine hand” - Comments Every one of us have to begin somewhere when we come to the Lord at the time of salvation and we begin to serve Him with the work of our hands. We each have different talents and gifts. In faith, we must take what we have become stewards over and work with our hands, trusting that God will multiply our efforts and direct our lives. He will only lead us into prosperity, and not lack. Take what has already been given to us, however humble it might be, and offer yourself as a servant of the Lord in your daily labours. He will bless what you have and inspire direction and ideas that multiply what you possess, as He did the patriarchs of old. Do not be ashamed of what humble possessions you have in the beginning.

Deuteronomy 28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

Deuteronomy 28:13 “And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath” Comments - God will bless His people so that they are positioned as a leader and example for all nations, set above all other nations in every aspect, in wealth, in governance and civil obedience, in education, etc.

Deuteronomy 28:14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Deuteronomy 28:14 Comments - Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to transform a nation, and this transformation takes place through both conversion and discipleship, so that a nation is able to adhere to God’s Word and not turn aside. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 contains Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to every creature and to disciple them in the faith. This commission reflects two stages of the Christian life: conversion and discipleship. Conversion of believers is described in the statement, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” (Deuteronomy 28:19) while discipleship is addressed in the statement, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 28:20)

Why did Jesus send out apostles to the nations to preach the Gospel prior to sending in social workers to meet the physical needs of the people? Having worked in the African mission field of Uganda for thirteen years, I learned that financial contributions and social aid do not help a poor nation come out of its poverty. An effort must be made to change the mindset of a nation so that integrity is embedded among the people to properly manage international aid. Otherwise, the people squander what is given to them through greed and corruption, leaving a few wealthy and the masses in poverty. Thus, Jesus first sends His disciples out to teach the nations in order to change the mindset of the people.

Deuteronomy 28:15-68 The Curses of the Law Deuteronomy 28:15-68 list the curses of the Mosaic Law, which applies to anyone living in the Promised Land that failed to uphold this Law. Jesus has redeemed us from this curse, being made the curse for us (Galatians 3:13). This means that as Christians, anything listed in these verses should be rejected and rebuked from our lives, as it is no longer God’s will that we partake of any part of these curses.

Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”

Deuteronomy 28:20 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.

Deuteronomy 28:20 “vexation” Comments - See examples of vexation in:

Deuteronomy 7:23, “But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.”

1 Samuel 5:9, “And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.”

1 Samuel 5:11, “So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.”

1 Samuel 14:20, “And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.”

2 Chronicles 15:5, “And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.”

Isaiah 22:5, “For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.”

Ezekiel 7:7-8, “The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.”

Ezekiel 22:5, “Those that be near, and those that be far from thee, shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed.”

Amos 3:9, “Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof.”

Zechariah 14:13, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.”

Deuteronomy 28:20 “and rebuke” Comments - See examples of rebuke in:

Psalms 76:6, “At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.”

Psalms 80:16, “It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.”

Psalms 106:9, “He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.”

Psalms 104:7, “At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.”

Nahum 1:4, “He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.”

Deuteronomy 28:21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

Deuteronomy 28:21 “pestilence” Comments - Pestilence is associated with famine and the sword. Note examples of the pestilence:

Leviticus 26:25, “And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.”

2 Samuel 24:13, “So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.”

2 Samuel 24:15, “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”

Psalms 91:3, “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

Psalms 91:6, “Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”

Deuteronomy 28:22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou


Deuteronomy 28:22 “consumption” Comments - Strong says the word “consumption” means “a wasting disease of the lungs.” Baker says, “It refers to a disease that causes a person's body to waste away.”

Deuteronomy 28:24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 28:24 Comments - During extreme droughts the soil becomes so dry that it turns to dust. Blown by the hot, dry winds, dust storms arise and blanket the region. The Great Dust Bowl in the United States is a classic example of Deuteronomy 28:24.

Deuteronomy 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

Deuteronomy 28:53 Comments - The judgment of cannibalism was prophesied forty years earlier by Moses in the book of Leviticus (Leviticus 26:29). This prophecy came to pass years later during the siege of Samaria when Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, came against Jehoram (Joram), king of Israel (853-841 B.C.). In the distress of this siege the Jewish people ate their children (2 Kings 6:28-29).

Leviticus 26:29, “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.”

2 Kings 6:28-29, “And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 28". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/deuteronomy-28.html. 2013.
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