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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(the rendering of various Hebrews and Greek words). God denounced his curse against the serpent which had seduced Eve (Genesis 3:14), and against Cain, who had imbued his hands in his brother Abel's blood (iv. 11). He also promised to bless those who should bless Abraham, and to curse those who should curse him. The divine maledictions are not merely imprecations, nor are they impotent wishes; but they carry their effects with them, and are attended with all the miseries they denounce or foretell. (See Zachary, Threats of Scripture, Oxford, 1653.) Holy men sometimes prophetically cursed particular persons (Genesis 9:25; Genesis 49:7; Deuteronomy 27:15; Joshua 6:26), and history informs us that these imprecations had their fulfillment, as had those of our Savior against the barren fig-tree (Mark 11:21). But such curses are not consequences of passion, impatience, or revenge; they are predictions, and therefore not such as God condemns. (See IMPRECATION).

No one shall presume to curse his father or his mother, (See CORBAN), on pain of death (Exodus 21:17); nor the prince of his people (22:28); nor one that is deaf (Leviticus 19:14); whether a man really deaf be meant here, or one who is absent, and therefore cannot hear what is said against him. Blasphemy, or cursing of God, is punished with death (Leviticus 24:10-11). Our Lord pronounces blessed those disciples who are (falsely) loaded with curses, and requires his followers to bless those who curse them; to render blessing for cursing, etc. (Matthew 5:11). The Rabbins say that Barak cursed and excommunicated Meroz, who dwelt near the brook Kishon, but who came not to assist Israel against Jabin. Wherefore Barak excommunicated him by the sound of four hundred trumpets, according to Judges 5:23. But Meroz is more probably the name of a place. Calmet. The Jews were cursed by the Almighty for rejecting the Messiah (Malachi 4:6; see on this the dissertation of Iken, De Anathemate, etc., Brem. 1749). (See ANATHEMA); (See OATH).

On the passage in Job (Job 2:9)," Curse God and die," Mr. Roberts makes the following remarks: "Some suppose this ought to be, Bless God and die' (the Hebrews is בָּרִךְ ); but Job would not have reproved his wife for such advice, except she meant it ironically. It is a fact, that when the heathen have to pass through much suffering, they often ask, Shall we make an offering to the gods for this?' that is, Shall we offer our devotions, our gratitude for afflictions?' Job was a servant of the true God, but his wife might have been a heathen; and thus the advice, in its most literal acceptation, might have been in character. Nothing is more common than for the heathen, under certain circumstances, to curse their gods. Hear the man who has made expensive offerings to his deity, in hope of gaining some great blessing, and who has been disappointed, and he will pour out all his imprecations on the god whose good offices have, as he believes, been prevented by some superior deity. A man in reduced circumstances says, Yes, yes, my god has lost his eyes; they are put out; he cannot look after my affairs.' What!' said an extremely rich devotee of the supreme god Siva, after he had lost his property, shall I serve him any more? What! make offerings to him? No, no; he is the lowest of all gods.' With these facts before us, it is not difficult to believe that Job's wife actually meant what she said." (See JOB).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Curse'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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