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Deeper Commentary


Deu 28:1 If you will listen diligently to the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe all His commandments which I command you this day, Yahweh your God will set you on high above all the nations of the earth-
"The earth" specifically and initially refers to the territory promised to Abraham; see on :10. The long list of blessings in Dt. 28 were given by God perhaps knowing at the start that they would never be realized- "It shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord" (Dt. 28:1). God gave such detailed blessings for obedience even though they would never be realized by Israel. Likewise He gave such detailed plans for the temple in Ez. 40-48- even though the envisaged, possible scenario never came about because Israel chose to be disobedient.

Deu 28:2 All these blessings shall come on you and be with you, if you will listen to the voice of Yahweh your God-
Like Paul in his time of dying, Moses in Deuteronomy saw the importance of obedience, the harder side of God; yet he also saw in real depth the surpassing love of God, and the grace that was to come, beyond Law. This appreciation reflected Moses' mature grasp of the Name / characteristics of God. He uses the name "Yahweh" in Deuteronomy over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" [AV- i.e. you singular], or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.

Deu 28:3 You shall be blessed in the city and you shall be blessed in the field-
The love of God for Israel isn’t just something in the past. You may have noticed how the blessings for Israel’s obedience are actually in a strange way somehow still given to them even in their disobedience. The blessings of many children and general prosperity have somehow been fulfilled to the Jewish people; they have somehow prospered “in all that thou settest thine hand unto…and all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord… and the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods…and thou shalt lend unto many nations…thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath” (Dt. 28:3-13). This has all come true for the Jewish people in their unbelief, from the Jewish taxi driver in Vilnius who somehow makes more than the other guys, to the Jewish bankers of New York- and all achieved despite every man’s hand against them. Here we see the grace and love of God for Israel. And thus finally He shall give them the valley of Achor, symbol of their shameful disobedience, for a door of hope. The ineffable love of God for Israel continues. And we, as God’s children, should show forth that same love, expressed supremely in seeking to turn them to Messiah.

Deuteronomy 28:4 You shall be blessed in the fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the fruit of your animals, the increase of your livestock and the young of your flock-
The curses of Dt. 28:4,18 involved cursing coming upon descendants of sinful people; perhaps in that their fathers influenced them to do wrong. Thus the salvation of men can be affected by a third party not preaching to them or not teaching them correct doctrine. Herein lies the crying need to ‘defend the Faith’. Speaking of how he had suffered to defend purity of understanding of the Gospel, Paul reflected: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ” (2 Tim. 2:10). Their salvation was dependent upon his enduring.

Deu 28:5 Your basket and your kneading trough shall be blessed-
LXX "Blessed shall be thy barns, and thy stores" certainly seems to be in the Lord's mind in His parable of the man who had to build larger barns. He so often alludes to Mosaic commandments and statements and places a very different spin upon them. In this case, His point was that one may receive blessing in this life, which might look like blessing for obedience to the covenant- when in fact, it was a result of your own hard work, and you are not in fact with the Father at all, and will die condemned by Him.  

Deu 28:6 You shall be blessed when you come in and you shall be blessed when you go out-
Within the Pentateuch, the idea of blessing creation paves the way for God promising to “bless” the children of Abraham, and the blessings upon them with which Deuteronomy concludes (see too Lev. 9:22; Num. 6:22-24). The pagan creation stories sometimes spoke of the things created by the gods then blessing them. The Sumerians recorded that at ‘creation’, “The whole universe, the people in unison, to Enlil in one tongue gave praise”. But the true God, the God of all grace, not only creates His people and other creatures, but then blesses them! And the spirit of that grace should be seen in all our relationships. The Sumerian and Babylonian myths speak of people being created in order to serve the gods, “to bear the yoke of the gods” (S.G.F.Brandon), to relieve them in their everyday work. But the Genesis creation has God creating man and giving him great freedom, and blessing him.

Deu 28:7 Yahweh will cause your enemies who rise up against you-
LXX "thine enemies that withstand thee", another hint that the bloody conquest of Canaan was only bloody because the nations withstood Yahweh's people, rather than like Rahab and the Gibeonites, seeking covenant relationship with Him.

To be struck before you. They will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways-
The fleeing of the Egyptians from Israel in the midst of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:25,27) was to be repeated in all Israel's conflicts with their enemies; every time, the essence of the Red Sea deliverance [which was by grace alone, as Israel then were so weak spiritually] was to be repeated throughout the history of God's people (Num. 10:35; Dt. 28:7).  

Deu 28:8 Yahweh will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to; He will bless you in the land which Yahweh your God gives you-
See on :5. The blessing of Yahweh would come if His commands were obeyed (Dt. 11:27); but in response, He would command that blessing (s.w. Dt. 28:8). His commandments were therefore effectively a commandment of blessing. They were designed for Israel's good and blessing, and not as a test of mindless obedience. 

Deu 28:9 Yahweh will establish you for a holy people to Himself as He has sworn to you, if you will keep the commandments of Yahweh your God and walk in His ways-
Moses urges the peoples' faithfulness so that Yahweh might "establish His covenant" with them (Dt. 8:18; 28:9; 29:13); and yet we note that despite their disobedience, He still "established" the covenant with them, by grace alone (Dt. 9:5).

Deu 28:10 All the peoples of the land-
The reference of the “land” is to the eretz promised to Abraham. God would set Israel on high above all nations of the land (28:1). Only those round about Israel would see this, not the whole planet. “The nations” therefore refer to those in the land. In this same context they are warned that if they are not obedient, then they would be taken into all kingdoms of the earth (v. 25). And this is what happened- they were taken into captivity in Babylon, Assyria and their empires within the ‘earth’ / land. They were invaded by a nation from the end of the earth (28:49), which Habakkuk defines as Babylon, a nation at the extremity of the land / earth promised to Abraham.

Will see that you are called by the name of Yahweh and they will be afraid of you-
Whatever carried the name of a person was seen as his property. If a city was conquered, it bore the name of the conqueror (2 Sam. 12:28); the names of owners were on their property (Ps. 49:12). So to bear God's Name is to recognize His complete ownership and even conquest of us. And yet there's a significant twist to all this in Is. 43:1: "I have called you by your name, because you are mine". It seems like a slip- we expect God to say that He has called us by His Name, because we are His. But no- He wishes us to bear both His Name and our own name, He doesn't wish to subsume us beneath His ownership and manifestation to the point that we are not significant as persons.

"Proclaim the Name" (Ex. 33:19; 34:5) is the same phrase used about 'calling upon the Name' (e.g. Dt. 28:10). The calling out / proclamation of Yahweh's Name, in the Gospel and ultimately in the declaration of the Name on the cross (Jn. 17:26), elicits a desire to call that Name upon us, which we initially do through baptism into that Name. And like Moses, we in turn proclaim the Name to others (Dt. 32:3 s.w.).  

Deu 28:11 Yahweh will make you prosperous in the fruit of your body and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give you-
The blessings of Dt. 28 were conditional upon obedience. Israel were not obedient, from Sinai onwards, as the prophets lament. But many of those blessings were still experienced by Israel. So we conclude that this was by grace alone, and indeed the idea of Abraham's seed being "blessed" is associated in the New Testament with the blessing of grace. Again we note God's passionate desire to by all means give His people His Kingdom. He wants to do this, it is the good pleasure or will of God to give us the Kingdom. He is not indifferent to our salvation, and wants us desperately to be in His Kingdom, as the parable of the marriage supper also indicates. It concludes with pretty much anyone willing to say "yes" being ushered in to the marriage supper.    

Deu 28:12 Yahweh will open to you His good treasure in the sky, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations and you shall not borrow-
The returned exiles didn't have God's treasure 'opened' to them because of their disobedience (s.w. Mal. 3:10); and yet their very return was a blessing for apparent obedience. We therefore see how God gave them blessings they didn't deserve, whilst also cursing them for their disobedience. He by all means yearned to give them blessing and salvation, and thereby imputed to them a righteousness which they simply didn't have. That same passion, expressed in these same ways, is now articulated to Israel after the Spirit.

Money lending worldwide has been a feature of Jewish existence over the centuries, and yet this is here predicted as happening only if they were obedient. They have been disobedient, and yet it’s as if God loves to advertise His grace to the world by still blessing the disobedient. But I suggest that the context is simply that "The Lord shall open unto you His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain of your land... and you shall lend unto many nations". If God opens His treasure to us, we should open our treasures to others, even lending with a spirit of generosity, motivated by our experience of His generosity to us. Because Yahweh had redeemed Israel, they were not to be petty materialists, cheating others out of a few grams or centimeters in trading. The wealth and largeness of God’s work for them should lead them to shun such petty desire for self-betterment. God gives to all men with a single eye (James 1:5 Gk.); and in response, we too must be single eyed in our giving (Mt. 6:22 s.w.- this is one of James; many allusions to the sermon on the mount). The Jews' experience of redemption from Haman quite naturally resulted in them giving gifts both to each other and to the poor around them (Es. 9:22).

Having stated that the Canaanite tribes would only be cast out if Israel were obedient, Moses goes on to enthuse that those tribes would indeed be cast out- so positive was he about Israel’s obedience (Dt. 6:18,19; 7:1). And yet on the other hand he realistically was aware of their future failures. He said those positive words genuinely, because he simply loved Israel, and had the hope for them which love carries with it. Throughout his speech, Moses is constantly thinking of Israel in the land; he keeps on telling them how to behave when they are there, encouraging them to be strong so that they will go into the land. I estimate that about 25% of the verses in Moses' speech speak about this. Israel's future inheritance of the Kingdom absolutely filled Moses' mind as he faced up to his own death. And remember that his speech was the outpouring of 40 years meditation. Their salvation, them in the Kingdom, totally filled his heart. And likewise with the Lord Jesus. Psalms 22 and 69 shows how his thoughts on the cross, especially as he approached the point of death, were centred around our salvation. And Moses was so positive about them. “The Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands”, even though these blessings were conditional upon their obedience. Moses was this confident of them (Dt. 16:15 cp. 28:1,4,12).

Deu 28:13 Yahweh will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only be above and you shall not be beneath, if you will listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you this day, to observe and to do-
The word so often used for "keeping" / "diligently observing" Yahweh's commandments is from the word meaning a thorn hedge; the idea originally was to hedge in. Taking this too literally led Judaism to all their endless fences around the law, i.e. forbidding this or that because it might lead to doing that or this, which in turn would then lead to breaking an actual commandment. And those various fences become elevated to the level of commandments. But this is not the idea. We are indeed to hedge ourselves in ("take heed to yourself", Dt. 11:16; 12:13,19,30,32 s.w.), so that we may keep / hedge ourselves in to keep the commandments of God (Lev. 18:4,5,26,30; 19:19,37; 20:8,22; 22:9,31; 25:18; 26:3; Num. 28:2;   Dt. 7:11,12; 8:1,11 [s.w. "beware"]; 10:13; 11:1,8,22,32; 12:1; 13:4,18; 15:5,9 ["beware"]; 17:19; 19:9; 23:9 ["keep yourself"]; 24:8; 26:16-18; 27:1; 28:1,9,13; 29:9; 30:10,16; 31:12; 32:46). And without falling into the legalism of Judaism, self discipline does require a degree of fencing ourselves in to the one way. Thus the man struggling with alcoholism avoids the supermarket where alcohol is pushed in front of the eyes of the shoppers; the married woman struggling with attraction to another man makes little laws for herself about avoiding his company. And if we do this, then the Lord will "keep" us, will hedge us in to keeping His way (s.w. Num. 6:24).

Deu 28:14 and do not turn aside-
Israel had been commanded to "not depart" from the way of Yahweh's commandments (Dt. 28:14; Josh. 1:7), but the frequent lament of the historical records is that they did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam. The Bible, especially in Proverbs, constantly reduces human moral choice to that between two ways of life and being. We constantly wish to argue that "it's not so simple" because there are grey areas. But the 'grey area' argument is what leads us so often into sin, into following the "way" of sin.

From any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand or to the left-
The wall of water on their right hand and left when they crossed the Red Sea is twice emphasized (Ex. 14:22,29). It is alluded to later, when they are urged to not depart from God's way, not to the right hand nor left (Dt. 5:32; 17:11,20; 28:14). We passed through the Red Sea when we were baptized (1 Cor. 10:1,2). We were set upon a path which is walled up to keep us within it. And we are to remain in that path upon which we were set. To turn aside from it would be as foolish as Israel turning away from their path and trying to walk into the walls of water.

To go after other gods to serve them-
"Go after" is a phrase Moses frequently uses in his last speech in Deuteronomy, but not elsewhere. It means literally to follow or walk after. He warns against going after other gods (Dt. 4:3; 6:14; 8:19; 11:28; 13:2; 28:14), and urges following / walking behind / going after Yahweh alone (Dt. 13:4). I suggest he was reflecting upon how by following after Yahweh in the Angel, the people had been brought out of Egypt, through the wilderness and to the promised kingdom. Caleb had faithfully followed / walked after Yahweh, and so entered the land. The phrase is used of the people following after the ark to enter Canaan (Josh. 3:3; 6:9). Following after idols led them just to pointless wandering in circles. And so it is in human life today. Following idols leads to pointless wandering, whereas following Yahweh has a specific destination in view- possession of the Kingdom. Elijah uses the phrase when telling Israel they could either follow after Baal, or Yahweh; and if Yahweh is God, then we are to follow Him (1 Kings 18:21). We cannot follow two directions. But Israel followed after (s.w.) vanity and thereby became vain (2 Kings 17:15). They carried the tabernacle of Moloch and also of Yahweh, throughout the wilderness journey (Acts 7:). Following after Baal is paralleled with following / walking after the imagination of their own evil heart (s.w. Jer. 3:17; 9:14; 13:10), walking after their own spirit rather than God's (Ez. 13:3 s.w.) and their own covetousness (s.w. Ez. 33:31). To walk / live just according to the word of our own imaginations is our great temptation. But we are to instead follow God's imaginations and heart, as revealed in His word (Ez. 20:16 s.w.). This is where our acceptance of the word of God as indeed His word... has endless implications.

Deu 28:15 But if you will not listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, all these curses shall come on you and consume you-
Israel did not obey / hearken to the voice of Yahweh, and He did not hearken to their voice in prayer (Dt. 1:45; 9:23; 28:15; Josh. 5:6; Jud. 2:20; 6:10 cp. Dt. 8:20 s.w.). 2 Kings 18:12 states this specifically. God hearkened to Joshua's voice in prayer (Josh. 10:14) because Joshua hearkened to His voice. It was to be the same with Saul. He didn't hearken to God's voice (1 Sam. 15:19) and God didn't hearken to Saul's voice in prayer in his final desperation at the end of his life (1 Sam. 28:18). If God's word abides in us, then our prayer is powerful, we have whatever we ask, because we are asking for things according to His will expressed in His word (Jn. 15:7). 

Deu 28:16 You shall be cursed in the city and you shall be cursed in the field-
A faithless and disobedient Israel were apparently blessed and not cursed in the city and in the field since their reestablishment of Israel in 1948. But this is therefore of itself a sign of God's absolute grace to them, given no doubt in the hope that it would lead them to repentance concerning the Lord Jesus (Rom. 2:4).

Deu 28:17 Your basket and your kneading trough shall be cursed-
The material prosperity of Israel, particularly the fertility of the land, was to be cursed if they disobeyed God (Dt. 28:16-18). If this has a latter-day application, it follows that Israel must first have returned to their land in the last days and become agriculturally prosperous before it can happen. This is exactly the position today.  

Deu 28:18 The fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the increase of your livestock and the young of your flock shall be cursed-
LXX specifically mentions oxen for "livestock" and sheep for "flock". Hab. 3:17 seems to allude to this picture, but the faithful writer rejoices that despite the experience of the curses for disobedience on a national level, he can personally look forward to a relationship with God. So even at the height of the curses, there was always the possibility for individuals to have a relationship with God, even if they shared the effect of others' sins.

Deu 28:19 You shall be cursed when you come in and you shall be cursed when you go out-
There is a most interesting connection between the curses for disobedience and the time of the judges in the words of Azariah to Asa. He reminded Asa of the problems of weak leadership in that period, and encouraged Asa to learn the lesson from it, as a ruler of Israel. He describes Israel at that time as being "for a long season... without the true God, and without a teaching priest (cp. 1 Sam. 3:1, Hebrew), and without law" (2 Chron. 15:3). This is quoted in Hos. 3:4,5 concerning Israel's state before their final repentance. Azariah continued: "In those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in (an idiom for the rulers), but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants" (2 Chron. 15:5). This is definitely alluding to Dt. 28:19,20: "Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in... and goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee... vexation" (same word in 2 Chron. 15:5).  "Nation was destroyed of nation" (2 Chron. 15:6) must be alluded to in Lk. 21:10 concerning the situation in latter-day Israel. And 2 Chron. 15:7 = 1 Cor. 15:58 - a certain latter-day application.

Deu 28:20 Yahweh will send on you cursing, confusion and rebuke in all that you put your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly-
The connections between the record of Job's experience of depression and those curses upon Israel gives us a cameo of latter-day Jewry's position. This 'confusion of mind' (Dt. 28:20, Hebrew), "madness... and astonishment of heart" (Dt. 28:28) will, not surprisingly, result in a complete collapse of leadership within Israel (Dt. 28:19), resulting in them fleeing a disorganized seven ways before their enemies (Dt. 28:25). There is a sharp contrast between this and Israel's present nonchalance. During their latter day tribulation, Israel will experience "faintness in their hearts", intense "terror" (Lev. 26:16), which would be enough to kill them (Dt. 32:25). This extraordinary level of paranoia will be modelled upon that of Jacob as he faced Esau - representing Israel's confrontation with their neighbours and brethren in the last days (Jer. 30:5,7). This state of fear will result in many Jews going to live in Jerusalem, as happened during the Babylonian and Assyrian invasions (Jer. 35:11). Ezekiel had prophesied of this time: "Terrors (an intensive plural - i.e. 'the one great terror') by reason of the sword shall be upon my people" (Ez. 21:12). Likewise our Lord spoke of "fearful sights" being seen in latter-day Israel (Lk. 21:11). This fear will be absolute paranoia:  "I will make you a terror to yourself" (Jer. 20:4) because of latter day Babylon's invasion; "ye shall flee when none pursueth you... I will send a faintness into their hearts... the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them" (Lev. 26:17,36). "I will bring the land into desolation" (Lev. 26:32) uses a Hebrew word which can imply stupefaction by fear. This paranoia will be associated with a manic depression which will have its roots in a chronically bad conscience towards God, going back thousands of years to their national childhood: "I will... cause sorrow of heart... they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity... and also in the iniquity of their fathers shall they pine away" (Lev. 26:16,39). Note how the land will be brought into this mental desolation. Frequently the land of Israel is paralleled with the people (e.g. Jer.19:14 cp. 26:17). The intense desolation of Jewry will be reflected physically in the state of their land. And the resolution of this psychological torment will only be through repentance and acceptance of the Saviour Messiah whom they crucified.

Because of the evil of your doings by which you have forsaken Him-
Jud. 2:13 says that the people did forsake Yahweh. But instead of these judgments , we are to read that although God punished them, He raised up saviours to save them from the judgments; and this looks forward to His grace in the Lord Jesus, 'Yah's salvation'.

Deu 28:21 Yahweh will make the pestilence cleave to you until He has consumed you from off the land-
The "pestilence" which was the plague upon Egypt (Ex. 9:3) was to come upon a hard hearted Israel (s.w. Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12; Dt. 28:21; Jer. 21:6). The plagues upon Egypt form the basis for the vials and seals of Revelation, which speak of judgment to come upon the land of Israel. It is a theme with God that His apostate people are "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). If their hearts are really with Egypt / the world, then they will share the judgments of this world. The time for separation is now, just as the Egyptians had to identify with Israel if they wished to escape the plagues.

Into which you now go in to possess it-
"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Deu 28:22 Yahweh will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation and with fiery heat; with the sword, with blight and with mildew, and they shall pursue you until you perish-
The curses to come upon Israel as a result of the latter day invasions are described in terms which are extremely apposite to modern warfare. The plagues to come upon Israel as a result of the invasions are almost impossible to identify with anything presently known: "a consumption... a fever... an inflammation... an extreme burning... blasting... the burning ague that shall consume the eyes" (Dt. 28:22; Lev. 26:16) all seems to echo the language of nuclear fall-out. "They shall be burnt... and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction" (Dt. 32:24) is similar. The release of complex chemical weapons, as well as nuclear detonation, would explain why rainfall patterns will be interrupted during this latter day tribulation (Dt. 28:23). The fall-out from such weapons would create the murderous rain of dust upon the land which Dt. 28:24 speaks of: "The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed". It is twice emphasized that those in the land would suffer blindness (Dt. 28:28,29), which may also be related to such nuclear or chemical fallout. This has not yet happened;  the context invites us to read this as literal rather than figurative. We know that the latter day invaders who attack Jerusalem will both fight each other and have their eyes rot in their sockets (Zech. 14:12), the implication being that they use their weaponry against each other as well as against Israel. Their earlier use of these weapons would account for this blindness coming upon Israel, and again we see the principle that what the attackers do to Israel will be inflicted upon them.

Deu 28:23 Your sky that is over your head shall be brass and the earth that is under you shall be iron-
This may well be the result of latter day chemical or nuclear weapons; see on :22. And yet the initial application was surely to the hardness of the earth reflecting the hot, rainless skies above them.

Deu 28:24 Yahweh will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from the sky shall it come down on you until you are destroyed-
This has not yet been fulfilled; maybe because God in His grace has not punished His people according to all their sins. Or it could be that it has yet to be fulfilled in the final tribulation to come upon Israel. Nuclear fallout would fulfil these words- and likewise those of Is. 29:6, describing the invasion of latter day Babylon / Assyria, which have yet to be accurately fulfilled. See on :22.

Lev. 26 and Dt. 28 promised a curse to come upon the land [of Eden / Israel] for their failure within it, just as happened to Adam and Eve; and of course ultimately they were driven out of the land just as Israel's very first parents had been. As the eretz / earth / land was initially "without form and void", so the same term is used of the land of Israel after the people had been driven out of it (Jer. 4:23). As thorns and thistles came up in the land [and those plants are unknown in some parts of the planet], so they did again when Israel were driven from their land (Gen. 3:18; Hos. 10:8). As Adam was punished by returning to dust, so Israel would be destroyed by dust (Dt. 28:24). As Adam and Eve failed to "subdue" the garden of Eden (Gen. 1:28), so Israel failed to fully "subdue" [s.w.] the tribes of the land (Num. 32:22). They subdued a few local to them; but they never really rose up to the reality of being able to have the whole land area promised to Abraham subjected to them.

Deu 28:25 Yahweh will cause you to be struck before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them but shall flee seven ways before them-
The fleeing of the Egyptians from Israel in the midst of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:25,27) was a case of fleeing when none pursued them. This was the judgment upon Israel (Lev. 26:17,36; Dt. 28:25), which was to arise because in their hearts they had returned to Egypt (the world) and were therefore to be judged as Egypt, "condemned with the world" they had loved (1 Cor. 11:32). 

And you shall be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth-
The idea is of a sieve, which was tossed back and forth until the grain was left and all the lighter chaff had fallen to the earth. The idea is that Israel's wandering amongst the nations, and especially their latter day scattering and wandering amongst the kingdoms of the earth / land promised to Abraham, would result in the appearance of a faithful seed. But the very same phrase "tossed back and forth (s.w. "removed") among all the kingdoms of the earth" is used repeatedly of what was to happen at the time of the Babylonian exile (Jer. 15:4; 24:9; 29:18; 34:17). But the judgments associated with this in :23,24,26 etc. didn't fully happen. We can therefore conclude that indeed, God didn't carry out His side of the covenant curses for disobedience. 

Deu 28:26 Your dead body shall be food to all birds of the sky and to the animals of the earth-
The events of AD70 were a detailed initial fulfilment of some parts of these prophecies. But they were only a foretaste of the tragedies of Israel’s latter day cursing. Our Lord's quotation of Dt. 28:26 in Mt. 24:28 ("your carcasses shall be meat unto the fowls of the air") is confirmation of this. "None to frighten them away" recalls the events of the covenant with Abraham in Gen. 15. The end result of all this will be Israel returning to that covenant, accepting the new covenant which is based upon the promises to Abraham.

These "beasts of the earth / land" (Dt. 28:26) must refer to the nations within the earth / land promised to Abraham. But they were not destroyed in this way at the time of the Babylonian judgment for Israel's breaking covenant (see on :25). Nor were they struck with the medical conditions of the following verses. God's amelioration of the curses may have been in response to Jeremiah's Lamentations and prayers of other faithful men at the time (e.g. Ezekiel).

And there shall be none to frighten them away- Jer. 7:33 applies this to the exile in Babylon: "The dead bodies of this people shall be food for the birds of the sky and for the animals of the earth; and none shall frighten them away". But clearly these curses were greatly ameliorated at that time; the exiles were not destroyed, many Jews remained in the land, and the exiles became popular and wealthy, as the book of Esther testifies.

Deu 28:27 Yahweh will strike you with the boil of Egypt-
Apostate Israel were to be punished with the judgments of Egypt, and this was the plague on Egypt of Ex. 9:9. It is a theme with God that His apostate people are "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). If their hearts are really with Egypt / the world, then they will share the judgments of this world. The time for separation is now, just as the Egyptians had to identify with Israel if they wished to escape the plagues.

And with the tumours, the scurvy and the itch, from which you cannot be healed-
Nuclear fallout would fulfil these words- see on :22. But the previous judgments upon Israel for breaking the covenant didn't seem to feature these elements of medical judgment upon them. We will remark so often that they were punished less than their inquities desrved, for by grace God remembered mercy in His wrath.

Deu 28:28 Yahweh will strike you with madness, blindness and astonishment of heart-
Dt. 28:14–28,59–61 predicted that mental disease would be one of the punishments for worshipping other gods/demons. This explains the association of demons with mental illness in the New Testament. But let it be noted that the language of demons is associated with illness, not sin. We do not read of Christ casting out demons of envy, murder etc. It must also be noted that the Bible speaks of people having a demon/disease, rather than saying that demons caused the disease. It is significant that the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) used the word daimonion for “idol”; this is the word translated “demon” in the New Testament.

Deu 28:29 You shall grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. You shall be only oppressed and robbed always-
Nuclear fallout would fulfil these words- see on :22. The darkness that came down at the crucifixion would have recalled Jer. 33:19-21- when day and night no longer follow their normal sequence, God is breaking His covenant. Israel’s condemnation would be that “even at midday you will grope like a blind man in the dark" (Dt. 28:29). And yet the Lord would have known that He was suffering for Israel, treated as an apostate Israel, and thus He was the more inspired to pray for their ultimate forgiveness and salvation, seeing He had borne their condemnation. The Lord suffered “for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due" (Is. 53:8 RVmg.). There are therefore elements of the crucifixion sufferings of Jesus in every suffering of natural Israel.

And there shall be none to save you-

This was not the case at the time of the restoration, for Yahweh insisted that He was the One "to save you" (Is. 43:11,12; 45:21). Yet there was no repentance in the exiles; the covenant remained broken, and yet God acted to them as if it were still functional- and Israel were receiving blessing for obedience. This is all the stuff of radical grace and desire to force through a relationshi. God says He Himself saved Israel seeing there "was none to save you" (Is. 59:16; 63:5). These passages ultimately look ahead to God's saving work in the Lord Jesus, 'Yah's salvation'; a work likewise of grace.

Deu 28:30 You will betroth a wife and another man shall lie with her. You will build a house and not dwell therein-
Again we observe that these judgments were ameliorated. For Jeremiah urges the exiles to build houses in exile and dwell in them. Even though they were still impenitent, they were given the blessings of obedience.


You will plant a vineyard and not use its fruit-
The Lord likened His preachers to men reaping a harvest. He speaks of how they fulfilled the proverb that one sows and another reaps (Jn. 4:37,38). Yet this ‘proverb’ has no direct Biblical source. What we do find in the Old Testament is the repeated idea that if someone sows but another reaps, this is a sign that they are suffering God’s judgment for their sins (Dt. 20:6; 28:30; Job 31:8; Mic. 6:15). But the Lord turns around the ‘proverb’ concerning Israel’s condemnation; He makes it apply to the way that the preacher / reaper who doesn’t sow is the one who harvests others in converting them to Him. Surely His implication was that His preacher-reapers were those who had known condemnation for their sins, but on that basis were His humbled harvesters in the mission field.

Deu 28:31 Your ox will be slain before your eyes and you shall not eat of it. Your donkey will be violently taken away from before your face and shall not be restored to you. Your sheep will be given to your enemies and you will have none to save you-
"I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle" (Lev. 26:22 cp. Dt. 28:31) speaks of the "beasts of the earth / land" (Dt. 28:26), who refer to the nations within the earth / land promised to Abraham. The use of cattle raiding language in Ez. 38:12 would then lead us to equate that latter day invasion with the final fulfilment of the curses upon Israel here.

Deu 28:32 Your sons and your daughters will be given to another people and your eyes will look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no power in your hand-
God said that the sign of His condemnation and rejection of Israel was that He would give their sons and daughters to be married to Gentiles (Dt. 28:32). To willingly marry a Gentile was therefore to proclaim oneself as rejected from the Israel of God. The Lord Jesus had read these words and engaged with them; for He uses the picture of eyes failing with longing for the return of exiled children and applies it to the Father longing for the return of the prodigal son. That son clearly spoke of Israel in exile.

Deu 28:33 The fruit of your ground and all your labours shall a nation which you don’t know eat up-
This was clearly fulfilled at the time of the Babylonian invasion (Jer. 5:17), but this only looked forward to the even greater fulfilment in the curses of the last days. It is repeatedly stressed that God's people would suffer at the hands of a nation they didn't know (Jer. 14:18; 15:14; 17:4; 22:28). They did "know" the Babylonians, and had worshipped their gods. So "know" is used in the Hebraic sense of 'having a relationship with'. The idea may be that they would receive no mercy from those they were not in any relationship with.  

And you will be only oppressed and crushed always-
This was exactly what God's people did to each other, oppressing and crushing their weaker brethren (s.w. Am. 4:1). By doing so, they were living out their condemnation.

Deu 28:34 so that you will be mad because of the sight your eyes shall see-
This again speaks of the deep psychological trauma of God's people. See on :28. The deep distress would be at the sight of themselves covered in boils (:35).

Deu 28:35 Yahweh will strike you in the knees and in the legs with a sore boil of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head-
This language is applied to Job (Job 2:7). He was clearly representative of Israel suffering the curses for disobedience. But he was a righteous man, and was saved in the end. He pointed forward to how the perfect Lord Jesus suffered the curses for Israel's sins, as their total representative.

Deu 28:36 Yahweh will bring you and your king whom you will set over you-
This makes these curses have specific reference to the Babylonian rather than Roman invasion. The latter day application may require Israel to put their trust in some charismatic leader.  

To a nation that you have not known, you nor your fathers, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone-
Israel and Judah are strongly rebuked by the prophets for their choice to do this, and are begged to cease doing so. But their freewill choice to sin was in fact a result of being cursed by God; they were led into sin, as it were, by God confirming them in the downward spiral they had chosen to be part of. In this case, if they didn’t want to be cursed, then they simply had to stop living out the curse in their lives.

The reference to Israel serving the gods of the nations to whom they are carried captive, gods which their ancestors abhorred, may refer to some accepting Islam in the last days. Indeed, Dt. 31:29 suggests that in the latter (Heb. end) times, Israel will specifically "do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands". This is the language commonly used concerning Israel's worship of the idols of the surrounding lands; if they are to specifically do this in the time of the end, it would seem reasonable to guess that this may refer to an acceptance of Islam.

Deu 28:37 You will become an astonishment, a proverb and a byword among all the peoples where Yahweh shall lead you away-
But this was in order for a witness to be made to those nations. Hence LXX "And thou shalt be there for a wonder, and a parable". The tragedy of Israel's curses for disobedience is even now to be understood as an appeal to the Gentile world to take God seriously and repent. This was fulfilled at the Babylonian exile (s.w. Jer. 24:9); but there is no clear record of Judah and their land becoming a proverb and byword. Again we sense that these curses were ameliorated by grace.

Deu 28:38 You will carry much seed out into the field and gather little in, for the locust shall consume it-
The locust was a plague brought upon Egypt. The judgments upon the land of Israel in the last days are described in Revelation, and they are full of allusion to the plagues upon Egypt. The locust is a figure of Judah's latter day judgments (Joel 1:4). It is a theme with God that His apostate people are "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). If their hearts are really with Egypt / the world, then they will share the judgments of this world. The time for separation is now, just as the Egyptians had to identify with Israel if they wished to escape the plagues.

This is the situation experienced at the time of the restoration, and is alluded to by Haggai in Hag. 1:9. The restoration was supposed to happen when they were obedient. But they received the curses for disobedience at the time of the restoration because they were disobedient- their harvests resulted in "little", they were plagued etc. We conclude therefore that the restoration was a blessing for obedience which was given when they were not in fact obedient. And we see in this God's grace.

Deu 28:39 You will plant vineyards and dress them but you shall neither drink of the wine nor harvest them, for the worm shall eat them-
Just as the locust of :38 is alluded to in Joel 1:4, so Joel 1:4-7 also alludes to the "worm" which destroys vines- and they are used as a symbol of Judah's latter day invaders. Maimonides in "A guide for the perplexed" makes a big issue about these worms of vine weevils. He claims that the various false gods and witches which Israel tended to worship and trust in all offered agricultural prosperity, and specifically offered protection from the dreaded vine weevils. The point is therefore made that all those gods and incantations would be revealed to Israel as powerless to turn away the curse for disobedience to the covenant.

Deu 28:40 You will have olive trees throughout all your borders but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off-
See on :39. The picture here is of labour in vain, so it was all a psychological punishment. 

Deu 28:41 You will father sons and daughters but they shall not be yours, for they will go into captivity-
It has been observed that the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings have certain similarities. For example, they all quote the Deuteronomy version of Israel's earlier history, leading to the suggestion that Deuteronomy was the first of the collection, a kind of introductory background history. The curses listed in Dt. 28 are all especially relevant to the situation in Judah before the Babylonian invasion, and a number of the curses are alluded to in Lamentations as being descriptive of the situation after the final destruction of Jerusalem. Some of the curses can have little other application, e.g. Dt. 28:41 speaks of begetting children, "but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity". Other relevant passages are Dt. 28:36 (a king taken captive), 49,50,52. These "former prophets" (Deuteronomy - 2 Kings) appear to have been edited during the exile as history which spoke to the concerns and needs of the exiled people of God. This combined history speaks mainly of the southern Kingdom, which was the group who went to captivity in Babylon; and it explains why this captivity was justified, as well as giving many examples of where repentance could bring about a restoration (1 Kings 8:46-53 is specific). This history addresses the questions which concerned the captives- does God abandon His people for ever? Are Israel entirely to blame for what happened? Is there hope of restoration after receiving Divine judgment and breaching His covenant? Can God have a relationship with His people without a temple? To what extent will God always honour the promises to Abraham and David? Should other gods also be worshipped? Reading these books from this perspective reveals how incident after incident was especially selected by the inspired editors in Babylon in order to guide God's people there.

Deu 28:42 All your trees and the fruit of your ground shall the locust possess-
Joel's likening of the latter day invader to locusts (Joel 1:4) is perhaps based upon the prophecy that "locusts shall consume (the land)... the fruit of thy land shall the locust possess" (Dt. 28:38,42 A.V. mg.). 'Possess' invites us to see the locusts as representative of a group of invaders. See on :43. 

Deu 28:43 The foreigner who is in the midst of you shall mount up above you higher and higher-
This surely begs for an application to the Arab inhabitants of the [so called] Occupied Territories, who will no doubt join in with the 'locust' invasions, dominating the Jews as the Philistines did.

And you shall come down lower and lower-
Flesh must be humbled- either we do it now, we humble ourselves that we may be exalted in due time; or it will have to be done to us through the terror of rejection. Time and again ‘bringing low’ or ‘humiliation’ is the result of condemnation (Dt. 28:43; 2 Chron. 28:19; Job 40:12; Ps. 106:43).

Deu 28:44 He will lend to you and you shall not lend to him; he will be the head and you shall be the tail-
This has not had widespread fulfilment, but it must do in the latter day desolation of Israel- which presumably must last for a period of time for this to come true. There are various indications of a literal 1260 days, 42 months, three and a half year period of tribulation in the last days.

Deu 28:45 All these curses will come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed-
As if the curses are to be equated with the invaders.

Because you didn’t listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you-
This began with God's first invitation to Israel to hear His voice. But they didn't want to and shied away, asking Moses to go and hear God's voice and relay it to them. This refusal to listen to His literal voice is being alluded to, and compared to their refusal to obey His voice / word. If they had been open to personal engagement with Yahweh their God, hearing His word spoken to them personally rather than retreating into mere religion and thereby placing God at a distance from them, then they would have been personally obedient to that voice.

Deu 28:46 and they shall be to you and your seed a sign and a wonder forever-
"Forever" here is clearly not used with the sense of literal eternity. Indeed there is no word for that in ancient Hebrew; olahm means really 'time out of mind'.

Deu 28:47 Because you didn’t serve Yahweh your God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart because of the abundance of all things-
So often, the Mosaic law associates rejoicing with giving and sacrificing, for truly it is more blessed or happy to give than to receive. The Lord's teaching about this was clearly reflective of this major Mosaic theme (Acts 20:35). But Israel sacrificed grudgingly, without joy. And this was of supreme significance to God as a reason for their condemnation.

Time and again, Moses speaks of the state of their heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This indicates the paramount importance which our Lord attaches to the state of our mind. This was perhaps his greatest wish as He faced death; that we should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. Moses likewise saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? Do we guard our minds against the media and influence of a mind-corrupting world? It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity. Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).

Israel would be rejected and cursed if they didn’t serve God “with gladness”. Service to God must be done with joy; if we lose the rejoicing of our hope, we lose the hope itself (Heb. 3:6). Joy is therefore a vital characteristic of God’s true people.

Deu 28:48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom Yahweh shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things-
This is so relevant to the Lord's sufferings on the cross, when He bore Israel's condemnation. The whole of Romans 6 plays on the idea that we are slaves to sin, and through entering Christ, we become slaves of righteousness. Total freedom to do what we personally want is not possible. We are slaves, we can't serve two masters. So why not serve Christ rather than the Biblical devil? Likewise Moses offered Israel the choice of bondservice to either Yahweh or their enemies (Dt. 28:47,48). And Mic. 2:3 likewise reminds Israel that they will be under the yoke of judgment if they reject Yahweh’s yoke. The Lord spoke of His servants having a light yoke (Mt. 11:30). The Bible minded among His hearers would have thought back to the threatened punishment of an iron yoke for the disobedient (Dt. 28:48). 'It's a yoke either way', they would have concluded. But the Lord's yoke even in this life is light, and has promise of the life which is to come! The logic of taking it, with the restrictions it inevitably implies (for it is a yoke), is simply overpowering.

And He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you-
Moses offered Israel the choice of bondservice to either Yahweh or their enemies. The whole of Romans 6 plays on this idea. We are slaves to sin, and through entering Christ by baptism, we become slaves of righteousness. Total freedom to do what we personally want is not possible. We are slaves, we can't serve two masters. So why not serve Christ rather than the Biblical devil? Jesus spoke of His servants having a light yoke (Mt. 11:30). The Bible minded among His hearers would have thought back to the threatened punishment of an iron yoke for the disobedient (:48). 'It's a yoke either way', they would have concluded. But the Lord's yoke even in this life is light, and has promise of the life which is to come! The logic of taking it, with the restrictions it inevitably implies (for it is a yoke), is simply overpowering.

But this is the language of slave labour camps, working the Jews until they drop dead. This is one of a number of word pictures among the curses which recall the scenes of Nazi death camps. But even they were nothing to the scenes which tragically are yet to come in the last days.  

Deu 28:49 Yahweh will bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flies; a nation whose language you will not understand-
As explained on :10, the "earth" refers to the land promised to Abraham. They were invaded by a nation from the end of the earth, which Habakkuk defines as Babylon, a nation at the extremity of the land / earth promised to Abraham. Rome is not here in view. The latter day application is likewise to the nations within the land promised to Abraham, and not to "Rome".

Deu 28:50 a nation of fierce face who will not respect the person of the old nor show favour to the young-
Moses not only repeats all the curses of Lev. 26 to them, but he adds even more, under inspiration (Dt. 28:50-57). Presumably the Angel had explained in one of their conversations how Israel would suffer even greater punishment than what He had outlined in Lev. 26.  Notice in passing that Lev. 26 and Dt. 28 are not strictly parallel. And in some ways, Moses became more demanding, whilst at the same time emphasizing grace and love.

Deu 28:51 It will eat the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your ground until you are destroyed. It will not leave you grain, new wine or oil, the increase of your livestock or the young of your flock, until it has caused you to perish-
Moses not only repeats all the curses of Lev. 26 to them, but he adds even more, under inspiration. Presumably the Angel had explained in one of their conversations how Israel would suffer even greater punishment than that outlined in Lev. 26.  Notice that Lev. 26 and Dt. 28 are not strictly parallel. Moses in his spiritual maturity urged Israel to be the more fully aware of the nature and reality of Divine punishment for human sin; his increased focus upon grace and salvation didn’t mean that he increasingly ignored the harder side of God- but rather the opposite was the case.

Deu 28:52 It will besiege you in all your gates until your high and fortified walls come down in which you trusted, throughout all your land. It will besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land which Yahweh your God has given you-
Their trust in "high and fenced walls" (Dt. 28:52) would have its latter-day equivalent in Israel's trust in its military deterrents and defences. The reference to the land Yahweh gave them would then refer to the events of 1948, in the latter day context. "High" is the word for "haughty" or proud, and modern Israel's pride in their defences will be brought down.

Deu 28:53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters, whom Yahweh your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you-
The plural "enemies" suggests that the siege in view would not be by one enemy but by a confederacy of them. And this is exactly the latter day prophetic scenario during Israel's final time of curing.

Deu 28:54 The man who is tender among you and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother and toward the wife of his heart and toward the remnant of his children whom he has remaining-
The Biblical record seems to very frequently seek to deconstruct popular ideas about sin and evil. One of the most widespread notions was the "evil eye", whereby it was believed that some people had an "evil eye" which could bring distress into the eyes of those upon whom they looked in jealousy or anger. This concept is alive and well in many areas to this day. The idea entered Judaism very strongly after the Babylonian captivity; the Babylonian Talmud is full of references to it. The sage Rav attributed many illnesses to the evil eye, and the Talmud even claimed that 99 out of 100 people died prematurely from this (Bava Metzia 107b). The Biblical deconstruction of this is through stressing that God's eye is all powerful in the destiny of His people (Dt. 11:12; Ps. 33:18); and that "an evil eye" refers to an internal attitude of mean spiritedness within people- e.g. an "evil eye" is understood as an ungenerous spirit in Dt. 15:9; Mt. 6:23; 20:15; or pure selfishness in Dt. 28:54,56; Prov. 23:6; 28:22. We must remember that the people of Biblical times understood an "evil eye" as an external ability to look at someone and bring curses upon them. But the Bible redefines an "evil eye" as a purely internal attitude; and cosmic evil, even if it were to exist, need hold no fear for us- seeing the eyes of the only true God are running around the earth for us and not against us (2 Chron. 16:9).

Deu 28:55 so that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat, because he has nothing left in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your gates-
This clearly had a fulfilment at the time of 2 Kings 6:28,29. But all these incipient fulfillments only looked ahead to the greater one in the last days.

Deu 28:56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye will be evil toward the husband of her heart and toward her son and her daughter-
The curses repeatedly stress the psychological torment. The sensitive woman would become desensitized by the desperation, so that her "eye will be evil". Her husband was the man "of her heart", but her eye or heart / mind will become "evil" toward him, and likewise toward her own children. The mental torment of those judged by God will be the main component of their judgment. "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" speaks of this; for to behold the future they had missed, to perceive how easily they could have been there, will be an unbearable psychological trauma. All the dramatic figurative descriptions of condemnation are an attempt to portray this.

Deu 28:57 and toward her young one who comes out from between her feet and her children whom she shall bear; for she will eat them secretly, for want of all things in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your gates-
This clearly had some application to the situation in AD70, but that whole scenario was but a foretaste of the situation in the last days. Most especially is Babylon called "the enemy": Ps. 78:61; Jer. 6:25; 15:11; 18:17; 31:16 and an impressive 11 times in Lamentations.  'Babylon' has specific latter-day application to the neighbouring enemies of Israel.

Deu 28:58 If you will not observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, YAHWEH YOUR GOD-
For all Moses’ desire for Israel’s obedience, there are some subtle differences in his attitude to law and obedience between Deuteronomy, and the law earlier given. Thus in Leviticus 26 it was stressed that obedience would bring blessing; whilst Dt. 28:58 says that obedience results in fearing the fearful Name of Yahweh and His glory. Fear shouldn’t lead to obedience; but obedience leads a man to know and fear his God and His Name. This is blessing enough. The Hebrew yare means both fear / dread, and also reverence / worship. Knowing the enveloping mercy of God should lead to a real fear of a God so gracious (Ps. 5:7). However, obedience to God's commands would lead to a fear of Yahweh's glorious and fearful name (Dt. 28:58); not the other way round, whereby fear of God leads to obedience. God's character is not just partly severe, partly gracious. His grace and His judgment of sin are wonderfully interconnected within His character.

Like Jacob and Job, Moses came to a fine appreciation of Yahweh’s Name at his latter end, perceiving that the wonder of relationship with God far eclipses any material blessing we may receive from Him in this life. To respect or fear the Name doesn't mean to remember that God’s Name is 'Yahweh'. It refers to his character (Ex. 34:4-6). The Lord Jesus fed off the majesty of the Name of Yahweh (Mic. 5:4)- this was how inspirational He found the things of the Name. To fear the Name of Yahweh involved practical obedience to “all the words of this law”. Meditation and sustained reflection upon the characteristics of God as epitomized and memorialized in His Name will of itself lead to a conforming of personality to that same Name. If we declare that Name to others, they too have the chance to be transformed by it- thus Moses comments that “I will proclaim the name of Yahweh; you, ascribe greatness to our God” (Dt. 32:3).

All the commands of Moses’ law were in order to teach Israel to appreciate and respect the character and name of Yahweh (Dt. 28:58) - therefore all this commands were a manifestation of the fundamental personality of the Father. Ditto for the words of Jesus, who was the prophet who would speak God’s word as Moses spoke it (Dt. 18:15-18). Because Jesus would speak God’s word as Moses did, the words of Moses should be studied as much as the words of Jesus - as Jesus himself said (Jn. 5:47). Yet do we love the Law of Moses as David did? Or do we not incline to be spiritually lazy, to be influenced by the (so called) New Testament Christianity of the apostate religious world around us? It is only by truly entering into the spirit of Moses’ words that we can really understand our Lord - he said this himself. And yet we would rather read Jesus’ words than those of Moses, because we can’t be bothered to make the effort to understand the spirit of our Lord as it is revealed there. And therefore we complain (if we are honest) of a lack of sense that we are having a real relationship with the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus fed off the majesty of the Name of Yahweh (Mic. 5:4)- this was how inspirational He found the things of the Name. To fear the Name of Yahweh was to “observe to do all the words of this law” (Dt. 28:58). Meditation and sustained reflection upon the characteristics of God as epitomized and memorialized in His Name will of itself lead to a conformation of personality to that same Name. If we declare that Name to others, they too have the chance to be transformed by it- thus Moses comments: “Because I will publish the name of the Lord, ascribe ye greatness unto our God” (Dt. 32:3).

Deu 28:59 then Yahweh will make your plagues terrible and the plagues of your seed, great plagues and of long continuance, and severe sicknesses and of long continuance-
"Then..." could suggest that when suffering the curses for disobedience, they would then be offered the opportunity for repentance. But if they refused this, then the plagues would not be of 'short continuance' as was potentially possible, but would last "long" (Dt. 28:59), or made seven times heavier (Lev. 26:21). The medical aspects of these plagues were apparently not fulfilled to the extent implied here and in :60; and that is typical of how in wrath, God remembered mercy. For although the covenant was broken, the curses they had agreed to bear for this were somehow ameliorated in practice. And despite their lack of obedience, the blessings for obedience did have partial fulfilment (e.g. the multiplication of their numbers, :63 cp. Dt. 1:10; 10:22; 26:5). And even further, God still sought ongoing relationship with them on the basis of the covenant He had made with Abraham and his seed; those promises became the basis of His offer of a new covenant to Israel.

Deu 28:60 He will bring on you again all the diseases of Egypt which you feared, and they shall cling to you-
Sickness is from God and not a personal Satan. "The Lord will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt" (Dt. 28:60); "an evil spirit from the Lord troubled [Saul]" (1 Sam. 16:14); "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord?" (Ex. 4:11).

Legion's desire to see his mental disease return to the herds of swine probably stemmed from a need to know that his affliction had been cured in a rather permanent sort of way. And the Lord went along with this. The idea of transference of disease from one to another was a common Semitic perception, and it’s an idea used by God. And thus God went along with the peoples' idea of disease transference, and the result is recorded in terms of demons [which was how they understood illness] going from one person to another. Likewise the leprosy of Naaman clave to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27). God threatened to make the diseases of the inhabitants of Canaan and Egypt to cleave to Israel if they were disobedient (Dt. 28:21,60). Here too, as with Legion, there is Divine accommodation to the ideas of disease transference which people had at the time.

Deu 28:61 Also Yahweh will bring on you every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of this law, until you are destroyed-
"Destroyed" is the word for "utterly destroyed", and is used of how God would utterly destroy Israel if they were disobedient to the covenant (Dt. 4:26). God had used the word to speak of how He would totally destroy Israel and make a new nation from Moses (s.w. Dt. 9:19,25; Ps. 106:23), but Moses changed God's mind about that. But these later usages of the word are saying that this was going to happen, if Israel were disobedient. And they were, but it didn't happen. Individuals were 'utterly destroyed', but the word is used in Am. 9:8 of how "I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob". This was all by pure grace. Just as the wages of sin is death for each of us, but by grace we are saved from that.

Deu 28:62 You will be left few in number-
This is hard to convincingly apply to any previous persecution, if it refers to numbers of Jews worldwide. However, it may refer specifically to the Jewish population of the land of Israel. There must therefore be a world-wide persecution of Jews for this to come about, or a total overrunning of the land of Israel, just as radical Islam dreams of. The tide of history is turning against the West, and this opens up the prospect of America and Britain also persecuting Jews.


Whereas you were as the stars of the sky for multitude, because you didn’t listen to the voice of Yahweh your God-
Passages like Dt. 7:1 confidently proclaim that "When the Lord your God shall bring you into the land... and shall pluck off / cast out many nations...". Yet this casting out was dependent upon Israel doing this work; if they did it, God was eager to work mightily with them. But the reality is that they didn't drive out all the nations. This doesn't falsify Scripture; rather does it indicate the positive hope of God that His people will work with Him to make His potentially true prophecies turn into reality. Even the promises to Abraham were to some extent conditional- Israel would no longer be "as the stars of heaven for multitude; because you would not obey the voice of the Lord" (Dt. 28:62). Hence the fulfillment of those promises was dependent to some extent upon the obedience of the promised seed.

Deu 28:63 As Yahweh rejoiced over you to do you good and to multiply you, so Yahweh will rejoice over you to cause you to perish and to destroy you-
Israel were told that because they were the people of God, in covenant with Him, therefore they had to be obedient. If they were disobedient, they would be cursed. And if they backed out of being God’s people, they were also cursed (Dt. 27:9,19,26). There was no way back: total devotion to obedience. God would either rejoice over them to bless them, or rejoice over them to curse them (Dt. 28:63). He isn’t passive; His energy will be expended upon us one way or the other. There are only two types of builder, the wise and the foolish; two types of tree, yielding either good or bad fruit.

In Esther’s time, a decree was made to “destroy…and cause to perish” the Jews throughout the provinces of Persia / Babylon (Esther 3:13; 7:4). This phrase uses the two Hebrew words which we find together three times in the list of curses to be brought upon a disobedient Israel (Dt. 28:20,51,63). There evidently is a connection. And yet by her wonderful self-sacrificial mediation, Esther brought about the deferment and even annulment of those justifiable curses. God’s prophetic word was again changed- due to a mediator, who of course pointed both backwards to Moses, and forwards to the Lord Jesus.

They had left Egypt with great riches of silver and gold, and this is "your silver and gold" which was to be multiplied even more (Dt. 8:13). The multiplication of Abraham's seed promised to him clearly meant not simply numerical multiplication, but material multiplication too. That is the sense too in Lev. 26:9; Dt. 30:5. We wonder why God gave them all this blessing, knowing that it would lead to such spiritual temptation and failure. We wonder why He gives so many of His people today the same huge blessings, however unappreciated they are. One simple answer is that it is because He loves us with all the love of a father for his children; He rejoiced to multiply them (Dt. 28:63). The king of Israel was warned in the same words not to multiply silver and gold lest his heart turn away (Dt. 17:17). The idea may be that we are to leave God to multiply our silver and gold if He wishes, and not set our heart to doing so.

You will be plucked from off the land where you go in to possess it-
Abraham was promised that his seed would have Yahweh as their personal God, and would eternally inherit the land. In a sense, the promises that the seed would inherit the land, and that God would be their God were fulfilled straight after God said them. He became Isaac's God (Gen. 31:42,53 refer to this), the God of Abraham's son. Time and again God reminds Israel that He is their God. And that land in a sense was given to the Jewish fathers (Gen. 15:18; Dt. 28:63; 30:5 NIV; Josh. 1:2-9; 21:43; 1 Kings 4:20,21). David could praise God simply because He was ''my God'' (Ps. 118:28)- an allusion back to the Abrahamic promise. Of course, the main fulfillment of this promise will be in the Kingdom; but in principle, the promise has already been fulfilled to Abraham's seed- i.e., us!

Deu 28:64 Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from the one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, and there you shall serve other gods which you have not known - you nor your fathers - gods of wood and stone-
This refers to the "earth" in the sense of the land promised to Abraham; see on :10. The implication is that Jews now within the state of Israel will be scattered throughout that area in the last days. And yet the Babylonian exile left many of the people in the land; again, the curses were not carried out to the extent called for by these terms of the covenant. The poor of the people, which was the majority, remained there. Babylonian policy was to deport the leadership and establish puppet rulers over the impoverished masses. The idea here is that the calling of Abraham out of idolatrous Ur would be reversed; they would return to those ends of the land, and serve idols there. 

Deu 28:65 Among these nations you shall find no ease and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot. Yahweh will give you there a trembling heart and failing of eyes and pining of soul-
This is in line with the state of psychological breakdown described and discussed on :20. We note how God can give people attitudes of heart; and positively, His Holy Spirit works directly upon the human spirit. God brought Israel out of Egypt in order to "cause him to rest" (Jer. 31:20), s.w. "ease" here. But Israel didn't "find" that promised ease / rest, the Kingdom was prepared and made possible, but they refused it. And so any life without the Kingdom is but an aimless wandering.  And yet the book of Esther presents the Jews as wealthy and popular in exile; again we see how  these curses were not totally carried out.

Deu 28:66 and your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear night and day and shall have no assurance of your life-
This is one of a number of word pictures among the curses which recall the scenes of Nazi death camps. But even they were nothing to the scenes which tragically are yet to come in the last days. "Assurance" is the word for faith; their lives would have no faith / stability (s.w. Dt. 9:23; Num. 20:12 etc.), as they had lived their lives without faith.       

Deu 28:67 In the morning you will say, I wish it were evening! and at evening you will say, I wish it were morning! for the fear of your heart which you shall fear and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see-
There are links between Job and Deuteronomy 28, connecting Job with a faithless Israel: 

"Thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness" (Dt. 28:29) = "They (the wicked; although the friends are getting at Job when they speak of them) meet with darkness in the daytime and grope in the noonday as in the night" (Job 5:14).
"The blind" (Dt. 28:29) = Job had fits of blindness (Job 22:10,11)
"The Lord shall smite thee in the knees and in the legs with a sore botch from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head" (Dt. 28:35) = "Boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (Job 2:7). These were inflicted by the satan, but by "The Lord" in Dt.28. In practice, "the Lord" was the wilderness Angel; which is one of several indications that Job's satan was an Angel.
"An astonishment" (Dt. 28:37) = "Mark me (Job) and be astonished" (Job 21:5;17:8).
"and a byword, among all nations" (Dt. 28:37) = "A byword of the people" (Job 17:6;30:9).
"In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning" (Dt. 28:67) = "When I lie down, I say,  When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro until the  dawning" (Job 7:4).
All the Jews' blessings from God were to be taken away and their children cursed: "Thou shalt beget sons and daughters but thou shalt not enjoy them" (Dt. 28:41) = "Cattle... flocks of thy sheep", ditto for Job.
"The Lord shall bring a nation against thee (Dt. 28:49) = The Sabeans/ Chaldeans- forerunners of the Babylonians and Assyrians who punished Israel.


Deu 28:68 Yahweh will bring you into Egypt again with ships by the way of which I said to you, You shall see it no more again, and there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondservants and for bondmaids, and no man will buy you-

As noted on previous curses, here we have the climactic curse never actually fulfilled to the extent implied here- i.e. a reversal of God's entire salvation plan in bringing Israel out of Egypt in the first place. It didn't much happen at the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, which are presented in the prophets of the fulfilment of the curses for breaking the covenant. It is a case of God in wrath remembering mercy, taking pity upon His children simply because they are His children. Hosea records how God threatened to return them to Egypt, and yet in that same prophecy says that they will not return there. Just as Hosea didn't finally punish Gomer as her whoredom deserved, neither did God punish His people to the extent He speaks of here. Simply because He loves them.

Other Bible prophecies speak of a great re-gathering of a repentant Israel from dispersion around the return of Christ. It’s been tempting to apply this to Jewish emigration to Israel post 1948, but many of the prophecies in their context require that this return is part of a spiritual restoration. Dt. 28:68 speaks of Israel being punished by being taken into Egypt in ships- and it’s hard to find a very significant fulfilment of that prophecy to date. Such scattering of the Jews throughout the eretz, the territory of the land promised to Abraham, would fulfil the patterns set by Babylon, Assyria, Persia and Rome in their dominations of Israel. Such scattering is possible and likely, seeing that it is a requirement of the Hadith about jihad against Israel: “Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war... When you meet your enemies... invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs...  If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them" (The Hadith, Book 19.4294, about Jihad). This paying of tax is likely to involve accepting the seal / mark of the beast, without which there can be no trading. "The land of Muhairs" refers to the lands of origin of the Moslem fighters; muhair means 'origin' in Arabic. This means that a mass deportation of Jews to other parts of the land promised to Abraham, the lands of origin of their enemies, is very much what the jihadists envisage. These concepts are particularly applied to the Jews, in Hadith 19.4363: "(Let us) go to the Jews... The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) stood up and called out to them (saying): O ye assembly of Jews, accept Islam (and) you will be safe... He said to them (the same words) the third time (and on getting the same reply) he added: You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from this land... and they may have to go away leaving everything behind".

At the time of Israel's repentance, God will "break the bands of your yoke" (Ez. 34:27), using the language of their suffering in Egypt (Lev. 26:13). If they are literally delivered from Egypt, this would fit nicely. The language of Ez. 20:34,35 recalls that of Ez. 20:10: "I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness...I will bring you out from the people... and I will bring you into the wilderness of the people". Thus Israel's leaving the physical persecution of Egypt and being brought into the spiritual testing of the wilderness, will have its counterpart in the Jews being led out of the lands of their Arab captors, to be spiritually refined in "the wilderness of the people". “There will I plead with you", suggests that this " wilderness" is a specific country. There is good reason to think that this will be literal Egypt. Is. 19:18-25 indicates that there will be repentant Jews in latter-day Egypt. "The wilderness of the people... the wilderness of the land of Egypt" (Ez. 20:35,35) will be the place of Israel's final latter-day refining. Thus Israel are brought out from their captivity in Arab lands, figurative 'Egypt', into literal Egypt, which will be the figurative 'wilderness' of spiritual testing.

Ex. 14:13 could appear to be prophecy: “The Egyptians… you shall see them again no more for ever”. But it is understood as a command not to return to Egypt in Dt. 17:16- and because of Israel turning back to Egypt in their hearts, they would be taken there again (Dt. 28:68). So we must be prepared to accept that what may appear to be prophecy is in fact commandment, which we have the freewill to obey or disobey. Hence they would not go back there; and yet, God says, they will go back there. 

Ez. 43:7 likewise is more command than prediction: “The house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name” (RV). It isn’t saying ‘this is a prophecy that they will not do this’- for they did. Rather is it a plea, a command, that they are not to do this any more. So God’s promise that Israel would never again see Egypt was therefore conditional, and thus capable of being broken; although those conditions aren’t mentioned when He makes the promise in Dt. 17:16; Ex. 14:13.