Deuteronomy Chapter 28 Continued
Verses 38-40: Compare (Isa. 5:10; Joel 1:4; Micah 6:15).
Deuteronomy 28:38 “Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather [but] little in; for the locust shall consume it.”
And sow it plentifully. This and what is said in some following verses plainly refer to them while in their own land, before carried captive, and not to their present case and circumstances.
“And shall gather but little in at harvest”: Little springing up, or not coming to perfection. Being blighted and blasted, and so yielded but a small crop (see Haggai 1:9). And chiefly for the following reason.
“For the locust shall consume it”: Which is a great destroyer of the fruits of the earth (see Joel 1:4).
In the last lesson, we began the long list of terrible curses that came to those who were unfaithful to God. This is saying, even if they try really hard to get a large crop by planting much seed, the crop will not only fail, but the little that comes up it will be eaten of locusts.
Deuteronomy 28:39 “Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress [them], but shalt neither drink [of] the wine, nor gather [the grapes]; for the worms shall eat them.”
Plant them and prune them, in expectation of much fruit from them.
“But shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes”: So far from drinking of the wine of them, that they should not be able to gather any grapes from them.
“For the worms shall eat them”: A sort of worms pernicious to vines, which the Greeks call “ipes”, or “ikes”; and the Latins “convolvuli” and “volvoces”, as Pliny.
They were known for their beautiful vineyards, but they too will fail. One thing all of this lets us know is that when the wrath of God is upon a people, nothing works for them.
Deuteronomy 28:40 “Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint [thyself] with the oil; for thine olive shall cast [his fruit].”
In the several parts of the land of Canaan, which is therefore called a land of olive oil (Deut. 8:8).
“But thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil”: Nor any other relations, friends, guests, as was usual at entertainments (see Psalm 23:5). For the phrase “thyself” is not in the text. The reason why they should not anoint is, because they would have no oil to anoint with.
“For thine olive shall cast his fruit”: Before it is ripe, by one means or another, as by winds, or blasting and mildew (see Amos 4:9).
This is saying that the age old olive trees do not die, but the olives are not usable. Olive oil was used as anointing oil, because it symbolizes the Holy Spirit of God. To look at this Scripture from a spiritual standpoint, we would realize that the Spirit of God was no longer with them.
Deuteronomy 28:41 “Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.”
Or, “they shall not be thine”; being taken from them, and given to others (see Deut. 28:32). And for the following reason.
“For they shall go into captivity”: As when the ten tribes were carried captive by Shalmaneser, and the two tribes by Nebuchadnezzar, and all the people of the Jews by the Romans.
This comes true during the attack of Babylon on Israel. They will be carried to Babylon in chains. There is no greater hurt that a parent can have, than to know your sons and daughters are captives of another land.
Deuteronomy 28:42 “All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.”
Which is a creature that not only consumes grass, and herbs, and the corn of the field, but all green trees (see Exodus 10:15). This sort here has its name from the shade they make, hiding the light of the sun, and darkening the face of the earth at noon day. Or from the noise they make with their wings in flying (see Joel 2:5).
The locust does not leave anything when they have been through, except perhaps the roots.
Deuteronomy 28:43 “The stranger that [is] within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.”
In wealth and riches, in power and authority, in honor and dignity. This ‘Manasseh Ben Israel’ interprets of the Samaritans, whom the king of Assyria drove out of Samaria, and the neighboring places. But the design of the expression is to show how mean and abject they should be in another country. That even one who had been a stranger or proselyte of the gate, when in their own country, should now be vastly above them.
“And thou shall come down, very low”: Into a very mean condition, to be in great subjection, a vassal and a slave (see Psalm 106:41). And much more when reduced by the Romans, and sent to the mines in Egypt.
This is speaking of a time, when the stranger will rule over the natives of the land.
Deuteronomy 28:44 “He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.”
The stranger, or one of another nation, shall be in a capacity of lending to the Jew, when the Jew would not be able to lend to the Gentile, his circumstances being so low and mean. To show which is the design of the expression, and not the kindness or unkindness of either (see Deut. 28:12).
“He shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail”: He shall be ruler and governor, and thou shalt be subject to him (see Deut. 28:13).
They knew what it was to be the tail, because that is exactly what they were during their captivity in Egypt. The Egyptians were the head over them. This alone, should cause them to stay loyal to God.
Verses 45-68: If God inflicts vengeance, what miseries his curse can bring upon mankind, even in this present world! Yet these are but the beginning of sorrows to those under the curse of God. What then will be the misery of that world where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched! Observe what is here said of the wrath of God, which should come and remain upon the Israelites for their sins. It is amazing to think that a people so long the favorites of Heaven, should be so cast off. And yet that a people so scattered in all nations should be kept distinct, and not mixed with others. If they would not serve God with cheerfulness, they should be compelled to serve their enemies. We may justly expect from God, that if we do not fear his fearful name, we shall feel his fearful plagues. For one way or other God will be feared. The destruction threatened is described. They have, indeed, been plucked from off the land (verse 63). Not only by the Babylonish captivity, and when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans; but afterwards, when they were forbidden to set foot in Jerusalem. They should have no rest; no rest of body (verse 65), but be continually on the move, either in hope of gain, or fear of persecution.
No rest of the mind, which is much worse. They have been banished from city to city, from country to country; recalled, and banished again. These events, compared with the favor shown to Israel in ancient times, and with the prophecies about them, should not only excite astonishment, but turn unto us for a testimony, assuring us of the truth of Scripture. And when the other prophecies of their conversion to Christ shall come to pass, the whole will be a sign and a wonder to all the nations of the earth, and the forerunner of a general spread of true Christianity. The fulfilling of these prophecies upon the Jewish nation, delivered more than three thousand years ago, shows that Moses spake by the Spirit of God. Who not only foresees the ruin of sinners, but warns of it, that they may prevent it by a true and timely repentance, or else be left without excuse.
And let us be thankful that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us, and bearing in his own person all that punishment which our sins merit. And which we must otherwise have endured for ever. To this Refuge and salvation let sinners flee. Therein let believers rejoice, and serve their reconciled God with gladness of heart, for the abundance of his spiritual blessings.
Deuteronomy 28:45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:”
Before related, as well as what follow.
“And shall pursue thee, and overtake thee till thou be destroyed”: Which though they would endeavor to flee from and escape, should not be able, since they would follow them so closely and swiftly. And overtake them, and seize upon them (see Deut. 28:15).
“Because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee”: To which disobedience all the curses are to be imputed that go before or follow after.
These terrible things do not come on them because God does not love them, but because they did not keep His commandments and statutes. They were not faithful to the LORD.
Deuteronomy 28:46 “And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.”
That is, those curses before pronounced (Deut. 27:15). And what follow, should rest and remain upon them, continue with them, and be very visible on them. So as to be observed by others, as a sign of the wrath and displeasure of God, and of the fulfilment of prophecy, and of the truth of divine revelation. And so “for a wonder”: as it is most astonishing to observe how exactly all the curses threatened them have fallen upon them and have abode with them. As they did in their former captivities, and more especially do in the present one. And, what is the greater wonder, that notwithstanding these dreadful calamities, and so long continued, enough to have crushed any people from being a people. Yet they have continued, and still do continue, a distinct people. Which is a standing miracle, and one would think sufficient to convince the most hardened and obstinate deist of the truth and authority of the sacred Scriptures. In which stand so many glaring prophecies that have been fulfilled, and are continually fulfilling in this people.
“And upon thy seed for ever”: This shows that these curses, said to be upon them, not only refer to those that came upon them at and in the Babylonish captivity, but to those that came upon them at their destruction by the Romans. And which have continued on them almost two thousand years. And how much longer they will continue none can say. It will be their case, until new heavens and a new earth are created, or there will be a new state of things, at least with them. When they shall be converted to the Lord, and all Israel saved (see Isa. 65:17). And it may be observed, that the ten tribes carried captive never returned. Compare (2 Chron. 29:8; Jer. 18:6; Ezek. 14:8).
Their blessings were only if they were faithful to God and kept His commandments. The curse will continue on, until a generation turns to God and keeps those commandments.
Verses 47-68: The two worst curses would be that of a future “siege” when “the LORD will bring a nation against thee from afar” (28:49-57), and that of the Lord’s threat to “scatter” Israel “among all people” (28:58-68): The attacking “nation” would be “as swift as the eagle flieth” – powerful brutal, destructive, merciless and thorough.
Deuteronomy 28:47 “Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all [things];”
By attending his worship, and keeping his commandments.
“With joyfulness and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things”: Which they enjoyed in the land of Canaan, a land that abounded with all good things. Which laid them under great obligations to serve the Lord. And yet, as they were lacking in a ready attendance on his worship, and in a cheerful obedience to his laws, so in their sacrifices, of praise and thanksgivings for their manifold mercies. And, because of all this, the curses written in this book came upon them.
There could be joy and gladness for the abundance of blessings God wants to shower on them. He will not force them upon them however. They have the choice to follow Him and be blessed, or to follow after false gods and be cursed.
Deuteronomy 28:48 “Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all [things]: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.”
Since they would not serve the Lord their God, who was so good a master to them, and supplied them with all good things, and with plenty of them. They should serve other lords, their enemies, whom God would raise up and send against them. Not only, the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Babylonians, but the Romans, after described, whom they should find hard masters, and from whom they; should have very severe usage, and should be:
“In hunger and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all good things”: Being destitute of food, and drink and raiment, and the common necessaries of life, and so in famishing and starving circumstances.
“And he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck”: Bring them into a state of subjection to their enemies, which would be intolerable to them. And from which they would not be able to free themselves, any more than to break an iron yoke. Which, as it agrees with the Babylonish captivity, and their subjection in that state (see Jer. 28:13). So more especially with their bondage under the Romans, who are the legs of iron in Nebuchadnezzar’s image. And the fourth beast with great iron teeth in Daniel’s vision (Daniel 2:33). And this yoke was to continue:
“Until he have destroyed thee”: A province many years before the destruction of their nation, city, and temple, by them.
In most of the Prophetic books like Jeremiah, we see these very things prophesied that did come true. When God’s blessings are removed from Israel, they are vulnerable to attack from all the nations. Their strength lies in the LORD, and when they don’t have that they are weak. They will be slaves to their captives and will do without things they had taken for granted, like food and drink.
Deuteronomy 28:49 “The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, [as swift] as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;”
“A nation … from the end of the earth”: God would raise up a nation to act as His own instrument of judgment against His ungrateful people. This foreign nation was described as coming from a far distance from Israel, a nation what would arise quickly and one that would completely devastate the Land. This was fulfilled first by Assyria (Isa. 5:26-27; 7:18-20; 28:11; 37:18; Hosea 8:1), and second, by Babylon (Jer. 5:15; Lam. 4:19; Ezek. 17:3; Hab. 1:6-8).
The Chaldeans and the Assyrians are just two countries that attacked Israel under these very circumstances. Probably the worst they suffered, was from the Romans. Whenever they turned their backs on God and went to false gods, God chastised them by letting their enemies take them.
Deuteronomy 28:50 “A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young:”
Or, “strong of face”; which aptly describes the old Romans, who are always represented as such. And whereas it is said of the Chaldeans, that they were a nation dreadful and terrible (Hab. 1:7). The same is said of the fourth beast, or Roman empire (Dan. 7:7); who were a terror to all the world.
“Which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young”: Cruel, unmerciful, and uncompassionate, to persons of whatsoever age or sex. Which, as it was the character of the Chaldeans (2 Chron. 36:17). So of the Romans, who especially showed no mercy to the Jews, as Josephus, who was an eyewitness, testifies. “The Romans (says he), showed no mercy to any age, out of hatred to the nation (of the Jews). And in remembrance of the injuries done to Cestius”; one of their governors, when among them. And in another place he says, “the Romans, remembering what they suffered in the siege, spared none, and showed no mercy” (compare 2 Chron. 36:17).
As I said, their fiercest attack was by the Romans, and they didn’t show any mercy upon them.
Deuteronomy 28:51 “And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which [also] shall not leave thee [either] corn, wine, or oil, [or] the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.”
Larger and lesser, oxen and sheep, as their calves and lambs, and kids of the goat.
“And the fruit of thy land”: Their wheat, barley, figs, grapes, pomegranates, olives, and dates.
“Until thou be destroyed”: The land of Judea, and all the increase of it. This being before said (Deut. 28:31), and here repeated, shows that the same should be fulfilled at different times, as by the Chaldeans. So, by the Romans; whose nation, or army, with their general at the head of them, may be more especially here intended by “he”. That should eat up their fruit until utter destruction was brought upon them.
“Which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee”: All being consumed by the Roman army. There is a promise and prophecy, that though this would be the case, as it has been, there shall be a time when it shall be so no more (see Isa. 62:8).
Their enemy showed no mercy upon them at all. Israel’s rebellion against God, and turning away from the One True God, brought all of their troubles upon them. These evil nations, which came against Israel, had no mercy at all on anyone, young or old. They did not care if they starved to death, or not.
Verses 52-57: Ultimately, an invading nation would besiege all of the cities of Judah (see note on 28:49). In verses (53-57), Moses gave a revolting description of the Israelites’ response to those siege conditions. The unthinkable activity of cannibalism is introduced in (verse 53), and then illustrated in the verses that follow (see 2 Kings 6:28-29; Lam. 2:20; 4:10).
Deuteronomy 28:52 “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.”
That is, in all their cities and walled towns, which had gates and bars for security.
“Until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land”: The Jews had several cities well fenced and strongly fortified, besides Jerusalem. Which was fortified both by art and nature, and in which they greatly put their trust and confidence. But these were broken down, particularly by the battering rams of the Romans.
“And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee”: This is repeated for the certainty of it, and that it might be taken notice of, and abate their trust and confidence in their outward strength. Now all this was fulfilled, partly in the siege of Samaria by the king of Assyria, who went through all the land of the ten tribes (2 Kings 17:5). And in Sennacherib’s taking the fenced cities of Judah (2 Kings 18:13). And in the siege of Jerusalem, and breaking down the walls of it by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:10). And, last of all, in the siege of Jerusalem, and battering down the walls of it, by the Romans. At which time also all their strong and fenced cities throughout the land were taken and demolished. Compare (2 Chron. 32:10; Jer. 10:17-18; Ezek. 5:2; Hosea 11:6).
This also happens more than once. It is a perfect description of the Babylonian attack on Israel. (Jeremiah chapter 21:4-7), tells of such an attack, when God is helping the enemies of Israel.
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:”
Than which nothing can be more shocking and unnatural, which is explained as follows.
“The flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee”: Which is an aggravation of the cruel and inhuman fact.
“In the siege, and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee”: This shows the cause of it, a famine by reason of the closeness of the siege, so that no provisions could be brought in for their relief. And all within being eaten up, and everything that was eatable, even the most nauseous and disagreeable. They would be led on to this strange, unheard of, and barbarous action, eating their own children. This was fulfilled in the siege of Samaria (2 Kings 6:25). And in the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Lam. 2:10), and again in the Apocrypha. “Moreover he hath delivered them to be in subjection to all the kingdoms that are round about us. To be as a reproach and desolation among all the people round about, where the Lord hath scattered them.” And in the siege of the same city by the Romans; of which an instance will be hereafter given. Compare (Jer. 19:9).
This is saying than things will be so terrible, they will practice cannibalism on their own children.
Leviticus 26:29 “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.”
Jeremiah 19:9 “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.”
As terrible as this warning is, you can see that it did happen.
Deuteronomy 28:54 “[So that] the man [that is] tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:”
Not only the rustic that has been brought up meanly, and used to hard living; but one that has been bred very tenderly, and lived in a delicate manner. Like the rich man in (Luke 16:19); that fared sumptuously every day.
“His eye shall be evil towards his brother, and towards the wife of his bosom, and towards the remnant of his children which he shall leave”: That is, he shall begrudge his brother, who is so nearly related to him, the least bit of food. Yea, his wife, he dearly loved, and is one flesh with him, his other self, and even his children, which are parts of himself. Such of them as were left not eaten by him. Or his eye should be evil upon them. He should look with an evil eye on them, determining within himself to kill and eat them next. Though the particular instance in which his eye would be evil to them follows, yet no doubt there are other instances in which his eye would be evil towards them. As there were at the siege of Jerusalem, and have been since. Josephus says, “that in every house where there was any appearance of food (or anything that looked like it, that had the shadow of it), there was a battle. And the dearest friends fought with one another, snatching away from each other, the miserable supports of life”. As the husband from his wife and children, and the wife from her husband and children. See more in (Deut. 28:56). And, in later times, we told by the Jewish historian, that wrote an account of their sufferings and distresses since their dispersion, that at Fez the Jews sold their children for slaves for bread.
Jeremiah 47:3 “At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong [horses], at the rushing of his chariots, [and at] the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to [their] children for feebleness of hands;”
Deuteronomy 28:55 “So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.”
Neither give to a brother, nor to a wife, nor to any of his remaining children. The least bit of the flesh of a child he has killed and dressed for his own food. Which adds to the barbarity of his action.
“Because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates”: Every creature being eaten up, dogs, cats, etc. And whatsoever else could be any ways made food of; as the dung of beasts, belts, shoes, the leather on shields, etc. As Josephus says they did eat. And this being the case, nothing eatable remaining. Therefore, his heart would be hardened against his nearest relations, and not allow them the least part with him, even of what was so shocking and unnatural.
This speaks of a time of such great distress, that the man thinks of nothing but survival.
Deuteronomy 28:56 “The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,”
Who is instanced in because of her sex, which is more pitiful and compassionate, and especially one that has been brought up genteelly. And has always lived deliciously, on the most delicate fare, and nicest dainties, and used to all the delights of nature.
“Which would not venture to set her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness”: For fear of taking cold, or defiling her feet.
“Her eye shall be evil towards the husband of her bosom, and towards her son, and towards her daughter”: Begrudge them every bit they eat, and restrain food from them as much as in her lies. And even snatch it out of their mouths; so Josephus relates, that “women snatched the food out of the mouths of their husbands, and sons out of the mouths of their fathers. And, what is most miserable, mothers out of the mouths of their infants.”
It is an unnatural thing for a woman to turn against her husband and her children. This is speaking of a woman, who had been raised in luxury and with every advantage, turning to not much more than an animal’s behavior.
Deuteronomy 28:57 “And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all [things] secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.”
Or her secundine, “her afterbirth”, as in the margin of our Bibles. So the Targum of Jonathan and Aben Ezra interpret it. The latter describes it, “the place of the fetus, while it abides in the womb of its mother”. The membrane in which the child is wrapped. And it is suggested that, as nauseous as that is, the delicate woman should eat it, and then the newborn child that was wrapped in it. So Jarchi interprets it, little children. Though it seems to be distinguished from the children she bears or brings forth in the next clause.
“And towards her children which she shall bear”: That is, have an evil eye towards them, to eat them as follows.
“For she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates”: That is, eat her children, being reduced to the utmost extremity, being in want of all things, having nothing at all to abate her sharp hunger. Which, and nothing else, could incline her, and prevail upon her to do an action so monstrously horrid. And which she would do in the most private and secret manner; both lest others should partake with her. As well as being conscious of the foulness and blackness of the crime, that would not by any means bear the light. And all this owing to the closeness of the siege, and the unspeakable distress they should be in through it. The first word of this verse should be and so be rendered, “and she shall boil that which cometh out from between her feet, even her children which she shall bear”. The fulfilment of the prophecy will appear still more exact, both at the siege of Samaria (2 Kings 6:20); and of Jerusalem, as in the above relation of Josephus.
I cannot imagine anything being terrible enough for a mother to eat her young. This had to be something so terrible, it is beyond our comprehension.
Verses 58-68: Israel’s dual role of strength and light was dependent on one thing: adherence to the laws of God. Failure to uphold the Lord’s “glorious and fearful name” and manifest His character on the earth in this way would result in the loss of both blessings. Sadly, this happened to the nation multiple times (Dan. 9:12).
“This glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD”: Israel’s obedience to the law (i.e., the Sinaitic Covenant), would lead to fearing the Lord, whose “name” represents His presence and character. The title “Lord (Yahweh)” revealed the glory and greatness of God (see Exodus 3:15). Significantly, the phrase “the LORD thy God” is used approximately 280 times in the book of Deuteronomy. The full measure of the divine curse would come on Israel when its disobedience had been hardened into disregard for the glorious and awesome character of God. (In verses 15, and 45), Moses described curses for disobedience; hence the worst of the curses come when disobedience is hardened into failure to fear God. Only God’s grace would save a small remnant (verse 62), thus keeping Israel from being annihilated (compare Mal. 2:2). In contrast to the promise made to Abraham (in Gen. 15:5), the physical seed of Abraham under God’s curse would be reduced; as God had multiplied the seed of the patriarchs in Egypt (see Exodus 1:7). He would decimate their numbers to make them as nothing until His restoration of the nation in a future day (see 30:5).
Deuteronomy 28:58 “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;”
Of Deuteronomy, in which there is a repetition of the laws before delivered, and an addition of some new ones. All which were to be so observed as to be done, to this end.
“That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD”: Or that it might appear that the fear of God was before their eyes, and in their hearts, by their obedience to his law. That they had a proper awe and reverence of him, who is glorious in his titles and attributes, and whose name Jehovah is holy and reverend. And who, as the covenant God of his people, is to, be feared for his goodness sake.
The book of the law is what they are to obey. The fear is a reverence. The warnings He has given them over and over, are for their good. He encourages them to remember who He Is. “THE LORD THY GOD” is a proclamation of who He Is. All of the above warnings are to open their eyes to the reality of who He is. God has not and will not, reject them. He is the Eternal One who exists.
Verses 59-61: Compare (Amos 4:10).
Deuteronomy 28:59 “Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, [even] great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.”
Visible, remarkable, distinguishable, and astonishing to all that see them.
“And the plagues of thy seed”: For they were to continue, as they have done. With their posterity, age after age.
“Even great plagues, and of long continuance”: Great as to quality and quantity, and firm, sure, lasting, and durable”: The word used is rendered “sure” in (Isa. 55:3). Sure by prophecy and in the event; and which when inflicted remained, as they have 1700 years. All which might be believed as certain, or what would certainly come to pass, and be depended on.
“And sore sicknesses, and of long continuance”: Besides those diseases mentioned (Deut. 28:27); or however others including them.
The sad thing is, they reject Him. If they do reject Him, plagues that are worse than they have ever imagined, will come. These plagues will be against their crops, but also, against their bodies. The plague will not go away. Plagues that come from God in the form of sickness have no earthly cure. Only God can stop that plague.
Deuteronomy 28:60 “Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.”
All that in a way of judgment were brought upon the Egyptians for refusing to let Israel go. Or all such diseases as were peculiar to them, and common among them, as the leprosy, the itch, ulcers, etc.
“Which thou wast afraid of”: When living among them, lest they should catch them from them, or they should be inflicted on them by the hand of God.
“And they shall cleave unto thee”: Not only should come upon them, but continue with them. They should not easily get rid of them, or be cured of them.
In this case, Egypt symbolizes the sinful world. One of the promises, if they kept God’s commandments, was they would not have the diseases of Egypt. The reverse is true, if they do not keep His commandments. A.I.D.S. is an example of the type of plague this is speaking of.
Deuteronomy 28:61 “Also every sickness, and every plague, which [is] not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”
“The book of this law”: A definite, particular written document was meant (see 31:9), referring not just to Deuteronomy (compare 31:9), but to the Pentateuch, as far as it had been written. This is evident from (verses 60-61), which indicate that the diseases of Egypt were written in the book of the law, thus referring to Exodus, which records those plagues.
This is speaking of strange new diseases, that they had never heard of before. If they do not repent and turn to God, they will die of these diseases.
Deuteronomy 28:62 “And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.”
There were but very few left in the land of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar’s general when Jerusalem was taken by him. And these were of the poorer sort, and were left for vinedressers and husbandmen (Jer. 39:10). And how much they were reduced by the Romans will appear by the accounts Josephus gives of those that were slain, and made prisoners by them. He says, “there were 1,100,000 slain at the siege of Jerusalem and by the war, and 97,000 made prisoners”. And it is computed that 1,240,490 were destroyed in Jerusalem and other parts of the nation. And it is also said by their historian, that of those that were transported from Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine into Spain. Scarcely a thousandth part remained and that an infinite number were slain in France and Germany. And though their number equaled those that came out of Egypt, yet scarce five thousand of them were left.
“Whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude”: And, as it is sometimes said, as the sand of the sea, as was promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:5). And was fulfilled in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4:20).
“Because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God”: In his law, and by his prophets. And especially by the voice of the true Messiah, in his everlasting Gospel. Of whom it is said, “today if ye will hear his voice”; etc. (Heb. 3:7).
God always keeps a remnant. The Babylonian captivity left them few in number. The worst instance of this, is when Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives were the only people saved in the flood. God started all over with these 8 people. God will wipe out the masses, if they are unfaithful to Him.
Deuteronomy 28:63 “And it shall come to pass, [that] as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.”
The Word of the Lord, as the Targum of Jonathan. Who with great delight and pleasure in them brought them out of Egypt, conducted them through the wilderness, protecting them and providing all good things for them. And brought them into the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, and settled them there. And gave them judges and kings, priests and prophets, for a long series of time, with other innumerable blessings he bestowed upon them.
“And to multiply you”: So that they became as the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, as before observed.
“So the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and to bring you to nought”: Take as much pleasure in their ruin and destruction, whereby his justice would be glorified, and the honor of his laws preserved. As before in bestowing good things on them, in which mercy and kindness were displayed.
“And ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it”: In a violent manner, by their enemies, and against their wills, they being loath to leave it. The Emperor Adrian, to prevent their insurrections and rebellions, which had given him a great deal of trouble, ordered by an edict that no Jew should come into Jerusalem, nor into the land of Judea, or be seen in it. Which is observed by several writers; by which means the country was cleared of them. In later times, some of them did get there again, but they were but few. Compare (Jer. 12:14; 45:4).
Jacob took seventy people into Egypt with him, and about two and a half million came out. This is saying, that God can take two and a half million, and reduce them down to seventy again. The unfaithful will not remain in the land God had promised them.
Deuteronomy 28:64 “And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, [even] wood and stone.”
“The LORD shall scatter thee”: The Jews remaining after the curses fall would be dispersed by the Lord ultimately to serve false gods, restlessly and fearfully throughout all the nations of the earth (compare Neh. 1:8-9; Jer. 30:11; Ezek. 11:16). This dispersion began with the captivity of the northern kingdom, Israel (722 B.C.), then the southern kingdom, Judah (586 B.C.). In the future earthly kingdom of Messiah, Israel will experience its regathering in faith, salvation, and righteousness (see Isa. 59:19-21: Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:8 – 37:14; Zech. 12:10 – 14:21). The unbearable nature of Israel’s present condition was emphasized since the people longed for another time (verse 67; compare Jer. 44:7; Hosea 8:13; 9:3; 11:4-5).
There are several times in history, when this very thing happened. In fact, the Jews were scattered all over the world. Then they began re-gathering in Israel. In Babylon, they did worship false gods of wood and stone.
Deuteronomy 28:65 “And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:”
No quiet settlement, nor certain dwelling. Being obliged to move from place to place through cruel edicts, heavy fines and mulcts, exorbitant taxes and impositions. And diligent search made after them by the courts of the inquisition, especially where any substance was to be gotten. The Jews themselves own that this passage is now fulfilled in them.
“But the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart”: Being always in fear lest their persons should be seized on, their children taken from them, and their goods confiscated. Hence the poet gives them the epithet of “trembling”.
“And failing of eyes”: In looking for a vainly expected Messiah, to deliver them from all their fears and troubles.
“And sorrow of mind”: Under their present afflictions and calamities.
It is so sad for a person to be uprooted from his homeland, and live in a strange land with strange gods. He is never at peace until he is returned home again.
Deuteronomy 28:66 “And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:”
Whether it shall be spared or not by the enemy.
“And thou shalt fear day and night”: Being in continual dread of being killed.
“And shalt have none assurance of thy life”: Of its being continued a moment scarcely, but live in constant fear and expectation of its being taken away.
Hitler is supposed to have killed a sixth of all the Jews in World War 2. They certainly were not safe in the foreign land. This is one of the fulfillments of the verse above.
Deuteronomy 28:67 “In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! For the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.”
Wishing they might get through the day well, fearing their life would be taken away before night. Or some sad calamity befalls them before the day was past.
“And at even thou shall say, would God it were morning”: Dreading what would happen to them in the night, that some messenger of death would be sent to dispatch them. Or they should be hauled out of bed to a court of inquisition, and cast into a dungeon.
“For the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see”: Often beholding such dreadful sights, as their countrymen put upon the rack, and cruelly tortured, and then burnt alive. And so their hearts would fear and tremble, lest they should be the next that would be taken up and used in this manner. Besides other severities and hard usages, with which their brethren were treated, and they in continual fear of.
There will be much to fear, both day and night. The fear that comes with uncertainty is spoken of here. There are things that are better than death. To have this type of fear, would cause a person to die a thousand deaths.
Deuteronomy 28:68 “And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy [you].”
“And no man shall buy you”: Israel would be so abandoned by God that she would not even be able to sell herself into slavery. The curse of God would bring Israel into a seemingly hopeless condition (compare Hosea 8:13; 9:3). The specific mention of Egypt could be symbolic for any lands where the Jews have been taken into bondage or sold as slaves. But it is true that after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which was a judgment on the apostasy of Israel and their rejection and execution of the Messiah, this prophecy was actually fulfilled. The Roman general Titus, who conquered Jerusalem and Israel, sent 17,000 adult Jews to Egypt to perform hard labor there and had those who were under 17 years old publicly sold. Under the Roman emperor Hadrian, countless Jews were sold and suffered such bondage and cruelty.
The Jews have been hated and rejected, even in our land by some people. Egypt in the verse above, is speaking of the world, not specifically Egypt. The exodus out of Egypt was the birth of a nation. Such a happening as the one mentioned above, would be their death. This speaks of slavery, wherever it happens.
Deuteronomy Chapter 28 Continued Questions
1. They shall carry much seed out in the field, but shall gather little in; why?
2. What happens to the vineyards?
3. Why is olive oil used for anointing?
4. Why will they not enjoy their sons and daughters?
5. Who will rule over them?
6. Why did they know what it was to be the tail?
7. Why will all of these curses come upon them?
8. What are the two choices of these people?
9. What would be the condition of these people in captivity?
10. When God’s blessings are removed, what does that do to Israel?
11. What had they taken for granted before?
12. Who were some of the nations, that came against them?
13. What was a sign of the fierceness of the nation, that came against them?
14. What happens to the walls of their cities?
15. What chapter of Jeremiah tells of this very thing?
16. What terrible practice does verse 53 say, they will do when things are the worst?
17. What does Jeremiah chapter 47 verse 3 say, the father does to the children?
18. What is verse 55 speaking of?
19. What is meant by a tender and delicate woman?
20. What had her behavior become?
21. The author finds what hard to believe?
22. Who is their God?
23. He is the Eternal One who __________.
24. What kind of plagues come on them, when they reject God?
25. What are the diseases of Egypt speaking of?
26. What, in our society, is an example of the plague in verse 60?
27. What kind of diseases is verse 61 speaking of?
28. God always kept a ____________.
29. The worst instance of God killing nearly everyone, and keeping a remnant is when?
30. What shall God’s people do in the nations, where they are scattered?
31. Hitler killed about a ________ of the Jews?
32. The exodus out of Egypt was the _________ of a nation.
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