This is the famous -- or infamous -- chapter of the so-called blessings and curses. Of its 69 verses, 12 mention “blessings” (vss. 28:1, 28:3 to 28:13) and 47 mention “curses” (vss. 28:16 to 28:44, 28:48 to 28:57, 28:59 to 28:68). I believe that most people familiar with this chapter regard these verses as describing reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience. Moreover, the unrealistically extreme nature of both the blessings and curses tend to inspire skepticism in people. Therefore many of us discount this chapter as farfetched, or they ignore it all together, as they tend to ignore the Torah itself. I don’t see this chapter at all the way others do. I see this entire chapter as a warning -- as a collection of prophecies. Moses is relating, admittedly perhaps exaggerating at times, the consequences of each collective response, obedience versus rebellion. These are, as I see it, natural results of our behavior.
Yes, I admit it: I am saying that we are ultimately responsible for our centuries of suffering. No, I am not a Jew-hater. I love my kinfolk. I simply see many of us as blind -- but inspired. To my mind, and I’ve said this before (see the Introduction), the Lord chose us because He knows that we will be rebellious. Why He needs us to be rebellious I don’t claim to know. I imagine it must have something to do with His unfathomable purpose for the world. I have more to say about this in another forum.
Because I believe that many of these prophesies -- the “curses,” that is -- have been fulfilled to at least some extent, I will remark briefly following each of them on how I see their individual fulfillment.
By the way, all the second-person pronouns in this chapter are singular, except where noted.
וְהָיָה אִם־שָׁמֹועַ תִּשְׁמַע בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹׂות אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ 28:1
הַיֹּום וּנְתָנְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ עֶלְיֹון עַל כָּל־גֹּויֵי הָאָרֶץ
Deut. 28:1 “And it shall be, if you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord, your God, observing to do all His commandments that I am commanding you today, then the Lord, your God, will set you up highest above all the nations of the earth.”
וּבָאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל־הַבְּרָכֹות הָאֵלֶּה וְהִשִּׂיגֻךָ כִּי תִשְׁמַע בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ 28:2
Deut. 28:2 “Then all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you, if you will listen to the voice of the Lord, your God.”
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בָּעִיר וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בַּשָּׂדֶה 28:3
Deut. 28:3 “You will be blessed in the city and you will be blessed in the field.”
בָּרוּךְ פְּרִי־בִטְנְךָ וּפְרִי אַדְמָתְךָ וּפְרִי בְהֶמְתֶּךָ שְׁגַר אֲלָפֶיךָ וְעַשְׁתְּרֹות צֹאנֶךָ 28:4
Deut. 28:4 “Blessed will be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your land and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your kine, and the young of your flock.”
בָּרוּךְ טַנְאֲךָ וּמִשְׁאַרְתֶּךָ 28:5
Deut. 28:5 “Blessed will be your basket and your kneading trough.”
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּבֹאֶךָ וּבָרוּךְ אַתָּה בְּצֵאתֶךָ 28:6
Deut. 28:6 “You will be blessed in your coming in and you will be blessed in your going out.”
יִתֵּן יְהוָה אֶת־אֹיְבֶיךָ הַקָּמִים עָלֶיךָ נִגָּפִים לְפָנֶיךָ בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶחָד יֵצְאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וּבְשִׁבְעָה דְרָכִים יָנוּסוּ 28:7
Deut. 28:7 “The Lord will deliver your enemies rising up against you, to be smitten before you; in one way will they come out to you but in seven ways will they flee before you.”
Note that the blessings do not preclude enemies. In this verse we are told that we will still have enemies despite these blessings, but they will be easily overcome.
יְצַו יְהוָה אִתְּךָ אֶת־הַבְּרָכָה בַּאֲסָמֶיךָ וּבְכֹל מִשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ וּבֵרַךְךָ בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ 28:8
Deut. 28:8 “The Lord will command a blessing with you in your barns and in every undertaking of your hand, and He will bless you in the land that the Lord, your God, will be giving you.”
יְקִימְךָ יְהוָה לֹו לְעַם קָדֹושׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע־לָךְ כִּי תִשְׁמֹר אֶת־מִצְוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהָלַכְתָּ בִּדְרָכָיו 28:9
Deut. 28:9 “The Lord will establish you for His holy people, as He had sworn to you, when you will keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, and follow in His ways.”
וְרָאוּ כָּל־עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ כִּי שֵׁם יְהוָה נִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ וְיָרְאוּ מִמֶּךָּ 28:10
Deut. 28:10 “And all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of the Lord has been pronounced over you and they will be awed by you.”
וְהֹותִרְךָ יְהוָה לְטֹובָה בִּפְרִי בִטְנְךָ וּבִפְרִי בְהַמְתְּךָ וּבִפְרִי אַדְמָתֶךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה 28:11
לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לָתֶת לָךְ
Deut. 28:11 “The Lord will make you abundant in goodness in the fruit of your body and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your land, on the land that the Lord had sworn to your fathers to give you.”
יִפְתַּח יְהוָה לְךָ אֶת־אֹוצָרֹו הַטֹּוב אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם לָתֵת מְטַר־אַרְצְךָ בְּעִתֹּו וּלְבָרֵךְ אֵת כָּל־מַעֲשֵׂה 28:12
יָדֶךָ וְהִלְוִיתָ גֹּויִם רַבִּים וְאַתָּה לֹא תִלְוֶה
Deut. 28:12 “And the Lord will open His valuable treasure for you, the heavens, giving the rain of your land in its time and blessing all the work of your hand, so you will be a lender of many nations but you will not borrow.”
וּנְתָנְךָ יְהוָה לְרֹאשׁ וְלֹא לְזָנָב וְהָיִיתָ רַק לְמַעְלָה וְלֹא תִהְיֶה לְמָטָּה כִּי־תִשְׁמַע אֶל־מִצְוֹת יְהוָה 28:13
אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיֹּום לִשְׁמֹר וְלַעֲשֹׂות
Deut. 28:13 “And the Lord will make you for a head and not for a tail; and you will be only for the top and not be for the bottom; when you will take heed to the commandments of the Lord, your God, that I am commanding you today to take heed and to do,
וְלֹא תָסוּר מִכָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיֹּום יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול לָלֶכֶת אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים 28:14
Deut. 28:14 and will not turn aside from all the words that I am commanding you today, right or left, to go after other gods to serve them.”
In this verse the pronoun you in the phrase I am commanding you is plural.
וְהָיָה אִם־לֹא תִשְׁמַע בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹׂות אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֹתָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִיָ 28:15
מְצַוְּךָ הַיֹּום וּבָאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל־הַקְּלָלֹות הָאֵלֶּה וְהִשִּׂיגוּךָ
Deut. 28:15 “But it shall be, if you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, your God, taking heed to do all His commandments and His statutes that I am commanding you today, that all these curses shall enter upon you and overtake you.”
אָרוּר אַתָּה בָּעִיר וְאָרוּר אַתָּה בַּשָּׂדֶה 28:16
Deut. 28:16 “You will be cursed in the cities and you will be cursed in the fields.”
This was fulfilled in Israel and Judea after King Solomon’s death. War and destruction, then conquest and exile, followed
אָרוּר טַנְאֲךָ וּמִשְׁאַרְתֶּךָ 28:17
Deut. 28:17 “Cursed will be your baskets and your kneading troughs.”
This had been coming true from the destruction of the first temple until almost this day. In modern Israel this doesn’t seem to be true anymore. Perhaps it’s a tempting sign for us to see.
אָרוּר פְּרִי־בִטְנְךָ וּפְרִי אַדְמָתֶךָ שְׁגַר אֲלָפֶיךָ וְעַשְׁתְּרֹות צֹאנֶךָ 28:18
Deut. 28:18 “Cursed will be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your land, the increase of your kine, and the young of your flocks.”
Fulfilled throughout the centuries following the destruction of the second temple up until modern times -- at least until the holocaust.
אָרוּר אַתָּה בְּבֹאֶךָ וְאָרוּר אַתָּה בְּצֵאתֶךָ 28:19
Deut. 28:19 “You will be cursed in your coming in and you will be cursed in your going out.”
Same as for v. 28:18.
יְשַׁלַּח יְהוָה בְּךָ אֶת־הַמְּאֵרָה אֶת־הַמְּהוּמָה וְאֶת־הַמִּגְעֶרֶת בְּכָל־מִשְׁלַח יָדְךָ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה עַד 28:20
הִשָּׁמֶדְךָ וְעַד־אֲבָדְךָ מַהֵר מִפְּנֵי רֹעַ מַעֲלָלֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר עֲזַבְתָּנִי
Deut. 28:20 “The Lord will send the curse and the discomfiture and the rebuke on you in every undertaking of your hand, whatever you might do, until your destruction and your speedy disappearance, because of the evil of your doings whereby you have forsaken me.”
This has been partially fulfilled. We have not yet been destroyed or have disappeared. God forbid! Actually, I don’t expect us to disappear. Before that happens, we and the rest of the world will see the light.
יַדְבֵּק יְהוָה בְּךָ אֶת־הַדָּבֶר עַד כַּלֹּתֹו אֹתְךָ מֵעַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּה בָא־שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ 28:21
Deut. 28:21 “The Lord will make the pestilence stay with you until His terminating you from the land where you are going to possess it.”
Fulfilled with the destruction of the temples.
יַכְּכָה יְהוָה בַּשַּׁחֶפֶת וּבַקַּדַּחַת וּבַדַּלֶּקֶת וּבַחַרְחֻר וּבַחֶרֶב וּבַשִּׁדָּפֹון וּבַיֵּרָקֹון וּרְדָפוּךָ עַד אָבְדֶךָ 28:22
Deut. 28:22 “The Lord will strike with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with drought and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until your disappearance.”
Partially fulfilled, as in v. 28:20.
וְהָיוּ שָׁמֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר עַל־רֹאשְׁךָ נְחֹשֶׁת וְהָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־תַּחְתֶּיךָ בַּרְזֶל 28:23
Deut. 28:23 “And your skies that will be over your head will be brass, and the land that is under you, iron.”
Fulfilled in the Diaspora.
יִתֵּן יְהוָה אֶת־מְטַר אַרְצְךָ אָבָק וְעָפָר מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם יֵרֵד עָלֶיךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ 28:24
Deut. 28:24 “The Lord will make the rain of your land of powder and dust; from the sky it shall descend upon you until your destruction.”
Fulfilled in the land of Israel after the dispersion, until the rise of the modern state of Israel.
יִתֶּנְךָ יְהוָה נִגָּף לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֶיךָ בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶחָד תֵּצֵא אֵלָיו וּבְשִׁבְעָה דְרָכִים תָּנוּס לְפָנָיו וְהָיִיתָ לְזַעֲוָה 28:25
לְכֹל מַמְלְכֹות הָאָרֶץ
Deut. 28:25 “The Lord will make you stumble before your enemy; in one way shall you go forth to him but in seven ways shall you flee before him; and you shall be for an agitation to all the kingdoms of the earth.
How true this one has been! We have often stumbled, both in bad times and good throughout much of the Christian era. And at one time or another, we have been an agitation for just about every nation on the earth.
וְהָיְתָה נִבְלָתְךָ לְמַאֲכָל לְכָל־עֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְבֶהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד 28:26
Deut. 28:26 “And your carcass will be for food to all the fowl of the skies and to the beasts of the earth, that no one will be driving away.”
Fulfilled throughout the ages since the Christian era and especially in the holocaust.
יַכְּכָה יְהוָה בִּשְׁחִין מִצְרַיִם וּבָעֳפָלִים וּבַגָּרָב וּבֶחָרֶס אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תוּכַל לְהֵרָפֵא 28:27
Deut. 28:27 “And the Lord will strike with the boil of Egypt and with hemorrhoids and with scabbing and with itching of which you will not be able to be healed.”
Fulfilled! Even I have been struck with some of these in my later years.
יַכְּכָה יְהוָה בְּשִׁגָּעֹון וּבְעִוָּרֹון וּבְתִמְהֹון לֵבָב. 28:28
Deut. 28:28 “The Lord will strike with madness and with blindness and with dismay,
Certainly some have experienced these ills.
וְהָיִיתָ מְמַשֵּׁשׁ בַּצָּהֳרַיִם כַּאֲשֶׁר יְמַשֵּׁשׁ הָעִוֵּר בָּאֲפֵלָה וְלֹא תַצְלִיחַ אֶת־דְּרָכֶיךָ וְהָיִיתָ אַךְ עָשׁוּק 28:29
וְגָזוּל כָּל־הַיָּמִים וְאֵין מֹושִׁיעַ
Deut. 28:29 so you will be groping in bright light as the blind must grope in total darkness, and you will not make your ways prosperous, and you will come into only oppression and violence all the time, and there will be no deliverer.”
Sound familiar? We have been crying for a deliverer for over 2,000 years. And as far as the first part of this verse is concerned, we have been groping in the Torah’s bright light, yet in near total darkness.
אִשָּׁה תְאָרֵשׂ וְאִישׁ אַחֵר יִשְׁגָּלֶנָּה בַּיִת תִּבְנֶה וְלֹא־תֵשֵׁב בֹּו כֶּרֶם תִּטַּע וְלֹא תְחַלְּלֶנּוּ 28:30
Deut. 28:30 “You could betroth a wife but another man will enjoy her. You could build a house but you will not dwell in it. You could plant a vineyard but you will not eat its fruit.”
Starting with this verse and continuing until, and including, v. 28:44, the Hebrew text is divided into two columns across the pane, with a space in the middle, so that the two phrases of each curse are opposed to each other.
In English v. 28:30 would look something like:
You could betroth a wife but another man will enjoy her.
You could build a house but you will not dwell in it.
You could plant a vineyard but you will not eat its fruit.
The verses continue this way through v. 28:44. In addition, there is a blank line before v. 28:30 and another after v. 28:44, separating these verses from the rest of the text in that pane. When I encountered this unusual phenomenon, I got the distinct impression that Moses (and/or the scribe) was really trying to impress this message into the hearts of all of us. By the way, the fifth word in this verse is normally considered to be an error. The word is translated as will enjoy her. The allegedly correct word substituted for it in many bibles is not just a corrected spelling, but a different word that translates to will lie down with her. I like the original word as recorded, because its literal translation is will ravish her. And I believe that is what is meant here. The words say someone else will ravish your new wife, dwell in your new house, and eat your fresh new fruit.
שֹׁורְךָ טָבוּחַ לְעֵינֶיךָ וְלֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ חֲמֹרְךָ גָּזוּל מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וְלֹא יָשׁוּב לָךְ צֹאנְךָ נְתֻנֹות לְאֹיְבֶיךָ 28:31
וְאֵין לְךָ מֹושִׁיעַ
Deut. 28:31 “Your ox will be slaughtered in your sight and you shall not eat any of it, your ass will be stolen from before you and not be returned to you, your sheep will be given to your enemies -- and there be no deliverer for you.”
Much of this occurred at various times of persecution throughout the dark ages, and in some places for longer.
בָּנֶיךָ וּבְנֹתֶיךָ נְתֻנִים לְעַם אַחֵר וְעֵינֶיךָ רֹאֹות וְכָלֹות אֲלֵיהֶם כָּל־הַיֹּום וְאֵין לְאֵל יָדֶךָ 28:32
Deut. 28:32 “Your sons and your daughters will be given to another people, and your eyes will be looking yet be closed to them all day, and there will be no power of your hand.”
Sounds like assimilation in modern-day America!
פְּרִי אַדְמָתְךָ וְכָל־יְגִיעֲךָ יֹאכַל עַם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדָעְתָּ וְהָיִיתָ רַק עָשׁוּק וְרָצוּץ כָּל־הַיָּמִים 28:33
Deut. 28:33 “A people whom you have not known will eat up the fruit of your land and all your labor, and you will come into only oppression and bruising all the time,
See next verse.
וְהָיִיתָ מְשֻׁגָּע מִמַּרְאֵה עֵינֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּרְאֶה 28:34
Deut. 28:34 so you will become mad because of the sight of your eyes that you will see.”
Does this remind you of pogroms and the holocaust?
יַכְּכָה יְהוָה בִּשְׁחִין רָע עַל־הַבִּרְכַּיִם וְעַל־הַשֹּׁקַיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תוּכַל לְהֵרָפֵא מִכַּף רַגְלְךָ וְעַד קָדְקֳדֶךָ 28:35
Deut. 28:35 “The Lord will strike with sore inflammation on the knees and on the hips, of which you will not be able to be healed, from the sole of your foot and up to the top of your head.”
Sounds like me again! And many other Jews (and non-Jews!) I know.
יֹולֵךְ יְהוָה אֹתְךָ וְאֶת־מַלְךְּךָ אֲשֶׁר תָּקִים עָלֶיךָ אֶל־גֹּוי אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדַעְתָּ אַתָּה וַאֲבֹתֶיךָ וְעָבַדְתָּ שָּׁם 28:36
אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עֵץ וָאָבֶן
Deut. 28:36 “The Lord will lead you and your king -- whom you will establish over you -- away to a nation that you have not known, you or your fathers, and you shall serve other gods of wood and stone there.”
The Babylonian exile and, minus the king, the Diaspora in the dark ages and part of the middle ages.
וְהָיִיתָ לְשַׁמָּה לְמָשָׁל וְלִשְׁנִינָה בְּכֹל הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר־יְנַהֶגְךָ יְהוָה שָׁמָּה 28:37
Deut. 28:37 “And you will be for a devastation, for a conversation topic, and for a byword with all the peoples to which the Lord shall lead you.”
Isn’t this one true! All the nations talk about us.
זֶרַע רַב תֹּוצִיא הַשָּׂדֶה וּמְעַט תֶּאֱסֹף כִּי יַחְסְלֶנּוּ הָאַרְבֶּה 28:38
Deut. 28:38 “You will carry much seed out to the field but you will gather little, for the grasshopper will consume it.”
I’m not sure that this one has been or will ever be fulfilled. Maybe we haven’t seen it yet. Possibly this may refer to the time preceding the destruction of the first temple or maybe some forgotten drought or famine.
כְּרָמִים תִּטַּע וְעָבָדְתָּ וְיַיִן לֹא־תִשְׁתֶּה וְלֹא תֶאֱגֹר כִּי תֹאכְלֶנּוּ הַתֹּלָעַת 28:39
Deut. 28:39 “You will plant and work vineyards, but you will not drink of the wine and you will not harvest, for you will feed it to the worms.”
This may have happened during the middle ages, and before and after.
זֵיתִים יִהְיוּ לְךָ בְּכָל־גְּבוּלֶךָ וְשֶׁמֶן לֹא תָסוּךְ כִּי יִשַּׁל זֵיתֶךָ 28:40
Deut. 28:40 “Olive trees will be yours in all your territory, but you will not anoint the oil, for your olives will drop off.”
See v. 28:41.
בָּנִים וּבָנֹות תֹּולִיד וְלֹא־יִהְיוּ לָךְ כִּי יֵלְכוּ בַּשֶּׁבִי 28:41
Deut. 28:41 “You will bear sons and daughters, but they will not be yours, for they will go into captivity.”
These two certainly sound like the Babylonian captivity.
כָּל־עֵצְךָ וּפְרִי אַדְמָתֶךָ יְיָרֵשׁ הַצְּלָצַל 28:42
Deut. 28:42 “The locust shall possess every tree of yours and the fruit of your land.”
This was the land of Israel for much of the Christian era.
הַגֵּר אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבְּךָ יַעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ מַעְלָה מָּעְלָה וְאַתָּה תֵרֵד מַטָּה מָּטָּה 28:43
Deut. 28:43 “The stranger who will be in your midst will rise above you higher and higher, and you will descend lower and lower.”
This verse sounds like Germany during the rise of Hitler.
הוּא יַלְוְךָ וְאַתָּה לֹא תַלְוֶנּוּ הוּא יִהְיֶה לְרֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תִּהְיֶה לְזָנָב 28:44
Deut. 28:44 “He will lend to you and you will not lend to him; he will be for a head and you will be for a tail.”
The first part of this one may not yet have been fulfilled. However, it could refer to the United States
וּבָאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל־הַקְּלָלֹות הָאֵלֶּה וּרְדָפוּךָ וְהִשִּׂיגוּךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ כִּי־לֹא שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ 28:45
לִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו אֲשֶׁר צִוָּךְ
Deut. 28:45 “And these curses will come upon you all, and pursue you, and overtake you until your destruction because you did not listen to the voice of the Lord, your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes that He commanded you.”
וְהָיוּ בְךָ לְאֹות וּלְמֹופֵת וּבְזַרְעֲךָ עַד־עֹולָם 28:46
Deut. 28:46 “And they will be with you and with your seed for a sign and for a wonder for ever,
תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא־עָבַדְתָּ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב מֵרֹב כֹּל 28:47
Deut. 28:47 whereas you did not serve the Lord, your God, joyously and generously from the abundance of everything.”
The word translated as “whereas” normally means “instead of” or “in place of.” Moses’ use of this term suggests the choice that we have always had – and still continually have -- before us, to serve the Lord or not. Notice also how Moses describes the service we should be offering. With joy and generosity! How many of us understand that? I think that’s part of what it means to love the Lord with all our heart and all our soul and all our might.
וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת־אֹיְבֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ יְהוָה בָּךְ בְּרָעָב וּבְצָמָא וּבְעֵירֹם וּבְחֹסֶר כֹּל וְנָתַן עֹל בַּרְזֶל 28:48
עַל־צַוָּארֶךָ עַד הִשְׁמִידֹו אֹתָךְ
Deut. 28:48 “And you will serve your enemy whom the Lord will send on you in hunger and in thirst and in nakedness and in want of everything; and he will put a yoke of iron upon your neck until he has made you perish.”
I’m not sure that the Lord sends any enemy on us; nevertheless, this sounds a lot like the Babylonian exile.
יִשָּׂא יְהוָה עָלֶיךָ גֹּוי מֵרָחֹוק מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ כַּאֲשֶׁר יִדְאֶה הַנָּשֶׁר גֹּוי אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תִשְׁמַע לְשֹׁנֹו 28:49
Deut. 28:49 “The Lord will bring up a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as fast as the eagle can fly, a nation whose language you will not understand,
גֹּוי עַז פָּנִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יִשָּׂא פָנִים לְזָקֵן וְנַעַר לֹא יָחֹן 28:50
Deut. 28:50 a nation of a fierce countenance that will not have regard for age or show youth favor.”
וְאָכַל פְּרִי בְהֶמְתְּךָ וּפְרִי־אַדְמָתְךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יַשְׁאִיר לְךָ דָּגָן תִּירֹושׁ וְיִצְהָר שְׁגַר 28:51
אֲלָפֶיךָ וְעַשְׁתְּרֹת צֹאנֶךָ עַד הַאֲבִידֹו אֹתָךְ
Deut. 28:51 “And he will eat the fruit of your cattle and the fruit of your land until your destruction, who will not leave corn, wine, or oil, the increase of your kine, or the young of your sheep for you, until his causing you to perish.”
וְהֵצַר לְךָ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶיךָ עַד רֶדֶת חֹמֹתֶיךָ הַגְּבֹהֹות וְהַבְּצֻרֹות אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בֹּטֵחַ בָּהֵן בְּכָל־אַרְצֶךָ 28:52
וְהֵצַר לְךָ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶיךָ בְּכָל־אַרְצְךָ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לָךְ
Deut. 28:52 “And he will lay siege to you in all your cities until your protective high and fortified walls on which you trusted come down in all your land, and he shall lay siege to you in all your cities in all your land that the Lord, your God, had given to you.”
This verse and the next five sound like the Roman siege of Jerusalem in the time of the second temple.
וְאָכַלְתָּ פְרִי־בִטְנְךָ בְּשַׂר בָּנֶיךָ וּבְנֹתֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּמָצֹור וּבְמָצֹוק אֲשֶׁר־יָצִיק לְךָ 28:53
Deut. 28:53 “And you will eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the Lord, your God, had given to you, in the siege and in the anguish with which your enemy will constrain you.”
הָאִישׁ הָרַךְ בְּךָ וְהֶעָנֹג מְאֹד תֵּרַע עֵינֹו בְאָחִיו וּבְאֵשֶׁת חֵיקֹו וּבְיֶתֶר בָּנָיו אֲשֶׁר יֹותִיר 28:54
Deut. 28:54 “The tenderhearted man among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be too displeased with his brother and with the wife of his bosom and with the remnant of his children who will be left,
מִתֵּת לְאַחַד מֵהֶם מִבְּשַׂר בָּנָיו אֲשֶׁר יֹאכֵל מִבְּלִי הִשְׁאִיר־לֹו כֹּל בְּמָצֹור וּבְמָצֹוק אֲשֶׁר יָצִיק לְךָ 28:55
Deut. 28:55 to give to any of them some of the flesh of his children that he will eat without leaving for himself anything in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy will constrain you in all your cities.”
הָרַכָּה בְךָ וְהָעֲנֻגָּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נִסְּתָה כַף־רַגְלָהּ הַצֵּג עַל־הָאָרֶץ מֵהִתְעַנֵּג וּמֵרֹךְ תֵּרַע עֵינָהּ בְּאִישׁ 28:56
חֵיקָהּ וּבִבְנָהּ וּבְבִתָּהּ
Deut. 28:56 “The tenderhearted woman among you, and delicate, who would not dare to set the sole of her foot on the ground out of delicateness and tenderness, her eye will be so displeased with the husband of her bosom and with her son and with her daughter,
וּבְשִׁלְיָתָהּ הַיֹּוצֵת מִבֵּין רַגְלֶיהָ וּבְבָנֶיהָ אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד כִּי־תֹאכְלֵם בְּחֹסֶר־כֹּל בַּסָּתֶר בְּמָצֹור וּבְמָצֹוק 28:57
אֲשֶׁר יָצִיק לְךָ אֹיִבְךָ בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ
Deut. 28:57 and with her baby coming out from between her legs, and with her children that she will bear, that she will eat them in secret in want of anything in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy will constrain you in your cities.”
אִם־לֹא תִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹׂות אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת הַכְּתוּבִים בַּסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה לְיִרְאָה אֶת־הַשֵּׁם 28:58
הַנִּכְבָּד וְהַנֹּורָא הַזֶּה אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ
Deut. 28:58 “If you will not take heed to do all the words of this Torah written in this scroll, to revere this glorious and awesome Name, the Lord, your God,
We know at this point that Moses had already been recording the commandments of the Lord. They would then be copied onto the stones of the altar on the other side of the Jordan. From this fact we can perhaps conclude that a later scribe added the verses that seemingly couldn’t have been written in Moses’ time, the verses that I’ve previously pointed out.
וְהִפְלָא יְהוָה אֶת־מַכֹּתְךָ וְאֵת מַכֹּות זַרְעֶךָ מַכֹּות גְּדֹלֹות וְנֶאֱמָנֹות וָחֳלָיִם רָעִים וְנֶאֱמָנִים 28:59
Deut. 28:59 the Lord will make wondrous your plagues and the plagues of your seed, great and long-lasting plagues, and sore and long-lasting sicknesses.”
וְהֵשִׁיב בְּךָ אֵת כָּל־מַדְוֵה מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יָגֹרְתָּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם וְדָבְקוּ בָּךְ 28:60
Deut. 28:60 “And He will bring back all the diseases of Egypt upon you, whose appearances you feared, and they will cleave to you.”
גַּם כָּל־חֳלִי וְכָל־מַכָּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא כָתוּב בְּסֵפֶר הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת יַעְלֵם יְהוָה עָלֶיךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ 28:61
Deut. 28:61 Also every disease and every plague that is not written in the scroll of this law, the Lord will raise them up upon you until your destruction.
וְנִשְׁאַרְתֶּם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר הֱיִיתֶם כְּכֹוכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לָרֹב כִּי־לֹא שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ 28:62
Deut. 28:62 “And you will be left in small numbers instead of when you had been like the stars of the sky for multitude, because you did not listen to the voice of the Lord, your God.”
וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר־שָׂשׂ יְהוָה עֲלֵיכֶם לְהֵיטִיב אֶתְכֶם וּלְהַרְבֹּות אֶתְכֶם כֵּן יָשִׂישׂ יְהוָה עֲלֵיכֶם לְהַאֲבִיד 28:63
אֶתְכֶם וּלְהַשְׁמִיד אֶתְכֶם וְנִסַּחְתֶּם מֵעַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּה בָא־שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ
Deut. 28:63 “And it will be, as the Lord rejoiced over you, doing you good and multiplying you, so will the Lord rejoice over you, making you perish and destroying you, and you will be torn away from the land where you went to possess it.”
All the pronouns you in this verse -- except the last two -- are plural.
וֶהֱפִיצְךָ יְהוָה בְּכָל־הָעַמִּים מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ וְעַד־קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ וְעָבַדְתָּ שָּׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־ 28:64
יָדַעְתָּ אַתָּה וַאֲבֹתֶיךָ עֵץ וָאָבֶן
Deut. 28:64 “And the Lord will scatter you among all the peoples from one end of the earth and as far as the other end of the earth, and you will serve there other gods of wood and stone that you have not known, you or your fathers.”
וּבַגֹּויִם הָהֵם לֹא תַרְגִּיעַ וְלֹא־יִהְיֶה מָנֹוחַ לְכַף־רַגְלֶךָ וְנָתַן יְהוָה לְךָ שָׁם לֵב רַגָּז וְכִלְיֹון עֵינַיִם 28:65
Deut. 28:65 “And in those nations you will not rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot, and the Lord will give you a trembling heart and failing eyes and sorrow of the soul there.”
וְהָיוּ חַיֶּיךָ תְּלֻאִים לְךָ מִנֶּגֶד וּפָחַדְתָּ לַיְלָה וְיֹוםָם וְלֹא תַאֲמִין בְּחַיֶּיךָ 28:66
Deut. 28:66 “And your life will be suspenseful for you from afar. And you will be in fear by night and by day, so you will have no assurance for your life.”
בַּבֹּקֶר תֹּאמַר מִי־יִתֵּן עֶרֶב וּבָעֶרֶב תֹּאמַר מִי־יִתֵּן בֹּקֶר מִפַּחַד לְבָבְךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּפְחָד וּמִמַּרְאֵה עֵינֶיךָ 28:67
Deut. 28:67 “In the morning you will say, ‘If only it would be evening,’ and in the evening you will say, ‘If only it would be morning,’ because of the fear of your heart that you will feel and because of the sight of your eyes that you shall see.”
וֶהֱשִׁיבְךָ יְהוָה מִצְרַיִם בָּאֳנִיֹּות בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְתִּי לְךָ לֹא־תֹסִיף עֹוד לִרְאֹתָהּ וְהִתְמַכַּרְתֶּם שָׁם 28:68
לְאֹיְבֶיךָ לַעֲבָדִים וְלִשְׁפָחֹות וְאֵין קֹנֶה
Deut. 28:68 “And the Lord will bring you back to Egypt in ships because of the way I said to you, ‘You shall no more come again to see it,’ and you will try to sell yourselves there for bondmen and for bondwomen, but there will be no buyer.”
אֵלֶּה דִבְרֵי הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה לִכְרֹת אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מֹואָב מִלְּבַד הַבְּרִית 28:69
אֲשֶׁר־כָּרַת אִתָּם בְּחֹרֵב
Deut. 28:69 These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that He made with them in Horeb.
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