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Exposition: Israel's Curses

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Exposition: Israel's Curses

Though many Old Testament passages detail God’s curses, none of the curses is permanent and God eventually removes them from Israel. At that time, Israel’s restoration is complete as she lives under God’s blessings and those persecuting her must endure the curses God formally inflicted on her.  God-fearing people should always bless the Jews regardless of God’s current predisposition toward them since any other approach puts them at risk of suffering the worst of God’s curses.  While the Old Testament pronounces both blessings and curses on Israel, the curses far outnumber the blessings.  For example, in Deuteronomy 28, 14 verses contain blessings while 54 verses contain curses and many of these are polar opposites of the blessings.  For example, Israel’s obedience causes God’s blessings to overtake them (Deuteronomy 28:2) while Israel’s disobedience causes God’s curses to overtake them (Deuteronomy 28:45).  In addition, God’s joy in blessing the Jews changes to joy in cursing them (Deuteronomy 28:63).  God’s curses on Israel include:

  • Judgment from heaven (heaven of brass) (Deuteronomy 28:23)
  • No one is able to save them from the curses (Deuteronomy 28:29)

Israel’s labors:

  • They shall be cursed wherever they go (Deuteronomy 28:16, 19)
  • Their savings are cursed (thy basket and thy store) (Deuteronomy 28:17)
  • They are cursed in all they do until they are destroyed and perish quickly (Deuteronomy 28:20)
  • They shall live a hard life (earth of iron)
  • They shall suffer severe droughts (Deuteronomy 28:24)
  • Their land, the increase of their cattle, and the flocks of their sheep are cursed (Deuteronomy 28:18)
  • Their food is destroyed by blasting and mildew (Deuteronomy 28:22)
  • They shall not prosper (Deuteronomy 28:29)
  • They shall be only oppressed and spoiled (Deuteronomy 28:29)
  • They shall plant vineyards and not get the harvest (Deuteronomy 28:30, Micah 6:14)
  • Their farm animals (ox, ass, and sheep) shall be violently taken away and given to others (Deuteronomy 28:31)
  • Others shall have the fruit of the land and their labors (Deuteronomy 28:33)
  • Locusts shall eat the grain harvest, trees, and the fruit of the land (Deuteronomy 28:38, 42)
  • Worms shall devour their grapes (Deuteronomy 28:39)
  • Their olive trees shall cast off their fruit before it is ripe (Deuteronomy 28:40)
  • They shall be made desolate (Micah 6:13)
  • They shall eat and not be satisfied (Micah 6:14)
  • They shall sow and not reap (Micah 6:15)
  • They shall tread olives but not anoint themselves with oil (Micah 6:15)
  • They shall make wine and not drink it (Micah 6:15)

Israel’s health:

  • They shall suffer from deadly pestilence (disease) (Deuteronomy 28:21)
  • They shall suffer from deadly pestilence (disease) (Deuteronomy 28:21)
  • They shall suffer from consumption, fever, inflammation, and hot fever (Deuteronomy 28:22)
  • Many shall have un-healable skin diseases including the botch of Egypt, emerods, scab, and the itch (Deuteronomy 28:27)
  • They shall be smitten from their feet to the top of their heads with a sore botch that cannot be healed (Deuteronomy 28:36)
  • They shall suffer from all the diseases of Egypt, which they were feared, plus all manner of diseases and plagues (Deuteronomy 28:60-61)
  • They shall be made sick (Micah 6:13)
  • Israel’s effectiveness in war:
  • They shall flee seven ways (Deuteronomy 28:25)
  • Their carcasses shall rot in the field and be consumed by wild animals (Deuteronomy 28:26)
  • They shall be destroyed by the sword (Deuteronomy 28:22)
  • During sieges, they shall eat their children for food (Deuteronomy 28:53)
  • During sieges, the most tender of people will hate their relatives and leave them because of their suffering (Deuteronomy 28:54-57)
  • During sieges, men shall hate their brothers, wives, and children and shall leave them (Deuteronomy 28:54)

Israel’s families:

  • Their children are cursed (Deuteronomy 28:18)
  • Men marry and another man has sex with his wife (Deuteronomy 28:30)
  • They shall build a house and not live in it (Deuteronomy 28:30)
  • Their sons and daughters are taken away, given to others and they will watch in vain everyday to see them again (Deuteronomy 28:32, 41)

Israel’s mental health:

  • They shall suffer from various psychological diseases including madness, blindness, and astonishment of heart (Deuteronomy 28:28)
  • They shall grope at noonday like a blind man (Deuteronomy 28:29)
  • The things they shall see shall make them mad (Deuteronomy 28:34)

Israel’s relationships to other nations:

  • They shall be driven into captivity by the Babylonians (Deuteronomy 28:36, 49-52)
  • They shall be an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations (Deuteronomy 28:37)
  • They shall be made low and the stranger made high (Deuteronomy 28:43)
  • They shall be borrowers and not lenders (Deuteronomy 28:44)
  • They shall be the tail and not the head (Deuteronomy 28:44)
  • They shall serve their enemies in hunger, thirst, and nakedness (Deuteronomy 28:48)
  • They shall be under the harsh rule of their enemies (yoke of iron) (Deuteronomy 28:48)
  • There shall be few Jews left (Deuteronomy 28:62)
  • They shall be scattered among all the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:64)
  • They shall find neither ease or rest wherever they are driven (Deuteronomy 28:65)
  • Wherever they are driven, they shall have trembling hearts, sorrowful minds, fearful hearts, and have no confidence their lives will continue from morning to evening or from evening to morning (Deuteronomy 28:65-67)

  • They shall be scattered through the dispersion of the Romans (Deuteronomy 28:68, 32:26, Ezekiel 22:15, Hosea 9:17)
  • They shall not be remembered (Deuteronomy 32:26)
  • They shall be desolated (Micah 6:16)


  • Mischief shall be heaped on Israel (Deuteronomy 32:23)
  • They shall burn with hunger, heat, and bitter destruction (Deuteronomy 32:24)
  • Beasts and the poison of serpents shall devour them (Deuteronomy 32:24)

While this is not necessarily a comprehensive or exhaustive list, it is nonetheless extremely formidable.  No rational person would desire to endure these curses but this is precisely what has happened to the Jews for the last two thousand years.