The curses (Deut 27:11-27:26)

“The same day Moses charged the people as follows. ‘When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand upon Mount Gerizim for the blessing of the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. These shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. Then the Levites shall declare in a loud voice to all the Israelites.”

Half the tribes bless on Mt. Gerizim, while the other half curse on Mt. Ebal. Instead of the tribal names, this episode uses the original names of the 12 sons of Jacob. The tribe of Joseph is not split up, while Levi is mentioned as 1 of the 12 tribes. These are the 12 negative curses like the 10 Commandments that correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel. They all end with an ‘All the people shall say, Amen!’ so that this must have been a liturgical celebration that everyone joined in.

“Cursed be anyone who makes an idol, anything abhorrent to Yahweh, the work of an artisan, and sets it up in secret. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

1)      Anyone who makes an idol, even though the work of a craftsman is secret, is cursed.   This is like the 1st or 2nd commandment. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

2)      Anyone who dishonors his father or his mother is cursed, like the 4th commandment. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark. All the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

3)      Anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark is cursed. This is more like the 10th commandment, coveting your neighbor’s goods. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

4)      Anyone who misleads a blind man on the road is cursed. This might apply to the 8th commandment about lying. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

5)      Anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice is cursed. The Israelites had a very strong sense of justice and fairness, especially to the outcasts and the weak on their society. This might refer to the 7th commandment about stealing. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has violated his father’s rights. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

6)      Anyone who lies with his father’s wife is cursed because he has violated his father’s rights. This might pertain to the 6th commandment about adultery. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who lies with any animal. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

7)      Anyone who lies with any animal is cursed because this is a sexual deviation pertaining to the 6th commandment. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother. All the people shall say, ‘Amen’”

8)      Anyone who lies with his sister is cursed, whether it is the daughter of his father or his mother. There seems to be a hang up on sexual problems. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who lies with his mother-in-law. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

9)      Anyone who lies with his mother-in-law is cursed. We continue with the sexual taboos, although it is hard to image a mother-in-law as a sexual partner, but here it is. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who strikes down a neighbor in secret. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

10)  Anyone who strikes down a neighbor in secret is cursed. This clearly is about the 5th commandment, killing others. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

11)  Anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood is cursed because this is about the 5th commandment and killing others. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

“Cursed be anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by observing them. All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

12)  Anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by observing them is cursed. This is a simple summary. Obey Yahweh or be cursed. Everyone agrees with this by saying ‘Amen!’

This is an interesting list because it includes things that must have been happening in order to forbid them. Some were common sense, about the images, parents, neighbors, blind, aliens, orphans, and widows. However the lying with the father’s wife, animals, sisters, and mother-in-law seem a little strange. Was this a common practice? Why was there such an emphasis on these sexual activities?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.