“Because you did not serve Yahweh your God joyfully and with gladness of heart for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom Yahweh will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and in lack of everything. He will put an iron yoke on your neck, until he has destroyed you.”
Bad things are going to happen to you because you did not serve Yahweh. You will serve your enemies as we see a foretaste of the exile with the iron yoke on your neck.
“Yahweh will bring a nation from far away, from the end of the earth, to swoop down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, a grim-faced nation, showing no respect to the old or favor to the young. It shall consume the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed, leaving you neither grain, wine, and oil, nor the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock, until it has made you perish. It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout your land. It shall besiege you in all your towns throughout the land that Yahweh your God has given you. In the desperate straits to which the enemy siege reduces you, you will eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your own sons and daughters, whom Yahweh your God has given you. Even the most refined and gentle of men among you will begrudge food to his own brother, to the wife whom he embraces, and to the last of his remaining children, giving to none of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because nothing else remains to him, in the desperate straits to which the enemy siege will reduce you in all your towns. She who is the most refined tender and gentle among you, so gentle and refined that she does not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground, will begrudge food to the husband whom she embraces, to her own son, and to her own daughter, begrudging even the afterbirth that comes from between her thighs, and the children whom she bears, because she is eating them secretly for lack of anything else, in the desperate straits to which the enemy siege will reduce you in your towns.”
Wow, what a shocker. This is an obvious reference to the Babylonian exile and captivity. This strong nation from the ends of the earth, with an unknown language will take over everything from you. However, the cannibalism seems strange because it indicates that people will turn on each other, especially the parents toward their children by eating their flesh. Even the most refined and gentle men and women will begrudge others about food. They will eat the flesh of their own children. Of course, we do not know what we would do. Still this is striking and so unlike the high motives associated with the promised people. This is the worst kind of disaster that can come upon you.
“If you do not diligently observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, fearing this glorious and awesome name, Yahweh your God, then Yahweh will overwhelm you and your offspring with severe and lasting extraordinary afflictions and grievous and lasting maladies. He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were in dread. They shall cling to you. Every other malady and affliction, even though not recorded in the book of this law, Yahweh will inflict on you until you are destroyed.”
The word of God is written and recorded in this book of laws. This appears to be a clear reference to a book, perhaps this book of Deuteronomy, itself. Any failure to follow it will lead to sickness of various kinds, somewhat reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt.
“Although once you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey Yahweh your God. Just as Yahweh took delight in making you prosperous and numerous, so Yahweh will take delight in bringing you to ruin and destruction. You shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to possess. Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other. There you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. Among these nations you shall find no ease, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There Yahweh will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a languishing spirit. Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread, with no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ At evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ You say this because of the dread that your heart shall feel and the sights that your eyes shall see. Yahweh will bring you back in ships to Egypt, by a route that I promised you would never see again. There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.”
Yahweh delights in making you numerous and tearing you down. Bad things are going to happen to you. You will end up all over the place, dreading both day and night. In fact, the worst of all is being sent back to Egypt as a slave which no one wants.