The curses (Jer 48:10-48:10)

“Cursed be

The one

Who is slack

In doing

The work of Yahweh!

Cursed be

The one

Who keeps back

The sword

From bloodshed.”

Jeremiah seems to indicate here that you should not be slack in doing the work of Yahweh. Since the work of Yahweh here is killing the Moabites, holding back your sword from bringing bloodshed would mean that you would be cursed also.

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The curses (Isa 45:9-45:10)

“Woe to you

Who strive with your Maker!

Woe to you

Earthen vessels who strive

With the potter!

Does the clay say

To the one him who fashions it?

‘What are you making?’

Does it say?

‘Your work has no handles.’

Woe to anyone

Who says to a father!

‘What are you begetting?’

Woe to anyone

Who says to a woman!

‘With what are you in labor with?’”

This curse is the only time in Second Isaiah that any curse appears. Yahweh was against anyone who talks back to their maker. We are all clay. Do not ask your potter, what are you making? Do not complain about the work made by others that does not have handles. You do not ask your father what he is begetting. The same thing applies to a woman in labor. You do not ask her with what is she in labor with?

The curses (Sir 2:12-2:14)

“Woe to timid hearts!

Woe to slack hands!

Woe to the sinners!

They walk a double path.

Woe to the fainthearted!

They have no trust.

Therefore they will have no shelter.

Woe to you who have lost your nerve!

What will you do

When the Lord’s reckoning comes?”

Now we have a series of curses. The timid hearts, the slack hands, and the double path sinners will be cursed. The fainthearted without trust will have no shelter. If you have lost your nerve, you will be cursed. What are you going to do when the Lord comes to render judgment?

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?

The curses or punishments (Lev 26:14-26:46)

“But if you do not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes and abhor my ordinances so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break the covenant, I in turn will do this to you.  I will bring terror on you, consumption, and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away.  You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.  I will set my face against you.  You shall be struck down by your enemies.  Your foes shall rule over you.  You shall flee even though no one pursues you. If in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you again sevenfold for your sins. I will break your proud glory.  I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper.  Your strength shall be spent to no purpose.  Your land shall not yield its produce.  The trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.”

The reverse is true also. If you do not obey Yahweh and his commandments, he will punish you here and now.  The following curses will be on you:

1)      Terror will be upon you;

2)      Consumption will visit you;

3)      Fever will waste your eyes;

4)      Life will slip away;

5)      You will sow your seed in vain;

6)      Your enemies shall eat your crop;

7)      You will be struck down my your enemies;

8)      Your foes shall rule over you;

9)      You shall flee even though no one is pursuing you;

10)  Yahweh will punish you sevenfold for your sins;

11)  Yahweh will break your proud glory;

12)  Yahweh will make your sky like iron;

13)  Yahweh will make your earth like copper;

14)  Your strength shall be spent to no purpose;

15)  You land shall not yield its produce;

16)  The trees of the land will not yield their fruit;

“If you continue hostile to me, and will not obey me, I will continue to plague you sevenfold for your sins.  I will let loose the wild animals among you.  They shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock.  They will make you few in number.  Your roads shall be deserted.”

If you continue you disobedience further evil shall come upon you:

1)      Yahweh will plague you sevenfold for your sins;

2)      Yahweh will let loose wild animals against you:

3)      They will destroy your children;

4)      They will destroy your livestock;

5)      You will be few in number;

6)      Your roads shall be deserted.

 “If in spite of these punishments you have not turned back to me, but continue hostile to me, then I too will continue hostile to you.  I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.  I will bring the sword upon you, executing vengeance for the covenant.  If you withdraw within your cities, I will send pestilence among you. You shall be delivered into enemy hands.  When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven.  They shall dole out your bread by weight.  Although you eat, you shall not be satisfied.”

1)      Yahweh will strike sevenfold;

2)      Yahweh will bring the sword against you;

3)      Yahweh will execute vengeance for the covenant;

4)      Yahweh will send pestilence among you;

5)      Yahweh will deliver you into enemy hands;

6)      You shall lack bread;

7)      You shall eat and not be satisfied.

“But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, I will continue hostile to you in fury.  I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins.  You shall eat the flesh of your sons.  You shall eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars. I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols.  I will abhor you.  I will lay your cities waste.  I will make your sanctuaries desolate.  I will not smell your pleasing odors.  I will devastate the land, so that your enemies who come to settle in it shall be appalled at it. You, I will scatter among the nations.  I will unsheathe the sword after you.  Your land shall be desolation.  Your cities shall be a waste.”

If you continue to disobey, Yahweh will continue to bring his sevenfold fury upon the Israelites with several punishments:

1)      You shall eat the flesh of your sons;

2)      You shall eat the flesh of your daughters;

3)      Yahweh will destroy your high places;

4)      Yahweh will cut down your incense altars;

5)      Yahweh will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols;

6)      Yahweh will  abhor you;

7)      Yahweh will lay your cities waste;

8)      Yahweh  will may your sanctuaries desolate;

9)      Yahweh will not smell your pleasing odor;

10)  Yahweh will devastate the land;

11)  Your enemies will be appalled at how bad it is;

12)  Yahweh will scatter you among the nations;

13)  Yahweh will unsheathe the sword against you;

14)  Your land shall be in desolation;

17)  Your cities will be a waste.

 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbath years as long as it lies desolate, while you are in the land of your enemies.  Then the land shall rest and enjoy its Sabbath years.  As long as it lies desolate, it shall have the rest it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were living on it.  As for those who survive, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies.  The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight.  They shall flee as one flees from the sword.  They shall fall even though no one pursues.  They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, even though none pursues.  You shall have no power to stand before your enemies.  You shall perish among the nations.  The land of your enemies shall devour you.  Those who survive shall languish in the land of your enemies. They shall languish because of the iniquities of their ancestors.

Your land will enjoy its Sabbath years because it is desolate.  Those who survived shall suffer also:

1)      They will be faint of heart;

2)      They will flee from the sword;

3)      They will fall even though no one pursues them;

4)      They will stumble over one another;

5)      They will have no power to stand against enemies;

6)      They will perish among the nations;

7)      They will be devoured by the land;

8)      They will languish in the land of their enemies.

 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me.  Moreover, they continued hostile to me, so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies.  If then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob.  I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham.  I will remember the land.  The land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy its Sabbath years by lying desolate without them.  They shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances.  They abhorred my statutes.  Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them.  I am Yahweh their God.  But I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God.  I am Yahweh. These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which Yahweh established between himself and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses.”

All these curses, like the blessings, are for the here and now and not some after life promise or punishment.  They have sinned and they must suffer punishment or curses.  However there is redemption.  If they confess their iniquity and that of their ancestors, if they are humble and want to make amends, Yahweh will remember his covenant with Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham and how he brought them out of Egypt.  Yahweh will not break his covenant with them.  This is a two way covenant.  Yahweh expects the Israelites to keep his commandments.  He will then keep his promise that he gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  There should be no confusion.  These are the commandments that Yahweh gave to Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.