King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Deuteronomy 28

The blessings for obedience. (1-14) The curses for disobedience. (15-44) Their ruin, if disobedient. (45-68)

Deuteronomy 28 Audio:

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The blessings for obedience

1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

8 The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

9 The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.

10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.

11 And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

The curses for disobedience

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

27 The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

28 The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.

31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.

32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thine hand.

33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:

34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

35 The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.

36 The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.

37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.

38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.

40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.

41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.

42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.

43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.

44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

Their ruin, if disobedient

45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

47 Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;

48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:

51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.

52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:

55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.

56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,

57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;

59 Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.

60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.

61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.

63 And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.

65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:

66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:

67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Earth. Similar denunciations are made. Lev. xxvi. M.

Ver. 2. All these blessings, &c. In the Old Testament God promised temporal blessings to the keepers of his law, heaven being not opened as yet; and that gross and sensual people being more moved with present and sensible things. But in the New Testament, the goods that are promised us are spiritual and eternal: and temporal evils are turned into blessings.

Ver. 3. Field. Wherever thou art, all thy undertakings shall prosper. C.

Ver. 4. Womb. This was most fully verified in the birth of the Messias, as the Holy Ghost insinuated, by causing S. Elizabeth to address these words to the mother of Jesus Christ. Luc. i. 42. C.

Ver. 5. Barns. Hebrew tene, is translated (C. xxvi. 2,) basket, in which bread was kept, and served up at table. Loaves were placed thus in baskets, near the altar of holocausts. — Stores. What thou hast laid up for thy provisions in corn, fruit, &c. C.

Ver. 6. Out, in all thy actions and affairs, (M.) at home and abroad; in peace and war.

Ver. 7. Down. Heb. “dead.” Sept. “bruised to pieces,” v. 25. C. — Seven. This denotes the confusion and hurry with which the enemy shall endeavour to escape. M.

Ver. 10. Upon thee; so that thou art called God’s people (C.) with truth. M. — He has taken thee under his protection, and defended them against every attack. H.

Ver. 12. Lend. To do this with usury, is far from being a blessing; but to be able to assist those who are in distress, is a happiness; particularly for that nation which as yet does not know the merit of evangelical poverty. C.

Ver. 13. Tail, as he had promised, v. 1. M. — You shall have dominion over others. C. — So Isaias (ix. 14,) says, the Lord shall destroy the head, (the magistrate) and the tail, or (v. 15,) the lying prophet. H.

Ver. 15. All these curses, &c. Thus God dealt with the transgressors of his law in the Old Testament: but now he often suffers sinners to prosper in this world, rewarding them for some little good they have done, and reserving their punishment for the other world.

Ver. 20. Rebuke, or “curse.” Sept. the pestilence, (C.) or destruction, (analosin.) H.

Ver. 22. Cold. The word occurs no where else. The Chal. Syr. &c. have the reverse, “heat.” — Blasting. In the original, either the mildew destroying the corn, (H.) or the jaundice, which attacks the human body, may be meant. C.

Ver. 23. Of brass, and yield no rain. M. — Pindar says, (Pyth. x.) “The heaven of brass they never can ascend.” See Lev. xxvi. 19.

Ver. 24. Consumed. Prot. “The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven it shall come down upon thee, till thou be destroyed.” H. — The dust coming instead of rain shall render the land more barren. C. In those dreary regions, where clouds of sand and dust overwhelm the poor traveller, the Israelites would have a good idea what inconveniences would attend such a state of the atmosphere, if it were only for a short continuance. But when it was intended for destruction, how could they possibly support life!

Ver. 25. Scattered, as they are at present. The real import of the Heb. is doubtful. Some agree with the Vulg. and Sept.; (H.) others translate, Thou shalt be trembling, an object of astonishment and horror. Others, All who see thee shall quake; they shall insult over thee, wagging their head. C.

Ver. 26. Away. No threat could be more terrible to the Jews. They did not refuse burial to those who had been hung on the gibbet. C. xxi. 23. Even the high priest, if he should find a corpse in the field, was obliged to bury it; though he was not allowed on other occasions, to attend the funeral of his relations. God threatens the impious king (C.) Joachim, that he shall be buried with the burial of an ass. Jer. xxii. 19. H. — The ancient Christians allowed the sacred vessels to be sold, in order to bury the dead. “For we shall not suffer the figure and the work of God to be exposed a prey to the wild beasts and birds.” Lactant. 6.

Ver. 27. Egypt. See C. vi. 15, xxviii. 60. Ex. ix. 9, and xv. 25; or with such diseases as those with which he afflicted Egypt. C. — Out. Heb. “with the emerods, scab, and itch.” H. 1 K. v. 6. 12.

Ver. 28. Madness, folly, or phrensy; with such Saul was attacked, and David feigned himself (1 K. xxi. 13,) to be in a similar condition at the court of Achis.

Ver. 29. Ways. Is not this visibly the present condition of the Jews, amid the blaze of the gospel light, the miracles and divine conduct of the Son of God! They shut their eyes, and will not acknowledge him for the Messias. C.

Ver. 30. Her. Job makes use of the same imprecation. C. xxxi. 10. Let my wife be the harlot of another. But he immediately subjoins, For this is a heinous crime, &c. which may be applied, both to him who seeks to commit an impure action, (v. 9,) and to those who attempt to punish it by a similar abomination. No person is allowed to wish that a sin may be committed. The Hebrew and Sept. very properly render all these imprecations in the future tense. “Thou shalt marry (or betroth) a wife, and another man shall,” which, no doubt, would be an intolerable provocation. H.

Ver. 31. Slain, (immoletur,) for a feast, and not for a sacrifice. M.

Ver. 32. Hand. Heb. also, “thy hand shall not be lifted up towards God.” Targ. of Jerusalem says, Thou shalt possess nothing, wherewith thou mayest render God propitious. C. — Thou shalt not be able to rescue, (M.) or to assist thy distressed children.

Ver. 33. A people. The Gentiles, whom the Jews so much despised, and whom the Scripture styles not a nation, have supplanted the Israelites, and entered into the inheritance, which they had lost by their prevarications. Rom. x. 19. H.

Ver. 34. Astonished. Heb. “go mad,” become stupified at such a scene of misfortunes.

Ver. 36. Thy king. Nabuchodonosor thus led Joachin and Sedecias, with almost all their people, captives to Babylon, 4 K. xxiv. and xxv. 7. — Stone. The ten tribes mixed with other nations, (C.) and for the most part followed their idolatrous worship. Only some few returned with the tribes of Juda, Benjamin, and Levi, and became more careful than before not to irritate God by that hateful sin. H.

Ver. 37. Lost. Heb. “an object of desolation, a fable and a mockery.” Sept. “thou shalt be a riddle, a parable, and an example,” to employ the thoughts and tongues of all nations, who will not be able to comprehend the greatness of thy distress. C.

Ver. 38. All: so that the little which thou mayst gather will not be worth mentioning. H. — Heb. may also signify, “Thy field shall produce a great deal, and give thee abundant expectations, but the locusts shall consume it,” to mortify thee the more.

Ver. 42. Blast. This is a different word from that mentioned, v. 22. Tselatsal may here probably denote a grasshopper, which delights in the shade, and has a shrill note. In hot countries it does great hurt to trees, &c. C.

Ver. 43. Lower. Hebrew repeats this word, to signify the utmost abjection. H. — The Fathers gather hence the glorious superiority to which the Christian Church is raised. Orig. Rom. ii. Theod. q. 34.

Ver. 46. For ever. The nations which were employed by God to scourge the Jews, recognized that they were the instruments of his indignation. We are accustomed to consider many evils as the necessary appendages of human nature; but the surprising misfortunes, with which God visited his people, subjecting them to the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, could not be taken in this light. C.

Ver. 47. Things: as in gratitude thou oughtest to have done. On the contrary, the more the Jews were cherished by God, the more insolent they became. C. xxxii. 15.

Ver. 49. Swiftly. The Chaldees are designated in the same manner. Jer. v. 5. Ezec. xvii. 3. 12. The Romans also carried an eagle, as their chief standard, and the rapidity of their conquests astonished all the world.

Ver. 50. Insolent. Heb. “of a fierce countenance.” It is well known how the Babylonians treated the princes of the Jews. C.

Ver. 51. Until thou be destroyed. This was not expressed in the Sept..

Ver. 53. Womb; a cruelty which the Jews were guilty of in the sieges of Samaria and of Jerusalem. See Bar. ii. 2. 13. Lament. ii. 20. and iv. 4 K. vi. 28. Josep. Bel. vii. 8. C.

Ver. 54. Delicate, (luxuriosis,) abandoned to his pleasures. Josephus (Bel. vi. 11,) seems to have had this passage in view, when he informs us, that parents and children snatched from each other’s mouths the wretched food, with which they endeavoured to support themselves. C.

Ver. 56. Envy. Heb. “her eye shall be evil towards the husband of her bosom,” &c. H.

Ver. 57. And the filth, &c. They will eat the child just born, through extreme hunger. Lament. ii. 20. The Chal. Sept. &c. agree with the Vulg. which conveys an idea of the most horrible distress. C. — Indeed it is so horrible and disgusting, that we find no vestiges in history of the completion of the prophecy, taken in this sense. Some, therefore, explain the original, “And her feast, or dressed meat, (shall be) between her feet, even of her own children, which she shall bring forth.” Bate, p. 71. Parkhurst on itsoth. Others believe that the Hebrew is corrupted by the insertion of b before another b, in children; and by the transposition or addition of i in the first word; so that to translate, with the generality of interpreters, “She shall grudge ever bit, or her eye shall be evil towards her husband, and towards her son, and towards her daughter, and towards her afterbirth…and towards her sons which she shall have brought forth,” seems absurd enough. If the woman’s eye be evil towards her son, and towards her afterbirth, (which, however, is incapable of depriving her of food) what need of repeating, and towards her sons? Yet the present construction requires this translation; though it is obvious that the woman must have been actuated in a different manner, with respect to these different things, as all allow that she was afraid lest those who were grown up, how dear soever to her, might deprive her of her abominable food, while her eye was evil towards her afterbirth, (or secundines, if the word ssolithe can have this meaning) because she was designing to eat it privately. The Sept. translate Korion, “the skin,” or Chorion, “a little girl,” (Houbigant) unless (H.) the former word may rather have this signification. Hill. — The Arab. deviates a little from the Heb. “She will deny her husband, her son, and her daughter, her secundies, which fall from her.” If, therefore, the two corrections proposed by Houbigant, and approved by Kennicott, (who produces for one of them (ubnie) the authority of the oldest Heb. MS. in England) be admitted, all will be clear and conformable to the event. “56. Her eye shall be evil towards…her son, and towards her daughter. 57. And she shall boil, (ubossilthe, instead of ubossolithe) that which cometh out from between her feet, even her children, (ubnie, not ubobnie) which she shall bear; for she shall eat them, for want of all things, secretly.” This prophetical and terrible denunciation was realized in the siege of Samaria, when two women agreed to eat their own children, one of whom was actually boiled, and the very word here in dispute is used, 4 K. vi. 29. Kennicott. — And in the last siege of Jerusalem we read (Joseph. vii. 8) of a mother killing her own child, to satisfy the cravings of hunger and rage against the rioters who had repeatedly plundered her house. Her name was Mary. She also boiled her suckling infant, and actually devoured a part of it. H.

Ver. 59. Increase. Heb. distinguish, or render thy plagues wonderful. C. — Perpetual. Heb. “lasting.” H. See v. 27.

Ver. 65. Fearful, dejected, distrustful. The Jews are under continual alarms. C.

Ver. 66. Thy life, being in danger from all sides. The Fathers explain this verse of the behaviour of the Jews towards their Messias, who was crucified before their eyes; and still they will not believe in him, though he is their life, (C. xxx. 20,) the way, the truth, and the life. Jo. xiv. 6. and i. 4. S. Leo. S. Aug. c. Faust. xvi. 22, &c. H.

Ver. 68. With ships, so that thou wilt have no means of escaping by flight. M. — The Romans had a fleet in the Mediterranean, with which thy would probably convey the captives into Egypt. Josephus (Ant. xii. 2, &c. Bel. vii. 16) informs us, that many of the Jews had been conveyed into that country after Jerusalem had been ruined by the Chaldees; (C.) and after it was at last destroyed by the Romans, some of “those who were above 17 years of age, were sent thither in chains to work at the public works;” others were reserved to grace the victor’s triumph, or “to be destroyed by the sword, or by wild beasts in the theatres, while those who were under 17, were sold. During the time that Fronto was making the selection, 12,000 were starved to death, either by the cruelty of their keepers, or because they refused food; the multitudes causing it to be very scarce. In the course of the war 97,000 were taken prisoners, and in the siege 1,100,000 perished. For then the whole nation was shut up in prison, as it were by fate, and the city was besieged when full of inhabitants,” at the feast of the Passover; “so that the number of those whom the Romans slew publicly, or took prisoners, was greater than ever was destroyed,” at once, “by the fury of man, or by the wrath of God.” ib. C. xvii. Pompey had carried away many captives into Egypt about 120 years before. Pharao Sesac took and pillaged the city, under Roboam, 2 Par. xii. 2. — That. Heb. “by the way, concerning which I spoke to thee (that is, by returning back, through this wilderness, as thou formerly desiredst,) thou shalt see it no more.” — Set to sale, (venderis,) lit. “shall be sold.” After the Jews had been sold, their new masters could not find any to take them off their hands. H. — Buy you. Protestants, “there ye shall be sold…and no man shall buy you.” Can a man be sold without being bought? Whereas if the verb hithmaccartem was rendered, and ye shall offer yourselves to sale, the sense would be proper, and expressive of the most bitter sufferings. Kennicott. — Hegesippus (v. 47,) says, “there were many to be sold, but few purchasers; because the Romans disdained receiving the Jews as slaves, nor were there any Jews left to redeem their countrymen.”