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Deuteronomy Chapter 28
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The Blessing for Obedience
28:1 If you obey God your Lord, carefully keeping all His commandments as I am prescribing them to you today, then God will make you highest of all the nations on earth.
28:2 As long as you listen to God your Lord, all these blessings will come to bear on you.
28:3 Blessed will you be in the city, and blessed in the field.
28:4 Blessed will be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your soil, and the fruit of your livestock, the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flock.
28:5 Blessed will be your food basket and your kneading bowl.
28:6 Blessed will you be when you come and blessed when you go.
28:7 If any enemies attack you, God will make them flee from you in panic. They may march against you on one road, but they will flee from you in seven directions.
28:8 God will grant a blessing in your granaries and all your [other] endeavors. He will bless you in the land that He, God your Lord, is giving you.
28:9 If only you keep the commandments of God your Lord and walk in His paths, God will establish you as His holy nation, as He promised you.
28:10 All the nations of the world will realize that God's name is associated with you, and they will be in awe of you.
28:11 God will grant you good surplus in the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your livestock, and the fruit of your land. [You will thus flourish] on the good land that God promised your ancestors to give you.
28:12 God will open His good treasury in heaven to give your land rain at precisely the right time, and to bless everything you do. You will lend many nations, but you will not have to borrow.
28:13 God will make you a leader and never a follower. You will be on the top and never on the bottom. You must merely obey the commandments of God your Lord, as I am prescribing them to you today, carefully keeping them.
28:14 Do not stray to the right or left from all the words that I am commanding you today. [Be especially careful not to] follow other gods or serve them.

The Curse of Disobedience
28:15 If you do not obey God your Lord and do not carefully keep all His commandments and decrees as I am prescribing them for you today, then all these curses will come to bear on you.
28:16 Cursed will you be in the city and cursed in the field.
28:17 Cursed will be your food basket and your kneading bowl.
28:18 Cursed will be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your land, the calves of your herd and the lambs of your flock.
28:19 Cursed will you be when you come, and cursed when you go.
28:20 God will send misfortune, confusion and frustration against you in all you undertake. It will destroy you and make you rapidly vanish because of your evil ways in forsaking my [teachings].
28:21 God will make disease attach itself to you, until it wipes you out from on the land which you are about to occupy.
28:22 God will strike you with consumption, fever, delerium, paralysis, the sword, the black blight and the yellow blight, and [these calamities] will pursue you until they destroy you.
28:23 The skies above you will be like brass, and the earth below you like iron.
28:24 God will turn your rain into powder and dust, and it will come down from the skies to destroy you.
28:25 God will make you panic before your enemies. You will march out in one column, but flee from them in seven. You will become a terrifying example to all the world's kingdoms.
28:26 Your corpses will be food for all the birds of the sky and beasts of the land, and no one will chase them away.
28:27 God will strike you with the Egyptian boil, and with incurable tumors, running sores and itch.
28:28 God will strike you with insanity, blindness and mental confusion.
28:29 You will grope about in broad daylight just like a blind man gropes in the darkness, and you will have no success in any of your ways. You will be constantly cheated and robbed, and no one will help you.
28:30 When you betroth a woman, another man will sleep with her. When you build a house, you will not live in it. When you plant a vineyard, you will not enjoy its fruit.
28:31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat from it. Your donkey will be stolen right in front of you, but you will not be able to get it back. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will come to your aid.
28:32 Your sons and daughters will be given to a foreign nation. You will see it happening with your own eyes, and will long for them all day long, but you will be powerless.
28:33 A strange nation will consume the fruit of your land and all your toil. You will be constantly cheated and crushed.
28:34 You will go insane from what you will have to witness.
28:35 God will then strike you with a malignant skin disease on your knees and thighs, and you will not be able to find a cure for it until it [covers you] from head to toe.
28:36 God will bring you and your elected king to a nation unknown to you and your fathers, and there you will serve idolators who worship wood and stone.
28:37 You will be an object of horror, a by-word and an abject lesson among all the nations where God will lead you.
28:38 You will bring much seed out to the field, but the locusts will devour [the crop] and you will bring little back.
28:39 You will plant vineyards and work hard, but the worms will eat [the grapes], so you will not drink wine or have a harvest.
28:40 You will have olive trees in all your territories, but the olives will drop off and you will not enjoy their oil.
28:41 You will have sons and daughters, but they will not remain yours, since they will be taken into captivity.
28:42 All your trees and the fruit of your land will be reduced by the cricket.
28:43 The alien among you will rise higher and higher over you, while you will descend lower and lower.
28:44 He will make loans to you, but you will not be able to lend him anything. He will become the master, while you will be the vassal.
28:45 All these curses will thus have come upon you, pursuing you and catching you so as to destroy you, all because you did not obey God your Lord, and [did not] keep the commandments and decrees that He prescribed to you.
28:46 [These curses] will be a sign and proof to you and your children forever.
28:47 When you had plenty of everything, you would not serve God your Lord with happiness and a glad heart.
28:48 You will therefore serve your enemies when God sends them against you, and it will be in hunger, thirst, nakedness and universal want. [Your enemy] will place an iron yoke on your neck so as to destroy you.
28:49 God will bring upon you a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, swooping down like an eagle. It will be a nation whose language you do not understand,
28:50 a sadistic nation, that has no respect for the old and no mercy for the young.
28:51 [That nation] will eat the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your land so as to destroy you. It will leave you nothing of your grain, wine, oil, calves in your herds and lambs in your flocks, so as to annihilate you.
28:52 It will lay siege to you in all your settlements, until it has brought down all your high fortified walls, in which you trust, throughout your land. [That nation] will then persecute you in all the settlements throughout the land which God your Lord has given you.
28:53 You will then eat the fruit of your womb. When your enemies are besieging you you will become so desperate that you will actually eat the flesh of your sons and daughters.
28:54 The most tender-hearted and dainty man among you will begrudge his brother, his bosom wife, and his surviving children,
28:55 not giving them the flesh of his children that he is eating. This will be because nothing will remain for you, and you will be desperate when your enemies besiege all your settlements.
28:56 The most pampered, delicate woman, who is so refined that she does not let her foot touch the ground, will then begrudge her bosom husband, her son, and her daughter,
28:57 when she secretly eats the afterbirth that comes out from between her legs and the infant she has born. So great will be her lack of all things and her desperation when your enemies besiege your settlements.
28:58 If you are not careful to keep all the words of this Torah, as written in this book, so as to fear this glorious, awesome name of God your Lord,
28:59 then god will strike you and your descendants with unimaginable plagues. The punishments will be terrible and relentless, and the diseases will be malignant and unyielding.
28:60 God will bring back on you all the Egyptian diseases that you dread, and they will cling to you.
28:61 God will also bring upon you every punishment that is not written in this book of the Torah, so as to destroy you.
28:62 Where you were once as numerous as the stars of the sky, the survivors among you will be few in number, all because you did not obey God your Lord.
28:63 As happy as God was to be good to you and increase you, so will He be happy to exile you and destroy you. You will be torn up from the land which you are about to occupy.
28:64 God will scatter you among the nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will serve idolators who worship gods of wood and stone, unknown to you and your fathers.
28:65 Among those nations you will feel insecure, and there will be no place for your foot to rest. There God will make you cowardly, destroying your outlook and making life hopeless.
28:66 Your life will hang in suspense. Day and night, you will be so terrified that you will not believe that you are alive.
28:67 In the morning, you will say, 'If it were only night,' and in the evening you will say, 'If it were only morning.' Such will be the internal terror that you will experience and the sights that you will see.
28:68 God will bring you back to Egypt in ships, along the way that I promised you would never see again. You will [try to] sell yourselves as slaves and maids, but no one will want to buy you.

The Covenant
28:69 The above are the words of the covenant that God instructed Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that was made with them at Horeb.



Commentary:

If you obey...
  See Leviticus 26:3-13.

calves...
  see Deuteronomy, 7:13.

food basket
  Tene. See Deuteronomy 26:2.

as He promised you
  Exodus 19:6.

grant you good surplus
  (Saadia; Septuagint). Or, 'will allow you to survive well through' (Ibn Ezra; Ralbag).

a leader...
  (cf. Ramban). Literally, 'a head and not a tail.' See Deuteronomy 28:44.

misfortune
  M'erah in Hebrew. 'Attrition' (Rashi; Ibn Ezra), 'shortages' (Septuagint), 'curse' (Targum Yonathan); 'failure' (Saadia); 'destruction' (Ibn Janach), or, 'pain' (Radak, Sherashim).

confusion
  (Rashi; Rashbam). Mehumah in Hebrew. Or, 'restlessness' (Saadia; Hirsch); 'inability to finish a job' (Ibn Ezra); or, 'famine' (Septuagint).

frustration
  (Saadia). Migereth in Hebrew. Or, 'guilt feelings' (Hirsch); 'attrition' (Septuagint; Ibn Janach); 'destruction' (Radak, Sherashim); or, 'famine' (Rashbam).

it
  (Bachya). Or, 'He' (Septuagint).

consumption
  Tuberculosis (Saadia; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim), sachaf in Arabic. Shachefeth in Hebrew; see Leviticus 26:16, 11:15. Or, 'debilitating disease' (Midrash HaGadol); 'acute fever' (Ralbag); 'depression' (Hirsch on Leviticus 26:16); or, 'a disease that debilitates and causes swelling' (Rashi).

fever
  (Rashi; Ibn Janach; Septuagint). Kadachath in Hebrew; see Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 32:22, Isaiah 3:11, 64:1, Jeremiah 17:4. Specifically, chronic fever (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Ralbag), 'inflammation' (Radak, Sherashim), or 'excitement' (Hirsch on Leviticus 26:16). In medieval medical texts, the word often denotes malaria.

delerium
  (Targum Yonathan). Daleketh in Hebrew. Or, 'burning fever' (Radak, Sherashim; cf. Ralbag); 'recurring fever' (Saadia), 'chills' (Septuagint), possibly malaria; 'chest inflammation' (Midrash HaGadol), or, 'excitement' (Ibn Janach; cf. Genesis 31:36).

paralysis
  (Saadia). Charchur in Hebrew. Or, 'burning fever' (Radak, Sherashim); 'inflammation' (Septuagint); 'angina' (Targum Yonathan); or, 'astronment,' a disease where one thirsts for water (Rashi); probably typhoid fever.

the sword
  (Targum Yonathan; Rashi). Cherev in Hebrew. Or, 'dryness,' possibly drought (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni; Hirsch).

black blight
  (from Arabic cognates). Shiddafon in Hebrew; see 1 Kings 8:37, Amos 4:9. Some interpret it to denote the damage to crops caused by the searing, hot east wind (Saadia; Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; cf. Genesis 41:6). Or, 'grain with empty husks' (Ibn Janach). Others speak of it as a human affliction, 'swelling' or 'shriveling' (Ibn Ezra), or, 'wasting away' (Ralbag; Hirsch). The Septuagint translates it as erithismo which can denote 'blighting' or 'excitement.'

yellow blight
  (Saadia; Rashi; Ibn Janach). Yerakon in Hebrew. Or, 'wind destruction,' anemophthoria in Greek (Septuagint; but possibly transposed with the above); 'jaundice' (Ralbag; Hirsch; cf. Berakhoth 25a; Shabbath 33a); or, 'terror' (Radak, Sherashim, cf. Jeremiah 30:6).

terrifying example
  (Rashi). Zaavah in Hebrew. Or, 'example' (Saadia), 'something terrible' (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; cf. Isaiah 28:19); 'a trembling group' (Radak, Sherashim), 'a pariah' (Targum Yonathan); or, 'a dispersed group' (Septuagint).

chase them away
  (Targum Yonathan; Saadia; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Septuagint). Macharid in Hebrew. Or, 'none will be concerned' (Chizzkuni).

boil
  Shechin in Hebrew; see Exodus 9:9. It is described as being wet inside and dry outside (Bekhoroth 41a; Rashi).

tumors
  Or, 'hemorrhoids' (Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni; Ralbag; cf. Septuagint). Afolim in Hebrew, read as Tachorim (see Megillah 25b); cf. 1 Samuel 5:9. A type of swelling; see Numbers 14:44. Since these are associated with mice (1 Samuel 6:4), some say that it may be bubonic plague (cf. Abarbanel).

running sores
  (Rashi; Midrash HaGadol; cf. Bekhoroth 41a), wet inside and out. Garav in Hebrew; see Leviticus 21:20. Or, 'malignant scabs,' psora agria in Greek (Septuagint). Possibly eczema.

itch
  (Targum Yonathan; Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Ralbag; Septuagint). Cheres in Hebrew. Or, 'dry scab' (Targum; Rashi), or, 'sunstroke' (Ibn Ezra; Bachya).

blindness
  Some say that this is hysterical blindness (Ibn Ezra; Ralbag) or blindness due to terror (Abarbanel).

confusion
  (Ralbag; Septuagint). Timhon in Hebrew. Or, 'dullness,' shamimuth in Aramaic (Targum), 'hallucinations' (Hirsch), or, 'numbness of heart,' astordison in Old French (Rashi).

enjoy its fruit
  See Deuteronomy, 20:6. In general, the three things mentioned here are those for which a man can return from war, Deuteronomy 20:5-7 (Lekach Tov).

crushed
  (see HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

until it covers you
  (Ralbag).

idolators
  (Targum). Literally, 'You will serve foreign gods of wood and stone.' Or, 'you will serve the temples of ...' (Rashi on Deuteronomy 28:64).

reduced
  (Rashi). Or, 'taken away' (Bachya); or, 'stricken' (Septuagint).

cricket
  A noisy member of the locust family (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; cf. Taanith 8b). Tzelatzal in Hebrew. Cf. Isaiah 18:1, Job 40:31. Or, 'moth' (Saadia); 'caterpillar' (Ralbag); 'blight' (Septuagint), erisubie in Greek; or, 'marauders' (Ramban; Bachya; cf. Bava Kama 116b).

the master...
  Literally, 'he will be the head, and you will be the tail.' See Deuteronomy, 28:13.

with happiness
  From here we see that one must serve God with joy and gladness (Yad, Lulav 8:15; Bachya). This can include song (Arakhin 11a).

sadistic
  Az panim in Hebrew. Or, 'arrogant,' or, 'aggressive.'

calves...
  See Deuteronomy, 7:13, 28:4.

lay siege
  (Saadia; cf. Radak, Sherashim). Hetzar in Hebrew. Or, 'crush' (Septuagint; cf. Targum).

brought down
  (Targum Yonathan; Radak, Sherashim; Septuagint). Redeth in Hebrew. Or, 'conquered' (Targum; Rashi).

persecute
  (Saadia).

besieging...
  Or, 'persecuting.'

afterbirth
  (Targum Yonathan; Septuagint; cf. Chullin 77a; Niddah 26a). Shilyah in Hebrew. Or, 'newborn' (Targum; Rashi), or, 'stillborn child' (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim).

relentless
  (Saadia; Ibn Ezra). Literally, 'faithful.'

feel insecure
  'You will find no security' (Saadia), or, 'no rest' (Rashi).

cowardly
  (Targum; Rashi; Midrash HaGadol).

destroying
  See Leviticus 26:16.

you will not...
  Literally, 'you will not believe in your life.'

If it were only night
  Or, 'if it were only last night' (Sotah 49a; Rashi). Or, 'If I will only survive until evening' (Saadia).

ships
  Aniyoth. Or, 'misery' (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

that I promised...
  See Exodus 14:13, Deuteronomy, 17:16 (Yerushalmi, Sukkah 5:1; Midrash HaGadol).

try to
  (Bachya).

The above
  (Rashi; Midrash HaGadol). Literally, 'These.' Some, however, say that 'these' refers to the next section, particularly to the covenant mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:11 (cf. Tanchuma, Netzavim 3).

at Horeb
  See Leviticus 25:1, 26:3-46 (Rashi; Rashbam; see note on Exodus 24:7). Others identify it with the covenant mentioned in Exodus 24:7,8 (Abarbanel). However, from Deuteronomy 5:2, it appears that the covenant at Horeb was the Ten Commandments.





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