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.
15. Et erit, si non obedieris voci Jehovae Dei tui, ut custodias faciendo omnia praecepta ejus, et statuta ejus quae ego praecipio tibi hodie, venient super te onmes maledictiones istae, et apprehendent te.
16. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
16. Maledictus eris in urbe, et maledictus in agro.
17. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
17. Maledictum canistrum tuum, et conspersio tua.
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.
18. Maledictus fructus ventris tui, et fructus terrae tuae, foetus boum tuorum, et greges ovium tuarum.
19. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
19. Maledictus eris in ingressu, et maledictus in egressu.
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.
20 Mittet Jehova in te maledictionem, contritionem, (vel, tumultum,) et perditionem, (vel, increpationem,) in omnibus ad quae applicueris manum tuam, et feceris: donec delearis, et pereas velociter, propter malitiam operum tuorum quibus dereliquisti 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.
21. Adhaerere faciet Jehova tibi pestilentiam, donec consumat te de terra ad quam tu ingrederis ut possideas eam.
22. The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with all extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
22. Percutiet te Jehova phthisi, et febri, et ardore, et aestu, et gladio, et ariditate, et rubigine: et persequentur te donec pereas.
23. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
23. Eruntque coeli tui qui sunt supra caput tuam, aerei: et terra, quae est subter te, ferrea.
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.
24. Dabit Jehova pluviam terrae tuae pulverem et cinerem: et e coelis descendet super te, donec disperdaris.
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.
25. Dabit te Jehova caesum coram inimicis tuis: per viam unam ingredieris ad illum, et per septem vias fugies coram eo: erisque in commotionem omnibus regnis terrae.
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.
26. Erit praterea cadaver tuum esca omni volucri coeli et animali terrae, nec erit qui absterreat.
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.
27. Percutiet te Jehova ulcere Aegypti, et morbis ani, et scabie, et prurigine, quibus non possis curari.
28. The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:
28. Percutiet te Jehova amentia et caecitate, et stupore cordis.
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
29. Palpabisque in meridie, quemadmodum palpat caecus in caligine, neque secundabis vias tuas: et eris tantummodo oppressus, et direptus omnibus diebus, nec erit servator.
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.
30. Uxorem desponsabis, et vir alius dormiet cum ea: domum aedificabis, et non habitabis in ea: vineam plautabis, nec vindemiabis eam.
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
31. Bos tuus mactabitur in oculis tuis: et non comedes ex eo: asinus tuus rapietur a facie tua, nec revertetur ad te: pecudes tuae tradentur inimicis tuis, nec erit servatot.
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.
32. Filii tui et filiae tuae tradentur populo alteri, et oculi tui videbunt, ac deficient propter illos, tota die: nec erit fortitudo in manu tua.
33. The fruit of thy land, and all thy labors, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:
33. Fructum terrae tuae, et omnem laborem tuum comedet populus quem non noveras: et eris tantummodo oppressus, et confractus omni tempore:
34. So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
34. Et obstupesces propter ea quae videbunt oculi tui.
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.
35. Percutiet te Jehova ulcere pessimo in genibus et in coxis, ita ut non possis curari, a planta pedis tui usque ad verticem tuum.
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.
36. Abducet Jehova te et regem tuum quem constitues super te, ad gentem quam non nosti tu et patres tui: colesque ibi deos alienos, lignum et lapidem.
37. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.
37. Et eris in stuporem, et parabolam, et fabulam, omnibus populis ad quos deducet te Jehova.
38. Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in: for the locust shall consume it.
38. Semen multum educes ad agrum, et parum colliges: quia absumet illud locusta.
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.
39. Vineas plantabis, et coles: et vinum non bibes, neque colliges: quia devorabit illud vermis.
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
40. Olivae erunt tibi in omni termino tuo, at oleo non unges te, quia decidet oliva tua.
41. Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them: for they shall go into captivity.
41. Filios et filias generabis, et non erunt tibi: quia ibunt in captivitatem.
42. All thy trees, and fruit of thy land, shall the locust consume.
42. Omnem arborem tuam, et fructum terrae tuae absumet locusta.
43. The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high, and thou shalt come down very low.
43. Peregrinus qui est in medio tui ascendet super to superne, superne: et tu descendes inferne, inferne.
44. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
44. Ipse mutuabit tibi, et tu non mutuabis ei: ipse erit in caput, et tu eris in caudam.
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.
45. Venient autem super te omnes maledictiones istae, teque persequentur, et apprehendent te, donec disperdaris: eo quod non obedieris voci Jehovae Dei tui, custodiendo praecepta ejus, et statuta ejus quae praecepit tibi.
46. And they shall be upon thee for a sign, and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
46. Et erunt in te in signum et in portentum, et in semine tuo usque in saeculum.
47. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
47. Propterea quod non colueris Jehovam Deum tuum in laetitia, et in hilaritate cordis, propter abundantiam omnium rerum.
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.
48. Et servies inimicis tuis quos immiserit Jehova contra te in fame, et siti, et nuditate, et penuria omnium rerum, ponetque jugum ferreum super collum tuum, donec disperdat te.
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;
49. Adducet Jehova adversum to gentem e longinquo, ab extremo terrae sicuti volat aquila, gentema cujus non intelliges linguam:
50. A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favor to the young:
50. Gentem duram facie, quae non attollet faciem suam ad senem, nec puero parcet.
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.
51. Et devorabit fructum jumenti tui, et fructum terrae tuae, donec disperdaris: non relinquet tibi frumentum, mustum, et oleum, foetus boum tuorum, nec greges ovium tuarum, donec perdat te.
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.
52. Et obsidebit te in omnibus urbibus tuis, donec concidant muri tui excelsi et muniti, quibus tu confidis, in tota terra tua: obsidebit inquam te in omnibus urbibus tuis, in tota terra tua quam tibi dedit Jehova Deus tuus.
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:
53. Et comedes fructum ventris tui, carnem filiorum tuorum et filiarum tuarum, quos dederit tibi Jehova Deus tuus, in obsidione, et coartatione qua coartabit te inimicus tuus.
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:
54. Viri teneri et delicati apud te valde, oculus invidebit fratri suo, et uxori sinus sui, et reliquis filiis suis, quos residuos fecerit,
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.
55. Ne det illis de carne filiorum suorum quos comedet: eo quod nihil ei relictum fuerit in obsidione, et coartatione qua coartabit te inimicus tuus in omnibus urbibus tuis.
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,
56. Tenerae apud te et delicatae, quae non tentavit plantam pedis sui firmare super terram, prae deliciis et teneritudine, invidebit oculus viro sinus sui, filio et filiae suae.
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.
57. Dum secundinas suas quae egressae fuerint e pedibus suis, et filios suos quos pepererit, comedet clam prae egestate omnium rerum in obsidione, et coartatione qua coartabit te inimicus tuus in urbibus tuis.
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;
58. Nisi custodieris ut facias omnia verba Legis hujus quae scripta sunt in hoc libro, ad timendum nomen gloriosum istud et terribile, Jehovam Deum tuum:
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.
59. Admirabiles reddet Jehova plagas tuas, et plagas seminis tui, plagas magnas et certas, (vel, constantes,) et morbos malos et certos, (vel, constantes.)
60. Moreover, he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee:
60. Convertesque in teomnes morbos Aegypti, a quibus timuisti tibi, et adhaerebunt tibi.
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.
61. Omnem morbum, et omnem plagam quae non est scripta in libro Legis hujus, inducet Jehova super te, donec tu perdaris.
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.
62. Et relinquemini pauci numero pro eo quod eratis sicut stellae coeli in multitudinem: quia non obedisti voci Jehovae Dei tui.
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.
63. Et erit praeterea, quemadmodum laetatus est Jehova super vos benefaciendo vobis, et multiplicando vos: sic laetabitur Jehova super vos, perdendo et delendo vos: evelleminique e terra ad quam ingredimini ut possideatis eam.
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.
64. Et disperget to Jehova in omnes populos, ab uno extremo terrae usque ad alterum extremum terrae, colesque ibi deos alienos quos non nosti tu, neque patres tui, lignum et lapidem.
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:
65. Neque in gentibus ipsis requiesces, neque erit requies plantae pedis tui: dabit item illic Jehova tibi cor pavidum, et defectum oculorum, et moerorem animi.
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:
66. Et erit vita tua suspensa tibi e regione, ac pavebis nocte et die, neque credes vitae tuae.
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.
67. Mane dices, Quis dabit vesperam? et in vespera dices, Quis dabit mane? prae pavore cordis tui quo pavebis, et prae visione oculorum tuorum quam videbis.
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 bond-men and bond-women, and no man shall buy you
68. Reducetque te Jehova in Aegyptum navibus per viam de qua dixi tibi, Non addes adhuc ut videas illam: et vendetis vos illic inimicis vestris in servos et in ancillas: et non erit qui emat.
15. But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken. This list of curses is longer than the previous one which was proclaimed from Mount Sinai, undoubtedly because the Spirit of God foresaw that the sluggishness of the people had need of sharper stimulants. If they had been only moderately teachable, what they had already heard would have been even more than sufficient to alarm them; but now God redoubles His threatenings against them in their inertness and forgetfulness, that they might not only be compelled to fear, but also aroused by constant reminding. For this reason, He declares that they should be |cursed in the city and in the field,| i e., at home and abroad, in the house or out of the house; and again, that their food should be cursed in the seed and in the meal. Afterwards, He enumerates three kinds of fruit in which they should be cursed, viz., their own offspring, the produce of the soil, and the young of their animals; for all these Scripture embraces in the word fruit, as sufficiently appears from this passage.
19. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in. God here pronounces that all their undertakings should meet with ill success; for going out and coming in signifies their various actions, and the whole course of their life; and this is more clearly expressed in the next verse, where He denounces against them misfortune in all their affairs, in that God would confound and mar whatever they should undertake. The words mhvmh, mehumah, and mgrt, migegnereth, are indeed variously explained. Still the sum comes to this, that God would be against them, so as to discomfit and overthrow all their counsels and labors. Hence we are taught that all men's endeavors are useless and vain, unless they seek for success from God.
21. The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee. He now proceeds to diseases which are as it were the lictors of God; and finally, His executioners, if men pertinaciously continue in their ungodliness. He does not, therefore, merely declare that He will send the pestilence, but that He will cause it to cleave to them, and when it shall have once laid hold of them, that it shall be impossible to remove it. It might also be translated, The Lord shall cause that the pestilence should seize thee; but with the same meaning, viz., that the pestilence should be fixed, or glued (agglutinatam) upon them, until it should consume them in the Holy Land itself. He adds phthisis, or consumption, which disease emaciates the body, and gradually exhausts its juices. It is superfluous to speak particularly of the other diseases, only let us learn that, whilst the multitude of diseases is almost innumerable, they are all so many ministers (satellites) prepared to execute God's vengeance. It is true, indeed, that diseases are contracted in various ways, and especially by intemperance; still, this does not prevent God from smiting the transgressors of the Law with them, although no natural cause may be apparent. He adds war, which He designates by the name of |the sword,| but of this curse He will soon speak more fully.
He then unfolds in more distinct detail what He had before adverted to with respect to the curse on the produce of the land. And, first, He names two blights of the corn, which destroy it just as it is ripening, and snatch the bread, as it were, out of men's mouths; for dryness is not here used for all want of moisture in the soil, but for that emptying of the ears, which is caused by the east wind. Mildew occurs from the sudden heat of the sun, if it strikes upon the corn when moistened with cold dew. Now, although these evils arise from natural causes, still God, the Author of nature, in His supreme power, so controls the atmosphere, that its unwholesomeness is His undoubted scourge.
23. And thy heaven that is over thy head. He enumerates other causes of barrenness, and especially drought. Often does God by the Prophets, desirous of giving a token of His favor towards the people, promise them the rain of autumn and of spring: the one immediately following the sowing, the other giving growth to the fruits before they begin to ripen; whilst in many passages He also threatens that it should be withheld. To this refers what He now says, that the heavens shall be of brass, and the earth of iron, because neither shall the moisture descend from heaven to fertilize the earth, whilst the earth, bound up and hardened, shall have no juice or dampness in order to production. Whence we gather, that not even a drop of rain falls to the earth except distilled by God, and that whenever it rains, the earth is irrigated as if by His hand. It must, however, be observed, as we have seen before, that the land of Canaan was not like Egypt, which was watered by the care and industry of man, but fertilized by the bounty of heaven. Thus God, by the Prophet, marks the degrees which are worthy of observation, viz., that when He is reconciled to His people, He will |hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil;| so that, finally, all these things shall hear starving men. (Hosea 2:21, 22.)
It is not superfluous that He should expressly speak of the |heaven over our head,| and the earth that is |under our feet,| for He thus indicates that His weapons are prepared both above and below to execute His vengeance, so as to assail the people on all sides. Another Prophet confirms this, although only in a brief allusion:
|Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit; and I called for a drought,| etc. (Haggai 1:10, 11.)
Another mode of expression is then used to make the same thing more sure, viz., that the rain should be turned into |powder and dust;| still this clause may be explained in two ways, either that the rain shall no more fertilize the ground than as if it were ashes; or that, instead of rain, dust should fall, as though God would dry up the rich soil by scattering ashes on it.
25. The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies. What He had briefly threatened in His mention of |the sword,| He now more fully pursues, that they should be given up to the will of their enemies, so as to be indiscriminately slaughtered. We have previously seen that those who execute punishment on the transgressors of the Law, are stirred up and armed by the just judgment of God; Moses does not now touch on that point, but merely declares that the enemies of the people should be their conquerors, should cruelly entreat them and pursue them in their flight. Moreover, in order that God's judgment might be more conspicuous, He says, that when they have gone out to battle by one way, i e., with their army in regular order, they should return by seven ways, because, in the confusion of their flight, they should be dispersed in all directions. Hence we gather that the bravery of men is in God's power, so that He can make cowards of the boldest whenever He so pleases. And we must bear in mind what we shall see elsewhere, |How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except God had sold them and had shut them up| under their hand? (Deuteronomy 32:30.) And for this reason God calls Himself the God of hosts, in order that believers may live securely under His guardianship; whilst the wicked, and the despisers of the Law, should dread the slightest motion when He is wroth with them.
What follows, that they should be |for a removing in all the kingdoms of the earth,| some take to mean that they should be a laughing-stock; because we usually shake or move our heads by way of insult; but others explain it, that they should be wanderers and vagabonds in unknown places of exile. The first exposition is the one I prefer. In Ezekiel (23:46,) it is used for a tumultuous rout; nor am I indisposed to understand it in this way, that whatever nations shall assail them, they should be shaken by their slightest attacks.
26. And thy carcase shall be meat. The punishment is here doubled by the disgrace which is added to death; for it is ignominious to be deprived of burial, and justly reckoned amongst the curses of God; whilst it is a sign of His paternal favor that we should be distinguished from the brutes, inasmuch as the rites of burial arouse us to the hope of resurrection and everlasting life. Wherefore, on the contrary, God deprives of burial those whom He curses. But as we have said that punishments affecting the body are common to the pious and the reprobate, so also we must think of being deprived of sepulture, since it sometimes happens that the reprobate are honorably buried, as Christ relates of the luxurious Dives, (Luke 16:22,) whilst the bodies of the pious are ignominiously cast a prey for birds and beasts; as the Prophet complains in Psalm 79:2. Still such an interchange does not prevent God from avenging the contempt of His Law by this mode of punishment, as by pestilence, famine, or sword.
27. The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt. Whether you understand this passage of the extraordinary plagues which God inflicted on the Egyptians at the time of His people's deliverance, or of the ordinary diseases which had before prevailed among them, though the latter is more probable, still Moses signifies, that whilst the Egyptians were smitten with these plagues, God's people escaped them, in order that this distinction might more clearly represent His favor. For it could not happen naturally that in the same place the diseases, from which the Israelites were free, should afflict the Egyptians alone. God therefore threatens, that if they should despise His Law, He would deal with them as they had seen Him deal with heathen nations. And assuredly, since God then chose to multiply His people miraculously, it can be by no means doubted but that He wonderfully privileged them by the bestowment of health and rigor. It is doubtful whether by diseases of the fundament He signifies hemorrhoids or prolapsus, or some other secret disease, such as that which attacked the Philistines when they captured the ark of the covenant. (1 Samuel 5:6.) He subjoins other diseases, in which there appear special marks of God's wrath; for although they sometimes affect the children of God also, still I have shewn elsewhere that the same punishments are so dealt out to them respectively, that they widely differ from each other. When Job was smitten with terrible ulcers, so as to become corrupt, he seemed for a time to present the marks of a reprobate person; but what in that holy man was an exercise of patience, is in the transgressors of the Law the just reward of their crimes by the curse of God.
28. The Lord shall smite thee with madness and blindness. This punishment is very often referred to by the Prophets, when God is said to smite the wicked with a spirit of giddiness and madness, to make them drunk with astonishment. Now, whatever God declares respecting this blindness or fury of mind, has a wide application; for hence it arises that the wicked rush willfully into vile lusts, shudder at no crime, are hurried headlong to destruction, are utterly deprived of discretion, throw away the remedies which are in their hands; and although the carnal sense is not greatly disturbed by this form of vengeance, still it is much more severe and awful than any bodily disease. The Poets imagined that wicked men were agitated and terrified by the furies, because experience taught them that it was not without a secret impulse from God that they became so senseless, when, their minds being affected, they were like beasts in the shape of men. Even heathens, then, perceived that when the wicked are given over to a reprobate mind, God thus manifests Himself as the just Avenger of their crimes. And so it is in all cases of |astonishment;| for it is plain that those who are thus stupified by their miseries, are prostrated by the hand of God.
30. Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man. He here denounces that all they possessed should be rifled and plundered by their enemies. He, however, puts the most painful thing of all in the first place, viz., that they shall be despoiled of their wives, and magnifies the enormity of the evil, by saying, that not only shall the wife be torn from her husband's bosom, but that the betrothed virgin shall be defiled. The same denunciation is extended to their houses and vineyards. It is grievous indeed to see the fruit of our labors seized on by our enemies before we have been permitted to enjoy them; since the frustration of our hope does not slightly increase our pain. He then passes on to their flocks and their herds: then to their children, and in their case heightens the calamity, in that their sons and their daughters should be taken from them in their very sight, so that their eyes should fail with grief, and their hands, as if dead, should be unable to afford them assistance. For two reasons He says that the robbers, who shall strip them of everything, should be unknown to them; both because they might expect less consideration and kindness from strangers and barbarians than from neighbors; and also that the Jews might be alarmed by this threat, so as not to suppose that they only had to deal with neighboring nations; inasmuch as it was in God's power to fetch nations from afar. Finally, He adds that there shall be no end to their affliction, until the magnitude of their calamities shall stupify them.
35. The Lord shall smite thee in the knees. Since death is common to the whole human race, they must needs also be all subject to disease; nor is it a matter of surprise that the whole posterity of Adam, which is infected with the taint of sin, should so be liable to many afflictions, which are the wages of sin. But, since the offenses of all are not alike, God also maintains a just proportion in the execution of His various punishments; thus, in this passage He does not speak only of common maladies, but of those whereby He openly shews His vengeance against the transgressors of the Law; of which sort are incurable diseases.
36. The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king. The fulfillment of this prophecy at length taught the Jews, though too late, that it was no empty threat, merely for the purpose of frightening them; and this also applies to the other predictions. For, on account of the great distance from them, the Jews would never have supposed that the Assyrians and Chaldeans were God's scourges, as they actually found them to be; because they placed no faith in the words of Moses. Much less credible was it to them that the king, whom they had appointed, should be dragged as a prisoner to distant countries. And surely this was a very sad and formidable punishment, since all their safety depended on the stability of their kingly government. Thus Jeremiah magnifies this evil above all others, that the Christ of God, who was the breath of the Church, and under whose shadow they hoped to be everywhere safe, should be taken. (Lamentations 4:20.) And this was fulfilled in the case of Jeconiah, as well as in that of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Let us, therefore, learn not to measure God's judgments by our own reason, but to tremble at them, although they are hidden from us. All aggravation of their captivity is also added, i e., that they should be oppressed by such tyranny as to be compelled to serve wood and stone. Dull and stupid as they were, still they ought to have retained their abomination of such gross wickedness. Hence it might be gathered that they would not be reduced to such a necessity except by the terrible vengeance of God. For although they had been attracted by the superstitions of the Gentiles, so as eagerly to run after them, still, after they were deprived of the worship of God, and had undergone the yoke of the wretched and ungodly servitude which was imposed on them, the foulness of idolatry must have been more fully understood. There is also an antithesis implied in these words, viz., that because they had refused to submit themselves to the true God, and to obey His Law, they should become the slaves of idols.
37. And thou shalt become an astonishment. The climax of their miseries is here added, that they should be so far from receiving consolation from men, that on every side their misery should meet with taunts and insults; for nothing more bitterly wounds the wretched than this indignity of being harassed by reproaches and sarcasms; and thus to be a laughing-stock and byword to all nations, is a dreadful infliction. Again, there is an implied antithesis between the ignominy to which God condemns His ungrateful people, and the extraordinary dignity with which He had honored them, so that they should be illustrious before the whole world. Hence the Prophets have often imitated this mode of expression; I will not quote the instances of it which everywhere occur.
38. Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field. He again makes mention of the scarcity of wine, of wheat, and all sorts of corn; but He assigns different causes for it. He proclaims that the harvest shall be scanty, notwithstanding an abundant sowing, because the locust shall consume the seed; that the vintage shall be poor, nay, almost nothing, because the worms shall devour the bunches; that the oil produced should be little, because the olives should wither on the trees and fall of themselves. Thus He admonishes them that He has at hand innumerable ministers (satellites) wherewith to destroy by famine the transgressors of His Law. Thus, whenever we see beetles, and locusts, and other insects attacking the fruits, we should remember that God, as it were, puts forth His arm to take away the food which He had given: thus Joel reminds us, that when the locust eats that which the palmer-worm hath left, and another insect that which the locust hath left, the curse of God is sufficiently conspicuous. (Joel 1:4.) Philosophers discover the reason why more of these little creatures are generated in one year than another; but we must remember the teaching of Moses, that they never trouble us except by God's command. For if we were submissive to God, as we ought to be, such a prodigy would never happen as that vile and filthy insects should devour the fruits of the earth which He Himself has provided for the sustenance of His children.
43. The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee. This also was no doubtful mark of God's wrath, that the sojourners who dwelt in the land of Canaan by sufferance should in a manner become its masters; for we know how those who are in debt are under the power of their creditors. In fact, what Solomon says is found to be true, that
|the rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.| (Proverbs 22:7.)
The Israelites, therefore, must have felt that God was contrary to them, when they were suppliants to their own guests, especially since He had promised that He would so enrich them that they should lend to others. This revolution of affairs, then, plainly convinced them of their iniquities. Meanwhile, it must be observed that poverty as well as wealth is in God's hands, and that whilst the latter is a proof of God's favour the former is reckoned amongst His curses; still, however, in such a manner that God often chastises His own children with want, or proves and exercises their patience without ceasing to be their Father, whilst he bestows abundance upon the reprobate, wherewith they may gorge themselves to their own destruction. God's blessing, however, shines forth in the elect, as far as it is expedient for them; nor is it said in vain in the Psalm, |Wealth and riches are in the house (of the just,|) in order that he may lend and be bountiful. (Psalm 112:3.)
45. Moreover, all these curses shall come upon thee. He not only confirms what he has already said, but takes away all hope of alleviation, since God's scourges shall not cease until they have repented. He declares that all the curses shall come upon them; for although they are not always congregated into a single band, still it is true that God pays the wages of the transgressors of His Law with this multitude of miseries which Moses has recounted. By the word pursue, he takes away all hope of escape, whilst to overtake is equivalent to laying hold of them tenaciously, till, as it is further said, they be destroyed. The sum is, that the ungodly by their subterfuges only bring it to pass that they accumulate upon themselves heavier punishments, which will never cease to afflict them until they are destroyed by them. For this reason, he says that they shall be |for a sign and a wonder,| i e., that they shall awaken astonishment in all men; for those who are but little moved by the common and ordinary judgments of God, are compelled, whether they will or no, to give attention to these prodigies. Thus, notable punishments, and such as are worthy of special observation, are |for a sign and a wonder.|
Their ingratitude is also reproved as well as their contempt of the Law, because they served not God |with joyfulness and gladness of heart,| when He had been so abundantly generous to them; for it is the fault of a corrupt and malignant nature, that it should not be possible to bring it to serve God joyfully, when He invites us by His liberality. But Moses takes it for granted that, since God will prevent the Israelites with His favor, before He proceeds to inflict punishments upon them, they will be guilty of this brutal sin, not to allow themselves to be liberally sustained by Him.
49. The Lord shall bring a nation against them from far. He enforces the same threatenings in different words, viz., that unknown and barbarous enemies should come, who shall attack them with great impetuosity and violence. And still further to aggravate their cruelty, He says that their language shall be a strange one; for, when there can be no oral communication, there is no room for entreaties, which sometimes awaken the most savage to mercy. But Jeremiah shews that this was fulfilled in the case of the Chaldeans;
|Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel; it is a mighty nation, a nation whose language thou howest not, neither understandest what they say.| (Jeremiah 5:15.)
On the other hand, when Isaiah promises them deliverance, he mentions this among the chief of their blessings, that the Jews should |not see a fierce people,| that they should not hear
|a people of deeper speech than they could perceive, of a stammering tongue that they could not understand.| (Isaiah 33:19.)
For, as I have elsewhere said, the Prophets were careful to take their form of expression from Moses, lest the Jews should, according to their custom, proudly despise the threats which God had interwoven with His Law.
Lest the distance of their countries should lull them into security, He says that they should be like eagles in swiftness, so as suddenly to overwhelm them, just as God often compares the ministers of His wrath to the whirlwind and the storm. Jeremiah has also imitated this similitude, where he declares that the slaughter which the Jews in their false imagination had supposed to be far away from them, should come suddenly upon them. (Jeremiah 4:13.)
Moses adds, that this nation shall be |strong of face, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favor to the young,| whereby he signifies their extreme ferocity. I have already expounded what follows respecting their rapine and plunder.
52. And he shall besiege thee in thy gates. He overthrows every ground of false confidence. The number of their towns inspired them with courage, because they never would have supposed that their enemies would undergo so much fatigue as not to cease from fighting till they were all taken. He therefore includes all their towns, in reliance upon whose multitude they despised hostile aggression. He adds, that in vain they trust in their high and fortified walls, which will be either overthrown by military engines, or shall voluntarily surrender from the length of their besiegal; for the passage may be explained in both ways, either that the enemies shall overthrow and lay prostrate all their fortresses, or that by their perseverance they shall pass over the walls however high. It seems to me that the length of the siege as well as their valiant fighting is indicated. The repetition which follows magnifies the evil, viz., that they shall be thus sorely pressed in their own land given them by God; for the very associations of the place only increased the indignity.
53. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body. This is one of those portents which was mentioned a little while ago; for it is an act of ferocity detestable and more than tragical, that fathers and mothers should eat their own offspring, so great love of which is naturally implanted in every heart, that parents often forget themselves in their anxiety for their children; and many have not hesitated to die to insure their safety. Nay, when the brute animals so carefully cherish their young, what can be more disgusting or abominable than that men should cease to care for their own blood? But this is the most monstrous of all atrocities, when fathers and mothers devour the offspring which they have procreated, and yet this threat by no means failed of its fulfillment, as we have elsewhere seen. We ought then to be the more alarmed when we see that God thus terribly punished the sins of those whom He had deigned to choose for His own. Still, it was not without very just cause that this wrath was so greatly kindled against the Jews who had left no kind of iniquity undone, so that their wickedness was altogether intolerable. Never, then, must it be forgotten that those of the household of the Church to whom God's truth is revealed, are on that account the less excusable, because they knowingly and willfully provoke His wrath, whilst their continued perseverance in sin is altogether unworthy of pardon. The monstrous brutality of the act is heightened, when He says that men, in other respects tender and accustomed to delicacies, should be so savage through hunger that they shall refuse to give a share of this horrible food to their wives and surviving children; as also Jeremiah expressly says, the pitiful women shall be so maddened by hunger as to cook their own children. (Lamentations 4:10.) What follows as to the after-birth is still more horrible, for thus they call the membrane by which the foetus is covered in the womb, with all its excrements. That they should dress for food a filthy skin, the very look of which is disgusting, plainly demonstrates the awfulness of God's vengeance.
58. If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law. Inasmuch as even believers, although they are disposed to a willing obedience to the Law, and earnestly apply themselves to it, are still impeded and withheld by the infirmity of their flesh from fulfilling their duty, care and attention is here demanded of them; for |to observe (custodire) to do| is equivalent to giving sedulous and diligent heed. Now, God declares that, unless the Israelites thoroughly devote themselves to the keeping of the Law, vengeance is prepared for their neglect. It is indeed a harsh and severe threat whereby transgression in any respect is without remission; for perfect obedience is required by the words, |to do all the words that are written in the Law.| But it is necessary that we should bear in mind what I have already shewn, that Moses was thus severe in his exactions, in order that the people, being convinced of their condemnation, should betake themselves to the mercy of God; for no one longs after Christ, unless he first abandons all confidence in his works, and rests all his hope of salvation in gratuitous pardon. The curse here recorded so awaits the transgressors of the Law, that, whilst God pardons His children, He at the same time sometimes chastises them, and executes upon the reprobate the vengeance they deserve. The fountain-head of obedience is indicated when it is said, |that thou mayest fear the Lord;| for all virtues are but smoke, which do not spring from the fear of God. Moreover, in order that their contempt may be without excuse, God's name is called |glorious and fearful;| for it is a mark of gross stupidity, when God's majesty and glory are openly set before us, not to be affected with becoming reverence so as to humble ourselves before Him. He, however, threatens something more terrible than before, when he says that the plagues shall be wonderful not only on the parents but on their children and descendants; instead of which some construe it, He shall increase in a wonderful manner; and others, He shall separate; but this is too constrained and obscure. The word phl', phela, signifies to be wonderful, or secret and hidden: thus, in my opinion, he means extraordinary and incredible modes of vengeance which shall surpass the comprehension of the human mind. He puts plagues and sicknesses in apposition with each other, as explaining by the latter of what nature the plagues shall be; unless, perhaps, it may be rather thought that the species is appended to the genus, which seems to be more probable. Further, he calls the plagues veritable, or faithful; either because they shall certainly occur, or because they shall continue to the end; for the Hebrew word n'mnyt, neumanoth, is explained in both ways; and undoubtedly it sometimes signifies veracious, or what does not deceive, sometimes firm and stable, or perpetual; and this sense appears to me to suit it best here, so that continued duration should be added to the greatness of the plagues.
He again mentions |the diseases of Egypt,| not those which they had themselves suffered in Egypt, but those under which they had seen the Egyptians laboring. He says, therefore, that the severity of God against unbelievers, of which they had been spectators, should fall upon their own heads, if they should be followers of their ungodliness; for it was natural that they should tremble at the judgments of God, whereof they had been eye-witnesses; and not only so, but at which they had trembled for fear.
61. Also every sickness and every plague. This passage confirms what I have said about the plague and the sickness, for the sickness stands first as the species, and then the plague follows, which has a wider meaning, and comprehends all the curses in itself. Still, after he has enumerated so many forms of punishment, he declares that God is armed with yet other weapons to smite them; and assuredly as His blessings are endless and innumerable, so also His power is incomprehensible for avenging the contempt of His Law. Posterity has experienced, and we also even now partly perceive how true these threatenings were; for, as the obstinacy of men has burst forth and exalted itself more and more, so new and unheard of punishments have abounded from God, like a deluge.
62. And ye shall be left few in number. Since it had been promised to Abraham that his seed should be like the stars of heaven in multitude, it was a signal token of God's wrath that his posterity should be reduced to so small a number; thus the comparison which is here made for the purpose of heightening their calamity, must not simply be referred to the |multitude| or great band, and the |fewness in number,| but must be extended to the promise, the truth of which had been clearly manifested; so that, on the other hand, they might perceive that their former populousness could only have been put an end to, like waters dried up by the excessive heat of the sun, through the wrath of God.
63. And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you. The wonderful and inestimable love of God towards His people is here set forth, via, that He had rejoiced in heaping blessings upon them; wherefore their depravity was all the more base and intolerable, in that God, though voluntarily disposed to be bountiful, was obliged by it to lay aside His affection for them. But although it is only by a metaphor that God is said to rejoice in destroying the wicked, yet it is not without good reason that this expression is applied to him; that we may know that He can no more fail to be the defender of His Law, and the Avenger of its contempt, than deny Himself. He complains, indeed, by Isaiah, (10:24) that He is unwillingly forced to punish the Jews; but these two things are quite consistent, that He rejoices in His just judgment, and at the same time is mindful of His clemency and indulgence, so that He would rather pardon, if the wickedness of men would allow Him. But this expression of Moses, that God receives consolation from punishing the wicked, constantly occurs in the Prophets.
64. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people. At the end of the preceding verse, he had threatened them with banishment, which was far more painful to the people of Israel than to other nations. Inasmuch as affection for our country is natural to all, it is disagreeable to be away from it; but the condition of the Israelitish people was peculiar, for to them the inheritance of Canaan was promised them by God, and they could not be expelled from it without being renounced by their heavenly Father. But he now proceeds a second and third step further; for he adds to banishment a miserable scattering, and to scattering, trembling and wanderings full of disquietude. For, if they had been expelled all together into any one corner of the world, their banishment would have been more tolerarable from their very association with each other. Their calamity is, therefore, augmented when the storm of God's wrath scatters them hither and thither like chaff, so that they should be dispersed, and dwell in widely different countries. Another kind of servitude, which I have elsewhere noticed, is incidentally added, i e., that He would enslave them not only to men, but to idols also. The third step is their want of rest, for there was to be no fixed abode for them in their captivity; and this is far the most wretched state of all, to serve tyrannical conquerors as captives, and to have no certain master. Still it was a most just reward of the people's ingratitude, that they should nowhere find a fixed resting-place, because they had rejected the rest offered them by God, as we read in Isaiah (28:12.) He, however, extends the evil, bitter as it was in itself, still further, for they were not only to be compelled to wander in confusion, and immediately to pass onwards, but, wheresoever they should come, inward perturbation of mind was to follow them as their inseparable companion. Now, it is more sad to be agitated within with secret fear, than to be oppressed by external violence; for believers, although they too may be unsettled and tossed by many troublesome waves, still repose with tranquil minds on God; whilst the wicked, however they may desire to lull themselves in security, are nevertheless always without true peace; and if, for a while, they sink into lethargy, are still soon compelled to arouse themselves by God whether they will or not. Surely as the repose of a well-regulated mind is a signal mark of God's favor, so a constant and irremediable fear, such as is here referred to, is one of His terrible punishments.
Since the fear of spiritual punishments but lightly affects ungodly men, Moses magnifies in many words what the Israelites would else have carelessly passed over. Especially he points out what dreadful torments of anxiety would affect the wicked, when he says that their life should hang in suspense, as it were, before their eyes, so that they should fear day and night. An amusing device is related of Dionysius, who commanded an exquisite supper, supplied with every delicacy, to be prepared for a courtly flatterer by whom his happiness had been lauded; he placed him in his own seat, so that he might feast pleasantly, but ordered a sword to be suspended by a thread so as to overhang his head, insomuch that he who had pronounced the tyrant to be happy, when he saw that death was so near him every moment, did not dare to taste either of meat or drink. Dionysius, therefore, confessed, and not without shame to himself, that he and all other tyrants, whilst they are formidable to others, are tormented by perpetual fear. Now, this same disquietude is common to all the despisers of God; for the more wantonly they rage in forgetfulness of His fear, the more deservedly they dread their own shadow. Besides, when we look around us and see by how many forms of death our lives are beset, it cannot be but that innumerable anxieties should naturally possess us; how, then, can the wicked help being harassed by miserable and perplexing doubts when they perceive themselves to be shut out from the protection of God, and exposed to so many evils? Tranquillity of mind, therefore, can only arise from having God as our Keeper, and from resting under His protection.
By the words, |the sight of thine eyes,| I have no doubt but that Moses designates those spectres and bug-bears whereby death is set before the eyes of the reprobate.
68. And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships. We know that the people were so driven about in the desert amidst divers perils, that they only escaped from it in safety by extraordinary miracles. It was therefore a thing most highly to be desired by their posterity, that they should never be carried back into those mighty depths. He who had once rescued them from those deaths might indeed often be their deliverer; but in order to make His blessing at that time more memorable, He had provided that they should never return into that wilderness. To bring them back into it again, was, then, in a manner to blot out the grace of redemption. If any object that it was impossible that the people should be conveyed in ships through dry places, the reply is easy, that since mention is made of the captivity, there is no absurdity in their being carried in ships and landed on the shore which belongs to the plain of Moab, so as to finish their journey by wandering through the desert on foot.
Finally, he shews how melancholy their condition would be, since they would desire to sell themselves to their enemies, and would find none to buy them on account of their vileness.