Friday, March 5, 2010


Chapter 28
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"It shall come to pass, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, and obey all of his commandments which I give to this day, that the Lord your God will place you high above all other nations of the earth.

"All these blessings shall come true, and overwhelm you, if you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God: Blessings to your cities and to your fields; blessings to the fertility of your bodies, and to your crops, as well as to your cattle in your herds, and the sheep in your flocks; blessings upon your food and the amount you have; blessings to when you arrive or leave home.

"The Lord shall curse your enemies that rise up against you to be defeated before your very eyes - they shall come against you one way, but flee before you seven* ways.

"The Lord shall command a blessing upon your food storage houses, and in all that you set your hand into. He shall bless you in the land that he has given you.

"The Lord shall establish you as a holy people unto himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep his commandments and walk in the ways of the Lord your God. All of the people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.

"The Lord shall make you plentiful in goods, and in fertility of yourselves, as well as your cattle and your crops, in the land which he promised to your forefathers.

"The Lord shall open to you his treasure, the heaven to give rain to your land each season, and to bless all of your work. You shall lend to many nations, but shall never borrow.

"The Lord shall make you the head, and not the tail. You shall be above, and never beneath, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command to you this day, to observe and obey. You shall not stray from any of the words I have commanded you this day, not to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

"If you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, his commandments and statutes which I command you this day, then all of these curses shall come upon you and overtake you: curses to your cities and to your fields; curses to the fertility of your bodies, and to your crops, as well as to your cattle in your herds, and the sheep in your flocks; curses upon your food and the amount you have; curses to when you arrive or leave home.

"The Lord shall send upon you cursing, vexation, and rebuke in all that you do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly because of the wickedness of your doings, whereby you have forsaken me.

"The Lord shall make the pestilence cling to you, until it consumes you from off the land you about to possess.

"The Lord shall smite you with a consumption, and with fever and inflammation, with an extreme burning, and with the sword, blasting, and with mildew, and you shall be pursued until you perish.

"The heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth under you shall be iron.

"The Lord shall turn the rain into dust and powder, and from heaven it shall fall until you are destroyed.

"The Lord will cause you to be destroyed before your enemies - you shall go out one way against them, and flee before them seven* ways - and you shall be removed from the kingdoms of the earth. Your carcasses shall be food to the bird in the air, and to the wild animals, no one will chase these animals away.

"The Lord will smite you with the boils of Egypt, and with hemorrhoids, scabs, and the itch, which cannot be cured.

"The Lord will smite you with madness, blindness, and panic; and you shall grope around in the daylight as the blind gropes in the darkness. You shall not prosper in any way, and you shall only be oppressed and spoiled, and no one will save you.

"When you become engaged to a woman, another man will sleep with her; when you build a house, someone else will live there; and when you plant a vineyard, someone else will eat your grapes. Your oxen will be slain before your eyes, and you will not even get to eat its meat; your donkeys shall be violently taken away in front of your very eyes, and you will not be compensated for them; and your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will be able to rescue them. Your sons and daughters will be sold as slaves to other nations, and you will long for their return but will not have the might to free them. Another nation, unknown to you, will devour your crops and all of your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed away. You will grow mad from the seeing all of this befall you.

"The Lord will cover your legs and knees with boils that cannot be healed, starting from the sole of your feet to the top of your head.

"The Lord shall bring you and the King that presides over you under the hand of another nation, one that neither yourselves nor your forefathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, crafted from wood and stone. You shall become an object of horror, a proverb, and a byword among all nations wherever the Lord shall lead you.

"You will carry out a lot of seed out into the field, but shall reap few crops, because the locusts will consume them. You will plant vineyards, and dress them, but you will never taste the wine or the grapes they yield, for the worms shall eat them. You will have olive trees throughout the land, but you will not be able to anoint yourself with oil, for the trees will not bear olives. You will bear sons and daughters, but you shall not enjoy them for they will be sold into slavery. The locusts will consume the rest of the fruit and trees in the land.

"The foreigners amongst you will rise above you, and you will fall in stature. They shall lend to you, and you will not lend to them; they shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

"All of these curses shall come upon you, pursue you, and overtake you until you are destroyed; because you did not listen to the voice of the Lord your God, or obey his commandments and statutes that he commanded you. These curses shall be upon you and your offspring forever as a sign and a warning.

"Because you chose not to serve the Lord your God with joyfulness, and gladness of heart, for the abundance of things he's given you; therefore you shall serve your enemies which the Lord will send against you, in hunger and in thirst, in nakedness, and in want of all things. He shall put a yoke upon your neck until he has destroyed you.

"The Lord shall bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, who will not show regard toward the old, nor show favor to the young. They shall eat you cattle and your crops until you are destroyed. They will leave no crops, wine, olive oil, or sheep until they have destroyed you. He shall besiege your cities until your wall come down. The walls you had trusted to protect you will fall, as they will besiege you in the cities in the land which the Lord your God has given you. You shall eat the flesh of your children, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters, which the Lord your God has given you, in the siege when your enemies distress you. The man who is kind and tender amongst you shall become evil towards his fellow man, his wife, and his children, and he will not share the flesh of his children that he is eating because he has nothing left in the midst of the siege. The most tender and delicate woman amongst you - who would not venture to set her foot down on the ground - shall become evil towards her husband and her children, and toward the children she will bear - for she will eat them secretly in the siege.

"If you will not observe and obey all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will make wonderful plagues, plagues for your children, and even great plagues and sickness of long continuance. Moreover, he will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt which you were afraid of, and they shall cling to you. Every sickness and every plague that is not written in the book of this law, the Lord will bring upon you until you are destroyed. You will be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars in the sky, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

"It shall come to pass that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do good for you and to multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing, you shall be plucked from off the land that you are about to possess. The Lord will scatter you amongst all other people, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods - which neither you nor your forefathers have known - crafted from wood and stone. Among those nations you shall find no ease, nor shall the sole of your foot have rest, but the Lord shall give you there a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a sorrowful mind. Your life will hang in doubt before you, and you shall fear the night and the day, and shall not have any assurance in life. In the morning you shall fear the evening, and at evening you will fear the night, for your heart will be full of fear from the sights your eyes shall see.

"The Lord shall bring you into Egypt again by ships - despite the fact that he told you that you would never see that land again - and there you will be sold to your enemies into slavery, but no man shall buy you."
Notes:1.) Another appearance of the mystical number 'seven' in the bible.
Thoughts:This rather long chapter can basically be summed up by stating, if you don't follow God's rules he's going to do all sorts of terrible things to you.

Moses begins by telling the Israelites a couple of the perks of obeying God's laws - that they'll be the best nation on the earth; that their cities and fields will be blessed; that every person, plant, and animal will be blessed with fertility; that they'll be blessed with plenty of food; and that God will curse the enemies of the Israelites. Moses says that God will also make the Israelites a "holy people" if they simply do what they're told, and states that subsequently, other nations will be afraid of them. Moses even states that if the Israelites obey, then God will open up "his treasure" - his rainwater - to give rain to the crops. He also adds that the Israelites will be rich enough to lend money to other nations and never have to borrow, stating that God will make the Israelites "the head" and not "the tail" - just so long as they obey, and don't worship other gods.

Notice that just like in the ten commandments, Moses puts heavy emphasis on stressing the importance of not "go[ing] after other gods to serve them". This is obviously a crucial point toward maintaining power and control over the Israelites. One of the most common defense tactics used by believers is attempting to shift the burden of proof by claiming that "one cannot disprove the existence of God". However, if one "should" believe in God because he cannot be disproven, then by the same flawed logic we could justify the "existence" of other gods as well. Therefore it is vital to villainize other religious beliefs lest Moses and the priests lose control over governing the people.

After the mention of going after other gods, Moses launches into a tirade of what will happen if the people disobey God, spending the next 52(!) verses describing all the terrible things God will do to them.

First, Moses basically reverses all of the blessings in the previous verses - God will curse your cities and your fields; curse the fertility of people, animals, and crops; curse the amount of food you have; and curses upon when you leave or arrive home.

Next Moses states that God will:
  • Curse you in everything that you do until you are destroyed and will make pestilence cling to you until it consumes you.
  • Smite you with consumption, fever, inflammation, and extreme burning.
  • Pursue you with the sword, blasting, and mildew until you perish.
  • Will make the sky "brass", and the earth "iron".
  • Turn the rain into dust and powder.
  • Cause you to be defeated before your enemies, and that you will flee "seven ways" from battle.
  • Leave your carcasses out to become food for vultures and wild animals, as there will be no one left alive to shoo them away.
  • Will smite you with incurable boils, hemorrhoids, scabs, and the itch - which apparently are Egyptian ailments.
  • Will smite you with madness blindness and panic.
  • Will ensure that you will not prosper in any way, and will instead be oppressed and spoiled, and that no one will save you.
  • When you get engaged another man will have sex with your wife before you do.
  • When you build a house, someone else will take it from you before you get a chance to live there.
  • When you plant a vineyard someone else will eat your grapes
  • Your oxen will be killed before you, and you will not get to eat any of its meat
  • Your donkeys will be violently taken from you and you will not be compensated for them.
  • Your enemies will take your sheep, and you won't be able to get them back.
  • Your sons and daughters will be sold as slaves to other nations and you won't be able to rescue them.
  • Another nation - one that no one has heard of before - will devour all of your crops.
  • You will grow mad from seeing all of this misfortune happen to you.
  • Will cover you head to toe in boils that connot be healed.
  • Will deliver everyone in the land, including the king, under the control of another nation - again, one that no one has heard of before - and you will be made to worship their gods (idols made of wood and stone).
  • No matter how much you plant, locusts will eat your crops.
  • Worms will eat the grapes from your vineyards.
  • Olive trees will no longer bear olives.
  • You will give birth to children who will be sold into slavery soon after being born.
  • Locusts will eat all of the fruit off of the trees.
  • Foreigners amongst you will rise above you, and therefore they will be the ones able to lend money, and not you.
Moses takes a quick break to remind the Israelites that these curses would be handed out because they did not listen to God or obey his commandments, and states that these curses will be upon the people and their offspring forever, to be a message and warning to others.

While on the surface it may seem to contradict what Moses states in Deuteronomy 24:16 about not punishing a child for the "sins" of his father (or vice versa), if we read that verse carefully we see that Moses meant that strictly for cases of administering capital punishment against the sins of the Israelites. This doesn't apply to God's commands to kill innocent women and children, because they belong to the wrong race, nor does it apply to God accepting Noah's curse of his grandson Canaan due to Noah's son Ham walking in on him drunk and naked, or God's declaration himself that he will visit "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations" in Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9.

Moses asserts that "choosing" not to serve God with "joyfulness" and "gladness of heart", in spite of the abundance of things he's given you (arguably plagues top that list so far in our story), that therefore you shall serve your enemies instead until God destroys you. Threatening to destroy people and making any survivors suffer in agonizing ways is not how to define "benevolent" ruler at all.

Moses continues to list more nasty things that God will do to you if you disobey him, including having a foreign nation - one of whom they have not heard of, and speaks a foreign language - come and conquer the land, and that won't show any regard to the old or favor to the young. This is rather hypocritical for Moses to state in light of his own lack of sympathy for the young and old amongst The Midianites, as well as the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites of whom Moses specifically states " thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth". Moses is using an emotional appeal, but it only works when you apply it to the Israelites - this "evil nation" won't even show sympathy to the children and the elderly, but it's okay that we slaughter "everything that breathes" in those "heathen nations".

This foreign nation that no oone has ever heard of before will eat all of the crops and cattle until the Israelites are destroyed, and will leave nothing behind, forcing the Israelites to resort to cannibalism. Moses claims that even the most kind men will become "evil" and start eating babies, and not share the flesh with his wife and children. He further claims that women will secretly give birth to babies so that they can eat them as well - we've all heard of slow cooking, but growing your "dinner" for nine months?

Moses then states that if the people don't observe the laws in "this book", then God will send all sorts of nasty plagues, sicknesses, and the diseases from Egypt and their population loss will be solely to blame for their disobedience. God will scatter the Israelites from one end of the earth to the other, and there they will be "forced" to worship other gods. Moses paints this whole "worshiping other gods" angle up like it should be a terrible thing for the Israelites to endure, but as we've seen, it takes little to get the Israelites to do such a thing, such as with Aaron's golden calf and "committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab". Moses adds that their lives under the rule of this "foreign nation" will be taxing and sorrowful, and that their lives will hang in doubt.

Finally Moses ends the chapter by stating that the Israelites will be brought into Egypt on ships - despite that God swore that they would never see the land of Egypt again - where they will be sold into slavery. He adds that the kicker is that no one will want to buy them.

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