Matthew Poole's Commentary
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:The blessings of obedience, Deu 28:1-14. Curses for disobedience, Deu 28:15-68.
i.e. Advance and honour thee with divers privileges and blessings, as it here follows.
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.Those blessings which others greedily follow after, and ofttimes never overtake, they shall follow after thee, and shall be thrown into thy lap by my special kindness.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.i.e. It shall always be well replenished, and the provision thou hast there shall be preserved for, and in due time brought forth to, thy use and service. See Deu 26:2,10.
Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.i.e. In all thy affairs and administrations, which are oft expressed by this phrase, as Numbers 27:17 Deu 31:2 2 Samuel 3:25 2 Chronicles 1:10 Acts 1:21 9:28.
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.i.e. Many ways, as is usual when an army is totally overthrown and dissipated.
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.Shall command, i.e. shall by his sovereign and powerful providence give it, even when it seems furthest from thee, and not likely to come to time without a word of command from God himself.
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.Shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, i.e. shall confirm and establish his covenant with thee, by which he separated thee to himself as a holy and peculiar people, and shall publicly own thee for such, as it follows, Deu 28:10.
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.i.e. That you are in deed and truth his people and children: see Deu 14:1 26:18. For to be called ofttimes signifies to be, as Isaiah 47:1,5 56:7 Matthew 5:9,19 21:13.
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.The same things which were said before are repeated, to show that God would repeat and multiply his blessings upon them.
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.His good treasure, to wit, the heaven or the air, as it here follows, which is God’s storehouse, where he treasures up rain or wind or other things for man’s use. See Job 38:22 Psalm 33:7.
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:The head; the chief of all people in power, or at least in dignity and privileges; so that even they that are not under thine authority shall reverence thy greatness and excellency. So it was in David’s and Solomon’s time, and so it should have been much oftener and much more, if they had performed the conditions here required. For the phrase, see Isaiah 9:14,15 19:15.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:So as thou shalt not be able to escape them, as thou shalt vainly hope and endeavour to do.
Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Vexation, or, disturbance. This seems chiefly to concern the mind, and its torment arising from the disappointment of hopes, the presages of its approaching miseries.
Rebuke, to wit, from God, not so much in words as by his actions, by cross providences, by sharp and sore afflictions, which are oft called rebukes, as 2 Kings 19:3 Psalm 18:15 Psalm 39:11 80:16 Isaiah 51:20 66:15 Ezekiel 5:15 25:17.
The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.With blasting, and with mildew; two plagues or evil affections of corn. See 1 Kings 8:37 2 Chronicles 6:28 Amos 4:9 Haggai 2:17.
And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.Be brass, i.e. like brass, hard and dry, and shut up from giving rain. See Leviticus 26:19.
Be iron, hard, and chapt, and barren.
The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.Either,
1. Thy rain shall be as unprofitable to thy ground and seed as if it were only so much dust. Or,
2. Instead of rain shall come nothing but dust from heaven, which being raised and carried up by the wind in great abundance, doth return and fall upon the earth as it were in clouds or showers.
Until thou be destroyed, to wit, by famine, following these great droughts.
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.Removed. Heb. for a removing; to be tossed like a football from place to place, and from people to people.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:Blindness, to wit, of mind, so that they shall not know what to do; see Job 5:13,14; so as they shall commonly choose and follow the worst counsels and courses, to their own ruin.
Astonishment of heart; they shall be filled with wonder and horror, because of the strangeness and soreness of their calamities.
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.At noon-day, i.e. in the most clear and evident matters thou shalt grossly mistake and miss thy way.
Thou shalt not prosper in thy ways; thy counsels and enterprises shall be frustrated, and turn to thy destruction.
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.Another man shall lie with her before thou canst consummate thy marriage, and enjoy her as thy wife. And so in the following branches.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Shall be given unto another people, by those who have conquered them, and taken them captives, who shall give or sell them to other persons, as the manner was.
Fail, or, be consumed, partly with grief and plentiful tears shed for them; and partly with earnest desire, and vain and long expectation of their return. See Psalm 119:82. No might, i.e. no power to rescue them, nor money to ransom them.
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:Which thou knowest not; which shall come from a far country, which thou didst not at all expect or fear and therefore will be the more dreadful when they come; a nation whose language thou understandest not, and therefore canst not plead with them for mercy, nor expect any favour from them.
Oppressed and crushed alway; not sometimes conquered, and sometimes conquering, as the course of war commonly is, but in all times, and in all thy actions and attempts, foiled and worsted.
So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Thee and thy king: the calamity shall be both universal, which even thy king shall not be able to avoid, much less the subjects, who have far less advantage and opportunity for escape; and irrecoverable, because he who should protect or rescue them is lost with them. See Lamentations 4:20.
There shalt thou serve other gods; either being corrupted by their examples and counsels, or compelled to it by their tyranny. So what formerly was their choice and delight now becomes their plague and misery. And this doubtless was the condition of many Israelites under the Assyrian and Babylonish captivities, as we may gather from Jeremiah 44:17-19, and other places, though many of them kept themselves free from that infection.
And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.All other nations shall wonder to see such calamities befall such a people; and when they would express any dreadful affliction in a proverbial way, they shall make use of thy example: they shall also sport themselves in thy miseries, and say, These are the people of the Lord, the only saints upon earth, &c.
Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.No text from Poole on this verse.
All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.No text from Poole on this verse.
The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.Within thee, i.e. within thy gates; who formerly honoured and served thee, and were some of them glad of the crumbs which fell from thy table.
He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:No text from Poole on this verse.
And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.They shall be, i.e. these curses now mentioned. For a wonder, i.e. signal and wonderful to all that hear of them.
Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;Or,
in the abundance of all things; for this is opposed to in hunger, in thirst, &c., Deu 28:48. And the Hebrew men oft signifies in, as Exodus 25:18 Job 19:26 Psalm 72:16.
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.A yoke of iron, which thou canst neither well bear, nor break. See Jeremiah 28:13,14.
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;As the eagle flieth, Heb. as the eagle flies, i.e. not only swiftly, as is expressed in our translation, for which the Babylonian is noted and compared to an eagle, Jeremiah 4:13 Ezekiel 17:3 Daniel 7:4; but also fiercely and greedily, as the eagle to its prey; also strongly and irresistibly. Possibly this may be understood of the Romans, who did come
from far, from the end of the earth, more truly and literally than the Chaldeans, whose country was not far from Judea, and this may allude to the eagle, which was in their ensigns.
A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:Of fierce countenance, Heb. strong of face or countenance, i.e. bold and impudent, hardy and undaunted, cruel and uncompassionate and inflexible, sparing no age nor sex, &c.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:No text from Poole on this verse.
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:Evil, i.e. unkind, envious, covetous, to monopolize these dainty bits to themselves, and grudging that their dearest relations should have any part of them.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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,Evil, i.e. unmerciful: she will desire or design their destruction for her food.
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.Her young one, Heb. after-birth; that which was loathsome to behold, will now be pleasant to eat; and together with it she shall eat the child which was wrapt up in it, and may be included in this expression.
Which she shall bear, or, which she shall have born, i.e. her more grown children.
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;Name, i. e. thing or person, to wit, this glorious God. Names are oft put for things, as 1 Kings 5:3 Psalm 20:1 95:1 Acts 4:12 Ephesians 1:21; and for persons, as Acts 1:15 Revelation 3:4.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Rejoice over you to destroy you; his just indignation against you will be so great, that it will be a pleasure to him to take vengeance on you. For though he doth not delight in the death of a sinner in itself, yet he doth doubtless delight in the glorifying of his justice upon incorrigible sinners, seeing the exercise of all his attributes must needs please him, else he were not perfectly happy.
The land whither thou goest to possess it; which was no ordinary land, but a most pleasant land, a land of promise, a token of God’s favour, and a pledge of their eternal inheritance, which was a great aggravation of their loss of it.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:Neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; ye shall have no settlement in the land whither you are banished, but there you shall be tossed about from place to place, and sold from person to person, or, Cain-like, wander about like a vagabond.
And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:Either because thou art in the hands of thy enemies, that have power, and want not will, to destroy thee; or because of the terrors of thy own mind, and the guilt of thy conscience, making thee to fear, even where no great cause to fear is.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Into Egypt again, whence he hath now so gloriously delivered thee, as repenting of all his kindness to thee, and resolved to undo what he hath done for thee. And the remembrance of what they endured in Egypt could not but make the thoughts of returning thither again very terrible to them.
With ships; which was literally fulfilled under Titus, when multitudes of them were carried thither in ships, and sold there for slaves, as Josephus relates. And this expression seems to mind them of that time when they went over the sea without ships, God miraculously drying up the sea before them, &c., which now they would have occasion sadly to remember. By the way, or, to the way; the Hebrew beth here signifying to, as it doth Genesis 11:4 Leviticus 16:22 Psalm 19:5 91:12 Isaiah 9:8. And the
way seems not to be meant here of the usual road-way from Canaan to Egypt, which was wholly by land, but to be put for the end of the way or journey, even the land of Egypt; for to this, and not to the road-way between Canaan and Egypt, agree the words here following,
whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it (i.e. Egypt)
no more again. And so that way is put for to that land in a place parallel to this, where the very same words are used, Deu 17:16, to which this place palpably alludes.
No man shall buy you; either because the number of you captives shall be so great, that the market shall be glutted with you; or because you shall be so loathsome and contemptible that men shall not be willing to have you for slaves. And this was the condition of the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem, as Josephus the Jew hath left upon record.