Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Deuteronomy 28

Deuteronomy xxviii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Earth. Similar denunciations are made, Leviticus xxvi. (Menochius)

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

Ver. 3. Field. Wherever thou art, all thy undertakings shall prosper. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Womb. This was most fully verified in the birth of the Messias, as the Holy Ghost insinuated, by causing St. Elizabeth to address these words to the mother of Jesus Christ, Luke i. 42. (Calmet)

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

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

Ver. 7. Down. Hebrew, "dead." Septuagint, "bruised to pieces," ver. 25. (Calmet) --- Seven. This denotes the confusion and hurry with which the enemy shall endeavour to escape. (Menochius)

Ver. 10. Upon thee; so that thou art called God's people (Calmet) with truth. (Menochius) --- He has taken thee under his protection, and defended them [thee?] against every attack. (Haydock)

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

Ver. 13. Tail, as he had promised, ver. 1. (Menochius) --- You shall have dominion over others. (Calmet) --- So Isaias (ix. 14,) says, the Lord shall destroy the head, (the magistrate) and the tail, or (ver. 15,) the lying prophet. (Haydock)

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

Ver. 20. Rebuke, or "curse." Septuagint, the pestilence, (Calmet) or destruction, (analsin.) (Haydock)

Ver. 22. Cold. The word occurs no where else. The Chaldean, Syriac, &c., have the reverse, "heat." --- Blasting. In the original, either the mildew destroying the corn, (Haydock) or the jaundice, which attacks the human body, may be meant. (Calmet)

Ver. 23. Of brass, and yield no rain. (Menochius) --- Pindar says, (Pyth. x.) "The heaven of brass they never can ascend." See Leviticus xxvi. 19.

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

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

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

Ver. 27. Egypt. See chap. vi. 15, and xxviii. 60., Exodus ix. 9, and xv. 25., or with such diseases as those with which he afflicted Egypt. (Calmet) --- Out. Hebrew, "with the emerods, scab, and itch," 1 Kings v. 6, 12.

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

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

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

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

Ver. 32. Hand. Hebrew also, "thy hand shall not be lifted up towards God." Targum of Jerusalem says, Thou shalt possess nothing, wherewith thou mayest render God propitious. (Calmet) --- Thou shalt not be able to rescue, (Menochius) or to assist thy distressed children.

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

Ver. 34. Astonished. Hebrew, "go mad," become stupified at such a scene of misfortunes.

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

Ver. 37. Lost. Hebrew, "an object of desolation, a fable and a mockery." Septuagint, "thou shalt be a riddle, a parable, and an example," to employ the thoughts and tongues of all nations, who will not be able to comprehend the greatness of thy distress. (Calmet)

Ver. 38. All: so that the little which thou mayst gather will not be worth mentioning. (Haydock) --- Hebrew also may signify, "Thy field shall produce a great deal, and give thee abundant expectations, but the locusts shall consume it," to mortify thee the more.

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

Ver. 43. Lower. Hebrew repeats this word, to signify the utmost abjection. (Haydock) --- The Fathers gather hence the glorious superiority to which the Christian Church is raised. (Origen, Rom. ii.) (Theodoret, q. 34.)

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

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

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

Ver. 50. Insolent. Hebrew, "of a fierce countenance." It is well known how the Babylonians treated the princes of the Jews. (Calmet)

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

Ver. 53. Womb; a cruelty which the Jews were guilty of in the sieges of Samaria and of Jerusalem. See Baruch ii. 2, 13., Lamentations ii. 20., and iv., and 4 Kings vi. 28., and Josephus, Jewish Wars vii. 8. (Calmet)

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

Ver. 56. Envy. Hebrew, "her eye shall be evil towards the husband of her bosom," &c. (Haydock)

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

Ver. 59. Increase. Hebrew, distinguish, or render thy plagues wonderful. (Calmet) --- Perpetual. Hebrew, "lasting." (Haydock) See ver. 27.

Ver. 65. Fearful, dejected, distrustful. The Jews are under continual alarms. (Calmet)

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

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