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Penalties of Disobedience

14 ‘But if you do not obey Me and do not [obediently] do all these commandments, 15 if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul rejects My ordinances, so that you will not [obediently] do all My commandments, and in this way break My covenant, 16 I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you sudden terror, consumption, and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to languish also. And you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat what you plant. 17 I will set My face against you so that [a]you will be struck down before your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.(A) 18 If in spite of all this you still will not listen to Me and be obedient, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 I will break your pride in your power, and I will make your sky like iron [giving no rain and blocking all prayers] and your ground like bronze [hard to plow and yielding no produce].(B) 20 Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.

21 ‘If then, you act with hostility toward Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times in accordance with your sins. 22 I will let loose the [wild] animals of the field among you, which will bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you so few in number that your roads will lie deserted and desolate.(C)

23 ‘And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act [b]with hostility against Me, 24 then I also will act with hostility against you, and I will strike you seven times for your sins. 25 I will bring a sword on you that will execute vengeance for [breaking] the covenant; and when you gather together in your cities, I will send pestilence (virulent disease) among you, and you shall be handed over to the enemy.(D) 26 When I break your staff of bread [that is, cut off your supply of food], ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will ration your bread; and you will eat and not be satisfied.(E)

27 ‘Yet if in spite of this you will not [attentively] listen to Me but act with hostility against me, 28 then I will act with hostility against you in wrath, and I also will punish you seven times for your sins. 29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.(F) 30 I will destroy your high places [devoted to idolatrous worship], and cut down your incense altars, and heap your dead bodies upon the [crushed] bodies of your idols, and My soul will detest you [with deep and unutterable loathing].(G) 31 I will lay waste your cities as well and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your sweet and soothing aromas [of offerings by fire].(H) 32 I will make the land desolate, and your enemies who settle in it will be appalled at it. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out the sword [of your enemies] after you; your land will become desolate and your cities will become ruins.(I)

34 ‘Then the land [of Israel] will enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate, it will have rest, the rest it did not have on your Sabbaths, while you were living on it.(J) 36 As for those who are left of you, I will bring despair (lack of courage, weakness) into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a scattered leaf will put them to flight, and they will flee as if [running] from the sword, and will fall even when no one is chasing them. 37 They shall stumble over one another as if to escape from a sword when no one is chasing them; and you will have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will consume you. 39 Those of you who are left will rot away because of their wickedness in the lands of your enemies; also because of the wickedness of their forefathers they will rot away like them.

40 ‘If they confess their wickedness and the wickedness of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they have committed against Me—and also in their acting with hostility toward Me— 41 I also was acting with hostility toward them and brought them into the land of their enemies—then if their uncircumcised (sin-filled) hearts are humbled and they accept the punishment for their wickedness,(K) 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham, and remember the land.(L) 43 But the land will be abandoned by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; and they will accept the punishment for their wickedness and make amends because they rejected My ordinances and their soul rejected My statutes. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so despise them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God.(M) 45 But I will, for their sake, [earnestly] remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I have brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.’”

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  1. Leviticus 26:17 These verses specify the penalties for disobedience. The Scripture references indicate where the fulfillments of these prophecies are recorded. God keeps His word, whether a blessing or a judgment.
  2. Leviticus 26:23 Lit contrary to and so throughout the chapter.

Consequences of Disobedience

15 “But it shall come about, if you do not listen to and obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

16 “You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the field.

17 “Your basket and your kneading bowl will be cursed.

18 “The offspring of your body and the produce of your land, the offspring of your herd and the young of your flock will be cursed.

19 “You will be cursed when you come in and you will be cursed when you go out.

20 “The Lord will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke in everything that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed, perishing quickly because of the evil of your deeds, because you have [a]turned away from Me. 21 The Lord will make the pestilence and plague cling to you until He has consumed and eliminated you from the land which you are entering to possess. 22 The Lord will strike you with consumption [causing you to waste away] and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew [on your crops]; and they will pursue you until you perish. 23 The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze [giving no rain and blocking all prayers], and the earth which is under you, iron [hard to plow and yielding no produce]. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it will come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out against them one way, but flee before them seven ways, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth [when they see your destruction].(A) 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.

27 “The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and the itch that you cannot heal. 28 The Lord will strike you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart and mind; 29 and you will be groping at noon [in broad daylight], just as the blind grope in the darkness, and nothing you do will prosper; but you will only be oppressed and exploited and robbed continually, with no one to save you. 30 You will be pledged to marry a wife, but another man will be intimate with her [before you]; you will build a house, but you will not live in it; you will plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat any of it; your donkey will be torn away from you, and it will not be returned to you; your sheep will be given to your enemies, and you will have no one to save you. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another people, while your eyes look on and long for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do.(B) 33 A people whom you do not know will eat the produce of your land and all the products of your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and exploited and crushed continually.(C) 34 You shall be driven mad by the sight of [b]the things you see. 35 The Lord will strike you on the knees and on the legs with sore boils that you cannot heal, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36 The Lord will bring you and your king, whom you appoint over you, to a nation which you and your fathers have never known; there you will [be forced to] serve other gods, [lifeless gods of] wood and stone.(D) 37 And you will become a horror, a proverb [a mere object lesson], and a taunt [a derisive joke] among all the people to which the Lord drives you.

38 “You will bring out a great quantity of seed to the field, but you will gather in little, because the locusts will consume it.(E) 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because the worm will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not [c]anoint yourselves with the oil, because your olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters, but they will not be yours [for long], because they will go into captivity.(F) 42 The cricket will take possession of all your trees and the produce of your ground.(G) 43 The stranger who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, and you will go down lower and lower. 44 He will lend to you [out of his affluence], but you will not lend to him [because of your poverty]; he will be the head, and you the tail.

45 “So all these curses will come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He has commanded you. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever.

47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with a heart full of joy and gladness for the abundance of all things [with which He blessed you], 48 you will therefore serve your enemies whom the Lord sends against you, in hunger and in thirst, in nakedness and in lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke [of slavery] on your neck until He has destroyed you.

49 “The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, [as swift] as the eagle swoops down [to attack], a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a [d]defiant nation who will [e]have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young, 51 and it will eat the offspring of your herd and the produce of your ground until you are destroyed, who will leave you no grain, new wine, or oil, nor the offspring of your herd or the young of your flock until they have caused you to perish. 52 They will besiege you in all your cities until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land; and they will besiege you in all your cities throughout your land which the Lord your God has given you. 53 Then you will eat the offspring of your own body [to avoid starvation], the flesh of your sons and daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, during the siege and the misery by which your enemy will oppress you.(H) 54 The man who is most refined and well-bred among you [f]will be cruel and hostile toward his brother and toward [g]the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain, 55 so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children [h]which he will eat, [i]because he has nothing else left, during the siege and the misery by which your enemy will oppress you in all your cities. 56 The most refined and well-bred woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and pampered, [j]will be cruel and hostile toward [k]the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, 57 and toward her afterbirth that comes from between her legs and toward the children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the misery by which your enemy will oppress you in your cities.

58 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, to fear and honor with reverence this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59 then the Lord will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses. 60 Moreover, He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they will cling to you. 61 Also the Lord will bring on you every sickness and every plague which is not written in this book of this law, until you are destroyed. 62 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, you who were as numerous as the stars of heaven shall be left few in number. 63 It shall come about that just as the Lord delighted over you to make you prosper and multiply, so the Lord will delight over you to bring you to ruin and destruction; and you will be [l]uprooted [violently] from the land which you are entering to possess. 64 And the Lord will scatter you among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you will [be forced to] serve other gods, [lifeless gods of] wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.(I) 65 Among those nations you will find no peace (rest), and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a despairing soul. 66 Your life will hang in doubt before you; night and day you will be filled with anxiety and have no assurance of living. 67 In the morning you will say, ‘I wish it were evening!’ and in the evening you will say, ‘I wish it were morning!’—because of the dread in your heart with which you tremble, and because of the sight of your eyes which you will see. 68 The Lord will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I said to you, ‘You will never see it again!’ And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no one to buy you.(J)

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  1. Deuteronomy 28:20 Lit forsaken.
  2. Deuteronomy 28:34 Lit your eyes which you.
  3. Deuteronomy 28:40 Olive oil was commonly used like a cosmetic to soften the skin, and as a hair dressing.
  4. Deuteronomy 28:50 Lit strong of face. Assyria and Babylonia have been suggested as prophetic fulfillments for this nation, and prophecy often has more than one fulfillment.
  5. Deuteronomy 28:50 Lit not lift up the face of.
  6. Deuteronomy 28:54 Lit his eye will be evil toward.
  7. Deuteronomy 28:54 Lit the wife of his bosom.
  8. Deuteronomy 28:55 The horror of the situation is understated: this self-absorbed father begins killing some of his children to feed himself. The rest of the family, also starving under the brutal conditions, probably want some of the macabre meal but the father keeps it all for himself.
  9. Deuteronomy 28:55 The implication is that under ordinary conditions, such a person would undoubtedly gag at eating perfectly good food that might be slightly stale or otherwise unappealing to him.
  10. Deuteronomy 28:56 Lit her eye will be evil toward.
  11. Deuteronomy 28:56 Lit the husband of her bosom.
  12. Deuteronomy 28:63 There have been many “uprootings” from the land, notably those by Nebuchadnezzar (605, 587, 586 b.c.), Titus (a.d. 70), and later by the Emperor Hadrian (a.d. 135) who issued a proclamation forbidding Jews to live in Judea, or even to approach its border. In his attempt to eradicate Judaism, among other things, Hadrian renamed the Roman province of Syria Palaestina (after the Philistines).