Devotional Readings, M'Cheyne Bible Reading Notes

Deuteronomy 28 – A Long List of Curses

Today’s reading starts with verse 20 and continues through the end of the chapter for 49 verses. Again I doubt anyone will be preaching this chapter in church tomorrow.

Perhaps Jonathan Edwards sermon was the last one preached from these texts.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Of course that sermon was based on a later chapter Deuteronomy 32:35.

Deuteronomy 32:35  To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

But certainly applies here also….

And if we didn’t read elsewhere of God’s blessings and mercy this could be quite disturbing. At a minimum it should serve as a warning.

2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2Ti 3:17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

I’m going to comment on a few verses, primarily because I’ve never looked at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD in this way. Old John Gill’s commentary is quite useful. It’s a bit long but insightful.

Start with what Jesus said…

Mat 24:15  When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Mat 24:16  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Mat 24:17  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

Mat 24:18  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

Mat 24:19  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Mat 24:20  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

Mat 24:21  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Mat 24:22  And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Mat 24:23  Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

Mat 24:24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Mat 24:25  Behold, I have told you before.

Matthew 24:15

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation,…. From signs, Christ proceeds to the immediate cause of the destruction of Jerusalem; which was, “the abomination of desolation”, or the desolating abomination; or that abominable thing, which threatened and brought desolation upon the city, temple, and nation: by which is meant, not any statue placed in the temple by the Romans, or their order; not the golden eagle which Herod set upon the temple gate, for that was before Christ said these words; nor the image of Tiberius Caesar, which Pilate is said to bring into the temple; for this, if true, must be about this time; whereas Christ cannot be thought to refer to anything so near at hand; much less the statue of Adrian, set in the most holy place, which was an hundred and thirty years and upwards, after the destruction of the city and temple; nor the statue of Titus, who destroyed both, which does not appear: ever to be set up, or attempted; nor of Caligula, which, though ordered, was prevented being placed there: but the Roman army is designed; see Luk 21:20 which was the כנף שקוצים משמם, “the wing”, or “army of abominations making desolate”, Dan 9:27. Armies are called wings, Isa 8:8 and the Roman armies were desolating ones to the Jews, and to whom they were an abomination; not only because they consisted of Heathen men, and uncircumcised persons, but chiefly because of the images of their gods, which were upon their ensigns: for images and idols were always an abomination to them; so the “filthiness” which Hezekiah ordered to be carried out of the holy place, 2Ch 29:5 is by the Targum called, ריחוקא, “an abomination”; and this, by the Jewish writers (w), is said to be an idol, which Ahaz had placed upon the altar; and such was the abomination of desolation, which Antiochus caused to be set upon the altar:

“Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side;” (1 Maccabees 1:54)

And so the Talmudic writers, by the abomination that makes desolate, in Dan 12:11 to which Christ here refers, understand an image, which they say (x) one Apostomus, a Grecian general, who burnt their law, set up in the temple. Now our Lord observes, that when they should see the Roman armies encompassing Jerusalem, with their ensigns flying, and these abominations on them, they might conclude its desolation was near at hand; and he does not so much mean his apostles, who would be most of them dead, or in other countries, when this would come to pass; but any of his disciples and followers, or any persons whatever, by whom should be seen this desolating abomination,

spoken of by Daniel the prophet: not in Dan 11:31 which is spoken of the abomination in the times of Antiochus; but either in Dan 12:11 or rather in Dan 9:27 since this desolating abomination is that, which should follow the cutting off of the Messiah, and the ceasing of the daily sacrifice. It is to be observed, that Daniel is here called a prophet, contrary to what the Jewish writers say (y), who deny him to be one; though one of (z) no inconsiderable note among them affirms, that he attained to the end, הגבול הנבואיי, “of the prophetic border”, or the ultimate degree of prophecy: when therefore this that Daniel, under a spirit of prophecy, spoke of should be seen,

standing in the holy place; near the walls, and round about the holy city Jerusalem, so called from the sanctuary and worship of God in it; and which, in process of time, stood in the midst of it, and in the holy temple, and destroyed both; then

whoso readeth, let him understand: that is, whoever then reads the prophecy of Daniel; will easily understand the meaning of it, and will see and know for certain, that now it is accomplished; and will consider how to escape the desolating judgment, unless he is given up to a judicial blindness and hardness of heart; which was the case of the greater part of the nation.

(w) R. David Kimchi, & R. Sol. ben Melech, in 2 Chron. xxix. 5. (x) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 28. 2. & Gloss. in ib. (y) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 94. 1. & Megilla, fol. 3. 1. & Tzeror Ham, mor, fol. 46. 4. Zohar in Num. fol. 61. 1. (z) Jacchiades in Dan. i. 17.

Now go back to Deuteronomy 28, let’s pick just three verses to illustrate.

Deu 28:55  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.

Deu 28:56  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,

Deu 28:57  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.

And two more…

Deu 28:63  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.

Deuteronomy 28:68  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 bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

For Gill’s commentary I will start with this last verse…I don’t recall ever reading about the Egypt connection, but now it makes sense.

And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships,…. Either into a state of hard bondage and slavery, like that their fathers were in, in Egypt; or rather, strictly and literally, should be brought into Egypt again, since it is said to be “with” or “in ships”. This does not respect the going of those Jews into Egypt who were left in the land of Judea, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; for that was against the express command of God, Jer 42:13. There were several movings of them into Egypt after that time; an Heathen historian (w) tells us, that not a few thousands of Jews went into Egypt and Phoenicia, because of the sedition in Syria after the death of Alexander; and where, it seems, in process of time, they became slaves: for we are told by Josephus (x), that 120,000 slaves were set free by Ptolemy Philadelphus; but what is chiefly respected here is their case in the times of the Romans, and by their means. Now when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, those above seventeen years of age were sent by him to the works, or mines, in Egypt, as the same historian relates (y); and after their last overthrow by Adrian many thousands were sold, and what could not be sold were transported into Egypt, and perished by “shipwreck”, or famine, or were slaughtered by the people (z) whereby this prophecy was literally and exactly fulfilled, and which is owned by the Jews themselves. Manasseh Ben Israel (a) observes, that though Vespasian banished the Jews into various countries, Egypt is only mentioned by way of reproach, as if it had been said, ye shall go captives into the land from which ye went out triumphant:

Verse 63 May be a perfect illustration of the old Jonathan Edwards sermon.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Of course that sermon was based on a coming chapter Deuteronomy 32. But certainly applies here also….

Deu 28:63  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.

And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships,…. Either into a state of hard bondage and slavery, like that their fathers were in, in Egypt; or rather, strictly and literally, should be brought into Egypt again, since it is said to be “with” or “in ships”. This does not respect the going of those Jews into Egypt who were left in the land of Judea, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; for that was against the express command of God, Jer 42:13. There were several movings of them into Egypt after that time; an Heathen historian (w) tells us, that not a few thousands of Jews went into Egypt and Phoenicia, because of the sedition in Syria after the death of Alexander; and where, it seems, in process of time, they became slaves: for we are told by Josephus (x), that 120,000 slaves were set free by Ptolemy Philadelphus; but what is chiefly respected here is their case in the times of the Romans, and by their means. Now when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, those above seventeen years of age were sent by him to the works, or mines, in Egypt, as the same historian relates (y); and after their last overthrow by Adrian many thousands were sold, and what could not be sold were transported into Egypt, and perished by “shipwreck”, or famine, or were slaughtered by the people (z) whereby this prophecy was literally and exactly fulfilled, and which is owned by the Jews themselves. Manasseh Ben Israel (a) observes, that though Vespasian banished the Jews into various countries, Egypt is only mentioned by way of reproach, as if it had been said, ye shall go captives into the land from which ye went out triumphant:

It’s getting to be a Long post, but here is Gill’s commentary on the other two verse to illustrate, just how terrible times were.

Deuteronomy 28:55

So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat,…. Neither give to a brother, nor to a wife, nor to any of his remaining children, the least bit of the flesh of a child he has killed and dressed for his own food; which adds to the barbarity of his action:

because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates; every creature being eaten up, dogs, cats, &c. and whatsoever else could be any ways made food of; as the dung of beasts, belts, shoes, the leather on shields, &c. as Josephus (d) says they did eat; and this being the case, nothing eatable remaining, therefore his heart would be hardened against his nearest relations, and not allow them the least part with him, even of what was so shocking and unnatural.

(d) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 3. sect. 3.

Deuteronomy 28:57

And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet,…. Or her secundine, “her afterbirth”, as in the margin of our Bibles; so the Targum of Jonathan and Aben Ezra interpret it. The latter describes it,”the place of the fetus, while it abides in the womb of its mother;”the membrane in which the child is wrapped; and it is suggested that, as nauseous as that is, the delicate woman should eat it, and then the newborn child that was wrapped in it; so Jarchi interprets it, little children; though it seems to be distinguished from the children she bears or brings forth in the next clause:

and towards her children which she shall bear; that is, have an evil eye towards them, to eat them as follows:

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; that is, eat her children, being reduced to the utmost extremity, being in want of all things, having nothing at all to abate her sharp hunger; which, and nothing else, could incline her, and prevail upon her to do an action so monstrously horrid: and which she would do in the most private and secret manner; both lest others should partake with her, as well as being conscious of the foulness and blackness of the crime, that would not by any means bear the light; and all this owing to the closeness of the siege, and the unspeakable distress they should be in through it. For the illustration of this, take the following story as related by Josephus (f);”a woman, whose name was Mary, that lived beyond Jordan, illustrious for her descent and riches fled with the multitude to Jerusalem when besieged carrying with her her substance, and what food she could get that were left to her by the spoilers; where being pressed with famine, she took her sucking child, killed it boiled it, and ate half of it, and then laid up the rest, and covered it; and when the seditious party entered the house, they smelt it, and demanded her food, threatening to kill her if she did not deliver it; which when she brought forth, declaring what she had done, they were struck with horror; to whom she said, this is my son, and this my own deed; eat, for I have eaten; be not more tender or softer than a woman, and more sympathizing or more pitiful than a mother.”All the ideas that this prophecy of Moses conveys are to be met with in this account; as of a woman well bred and delicate, reduced to the utmost distress, and wanting all the necessaries of life, killing her tender infant, a sucking babe, eating it secretly, and laying up the rest covered for another time. If Moses had lived to have known the fact committed, as Josephus did, he could not have expressed it well in stronger and clearer terms than he has done. This is a most amazing instance of a prophecy delivered out two thousand years or more before the fact was done, and of the exact accomplishment of it; and if the observation of a learned critic (g) can be established, that the first word of this verse should be ובשלה, and so be rendered, “and she shall boil that which cometh out from between her feet, even her children which she shall bear”, the fulfilment of the prophecy will appear still more exact, both at the siege of Samaria, 2Ki 6:20; and of Jerusalem, as in the above relation of Josephus.

(f) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 3. sect. 4. (g) Dr. Kennicot’s State of the Hebrew Text, Dissert. 1. p. 421.

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