Deuteronomy 28:15-68: A Preterist Commentary

The Curses of Those Who Wrestle with God

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Deuteronomy 28:15-68: A Preterist Commentary: Summary and Highlights

In Deuteronomy 28:15 God warns, “[I]f you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you . . .” In A.D. 70 the Roman army besieged Jerusalem.  Then on the seventeenth day of Panemus [July-August], in violation of the Law of Moses, the daily sacrifice ceased and all the curses of Deuteronomy 28 befell Israel during the war–without exception.[1] Many Israelites were even sent back to Egypt as slaves to work the mines in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:68: “The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt . . . . There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”[2]

The following may seem unbelievable.  However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable.  Sources listed at the end.

Deuteronomy 28:68 preterist commentary

All the curses of Deuteronomy 28 were fulfilled in the Jewish War including the fact that many Israelites were even sent back to Egypt to work as slaves in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:68: “The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt . . .”

The Curses of Those Who Wrestle with God

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:15-68 Intro: A Wicked Generation . . .

It is likely that the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding territory of Israel were sacred even prior to the arrival of the Jews.  In fact, many scholars believe that the holy king and priest Melchizedek was one of the ancient kings of what would later be called Jerusalem.  Deuteronomy 9:5-6 states that the original inhabitants of Israel were removed from the land because of their wickedness.  The honor of being God’s chosen people came with a price.  If the Jews failed to follow God’s Law, God promised to uproot them from the land as he had done with the Canaanites in order to make room for a people who would be faithful to him.

Jesus before the Sanhedrin Deuteronomy 28:15-68 commentary

Jesus before the Sanhedrin.  The religious elite plotted to have Jesus killed.

The Jews of the first century plotted to kill the Messiah and his people.  Aware of these murderous plots, Jesus called his contemporaries “a wicked and adulterous generation (Matthew 12:39).”  These words are echoed in Josephus’ history of the Jewish War with Rome: “Neither did any other city [Jerusalem] ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness that this was, from the beginning of the world.”[5]  Acts 8:1-3 records a great persecution of Christians in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion.  Describing this wave of persecution, Eusebius writes:

First they [the Jews] stoned Stephen to death; then James the son of Zebedee and the brother of John was beheaded; and finally James, the first after our Saviour’s Ascension to be raised to the bishop’s throne there, lost his life in the way described, while the remaining apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea.[6]

The Stoning of St. Stephen

Carracci, Annibale. The Stoning of St. Stephen. 1603-1604. Musée du Louvre.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:15-68 Intro: The People of Israel Violated the Law during the Jewish War and Every Curse in this Chapter came to pass.

These crimes against God’s people did not go unpunished.  In A.D. 70 the Roman army besieged Jerusalem.  Then on the seventeenth day of Panemus [July-August], the daily sacrifice ceased “for want of men to offer it.”[7]  In Exodus 12, God killed the firstborn child of every family that did not kill the Passover lamb.  A similar fate befell the Israelites after they stopped the daily sacrifice.  Like the Egyptians in Exodus 12, many of the people of Jerusalem during the war with Rome were ultimately killed in place of the lamb.

plague of the firstborn Deuteronomy 28:60 preterist commentary

Plague of the firstborn. The seven bowls and trumpets in the Book of Revelation are the plagues of Exodus which all afflicted Israel during the Jewish War. See Preterist Bible Commentary.

In Deuteronomy 28:15-68, God threatens Israel with a multitude of curses.  These curses are not empty threats.  God made good on his covenant: once in sixth century B.C. during the Babylonian exile and later in first century A.D. during Israel’s war with Rome.  Every one of the curses listed in Deuteronomy 28 afflicted the Israelites during the Jewish War with Rome including the plagues of Egypt, darkness, drought, distress, wasting disease, boils, scorching heat, madness, oppression, rapine, apostasy, confusion, exile, cannibalism, infanticide, anxiety, restlessness, slavery in Egypt, exile and death.  And as if that were not enough, they were also subjected to scorn and ridicule in the nations in which they were exiled.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:15-68 Intro: The Curses of Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 are very similar and were All Fulfilled during the Jewish War. 

Deuteronomy 28 is very similar to Leviticus 26.  All the curses in both chapters were fulfilled during the Jewish War.  Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 list similar curses, though there are some interesting differences.  Leviticus 26:18, 21, 23-24, and 27-28 list 4 seven-fold curses.  These 4 seven-fold punishments appear to be the seven seals of Revelation 6, the seven trumpets of Revelation 8-10, the seven bowls of Revelation 16 and possibly the seven thunders of Revelation 10:3-4.[7a]  Furthermore, Leviticus 26:31 predicts that God will “lay waste your [Israel’s] sanctuaries.”  This threat was, of course, fulfilled in the destruction of the first and second temples.  The first temple in Jerusalem was destroyed during the Babylonian conquest of Judah.  The second temple was destroyed during the Roman conquest of Israel in the first century A.D.  Leviticus 26 also ends differently.  In Leviticus 26:42-45 God promises to remember his covenant with Israel and “not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely[.]”  Are these verses fulfilled in Romans 11:25-31?

Deuteronomy 28:15 opens with a warning:

15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: 16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.  17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.  18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.  19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.  20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.21 The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess.  22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

Deuteronomy 28:15-24 preterist commentary

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 . 1850. Yeshiva University Museum, New York.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:15-24: Most of these Curses are Inevitable Consequences of War.

The first several curses are general inevitabilities of wartime pillaging.  Then in v. 22, Israel is threatened with wasting disease, fever, inflammation, scorching heat, blight, mildew and subsequent death.  All such plights are frequent consequences of siege warfare.  Not surprisingly, in verse 52 God promises to bring a foreign nation against Israel.  In the first century A.D. that nation was Rome.

During the Jewish War, the Romans besieged city after city throughout the province of Israel.  During a siege, an army surrounds a walled city and devises methods of reducing enemy numbers at minimal cost to themselves.  The purpose is often to intimidate and starve a city into surrender.  Like any besieging force, the Romans prevented anything or anyone from entering or leaving the city.  Starved of resources, the elderly and infirm would be the first to die from pathogens, poor nutrition and lack of water.  To make maters worse, the Jews of Jerusalem did not bury their dead.  These decaying bodies accumulated in the streets exposing survivors already weakened from malnutrition and stress to potential disease.

 

Josephus Pleading Before the Walls of Jerusalem Deuteronomy 28:22

Josephus pleading before the walls of Jerusalem

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:22: There was a Drought during the Jewish War in Fulfillment of v. 22.

Verse 22 also promises drought.  During the siege of Jerusalem, Josephus stood in front of the wall and pleaded with his countrymen to surrender.  During this discourse, Josephus reminded his compatriots of the severe drought that affected the land prior to the arrival of Titus and the Romans.  He continued by saying that now that these same cisterns and wells are in Roman possession, they flow so abundantly that their enemies are able to use them to water their gardens.[8]  The following verse reveals the outcome of this siege.

pools of Jerusalem deuteronomy 28:22 fulfilled preterism

There was a severe drought in Jerusalem before the arrival of the Romans. When the Roman army arrived and seized the cisterns outside of Jerusalem the water suddenly flowed abundantly.

25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:25-27: The Natural Consequences of Failing to Bury the Dead during a Siege . . .

Verses 26 and 27 are linked in a chain of cause and effect.  The Law of Moses mandates the burying of the dead.  The Jews did not obey this command.  The consequences of failing to do so are stipulated in v. 27—plague.  Prior to the arrival of Titus’ army, Jerusalem was engulfed in a three-way civil war.  During this conflict, the Jewish rebels did not bury the dead.  Therefore, dead bodies littered the streets.  Eventually, the people of Jerusalem hoisted many of these corpses over the city walls leaving them to rot or be eaten by carrion birds and wild beasts in fulfillment of v. 26.

28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.

darkness during crucifixion Deuteronomy 28:29 preterist commentary

The darkness in the middle of the day during the crucifixion fulfills Deuteronomy 28:29: “At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark.”

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:29: “At Midday You will grope about like a Blind Person in the Dark.”  The Link between v. 29, Jeremiah 33:20-21 and God’s Covenant with King David. 

Verse 29 states, “At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark.”  This prophecy has a literal fulfillment.  Describing Jesus’ crucifixion, Luke writes, “It was the now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining (Luke 23:44-45).”  The sixth hour is midday, approximately noon.  This miraculous fulfillment of v. 29 also represents a partial fulfillment of Jeremiah 33:20-21:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne.[10]

In the verses above the prophet is told that if day and night do not come at their proper time, God’s covenant with David will be broken.  Is there a historical link between the day of darkness and the breaking of the Davidic covenant?  Yes.  Jesus was a direct descendant of King David.  According to John 11:47-53 and Matthew 21:43-46, the chief priests and Pharisees killed Jesus out of fear that they would lose their positions of authority if Jesus became the king of the Jews and that the Romans would attack Israel if it united under another king other than Caesar (John 11:47-53).  The Jewish elite were successful in their plot.  And Jesus was sentenced to death making it impossible for him to rule on David’s throne.  The darkness that covered the land during Christ’s execution was a sign from God that the Jewish people would not be ruled on earth by a king in David’s royal bloodline.[12]

darkness at the crucifixion Deuteronomy 28:29 commentary

The darkness during the crucifixion represents the breaking of the covenant of day and night. According to Jeremiah 33:20-21, this miracle means that the Messiah would not rule in the flesh on David’s throne. Instead, Christ rules the world at the right hand of God in heaven.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:28-29: “The LORD will afflict You with Madness, Blindness and Confusion of Mind.”

The blindness caused by this miraculous darkness is also figurative.  Verses 28 and 29 describe the nescience that led to and continued throughout the Jewish War.  Josephus states that the leaders of the Jewish rebellion bribed or in some way coerced a number of people to pretend to be prophets.  During the war with Rome, these people were instructed to predict that God would deliver the Israelites from their enemies in order to delude the people into fighting the Romans.  These prophecies proved false.  The Roman army eventually conquered Jerusalem and its temple; and there was not a “place in the city that had no dead bodies in it, but [the city] was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion.”[13]  Josephus then goes on to say:

1,100,000 people were killed during the siege of Jerusalem.

Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them [emphasis mine].[14]

“The signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation” are mentioned immediately after the above quotation.  One of these signs is also recorded by the Roman historian Tacitus: “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”[15] This spectacle reminded the Jews of 2 Maccabees 5:1-4 in which a similar event preceded the triumph of the Jews in the Maccabean Wars.  Zealots tired of Roman oppression may have seen in this sign an indication that the Messiah would soon be revealed to lead them to victory over their Roman oppressors.  This sign was a stumbling block.  No such victory came.  Confounded by a misinterpretation of this sign in the sky, the Jewish Zealots moved resolutely into what may have been the most tragic war in all their sacred history.

the army in the clouds in A.D. 66.

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66. Notice the similarities between this historical event and Revelation 19’s description of the second coming.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:28-29: “The LORD will afflict you with Madness. . . .  Day after Day You will be oppressed and robbed, with No One to rescue You.”

Describing the madness of the Zealots, Josephus says the following in fulfillment of v. 28, “The madness of the seditious did also increase together with their famine, and both those miseries were every day inflamed more and more.”[16]  This madness and lack of food led to the next plague: rapine.  Verse 29 states, “Day after day you will be oppressed and robbed.”  In fulfillment this verse, Josephus writes:

For when [the Zealot robbers] saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in and took pieces of what they were eating, almost up out of their very throats, and this by force; the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had in their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor; but still were they more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right.  They also invented terrible methods of torment to discover where any food was, and they were these: to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments![17]

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:29: Florus Oppressed the Jews leading them into War with Rome.

The oppression of v. 29 is, according to Josephus, the primary cause of the Jewish War.  Gessius Florus, the Roman procurator of Judea prior to the revolt, was infamous for his injustices to the Jewish population.  Taking advantage of this fact, a Hellenist sacrificed birds at the entrance of a synagogue rendering the building ritually unclean.  Outraged by this act of provocation, the Jews petitioned the procurator.  After having accepted eight talents to hear the case, Florus refused to address the complaints and had the petitioners put in prison.[18]   Florus also removed seventeen talents from the Temple treasury claiming the money was for Caesar.  The people of Jerusalem were outraged.  Florus responded to their anger by allowing his soldiers to plunder the Upper Market and kill anyone they encountered.  The arrested pedestrians were then flogged and crucified.[19]  Thus began to Jewish War.

30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. 33 A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.  36 The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.

preterist commentary Deuteronomy 28:30-32

Jerusalem was plundered during the Jewish War fulfilling Deuteronomy 28:30-32.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:30-37: The Natural Consequences of Conquest . . .

Verses 30 to 35 describe the dire consequences of military conquest and exile.  According to these verses, all that which is precious is taken away–property, wives and children—as plunder; and the inhabitants of Israel are dispersed into foreign lands.  Included among the exiles are the two leaders of the Jewish resistance, John and Simon, in fulfillment of v. 36: “The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors.”[20]

As stated in verse 37, these exiles become an object of scorn and ridicule in all the nations in which are driven.  After the city of Jerusalem was finally destroyed, 97,000 Jews were exiled throughout Rome.[21]  There they were enslaved or executed by sword, wild beasts, or gladiatorial combat.[22]  The strongest were reserved for the Triumph in which the humiliated Jews were forced to walk the streets of Rome in a pompous parade exhibiting their defeat.  Upon the cessation of this festivity, the Law was placed in the royal palace[23] and coins were minted throughout the Roman Empire depicting crestfallen Jewish captives.  Thus Jewish exiles could not buy or sell without handling the graven image of Caesar alongside the likeness of their defeat at the hands of the Romans.

Deuteronomy 28:37 preterism commentary

On the back of this Roman coin are crestfallen Jewish slaves. This denigrating depiction of Israelites after the war fulfills Deuteronomy 28:37 “You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.”

38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:38-42: The Locust Army . . .

Locusts are a Biblical metaphor for an invading army.  This symbolism is clearest in Joel 1, though it is also present in Revelation 9.[24]  This is an apt symbol.  When seen at great distances, vast armies look like a swarm of locusts on an open field; and like locusts, they consume everything in their path.  Not only do they exhaust food and water supplies, they often strip the landscape bear using trees to build siege engines.  This is clearly pictured in The Wars of the Jews: “He [the Roman General Titus] . . . gave his soldiers leave to set the suburbs on fire, and ordered that they should bring timber together, and raise banks against the city . . . . So the trees were now cut down immediately, and the suburbs left naked.” [25]  In verses 38-42, God threatens to punish his people with a swarm of locusts.  The Book of Revelation records the consummation of this threat by describing the Roman militia as a swarm of locusts in Revelation 9.[26]

Roman seige works Deuteronomy 28:38-42 preterist commentary

During the Jewish War, the Roman army burned many of the cities of Israel and their surrounding suburbs as part of its scorched earth policy. Timber was also cut down to build siege engines pictured above. This deforestation fulfills Deuteronomy 28:38-42.

43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:38-43-44: Florus’ Anti-Jewish Policies and Rome’s pillaging of the Jews during the Jewish War fulfill vs. 43-44.

As discussed above, the pro-Greek and anti-Jewish policies promoted by Gessius Florus, the Roman procurator of Judea prior to the revolt in A.D. 66, were largely responsible for the Jewish War.  Florus obtrusively favored the Greek population of Israel while displaying blatant hostility to the ethnic Jews of his kingdom.  Here one can see the initial fulfillment of vs. 43-44.  This exaltation of foreigners only worsened after the war.  After the Romans decimated the province of Judea and exiled many of the Jews throughout the Roman Empire, many of those allowed to live were sold as slaves.  Furthermore, the Roman army and its auxiliaries, consisting of foreign soldiers drawn from all over the empire, collected so much spoil throughout the war “that in Syria a pound weight of gold was sold for half its former value.”[27]  The tenth legion was then stationed in Jerusalem after its desolation.  Thus the anti-Jewish policies of Florus and the pillaging of the Jews by their foreign enemies during the Jewish War fulfill verses 43 and 44: “The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower.  They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them.”

45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave 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 joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

famine commentary on Deuteronomy 28:48 preterism

The famine induced by the third horseman pictured above was fulfilled during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  This famine also fulfills Deuteronomy 28:48: “[I]n hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you.”

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:48: The Hunger, Thirst, and Poverty during the Siege of Jerusalem . . .

Concerning the famine induced by the siege, Josephus writes:

Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children also and the young men wandered about the market-places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it; and those that were hearty and well were deterred from doing it by the great multitude of those dead bodies, and by the uncertainty there was how soon they should die themselves; for many died as they were burying others, and many went to their coffins before that fatal hour was come.[28]

famine Preterist commentary Deuteronomy 28:48

Many died of hunger and thirst during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:48: “[I]n hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you.”

49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 28:49 preterism commentary Rome eagle

The symbol of Rome was the eagle–here depicted feasting on carrion in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:49: “The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down.”

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:52: The Romans Besieged the Cities of Israel in Fulfillment of v. 52.

The fulfillment of most of verses 49-52 have already been discussed, though it is worth focusing briefly on verse 51.  In this verse one is again reminded of how an immense invading force is likened to a swarm of locusts consuming the fruit of the land.  In the next verse, this alien army is said to besiege every fortified city of the Promised Land.  During the Jewish War, the Roman army swept through the entire province of Israel like a devastating flood laying siege to city after city.  It is also worth noting that the symbol of Rome is an eagle—hence the eagle imagery of v. 49.

Deuteronomy 28:49 preterist commentary Roman eagle

The eagle, the Aquila, was a symbol of Rome.

53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:53-57: During the Siege, the Famine was so severe that a Woman Ate Her own Son.

Concerning the desperate fighting over food, Josephus writes:

Now of those that perished by famine in the city, the number was prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable; for if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did any where appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell a fighting one with another about it, snatching from each other the most miserable supports of life.[29]

Sulpitious Severus says that in the heart of the siege, the people of Jerusalem ate their dead:

Moreover, they [the Jews trapped in Jerusalem during the siege of A.D. 70] ventured on eating all things of the most abominable nature, and did not even abstain from human bodies, except those which putrefaction had already laid hold of and thus excluded from use as food.[29a]

And in literal fulfillment of vs. 53-57, Josephus mentions a woman who cooked and ate her own son. [30]

58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you.

commentary Deuteronomy 28:60 preterism

The seven bowls and trumpets in the Book of Revelation are the plagues of Exodus. All ten plagues afflicted Israel and Rome during the Jewish War fulfilling Deuteronomy 28:60: “He will bring on you all the plagues of Egypt.” See Preterist Bible Commentary.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:60: All Ten Plagues of Exodus Afflicted Israel and Rome during the Jewish War.

As is emphasized in the commentary on the Book of Revelation, all ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians during the Exodus have, in some way, been fulfilled during the end of the age.  The seven bowls of Revelation 16 each represent a different plague of Exodus.  The first bowl is the plague of boils.  The second and third bowls represent the plague of blood.  The fifth bowl is the plague of darkness.  The sixth bowl calls to mind the plague of frogs, and the seventh is the plague of hail.  The plague of locusts is mentioned in the fifth and sixth trumpets of Revelation 9.[31]  In Revelation 13:16-17, the beast out of the earth forces everyone to receive a mark on their hand and forehead as a dark reminder of the tenth plague of Exodus.  During this plague, the Hebrew slaves and their descendants are spiritually marked on their hand and forehead after the sacrifice of the Passover lamb (Exodus 13:15-16).  The plague of lice and gnats and the plague of flies or wild beasts[33] is a natural consequence of the fact that the Jews of Jerusalem did not bury the dead during the siege.  With corpses littering the streets, flies and gnats would eat and lay their eggs within these dead bodies.  Having such a plentiful source of food, these gnats and flies would have multiplied and swarmed the city.  As is foretold in v. 26, these dead bodies would have also attracted carrion birds and other wild beasts.  The plague of livestock is also a consequence of ancient Roman warfare.  During the Jewish war with Rome, livestock would have been seized as plunder in order to feed the Roman army and starve their Israelite enemies in fulfillment of vs. 18, 31-33, and 49-51.

fulfilled Deuteronomy 28:60

The plagues of Egypt

61 The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. 62 You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63 Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.  64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:62: “You Who were as Numerous as the Stars in the Sky will be left but Few in Number.”

According to Josephus, 1,100,000 people were killed and 97,000 were carried captive during the attack on Jerusalem.[34]  Using Josephus’ writings as a reference, the Archbishop Usher tallied all the dead killed up to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 at 1,337,490.

Deuteronomy 28:62 preterist commentasry

1,100,000 people were killed and 97,000 were carried captive during the siege of Jerusalem: “You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number. . . .”

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:63: “You will be Uprooted from the Land You are Entering to Possess.”

Verse 63 states, “You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.”  Though thousands of Jews were killed and exiled during the Jewish War in the first century A.D., the ultimate fulfillment of this verse points to the aftermath of the second Jewish revolt.  During which, Hadrian ordered the exile of all remaining Jews in Judea in the second century A.D.  Any ethnic Jew bold enough to attempt to enter Jerusalem after this expulsion was executed.[35]    Of the seventy-five known Jewish settlements in Judea after the fall of Bar Kokhba’s last fortress, Bethar, there is no evidence that Jewish people continued to live in even one of them.  Some Jewish villages, however, did cling to the fringes of the Judean hills in the Jordan valley, on the desert edge to the south, and on the western coastal plain.  Judea was then resettled with Syrians and Arabs.[36]  The two hundred years after the expulsion of the Jews were the most peaceful years in all of Jerusalem’s history.[37]  During this time, the Gentile Christian population increased until “by the end of the fourth century, with Jews still barred except for one day a year, Jerusalem became an exclusively Christian city, the only one in the country.”[38]

Deuteronomy 28:63 preterist commentary

The expulsion of the Jews in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian fulfills Deuteronomy 28:63: “You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. . . .”

65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:65-67: The Anxiety of the Jewish Captive . . .

As indicated above, the Roman general Titus exiled 97,000 Jews after the fall of Jerusalem,[39] many of whom were killed in Roman amphitheaters “by sword and wild beasts.”[40]  After being exiled, these prisoners of war would have seen and heard rumors of the fate of their brothers-in-arms.  Fear of also being killed in the Roman amphitheaters is perhaps the biggest cause of the anxiety predicted in vs. 65-67.

68 The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

Hebrew slaves Deuteronomy 28:68 preterism commentary

After the war, Israelites were sent back to Egypt as slaves to work the mines but there were so many of them and so few buyers: “The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt . . . . There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.” (Deuteronomy 28:68)

A Preterist Commentary on Deuteronomy 28:68: Some Israelite Prisoners of War were sent back to Egypt as Slaves.

The final verse of this chapter is perhaps the most amazing.  Here the Israelites are sent back to Egypt as slaves: “And as for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines.”[41]  The fact that the Romans took many captives away on ships is attested in the Midrash.[42]  Then in fulfillment of the rest of v. 68, the Romans were said to have captured and enslaved so many Jews that there was a shortage of buyers: “For they left only the populace, and sold the rest of the multitude, with their wives and children, and every one of them at a very low price, and that because such as were sold were very many, and the buyers were few.”[43]

As is shown in the above quotations, the unfaithful Israelites are again placed in bondage in Egypt.  And because of the surplus of slaves, there are few buyers.  This verse is a perfect illustration of how completely and thoroughly the warnings of Deuteronomy 28 have been fulfilled throughout the end of the age.  The same can be said about the rest of end time prophecy throughout the Bible.  Skeptical?  Read the remaining commentaries and see how perfectly and elegantly these predictions have come to pass.

 

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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse?  It DID happen just like the Bible says!  If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!

Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.

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[1] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.2.1.

[2] Ibid., 6.9.2.

[5] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.10.5, 6.8.5.

[6] Eusebius The History of the Church 3.5.

[7] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.2.1.

[7a] Duncan W. McKenzie, Ph.D., The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination Volume 2: The Book of Revelation (USA: Xulon Press, 2012), 38-39.

[8] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.9.4.

[10] For an explanation of the complete fulfillment of this verse see the commentary on Zechariah 14:7.

[12] Jesus rules the world from a heavenly, not an earthly, throne.

[13] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.7.2.

[14] Ibid., 6.5.3.

[15] Ibid; Tacitus The Histories 5.13.

[16] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.10.2.

[17] Ibid., 5.10.3.

[18] Ibid., 2.14.5.

[19] Ibid., 2.14.9.

[20] Ibid., 6.9.4.

[21] Ibid., 6.9.3.

[22] Ibid., 6.9.2.

[23] Ibid., 7.5.7.

[25] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.6.2.

[27] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.6.1.

[28] Ibid., 5.12.3.

[29] Ibid., 6.3.3.

[29a] Sulpitius Severus The Sacred History 2.30.

[30] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.3.4.

[33] There is some debate as to whether the fourth plague is a plague of flies or wild animals.

[34] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.9.3.

[35] Even Jews that had converted to Christianity were similarly expelled.

[36] M. Avi-Yonah, The Jews of Palestine: A Political History from the Bar Kokhba War to the Arab Conquest, (New York: Schocken Books, 1976), 16; Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries, (New York: Random House, 1968), 140.

[37] Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries, (New York: Random House, 1968), 141.

[38] Ibid., 149.

[39] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.9.3.

[40] Ibid., 6.9.2.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Midrash Rabbah Lamentations 1.45.

[43] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.8.2.

Deuteronomy 28:15-68: A Preterist Commentary: Conclusion

As indicated in the above Preterist commentary on Deuteronomy 28:15-68the curses of this chapter were all fulfilled during the Jewish War.

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Deuteronomy 28:15-68: A Preterist Commentary

 

 

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