Lev. 26:1-13 – Making and Keeping Covenant with God

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church of Manhattan KS, 2 Apr. 2017


·         In Leviticus 26 we see the typical structure of a contract or covenant, especially as ancient man was accustomed to formulating them.

·         The New International Commentary on the Old Testament notes on this chapter of Leviticus that “Hittite, Aramean, and Assyrian treaties typically conclude with a section of blessings and curses… [As it is in Lev. 26,] It is usual for the number and length of curses greatly to exceed the number of blessings, e.g., Deut. 28, laws of Hammurabi, and most of the extrabiblical treaties… Many of the biblical curses [even] find parallels in extrabiblical texts. There is nevertheless an important and significant difference in outlook. Whereas the biblical texts are straightforward promises about how God will respond to his people’s behavior, in blessings on the obedient and judgment on the careless, the nonbiblical texts are prayers to the gods to act. Furthermore, the Bible only acknowledges one God as creator and judge who will carry out these threats. Other writings appeal to a plurality of deities, requesting each god responsible for a particular sphere of natural effects, rain, disease, war, and the like, to act in his own way if the treaty or law was not obeyed.” (Wenham)

·         This chapter clearly:

  1. Defines an interpersonal relationship in exclusive terms
  2. Delineates the Blessings and privileges of being in the relationship
  3. Delineates the Curses and consequences of breaking the relationship

·         In this sermon, I want to focus on the first 13 verses on the topic of making and keeping of a covenant with God, and in my next sermon, I plan to look at the rest of the chapter with its topics of breaking and re-making covenant with God.


·         v.1 God begins by outlawing idols. (“Y’all may not make for yourselves idols, and y'all may not erect for yourselves a carved-image or a monument, and y’all may not put an engraved stone in your land to worship before it, because I am Yahweh y’all’s God.” ~NAW)

o       This is, of course a repetition of the first two of the Ten Commandments.

o       The word for “idol” means “empty/vain/nugatory” in Hebrew.

o       The purpose phrases “for yourselves” and “to worship before it” and “because I am your God” are key in this prohibition against erecting images and pillars and engravings[1].

§         The Hebrews were commanded to carve angels and pomegranates in the architecture of the temple, and Jacob was fond of setting up pillars as monuments for important events in his life, most of them having to do with hearing from God (Genesis 28:18-22; 31:13-52; 35:14-20), and these are apparently not the sort of thing God is prohibiting.

§         Hosea 3:4 & Prov. 25:11 even speak positively of such images being rightly used.

§         So, what is prohibited here is setting up monuments that are of your own invention apart from God, for your own purposes apart from God’s.

§         Not only did God say, “Don’t make idols,” He also commanded His people to destroy any idols they came across who had been made by other people. (Numbers 33:52 NKJV “then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places”)

o       God doesn’t want competition in worship; He wants to be His people’s only God.

§         If you think that’s unreasonable, try it on your spouse: “Honey, I know you want me to be exclusively committed to you, but honestly, don’t you think that’s a little narrow-minded? What’s the big deal if I have a few other wives here and there?” (I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that I’d be looking down the wrong end of a shotgun if I tried any funny business like that!)

§         In traditional wedding vows, the bride and groom promise to “forsake all others,” and God calls for a similar exclusivity in His covenant with us.

§         We need to ask ourselves, “What images and monuments have I set up in my life that compete with God – that induce me to honor myself or someone else? How can I use images and memory-triggers instead to remind me of God and His love for me?”

·         In a relationship with a significant-other, we pay special attention to what they like, what they don’t like, what their schedule is (so we can spend time with them), what they say, and the way they say it. God is saying in v.2 that if you want to be His people, than it needs to be His laws - the things He doesn’t like, His holiness – the things He does like, and His days of rest – His schedule, that you are paying attention to. The Hebrew wording of verses 2-3 emphasize this by putting the words for “My sabbaths,” “my holiness,” “my statutes,” and “my commandments” in an emphatic position before the verb instead of after the verb (which would be the normal Hebrew construction). (“It is my rest-times which y’all must keep, and it is my holiness[2] which y’all must respect; I am Yahweh. If it is in my statutes that y’all walk and if it is my commands that y’all keep - and y’all act on them,” ~NAW)

o       “[T]he sabbath and the sanctuary… are the outward fence around the inward love commanded by v.1.[3]

o       The latter three verbs indicate “learning, teaching, and performing” God’s will (Ibn Ezra).

o       Understand, however, that perfect obedience is not possible. We cannot earn God’s blessings by obeying Him because “all sin and fall short of the glory of God.”

o       However, those who trust Jesus to replace their unrighteousness with His righteousness enter into a new kind of relationship with God where their every desire and attempt to keep God’s commands is appreciated by God instead of being considered not good enough. As John Calvin put it in his Harmony of the Pentateuch, “‘to walk in the commandments of God’ is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands, but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults. The promise, therefore, is not without fruit as respects believers, while they endeavor to consecrate themselves to God, although they are still far from perfection; according to the teaching of the Prophet, ‘I will spare them as a man spares his own son that serves him.’ (Mal. 3:17) as much as to say that their obedience would not be acceptable to Him because it was deserving, but because He visits it with His paternal favor.”

·         When the Israelites prioritized what God says, what God likes, and what God’s schedule is, He promised…

Six Blessings and privileges of being in the relationship

  1. Productive agriculture (vs.4-5 & 10)
  2. Freedom from conflict (v.6)

                                                              i.      like varmints that eat the crops (I’m reminded of stories my Dad had told me about ‘coons in his muscadine grape-vines.)

                                                            ii.      or rogue bears and lions that kill and eat people or make nuisances of themselves (Story of cleaning up after the bears at seminary – bears that had caused problems elsewhere and had been moved to the San Isabel National Forest next to the seminary.)

                                                          iii.      It is a curse to have to deal with these problem animals. The environmentalists have it backwards when they seek to diminish the human population and re-introduce predators into populated areas.

  1. Victory in military offensives (vs.7-8)
  2. Children (v.9)

·         We saw it in the covenant with Abraham, where God promised to make His covenant with both Abraham and his descendents and God promised to make his descendents as numerous as the sand of the sea.

·         We also see it in the New Testament, for instance in John 15:16 NKJV  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

  1. God’s personal favor and presence (vs.11-12)
  2. Liberty (v.13)

Conclusion: Does this covenant apply to us? If so, How?

·         Consider the covenantal structure of Jesus’ teaching, which Matthew especially lays out:

o       There’s the list of blessings in the beatitudes: (Including His discussion in Matthew chapter 6 on food and clothing – “look at the birds” and the “flowers” – concluding with the promise that those who “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” will have “all these things added unto” them!)

o       And in Matthew chapter 23, there’s a list of woes upon the Pharisees who were hypocrites and unbelievers: This is the same basic structure as what we see in the second part of Leviticus 26 with its list of curses upon those who “don’t give heed to Yahweh and don’t do all His commands” and “despise His commands” and “break His covenant.”

o       There’s also Jesus’ departure speech in Matthew 28:

                                                  i.      In true covenant form He begins by speaking of His authority (“all power is given unto me”)

                                                ii.      then He speaks of the content of the covenant, which He calls the evangel – the Gospel,

                                              iii.      then He gives a covenantal symbol: water baptism in the Triune Name,

                                              iv.      and He addresses the continuity of the covenant: it will be perpetuated into future generations through “making” and “teaching” of “disciples,”

                                                v.      and finally He uses practically the same phrase “all of these commands” found in Leviticus 26:14, when He said “teaching them to obey all that I commanded you.”

o       Do you see how even Jesus framed His relationship with His followers (and His enemies too) in covenantal, contractual forms similar to Leviticus 26?

·         It is God’s way to set up covenants with humans. He is the conqueror, so He gets to set the terms and make the rules; He also has omnipotent power, so He offers a really sweet deal with good stuff and peace and security for all who will treat Him as God and live as His people.

·         So, does this apply to you?

o       It was applied specifically to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, and the New Testament seems to indicate that there is continuing special application to Jews, as God’s covenant is not invalidated by their unbelief since “the gifts and call of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 9:27-11:32). The apostle Paul looked forward to a revival of faith in Christ among the Jewish people that would be accompanied with renewed blessings.

o       Furthermore, we’ve seen that Jesus applied covenantal blessings and curses to Christians and the church. The Levitical blessings of feasting, peace, God’s presence, and freedom are all promised to believers in the world to come.

o       It also applies to everyone in the world – whether saved or not – to some extent:

                                                  i.      Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.” (NKJV)

                                                ii.      1 Timothy 4:8 “…godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (NKJV)

                                              iii.      The whole world enjoys God’s bounty to some extent (Matt. 5:45; Acts 17:25) and the whole world will be subject to God’s curses in the final judgment (Acts 17:30-31) many of which we see listed in the book of Revelation.

·         In this covenant, God is faithful – He always keeps His side of this contract, but v.15 says that we void the contract and all its benefits when we despise His authority and disobey Him. When we leave the role of people of God and stop representing Him and furthering His interests and instead associate ourselves with some other authority, we break His covenant… and we lose out.

·         All of us have broken covenant with God, so all of us deserve all of the curses and none of the bles­sings. That doesn’t seem to bother some people, but we realize that this is why we need a savior. We need Jesus to save us from the curses we deserve and bring back the blessings that we have lost. I plan to look more at the problem of covenant-breaking and at the hope of covenant renewal with God in my next sermon.

·         But for now, will you delight yourself in this covenant-making God? Will embrace the authority of Jesus to define life for you and accept your role as one of His people to worship Him, represent Him and His values on earth, accomplish His agendas, and recruit other people into this same relationship with Him? The blessings He promises for His people now and in eternity are worth everything!


Comparative translations of Leviticus 26:1-20

When a translation adds words not in the Hebrew text, but does not indicate it has done so by the use of italics (or greyed-out text), I put the added words in [square brackets]. When one version chooses a wording which is different from all the other translations, I underline it. When a version chooses a translation which, in my opinion, either departs too far from the root meaning of the Hebrew word or departs too far from the grammar form of the original Hebrew, I use strikeout. And when a version omits a word which is in the Hebrew text, I insert an X. (Sometimes I will place the X at the end of a word if the original word is plural but the English translation is singular.) I occasionally use colors to help the reader see correlations between the various editions and versions when there are more than two different translations of a given word. Hebrew text that is colored purple matches the Dead Sea Scrolls, and variants between the DSS and the MT are noted in endnotes with the following exceptions: When a holem or qibbutz pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a vav, when a hireq pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a yod (the corresponding consonantal representation of the same vowel), or when the tetragrammaton is spelled with paleo-Hebrew letters, I did not record it a variant. Dead Sea Scrolls which are known to contain Leviticus 26 are: 11Q1 paleoLeviticusa  (Vs. 17-26) 4Q23 Leviticus-Numbersa  (Vs. 26, 28-33) 4Q119 LXX Leviticusa (Vs. 2-16)







1 Οὐ ποιήσετε ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς χειροποίητα οὐδὲ γλυπτὰ οὐδὲ στήλην ἀναστήσετε ὑμῖν οὐδὲ λίθον σκοπὸν θήσετε ἐν τῇ γῇ ὑμῶν προσκυνῆ­σαι αὐτῷ· ἐγώ εἰμι κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν.

1 I am the Lord your God: ye shall not make to yourselves gods made with hands, or graven; neither shall ye rear up a pillar for yourselves, neither shall ye set up a stone for an object in your land to worship it: I am the Lord your God.

1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.

1. Y’all may not make for yourselves idols, and y'all may not erect for yourselves a carved-image or a monument, and y’all may not put an engraved stone in your land to worship before it, because I am Yahweh y’all’s God.

1 לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם אֱלִילִם וּפֶסֶל וּמַצֵּבָה לֹא-תָקִימוּ לָכֶם וְאֶבֶן מַשְׂכִּית לֹא תִתְּנוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת עָלֶיהָ כִּי[A] אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:

2 τὰ σάββατά μου φυλάξεσθε καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων μου φοβηθήσ­εσθε· ἐγώ εἰμι κύριος.

2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuaries: I am the Lord.

2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

2. It is my rest-times which y’all must keep, and it is my holiness which y’all must respect; I am Yahweh.

2 אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתַי[B] תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ אֲנִי יְהוָה: ס

3 Ἐὰν τοῖς προστάγ­μασίν μου πορεύησθε καὶ τὰς ἐντολάς μου φυλάσσησθε καὶ ποιήσητε αὐτάς[C],

3 If ye will walk in my ordinances, and keep my commandments, and do them,

3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

3. If it is in my statutes that y’all walk and if it is my commands that y’all keep - and y’all act on them,

3 אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם:

4 καὶ δώσω τὸν ὑετὸν[D] ὑμῖν ἐν καιρῷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἡ γῆ δώσει τὰ γενή­ματα αὐτῆς, καὶ τὰ ξύλα τῶν πεδίων ἀποδώσει τὸν καρπὸν αὐτῶν·

4 then will I give you the rain in its season, and the land shall produce its fruits, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

4. then I will give your rains in time for them, and the land will give its yield, and the tree of the field will give its fruit,

4 וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ:

5 καὶ καταλήμψεται ὑμῖν ὁ ἀλοητὸς[E] τὸν τρύγητον, καὶ ὁ τρύγ­ητος καταλήμψεται τὸν σπόρον, καὶ φάγεσθε τὸν ἄρτον ὑμῶν εἰς πλησμονὴν καὶ κατοική­σετε μετὰ ἀσφαλείας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὑμῶν.

5 And your threshing time shall overtake the vintage, and your vintage shall overtake your seed time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full; and ye shall dwell safely upon your land, and war shall not go through your land.

5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

5. and threshing will last for y’all until grape-harvest and grape-harvest will last until seeding, and y’all will eat your bread to satisfaction, and y’all will reside confidently in your land.

5 וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ[F] אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע[G] וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹׂבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם:

6 καὶ πόλεμος οὐ διε­λεύσεται διὰ τῆς γῆς ὑμῶν,[H] καὶ δώσω εἰρήνην ἐν τῇ γῇ ὑμῶν, καὶ κοιμηθήσεσθε, καὶ οὐκ ἔσται ὑμᾶς ὁ ἐκ­φοβῶν, καὶ ἀπολῶ θηρία πονηρὰ ἐκ τῆς γῆς ὑμῶν.

6 And war will not go through your land, and I will give peace in your land, and ye shall sleep, and none shall make you afraid; and I will destroy the evil beasts out of your land,

6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

6. I will also extend peace within the land, and y’all will lie down and there will be no cause for trembling. Furthermore, I will turn out bad animals from the land, and the sword will not slash over y’alls land.

6 וְנָתַתִּי שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּם וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד וְהִשְׁבַּתִּי חַיָּה רָעָה מִן-הָאָרֶץ וְחֶרֶב לֹא-תַעֲבֹר בְּאַרְצְכֶם[I]:

7 καὶ διώξεσθε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν, καὶ πεσοῦνται ἐναντίον ὑμῶν φόνῳ·

7 and ye shall pursue your enemies, and they shall fall before you with slaughter.

7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.

7. Then y’all will hunt down your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before your faces -

7 וּרְדַפְתֶּם אֶת-אֹיְבֵיכֶם וְנָפְלוּ לִפְנֵיכֶם לֶחָרֶב:

8 καὶ διώξονται ἐξ ὑμῶν πέντε[J] ἑκατόν, καὶ ἑκατὸν ὑμῶν διώξονται μυριάδας, καὶ πεσοῦνται οἱ ἐχθροὶ ὑμῶν ἐναντίον ὑμῶν μαχαίρᾳ.

8 And five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase tens of thousands; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

8. so five of y’all will hunt down a hundred, and a hundred of y’all will hunt down ten-thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before your faces.

8 וְרָדְפוּ מִכֶּם חֲמִשָּׁה מֵאָה וּמֵאָה מִכֶּם רְבָבָה יִרְדֹּפוּ וְנָפְלוּ אֹיְבֵיכֶם לִפְנֵיכֶם לֶחָרֶב:

9 καὶ ἐπιβλέψω ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς καὶ αὐξανῶ ὑμᾶς καὶ πληθυνῶ ὑμᾶς καὶ στήσω[K] τν διαθήκην μου μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν.

9 And I will look upon you, and increase you, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.

9. And I will face toward y’all, and I will cause y’all to be fruitful, and I will cause y’all to become many, and I will confirm my covenant with y’all.

9 וּפָנִיתִי אֲלֵיכֶם וְהִפְרֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶתְכֶם וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם:

10 καὶ φάγεσθε παλαιὰ καὶ παλαιὰ παλαιῶν καὶ παλαιὰ[L] ἐκ προσώπου νέων ἐξοίσετε.

10 And ye shall eat [that which is] old and very old, and bring forth the old to make way for the new.

10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.

10. Y’all will still be eating old stock while y’all bring out old [stock] in front of new [stock].

10 וַאֲכַלְתֶּם יָשָׁן נוֹשָׁן וְיָשָׁן מִפְּנֵי חָדָשׁ תּוֹצִיאוּ:






11 καὶ θήσω τὴν διαθήκην μου ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐ βδελύξεται ἡ ψυχή μου[M] ὑμᾶς·

11 And I will set my tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not abhor you;

11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

11. Also I will extend my residence into the midst of y’all and my soul will not disdain y’all.

11 וְנָתַתִּי מִשְׁכָּנִי[N] בְּתוֹכְכֶם וְלֹא-תִגְעַל נַפְשִׁי אֶתְכֶם:

12 καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσω ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ἔσομαι ὑμῶν θεός, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔσεσθέ μου λαός[O].

12 and I will walk among you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people.

12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

12. I will walk around within the midst of y’all and I will be [in the role] of a god for y’all, and, as for y’all, y’all will be [in the role] of a people for me.

12 וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בְּתוֹכְכֶם וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם:

13 ἐγώ εἰμι κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν ὁ ἐξαγαγὼν ὑμᾶς ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου ὄντων ὑμῶν δούλων καὶ συνέτριψα τὸν δεσμὸν τοζυγοῦ ὑμῶν καὶ ἤγαγον ὑμᾶς μετὰ παρρησίας.

13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where ye were X slaves ; and I broke the band of your yoke, and brought you forth openly.

13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

13. I am Yahweh, y’all’s God who delivered y’all out of the land of Egypt from being slaves to them – yes, I shattered the bondages of y’all’s yoke; I caused y’all to rise up and walk.

13 אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִהְיֹת לָהֶם עֲבָדִים וָאֶשְׁבֹּר מֹטֹת עֻלְּכֶם וָאוֹלֵךְ אֶתְכֶם קוֹמְמִיּוּת[P]: פ

14 Ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ὑπακού­σητέ μου μηδὲ ποιήσητε τὰ προστάγματά μου ταῦτα[Q],

14 But if ye will not hearken to me, nor obey these my ordinances,

14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;

14. But if y’all don’t give heed to me and y’all don’t do all of these commands,

14 וְאִם-לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ לִי וְלֹא תַעֲשׂוּ אֵת כָּל-הַמִּצְוֹת הָאֵלֶּה:

15 ἀλλὰ ἀπειθήσητε αὐτοῖς X καὶ τοῖς [R]κρί­μασίν μου προσοχθίσῃ ἡ ψυχὴ ὑμῶν ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ποιεῖν πάσας τὰς ἐντολάς μου[S] ὥστε δια­σκεδάσαι τὴν διαθήκην μου,

15 but disobey them X, and your soul should loathe my judgments, so that ye should not keep all my commands, so as to break my covenant,

15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:

15. and if you despise my statutes, and if your souls disdain my judgments, failing to do any of my commands such that y’all break my covenant,

15 וְאִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תִּמְאָסוּ וְאִם אֶת-מִשְׁפָּטַי תִּגְעַל נַפְשְׁכֶם לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת אֶת-כָּל-מִצְוֹתַי לְהַפְרְכֶם אֶת-בְּרִיתִי:

16 καὶ ἐγὼ ποιήσω οὕτως ὑμῖν καὶ ἐπισυστήσω ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς τὴν ἀπορίαν τήν τε ψώραν καὶ τὸν ἴκτερον καὶ σφακελίζοντας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς [ὑμῶν] καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν [ὑμῶν] ἐκτή­κουσαν, καὶ σπερεῖτε διὰ κενῆς τὰ σπέρματα ὑμῶν, καὶ ἔδονται οἱ ὑπεναντίοι ὑμῶν·

16 then will I do thus to you: I will even bring upon you perplexity and the itch, and the fever that causes [your] eyes to waste away, and disease that consumes [your] life; and ye shall sow your seeds in vain, and your enemies shall eat them.

16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow[T] of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

16. indeed,I myself will do the following to y’all: I will visit dismay upon y’all, emaciation and scarlet fever that fades out eyes and causes a soul to pine away, and y’all will sow your seed in vain, for y’all’s enemies will consume it.

16 אַף-אֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂה-זֹּאת לָכֶם וְהִפְקַדְתִּי עֲלֵיכֶם בֶּהָלָה[U] אֶת-הַשַּׁחֶפֶת[V] וְאֶת-הַקַּדַּחַת מְכַלּוֹת עֵינַיִם וּמְדִיבֹת נָפֶשׁ וּזְרַעְתֶּם לָרִיק זַרְעֲכֶם וַאֲכָלֻהוּ אֹיְבֵיכֶם:

17 καὶ ἐπιστήσω τὸ πρόσωπόν μου ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς, καὶ πεσεῖσθε ἐναντίον τῶν ἐχθρῶν ὑμῶν, καὶ διώξονται ὑμᾶς οἱ μισοῦντες ὑμᾶς, καὶ φεύξεσθε οὐθενὸς διώκοντος ὑμᾶς. --

17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall fall before your enemies, and they that hate you shall pursue you; and ye shall flee, no one pursuing you.

17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.

17. Also I will set my face regarding y’all, and y’all will be struck down before the faces of your enemies, and those who hate y’all will tyranize you; y’all will flee when there is not even anyone hunting you down.

17 וְנָתַתִּי פָנַי בָּכֶם וְנִגַּפְתֶּם לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיכֶם וְרָדוּ בָכֶם שֹׂנְאֵיכֶם וְנַסְתֶּם וְאֵין-רֹדֵף אֶתְכֶם: ס

18 καὶ ἐὰν ἕως τούτου μὴ ὑπακούσητέ μου, καὶ προσθήσω τοῦ παιδεῦσαι ὑμᾶς ἑπτάκις ἐπὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν

18 And if ye still refuse to hearken to me, then will I chasten you yet more even seven times for your sins.

18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

18. And if to this point y’all won’t give heed to me, then I will add on sevenfold to y’all’s discipline because of your sins.

18 וְאִם-עַד-אֵלֶּה לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ לִי וְיָסַפְתִּי לְיַסְּרָה אֶתְכֶם שֶׁבַע עַל-חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם:

19 καὶ συντρίψω τὴν ὕβριν τῆς ὑπερηφανίας ὑμῶν καὶ θήσω τὸν οὐρανὸν ὑμῖν σιδηροῦν καὶ τὴν γῆν ὑμῶν ὡσεὶ χαλκῆν,

19 And I will break down the haughtiness of your pride; and I will make your heaven iron, and your earth as it were brass.

19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:

19. Thus I will shatter y’all’s strong arrogance, and I will set the sky for y’all like iron and your land like bronze,

19 וְשָׁבַרְתִּי אֶת-גְּאוֹן עֻזְּכֶם וְנָתַתִּי אֶת-שְׁמֵיכֶם כַּבַּרְזֶל וְאֶת-אַרְצְכֶם כַּנְּחֻשָׁה[W]:

20 καὶ ἔσται εἰς κενὸν ἡ ἰσχὺς ὑμῶν, καὶ οὐ δώσει ἡ γῆ ὑμῶν τὸν σπόρον αὐτῆς, καὶ τὸ ξύλον τοῦ ἀγροῦ ὑμῶν οὐ δώσει τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ. --

20 And your strength shall be in vain; and your land shall not yield its seed, and the tree of your field shall not yield its fruit.

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruit[s].

20. and y’all’s effort will end in vain, and your land will not give its yield and the tree of the field will not give its fruit.

20 וְתַם לָרִיק כֹּחֲכֶם וְלֹא-תִתֵּן אַרְצְכֶם אֶת-יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הָאָרֶץ[X] לֹא יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ:


[1] For what it’s worth, the medieval Jewish rabbi Rashi interpreted the latter as a mosaic of paving stones, the Modern German Hebrew scholars Keil & Delitzsch interpreted it as a stone figure, and the Scottish commentators Jameison, Fausset, & Brown interpreted it as a stone on which symbols were engraved.

[2] Or “holy place[s]” (the plural including synagogues, according to medieval Jewish scholar Sforno)

[3] Wenham, quoting Bonar, italics original

[4] Calvin noted “in order that the signs of His paternal solicitude may be constantly before us, afte the seed is sown, the earth required rain from heaven; and thus the order of the seasons is so regulated that every day nay renew the memory of god’s bounty.”

[5] JFB noted this would be quite a change from their former situation on the Nile where they could grow nothing during the three months that the river flooded the land.

[A] The Septuagint (LXX) and Syriac translations of this verse do not have this word “for/because.” Although they are older than the Hebrew Masoretic Text, it’s hard to tell whether the translators had this Hebrew word before them and did not consider it important or whether they were looking at a Hebrew manuscript that did not have this word in it. Whether or not the conjunction is original, the construction of these sentences implies a link between who Yahweh is and what His people must do to revere His holy time and place.

[B] The Syriac mistakenly translated this word “commandments.”

[C] DSS (4Q119 – which is a Greek translation) omits “and do them” (thus the NIV’s omission) but the LXX Greek translation of similar age includes the phrase, as does the (much more recent) Samaritan Pentateuch (SP), and, of course the MT, so I will keep it. “Keeping” implies “doing,” so there is no contradiction in the omission. It is a harmless variant.

[D] DSS (4Q119LXX) appears to be a bit free in its translation, this time adding “in the land,” explaining that the original “your rain” means “the rain in your land,” and omitting “of the field” describing the tree, which was perhaps not as necessary in Greek to convey the same meaning as it was in Hebrew. Since 4Q119 does not match the LXX, MT, and SP, I am assuming it is the one departing from the original.

[E] DSS (4Q119LXX) = ἀμητὸς – synonym?

[F] Hapex legomenon

[G] Since the SP and LXX have definite articles before the word “seed” instead of a separate direct object word like the MT has, it’s possible that the original may have been הז׳, but it makes no difference in meaning. The ensuing phrase is repeated from Lev. 25:19 “19 and then the land will put out its fruit and y’all will eat to satisfaction, and y’all will reside confidently on it.”

[H] DSS (4Q119LXX) places this first phrase last in this sentence, matching the MT, instead of first in the sentence like the Vaticanus does, but it is merely a matter of list order and no change in meaning.

[I] Ezekiel 5:17 and 14:21 refer back to these phrases in Leviticus.

[J] DSS (4Q110LXX) reads πέντε ὑμῶν instead of the Vaticanus ἐξ ὑμῶν πέντε, an alternate translation that means the same thing.

[K] DSS (4Q119LXX) reads εσται μου (“they will be mine” – which doesn’t make sense) instead of the Vaticanus’ στήσω (“I will establish”)

[L] DSS (4Q119LXX) reads μετα των (“with the” – using only one of the three repetitions of the same root word in the Hebrew) instead of the Vaticanus’ παλαιῶν καὶ παλαιὰ (“of old things and the old” – which matches the MT), again an alternate translation which does not change the meaning.

[M] DSS (4Q119LXX) omits ἡ ψυχή μου (like the NIV does), but it’s in the MT, Vatianus, and SP. Although 4Q119 has a more terse translation, it doesn’t change the meaning.

[N] LXX = “my covenant” instead of “my dwelling.” The SP matches the MT, and no DSS are legible at this point. “Dwelling” seems to fit better, so I will go with that. “Covenant” does not create any theological contradictions though – it was just already stated in v.9.

[O] DSS (4Q119LXX) omits the first phrase of this verse, but that doesn’t change the gist of this passage. It is clearly a different translation than the Vaticanus, often substituting synonymous Greek words. I find it particularly interesting that it translates the “people” of God not as laos but as εθνος. This would speak against ethnos being interpreted “Gentile.”

[P] Hapex Legomenon

[Q] DSS (4Q119LXX) omits ταῦτα, but since it’s in the LXX and MT and SP, it’s probably another edit for brevity. Again it doesn’t change the meaning of the verse.

[R] DSS (4Q119LXX) = προσταγμασι = statutes

[S] DSS (4Q119LXX) adds αλλα (“but instead” – which fits the meaning of the verse.

[T] ESV=ache

[U] SP בחלה (“she was greedy”) – a nonsense mistake from substituting a chet from the very similar-looking he. The LXX supports the MT, which makes more sense.

[V] This word and the following noun occur only here and Deut. 28:22.

[W] DSS 11Q1 has an odd ending to this verse. The previous line of the manuscript was much longer, and it appears that the scribe decided to change line lengths in v.19 and ran out of space on the next-to-last word of v.19 and had to carry the last letter of the next-to-last word over to the next line. This seems to have affected his copying of the last word in v.19 by dropping the next-to-last letter of that last word. With the last letter of the next-to-last word added to the front of the last word, the last word may have looked like it had the right number of letters despite missing its next-to-last letter. The manuscript reads מכנחה, a nonsense word which might be construed to mean something like “from being like a guide”) instead of (“like brass/bronze”). The MT makes sense, and the LXX supports the MT, so 11Q1 is probably miscopied. This Dead Sea Scroll also dropped out the direct object indicator before “sky/heaven,” but the Hebrew would mean the same with or without that indicator word. (The verb already has the first person “I” as its subject, so Hebrew grammar would assume that “sky” was the object.)

[X] The LXX, SP, Targums, and Cairo Geniza all have the word “field,” whereas the MT and DSS 11Q1 have the word for “land” here. This means this variant goes at least back to the time before Christ. I am pretty certain of copy errors in 11Q1 but I’m also pretty certain of copy errors in the Cairo Geniza. There is also the fact that this phrase “trees of the land” occurs nowhere else in the Bible, whereas “trees of the field” does occur five other times in the Bible. Because of slightly more ancient manuscript evidence backing “field” I will go with that, but it doesn’t really make a difference in meaning – either way, it’s talking about fruit trees.