The Blessing and the Curse

Deuteronomy 27:11-28:69

This extended passage contains the blessing which the people are promised for fulfilling God’s covenant, as well as the curse they will receive for violating it. Moses instructs the people, upon crossing the Jordan, to line up six tribes on Mount Gerizim, and six on Mount Ebal. The blessing are to be recited facing Mount Gerizim, and the curses facing Mount Ebal. After each, the people are to say Amen.


The Levites are to proclaim the blessings and the curses. First, they identify which violators will be cursed. These include the idolatrous, the dishonest and the incestuous. Then, the brief but bountiful blessing is recited, which includes fertility of both land and man, success in income, victory in war, and rain in its season.


The curses are more abundant and exceedingly frightening. Violation of the covenant will be met with the undoing of all blessings mentioned, and a host of other terrifying occurrences. These include madness and plague, the loss of property and family, slavery and suffering. The curses are in fact so detailed and so frightening, that it is traditional to recite them in an undertone when they are read in the synagogue each year.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the curses are so much more detailed than the blessings?

Comments ( 14 )

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  • Ron

    The curse leaves scars the blessings are followed by sighs of relief
    The curse is inflicted legally by Satan on those who are disobedient
    The blessing is a promised covenant for his children who are obedient an indowement in all aspects of our life's
    I lay before you this day the blessing and the curse.

  • Damian Sco

    Israel was/is proof to the world that God exists. Not only were the people punished severely because of their own sins, but the People were now responsible for, if it were ever possible, giving God a black eye!. How could the Goyim look upon the Chosen sinning left and right and say to themselves how great and wondrous God must be? This was not only OUR stepping out of line, but God's reality was on the line! Amos Books 1-7 (and I like to concentrate on the last few verses in 7) show how important it was that we do not give God a black eye.
    It was sort of like the difference of me being punished for my own sins as an adult, vs. my father paying for my sins since he was responsible for me as a youngster. Israel was a youngster, and everything we did reflected upon Him! I would double the punishment too if I could not control those who were causing me pain, just so they would listen REALLY CAREFULLY AND NOT FORGET WHO AND WHAT THEY STOOD FOR!

  • C'lest K

    May the blessings of HaShem cover you all! I am not Jewish, my heritage is Native American (Cree Indian). I am a subscriber to the Israel Bible because I love the sounds and words In the Jewish language. If you will permit me voicing my thoughts on this matter of curses for disobedience being so much more elaborate than those of the blessings – could it be that the emotions of fear, dread are a stronger motivator than the promise of blessings? One can keep status quo, and live without "blessings", but as for curses, they get one's attention, and to avoid suffering them one would heed to the ways to keep away from them!

  • The extensive writing of the curses have firstly to warn: Don’t leave the path of HaShem. We are inclined to easily accept blessing. They give us a good feeling. But secondly: curses must impregnate our souls lest nothing unexpected can come over us when we sidetrack. Be aware of the things that come over you! We are often slow to obedience.

  • Even though the curses seemed to out way the blessings in numbers the blessing in reality out weigh the curses. One blessing from HaShem heals all. Does not one little word "LOVE" cover a multitude of sin. When we love the LORD our G-D with our whole being do we not follow His will and when we love our neighbors as ourselves how can we even think of harming them.

  • Jayne

    God, through Moses, in His mercy and love for His people wants to warn them much as a parent warns the child he/she loves. These are God’s words not Moses’ words.

  • Magda

    Although I believe the whole of Torah is Divinely inspired and every letter breather into being by the Holy One, Blessed be His Name, this particular section of Torah of the blessings and curses was still conveyed to the people by His servant, the man, Moses. This emphasis on the curses shows Moses’ compassionate heart for the people, he knew them and knew how easily they/us got off track and disobeyed. He knew the God Of Israel would keep his covenant no matter what, so the people would enjoy the blessings should they keep their part of the covenant. Moses just wanted to do everything in his power to prevent them from disobeyeing/ sin and thus experience the terrible effects of the curses.

  • Jesse

    The blessings act as a covering of a tent. It is spread over everything. The curses are like the points of an arrow, hitting specific points.

  • Linda

    Because, curses, had to do with the law. No on can keep them. you are justify by Faith. No one under the law ever perfectly kept the law. And God’s blessings can’t be earned. Only through Jesus.

    • Correction Linda, the law (Yahweh's teaching and instruction) remains, and it is good. Faith without works is dead hence when we fail to do what Yahweh has commanded, much as we believe in His love, we suffer the consequences of disobedience.

  • Herman

    The reading must have a frightening impression on the peoples souls, lest they would not forget to do the right things.

    • You make a good point, Herman. Ultimately, everyone wants to do the right thing, but often the temptation to stray is so powerful we convince ourselves that it is ok to do what we like. Sometimes we need a much stronger stick to threaten us back to the right path than a carrot to lure us there. Perhaps that is why the curses are much more prolific than the blessings. Not that the blessings are not at least as wonderful as the curses are terrible — they’re probably even better than that — but we may just need to be “scared straight”.

      • I think it is not to frighten us, but to tell us the truth in black and white (point blank). One who loves you tells you more of danger than of the good they will do for you. In the same way, Yahweh out of His great love tells us the details of the curses because He wants us to guard against them – we need not guard against blessings.

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