Deuteronomy 27–28: Blessings and Cursings

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 75–76


In Leviticus 26, the Lord set before Israel the blessings they could receive if they kept His commandments and the punishments they would receive if they disobeyed. Deuteronomy 27–28 tells how Moses spoke to the Israelites about these same blessings and commandments, since they were children at the time of the events in Leviticus 26. This time, however, Moses gave more detailed instructions and used an “object lesson.” The object lesson began with a command to go to two mountains in the land of Canaan, Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, which were very close together. Six tribes were assigned to one mount where they were told to declare the promised blessings while the other six tribes stood on the other mount and responded by proclaiming the cursings. This event was to help remind the children of Israel that they were privileged to choose their future by their obedience.Think about the following statement of President Joseph F. Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as you read Deuteronomy 28:“These are the promises that the Lord made to the people of Israel anciently, if they would hearken unto His words and obey His laws.“Now, I want to say to you without any hesitancy … that the words [in Deuteronomy 28:1–13] are as applicable to you as they were to the children of Israel. You are modern Israel and they were ancient Israel. The same God spake through His servant Moses that speaks today through His servant [the prophet]. Obedience to the laws of God will produce the same results today that it did anciently” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 45).
Moses addressing tribes between two mountains

Understanding the Scriptures

Deuteronomy 28

Fruit of thy body (vv. 4, 11, 18, 53)Children 
Fruit of thy ground (vv. 4, 11, 18)Harvest of crops 
Fruit of thy cattle (vv. 4, 11)Offspring of your cows 
Plenteous (v. 11)To have many 
Vexation (v. 20)Confusion and frustration 
Rebuke (v. 20)Reprimand, scold 
Pestilence (v. 21)Plagues, diseases 
Cleave (vv. 21, 60)Stay close to 
Consumption (v. 22)Sickness 
Inflammation (v. 22)Swelling 
Blasting (v. 22)Plant disease 
Fray (v. 26)Frighten 
Grope (v. 29)To walk cautiously using your hands to feel in front of you because you cannot see 
Betroth (v. 30)Make an agreement to be married 
A proverb and a byword (v. 37)A thing people look down on and make fun of 
Dress (v. 39)Take care 
Fierce countenance (v. 50)Fearful looks 
Besiege (v. 52)Attack 
Continuance (v. 59)Lasting 

Studying the Scriptures

Do at least two of the following activities (A–D) as you study Deuteronomy 28.

Activity A iconHow Does It Apply Today?

Deuteronomy 28:1–13 tells of blessings Israel will receive if they are faithful. Tell what you think each blessing means for the people of today, and record them in your notebook in a chart like the one below.

Verse

The Blessing

How the Principle Applies Today

1

Set above all nations

3

Blessed in the city and field

4

Blessed in fruit of the body, ground, animals

5

Blessed in basket and store

6

Blessed in coming in and out

7

Protected from enemies

8

Blessed in all undertakings

9

Be established as a holy people

10

Called by the name of the Lord

12

The Lord will open His good treasure

13

Made the head, not the tail

Activity B iconWhich One Would You Like?

From the list of blessings above, write which one you would like to receive and explain why.

Activity C iconConsider the Curses

Deuteronomy 28:15–68 contains a very long section of curses. As you read them, choose two that you have seen happen to people who do not obey God’s commandments, and write about them. Your examples may come from people you know or know about or from the scriptures. You need not identify the people you know.

Activity D iconOptional Activity

If God loves us, why must we suffer if we don’t repent? (see D&C 19:17). The following scriptures may help you answer this question: Alma 39:7; 42:16–24; Helaman 12:2–3; Doctrine and Covenants 90:36; 95:1–2.