a designation of Hiel (q.v.), who rebuilt Jericho and
experienced the curse pronounced long before (1 Kings 16:34).
denounced by God against the serpent (Gen. 3:14), and against
Cain (4:11). These divine maledictions carried their effect with
them. Prophetical curses were sometimes pronounced by holy men
(Gen. 9:25; 49:7; Deut. 27:15; Josh. 6:26). Such curses are not
the consequence of passion or revenge, they are predictions.
No one on pain of death shall curse father or mother (Ex.
21:17), nor the prince of his people (22:28), nor the deaf (Lev.
19:14). Cursing God or blaspheming was punishable by death (Lev.
24:10-16). The words "curse God and die" (R.V., "renounce God
and die"), used by Job's wife (Job 2:9), have been variously
interpreted. Perhaps they simply mean that as nothing but death
was expected, God would by this cursing at once interpose and
destroy Job, and so put an end to his sufferings.
empty; spoiler, a son of Zippor, and king of the Moabites (Num.
22:2, 4). From fear of the Israelites, who were encamped near
the confines of his territory, he applied to Balaam (q.v.) to
curse them; but in vain (Josh. 24:9).
Zophim, Field of
field of watchers, a place in Moab on the range of Pisgah (Num.
23:14). To this place Balak brought Balaam, that he might from
thence curse the children of Israel. Balaam could only speak the
word of the Lord, and that was blessing. It is the modern
Tal'at-es-Safa. (See PISGAH T0002962.)
a plain in the north of Israel, the inhabitants of which were
severely condemned because they came not to help Barak against
Sisera (Judg. 5:23: compare 21:8-10; 1 Sam. 11:7). It has been
identified with Marassus, on a knoll to the north of Wady Jalud,
but nothing certainly is known of it. Like Chorazin, it is only
mentioned in Scripture in connection with the curse pronounced
pugilist or client, one of the two sons of Eli, the high priest
(1 Sam. 1:3; 2:34), who, because he was "very old," resigned to
them the active duties of his office. By their scandalous
conduct they brought down a curse on their father's house (2:22,
12-27, 27-36; 3:11-14). For their wickedness they were called
"sons of Belial," i.e., worthless men (2:12). They both perished
in the disastrous battle with the Philistines at Aphek (4:11).
(See PHINEHAS T0002941.)
lord of the people; foreigner or glutton, as interpreted by
others, the son of Beor, was a man of some rank among the
Midianites (Num. 31:8; compare 16). He resided at Pethor (Deut.
23:4), in Mesopotamia (Num. 23:7). It is evident that though
dwelling among idolaters he had some knowledge of the true God;
and was held in such reputation that it was supposed that he
whom he blessed was blessed, and he whom he cursed was cursed.
When the Israelites were encamped on the plains of Moab, on the
east of Jordan, by Jericho, Balak sent for Balaam "from Aram,
out of the mountains of the east," to curse them; but by the
remarkable interposition of God he was utterly unable to fulfil
Balak's wish, however desirous he was to do so. The apostle
Peter refers (2 Pet. 2:15, 16) to this as an historical event.
In Micah 6:5 reference also is made to the relations between
Balaam and Balak. Though Balaam could not curse Israel, yet he
suggested a mode by which the divine displeasure might be caused
to descend upon them (Num. 25). In a battle between Israel and
the Midianites (q.v.) Balaam was slain while fighting on the
side of Balak (Num. 31:8).
The "doctrine of Balaam" is spoken of in Rev. 2:14, in
allusion to the fact that it was through the teaching of Balaam
that Balak learned the way by which the Israelites might be led
into sin. (See NICOLAITANES T0002725.) Balaam was constrained
to utter prophecies regarding the future of Israel of wonderful
magnificence and beauty of expression (Num. 24:5-9, 17).
warm, hot, and hence the south; also an Egyptian word meaning
"black", the youngest son of Noah (Gen. 5:32; compare 9:22,24).
The curse pronounced by Noah against Ham, properly against
Canaan his fourth son, was accomplished when the Jews
subsequently exterminated the Canaanites.
One of the most important facts recorded in Gen. 10 is the
foundation of the earliest monarchy in Babylonia by Nimrod the
grandson of Ham (6, 8, 10). The primitive Babylonian empire was
thus Hamitic, and of a cognate race with the primitive
inhabitants of Arabia and of Ethiopia. (See ACCAD T0000060.)
The race of Ham were the most energetic of all the descendants
of Noah in the early times of the post-diluvian world.
one who practises serpent-charming (Ps. 58:5; Jer. 8:17; Eccl.
10:11). It was an early and universal opinion that the most
venomous reptiles could be made harmless by certain charms or by
sweet sounds. It is well known that there are jugglers in India
and in other Eastern lands who practise this art at the present
In Isa. 19:3 the word "charmers" is the rendering of the
Hebrew "'ittim", meaning, properly, necromancers (R.V. marg.,
"whisperers"). In Deut. 18:11 the word "charmer" means a dealer
in spells, especially one who, by binding certain knots, was
supposed thereby to bind a curse or a blessing on its object. In
Isa. 3:3 the words "eloquent orator" should be, as in the
Revised Version, "skilful enchanter."
(1.) Heb. rosh (Hos. 10:4; rendered "gall" in Deut. 29:18;
32:32; Ps. 69:21; Jer. 9:15; 23:15; "poison," Job 20:16;
"venom," Deut. 32:33). "Rosh is the name of some poisonous plant
which grows quickly and luxuriantly; of a bitter taste, and
therefore coupled with wormwood (Deut. 29:18; Lam. 3:19). Hence
it would seem to be not the hemlock cicuta, nor the colocynth or
wild gourd, nor lolium darnel, but the poppy so called from its
heads" (Gesenius, Lex.).
(2.) Heb. la'anah, generally rendered "wormwood" (q.v.), Deut.
29:18, Text 17; Prov. 5:4; Jer. 9:15; 23:15. Once it is rendered
"hemlock" (Amos 6:12; R.V., "wormwood"). This Hebrew word is
from a root meaning "to curse," hence the accursed.
opening. (1.) A mountain peak (Num. 23:28) to which Balak led
Balaam as a last effort to induce him to pronounce a curse upon
Israel. When he looked on the tribes encamped in the acacia
groves below him, he could not refrain from giving utterance to
a remarkable benediction (24:1-9). Balak was more than ever
enraged at Balaam, and bade him flee for his life. But before he
went he gave expression to that wonderful prediction regarding
the future of this mysterious people, whose "goodly tents" were
spread out before him, and the coming of a "Star" out of Jacob
and a "Sceptre" out of Israel (24:14-17).
(2.) A Moabite divinity, called also "Baal-peor" (Num. 25:3,
5, 18; compare Deut. 3:29).
(1.) The fourth son of Ham (Gen. 10:6). His descendants were
under a curse in consequence of the transgression of his father
(9:22-27). His eldest son, Zidon, was the father of the
Sidonians and Phoenicians. He had eleven sons, who were the
founders of as many tribes (10:15-18).
(2.) The country which derived its name from the preceding.
The name as first used by the Phoenicians denoted only the
maritime plain on which Sidon was built. But in the time of
Moses and Joshua it denoted the whole country to the west of the
Jordan and the Dead Sea (Deut. 11:30). In Josh. 5:12 the LXX.
read, "land of the Phoenicians," instead of "land of Canaan."
The name signifies "the lowlands," as distinguished from the
land of Gilead on the east of Jordan, which was a mountainous
district. The extent and boundaries of Canaan are fully set
forth in different parts of Scripture (Gen. 10:19; 17:8; Num.
13:29; 34:8). (See CANAANITES T0000705, PALESTINE T0002828.)
an Arabian tribe descended from Midian. They inhabited
principally the desert north of the peninsula of Arabia. The
peninsula of Sinai was the pasture-ground for their flocks. They
were virtually the rulers of Arabia, being the dominant tribe.
Like all Arabians, they were a nomad people. They early engaged
in commercial pursuits. It was to one of their caravans that
Joseph was sold (Gen. 37:28, 36). The next notice of them is in
connection with Moses' flight from Egypt (Ex. 2:15-21). Here in
Midian Moses became the servant and afterwards the son-in-law of
Reuel or Jethro, the priest. After the Exodus, the Midianites
were friendly to the Israelites so long as they traversed only
their outlying pasture-ground on the west of the Arabah; but
when, having passed the southern end of Edom, they entered into
the land of Midian proper, they joined with Balak, the king of
Moab, in a conspiracy against them (Num. 22:4-7). Balaam, who
had been sent for to curse Israel, having utterly failed to do
so, was dismissed by the king of Moab; nevertheless he still
tarried among the Midianites, and induced them to enter into
correspondence with the Israelites, so as to bring them into
association with them in the licentious orgies connected with
the worship of Baal-Peor. This crafty counsel prevailed. The
Israelites took part in the heathen festival, and so brought
upon themselves a curse indeed. Their apostasy brought upon them
a severe punishment. A plague broke out amongst them, and more
than twenty-four thousand of the people perished (Num. 25:9).
But the Midianites were not to be left unpunished. A terrible
vengeance was denounced against them. A thousand warriors from
each tribe, under the leadership of Phinehas, went forth against
them. The Midianites were utterly routed. Their cities were
consumed by fire, five of their kings were put to death, and the
whole nation was destroyed (Josh. 13:21, 22). Balaam also
perished by the sword, receiving the "wages of his
unrighteousness" (Num. 31:8; 2 Pet. 2:15). The whole of the
country on the east of Jordan, now conquered by the Israelites
(see SIHON T0003427; OG T0002771), was divided between the two
tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh.
Some two hundred and fifty years after this the Midianites had
regained their ancient power, and in confederation with the
Amalekites and the "children of the east" they made war against
their old enemies the Israelites, whom for seven years they
oppressed and held in subjection. They were at length assailed
by Gideon in that ever-memorable battle in the great plain of
Esdraelon, and utterly destroyed (Judg. 6:1-ch. 7). Frequent
allusions are afterwards made to this great victory (Ps. 83:10,
12; Isa. 9:4; 10:6). They now wholly pass away from the page of
history both sacred and profane.
(Heb. nahash; Gr. ophis), frequently noticed in Scripture. More
than forty species are found in Syria and Arabia. The poisonous
character of the serpent is alluded to in Jacob's blessing on
Dan (Gen. 49:17; see Prov. 30:18, 19; James 3:7; Jer. 8:17).
(See ADDER T0000085.)
This word is used symbolically of a deadly, subtle, malicious
enemy (Luke 10:19).
The serpent is first mentioned in connection with the history
of the temptation and fall of our first parents (Gen. 3). It has
been well remarked regarding this temptation: "A real serpent
was the agent of the temptation, as is plain from what is said
of the natural characteristic of the serpent in the first verse
of the chapter (3:1), and from the curse pronounced upon the
animal itself. But that Satan was the actual tempter, and that
he used the serpent merely as his instrument, is evident (1)
from the nature of the transaction; for although the serpent may
be the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, yet he has
not the high intellectual faculties which the tempter here
displayed. (2.) In the New Testament it is both directly
asserted and in various forms assumed that Satan seduced our
first parents into sin (John 8:44; Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 11:3, 14;
Rev. 12:9; 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.
the purchase back of something that had been lost, by the
payment of a ransom. The Greek word so rendered is
"apolutrosis", a word occurring nine times in Scripture, and
always with the idea of a ransom or price paid, i.e., redemption
by a lutron (see Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). There are instances
in the LXX. Version of the Old Testament of the use of "lutron"
in man's relation to man (Lev. 19:20; 25:51; Ex. 21:30; Num.
35:31, 32; Isa. 45:13; Prov. 6:35), and in the same sense of
man's relation to God (Num. 3:49; 18:15).
There are many passages in the New Testament which represent
Christ's sufferings under the idea of a ransom or price, and the
result thereby secured is a purchase or redemption (compare Acts
20:28; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Gal. 3:13; 4:4, 5; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14;
1 Tim. 2:5, 6; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Rev.
5:9). The idea running through all these texts, however various
their reference, is that of payment made for our redemption. The
debt against us is not viewed as simply cancelled, but is fully
paid. Christ's blood or life, which he surrendered for them, is
the "ransom" by which the deliverance of his people from the
servitude of sin and from its penal consequences is secured. It
is the plain doctrine of Scripture that "Christ saves us neither
by the mere exercise of power, nor by his doctrine, nor by his
example, nor by the moral influence which he exerted, nor by any
subjective influence on his people, whether natural or mystical,
but as a satisfaction to divine justice, as an expiation for
sin, and as a ransom from the curse and authority of the law,
thus reconciling us to God by making it consistent with his
perfection to exercise mercy toward sinners" (Hodge's Systematic
the usual name of the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot (Gen.
19:38). From the very beginning (Deut. 2:16-20) of their history
till they are lost sight of (Judg. 5:2), this tribe is closely
associated with the Moabites (Judg. 10:11; 2 Chr. 20:1; Zeph.
2:8). Both of these tribes hired Balaam to curse Israel (Deut.
23:4). The Ammonites were probably more of a predatory tribe,
moving from place to place, while the Moabites were more
settled. They inhabited the country east of the Jordan and north
of Moab and the Dead Sea, from which they had expelled the
Zamzummims or Zuzims (Deut. 2:20; Gen. 14:5). They are known as
the Beni-ammi (Gen. 19:38), Ammi or Ammon being worshipped as
their chief god. They were of Semitic origin, and closely
related to the Hebrews in blood and language. They showed no
kindness to the Israelites when passing through their territory,
and therefore they were prohibited from "entering the
congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation" (Deut. 23:3).
They afterwards became hostile to Israel (Judg. 3:13). Jephthah
waged war against them, and "took twenty cities with a very
great slaughter" (Judg. 11:33). They were again signally
defeated by Saul (1 Sam. 11:11). David also defeated them and
their allies the Syrians (2 Sam. 10:6-14), and took their chief
city, Rabbah, with much spoil (2 Sam. 10:14; 12:26-31). The
subsequent events of their history are noted in 2 Chr. 20:25;
26:8; Jer. 49:1; Ezek. 25:3, 6. One of Solomon's wives was
Naamah, an Ammonite. She was the mother of Rehoboam (1 Kings
14:31; 2 Chr. 12:13).
The prophets predicted fearful judgments against the Ammonites
because of their hostility to Israel (Zeph. 2:8; Jer. 49:1-6;
Ezek. 25:1-5, 10; Amos 1:13-15).
The national idol worshipped by this people was Molech or
Milcom, at whose altar they offered human sacrifices (1 Kings
11:5, 7). The high places built for this idol by Solomon, at the
instigation of his Ammonitish wives, were not destroyed till the
time of Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).
"There is no dew properly so called in Israel, for there is
no moisture in the hot summer air to be chilled into dew-drops
by the coldness of the night. From May till October rain is
unknown, the sun shining with unclouded brightness day after
day. The heat becomes intense, the ground hard, and vegetation
would perish but for the moist west winds that come each night
from the sea. The bright skies cause the heat of the day to
radiate very quickly into space, so that the nights are as cold
as the day is the reverse, a peculiarity of climate from which
poor Jacob suffered thousands of years ago (Gen. 31:40). To this
coldness of the night air the indispensable watering of all
plant-life is due. The winds, loaded with moisture, are robbed
of it as they pass over the land, the cold air condensing it
into drops of water, which fall in a gracious rain of mist on
every thirsty blade. In the morning the fog thus created rests
like a sea over the plains, and far up the sides of the hills,
which raise their heads above it like so many islands. At
sunrise, however, the scene speedily changes. By the kindling
light the mist is transformed into vast snow-white clouds, which
presently break into separate masses and rise up the
mountain-sides, to disappear in the blue above, dissipated by
the increasing heat. These are 'the morning clouds and the early
dew that go away' of which Hosea (6:4; 13:3) speaks so
touchingly" (Geikie's The Holy Land, etc., i., p. 72). Dew is a
source of great fertility (Gen. 27:28; Deut. 33:13; Zech. 8:12),
and its withdrawal is regarded as a curse from God (2 Sam. 1:21;
1 Kings 17:1). It is the symbol of a multitude (2 Sam. 17:12;
Ps. 110:3); and from its refreshing influence it is an emblem of
brotherly love and harmony (Ps. 133:3), and of rich spiritual
blessings (Hos. 14:5).
a common mode of punishment among heathen nations in early
times. It is not certain whether it was known among the ancient
Jews; probably it was not. The modes of capital punishment
according to the Mosaic law were, by the sword (Ex. 21),
strangling, fire (Lev. 20), and stoning (Deut. 21).
This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a
Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in Deut.
This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging.
In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather
before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by
Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring
his escape from further punishment (Luke 23:22; John 19:1).
The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of
execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place
set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took
place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the
sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the
sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be
clear (Matt. 27:34). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca,
the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a
hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity (Matt.
27:48; Luke 23:36), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst
(John 19:29). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord
are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the
Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two "malefactors"
(Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:32), and was watched by a party of four
soldiers (John 19:23; Matt. 27:36, 54), with their centurion.
The "breaking of the legs" of the malefactors was intended to
hasten death, and put them out of misery (John 19:31); but the
unusual rapidity of our Lord's death (19:33) was due to his
previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission
of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type (Ex.
12:46). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart,
and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by
the soldier's spear (John 19:34). Our Lord uttered seven
memorable words from the cross, namely, (1) Luke 23:34; (2)
23:43; (3) John 19:26; (4) Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34; (5) John
19:28; (6) 19:30; (7) Luke 23:46.
In all the Hebrew manuscripts the Pentateuch (q.v.) forms one
roll or volume divided into larger and smaller sections called
"parshioth" and "sedarim". It is not easy to say when it was
divided into five books. This was probably first done by the
Greek translators of the book, whom the Vulgate follows. The
fifth of these books was called by the Greeks Deuteronomion,
i.e., the second law, hence our name Deuteronomy, or a second
statement of the laws already promulgated. The Jews designated
the book by the two first Hebrew words that occur, "'Elle
haddabharim", i.e., "These are the words." They divided it into
eleven "parshioth". In the English Bible it contains thirty-four
It consists chiefly of three discourses delivered by Moses a
short time before his death. They were spoken to all Israel in
the plains of Moab, in the eleventh month of the last year of
The first discourse (1-4:40) recapitulates the chief events of
the last forty years in the wilderness, with earnest
exhortations to obedience to the divine ordinances, and warnings
against the danger of forsaking the God of their fathers.
The seond discourse (5-26:19) is in effect the body of the
whole book. The first address is introductory to it. It contains
practically a recapitulation of the law already given by God at
Mount Sinai, together with many admonitions and injunctions as
to the course of conduct they were to follow when they were
settled in Canaan.
The concluding discourse (ch. 27-30) relates almost wholly to
the solemn sanctions of the law, the blessings to the obedient,
and the curse that would fall on the rebellious. He solemnly
adjures them to adhere faithfully to the covenant God had made
with them, and so secure for themselves and their posterity the
These addresses to the people are followed by what may be
called three appendices, namely (1), a song which God had
commanded Moses to write (32:1-47); (2) the blessings he
pronounced on the separate tribes (ch. 33); and (3) the story of
his death (32:48-52) and burial (ch. 34), written by some other
hand, probably that of Joshua.
These farewell addresses of Moses to the tribes of Israel he
had so long led in the wilderness "glow in each line with the
emotions of a great leader recounting to his contemporaries the
marvellous story of their common experience. The enthusiasm they
kindle, even to-day, though obscured by translation, reveals
their matchless adaptation to the circumstances under which they
were first spoken. Confidence for the future is evoked by
remembrance of the past. The same God who had done mighty works
for the tribes since the Exodus would cover their head in the
day of battle with the nations of Israel, soon to be invaded.
Their great lawgiver stands before us, vigorous in his hoary
age, stern in his abhorrence of evil, earnest in his zeal for
God, but mellowed in all relations to earth by his nearness to
heaven. The commanding wisdom of his enactments, the dignity of
his position as the founder of the nation and the first of
prophets, enforce his utterances. But he touches our deepest
emotions by the human tenderness that breathes in all his words.
Standing on the verge of life, he speaks as a father giving his
parting counsels to those he loves; willing to depart and be
with God he has served so well, but fondly lengthening out his
last farewell to the dear ones of earth. No book can compare
with Deuteronomy in its mingled sublimity and tenderness."
Geikie, Hours, etc.
The whole style and method of this book, its tone and its
peculiarities of conception and expression, show that it must
have come from one hand. That the author was none other than
Moses is established by the following considerations: (1.) The
uniform tradition both of the Jewish and the Christian Church
down to recent times. (2.) The book professes to have been
written by Moses (1:1; 29:1; 31:1, 9-11, etc.), and was
obviously intended to be accepted as his work. (3.) The
incontrovertible testimony of our Lord and his apostles (Matt.
19:7, 8; Mark 10:3, 4; John 5:46, 47; Acts 3:22; 7:37; Rom.
10:19) establishes the same conclusion. (4.) The frequent
references to it in the later books of the canon (Josh. 8:31; 1
Kings 2:9; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chr. 23:18; 25:4; 34:14; Ezra 3:2;
7:6; Neh. 8:1; Dan. 9:11, 13) prove its antiquity; and (5) the
archaisms found in it are in harmony with the age in which Moses
lived. (6.) Its style and allusions are also strikingly
consistent with the circumstances and position of Moses and of
the people at that time.
This body of positive evidence cannot be set aside by the
conjectures and reasonings of modern critics, who contended that
the book was somewhat like a forgery, introduced among the Jews
some seven or eight centuries after the Exodus.