Continued from Chapter 14

(Deuteronomy 27:26)

Deuteronomy 27:26 states: “Cursed be he who does not establish the words of this law to do them.” Paul, seeking to deprecate the Torah in an effort to enhance his new belief system alleges that any person who violates a biblical commandment is eternally cursed.

He concludes that since it is inevitable that one will break a commandment one is actually cursed by the Torah, the Law of God. He writes: “For as many as depend upon works of law are under a curse; for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the Law, to do them’” (Galatians 3:10). What Paul is trying to do is substantiate his claim that man is under “the curse of the Law” and condemned by the Law, because he is unable to obey it (Galatians 3:13). But, if he is speaking to Gentiles, they never were under the law in the first place! If he is speaking to Jews his allegation is totally without merit.

Let us look at verse 26 carefully to ascertain what it is really saying. A better understanding of this verse is given by the rabbinic sages of the Talmud. They explain that the phrase “he who does not establish,” does not apply to an ordinary person breaking a commandment. It applies to the authorities in power who fail to enforce the Torah in the Land of Israel (J.T. Sotah 7:4). It is the responsibility of the nation’s leadership, under the pain of a curse, to set an example for the nation and make the Torah the guiding principle in the life of the people. Paul’s distortion of Deuteronomy 27:26 is even more evident if verse 26 refers to an individual’s obedience to the Torah. Paul’s conclusion is fallacious and downright dishonest. The Torah’s commandments include those which instruct on how to achieve atonement from sin, because God knows mankind does sin.

Obviously, all is not lost if one violates a precept of the Torah. This verse declares as cursed those who reject the offer to atone as stipulated by the Torah. This would include those who insincerely pay lip service to the atonement process, and who thereby fail to take the opportunity to rectify their relationship with God. Such a person brings a curse upon himself. The person who rejects God’s offer to repent and return to Him with a contrite heart and instead decides to lead a sinful life is cursed. Simply put, Paul twists the meaning of the verse to advance his agenda ̶ ̶ “whether in pretense or in truth” (Philippians 1:18). One is not punished simply for not abiding by every commandment for which he or she is responsible, but is punished if that person does not sincerely avail himself/herself of the atonement process.

© Gerald Sigal