Wednesday, November 10, 2010


In the Septuagint, "anathema/cursed" is used to describe those cities/people/objects which are wholly devoted to the Lord. And frequently, they are devoted to complete destruction (e.g. Num. 21:3, Dt. 7:26, 13:16, 20:17, Josh. 6:17-18, 7:1-13).

Paul uses this word when he says that he wishes he could be "cursed" from Christ for the sake of the Jews (Rom. 9:3) and then later with regard to those who do not love the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 16:22, cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). The only other use of the word seems to be in Galatians 1 where Paul is describing those who preach another gospel (Gal. 1:8-9).


Joseph Hansen said...

Could you provide a couple cites for this claim: "In the Septuagint, 'anathema/cursed' is used to describe those cities/people/objects which are wholly devoted to the Lord."

This is an interesting insight you have uncovered, but with the citations it will (hopefully) make more sense.

It's confusing why a person who is "wholly devoted to the Lord" would be described as accursed/anathema. Do you have any explanation in mind as to what that is?

Toby said...

Sure, Leviticus 27:28 describes offerings from man and beast that are wholly devoted to the Lord (they are holy to Him) which are either killed or redeemed.

Also in Joshua 6:18-19, the silver and gold from Jericho is "devoted" to the Lord and so it is to go into His treasury.

Interestingly, Jericho is "devoted" (Josh. 6:17) to be completely destroyed, but the treasures are "devoted" to the Lord's treasury. Of course Achan takes some of the "devoted" treasure and so becomes "devoted" (Josh. 7:12-13)and then he and his family get completely destroyed (like Jericho).

And actually, with regard to your question, I wonder if Paul actually has the Achan story in mind when he applies the word anathema to people preaching a false gospel.

Tyler Ray said...

On a related point, swords, fire, and stones are implements of devoting something to the Lord. Swords are used to cut up an offering and it is burned with fire on a stone altar.

Swords and fire are used when a city is being devoted to the Lord (cf. Deut 3:6)

When God kills Nadab and Abihu he uses fire (lev 10), and when he kills the 250 men offering incense in his judgment against Korah (Num 16).

When someone is killed under the Law, they are stoned, and what is left is a pile of rocks, which makes an altar.

So God's enemies are sacrifices.

But at the same time, God's people are sacrifices.

We are to be cut up with the sword of the Spirit, and made worthy sacrifices. Fire fell on the Church at Pentecost, and the fire still burns in the Temple that is the Church.

The earth is the Lord's altar; and everything, good or evil, will be sacrificed to Him.

Tons more could be said about this, but this isn't my blog.

Tyler Ray