How Jesus Saves Us By Becoming a Curse


“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

– Deuteronomy 21:22–23

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’”

– Galatians 3:13

What does the curse of this obscure law buried in the book of Deuteronomy have to do with Jesus’ death on the cross? Everything!

How Does This Law Relate to a Modern Christian?

Christians today are often confused by how old covenant law relates to life in the new covenant under Christ. Some wish to apply the Mosaic law to today’s context in the same manner it was applied in ancient Israel. Others consider the law completely inapplicable and effectively deny its use for 21st century life. However, neither of these methods properly shows how the Mosaic law finds its ultimate fulfillment in the work of Jesus Christ, illuminates the glory of his death, and helps Christians gain a deeper understanding of the cost of their salvation.

This article will analyze the law of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and connect how the elements of execution, cursing, and land defilement relate to the death of Jesus Christ. An audience familiar with the general shape of redemption history outlined in Scripture, along with its specialized vocabulary, is assumed.

The argument that follows will begin with interpreting the meaning of the law in its original context, examining events in ancient Israel that illuminate concepts mentioned in the law (particularly cursing, hanging, and land defilement), recognizing the connections between the death of Jesus and the law, and how the law relates to modern Christians through Christ.

The goal is that through a careful examination of the curse of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and its application to Jesus, contemporary Christian believers can better understand how the curse contained in this particular law actually provides the blessing of salvation.

The Significance of Deut. 21:22-23 for Israel

Covenant Context

In order to understand the significance of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 for Israel, it must first be seen in its covenant context. At this point in redemption history, Yahweh has delivered Israel from its Egyptian oppression, ratified the covenant with them at Sinai, established worship and sacrifice, and led them to the edges of the Promised Land. After failing to trust Yahweh’s promised victory over the Canaanites, Yahweh doomed Israel to wander 40 years in the wilderness until the entire generation 20 years and older who failed to trust at Kadesh-barnea have died. Once that judgment period passed, Moses led them once again to the borders of the Promised Land. It is here, on the plains of Moab and on the verge of entry, Moses delivers the words of Deuteronomy that focus primarily on covenant life in the new land.

Context Within Deuteronomy

The 21st chapter of Deuteronomy lies within the broader section of Moses’ Second Address (Deut. 4:44-28:68) which looks forward to how Israel should govern itself under the covenant once it enters the Promised Land. Examining the near context of our passage shows some thematic connections. Chapter 21 begins with a procedure that atones for the land in case of an unsolved murder. Under the Mosaic covenant, the shedding of innocent blood is one event that “pollutes” or “defiles” the land. Atonement for the land is normally made via the execution of the murderer. However, if the murderer cannot be identified, a heifer can be killed to make atonement for the land.

Deut. 21:18-21, the passage preceding the one we will examine, addresses the issue of an unrepentant, rebellious child who must be put to death by stoning. This violation of the Fifth Commandment requires execution and, as noted by Richard Nelson, forms a topical connection and lead in to 21:22-23. [1] It also reminds us that stoning was the most common form of execution in ancient Israel, an important element for understanding the meaning of our passage which will be discussed later.

Interpreting Deuteronomy 21:22-23 for Ancient Israel

The main concern of the Deuteronomy 21:22-23 law is maintaining the purity of the land the Lord is giving to Israel. The law reads,

“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance” (ESV).

The readers are reminded that the land is a gift from Yahweh as an inheritance. This is the land promised to Abraham and his descendents and is the land where Yahweh’s presence will dwell. The corpse of an executed person put to death under the covenant that hangs past sundown pollutes the land of Israel’s inheritance.

Land Pollution?

The issue of land pollution is a serious concern, especially for the nation of Israel who is on the verge of commencing Yahweh’s judgment upon the Canaanites. In the holiness code of Leviticus 18, God’s people are warned against certain sexual practices that will pollute the land. In fact, Yahweh states clearly that it is these sexual practices by which the Canaanites have already polluted the land. In anthropomorphic language, such pollution then causes the land to “vomit out” its inhabitants, a sign of rejection and judgment via death or exile. [2] The Israelites are warned that if they commit the same kinds of immorality as the Canaanites, the land will “vomit” them out as well.

Other acts that defile the land include the murder of an innocent person [3] and worship of idols. [4] Similarly, allowing a corpse to hang overnight defiled the land and risked divine retribution. Therefore, Israel must take caution that it does not repeat the errors of the Canaanites and fall under similar judgment.

Exactly how a hanging corpse defiles the land has been a source of disagreement among scholars. Duane Christiansen sees the issue as the dead body decomposing and causing ritual uncleanness as it comes into contact with the land. [5] Peter Craigie believes the defilement is caused both by decomposition and in an undefined “symbolic” sense. [6] Gerhard von Rad understands the hanging body as a threat to cultic purity resulting in a poor harvest but does not explain the means by which the defilement is transmitted. [7]

However the defiling of the land is best understood in quite a different sense than these views. If the touching of the dead body to the land was ultimately the issue, greater precautions in hanging the body would be needed to avoid contact with the ground. Since none are given, it seems best to understand defilement in an “imputed” sense, in the same manner in which immorality and false worship also rendered the land polluted. Thus, since the body itself was cursed by God, allowing it to hang for a time past sunset transmitted the effects of that curse via imputation to the land and rendered it defiled in the sight of God.

Understanding God’s Curse

Although preserving the purity of the land was the major focus of the law, understanding that a hanging body indicates a curse is an important fact for consideration. Yet identifying the nature of the curse is grammatically difficult. Scholars recognize that the original Hebrew phrase “a curse of God” can be translated in both an objective genitive and subjective genitive sense. Kelli O’Brien clarifies the meaning of the various renderings: “A curse of God can be taken as subjective genitive, that is, God curses the one hanged, or it can be taken as objective genitive, that is, a hanged person curses God.” [8] O’Brien goes on to note that the objective genitive form is preferred by most Jewish interpreters and can mean a hanged person had cursed God and is punished by hanging or, alternatively, that the hanging of a body is an affront to God. The final option, the subjective genitive, means that God curses the one who is hanged and is the meaning the apostle Paul uses in Galatians 3:13. [9]

Deciding upon the correct meaning of the curse requires interpreters to look for clues in the rest of Scripture. In Moshe Bernstein’s analysis of the Rabbinical tradition surrounding the exegesis of Deut. 21:23, he confirms the Septuagint as the oldest source of the subjective genitive option. [10] Although Rabbinical tradition prior to the Septuagint seemed to be in favor of the objective genitive rendering, the Christian interpreter must turn to the New Testament for the interpretive key. Since the apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, understood the curse phrase in a subjective genitive sense, that interpretation must be preferred. Therefore, the correct understanding of the law is that those who break the covenant in a way that demands execution and are then hanged for public display are considered cursed by God. This rendering is consistent with the stipulations found in Deuteronomy 27:16-26 which pronounce a curse upon various forms of covenant breaking including sexual immorality, murder, and dishonoring one’s parents.

The Significance of Hanging a Body After Execution

This idea of hanging after execution is foreign to modern readers. As mentioned earlier, the preferred method of execution in ancient Israel was stoning; thus the act of hanging was not the means of execution. However there is some disagreement as to what form of hanging is meant. J. G. McConville presents the majority view and describes the hanging as “some form of impalement of the body, in a custom that was widespread in the ancient world….The intention was a public shaming of the criminal (cf. Josh. 10:26-27), apparently designed to show that he was under the curse of God.” [11]

Jeffrey Tigay offers an alternate explanation from Jewish tradition: “According to the Mishnah a gibbet (a pole with a horizontal beam) was erected and the dead man’s hands were bound and slung over the beam, leaving his body suspended. The translation ‘impale on a stake’ is based on Assyrian practice. Whatever the exact means, exposure served to degrade the criminal and warn others against similar conduct, and was perhaps originally intended as well to deprive him of proper burial.” [12]

Since relevant passages in the Old Testament do not give us any details on the exact method of hanging, we can assume it was unimportant. The emphasis is on the hanged person as one cursed by God. This could either be as an Israelite covenant-breaker or, as we will see in Joshua’s case, foreign rulers considered cursed by Yahweh as enemies of Israel.

Examples of Hanging in Ancient Israel

The Five Amorite Kings

Included in the promises to Abraham is the guarantee that Yahweh Himself will curse any who dishonor Abraham and his descendants. [13] As Joshua leads the armies of Israel to take the Promised Land, the king of Ai and the Amorite kings rise up to oppose Israel and therefore Yahweh Himself as their divine judge. After the eventual fall of Ai to the Israelite forces, Joshua takes the body of the king of Ai, presumably dead already since the text reads that all the inhabitants had been struck by the sword, and hangs him on a tree until evening. When evening arrives, his body is removed and buried under a pile of stones. [14] Joshua therefore becomes the first to apply the law of Deuteronomy 21:22-23, albeit to a foreign king.

The application of the law by Joshua to an enemy outside the covenant shows that he saw the king of Ai as one cursed by God. Joshua then repeats this process with the five Amorite kings who hide in a cave. After their armies are defeated, Joshua removes the kings from the cave, puts them to death, and then hangs them until evening. When evening comes, the bodies are taken down and thrown back into the cave. [15] The pattern of putting to death, hanging, and taking the bodies down at the evening of the same day follows the pattern of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 exactly. Joshua sees these foreign kings, representatives of the wicked Canaanites occupying the Promised Land, as cursed by God.

The Unfaithful Israelite Chiefs

Examples of this kind of hanging unfortunately included members of the covenant community of Israel as well. Since the false prophet Balaam could not succeed in directly pronouncing a curse upon Israel at Balak’s request, he forms a plan to entice Israel to break covenant with Yahweh and thereby bring a curse upon them through their own actions. [16] At Shittim on the plains of Moab, many of the Israelites accept the invitation of the Moabite women to worship Baal and commit sexual immorality with them.

In response, the Lord commands Moses to “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the Lord, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” [17] Although 24,000 of the offenders die by divine plague, Yahweh singles out the chiefs of the peoples as representative offenders for hanging. Additionally, Yahweh states that the hanging will turn His anger away from Israel. Thus, in this case, the act of publicly displaying the representative covenant breakers by hanging functions as a vehicle to appease Yahweh’s anger.

Saul’s Sons

The connection between hanging and turning away Yahweh’s judgment upon Israel is once again seen in the time of David. In 2 Samuel 21, David inquires of the Lord as to why the land was experiencing famine for three years. Yahweh replies that the famine is a response to the innocent blood Saul shed of the Gibeonites who were protected from harm by Israel under an oath sworn hundreds of years prior by Joshua. [18] As recompense, David allows the Gibeonites to hang seven of Saul’s sons.

However, Yahweh does not respond to the plea for the land until both the bones of Saul’s hanged sons and the bones of Saul and Jonathan are buried. Avenging innocent blood was not enough to remove the famine since David failed to enforce the law of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and allowed the corpses of Saul’s sons to hang longer than the time allotted under the law. It is only when the bones are buried that Yawheh removes the famine from the land. [19]

Connections Between Deut. 21:22-23 And Jesus’ Execution

The relationship between Deuteronomy 21:22-23, its outworking within ancient Israel, and the death of Jesus is one of comparison and contrast. Under the old covenant, execution and hanging as a curse are separate events as we have seen. Stoning is the means of execution and hanging follows as a symbol of the cursed state of the criminal.

Jesus Bears the Penalty for Covenant Breaking

However, since Jesus’ death on the cross is the means of execution, the concepts of capital punishment for covenant breaking and public hanging as a curse become united in one event. The procedure of same-day burial is also seen in Joseph of Arimathea’s request to bury Jesus when evening arrived. [20] However, several other connections are revealed by examining the humiliation of Jesus’ curse-bearing death, the defiling of the land via the shedding of innocent blood, and the rejection of Jesus as rightful king over the Promised Land.

Jesus as the Rejected King

Looking back at the judged Canaanite kings of the Promised Land in the time of Joshua, one can make connections between that ancient situation and Jesus’ death. The issue involves rightful kingship. As enemies of Israel, both the king of Ai and the Amorite kings were cursed under the Abrahamic covenant. They led tribes that defiled Yahweh’s land through idolatrous and immoral practices which brought them under judgment and curse. They were not the rightful rulers of that land and because of their rebellion against Yahweh, they deserved the penalty of execution and hanging.

In contrast, as chosen seed of Abraham, heir of King David, and Son of God, Jesus had legitimate kingly rights to the entire Promised Land. [21] As a faithful son who never broke any of Yahweh’s covenant stipulations, there was no lawful reason for Jesus’ execution. Yet the nation of Israel in Jesus’ day, in contrast to the nation under Joshua, failed to recognize the true authority over them and their land. Instead, in both an ironic and tragic exchange, they demand the execution of Jesus, rejecting him as rightful king and proclaiming their allegiance instead to the pagan Caesar. [22] Thus the innocent king of Israel is executed under the regime of pagan occupiers of the Promised Land and a stark contrast to Joshua’s execution of the Canaanite kings.

Jesus’ Victory Through Apparent Defeat

Although the rejection of Jesus as rightful king is tragic, it is that very act that brings about his victory, one that is greater than Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land. Joshua, as representative of Yahweh and leader of covenant Israel, has divine authority to execute the pagan kings of Canaan. Operating under divine mandate, the Canaanite kings must be destroyed if Joshua is to faithfully carry out his mission of judgment and conquest.

Conversely, Jesus bears a divine mandate to be executed on behalf of his people. [23] Instead of leading earthly armies in victorious conquest over the pagan Roman occupiers and driving them from the Promised Land, Jesus leads a greater conquest through his own execution. This conquest will achieve not only the redemption of the elect among Israel, but also far beyond the borders of the Promised Land to the chosen Gentiles living throughout the world. Thus Jesus’ victory is much greater in scope than Joshua’s.

Israel Punished For the Death of Jesus Through Exile from the Land

Even though Jesus followed a divine mandate to be executed on behalf of his people, it is hard to imagine Yahweh not holding Israel faultless for the murder of His innocent Son. As mentioned earlier, under the Mosaic covenant, the shedding of innocent blood caused the defilement of the land. By indicting Jesus through false witnesses, exchanging Jesus for the murderous Barabbas, rejecting Jesus for the pagan Caesar, and handing Jesus over to be executed by the Romans, the Israelite nation would have become cursed for the shedding of innocent blood.

However, the shedding of innocent blood can only be atoned under the Mosaic covenant through the execution of the perpetrators. Since no righteous government existed to bring about such justice, could it be that Yahweh Himself judged Israel through their destruction as a nation by the hands of the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70? With its destruction of both nation and temple, it is possible that Israel is thus “vomited” out of the land they have defiled through the murder of the innocent and divine Son of God. [24] Even though there is no undisputed Biblical witness to this historical event, [25] given the seriousness of land defilement under the old covenant and the importance of Jesus as the divine God-man, it is not hard to see the destruction of national Israel as judgment for such an act.

Curse Bearing to Turn Away God’s Wrath

The final connection between the hanging of Jesus and the outworking of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in ancient Israel involves the aspect of curse bearing in order to turn away the wrath of Yahweh. As noted earlier in the incident of Baal worship at Peor, Yahweh ordered the chiefs of the people hung to turn away His anger at their covenant-breaking sins of idolatry and immorality. Jesus’ work on the cross follows a similar concept. The apostle Paul states in Galatians 3:13 that:

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’”

– Galatians 3:13

Since Jesus never broke any of Yaweh’s covenant stipulations, his hanging is not punishment for his own sins. Instead he hangs as a representative in the place of sinful, covenant-breaking Israel. By death on a cross, Jesus vicariously receives both covenant execution and the curse for the actual covenant breakers.

In Yahweh’s salvific economy, someone must bear the curse demanded under the law for the breaking of His covenant. If Israel paid this price herself, no redemption would be possible as they would merely experience the judgment of their own wrongdoing. Justice would be served but not redemption. Through the concept of covenant representation, the faithful Jesus trades places with unfaithful Israel in order to bear the curse for those he came to redeem from under the penalty of the law. [26] Such curse bearing effectively removes the wrath of Yahweh against those Jesus redeems. Jesus thus becomes a victorious king, not through the purging of the Promised Land from Gentile occupiers, but through freeing his redeemed subjects, bound in slavery under the curse of the law, who are unable to free themselves.

The Significance of Deut. 21:22-23 for Christian’s Today

As noted, Jesus’ curse-bearing work on the cross accomplished the salvation of those cursed under the law. But are all those cursed under the law redeemed? An examination of Paul’s argument in Galatians, and especially the 3rd chapter, will clarify who the apostle has in mind when he states “Christ redeems us from the curse of the law.”

Jesus Bears the Penalty for Our Covenant Breaking

First, it is important to notice who Paul says the curse is for. Citing Deuteronomy 27:26, Paul reminds his readers that the law specifically states “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Therefore, the curse is for covenant breakers. So does Paul imply that covenant keepers will avoid the curse? On the contrary, the apostle declares that “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” [27] and “that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” [28]

Not only is the curse of the law for covenant breakers, it is also for those who seek redemption through the works of the law as a substitute for faith. By showing that justification cannot happen under the law, Paul demonstrates that the only way one can avoid the curse of the law is through faith in Jesus as substitute curse bearer.

Everyone Has Broken God’s Universal Law

One might then ask, how do the Gentiles operate under this economy since they technically were not a part of Yahweh’s covenant and therefore not under law? Paul suggests that the answer lies not in the Mosaic covenant but in the promises to Abraham. The core of Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:14-29 consists of showing his readers that Yahweh’s promises to Abraham came far before the Mosaic law and were not nullified by the law. [29] In fact, the law, Paul says, was introduced to “imprison” everyone under sin as captives until Christ came to free his redeemed people from the confines of the law. Therefore, the law was never meant as a salvific device.

Instead, the law revealed the sinfulness of humanity and the need for a redeemer from the curses brought through the law. Thus, through faith in Christ, even Gentiles can partake of the promises made to Abraham. Without faith in Christ, the Gentiles stand condemned not under the Mosaic law of Israel, but under the everlasting and universal law of God written on their conscience. [30] It is from this law that Christ provides redemption.

The Blessings Promised to Abraham Flow to Gentile Believers Through Jesus

Finally, it is important to note how the blessing of Abraham flows to the Gentiles through Israel. Since Jesus is the ultimate offspring of Abraham, the blessing comes through his saving work on the cross. Additionally, as Jesus’ “New Israel” redeemed from under the law, the Twelve Apostles form a reconstituted Israel, washed clean from their covenant-breaking sin via faith in the death of Jesus on their behalf.

Their task, given by the victorious Jesus, is delivering the gospel of salvation through Christ to the corners of the earth. [31] Instead of bearing the curse of the covenant, the redeemed Apostles carry the blessing of Abraham to the nations in Christ. Through the death of Jesus and the missionary activity of the New Israel, Yahweh fulfills His promise to bless the nations through Abraham’s descendants. [32] Christians today receive the blessing of salvation through faith in Christ. Additionally, they also partake in the missionary mandate of the New Israel. Through Christ’s curse-bearing work on the cross, the promise of Abraham is carried via the gospel through Christians to a world still under the judgment of the law.


Through the rejection of Jesus as rightful king leading to his curse-bearing work on the cross, the blessing of Abraham is able to flow to the Gentiles. By understanding the original meaning of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 and observing its outworking in ancient Israel, Christians today can come to a deeper understanding of what Jesus accomplished at the cross and how he turns a curse upon himself into a blessing for others.

By dying under the law, Jesus redeems those trapped under the law and unleashes the blessing of Abraham upon any who place their faith in him. The rejected King of Israel demonstrates his ultimate victory by defeating the curse through his own death. It is the blessing of this victory that Christians enjoy and must proclaim throughout the earth today.


Barton, John and John Muddiman, eds. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Bergant, Dianne and Robert J. Karris, eds. The Collegeville Bible Commentary. Collegeville, MN: The Order of Saint Benedict, Inc., 1989.

Bernstein, Moshe J.כי קללת אלחים תלױ” (Deut. 21:23): A Study in Early Jewish Exegesis.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 74, no. 1 (July 1983): 21-45.

Biddle, Mark E. Deuteronomy. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary 4. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2003.

Bonneau, Normand. “The Logic of Paul’s Argument on the Curse of the Law in Galatians 3:10-14.” Novum testamentum 39, no. 1 (1997): 60-80.

Bratcher, Robert G. A Handbook on Deuteronomy. New York: United Bible Societies, 2000.

Brown, Raymond E., Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, and Roland E. Murphy, eds. The Jerome Biblical Commentary 1. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Caneday, Ardel B. “Redeemed From The Curse of the Law” : The Use of Deut 21:22-23 in Gal 3:13.” Trinity Journal 10, no. 2 (1989): 185-209.

Christensen, Duane L. Deuteronomy 21:10-34:12. Word Biblical Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002.

Cole, Alan. The Letter of Paul to the Galatians. The Tyndale New Testament Commentary Series 9. Leicester, EN: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989.

Craigie, Peter C. The Book of Deuteronomy. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976.

Crannell, P. W. “Defile; Defilement,” Vol. 1 of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.

Donaldson, T. L. “The ‘Curse of the Law’ and the Inclusion of the Gentiles: Galatians 3.13-14.” New Testament Studies 32, (1986): 94-112.

Dunn, James D. G. The Epistle to the Galatians. Black’s New Testament Commentary. London: A & C Black (Publishers) Limited, 1993.

Guthrie, D. and J. A. Motyer, eds. The New Bible Commentary. Third ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970.

Harman, Allan M. Commentary on Deuteronomy. Geanies House, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2001.

Harrison, R. K. & Lewis, T. “Curse,” Vol. 1 of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.

Kalland, Earl S. Deuteronomy – 2 Samuel. Vol. 3 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

Luther, Martin. A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Philadelphia: Quaker City Publishing House, 1872.

Mayes, A. D. H. Deuteronomy. New Century Bible Commentary. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1979.

McConville, J. G. Deuteronomy. Apollos Old Testament Commentary 5. Leicester, EN: Inter-Varsity Press, 2002.

Merril, Eugene H. Deuteronomy. The New American Commentary 4. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994.

Motyer, J. A. “Curse,” In New Bible Dictionary, edited by J.D. Douglas, F.F. Bruce, and J.I. Packer, 256. Second ed. Leicester, EN: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982.

Moyer, J. C. “Accursed,” Vol. 1 of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.

Nelson Richard D. Deuteronomy: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.

O’Brien, Kelli S. “The Curse of the Law (Galatians 3.13): Crucifixion, Persecution, and Deuteronomy 21.22-23.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 29, no.1 (2006): 55-76.

Pelikan, Jaroslav, ed. Lectures on Deuteronomy. Vol. 9 of Luther’s Works. St. Louis: Concordia House Publishing, 1960.

Ridderbos, Jan. Deuteronomy. The Bible Student’s Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.

Tigay, Jeffrey H. Deuteronomy. JPS Torah Commentary. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996.

Von Rad, Gerhard. Deuteronomy: A Commentary. Translated by Dorothea Barton. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1964.

Wright, Christopher J. H. Deuteronomy. New International Biblical Commentary 4. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996.

Young, Norman H. “Who’s Cursed – And Why? (Galatians 3:10-14).” Journal of Biblical Literature 117, no. 1 (1998): 79-92.


[1] Nelson, Deuteronomy: A Commentary, 261-62

[2] Leviticus 18:24-30

[3] Numbers 35:30-34, Psalm 106:38

[4] Jeremiah 3:1-9

[5] Christiansen, Deuteronomy, 490.

[6] Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, 285.

[7] von Rad, Deuteronomy: A Commentary, 138.

[8] O’Brien, “The Curse of the Law (Galatians 3.13): Crucifixion, Persecution, and Deuteronomy 21.22-23.” 64.

[9] Ibid., 65.

[10] Bernstein, כי קללת אלחים תלױ” (Deut. 21:23): A Study in Early Jewish Exegesis,” 24.

[11] McConville, Deuteronomy, 332.

[12] Tigay, Deuteronomy, 198.

[13] Genesis 12:3

[14] Joshua 8:24-29

[15] Joshua 10:22-27

[16] Numbers 31:16

[17] Numbers 25:4

[18] Joshua 9:15-21

[19] 2 Samuel 21:14

[20] Mark 15:42-47

[21] Galatians 3:16, Paul argues that the language of the Abrahamic covenant points to a singular offspring which is Christ, who by nature of inheritance of the Abrahamic promises, is the rightful heir of the Promised Land.

[22] John 19:15

[23] Isaiah 53:10-11

[24] Hebrews 8:13

[25] Some see the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24 finding a near-fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem and an ultimate fulfillment at his second coming.

[26] Martin Luther describes the exchange in this way: “So making this happy change with us, he took upon him our sinful person, and gave unto us his innocent and victorious person: wherewith we being now clothed, are freed from the curse of the law.” A Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, 365

[27] Galatians 3:10

[28] Galatians 3:11

[29] Galatians 3:17

[30] Romans 2:14-16

[31] Acts 1:8

[32] Genesis 12:3

Jim Rosenquist

Jim Rosenquist

Jim is Founder, Editor, and Author at 4Elect. He holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. Jim rejoices that God chooses insignificant people to bring glory to Himself.

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