Hebrew vs. Greek Views "Blessings" and "Cursings"
Written by Brad Scott   


To be blessed in Greek thought is to receive from the gods. Favorable conditions in war, weather, and finances are to be blessed by the gods. When a military leader is promoted, he is blessed. When financial rewards are reaped, this is a blessing. To be cursed, however, is to lose the battle or fall in financial ruin. When something seen as negative occurred, this was a curse. Curses could turn into blessings by a change in attitude toward the gods. The curses of the demiurge could be reversed through proper adoration. Simply put, blessings are when good things happen and curses are when bad things happen. Good and bad are relative, of course. If a violent thunderstorm suddenly occurred that evening, it was the direct result of displeasing the gods that afternoon.


In Hebrew thought, blessings are synonymous with obedience and curses to disobedience, and are not tied to good or bad circumstances. In other words, the blessing comes at the moment of obedience, and so with the curse. Something good or bad happening could be the result of a myriad of circumstances totally unrelated to recent obedience or disobedience. The word of YHWH promises blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. This is what we know. I will illustrate with an old Rabbinical tale. In a village in northern Europe in the 11th century, there was an old Rabbi that everyone sought for wisdom. One day a white horse strays into the village. That evening the butcher's house burns to the ground. The villagers go to the Rabbi and say,"Rabbi, we have been cursed, for this morning a white horse came to town and Schlomo's house burned to the ground. What do we do?" "What!" says the Rabbi, "all you know is that a horse came to town." The next day the horse left the tiny village and that evening the butcher found a large sum of money buried underneath his burned house.

The villagers came to the Rabbi and said, "We have been blessed, for the horse left and Schlomo can now build a new house." "What!" said the Rabbi, "all you know is that the horse left and Schlomo found some money." The next day the horse returned and Schlomo's son fell and broke his leg. The villagers came to the Rabbi and said, "We have been cursed, for the horse has returned and Levi's leg is broken." "What curse?" said the Rabbi, "all you know is that the horse came back and Levi broke his leg." The next day the horse left and the village went to war with the neighboring village, and most of the young men were killed. The rest of the village came to the Rabbi and said, "Rabbi, Schlomo has been blessed, for the horse has left and Levi's life was spared because he could not go to war due to his broken leg!" And on and on and on it goes.