Verse 26. Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." Many will think this arrangement fanciful; and the analogy far from being natural.
2. In pronouncing these blessings and curses, the Talmud says, six tribes went up towards the top of Mount Gerizim, and six towards the top of Mount Ebal; and the priests and the Levites, and the ark stood beneath in the midst. The priests encompassed the ark, and the Levites stood around about the priests; and all Israel on this side and on that; see Joshua 8:
33. Then they turned their faces towards Mount Gerizim and pronounced the blessings, Blessed be the man, &c., and those on each side answered AMEN! then they turned their faces towards Mount Ebal, and pronounced the curse, Cursed be the man, &c., and those on each side answered AMEN! till they had finished the blessings and the curses; and afterwards they brought stones and built an altar. Some suppose that the Levites were divided into two grand bodies, part standing at or on Mount Gerizim, and part on Mount Ebal, and that with each division were some of the priests.
The whole Dr. Parry supposes to have been arranged in the following manner:- 3. It is worthy of remark that Moses assigns to the children of Rachel and Leah, the two mothers of the family, the office of blessing the people, as being the most honourable; and these he places on Mount Gerizim. On the contrary, he assigns the office of cursing the people to the sons of Zilpah and Bilhah, as being the least honourable office; but with these he joins Zebulun, the youngest of Leah's sons, and Reuben, the eldest. As there must be six tribes on each mountain, it was necessary that while six of the sons of Rachel and Leah, the legitimate wives, should be employed in blessing, two tribes descending from the same mothers should be joined to the other four who proceeded from the handmaids in order to make up the number six. The question is, which two of the more honourable tribes should be joined to the four least honourable, in order to complete the number six? Zebulun is chosen, because being the sixth and youngest of all Leah's sons, he was the least honourable of those who proceeded from the free woman; and Reuben is chosen, who, though the eldest of Jacob's sons, and entitled to the birthright, had lost it by his transgression. And hence he, in his posterity, was degraded, and was obliged to pronounce the curse, Cursed is he that lieth with his father's wife. See Gen. xlix. 3, 4, and xxxv. 22, and the notes on both places.
4. It is strange how long the disgrace consequent on some flagrant transaction of a parent may cleave to his posterity! See this exemplified in the posterity of Reuben. Hence, with great propriety we may pray, Remember not, Lord, our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins."-Litany. For the offenses of our forefathers may be so remembered against their posterity, that God, in the course of his providence, may still keep up a controversy in secular matters with the descendants (though even pious) of unholy ancestors; for as all men are seminally included in the parents, they come into the world depraved with their depravity, and in some sort liable to their curses, though not so far as to affect their eternal interests without the addition of their own personal offenses. Thus God may be said to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generation; as he may have a controversy with the land for the evil which has been done in it, and for which no proper atonement has been made. Why is it that at this moment Spain is suffering the most afflictive and cruel desolations? What has she done to merit all this? Is she more wicked than all the European nations because she suffers such things? Here is the mystery: Nations, as such, can only be punished in this world. Look at the torrents of innocent blood shed by their ancestors in South America 300 years ago; and see now and adore the awful hand of retributive justice! (December, 1811.) We often see persons tried and afflicted, for whose distresses we can give no legitimate reason. We find others who, though they rise early, sit up late, work hard, eat the bread of carefulness, and have a full knowledge of their business, yet never get on in life. Who can account for this? Shall we say that some injustice in their ancestors has brought down the displeasure of God upon the earthly possessions that descended in that line, so that the goods ill gotten shall never be permitted to multiply? I knew an honest man, dead many years since, who by great diligence, punctuality, and integrity in his business, had acquired considerable property. Some time before his death, having by will divided his substance among his sons and his daughters, he expressed himself thus: "Children, you need not fear the curse of God on this property; every penny of it was honestly earned." Many years have since elapsed, and the blessing of God has been in the basket and in the store of all his children. Parents! leave nothing behind you that you cannot say before your God, with a clear conscience, "This has been honestly earned." If all bequests of a contrary description were to be deducted from last wills and testaments, the quantum of descending property would be, in many cases, small indeed.