Curses are mentioned numerous times in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. In fact, the Bible starts off with God cursing the serpent as well as Adam and Eve for their sins of deceit and disobedience.
In this post, I explore the five kinds of curses you’ll come across in the Bible. I also discuss whether curses still exist today and what believers can do about them.
What You'll Learn Today
What Are Curses In The Bible?
A curse is the opposite of a blessing. While blessing someone involves pronouncing good things in their life, cursing is declaring or wishing bad things for someone.
There are many cases of people cursing each other in the Bible, such as Noah cursing his son Ham after Ham saw his father naked.
God also curses people, repeatedly, but only as a punishment for disobeying his commandments. The first curse to the Bible is to the serpent for tempting Adam and Eve.
God then curses both Adam and Eve for their disobedience.
Throughout the Old Testament, there are many other cases of God cursing the Israelites after they’ve gone against a particular commandment.
Five Kinds of Curses In The Bible
Here are the different kinds of curses you’ll find in the Bible.
1. Curse of Death
Death is the ultimate curse that God declared on humans after Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree. This introduced sin, and thus death, into the world.
In the Old Testament, the curse of death refers to literal death. In Deuteronomy 28 where God talks about the specific blessing and curses he will send to the Israelites, death is one of the curses.
Deuteronomy 28:20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
The chapter also talks about diseases, drought and war, all which result in death.
The New Testament, however, talks about death in a different way. It’s not physical death we should be worried about — that’s just a transition from this world.
The real scary curse is the eternal death that dooms us to suffer in hell forever and ever. And like all other curses in the Bible, the curse of death is a punishment for sin. It is the consequence of rejecting God and salvation.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2. Curses For Disobedience & Sin
One of the most common sins for which God cursed people in the Old Testament is disobedience. The law that God handed to Moses was the basis on which God cursed and blessed the Israelites.
Follow the commandments and you will thrive and prosper. Break the law and a multitude of curses will follow you.
I recommend you read the whole of Deuteronomy 28 for the specific curses and blessings. Here are just a couple of them.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you…
Further down in verse 15, God says that if they do not obey the voice of the Lord, “then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.”
God also pronounces curses on people for others sins like lying, adultery, idol worship and murder. For instance, Cain was cursed to be a fugitive and wanderer for murdering his brother, Abel.
3. Generational Curses
You may have heard about generational curses. People often attribute misfortune or problems in their life like alcoholism, greed, and poverty to a generational curse.
Generational curses are a thing, but not in the way many people interpret them.
The idea of generational curses is based on Exodus 20:5-6.
…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
This verse doesn’t mean that God punishes the children and grandchildren of sinners. Rather, it’s about how consequences of sin can affect later generations, the same way the fruits of obeying his commands can extend for generations.
For example, children of an alcoholic or abusive parent will suffer because of their parent’s sin.
God makes this clear in Ezekiel. There was a popular proverb in Israel that said, “The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
God vehemently refutes this statement, saying in Ezekiel 20:4, “The one who sins is the one who will die.”
By the way, we can again see here that death is the ultimate curse for sin.
One of the things that people get right about generational curses is that we can break from them. We can pray to God to give us the strength, discipline and wisdom to escape the consequences of the sins of our parents and grandparents.
4. The Curse of The Law
Galatians 3:13 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”
What is this ‘curse of the law’ that Paul is talking about?
You may have noticed that curses and blessings in the Old Testament were based entirely on the law.
Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.
It is this curse of the law that Paul is referring to. It’s the same curse that Jesus came to set us free from. Paul continues in the same chapter saying that now we live under faith.
It’s no longer our adherence to a set of rules or our works that will gain us salvation; rather, it is our faith. The curse of the law no longer exists because Jesus died on the cross.
That doesn’t mean there’s no consequence for disobeying God. Remember there’s still the curse of eternal death that befalls anyone who rejects God.
5. Self-imposed Curses
We’ve read about God cursing people in the Bible. There are also stories of people cursing people.
There’s also such a thing as cursing God, which refers to rejecting God’s power and salvation. Job’s wife tried to get him to curse God.
But can we also curse ourselves?
Yes, you can definitely curse yourself. Remember that cursing doesn’t require any special divine power. It’s simply declaring bad things on your life or someone else’s.
The Bible is clear on the power of words.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death.
James 3:9-10 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.
Not only can you curse yourself, you can also curse other people, which is a sin according to the Bible (Matthew 5:22). That’s why it’s important to be extremely careful with your words.
Speak good things about yourself and other people such as your kids.
Do Curses Exist Today?
Curses are not some ancient thing that only took place in the Bible. Curses still exist today.
These curses are in the form of consequences of sin. And the ultimate curse or consequence is eternal death.
As we have also discussed above, we can also curse each other or ourselves with the words of our mouth.
Does that mean we should constantly live in fear of being cursed? Afterall, if anyone has the power to curse, what’s to prevent our enemies from wishing us bad things?
The good news is, if you are a believer, there is nothing to worry about.
How To Protect Yourself From Curses
If you live a righteous life, keep your faith strong, and constantly repent your sins, God will protect you from any curses.
Remember that Satan could not touch Job without God’s permission because Job was a righteous man.
Job 1:10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
God offers the same protection for his children who remain steadfast in faith.
Most importantly, he offers the ultimate blessing: the gift of everlasting life (the opposite of the curse of death).
If you encounter anyone cursing you, don’t fret or curse them in return. Jesus tells us what to do in such situations.
Luke 6:27-28 But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.