Bible Term: Curse

In modern usage, curse is generally considered synonymous with swear.

In the Bible curse takes on different meanings, such as to invoke misfortune, to afflict, to make an oath, and to insult, as well as to swear. Here are some ways curse is used in the Bible:

Curses, or ill-will, can be given to people (Canaan in Genesis 9:25), the disobedient (Jeremiah 11:3), a house (Job 5:3), animals (the serpent in Genesis 3:14), plants (the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14), and earth (Isaiah 24:6); the ground (Genesis 3:17); and the land (Hebrews 6:8).

Curse is the opposite of bless, Luke 6:28 and Romans 12:14.

Curse can also mean “to swear at” (Goliath cursed David), 1 Samuel 17:43.

When Peter denied knowing Jesus he swore and called down curses on himself, Matthew 26:74 and Mark 14:71.

A curse is sometimes the self-imposed penalty for failing to keep a promise or oath, Nehemiah 10:29 or Numbers 5:21.