There are 14 different original words used in the Bible that are translated “curse.” Ten of them are in the Hebrew and found in the Old Testament; four are in the Greek and are found in the New Testament. Below is a complete list of them and their definition, as well as their Strong’s Concordance number, though not all of the definitions came from Strong’s; some were from assorted Lexicons. After the list, I will expound on some of the prominent meanings.
Hebrew Words (O.T.):
- Qalal (7043), means “to be lessened, to be despised, to make light of.” Used 130 times.
- Arar (779), means “to bind with a spell, to hem in with obstacles.” Used 63 times.
- Alah (423) The word used for the curse of breaking the covenant.
- Qabab (6895), means “to blaspheme, to utter a magical formula designed to utterly undo the target.” Used 15 times.
- Naqab (5344), means “to be marked, to be called by name, to blaspheme, to libel.”
- Cherem (2764) means “a devoted or dedicated object.” Used 28 times.
- Barak (1288) is translated curse only once (Job 1:11). Literally means “to bend the knee, to bow.”
- Meerah (3994) means “to execrate, to express hatred for, to loathe, to detest.”
- Shebuwah (7621) means “an oath or covenant of execration or hatred.”
- Taalah (8381) from 423, means “to invoke a curse by prayer upon.”
Greek Words (N.T.):
- Eataraomai (2672) means “to give over to ruin, to pray against.”
- Anathematizo (332) means “to declare anathema, to devote to destruction, to bind by a curse.”
- Katanathematizo (2653) is a stronger form of anathenuztizo (332).
- Epikataratos (1944) means “to be cursed upon; to be joined together.”
The Hebrew word “qalal” is found in Psalm 62:4:
They only consult to cast him down from his high position; They delight in lies; They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.
Remember, the definition of qalal is “to be lessened.” Being around people that lessen and make light of the things of God or His messengers is a dangerous thing. They did this with Jesus in His own hometown. They lessened Him by saying, “This is just Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph, a carpenter’s son. He’s no better than the rest of us” (Mark 6:3). By stripping Jesus of the prophet’s honor, they placed a curse upon their city and Jesus could do no mighty work or miracle there.
When God says, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15), some do not take Him very serious. However, God takes it very serious. Do not involve yourself in this ungodly activity. Read the story of Miriam and Aaron coming against their brother Moses in Numbers 12.
The Hebrew word “arar” is found in Malachi 3:8-9:
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
When I was pastoring in Kentucky, one of the churches in our small town went through an armed robbery during their offering time. One might ask, “What kind of a person would be low enough to dare rob God?” The answer to that question can be found in pews all over the Body of Christ. Their robbery might not be as dramatic or conspicuous, but it is far more serious in the eyes of God! It is one thing for the devil’s children to rob God, it is quite another for His own children.
Arar means to “hem in with obstacles.” When a person is not tithing, he is in disobedience. He is opening the door for the devourer to came in and steal. Satan will steal through doctor’s bills, car repair bills, interest payments, on and on. This curse is far reaching into its devastation, often causing divorce, bankruptcy, and mental breakdown. Financial collapse can reduce a man to ruin.
When we are tithing, we have a right to rebuke Satan off of our finances. God’s remedy to break this curse is found in verses 10 and 11, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse … And prove Me now in this … If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out or you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes.”
Next, we will continue to look at examples in the Word of God of the remaining Hebrew and Greek words used for “curse.”