This concept goes hand in hand with the concept of blessing, or being blessed. To be blessed is to be in the favor of God such that God is actively giving you good things, protecting you, and helping you. To be accursed is the opposite. The person who involves themself with something that is “accursed” is to take, like, want, or otherwise involves themselves with something that utterly has God’s disapproval.

God identifies certain things as being “accursed”. These accursed things (and those people associated with it) are things under the condemnation of God, and will shortly fall under the actual punishment of God. The concept of accursed is someone or something that is cast off from God. They (for some reason, by their decision to reject God, or because God has seen their sins and decides to reject them) are separated from God and all the goodness that is associated with God.

Rahab was taken out of the accursed city, but the city and all that were in it fell under the condemnation and punishment of God Joshua 6:17.

Josh 6:18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.

God made everything in this city “accursed”, i.e. the Israelites were not to take or rescue anything from it, not animal, not possessions, not even money, gold or silver. Think atom bomb here. Everybody and everything is destroyed and nothing is to be left for Israel’s possession.

In Joshua 7 Achan took gold from the accursed city, and this caused the wrath of God. The entire story of Achan speaks to us of an utter and explosive declaration that things are not in themselves always good. Things associated with evil, especially things gotten through evil or wicked means, retain an association with that wickedness, and therefore, even though they in themselves can be good (food, money, clothing, etc), God has declared them off limits for us. From a purely carnal view, a gold coin is a gold coin, and we should not refuse to grab it if we can (without law enforcement grabbing us for stealing). But the story of Achan teaches us that this thinking just doesn’t check with God.

Possessions gain a kind of moral association with them, and therefore we have to be careful not to grab what is morally wrong, or what is good but gotten through morally wrong means.

Isa 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

“Blessing” (a good thing) is not blessing (is not good for us) if it incures the wrath of God in the process.

Things declared accursed


The idea of being declared accursed is to have no remedy to the ills of life. In other words, the only true source of blessing and rescue from the issues of life is God. To be accursed is to have God say, “I am not at home, go away, and don’t come back”. When you enter that situation, their is utterly no hope. The problem is, is when a person that is not accursed does something to get involved with something or someone accursed, and thereby also becoming accursed by association. On the one hand, it can happen, and on the other, normal people utterly refuse and reject anything related with it because nothing good can come from it.

Illustration. Consider a large city with a nuclear power plant. Something happens and the power plant powders the entire city with radioactive dust. Everybody left things as they were, not taking anything with them. You go into the city knowing this. You pick up clothes, eat their food, and drive one of their cars, and go to jewelry shop and put on a lot of gold jewelry. What good does it do you? The more you involve yourself with anything there, the more radioactive you become. You take money from a bank and then go out of the city and start buying things, and shortly the police track you down, and put you in jail for passing off radioactive money. The people that received it also are wanting you lynched. Nothing good comes of anything related to the accursed city.

Jesus became “accursed” for us, by hanging on the cross, in order to save our souls.

Deut 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.


Deu 21:23 (c) This word represents GOD’s wrath against the sinner. It is manifest in many ways throughout the Scriptures.
– Sometimes it is a nation that is accursed.
– Sometimes it is an individual.
– Sometimes it is that which the world would call a “blessing,” for the Lord said, “I will curse your blessings,” Mal 2:2. This passage may refer to the so-called “blessings” given by great ecclesiastical leaders which frequently are cursed by GOD.

Jos 6:18 (c) In this passage all that was in the city of Jericho belonged to GOD. Not a bit of it was to be taken by any man. The word is used here to indicate that what is GOD’s property becomes an accursed thing to the one who takes it unlawfully and wrongfully.


a-kurs’-ed, a-kurst’: In the Book of Jos (Josh 6:17; Josh 6:18; Josh 7:1; Josh 7:11; Josh 7:12; Josh 7:13; Josh 7:15) and 1Ch 2:7 “accursed” (or “accursed thing” or “thing accursed”) is the King James Version rendering of the Hebrew word, cherem. The the Revised Version (British and American) consistently uses “devoted” or “devoted thing,” which the King James Version also adopts in Lev 27:21; Lev 27:28; Lev 27:29 and in Nu 18:14. “Cursed thing” is the rendering in two passages (Deut 7:26; Deut 13:17); and in one passage (Eze 44:29 the King James Version) “dedicated thing” is used. In four places the King James Version renders the word by “curse” (Josh 6:18; Isa 34:5; Isa 43:28; Mal 3:18; Mal 4:6) whilst in, another passage (Zec 14:11) “utter destruction” is adopted in translation. These various renderings are due to the fact that the word cherem sometimes means the act of devoting or banning or the condition or state resulting therefrom and sometimes the object devoted or banned. We occasionally find periphrastic renderings, e.g. 1Sa 15:21: “the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed,” the King James Version (literally, “the chief part of the ban”); 1Ki 20:42: “a man whom I appointed to utter destruction,” the King James Version (literally, “a man of my ban” (or “banning”)). The root-word meant “to separate,” “shut off.” The Arabic charim denoted the precincts of the temple at Mecca, and also the women’s apartment (whence the word “harem”).

In Hebrew the word always suggested “separating” or “devoting to God.” Just as qadhosh, meant “holy” or “consecrated to the service” of Yahweh, and so not liable to be used for ordinary or secular purposes, so the stem of cherem meant “devoting” to Yahweh anything which would, if spared, corrupt or contaminate the religious life of Israel, with the further idea of destroying (things) or exterminating (persons) as the surest way of avoiding such contamination. Everything that might paganize or affect the unique character of the religion of Israel was banned, e.g. idols (De 7:26); idolatrous persons (Ex 22:20); idolatrous cities (De 13:13-18). All Canaanite towns– where the cult of Baal flourished–were to be banned (De 20:16-18). The ban did not always apply to the gold and silver of looted cities (Jos 6:24). Such valuable articles were to be placed in the “treasury of the house of Yahweh.” This probably indicates a slackening of the rigid custom which involved the total destruction of the spoil. According to Nu 18:14, “everything devoted in Israel” belonged to Aaron, and Eze 44:29 the King James Version ordained that “every dedicated thing” should belong to the priests (compare Ezr 10:8). In the New Testament “accursed” is the King James Version rendering of ANATHEMA (which see).

Thomas Lewis




This is a Greek word untranslated in 1 Cor. 16:22; it occurs also in Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; Gal. 1:8, 9 and is uniformly translated ‘accursed.’ The solemn passage in 1 Cor. 16 is “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed, Maranatha (the Lord cometh).” In Galatians it is said that if any person or even an angel from heaven preached any other gospel than that which they had received, let him be accursed. Two solemn denunciations relating to the person of the Lord Jesus and the gospel of God.

The word anaqema was used for any votive offering in a heathen temple, which could not be redeemed; hence anything devoted. In the N.T. it is devoted to God’s curse, destruction.


• What so called
Deut 21:23; Josh 6:17; Josh 7:1; 1Chr 2:7; Isa 65:20; Gal 1:8