Execration (אָלָה, alah', Jer 42:18; Jer 44:12; a "curse" or "oath," abstractly, as elsewhere) is properly the representative of the Greek word κατάρα, which occurs (in the verb καταράομαι) in the Sept. at Nu 23:8; Nu 24:9; Jos 6:26; 1Sa 17:43, etc., as a rendering of various Hebrews terms (אָרִר, זָעִם, קִלֵּל, etc.), and also in the N.T. ("curse," Mt 5:44; Mr 2:21, etc.). It is used also in profane authors to denote the imprecations which it was customary among ancient nations to pronounce upon their enemies for the purpose of calling down the divine wrath, branding them with infamy, and exciting against them the passions of the multitude. By this means they also devoted their enemies to the ruin they considered them to deserve. These imprecations were chiefly pronounced by priests, enchanters, or prophets. SEE BALAAM. The Athenians made use of them against Philip of Macedon. They convened an assembly, in which it was decreed that all statues, inscriptions, or festivals among them, in any way relating to him or his ancestors, should be destroyed, and every other possible reminiscence of him profaned; and that the priests, as often as they prayed for the success of the Athenian affairs, should pray for the ruin of Philip. It was also customary, both among the Greeks and Romans, after having destroyed cities in war, the revival of whose strength they dreaded, to pronounce execrations upon those who should rebuild them. Strabo observes that Agamemnon pronounced execrations on those who should rebuild Troy, as Croesus did against those who should rebuild Sidena; and this mode of execrating cities Strabo calls an ancient custom (κατὰ παλαιὸν ἔθος, 13, page 898, edit. 1707). The Romans published a decree full of execrations against those who should rebuild Carthage (Zonaras, Annal.). An incident somewhat analogous is related (Jos 6:26) after the taking of Jericho. From the words "and Joshua adjured them at that time," it is likely that he acted under a divine intimation that Jericho should continue in ruins, as a monument of the divine displeasure and a warning to posterity. The words "cursed be the
man (the individual) before the Lord that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho," although transformed into an execration by the word supplied by the translators, amount to no more than a prediction that "he shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it," that is, he shall meet with so many impediments to his undertaking that he shall outlive all his children, dying in the course of nature before he shall complete it. SEE JERICHO. Execrations were also pronounced upon cities and their inhabitants before undertaking a' siege (Macrobius has preserved two of the ancient forms used in reference to the destruction of Carthage, Saturnal. 3:9), and before engaging with enemies in war. Tacitus relates that the priestesses of ancient Britain devoted their Roman invaders to destruction with imprecations, ceremonies, and attitudes, which for a time overwhelmed the soldiers with terror (Anal. 14:29). The execrations in the 83d Psalm, probably written on the occasion of the confederacy against Jehoshaphat, and other instances of a like nature, partake of the execrations of the heathen in nothing but form, being the inspired predictions or denunciations of divine vengeance against the avowed enemies of the God of Israel, notwithstanding the proofs they had witnessed of his supremacy; and the object of these imprecations, as in many other instances, is charitable, namely, their conversion to the true religion (verse 18; see also Ps 59:12). SEE ANATHEMA; SEE IMPRECATION.