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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Deuteronomy 7

Verse 1

When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

Cast out many nations before thee - [Septuagint, megala, 'great' transposing the word from the end of the verse.]

The Hittites. This people were descended from Heth, the second son of Canaan (Genesis 10:15), and occupied the mountainous region about Hebron, in the south of Palestine.

The Girgashites - supposed by some to be the same as the Gergesenes (Matthew 8:28), who lay to the east of Lake Gennesareth; but they are placed on the west of Jordan (Joshua 24:11); and others take them for a branch of the large family of the Hivites, since they are omitted in nine out of ten places where the tribes of Canaan are enumerated; in the 10th instance they are mentioned, while the Hivites are not.

The Amorites - descended from the fourth son of Canaan-occupied, besides their conquest on the Moabite territory, extensive settlements west of the Dead Sea, in the mountains.

The Canaanites - were located in Phoenicia, particularly about Tyre and Sidon; and being sprung from the oldest branch of the family of Canaan, bore his name.

The Perizzites - i:e., villagers; a tribe who were dispersed throughout the country, and lived in unwalled towns.

The Hivites - who dwelt about Ebal and Gerizim, extending toward Hermon. They are supposed to be the same as the Avims.

The Jebusites - resided about Jerusalem and the adjacent country.

Seven nations greater and mightier than thou. [The Septuagint has ethnee polla kai ischurotera humoon, many and stronger than you.] But the Hebrew sign of comparison belongs to both adjectives; and the statement is, not that each of the Canaanite tribes was superior in numbers to Israel, but that collectively they were more powerful. Ten were formerly mentioned (Genesis 15:19-21). But in the lapse of almost 500 years, it cannot be surprising that some of them had been extinguished in the many intestine feuds that prevailed among those war-like tribes; and it is more than probable that some, stationed on the east of Jordan, had fallen under the victorious arms of the Israelites.

Verse 2

And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

Thou shalt ... utterly destroy them, [ hachªreem (H2763) tachªriym (H2763)] - thou shalt devote to destruction, as accursed; thou shalt exterminate them (Leviticus 27:28; Numbers 21:2; Deuteronomy 3:6). [When Yahweh threatened to destroy utterly the Israelites for the violations of His covenant, it is expressed by lªkalchaam, from kaalaach (causative of Qal), to consume, to destroy. The Septuagint has: afanismoo afanieis autous, 'thou shalt make them utterly disappear.']

Make no covenant with them. This relentless doom of extermination which God denounced against those tribes of Canaan cannot be reconciled with the attributes of the divine character, except on the assumption that their gross idolatry and enormous wickedness left no reasonable hope of their repentance and amendment. If they were to be swept away like the antediluvians, or the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, as incorrigible sinners who had filled up the measure of their iniquities, it mattered not in what way the judgment was inflicted; and God, as the Sovereign Disposer, had a right to employ any instruments that pleased Him for executing His judgments.

Some think that they were to be exterminated as unprincipled usurpers of a country which God had assigned to the posterity of Eber, and which had been occupied ages before by wandering shepherds of the Hebrew race, until, on the migration of Jacob's family into Egypt through the pressure of famine, the Canaanites overspread the whole land, though they had no legitimate claim to it, and endeavoured to retain possession of it by force. In this view their expulsion is considered by many just and proper. But Moses never justifies the invasion of Canaan by Israel upon that ground. He uniformly represents it as a free gift of God, the land which He had promised to give them, and the right to occupy which had been forfeited by a race whose unnatural sins and monstrous crimes had put them out of the pale of humanity.

The strict prohibition against contracting any alliances with such infamous idolaters was a prudential rule, founded on the experience that 'evil communications corrupt good manners,' and its importance or necessity was attested by the unhappy examples of Solomon and others in the subsequent history of Israel. But it is observable that the ban of excommunication was limited to them. And it is of the greatest consequence, in order to a right understanding of the Levitical covenant, that we guard ourselves against the error of the later Jews-that they only were to be favoured by God, or that they were too good to associate with the uncircumcised, and were even defiled if they entered into the Gentile judgment hall (cf. John 18:28; Acts 11:1-18: 'Israel after the Flesh' p. 86).

Verses 3-4

Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

Thus shall ye deal with them. It is deserving of notice that Moses, in enjoining the destruction of all the appendages of idolatry, does not specify their sacred edifices. Temples built of solid materials are met with at a later period of Jewish history. In the age of Moses the houses of the pagan deities were only groves-sequestered places formed by an enclosure of trees-consecrated ground, such as the Greeks called temenos.

And break down their images, [ uwmatseebotaam (H4676) tªshabeeruw (H7665)] - ye shall shiver their upright statues. [Septuagint, tas steelas].

And cut down their groves, [ wa-'Asheeyreehem (H842) tªgadee`uwn (H1438)] - ye shall hew down their asherahs, either the symbol of Ashtoreth (Astarte) a wooden erection of great height fixed in the ground (Deuteronomy 16:21; (Gesenius, sub voce; Selden 'De Diis Syris,' 2:2; Spencer, 'De Leg. Hebraeor.,' 1. 2:, 16) [Septuagint, ta alsee], or cippi, wooden columns consecrated to Baal (see the note at Exodus 34:13).

And burn their graven images with fire, [ uwpciyleeyhem (H6456)] - their carved images (see the note at Exodus 20:4). [Septuagint, ta glupta.] The removal of the temples, altars, and everything that had been enlisted in the service, or might tend to perpetuate the remembrance, of Canaanite idolatry, was likewise highly expedient for preserving the Israelites from all risk of contamination. It was imitated by our Scottish reformers; and although many ardent lovers of architecture and the fine arts have anathematized their proceedings as vandalism, yet there was profound wisdom in the favourite maxim of Knox-`Pull down the nests, and the rooks will disappear.'

Verses 6-10

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord - i:e., set apart to the service of God, or chosen to execute the important purposes of His providence. Their selection to this high destiny was neither on account of their numerical amount-for, until after the death of Joseph, they were but a handful of people-nor of their extraordinary merits-for they had often pursued a most perverse and unworthy conduct, so that He could not derive any advantage from their services-but it was in consequence of the covenant or promise made with their pious forefathers; and the motives that led to that special act were such as tended not only to vindicate God's wisdom, but to illustrate His glory in diffusing the best and most precious blessings to all mankind (see God's wisdom, but to illustrate His glory in diffusing the best and most precious blessings to all mankind (see the notes at Exodus 19:6; Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 20:24-26).

Verses 11-14

Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments ... In the covenant into which God entered with Israel, He promised to bestow upon them a variety of blessings so long as, they continued obedient to Him as their heavenly King, and pledged His veracity that His infinite perfections would be exerted for this purpose, as well as for delivering them from every evil to which as a people they would be exposed. That people accordingly were truly happy as a nation, and found every promise which the faithful God made to them amply fulfilled, so long as they adhered to that obedience which was required of them. (See a beautiful illustration of this in Psalms 144:12-15).

Verse 15

And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.

The evil diseases of Egypt - (see Exodus 15:26.) But besides those with which Pharaoh and his subjects were visited, Egypt has always been dreadfully scourged with diseases; and the testimony of Moses is confirmed by the reports of many modern writers, who tell us that, notwithstanding its equal temperature and sereneness, that country has some indigenous maladies which are very malignant, such as ophthalmia, dysentery, small-pox, and the plague.

Verse 16

And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.

That will be a snare unto thee - i:e., an incentive to idolatry (cf. Psalms 106:36).

Verses 17-19

If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 20

Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.

God will send the hornet among them. 'It is of the same appearance and colour as the ordinary wasp, but rather more than double its size. The black line which connects the head and throat with the abdomen is about one-eighth of an inch in length, and not thicker than a horse hair. Stings from such animals must have been formidable wounds; and a region haunted by hosts of such winged lancers must speedily have been abandoned by its inhabitants' ('Tent and Khan,' p. 390: see the notes at Exodus 23:28; Joshua 24:11-13).

Verse 21

Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 22

And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.

Lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee - (see the notes at Exodus 23:28-30.) The omnipotence of their Almighty Ruler could have given them possession of the promised land at once; but the unburied corpses of the enemy, and the portions of the country that might have been left desolate for a while, would have drawn an influx of dangerous beasts (see the notes at Exodus 23:29-30). This evil would be prevented by a progressive conquest, and by the use of ordinary means which God would bless.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/deuteronomy-7.html. 1871-8.