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The Eradication of Idolatry Commanded
v. 1. When the Lord, thy God, shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, an event certain to materialize in the near future, and hath cast out many nations before thee, great in numbers, in resources, and in valor, 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;
v. 2. and when the Lord, thy God, shall deliver them before thee, give them into the hands of the children of Israel, so that they would be witnesses of His power, thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them, it was to be a war of extermination, Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them, give them no quarter, reject all offers of submission. The measure of sins of these heathen nations was full, and therefore the Lord wanted them to he removed entirely.
v. 3. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them, thus becoming allied to them by ties of relationship; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, to the son of any member of these nations, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son, for the giving in marriage is the prerogative of parents to this day.
v. 4. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, the danger being particularly great when the unbelieving wife sets out to lead her husband astray, that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and destroy thee suddenly, for that was the punishment which the Lord had placed upon idolatry, Deuteronomy 4:26. There are so many dangers to the faith connected with mixed marriages, when a Christian marries an unbeliever, or one belonging to a sectarian church, that the warning must be sounded again and again.
v. 5. But thus shall ye deal with them: Ye shall destroy their altars, which were dedicated to the abominations of idolatry, and break down their images, the pillars or statues of stone which represented their idols, and cut down their groves, wooden pillars erected to Astarte, the goddess of love and fruitfulness, and burn their graven images with fire, completely destroy even the last vestige of them. All idolatry is an abomination before the Lord, and He wanted Israel to turn away from every evidence of it with the utmost loathing, just as He expects Christians to shun intimacy with unbelievers, lest they lose the precious jewel of their faith.
v. 6. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord, thy God, consecrated to Him, set apart for His service; the Lord, thy God, hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, a peculiar people, a people of His property, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. They were God's possession, which He set apart for Himself.
v. 7. The Lord did not set His love upon you, turn to you, cling to you in love, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people, more numerous and more powerful than other nations; for ye were the fewest of all people, Abraham, their forefather, being a single person over against great and powerful nations when the Lord called him;
v. 8. but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, Exodus 13:3-14, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the position of shameful serfdom, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Israel was never to forget that it was pure love and mercy on God's part which prompted Him to make them His people, and no merit on their part.
v. 9. Know, therefore, that the Lord, thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations, for He is most eager to show mercy and love, it is His greatest delight to reward those that love Him;
v. 10. and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them, in this they get their just dues. He will not be slack to him that hateth Him; He will repay him to his face. God is not like a weak, indulgent father, who will overlook the transgressions of his children, often in maudlin sentimentality.
v. 11. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments and the statutes and the judgments which I command thee this day, to do them, because Jehovah, the faithful covenant God, is equally energetic in mercy and in holiness. We Christians should also never forget that God has chosen us out of the world of unbelievers, not because we are in any way better than others, but out of pure goodness and mercy. Therefore we should thank God for this unmerited mercy, serve and obey Him, and keep His covenant with all faithfulness.
The Extermination of the Heathen Nations Enjoined
v. 12. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord, thy God, shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which Ha sware unto thy fathers. He would fulfill all the promises of mercy given to the patriarchs, and He would carry out the terms of the covenant with respect to both rewards and punishments.
v. 13. And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee, as manifestations of His love; he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, in granting a numerous posterity, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
v. 14. Thou shalt be blessed above all people; there shall not be male or female barren among you or among your cattle, for barrenness was considered almost a curse among the Israelites.
v. 15. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, especially in the form of epidemics, 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. In spite of the great advance of the last half century, medical science to this day is unable to account for the virulence of many epidemics except on the basis of divine interference and punishment. Cf Exodus 23:26.
v. 16. And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord, thy God, shall deliver thee, giving them into the hands of Israel; thine eye shall have no pity upon them, all false sympathy, which might enter the heart through the eye as it witnesses the plight of the enemy must be banished; neither shalt thou serve their gods, for that will be a snare unto thee, which would plunge them, too, into destruction.
v. 17. If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I, how can I dispossess them, get into possession of the country now occupied by them? Little faith on the part of the believers has won many victories for the forces of darkness.
v. 18. Thou shalt not be afraid of them, but shalt well remember what the Lord, thy God, did unto Pharaoh and unto all Egypt;
v. 19. the great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched-out arm whereby the Lord, thy God, brought thee out, Deuteronomy 4:34; so shall the Lord, thy God, do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. The memory of benefits received in the past was to strengthen their faith in God's help also in the future.
v. 20. Moreover, the Lord, thy God, will send the hornet among them, Exodus 23:28, a special terror intended to make them lose heart, until they that are left and hide themselves from thee be destroyed; for Israel was to be as active in the work of extermination as the instrument which God used.
v. 21. Thou shalt not be affrighted at them, filled with the terror of little faith; for the Lord, thy God, is among you, a mighty God and terrible, whose judgments made Him an object of dread among all nations.
v. 22. And the Lord, thy God, will put out those nations before thee little by little, Exodus 23:29-30; thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee, for they were at that time not yet numerous enough to occupy the entire land at once.
v. 23. But the Lord, thy God, shall deliver them unto thee, while they themselves would look on in surprised wonder, and shall destroy, overthrow, them with a mighty destruction until they be destroyed.
v. 24. And He shall deliver their kings into thine hand, Joshua 10:24-25, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven; there shall no man be able to stand before thee until thou have destroyed them.
v. 25. The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire; thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, with which they were overlaid, or take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein, they would become contaminated by the mere fact of having it in their possession; for it is an abomination to the Lord, thy God, as were all objects that were used for idolatrous purposes, Joshua 7.
v. 26. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it, having been defiled by contact with it; but thou shalt utterly detest it, look upon it only with the utmost horror and loathing, and thou shalt utterly abhor it, regard it with loathing; for it is a cursed thing. In Christians this attitude will keep them from all defilement of unbelief and of the lust of the flesh.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26