Adam Clarke Commentary
With the seven nations that God shall cast out, Deuteronomy 7:1, they shall make no covenant, Deuteronomy 7:2, nor form any matrimonial alliances, Deuteronomy 7:3; lest they should be enticed into idolatry, Deuteronomy 7:4. All monuments of idolatry to be destroyed, Deuteronomy 7:5. The Israelites are to consider themselves a holy people, Deuteronomy 7:6; and that the Lord had made them such, not for their merits, but for his own mercies, Deuteronomy 7:7, Deuteronomy 7:8. They shall therefore love him, and keep his commandments, Deuteronomy 7:9-11. The great privileges of the obedient, Deuteronomy 7:12-24. All idolatry to be avoided, Deuteronomy 7:25, Deuteronomy 7:26.
Seven nations greater and mightier than thou - In several places of the Hebrew text, each of these seven nations is not enumerated, some one or other being left out, which the Septuagint in general supply. How these nations were distributed over the land of Canaan previously to the entering in of the Israelites, the reader may see in the note on Joshua 3:10 (note).
Thou shalt smite them, etc. - These idolatrous nations were to be utterly destroyed, and all the others also which were contiguous to the boundaries of the promised land, provided they did not renounce their idolatry and receive the true faith: for if they did not, then no covenant was to be made with them on any secular or political consideration whatever; no mercy was to be shown to them, because the cup of their iniquity also was now full; and they must either embrace, heartily embrace, the true religion, or be cut off.
Neither shalt thou make marriages, etc. - The heart being naturally inclined to evil, there is more likelihood that the idolatrous wife should draw aside the believing husband, than that the believing husband should be able to bring over his idolatrous wife to the true faith.
Thou art a holy people - And therefore should have no connection with the workers of iniquity.
A special people - סגלה (segullah), - Septuagint, λαον περιουσιον , - a peculiar people, a private property. The words as they stand in the Septuagint are quoted by the apostle, 1 Peter 2:9.
But because the Lord loved you - It was no good in them that induced God to choose them at this time to be his peculiar people: he had his reasons, but these sprang from his infinite goodness. He intended to make a full discovery of his goodness to the world, and this must have a commencement in some particular place, and among some people. He chose that time, and he chose the Jewish people; but not because of their goodness or holiness.
The Lord - shall keep unto thee the covenant - So we find their continuance in the state of favor was to depend on their faithfulness to the grace of God. If they should rebel, though God had chosen them through his love, yet he would cast them off in his justice. The elect, we see, may become unfaithful, and so become reprobates. So it happened to 24,000 of them, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness because they had sinned; yet these were of the elect that came out of Egypt. Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.
Put out those nations - by little and little - The Israelites were not as yet sufficiently numerous to fill the whole land occupied by the seven nations mentioned Deuteronomy 7:1. And as wild and ferocious animals might be expected to multiply where either there are no inhabitants, or the place is but thinly peopled, therefore God tells them that, though at present, by force of arms, they might be able to expel them, it would be impolitic so to do, lest the beasts of the field should multiply upon them.
Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them - Some of the ancient idols were plated over with gold, and God saw that the value of the metal and the excellence of the workmanship might be an inducement for the Israelites to preserve them; and this might lead, remotely at least, to idolatry. As the idols were accursed, all those who had them, or any thing appertaining to them, were accursed also, Deuteronomy 7:26.
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