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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 7

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-11

Moses mentioned seven nations that resided in Canaan here (Deuteronomy 7:1), but as many as 10 appear in other passages (cf. Genesis 15:19-21; Exodus 34:11; Numbers 13:28-29; Judges 3:5). Perhaps Moses named seven here for rhetorical purposes, seven being a number that indicates completion or fullness. One reason for the total extermination of these idolaters was the evil effect their corrupt worship would have on the Israelites and their relationship with Yahweh (Deuteronomy 7:4). [Note: See Tremper Longman III, "The Divine Warrior: The New Testament Use of an Old Testament Motif," Westminster Theological Journal 44 (Fall 1982):290-307.] They deserved to die for their sins (Deuteronomy 9:4-5) and for their persistent hatred of God (Deuteronomy 7:10; cf. Genesis 9:25-26; Genesis 10:15-18; Exodus 23:23).

"Thus he is not speaking of those Canaanites who actually forsook their idols and followed the Lord [such as Rahab]." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 440.]

Israel was to be different from other nations (i.e., holy) because God had chosen to bless her (Deuteronomy 7:6). Likewise Christians today should deal ruthlessly with sin in our lives (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6). Israel’s election was not due to anything in her that merited God’s favor, but only to the free choice of God to bless whom He would bless.

"Israel had a priestly tribe, the tribe of Levi, but the nation as a whole was also to be a priesthood. The historical function of a priest was to represent man to God. The tribe of Levi represented Israel before God; and the nation Israel was to represent the Gentile nations before God." [Note: Fruchtenbaum, p. 115.]

God’s promises to the Israelites’ forefathers and His deliverance of Israel out of Egypt were demonstrations of the love that lay behind God’s election. The motive of love comes through clearly. The reason for this love was not that its recipients were attractive but that its giver is a loving Person.

Verses 1-26

3. Examples of the application of the principles chs. 7-11

"These clearly are not laws or commandments as such but primarily series of parenetic homilies in which Moses exhorted the people to certain courses of action in light of the upcoming conquest and occupation of Canaan. Within these sections, however, are specific and explicit injunctions based upon the Decalogue and anticipatory of further elaboration in the large section of detailed stipulations that follows (Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 26:15)." [Note: Ibid., p. 176.]

Command to destroy the Canaanites and their idolatry ch. 7

This chapter is a logical development of what Moses said in chapters 5 and 6. God had called on His people to acknowledge that He is the only true God and to be completely loyal to Him. In Canaan they would encounter temptations that might divert them from their fidelity (cf. Deuteronomy 6:14). Now we have a full explanation of how the Israelites were to deal with these temptations. These instructions amplify the second commandment (Deuteronomy 5:8-10).

Verses 12-26

Obedience would bring blessing. Moses enumerated the blessings for remaining completely devoted to God and refusing to practice idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:13-16). Grain, wine, and oil (Deuteronomy 7:13) represent the three principle food products of Canaan. [Note: S. R. Driver, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy, p. 103.] The Israelites could obtain encouragement in battle by remembering God’s past faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:17-21). God told the Israelites He would drive out the Canaanites gradually (Deuteronomy 7:22). He would not allow them to destroy the Canaanites totally until they had grown large enough numerically to care for the land adequately (cf. Exodus 23:27-33). This gradual extermination would be hard for the Israelites in that the temptations to idolatry would abound on every hand. Nevertheless it would be better for them than sudden annihilation of their enemies because in that case the land would become wild and unmanageable. The Israelites were not to take the gold and silver from the Canaanite idols for themselves (Deuteronomy 7:25). The whole idol was under the ban (Heb. herem), and they were to destroy it and give the precious metals to God for His use. They would do this by bringing these offerings to the tabernacle.

Believers should not make defiling alliances with unbelievers who are pursuing lives of rebellion against God but should oppose their actions (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/deuteronomy-7.html. 2012.
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