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Deuteronomy 7:3 . Neither make marriages with them. See note on Ezra 10:2.
Deuteronomy 7:5 . And cut down their groves. The patriarchal devotion being performed at first on hills, and in places destitute of shelter, woods and groves were most desirable retreats for the divine service. Hence Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba. Genesis 21:33. But houses of retirement and wickedness were built by the Israelites in the times of apostasy. The Egyptians and the Greeks were the first, after the Babylonians, who built temples to false divinities. The Israelites, having now but one altar, would the more readily accede to the injunction to destroy the groves of Baal.
Deuteronomy 7:15 . The evil diseases of Egypt. The boils and blains, as in Exodus 9:0. The whole of this chapter enumerates blessings, rather than precepts.
Deuteronomy 7:20 . The hornet. These driven from a hive, can prove a severe scourge to man, when divinely multiplied and commissioned. They are darker in colour and larger than the wasp.
Deuteronomy 7:26 . It is a cursed thing: חרם chairem, a devoted thing; such was every idol, devoted to execration; but good things were devoted to holy purposes. Leviticus 27:28. The same word being used in both cases, the connection determines the sense.
Moses, proceeding with the repetition of the law, enforces anew the sentence of destruction or exile, on all the seven devoted nations. There were five other tribes or nations, whose country was given to the Hebrews. The Kenites, whom Saul spared for former kindness; the Kenizites, the Kadmonites, the Rephaims or giants, Genesis 15:19-20, whose country was included in the promised land; and the nation of Amalek. Now, with the seven nations, Israel was to make no covenant whatever. Their iniquities were full, and heaven could no longer restrain the punishment. Some persons have been struck with an idea of cruelty in this oft repeated sentence. I am struck with astonishment, that God should spare them so long. Israel never trifled with this awful injunction, but it proved a snare to their nation. Saul lost his kingdom for the want of fidelity to the righteous decree. The visitation is nothing new in the economy of providence. How often, in the history of nations, do we find the like calamity inflicted on cities and kingdoms. And ah, on how many more is the same sentence of destruction, or flight, but suspended, because of a long series of accumulated crimes.
To promote humility and obedience the Jews are faithfully reminded, that they were not redeemed from Egypt and called to all these privileges, because of their number or goodness; but because of the free and unmerited love of God, and because he was faithful to the promise and oath made to their fathers. Ezekiel places this argument in full force, and in language highly figurative: Ezekiel 16:1-63. St. Paul says the same of the christian church, risen with Christ, and made to sit together in heavenly places. We were dead in trespasses and sins, we walked according to the course of this world, and according to the power and influence of the devil. But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he hath loved us, has done all these unmerited favours for the soul. What gratitude, what devotion do we owe for the riches of his grace!
God would gradually cut off and expel the seven devoted nations from the land, but would not destroy them all at once, lest the wild beasts should multiply. But how was that done? Did Israel spare a few in every city? No; for that would have corrupted them; and after such kindness they could not have been put to death. But Israel made their way good by conquest as far as they went. They slew all who came within their power, drove the rest before them, except those of certain strong places, as Zion in Jerusalem, which they could not then take. Let the christian do the same in his warfare with indwelling corruption; let him, like Joshua, make his way good as he proceeds. Let him, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, so mortify self-love, anger and pride, that he shall feel it no more; and fresh strength will be afforded for fresh conflicts. Let him remember that God has said of his sins, as well as of the Canaanites, ye shall utterly destroy them.
It is very remarkable also, that the gems and chains pendent to the heathen gods were accursed; and the Israelite who should secrete any of them, would bring that curse upon himself. The very gold was so polluted that the fire would not purify it. Hence the christian may learn the sanctity of God: he will never compound with idols. All our sinful pleasures, honours and delights, are to be accounted but dross and dung in comparison of the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ, that we may be the Lord’s people without rebuke.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20