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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 7

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch

Verses 1-4

As the Israelites were warned against idolatry in Deuteronomy 6:14, so here are they exhorted to beware of the false tolerance of sparing the Canaanites and enduring their idolatry. - Deuteronomy 7:1, Deuteronomy 7:5. When the Lord drove out the tribes of Canaan before the Israelites, and gave them up to them and smote them, they were to put them under the ban (see at Leviticus 27:28), to make no treaty with them, and to contract no marriage with them. נשׁל , to draw out, to cast away, e.g., the sandals (Exodus 3:5); here and Deuteronomy 7:22 it signifies to draw out, or drive out a nation from its country and possessions: it occurs in this sense in the Piel in 2 Kings 16:6. On the Canaanitish tribes, see at Genesis 10:15. and Deuteronomy 15:20-21. There are seven of them mentioned here, as in Joshua 3:10 and Joshua 24:11; on the other hand, there are only six in Deuteronomy 20:17, as in Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Exodus 23:23, and Exodus 33:2, the Girgashites being omitted. The prohibition against making a covenant, as in Exodus 23:32 and Exodus 34:12, and that against marrying, as in Exodus 34:16, where the danger of the Israelites being drawn away to idolatry is mentioned as a still further reason for these commands. יסיר כּי , “ for he (the Canaanite) will cause thy son to turn away from behind me,” i.e., tempt him away from following me, “ to serve other gods.” Moses says “from following me,” because he is speaking in the name of Jehovah. The consequences of idolatry, as in Deuteronomy 6:15; Deuteronomy 4:26, etc.

Verse 5

The Israelites were rather to destroy the altars and idols of the Canaanites, according to the command in Exodus 34:13; Exodus 23:24.

Verses 6-8

They were bound to do this by virtue of their election as a holy nation, the nation of possession, which Jehovah had singled out from all other nations, and brought out of the bondage of Egypt, not because of its greatness, but from love to them, and for the sake of the oath given to the fathers. This exalted honour Israel was not to cast away by apostasy from the Lord. It was founded upon the word of the Lord in Exodus 19:5-6, which Moses brought to the recollection of the people, and expressly and emphatically developed. “ Not because of your multitude before all nations (because ye were more numerous than all other nations) hath Jehovah turned to you in love ( חשׁק , to bind oneself with, to hang upon a person, out of love), for ye are the littleness of all nations ” (the least numerous). Moses could say this to Israel with reference to its descent from Abraham, whom God chose as the one man out of all the world, whilst nations, states, and kingdoms had already been formed all around ( Baumgarten). “ But because Jehovah loved you, and kept His oath which He had sworn to the fathers, He hath brought you out,” etc. Instead of saying, He hath chosen you out of love to your fathers, as in Deuteronomy 4:37, Moses brings out in this place love to the people of Israel as the divine motive, not for choosing Israel, but for leading it out and delivering it from the slave-house of Egypt, by which God had practically carried out the election of the people, that He might thereby allure the Israelites to a reciprocity of love.

Verses 9-10

By this was Israel to know that Jehovah their God was the true God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant, showing mercy to those who love Him, even to the thousandth generation, but repaying those who hate Him to the face. This development of the nature of God Moses introduces from Exodus 20:5-6, as a light warning not to forfeit the mercy of God, or draw upon themselves His holy wrath by falling into idolatry. To this end He emphatically carries out still further the thought of retribution, by adding להאבידו , “ to destroy him ” (the hater), and וגו יאהר לא , “ He delays not to His hater (sc., to repay him); He will repay him to his face.” “ To the face of every one of them,” i.e., that they may see and feel that they are smitten by God ( Rosenmüller).

Verse 11

This energy of the grace and holiness of the faithful covenant God was a powerful admonition to keep the divine commandments.

Verses 12-26

The observance of these commandments would also bring great blessings (Deuteronomy 7:12-16). “ If ye hearken to these demands of right ” ( mishpatim ) of the covenant Lord upon His covenant people, and keep them and do them, “ Jehovah will keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He hath sworn to thy fathers.” In עקב , for אשׁר עקב (Genesis 22:18), there is involved not only the idea of reciprocity, but everywhere also an allusion to reward or punishment (cf. Deuteronomy 8:20; Numbers 14:24). חסד was the favour displayed in the promises given to the patriarchs on oath (Genesis 22:16).

Deuteronomy 7:13-16

This mercy flowed from the love of God to Israel, and the love was manifested in blessing and multiplying the people. The blessing is then particularized, by a further expansion of Exodus 23:25-27, as a blessing upon the fruit of the body, the fruits of the field and soil, and the rearing of cattle. שׁגר , see Exodus 13:12. צאן עשׁתּרת only occurs again in Deuteronomy 28:4, Deuteronomy 28:18, Deuteronomy 28:51, and certainly signifies the young increase of the flocks. It is probably a Canaanitish word, derived from Ashtoreth (Astharte), the female deity of the Canaanites, which was regarded as the conceiving and birth-giving principle of nature, literally Veneres, i.e., amores gregis , hence soboles ( Ges.); just as the Latin poets employ the name Ceres to signify the corn, Venus for love and sexual intercourse, and Lucina for birth. On Deuteronomy 7:14 and Deuteronomy 7:15, see Exodus 23:26. In Deuteronomy 7:15, the promise of the preservation of Israel from all diseases ( Exodus 15:26, and Exodus 23:25) is strengthened by the addition of the clause, “ all the evil diseases of Egypt,” by which, according to Deuteronomy 28:27, we are probably to understand chiefly the malignant species of leprosy called elephantiasis, and possibly also the plague and other malignant forms of disease. In Egypt, diseases for the most part readily assume a very dangerous character. Pliny ( h. n. xxvi. 1) calls Egypt the genitrix of contagious pestilence, and modern naturalists have confirmed this (see Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 215; and Pruner, Krankheiten des Orients, pp. 460ff.). Diseases of this kind the Lord would rather bring upon the enemies of Israel. The Israelites, on the other hand, should be so strong and vigorous, that they would devour, i.e., exterminate, all the nations which their God would give into their hands (cf. Numbers 14:9). With this thought Moses reverts with emphasis to the command to root out the Canaanites without reserve, and not to serve their gods, because they would become a snare to them (see Exodus 10:7); and then in Deuteronomy 7:17-26 he carries out still further the promise in Exodus 23:27-30 of the successful subjugation of the Canaanites through the assistance of the Lord, and sweeps away all the objections that a weak faith might raise to the execution of the divine command.

Deuteronomy 7:17-19

To suppress the thought that was rising up in their heart, how could it be possible for them to destroy these nations which were more numerous than they, the Israelites were to remember what the Lord had done in Egypt and to Pharaoh, namely, the great temptations, signs, and wonders connected with their deliverance from Egypt (cf. Deuteronomy 4:34 and Deuteronomy 6:22). He would do just the same to the Canaanites.

Deuteronomy 7:20

He would also send hornets against them, as He had already promised in Exodus 23:28 (see the passage), until all that were left and had hidden themselves should have utterly perished.

Deuteronomy 7:21-23

Israel had no need to be afraid of them, as Jehovah was in the midst of it a mighty God and terrible. He would drive out the nations, but only gradually, as He had already declared to Moses in Exodus 23:30-31, and would smite them with great confusion, till they were destroyed, as was the case for example at Gibeon (Joshua 10:10; cf. Exodus 23:27, where the form המם is used instead of הוּם ), and would also deliver their kings into the hand of Israel, so that their names should vanish under the heaven (cf. Deuteronomy 9:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; and for the fulfilment, Joshua 10:22., Deuteronomy 11:12; 12:7-24). No one would be able to stand before Israel.

Deuteronomy 7:24

To stand before thee: ” lit., to put oneself in the face of a person, so as to withstand him. השׁמיד for השׁמיד , as in Leviticus 14:43, etc.

Deuteronomy 7:25-26

Trusting to this promise, the Israelites were to burn up the idols of the Canaanites, and not to desire the silver and gold upon them (with which the statues were overlaid), or take it to themselves, lest they should be snared in it, i.e., lest the silver and gold should become a snare to them. It would become so, not from any danger lest they should practise idolatry with it, but because silver and gold which had been used in connection with idolatrous worship was an abomination to Jehovah, which the Israelites were not to bring into their houses, lest they themselves should fall under the ban, to which all the objects connected with idolatry were devoted, as the history of Achan in Josh 7 clearly proves. For this reason, any such abomination was to be abhorred, and destroyed by burning or grinding to powder (cf. Exodus 32:20; 2 Kings 23:4-5; 2 Chronicles 15:16).

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/deuteronomy-7.html. 1854-1889.
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