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THE COMMAND TO UTTERLY DESTROY THE SEVEN NATIONS THAT WERE THEN IN POSSESSION OF THE LAND OF PROMISE, AND WARNING AGAINST ANY INTERCOURSE WITH THEM.
1. The Hittites These are sometimes mentioned as though they were especially the Canaanites. They were a powerful nation, according to the testimony of monuments and inscriptions. The Girgashites inhabited a portion of the land west of the Jordan. Nothing very definite is known of them.
The Amorites See Deuteronomy 1:4.
The Canaanites The term is sometimes applied as a general name for all the nations of the Promised Land who were not Israelites. Here it is the name of that tribe that dwelt on the lowlands or plains. “The Canaanite dwells by the sea and by the side of Jordan.” Numbers 13:29. The Perizzites were the husbandmen and the herdsmen who occupied the elevated plains. The word means the villagers.
Hivites According to Genesis 34:2, this tribe possessed Shechem. At the time of the conquest they held Gibeon, but the main body were in the northern part of western Palestine.
The Jebusites The first notice of this people is in the report of the spies. Numbers 13:29. They were a mountain tribe, and Jebus was evidently their chief town.
Seven nations See Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11.
2. Smite them, and utterly destroy them Thou shalt treat them as accursed as devoted to utter destruction. These nations had filled up the measure of their iniquity before Jehovah. They and all the forms of their debasing idolatry were to be obliterated from the land.
3. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them There was always peril to the Israelites in their having close relations with the heathen nations. Their history thus far since they left Egypt has shown how prone they were to idolatry.
5. Cut down their groves So most of the versions render this. It should be translated cut down their images of Asherah. Asherah was the name of a Phoenician goddess, by some thought to be the same as Astarte. The images of Asherah were upright wooden columns or trunks of trees stripped of their branches. Comp. 2 Kings 23:6: “And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord.” Here the word translated groves should be rendered Asherah. The worship consisted in part of libidinous orgies.
7. Ye were the fewest of all people Jehovah did not choose you for his people because you were a mighty nation like the Egyptian. Moses looks back to the call of Abraham, and the going down to Egypt of Jacob and his family.
8. He would keep the oath Not for any merit on their part did Jehovah deliver them from the oppressions of Egypt. Moses seeks to impress upon them that it was God’s good pleasure to select them for a peculiar people.
9. The Lord thy God Mark the emphasis which is constantly placed upon the expression Jehovah thy God the God.
10. Repayeth them that hate him This passage is variously interpreted. It probably means he punishes each one that hates him, so that each may feel he is smitten of God: and Moses adds, to make it more impressive, “He delays not in respect to his hater; he will repay him to his face.”
12-15. Here is the promise of great blessings if the people will keep the commandments of Jehovah.
The flocks of thy sheep The Hebrew expression only occurs again in Deuteronomy 28:4; Deuteronomy 28:18; Deuteronomy 28:51. It probably means the ewes of thy flock.
Evil diseases of Egypt Comp. Exodus 15:26, and Deuteronomy 28:27. Pliny, in his Natural History, calls Egypt the mother of contagious pestilences. Wagner calls it “a great focus of the diseases of all history.” Natural History of Man, vol. ii, p. 270.
17. How can I dispossess them The people might again become faint-hearted as they had been years before on the return of the spies. They might ask, How is it possible for us to overcome the seven nations of the land? To encourage them they are once more reminded of what Jehovah did for them in their deliverance from Egypt. The same mighty power would aid them in dispossessing and destroying the nations with whom they are soon to wage war.
20. Thy God will send the hornet The different views taken of the meaning of the Hebrew word which our version renders hornet are mainly the following: (1.) That the word is used literally. (2.) That the Amorites are meant. (3.) That it is used in the sense of dread. “A figurative expression for uncontrolled terror.” Comp. Exodus 23:28, and Joshua 24:12, where the same Hebrew word is employed. This last view seems correct. The dread of them would so affect the nations that the conquest of them would not be difficult.
25. Lest thou be snared The Israelites were to utterly destroy the idols of the conquered nations, to obliterate all trace of heathen worship. In the subsequent history we see how easily the people were snared how readily they went after other gods. See Judges 8:27: “And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.”
26. A cursed thing All objects connected with idolatrous worship were to be destroyed. Comp. Joshua 7:1-21, where the case of Achan is narrated. It was held by the strict observers of the law in later times that if a man broke an idolatrous image, and melted the fragments and sold the gold or silver, he violated the commandment.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany