corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.07.20
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 7

 

 

Introduction

Introductory.

Part 1 of the commentary contained the first speech of Moses which proclaimed the recent history of Israel under the hand of Yahweh, demonstrating why they had reason to be grateful to Him, and finishing with a reminder of how gloriously and fearsomely the covenant had been given and an exhortation to keep the covenant requirements and remember Who had given them. From Deuteronomy 4:44 to Deuteronomy 29:1 this is followed by the central renewal of the covenant in Moses’ second speech, commencing with a renewed description of the giving of the covenant (Deuteronomy 5), followed by the basic principles lying behind the covenant (chapters 5-11), more detailed regulations (chapters 12-26), the requirement that the covenant be recorded in writing at Shechem (where Abraham first built an altar when entering the land and received his first theophany in the land) as confirmed by all the elders (Deuteronomy 27:1-8), the acknowledgement of it by the priesthood along with Moses as witnesses to it (Deuteronomy 27:9-10), and the applying to it of curses and blessings (chapters Deuteronomy 27:11 to Deuteronomy 29:1).

This section of the commentary will cover chapters 5-11, but these chapters must be seen as part of the greater whole to Deuteronomy 29:1, as incorporated in the whole book.

The Covenant Stipulations - the Basic Underlying Principles (chapters Deuteronomy 4:45 to Deuteronomy 11:32).

This introductory section begins the second section of the book which consists mainly of a proclamation of general basic principles related to the fulfilment of the covenant (chapters 5-11). This is then followed by a detailed review of the statutes and ordinances which have been spoken of previously, but with special reference to their applicability to the people and mainly ignoring priestly activity (chapters 12-26). It is ‘popular’ Law. In this second section Moses once again makes clear the demands that Yahweh is making on His people as a response to what He has done for them. But he will begin it by repeating, with minor alterations, the covenant made at Horeb, at Mount Sinai. Thus he declares that covenant in chapter 5 almost word for word, although slightly revised in order to bring out new emphases. This is then followed chapter by chapter by the requirements that Yahweh is laying on them as a response to His covenant love. In 6-11 he first deals with the basic principles involved, and then in chapters 12-26 moves on to the specific detailed requirements. This is a pattern typical of ancient treaty covenants.

Central to all the chapters are the ideas of how they must obey His commandment, His statutes and His ordinances that He might bless them in all they do (Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 5:31-33; Deuteronomy 6:1-3; Deuteronomy 6:6-8; Deuteronomy 6:17-18; Deuteronomy 6:24-25; Deuteronomy 7:11-12; Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 8:11; Deuteronomy 10:13; Deuteronomy 11:1; Deuteronomy 11:8; Deuteronomy 11:13; Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 11:27; Deuteronomy 11:32); of how the reason that they are being blessed is not for their own sakes, but because of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 8:18; Deuteronomy 9:5; Deuteronomy 9:27; Deuteronomy 10:15; Deuteronomy 11:9); of how they must remember Yahweh their God Who has mightily delivered them from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:6; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 6:21-23; Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 7:18; Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 9:26); of how He is bringing them into a good and prosperous land where they will enjoy great blessings (Deuteronomy 6:10-11; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 7:13-16; Deuteronomy 8:7-10; Deuteronomy 8:12-13; Deuteronomy 11:10-12; Deuteronomy 11:14-15), and of how they must then beware of turning to false gods and false religion once they enter the land, and must rather totally destroy them (Deuteronomy 5:8-9; Deuteronomy 6:14-15; Deuteronomy 7:4-5; Deuteronomy 7:25-26; Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 9:12; Deuteronomy 9:16; Deuteronomy 11:16; Deuteronomy 11:28).

These are the general emphases, but each chapter also has a particular emphasis.

· Deuteronomy 6 stresses their need to love Yahweh, their covenant Overlord, with all their beings (Deuteronomy 6:5), to fear Him (Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 6:24), and to teach their children His instruction, and warns them that when they are prospering in the land they must not forget what He has done for them. Their Overlord is calling His subjects to love and obedience.

· Deuteronomy 7 confirms Yahweh’s elective covenant love for them (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Deuteronomy 7:13) as His holy people, chosen and treasured (Deuteronomy 7:6), and promises them that because of that love He will bless them wonderfully, delivering the promised land into their hands. Here He reveals why they should love Him and respond to Him, because He has first loved them, and chosen them to be the recipients of His love with all its great benefits.

· Deuteronomy 8 reminds them of how they must remember and not forget the past (Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 8:11; Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 8:18), especially how He has looked after them in the wilderness, with the promise that He is bringing them to a good and prosperous land, and that once He has done so they must beware of self-glorification. Here the details of His watch over them are laid out demonstrating the practicality of His love.

· Deuteronomy 9 exhorts them on this basis to go forward and cross the Jordan knowing that Yahweh goes before them, while reminding them that their success will not be because of their own righteousness, a fact which he then demonstrates from their past history, reminding them how right from the very beginning they had broken God’s covenant that He had made with them. Here He emphasises how gracious He has been to them even though they had not been fully faithful to His covenant. While they do not deserve His goodness, He is pouring it on them anyway.

· Deuteronomy 10 stresses that God then graciously renewed that covenant which they had broken so quickly, and goes on to describe the greatness and uniqueness of Yahweh their covenant God and Overlord. They must recognise how good He has been to His erring subjects and take note of the fullness of His glory, lest they again break His covenant with them.

· Deuteronomy 11 urges them to learn from the past and go forward on the basis of it, repeats the promises and warnings of the previous chapters, constrains them to remember His words, and bear them about with them and teach them to their children, and promises the good things to come, and the certainty of their possession of the land because Yahweh is with them. It finally concludes the section with the reminder of the blessings and cursings, which will be solemnly applied on Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, which are by the oaks of Moreh, that is, at Shechem, and says that which of these will come on them will depend on whether they faithfully respond to His covenant or not. This conclusion prepares the way for Deuteronomy 27, although meanwhile being first of all preceded by the detailed stipulations of chapters 12-26.

So throughout these chapters the covenant is constantly stressed, a covenant which is the result of His love for their fathers and for them and is their guarantee of the future as long as their response to it is full and complete.

Chapter 7 They Must Remove The Canaanites From The Land, Having No Truck With Them And Must Go Forward With Confidence In The Deliverer From Egypt, For He Has Set His Love On Them And Will Do Them Good .

Having emphasised the need to love Yahweh wholly, and to respond to Him totally in Deuteronomy 6, this chapter begins and ends with the instruction that they must have nothing to do with the corrupt Canaanites, whom He will drive out before them, but must destroy their graven images and their gods. And this is because He Himself has set His love on them, and will prosper them in their ways, but will deal harshly with those who ‘hate’ Him, that is, who rebel against Him.

The chapter includes a testimony of His sovereign love for them for their fathers’ sakes, the promise of future blessing in the land and the assurance of victory over all their enemies through Yahweh’s help. But the corollary is that they must remove all trace of idolatry from the land. No rival to Him must be allowed to remain. Thus they must diligently rid the land of them so that nothing is left in their land to rival Yahweh, or to turn them from His ways.

This emphasis on the destruction of the Canaanites and their gods and religious paraphernalia appears at the beginning of the chapter (Deuteronomy 7:1-5), in the middle (Deuteronomy 7:16) and then at the end (Deuteronomy 7:25-26). It is seen as important that they are removed for they are an insult to His name and an abomination and if not removed could sadly be rivals for their hand, acting as a snare to them .

But this emphasis is overridden by the glowing description of Yahweh’s election and love of His people, and of the great blessings that can be theirs through obedience, and the certainty of His powerful activity on Israel’s behalf. It is very emphatic. For this was one reason why His people had been chosen, in order to purge the land of false gods, so that truth may triumph there. This was one reason why He had set His love on them. So that they might punish the wickedness of the land, and establish there His righteous rule. Until idolatry was dealt with His sole rule could not begin.

It must therefore be recognised that here they were entering on a genuine holy war, one that had been determined by God to rid the land of Canaan of its corruption, in order to establish a righteous kingdom. It was unique in history. Such a holy war is impossible today because the unique conditions of a promised land holy to God, and a deeply corrupt people possessing it who need to be expelled, can no longer apply. Today all are being offered His mercy. Those who still look to a land to fight for are living in a backwater and misunderstanding the Old Testament. The kingly rule of God is now spiritual and entered by those who come to Him through Jesus Christ, looking for their hope in Heaven. The fact is that the only holy war now is with Satan.

The chapter varies between ‘thou’ and ‘ye’, with ‘thou’ preponderating. Some verses include both, see Deuteronomy 7:4; Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 7:14; Deuteronomy 7:25. Where the ‘ye’ use is not indicated read ‘thou’. Often there is a subtle difference in nuance when the change takes place.


Verses 1-6

Chapter 7 They Must Remove The Canaanites From The Land, Having No Truck With Them And Must Go Forward With Confidence In The Deliverer From Egypt, For He Has Set His Love On Them And Will Do Them Good .

Having emphasised the need to love Yahweh wholly, and to respond to Him totally in Deuteronomy 6, this chapter begins and ends with the instruction that they must have nothing to do with the corrupt Canaanites, whom He will drive out before them, but must destroy their graven images and their gods. And this is because He Himself has set His love on them, and will prosper them in their ways, but will deal harshly with those who ‘hate’ Him, that is, who rebel against Him.

The chapter includes a testimony of His sovereign love for them for their fathers’ sakes, the promise of future blessing in the land and the assurance of victory over all their enemies through Yahweh’s help. But the corollary is that they must remove all trace of idolatry from the land. No rival to Him must be allowed to remain. Thus they must diligently rid the land of them so that nothing is left in their land to rival Yahweh, or to turn them from His ways.

This emphasis on the destruction of the Canaanites and their gods and religious paraphernalia appears at the beginning of the chapter (Deuteronomy 7:1-5), in the middle (Deuteronomy 7:16) and then at the end (Deuteronomy 7:25-26). It is seen as important that they are removed for they are an insult to His name and an abomination and if not removed could sadly be rivals for their hand, acting as a snare to them .

But this emphasis is overridden by the glowing description of Yahweh’s election and love of His people, and of the great blessings that can be theirs through obedience, and the certainty of His powerful activity on Israel’s behalf. It is very emphatic. For this was one reason why His people had been chosen, in order to purge the land of false gods, so that truth may triumph there. This was one reason why He had set His love on them. So that they might punish the wickedness of the land, and establish there His righteous rule. Until idolatry was dealt with His sole rule could not begin.

It must therefore be recognised that here they were entering on a genuine holy war, one that had been determined by God to rid the land of Canaan of its corruption, in order to establish a righteous kingdom. It was unique in history. Such a holy war is impossible today because the unique conditions of a promised land holy to God, and a deeply corrupt people possessing it who need to be expelled, can no longer apply. Today all are being offered His mercy. Those who still look to a land to fight for are living in a backwater and misunderstanding the Old Testament. The kingly rule of God is now spiritual and entered by those who come to Him through Jesus Christ, looking for their hope in Heaven. The fact is that the only holy war now is with Satan.

The chapter varies between ‘thou’ and ‘ye’, with ‘thou’ preponderating. Some verses include both, see Deuteronomy 7:4; Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 7:14; Deuteronomy 7:25. Where the ‘ye’ use is not indicated read ‘thou’. Often there is a subtle difference in nuance when the change takes place.

The Command To Rid The Land Of The Canaanites Along With Their Way of Life Because They Are A Holy People (Deuteronomy 7:1-6).

Of parallel importance with the keeping of Yahweh’s statutes and ordinances was the destruction of all that went against it. While fairly sophisticated culturally the Canaanites were particularly depraved in their manner of life and religion as the discoveries at Ugarit have confirmed. It was these things that God was determined to root out, both because of the effect that they could have on His people, and because of the abomination that they were to Him.

Analysis in the words of Moses:

a When Yahweh your God shall bring you into the land to which you are going to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before you, --- seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when Yahweh your God shall deliver them up before you, and you shall smite them, then you shall utterly destroy them (Deuteronomy 7:1-2 a).

b You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them, nor shall you make marriages with them. Your daughter you shall not give to his son, nor his daughter shall you take to your son (Deuteronomy 7:2-3).

c For he will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve other gods (Deuteronomy 7:4 a).

c So will the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you all, and He will destroy you as a nation quickly (Deuteronomy 7:4 b).

b But thus shall you (all of you) deal with them. You (all of you) shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire (Deuteronomy 7:5).

a For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for his own treasured possession, above all peoples that are on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).

Note that in ‘a’ Yahweh will bring them into the land and deliver up the enemy, and they must then smite them and utterly destroy them, and in the parallel this is because they themselves are a holy people, His treasured possession. In ‘b’ they are neither to make covenant with them or engage in intermarriage, and in the parallel are rather to deal with them by destroying all that pertains to their religion. In ‘c’ the reason for ‘a’ and ‘b’ is because the Canaanites will turn their sons from following Yahweh, and in the parallel will thus bring Yahweh’s anger down on them so that they will destroy them all.

Deuteronomy 7:1-2

When Yahweh your (thy) God shall bring you into the land to which you are going to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before you, the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when Yahweh your God shall deliver them up before you, and you shall smite them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them.’

Moses speaks with confident assurance. He has no doubt that they will be able to possess the land, and that Yahweh will cast out many nations before them. And the important thing is what they should do when they had done so.

He lists seven of those nations. Seven is the number of divine perfection and here is basically indicating ‘all the nations in the land’ and the divine completeness of the intended destruction of them. ‘The Canaanites’ and ‘the Amorites’ were often terms for the general population of the country, so that the terms were often interchangeable. Each could be used for the inhabitants of the whole country. However there was sometimes some distinction, as here, in that often ‘the Canaanites’ was the term for those occupying the coastlands and the Jordan valley while ‘the Amorites’ could be seen as dwelling in the hill country east and west of Jordan.

The Hittites (hatti) may have been settlers who had come from the Hittite Empire further north and had settled in Canaan, although many had been there a long time (Genesis 23:3; Genesis 23:5), but they might equally have been an ancient people who had been in Palestine almost from the beginning (Genesis 10:15). With regard to the Girgashites, persons with the names grgs and ben-grgs are known from the Ugaritic records. Some have connected them with the Karkisa in the Hittite literature and the krks in Egyptian records, but this must be considered doubtful. They were probably just another of the small groups of peoples who had long inhabited Canaan and Lebanon. They are mentioned in Genesis 15:21 but not in the four similar lists in Exodus (Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:13; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 23:23), thus they were not prominent. The Perizzites were hill dwellers (Joshua 11:3; Judges 1:4 on) and possibly country peasantry, their name being taken from ‘peraza’ = hamlet. This status is supported by the fact that they were not named as Canaan’s sons in Genesis 10:15 on. They are, however, mentioned in Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:13; Exodus 23:23. The Hivites may have been the equivalent of the Horites (see on Genesis 36). Their principal location was in the Lebanese hills (Judges 3:3) and the Hermon range (Joshua 11:3; 2 Samuel 24:7), but there were some in Edom in the time of Esau (Genesis 36) and in Shechem (Genesis 34). The Jebusites were the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the hills round about (Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3; Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16). Thus the population was very mixed and open to invasion and infiltration.

“Seven nations greater and mightier than you” probably means greater and mightier as a whole, as ‘the seven nations’. Some on their own need not have been so. But the point is being made that Israel will need Yahweh’s help in order to overcome them.

“And when Yahweh your God shall deliver them up before you, and you shall smite them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them.” These peoples were to be smitten and utterly destroyed. No treaty was to be made with them, and no mercy shown to them. This harsh requirement arose firstly because of their evil and irreversible ways, which God had passed judgment on and had determined to punish (contrast Genesis 15:16), secondly because the holy land needed to be purged of the sins that they had committed there, and to be made a pure place for God’s people, and thirdly because they could prove a snare to His people who were a holy people to Him and His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6). The sin of the Canaanites was so deep that it could only be purged by the shedding of their blood, and He knew (as proved to be the case once Israel disobeyed Him) that their presence there would make it certain that His people would fail to maintain the covenant.

It should, however, be noted that if they truly responded to Yahweh mercy was still available for the Canaanites. Consider for example Rahab and her family as in Joshua 6:25; see also Judges 1:25-26.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4

Nor shall you (thou) make marriages with them. Your daughter you shall not give to his son, nor his daughter shall you take to your son. For he will turn away your (thy) son from following me, that they may serve other gods. So will the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you (ye all), and he will destroy you (thee, as a nation) quickly.’

They were not to intermarry with them, neither by giving their daughters as wives to Canaanites or taking Canaanite wives for their sons. Thus all were to be slain or driven out, and none spared as captives or used for marriage purposes.

The possibility of such a situation would partly arise because the process of conquest would not reach its final climax immediately (Deuteronomy 7:22). Until that had happened there would be Canaanites in the land. But there was to be no fraternisation with them. They must be as if in quarantine. Intermarrying was a symbol of friendly relationships. Such intermarrying could often be the basis of a treaty (compare Genesis 34). It must not be considered with Canaanites.

It should be noted that this is not a forbidding of interracial marriage. Moses married interracially, and there would be many interracial marriages among the Israelites who included the ‘mixed multitude’ among them. It was inter-religious marriage that was in mind, for such could draw a person away from the true God (compare Numbers 25:1-3 for the dangers). Marriage with someone who is not in covenant with God is always frowned on in Scripture. In the same way a Christian must not marry an unbeliever, any more than light can wed darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Deuteronomy 7:5

But thus shall you (all of ye) deal with them. You (all of ye) shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.’

They were to destroy all the religious paraphernalia of the Canaanites. They must break down their altars, dash in pieces their pillars, hew down their Asherim and burn their graven images with fire. The pillars were stones set up to represent gods for worship purposes. These were not for the same purpose as Jacob had in mind when he set up a pillar in honour of Yahweh as a memorial (Genesis 28:18; Genesis 28:22), or like the memorial pillar mentioned by Isaiah 19:19, which was a symbol of belonging to Yahweh. They were seen as distinctly ‘divine’, the equivalent of graven images. The Asherim were either wooden poles or wooden images to represent the goddess Asherah. All were to be destroyed, removing all temptation to make use of them.

It should be noted here that there is no mention of Baal. The total lack of mention of Baal in the Pentateuch, apart from in the names of places, is quite remarkable. The only acceptable explanation of the total non-mention is that its books were written before contact with the land had brought home the predominance of Baal. Molech is mentioned in Leviticus 18, 20 but not Baal. It appears to us very unlikely that later writers, had they had a hand in influencing the Pentateuch, would not have invoked Baalism when inveighing against the religion of the land. But it is quite understandable why for Moses and Israel at this time it had not become the major issue that it became once Israel were settled in the land in the book of Judges. Where they were at that time Molech was more predominant.

(The mention of Molech demonstrates that the name Baal is not excluded simply for theological reasons. If it had been surely Molech would have been excluded as well. ‘Baal’ (lord) and ‘Molech’ (king) could be equally confusing).

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you (thou) are a holy people to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for his own treasured possession, above all peoples that are on the face of the earth.’

And the reason why they must not fraternise with the Canaanites, but must destroy them or drive them out, was because they themselves were a holy people, a people set apart to Yahweh, a chosen people, chosen by God to be a people for His own treasured possession, in His eyes a people above all peoples which are on the face of the earth, a people on whom He had set His love (compare Exodus 19:5-6; Psalms 135:4.) It was for this purpose that Yahweh had delivered them.

Here we have the first specific mention in the book of the fact that they were a ‘chosen’ people, elect as a people at the hand of God for the fulfilment of His purposes (compare Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 14:2; Genesis 12:1-3; Psalms 33:12; Psalms 105:43; Psalms 135:4; Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 43:10; Ezekiel 20:5). It was for this reason that He would endure with them to the end until He had formed a greater Israel through the message of His Son. But their being chosen originally began not with them, but with God choosing Abraham.

“His own treasured possession.” Segulla means ‘prized highly’. See its use in 1 Chronicles 29:3; Ecclesiastes 2:8. Its Akkadian equivalent sikiltu was used in treaty seals to describe kings as special possessions of their gods. Compare here Exodus 19:5. Israel were His own special possession set apart for His own special purpose to be priests to the nations. They were to teach the nations wisdom by their manner of life in the land, and one day by taking His word to the nations (Isaiah 2:3).

So this special regard for His people partly resulted from His purpose for them. Their preservation in holiness was essential for His future purposes for the world. It was this that justified the violent action against the Canaanites. His people must be preserved pure at any cost, and only a totally righteous land could act as a witness beacon to the world.


Verses 7-11

The Reason For Doing This Is because In Compassion and Mercy He Has Chosen Them To The End That They Are His Holy (Set Apart For Himself) People And Has Set His Love On Them (Deuteronomy 7:7-11).

In this passage the love and faithfulness of God is accentuated, and it is stressed that He loves them, not because they deserve it or were worthy, but simply because He has sovereignly set His love on them and also for their fathers’ sakes. Thus they can be sure that He will reveal His faithfulness by responding to those who are faithful to Him while repaying those who become unfaithful.

Analysis in the words of Moses:

a Yahweh did not set his love on you (you all), nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all peoples (Deuteronomy 7:7).

b But because Yahweh loves you all, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, has Yahweh brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:8).

c Know therefore that Yahweh your God, He is God, the faithful God (El) (Deuteronomy 7:9 a).

c He keeps covenant and lovingkindness with those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9 b).

b And those who hate Him He repays to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face (Deuteronomy 7:10).

a You shall therefore keep the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day, to do them (Deuteronomy 7:11).

We note in ‘a’ that Yahweh showed great favour to them by setting His love on them so that in the parallel they are to respond by keeping His commandments give to them this day, and doing them. In ‘b’ Yahweh loves them and because He would keep His oath to their fathers has delivered them from bondage in Egypt, but in the parallel those who hate Him He repays to their face. In ‘c’, because He is Yahweh, the faithful God, in the parallel He is faithful to His covenant and reveals His covenant love to His people permanently as long as they too are faithful.

Deuteronomy 7:7

Yahweh did not set his love on you (ye all), nor choose you (ye), because you (ye) were more in number than any people, for you (ye) were the fewest of all peoples,’

Here we have emphasised that Yahweh has set His love on them. And note that Moses expects them to be aware of that fact. They have good reason to know that they are the beloved of Yahweh.

He stresses that Yahweh did not set His love on them or choose them because they were so many, or because they were a more numerous people than others, for they were not. That was the way men looked at things. When He had first chosen them they had been the fewest of all peoples, wandering through Canaan with their herds and flocks, seen as strangers passing by, and then settling in Egypt as a band of resident aliens. They were the weak, the foolish, the despised (compare 1 Corinthians 1:27-29). It was nothing in them that had occasioned His love and choosing. It was rather an act of divine grace, of unmerited goodness and power, because they were descendants of, or had become connected with the descendants of, His faithful and beloved servant Abraham.

Deuteronomy 7:8

But because Yahweh loves you (ye all), and because he would keep the oath which he swore to your (your) fathers, has Yahweh brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you (ye) out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.’

Rather, therefore, Yahweh chose them because He loved them. The final reason for that is unstated. It was simply the determined act of God. It was true that it was for their father’s sakes, and then for their own sake because of their response to Him in the covenant, and because He was determined to keep His oath to their fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But over and above it all it was because He had chosen for His love to reach out to them. And that was why He had redeemed them out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

Here in this verse we have important theological overtones. Firstly that Yahweh loved His people. They were chosen because He loved them, and they were chosen because of the oath that He had sworn to their fathers. And secondly that it was because of these things that He had bought them, He had ‘redeemed’ them, a piteous people, out from under bondage, delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh. The connection of ‘redeemed’ with ‘bondmen in bondage’ supports the idea that we see it as the paying of a price, even if that price was the exertion of His power to bring Pharaoh in submission to His will.

And we too, if we are Christ’s, are chosen in His love. The thought that God has set His love on us from all eternity (Ephesians 1:4) can only humble us and yet flood our hearts with praise and gratitude. For we are God’s true Israel, being the continuation of the old spiritual Israel (Galatians 3:29; Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 11:17-24). And the Scripture makes quite plain that having chosen us and loved us He has justified us in Christ, and will raise us to final glorification (Romans 8:29-30). How then can we also fail to seek to fulfil all His commandments and rid ourselves of all that is displeasing to Him?

Deuteronomy 7:9-10

Know therefore that Yahweh your (thy) God, he is God, the faithful God (El), who keeps covenant and lovingkindness with those who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations, and repays those who hate him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to him who hates him, he will repay him to his face.’

By consideration of this (‘therefore’) they could know that Yahweh is God (He defeated Pharaoh, god of Egypt, and all his supporting gods, treating them as nothings), that He is the faithful God, faithful to His past covenants and to those on whom He has set His love in the past, and that He keeps covenant with and shows gracious mercy towards those who love Him and keep His commandments. Note that loving Him comes prior to the keeping of His commandments. The keeping of the commandments results from that love. This is not to be seen as abiding by strict rules out of fear of the consequences, but as lovingly responding to Yahweh’s requirements because they love Him for what He has done for them. (Compare Luke 7:41-42).

“To a thousand generations.” That is, to numberless generations. His faithfulness, love and compassion go on and on. (Compare how ‘a thousand years’ means numberless years - Psalms 90:4; Ecclesiastes 6:6).

“And repays those who hate him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to him who hates him, he will repay him to his face.” But while on the one hand there is love and compassion, on the other there is aversion to sin and to those who reject His covenant, those who thus show that they ‘hate’ Him. These, such as the Canaanites, He will destroy. This fact is stressed. He is not slack and slovenly about dealing with sin, He does it openly and readily in the face of the sinner. Therefore let all who would sin beware. There is no room in His land for sin.

Deuteronomy 7:11

You shall therefore keep the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day, to do them.’

Because of that (‘therefore’), because he is compassionate and merciful to those who look to Him, and harsh with sinners, they are to keep His commandment, and the statutes and ordinances that He commands them this very day, as they will shortly be unfolded.


Verses 12-15

Their Reward For Faithfulness And Obedience To His Covenant Will Be Multiplied Blessing (Deuteronomy 7:12-15).

a It shall come about that because you listen to these ordinances, and keep and do them, that Yahweh your God will keep with you the covenant and the lovingkindness (covenant love) which he swore to your fathers (Deuteronomy 7:12).

b And He will love you, and bless you, and multiply you, He will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your fathers to give you (Deuteronomy 7:13).

b You will be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your (your) cattle (Deuteronomy 7:14).

a And Yahweh will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, will He put on you, but will lay them on all them who hate you (Deuteronomy 7:15).

Note that in ‘a’ Yahweh will keep covenant with them and show His covenant love towards them, and in the parallel He will therefore keep them from all the diseases of Egypt, and they will rather be put on their enemies. In ‘b’ He will bless both their own production of children and the production of their beasts and crops and vines, and in the parallel there will be no barrenness either for them or their beasts.

Deuteronomy 7:12

And it shall come about that because you (ye all) listen to these ordinances, and keep and do them, that Yahweh your (thy) God will keep with you (thee) the covenant and the lovingkindness which he swore to your (thy) fathers,’

And the result of their listening to His ordinances and keeping them in their hearts, and doing them, will be that He, Yahweh their God, will keep His covenant with them, and will maintain the covenant love (chesed), the warm, responsive, gracious love, which He swore to their fathers. With God relationship is always two way. Receiving mercy and love, must result in responding with love and obedience. The two go together. One cannot exist without the other. The person who does not seek to serve Him has not experienced His love and mercy, for His love and mercy would have changed their hearts so that they did love and obey Him.

Deuteronomy 7:13

And he will love you, and bless you, and multiply you, he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you.’

And He will not only keep covenant, but He will truly love them, and bless them, and multiply them. He first made the covenant because He wanted to pour out His love. But He will also bless both the fruit of their bodies, in healthy and numerous offspring, and the fruit of their ground in abundant harvests. Healthy offspring were necessary both in order to increase the number of hands available for work (compare Genesis 5:29) and in order to make the nation more powerful. He will also bless their crops and their fruit trees, their grain, and their new wine, and their olive oil. He will bless the young that their cattle produce, and the same with their flocks. They too will prosper and be fruitful and multiply and bring forth in abundance. And all this in the land which He swore to their fathers to give them, the chosen land, the land intended for the righteous, the land watched over by Yahweh, the potential kingdom of Yahweh.

Deuteronomy 7:14

You (thou) shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you (ye), or among your (your) cattle.’

Indeed they would be blessed more than all others. Not a single male or female would be barren, not one of their cattle would fail to produce in abundance. Their numbers and their prosperity would continue to grow and grow. All would be perfect. Here is the picture of abundant blessing, had they been fully faithful. But its final fulfilment would actually await the afterlife, for none in this world could live up to it.

Deuteronomy 7:15

And Yahweh will take away from you (thee) all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, will he put on you, but will lay them on all them who hate you.’

And they would suffer no sickness or disease. All the sickness that they had experienced and witnessed in Egypt would not trouble them. He will not put it on them, He will put it on those who hate them. ‘Which you know’ - from bitter experience. One of the plagues involved painful boils which were prevalent in Egypt, along with afflictions of the eyes and bowels, to say nothing of more severe diseases. The fact that such diseases was for their enemies stresses that Yahweh also saw Egypt as their enemy and under judgment. For we may assume that the indication is that they had these diseases for that reason.

This deliverance from the ills of Egypt is stressed right from the beginning of their deliverance (Exodus 15:26; Exodus 23:25). It suggests that such ills were one of the downsides of life in Egypt.

All these descriptions point to the perfect state. This was their hope. Here was to be established heaven on earth. It was the picture which would again be presented eschatologically by the prophets, but here in Deuteronomy its fulfilment was theoretically to be expected fairly soon in the land. This in itself places Deuteronomy timewise before the prophets. It was a vision that could only be held while the prospect of possessing the land in this way in the near future was still expected.

But what is finally in mind is not the literal fulfilment, which could never happen because of man’s sinfulness, but the final fulfilment when Christ submits all things to the Father and God is all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). But they would not have understood that. Such thoughts would have been beyond them. It was therefore put in this way.


Verses 16-26

They Must Thoroughly Cleanse The Land of Both Its Peoples and Its Idolatry, And He Himself Will Be With Them To Enable Them To Do It (Deuteronomy 7:16-26).

This reference to their enemies who hate them leads back to the subject of the destruction of their enemies in the land. The land must be thoroughly cleansed of them. And they need not be afraid of them because Yahweh Himself will be with them to deliver them.

(In this passage it is ‘thou’ (the nation as a whole) all the way through except once in Deuteronomy 7:25).

Analysis in the words of Moses:

a You shall consume all the peoples whom Yahweh your God shall deliver to you. Your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you (Deuteronomy 7:16).

b If you shall say in your heart, “These nations are more than I. How can I dispossess them? You shall not be afraid of them (Deuteronomy 7:17-18 a).

c You will well remember what Yahweh your God did to Pharaoh, and to all Egypt, the great trials which your eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which Yahweh your God brought you out. So shall Yahweh your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid (Deuteronomy 7:18-19).

d Moreover Yahweh your God will send the hornet among them, until those who are left, and hide themselves, perish from before you (Deuteronomy 7:20).

e You shall not be frightened at them (Deuteronomy 7:21 a)

e For Yahweh your God is in the midst of you, a great God and a terrible (Deuteronomy 7:21 b).

d Yahweh your God will cast out those nations before you by little and little. You may not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon you (Deuteronomy 7:22).

c But Yahweh your God will deliver them up before you, and will discomfit them with a great discomfiture, until they are destroyed (Deuteronomy 7:23).

b He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name to perish from under heaven. There shall no man be able to stand before you, until you have destroyed them (Deuteronomy 7:24).

a The graven images of their gods you (ye) shall burn with fire. You (thou) shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it to you, lest you be snared in it, for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God and you shall not bring an abomination into your house, and become a devoted thing like it. You shall utterly detest it, and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is a devoted thing (Deuteronomy 7:25-26).

Note that in ‘a’ they were to consume all the peoples whom Yahweh their God delivered to them without pity (because they had been ‘devoted’ to Yahweh), nor were they to serve their gods, for that would be a snare to them, and in the parallel it is stressed that they are to destroy those gods in the form of graven images and not bring ‘devoted’ things which are an abomination into their houses otherwise they too would become ‘devoted’ to Yahweh because they had turned to idolatry (‘devoted’ means ‘devoted to destruction). In ‘b’ they begin to fear in their hearts saying, “These nations are more than I. How can I dispossess them?” But they are not to be afraid of them, for in the parallel He will deliver their kings into their hand, and they will thus make their name perish from under heaven. No man will be able to stand before them until they have destroyed them. In ‘c’ they are to well remember what Yahweh their God did to Pharaoh, and to all Egypt, and recognise that so would Yahweh their God do to all the peoples of whom they were afraid, and in the parallel they are to be sure that Yahweh their God will deliver them up before them, and will discomfit them with a great discomfiture, until they are destroyed. In ‘d’ Yahweh their God will send the hornet among them, until those who are left, and hide themselves, perish from before them, while in the parallel, while in the parallel Yahweh their God will cast out those nations before them little by little. They may not consume them at once, lest wild beasts increase in their vicinity. In ‘e’ they are not to be frightened at them, for in the parallel Yahweh their God is in the midst of them, a great God and a terrible.

Deuteronomy 7:16

And you shall consume all the peoples whom Yahweh your God shall deliver to you. Your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.’

He repeats again the command in verses 2-4, which will further be repeated in Deuteronomy 7:22-26. All this repetition is in order to drive it deep into their heads and hearts so that it becomes second nature to them (which sadly for their future it did not). Positive living was to be accompanied by a resolute turning from sin. They were to consume all the peoples whom Yahweh delivered up to them. They were not to spare them. They were not to have compassion on them. Nor were they to spare their gods. For this was Yahweh’s land, and only what was responsive to Him could be allowed to live there. If they failed in all this it would be a snare to them, a trap that would entice them to their own destruction. It is this that is one of the basic themes of the chapter, with Yahweh’s choice of Israel, and His promise to fight on their behalf being the supports and encouragements which make it both the divine will and possible of fulfilment. For if they failed in this the dream would collapse. Unless the land was purged the blessed future would not be capable of fulfilment. Sin must be fully dealt with if righteousness is to prosper.

There is the warning here that we too should continually search our hearts in order to ensure that no idol has possessed them and limited our love for Christ. It is true of us also that if sin is not dealt with, righteousness will not prosper. If it was so important that the land should be cleansed from all that was corrupt, how much more important is it for us that we too should remove from our lives all that corrupts. It is not enough to be positive. We must also root out all that is negative.

Deuteronomy 7:17-19

If you shall say in your heart, “These nations are more than I. How can I dispossess them? You shall not be afraid of them. You shall well remember what Yahweh your God did to Pharaoh, and to all Egypt, the great trials which your eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which Yahweh your God brought you out. So shall Yahweh your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.’

He now makes allowance for their possible fears, for he is aware of their weaknesses that so often reveal themselves. He acknowledges that they might well begin to fear, and ask how they can hope to cope with peoples more numerous than themselves, and better armed. But he assures them that it is not a problem. They are not to be afraid. They are to remember what Yahweh did in Egypt to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, and the great trials and tests that their eyes saw, for Yahweh tried Pharaoh until Pharaoh broke and gave way. And they are to remember the signs and wonders, and the mighty hand and outstretched arm (also working through Moses’ outstretched arm), Yahweh’s arm laid bare, by all of which Yahweh brought them out of Egypt. So will He do to all who oppose them, and all the people whom they have to meet, and of whom they are afraid.

Deuteronomy 7:20

Moreover Yahweh your God will send the hornet among them, until those who are left, and hide themselves, perish from before you.’

For Yahweh will fight for them. He will send on their enemies all kinds of catastrophes, natural and otherwise, like the descent of hornets on unsuspecting people (compare Exodus 23:28; Joshua 24:12). It is possible that ‘send the hornet’ was a saying which signified promised catastrophe. Nothing was more fearful than a swarm of hornets. The result would be that those who were left would hide themselves, but it would do them no good. Their enemies would perish from before them. This promise was important. The point was that Yahweh had all kinds of ‘secret weapons’ that He could release which were not the normal weapons of warfare.

“Hornet” (tsi‘rah). The word only occurs here, and in Exodus 23:28 and Joshua 24:12. Some would translate as ‘depression, discouragement’ but a more positive foe appears to be in mind. It comes from the root word which means being ‘struck with a skin disease’. Hornets viciously attack the skin. This promise may have been in mind in Revelation 9:1-11.

But the context may suggest that the description has the Angel of Yahweh in mind, pictured in terms of the fearsome hornet, swarming down on the enemy and causing them to flee in terror. The Israelite attacks in all quarters may well have seemed like swarms of hornets, coming from nowhere and buzzing round their cities and towns. Compare how the Amorites had come down on their fathers like bees (Deuteronomy 1:44).

All knew, or had heard and been warned, of what happened when a swarm of hornets descended. Woe betide whatever was beneath. The bravest of armies would desperately run for cover before such a foe, for there was no fighting them. Then they would cower and hope that they did not select them as their target. All they could do was run, and hide, and hope, and seek to cover themselves, while aware that the hornets would seek many of them out. (Compare Deuteronomy 1:44, but there they were only bees, here they are hornets). So would God use His own weapons as though they were hornets, to seek out their enemies. The hornet in mind may even have been of thoughts buzzing in the mind which frightened their foes to death (compare Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 11:25; Exodus 15:14-16; Exodus 23:27).

Deuteronomy 7:21

You shall not be frightened at them, for Yahweh your God is in the midst of you, a great God and a terrible.’

If their foe seemed terrible, let them consider their great and terrible God, the One from Whom they had withdrawn when the covenant was given (Deuteronomy 5:5; Deuteronomy 5:25). There will be no need then to be frightened, for their great and terrible God Who is among them would come and give them victory, in the same way as He had revealed His greatness and His terribleness in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 7:22

And Yahweh your God will cast out those nations before you by little and little. You may not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon you.’

Yahweh is not unaware of the problems before them. He will certainly cast out the nations from before them. But He will not destroy these nations all at once. He will do it little by little. This is so that the land may not become unoccupied, and thus be taken over by a multitude of wild beasts. While initially the first thrust would be devastating, settlement of the whole land would take considerably longer, as the book of Joshua makes apparent. It could not just happen overnight. Settlement took time and effort. Of course, His people were not intended during this process to live among the Canaanites. Once they occupied each area of land, where ‘their feet stepped’, it had to be cleared of Canaanites. But it would take time. Meanwhile Canaanites would be allowed to live where Israel had not yet settled (but not, of course, associated with - Deuteronomy 7:1-5).

Thus God even had a purpose in delaying the driving out of the Canaanites. This question is a complicated one. The delay was partly due to lethargy, disobedience and unbelief. But God turned it also to good purposes. It would teach them war (Judges 3:2), it would test whether they were willing to obey His commandments (Judges 3:4), and as here it would keep the land in good condition until they possessed it. And we must remember that Canaan was not just all open country. It was not easy to settle. The settling of a land like Canaan with its forests, and mountains, and plains and multiplicity of cities would take a great deal of effort and time. Israel had to learn how to live there gradually. Doing too much too soon would have been fatal.

Why then did God not simply keep the wild beasts out? Had not Leviticus 26:6 said that He would remove savage beasts from the land? One answer is that He tends not to interfere in the workings of nature where it is not necessary. Men learn from facing the problems of life. Too easy a settlement would have led to sin all the quicker. And besides the land would not stay still. Even without wild beasts it would become overgrown and return to the wild. But as with the Canaanites, he would remove savage beasts from the land gradually. And their arrival in too large numbers was meanwhile being hindered by the presence of the Canaanites. he was not giving them a wild and barren land, but a cultivated one and one good to live in.

Deuteronomy 7:23

But Yahweh your God will deliver them up before you, and will discomfit them with a great discomfiture, until they are destroyed.’

Nevertheless in the end He would deliver all their enemies up to them. He would discomfit them with great discomfiture until they were destroyed. He would ensure the eradication of evil from the land as long as they remained faithful.

Deuteronomy 7:24

And he will deliver their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name to perish from under heaven. There shall no man be able to stand before you, until you have destroyed them.’

Their kings would be able to do nothing about it. They might seem to Israel to be important and powerful but before Yahweh they would be helpless. They would be delivered into their hands. And their names would perish and be forgotten in the world of their day. ‘From under heaven’ simply means ‘from the world’. None would be able to stand against Israel, until all were destroyed. It is difficult to see how God could have made it more clear that while He was fighting for them they would be invincible.

Deuteronomy 7:25

The graven images of their gods you (ye) shall burn with fire. You (thou) shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it to you, lest you be snared in it, for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God.’

But in receiving all this help they must remember His instructions. They were to burn their graven images with fire, totally and completely. They were not to look at the silver and gold on them, or covet it, or seek to take it for themselves. For it could become a snare to them as they remembered where it came from. And it was an abomination to Yahweh. The idea of idolatry as an abomination is constant in Scripture, as is Yahweh’s abomination of anything that keeps us from Him.

We too must remember that gold and silver might seem desirable, but if it comes at the cost of our love for God or makes us compromise it is too costly.

Deuteronomy 7:26

And you shall not bring an abomination into your house, and become a devoted thing like it. You shall utterly detest it, and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is a devoted thing.’

Thus they must not bring such an abomination into their residences. It was devoted to destruction. And were they to do so let them recognise that they might themselves become a ‘devoted’ thing, themselves being devoted to destruction, because they had taken what was ‘devoted to Yahweh’ (see Joshua 7) into their residence. Rather they were to detest and abhor any such thing. Here we are reminded that as with holiness the contact with a ‘devoted’ thing can cause the contacter to be ‘devoted’ to destruction.

If only we would take these severe instructions to heart we might be more severe with sin in our own lives. It reminds us that sin must not be tolerated. It has to be rooted out. It has to be driven out. It has to be destroyed. Whenever we see anything in our lives that is interfering with His pre-eminence in our hearts we must not spare it. We must rid ourselves of it completely. Only then can Christ reign truly in our lives.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 7:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/deuteronomy-7.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology