(1) When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land. . . .—The former chapter applies the Decalogue to the love of Jehovah and of His word, and to faith in Him as the God of Israel; and thus it may be regarded as an expansion of the first commandment. The exhortation in this chapter concerns the treatment of idolaters in the conquest of Canaan, and the avoidance of all such intercourse or union with them as might tend to turn Israel from Jehovah. Obviously, this may be connected both with the first and with the second commandment.
Thou shalt make no covenant with them.—The reason for this is too obvious to need comment. If Israelites and idolaters were united—still more if they were intermingled in marriage—there was an end to the distinction of race and religion—an end to the supremacy of Israel or the isolation of the people of Jehovah, as exhibiting His Law and the blessings of His government to mankind. It must be remembered, however, that the isolation here commanded was only a means to an end; it was not the end itself. It may be further observed that as soon as the danger of idolatry was at an end, the isolation of Israel in a great measure ceased. The object of giving the people a land of their own, and supremacy among the surrounding nations, was to enable them to develop the religion which was to prepare the way for Christianity. When the religious principles of the nation were sufficiently fixed to make their political supremacy unnecessary, this supremacy was taken away.
Their groves.—Here the grove itself in which the idol was worshipped, and so in Deuteronomy 16:21. Sometimes the word is used for the image.
Burn their graven images with fire.—David treated the images of the Philistines thus (1 Chronicles 14:12). Compare Isaiah 37:19.
A special people.—The same word with the “peculiar treasure” of Exodus 19:5 and the “jewels” of Malachi 3:17. The private property of King David is described by the same word (1 Chronicles 29:3), “mine own proper good.” (See also Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Psalm 135:4 )
Ye were the fewest of all people.—It may be observed that the development of the Moabites, Ammonites, Ishmaelites, and Edomites (all, like Israel, descended from Terah), was far more rapid than that of the chosen line. Abraham had twelve grandsons through Ishmael, but only the same number of great grandsons through Isaac and Jacob. Edom, Moab, and Ammon all preceded Israel in the conquest of territory. Kings reigned in Edom “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel” (Genesis 36:31). It was only “when the time of the promise drew nigh” that “the (chosen) people grew and multiplied in Egypt.” The Scripture is throughout consistent in representing their development as due to the special providence of God. (See also on Deuteronomy 10:22.)
If ye hearken.—Literally, as a return for your hearkening. (See Note on Deuteronomy 8:19.)
By little and little.—This confirms the view already expressed, that the expulsion of each particular nation was contingent upon the Divine decree, and that none were to be attacked by Israel except when the Lord should deliver them into Israel’s hand.
There shall no man be able to stand before thee.—A promise personally renewed to Joshua (Joshua 1:5), and fulfilled to Israel under his command (Josh. 20:44).
Deuteronomy 7:26Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.