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Deuteronomy 7

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Chosen People Life in Canaan The Lord's Own People Israel a People Apart
7:1-5 7:1-6 7:1-6 7:1-6
7:6-11     God's Election and His Favour
  7:7-11 7:7-11 7:7-11
Blessings of Obedience   The Blessing of Obedience  
7:12-16 7:12-16 7:12-16 7:12-15
      7:16
      The Power of Yahweh
7:17-26 7:17-26 7:17-26 7:17-20
      7:21-24
      7:25-26

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3, p. viii). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:1-5
  1
"When the Lord your God shall bring you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and shall clear away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2and when the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. 3Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you. 5But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire."

7:1 "Hittites" See Special Topic: Pre-Israelite Inhabitants of Canaan at 1:4.

▣ "seven nations" The lists of nations vary from 10, 7, 5, 3, or 1 (i.e. Canaanite or Amorite).

7:1-5 There are several verbs used to mandate Israel's response to the tribal groups living in Canaan:

1. "shall clear away" - v. 1, BDB 675, KB 730, Qal perfect, literally it means "to drop off," cf. II Kgs. 16:6; here, metaphorically, "clear away," cf. v. 2.

2. "God shall deliver them before you" - v. 2, BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect, cf. v. 23; Num. 21:3 and God will do this to Israel because of her sin in I Kgs. 14:16

3. "you shall defeat them" - v. 2, BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil perfect, "smite," cf. Exod. 9:25; 21:20

4. "utterly destroy" - v. 2, BDB 355, KB 353, Hiphil infinitive absolute, cf. 2:34; 3:6(twice); 7:2(twice)

5. "make no covenant" - v. 2, BDB 503, KB 500, Qal imperfect, "cut no covenant," cf. Exod. 23:32; 34:12

6. "show them no favor" - v. 2, BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperfect, cf. v. 16; 13:8

7. "you shall not intermarry" - v. 3, BDB 368, KB 364, Hithpael imperfect, literally "not to be son-in-law," cf. Gen. 34:9; Josh. 23:12

8. "you shall tear down their altars" - v. 5, BDB 683, KB 736, Qal imperfect, cf. 12:3; Exod. 34:13(23:24); II Kgs. 23:12; II Chr. 31:1

9. "smash their sacred pillars" - v. 5, BDB 990, KB 1402, Piel imperfect, cf. II Kgs. 11:18, phallic stone symbols of the male fertility god, Ba'al, cf. II Chr. 31:1

10. "hew down their Asherim" - v. 5, BDB 154, KB 180, Piel imperfect, cf. v. 25; 12:3; II Chr. 14:3; 31:1; 34:4,7

11. "burn their graven images" - v. 5, BDB 976, KB 1358, Qal imperfect, cf. I Chr. 14:12 in Micah 1:7, the cultic items of idolatry are burned

 

7:2 "utterly destroy them" This is the word herem (BDB 355, KB 353, Hiphil infinitive absolute) It meant that something was dedicated to God for destruction. The NT word for this concept is corban. It is related to the idea of holiness or something being set apart for God's use. Since something was so holy it could not be used by human beings, the only way to assure its non-use was to destroy it. So, within the bounds of Israel, when cities were taken, the men, and sometimes women, children, and animals were also killed. To moderns this seems very cruel, but it was a common practice in that day. A good example of this would be Jericho in Joshua 6 or Lachish in Josh. 10:28,35. Genesis 15:16; Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13 state the theological reason for the complete destruction of the Canaanites.

▣ "make no covenant with them" Joshua 9 gives us one historical example of the Israelites' failure to keep this commandment.

NASB"show no favor to them"
NKJV"nor show mercy to them"
NRSV"show them no mercy"
TEV"do not. . .show them any mercy"
NJB"not. . .show them any pity"

The negated verb (BDB 335 I, KB 334, Qal imperfect) means "show favor" or "be gracious." However, Israel does not have this option (cf. v. 16; 13:11-16; 19:13,21; 25:12). Mercy would pollute the land with evil; mercy would forgive what YHWH would not!

7:3 "you shall not intermarry with them" This has no racial overtones at all; it was for religious reasons (cf. Exod. 34:12-17). The major passages regarding this are in Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13. God did not want His people to marry the Canaanites because of their idolatry, which would pull their heart away from Him and corrupt His revelation of Himself to the world.

7:4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me" See Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13. This is where the modern Jewish concept of the mother being the key to one's legal Jewish standing originated.

7:5 "tear down. . .smash. . .hew down. . .burn" See full list at 7:1-5.

▣ "Asherim" The KJV translation has "groves." The literal meaning was "wooden symbols of a female deity" (BDB 81). This was a wooden pole which was planted beside the raised stone pillar of Baal, the male fertility god. Asherah or Astartes was the female consort and was represented by this wooden pole. It is uncertain if they were live trees or carved stakes.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:6-11
  6"For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. 11Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them."

7:6 "holy people. . .God has chosen you" OT election (i.e., "chosen" - BDB 103, KB 119, Qal, perfect) was for service, which did not always involve salvation (cf. Cyrus in Isa. 44:28; 45:1). "Chosen," like "holy," had more to do with their relationship to YHWH than personal piety, like the NT use of "saint" for believers. God chose Israel to choose a nation to choose a world (cf. Exod. 19:5-6). He wants a "holy people" (BDB 872) to show the world His character and desire to know them. But, even within that nation, it was always an individual act of faith that made a person right with God, not simply being a part of the covenant community (cf. Ezekiel 18). The covenant community was made up of individuals who submitted themselves, by faith, to the Law of God. It was made up of more than just Jews; the stranger in their midst, the alien in their land, and the foreign slaves in the home were all graciously adopted and were allowed to partake of the covenant of election (cf. Exod. 12:38).

NASB "own possession"
NKJV, NASB Footnote "a special treasure"
NRSV, NIV "treasured possession"
TEV   -----
NJB "His treasured people"
JPSOA, REB "special possession"
NET Bible "prized"

This is literally "a people for possession" (BDB 766 I and 688, cf. Exod. 19:5) or "a special treasure." The word means valued property, used metaphorically of God's covenant people (cf. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Ps. 135:4; Titus 2:14; I Pet. 2:9). Maybe today we would say Israel was YHWH's crown jewel (i.e., for spreading His knowledge and revelation to all the nations). See SPECIAL TOPIC: BOB'S EVANGELICAL BIASES at 4:6.

7:7 "The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples" The initial verb (BDB 365 I, KB 362, Qal perfect) means "to press together" or "bind," cf. 10:15 (different word for love [cf. v. 8], but same truth in 4:37) and possibly Isa. 38:17. The verb is used for desire in Gen. 34:8; Deut. 21:11).

This verse accentuates the unmerited, undeserved mercy, grace, and love of God! See Special Topic: YHWH's Grace Acts to Israel at 9:4-6. As a matter of fact, Israel was difficult to love because of her stiffnecked stubbornness (cf. 9:6,13; 31:27). God's grace is displayed even more clearly because of Israel's rebellion!

7:8 "because the Lord loved you" Many times the OT stresses that God will fulfill His promises to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (cf. Genesis 12, 15, 18, 26, 28). But here God shows that He did it because He loves this generation, too!

▣ "brought you out" The verb (BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil perfect) is very common and used in many senses (examples from Deuteronomy):

1. literal

a. an army came out for battle, 1:44; 2:32; 3:1; 20:1,10; 24:5; 29:7

b. water from spring, 8:7

c. left, 9:7; 16:3,6

d. field's produce, 14:22; 28:38

e. produce the pledge, 24:11

2. metaphorical

a. parallel to deliver, 1:27; 4:20; 5:6,15, etc.

b. place of origin, 2:23

c. parallel to redeem, 7:8

d. slander or bad name, 22:14

e. to give in marriage, 22:19; 24:2

f. daily life, 28:6,19; 33:18

g. lead, 31:2

Only context can determine the appropriate meaning. This is true of all words!

▣ "redeemed" This verb (BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperfect) means "to buy with a price." It was used of buying or purchasing (1) the firstborn (cf. Exod. 13:1-22; Num. 18:15-17) and the Levites (Num. 3:44-51) or (2) a slave (cf. 15:15; 24:18, i.e., Israel).

SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

7:9 "Know" See full note at 4:35.

Notice what the Israelites were to "know" (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal perfect) about God:

1. "Lord your God He is God" - all nouns, cf. 4:35,39 with the definite article before the last Elohim

2. "the faithful God" - BDB 52, Niphal participle, cf. Isa. 49:7. This is a major theological assertion (cf. Psalm 89)! It is defined by the next two items.

3. "who keeps His covenant" - verb, BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal active participle, cf. v. 12; Gen. 28:15,20; Josh. 24:17; Ps. 146:6

4. "and His lovingkindness" - noun, BDB 338, cf. vv. 9,12; I Kgs. 8:23; II Chr. 6:14; Neh. 1:5; 9:32; Dan. 9:4

In light of this they were to:

1. love Him, v. 9, BDB 12, KB 17,Qal active participle (cf. 6:5; 7;13; 11:1,13,22; 13:3). See full note at 5:10.

2. keep His commandments, v. 9, BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal active participle. See note at 5:1.

Notice the balance between God's faithfulness and Israel's faithfulness! The blessing from a loving, obedient personal relationship with YHWH flowed to the "thousandth generation. Thousand is a metaphor for great abundance, not always literal (cf. Ps. 90:4; Rev. 20:2,3,4,7). See note at 5:9.

"the faithful God" See Special Topic at 1:32.

7:10-11 Notice YHWH's response to those who "hate Him" - BDB 971, KB 1338, Qal active participle, cf. 5:9; Exod. 20:5; Num. 10:35; II Chr. 19:2; Ps. 68:1; 81:15; 83:2; 139:21:

1. "destroy them" - BDB 1, KB 2, Hiphil infinitive construct

2. "repay him to his face" - BDB 1022, KB 1532, Piel imperfect, means "recompense," "requite," cf. Jer. 51:24

 

7:11 "the commandment and the statutes and the judgments" See Special Topic at 4:1.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:12-16
 
12"Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. 13And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. 14You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. 15And the Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you. 16And you shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you."

7:12 Notice the reciprocal relationship (i.e., mutual covenant responsibilities). Notice that "His covenant" and "His lovingkindness" are parallel.

7:13-15 Notice the covenantal blessings of YHWH:

1. love you

2. bless you

3. multiply you

4. bless your children

5. bless your crops

a. grain

b. new wine

c. oil

6. bless your herds

7. no barrenness (cf. Exod. 23:26)

a. human (cf. Gen. 11:30; 16:1; 25:21; 29:31)

b. cattle (cf. 28:4; 30:9)

8. no sickness (rare term used only here and 28:10)

9. defeat your enemies

These abundant blessings (cf. Exod. 23:25-26) are also clearly set out in Deuteronomy 28, but they are surrounded by the consequences of disobedience (cf. Deuteronomy 27 and 28:15-58). The conditional nature of Moses' covenant is clear. The rest of Israel's history can be understood in light of Deuteronomy 27-29. God's promises and blessings are only available to a faithful, trusting, obedient Israel. Israel was never able to sustain this level of performance, thus the need for a new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38; Galatians 3), which is based on YHWH's actions.

All OT loving followers of Jesus pray for and expect an end-time revival (cf. Romans 9-11). But it must be stated clearly, without Jesus there is no covenant hope (cf. John 14:6; 1:12; 3:16; 20:31).

7:16 "snare" The Canaanite gods must be completely avoided lest they become a snare (BDB 430, cf. Exod. 23:33; Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Jdgs. 2:3; 8:27; Ps. 106:36), which is literally "a baited animal trap"!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 7:17-26
 
17"If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?' 18you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: 19the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. 20Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. 21You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. 22And the Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you. 23But the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed. 24And He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you shall make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them. 25The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26And you shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned."

7:17 "If you should say in your heart" This is a Hebrew idiom for "if you are thinking or doubting" (cf. v. 21; 9:23; Ps. 95:8). The whole point of this paragraph is to encourage Israel:

1. by YHWH's actions against Egypt (i.e., the plagues), vv. 18-19

2. by YHWH's promised actions against Canaan (i.e., hornets), vv. 20-24

 

7:18 "you shall well remember" This verb (BDB 269, KB 269, Qal infinitive absolute and Qal imperfect) is used often for emphasis (cf. 5:15; 7:2[twice]; 8:18; 9:7,27; 15:15; 16:3,12; 24:9,18,22; 25:17; 32:7). Believers must take the backward look to see the present hand of God. As He was in the past, so He will be ("to those who love Him and keep His commandments). YHWH has acted and will act in history on behalf of His people!

7:19 Notice the words to describe YHWH's redemptive acts in Egypt: 

1. "the great trials" BDB 152 and 650 II, cf. 4:34; 29:3 (this same root [III] is used for Israel "testing" YHWH during the wilderness wandering period, cf. 6:16, 9:22)

2. "the signs" BDB 16, cf. 4:34; 7:19; 26:8; 29:2; 34:11; Ps. 28:43; 105:27; 135:9

3. "the wonders" BDB 68, cf. 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; 26:8; 34:11; Ps. 78:43; 105:27; 135:9

4. "the mighty hand" BDB 305 and 388, cf. 4:34; 5:15; 6:21; 7:8,19; 9:26; 11:2; 26:8; 34:12, see note at 4:34

5. "the outstretched arm" BDB 283 and 639 (Qal passive participle), cf. 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 9:29; 11:2; 26:8

I have just shown the parallels in Deuteronomy. They also appear in Exodus. The redemptive acts of YHWH are Israel's great hope! They are the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (cf. Gen. 15:12-21). They are the inauguration of the national covenant.

7:20 "God will send the hornet" There are two possible meanings for "hornets" (BDB 864): (1) it is either figurative (cf. Deut. 1:44, which described an army as a swarm of bees) or (2) literal (cf. Exod. 23:28; Josh. 24:12, where hornets were sent by God to defeat foreign armies). God shows His people that He is fighting on their behalf!

7:21 "You shall not dread them" This verb (BDB 791, KB 888, Qal imperfect) is repeated several times (cf. 1:29; 7:21; 20:3; 31:6; Josh. 1:9).

▣ "the Lord your God is in your midst" This is a marvelous truth. The transcendent God, the Holy One, dwells with His people (cf. Exod. 29:45; Num. 5:3; 35:34). This is what Emmanuel means (cf. Isa. 7:14; 8:8,10).

▣ "a great and awesome God" This phrase is made up of:

1. an adjective - "great" BDB 42

2. a Niphal participle - "terrible" BDB 431, KB 432

This description of YHWH (using Niphal stem) is also found in 10:17; Neh. 1:5; 4:14; 9:32; Dan. 9:4.

7:22 This verse shows the balance between the power of YHWH (i.e., "clear away" BDB 675, KB 730, Qal perfect) and human limits:

1. "you will not be able to put an end to them quickly"

2. "lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you"

 

7:23 God's actions are described as:

1. "the Lord your God will send the hornet against them," v. 20

2. "the Lord your God. . .will throw them into great confusion, v. 23 (noun and verb from same root), v. 23, cf. Exod. 23:27 (this is the vocabulary of holy war)

3. "He will deliver their kings into your hand," v. 24

7:24 "you shall make their name perish from under heaven" The verb (BDB 1, KB 2, Hiphil perfect) is used here in an idiom of complete and total destruction and death so that there are no descendants (i.e., holy war).

▣ "no man will be able to stand before you" This is a Hebrew idiom for military confrontation (i.e., two armies, cf. 11:25; Josh. 1:5; 10:8; 23:9).

7:25-26 These verses describe how Israel was to treat the Canaanite idols (i.e., "graven images" (BDB 820 construct 43; see fuller note at 12:3):

1. "burn with fire" - BDB 976, KB 1358, Qal imperfect, cf. vv. 5,25; 12:3

2. "shall not covet the silver or the gold"

a. do not take it into your house, vv. 25,26

b. lest you be snared (BDB 430) by it

c. it is an abomination (BDB 1072, cf. 12:3)

d. it is under the ban (i.e., "an accursed thing," BDB 214)

e. you shall utterly detest (BDB 1055, both verb and noun), abhor (BDB 1073) it

 

7:26 "something banned" This is related to the word herem, which meant "dedicated to God for total destruction." This is usually translated "under the ban." Any secular use of an object under the ban would be to profane it, therefore, it was to be totally destroyed.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why was God taking one nation's land and giving it to another nation?

2. Does the Bible say, "No!" to interracial marriages?

3. What does it mean that God chose Israel as a special people?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods