Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
COMMUNION WITH THE
1. the Hittites--This people were descended from Heth, the second son
and occupied the mountainous region about Hebron, in the south of
the Girgashites--supposed by some to be the same as the Gergesenes
who lay to the east of Lake Gennesareth; but they are placed on the
west of Jordan
and others take them for a branch of the large family of the Hivites,
as they are omitted in nine out of ten places where the tribes of
Canaan are enumerated; in the tenth they are mentioned, while the
Hivites are not.
the Amorites--descended from the fourth son of Canaan. They occupied,
besides their conquest on the Moabite territory, extensive settlements
west of the Dead Sea, in the mountains.
the Canaanites--located in Phœnicia, particularly about
Tyre and Sidon, and being sprung from the oldest branch of the family
of Canaan, bore his name.
the Perizzites--that is, villagers, a tribe who were dispersed
throughout the country and lived in unwalled towns.
the Hivites--who dwelt about Ebal and Gerizim, extending towards
Hermon. They are supposed to be the same as the Avims.
the Jebusites--resided about Jerusalem and the adjacent country.
seven nations greater and mightier than thou--Ten were formerly
But in the lapse of near five hundred years, it cannot be surprising
that some of them had been extinguished in the many intestine feuds
that prevailed among those warlike tribes. It is more than probable
that some, stationed on the east of Jordan, had fallen under the
victorious arms of the Israelites.
2-6. thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make
no covenant with them--This relentless doom of extermination which God
denounced against those tribes of Canaan cannot be reconciled with the
attributes of the divine character, except on the assumption that their
gross idolatry and enormous wickedness left no reasonable hope of their
repentance and amendment. If they were to be swept away like the
antediluvians or the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, as incorrigible
sinners who had filled up the measure of their iniquities, it mattered
not to them in what way the judgment was inflicted; and God, as the
Sovereign Disposer, had a right to employ any instruments that pleased
Him for executing His judgments. Some think that they were to be
exterminated as unprincipled usurpers of a country which God had
assigned to the posterity of Eber and which had been occupied ages
before by wandering shepherds of that race, till, on the migration of
Jacob's family into Egypt through the pressure of famine, the Canaanites
overspread the whole land, though they had no legitimate claim to it,
and endeavored to retain possession of it by force. In this view their
expulsion was just and proper. The strict prohibition against
contracting any alliances with such infamous idolaters was a prudential
rule, founded on the experience that "evil communications corrupt good
and its importance or necessity was attested by the unhappy examples of
Solomon and others in the subsequent history of Israel.
5. thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars,
&c.--The removal of the temples, altars, and everything that had been
enlisted in the service, or might tend to perpetuate the remembrance,
of Canaanite idolatry, was likewise highly expedient for preserving the
Israelites from all risk of contamination. It was imitated by the
Scottish Reformers, and although many ardent lovers of architecture and
the fine arts have anathematized their proceedings as vandalism, yet
there was profound wisdom in the favorite maxim of Knox--"pull down the
nests, and the rooks will disappear."
6-10. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God--that is,
set apart to the service of God, or chosen to execute the important
purposes of His providence. Their selection to this high destiny was
neither on account of their numerical amount (for, till after the death
of Joseph, they were but a handful of people); nor because of their
extraordinary merits (for they had often pursued a most perverse and
unworthy conduct); but it was in consequence of the covenant or promise
made with their pious forefathers; and the motives that led to that
special act were such as tended not only to vindicate God's wisdom, but
to illustrate His glory in diffusing the best and most precious
blessings to all mankind.
11-26. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes,
and the judgments, which I command thee this day--In the covenant into
which God entered with Israel, He promised to bestow upon them a variety
of blessings so long as they continued obedient to Him as their heavenly
King. He pledged His veracity that His infinite perfections would be
exerted for this purpose, as well as for delivering them from every evil
to which, as a people, they would be exposed. That people accordingly
were truly happy as a nation, and found every promise which the faithful
God made to them amply fulfilled, so long as they adhered to that
obedience which was required of them. See a beautiful illustration of
15. the evil diseases of Egypt--(See
Besides those with which Pharaoh and his subjects were visited, Egypt
has always been dreadfully scourged with diseases. The testimony of
Moses is confirmed by the reports of many modern writers, who tell us
that, notwithstanding its equal temperature and sereneness, that
country has some indigenous maladies which are very malignant, such as
ophthalmia, dysentery, smallpox, and the plague.
20. Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among
22. lest the beasts of the field increase upon
The omnipotence of their Almighty Ruler could have given them
possession of the promised land at once. But, the unburied corpses of
the enemy and the portions of the country that might have been left
desolate for a while, would have drawn an influx of dangerous beasts.
This evil would be prevented by a progressive conquest and by the use
of ordinary means, which God would bless.