|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:20-33 It is here promised that they should be guided and kept in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise, Behold, I send an angel before thee, mine angel. The precept joined with this promise is, that they be obedient to this angel whom God would send before them. Christ is the Angel of Jehovah; this is plainly taught by St. Paul, 1Co 10:9. They should have a comfortable settlement in the land of Canaan. How reasonable are the conditions of this promise; that they should serve the only true God; not the gods of the nations, which are no gods at all. How rich are the particulars of this promise! The comfort of their food, the continuance of their health, the increase of their wealth, the prolonging their lives to old age. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is. It is promised that they should subdue their enemies. Hosts of hornets made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God use for chastising his people's enemies. In real kindness to the church, its enemies are subdued by little and little; thus we are kept on our guard, and in continual dependence on God. Corruptions are driven out of the hearts of God's people, not all at once, but by little and little. The precept with this promise is, that they should not make friendship with idolaters. Those that would keep from bad courses, must keep from bad company. It is dangerous to live in a bad neighbourhood; others' sins will be our snares. Our greatest danger is from those who would make us sin against God.
Verse 29. - I will not drive them out from before thee in one year. The Divine action is for the most part "slack, as men count slackness" - it is not hasty, spasmodic, precipitate, as human action is too often. Men are impatient; God is strangely, wonderfully patient. He would not drive out the Canaanitish nations all at once -
1. Lest the land should become desolate, there being an insufficient population to keep down the weeds and maintain the tillage; and
2. Lest the beast of the field should multiply so as to become a danger to the new-comers. It is related that when the kingdom of Samaria was depopulated by the removal of the Ten Tribes, there was a great increase of lions, which preyed upon the scanty remnant left (2 Kings 17:25). Even in France, after the Franco-German war, it was found that in many districts wolves increased. A third reason why the nations were not subdued all at once, not mentioned here, is touched in Judges 2:21-23 - "The Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily, that through them he might prove Israel, whether they would keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, or not."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I will not drive them out from before thee in one year,.... This is observed before hand, lest the Israelites should be discouraged, and fear they should never be rid of them; and it was so ordered in Providence for the following reason:
lest the land become desolate; there being not a sufficient number of Israelites to replace in their stead, to repeople the land, and to cultivate it; and yet their number was very large, being, when they came out of Egypt, as is generally computed, about two millions and a half, besides the mixed multitude of Egyptians and others, and during their forty years in the wilderness must be greatly increased:
and the beast of the field multiply against thee; there being so much waste ground for them to prowl about in, they would so increase as to make head against them, and be too many for them; or, however, it would be difficult to keep them under control: the Targum of Jonathan adds,"when they shall come to eat their carcasses (the carcasses of the Canaanites slain in war), and may hurt thee.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29, 30. I will not drive … out … in one year; lest the land become desolate—Many reasons recommend a gradual extirpation of the former inhabitants of Canaan. But only one is here specified—the danger lest, in the unoccupied grounds, wild beasts should inconveniently multiply; a clear proof that the promised land was more than sufficient to contain the actual population of the Israelites.
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