|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.
Verses 32, 33. - FINAL WARNING AGAINST IDOLATRY. The "Book of the Covenant" ends as it began, with a solemn warning against idolatry. (See Exodus 20:23.) "Thou shalt make no covenant with them nor with their gods." Thou shalt not even suffer them to dwell side by side with thee in the land, on peaceable terms, with their own laws and religion, lest thou be ensnared thereby, and led to worship their idols and join in their unhallowed rites (ver. 33). The after history of the people of Israel shows the need of the warning. From the exodus to the captivity, every idolatry with which they came into close contact proved a sore temptation to them. As the author of Kings observes of the Ten Tribes" - The children of Israel did secretly those things which were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities... And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree; and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger; for they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, "Ye shall not do this thing" (2 Kings 17:9-12). Verse 32. - Thou shalt make no covenant with them. See below, Exodus 34:12-15. According to the forms usual at the time, a treaty of peace would have contained an acknowledgment of the gods of either nation, and words in honour of them. (See the "Treaty of Rameses II. with the Hittites," given in the Records of the Past, vol. 4. pp. 27-32.) This would have been equivalent to "making a covenant with their gods."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou shalt make no covenant with them,.... A covenant of peace, a league, a confederacy, so as to take them to be their allies and friends; but they were always to consider them as their enemies, until they had made an utter end of them; though the Gibeonites by craft and guile obtained a league of them; but the methods they took to get it show they had some knowledge of this law, that the Israelites might not, or at least would not, make any league or covenant with the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. This may be also extended to marriage covenants, which they were forbid to make with them; which yet they did, and proved a snare to them, for this brought them to makes a covenant with their gods, and serve them, which is here also forbidden:
nor with their gods; making vows unto them, promising to serve them, if they would do such and such things for them.
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