Deuteronomy 12:3
And you shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and you shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Destroy the names.—The substitution in later times of bosheth for baal in the names Jerubbaal (Jerubbesheth), Eshbaal (Ishbosheth), Meribbaal (Mephibosheth), is a curious example of the literal fulfilment of this command, or, perhaps, rather of the command in Exodus 23:13, of which the spirit and purport agree with this.

12:1-4 Moses comes to the statutes he had to give in charge to Israel; and begins with such as relate to the worship of God. The Israelites are charged not to bring the rites and usages of idolaters into the worship of God; not under colour of making it better. We cannot serve God and mammon; nor worship the true God and idols; nor depend upon Christ Jesus and upon superstitious or self-righteous confidences.Their groves - Render their idols of wood: and see the Deuteronomy 7:5 note. 3. And ye shall overthrow their altars—piles of turf or small stones.

and break their pillars—Before the art of sculpture was known, the statues of idols were only rude blocks of colored stones.

Their pillars, upon which their images were set. The names of them, i.e. all the memorials of them, and the very names given to the places from the idols. And you shall overthrow their altars,.... Which were of stone, as Jarchi observes; whereas the altar ordered to be made by the Lord, before the altar of burnt offering in the tabernacle was made, was of earth, Exodus 20:24 these were to be demolished, lest the Israelites should be tempted to make use of them; and besides, the Lord would not have any remains of idolatry in the land where his tabernacle and worship were, as being abominable to him:

and break down their pillars; or statues erected to the honour of their idols; according to Jarchi it was a single stone hewed out at first for the basis of a statue (y); perhaps such as were called Baetulia, in imitation of the stone Jacob set up for a pillar at Bethel, Genesis 28:18.

and burn their groves with fire; which were planted about their temples, and under which also their idols were placed, and where they privately committed the most abominable lewdness under the notion of religion. The Targum of Jonathan renders the word "abominations", meaning idols; and so Jarchi interprets it by a tree that is worshipped; See Gill on Deuteronomy 7:5.

and you shall hew down the graven images of their gods; which were made of wood:

and destroy the names of them out of the place; by never making any mention of them in common discourse, and by changing the names of places called from them; and especially by destroying all the relics of them, and whatever appertained to them, which might lead to the mention of them; see Hosea 2:17.

(y) Misn. Avodah Zarah, c. 3. sect. 7.

And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their {b} groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

(b) In which they sacrificed to their idols.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Concluding summary. "I set before you this day the blessing and the curse." The blessing, if (אשׁר, ὅτε, as in Leviticus 4:22) ye hearken to the commandments of your God; the curse, if ye do not give heed to them, but turn aside from the way pointed out to you, to go after other gods. To this there are added instructions in Deuteronomy 11:29 and Deuteronomy 11:30, that when they took possession of the land they should give the blessing upon Mount Gerizim and the curse upon Mount Ebal, i.e., should give utterance to them there, and as it were transfer them to the land to be apportioned to its inhabitants according to their attitude towards the Lord their God. (For further comment, see at Deuteronomy 27:14.) The two mountains mentioned were selected for this act, no doubt because they were opposite to one another, and stood, each about 2500 feet high, in the very centre of the land not only from west to east, but also from north to south. Ebal stands upon the north side, Gerizim upon the south; between the two is Sichem, the present Nabulus, in a tolerably elevated valley, fertile, attractive, and watered by many springs, which runs from the south-east to the north-west from the foot of Gerizim to that of Ebal, and is about 1600 feet in breadth. The blessing was to be uttered upon Gerizim, and the curse upon Ebal; though not, as the earlier commentators supposed, because the peculiarities of these mountains, viz., the fertility of Gerizim and the barrenness of Ebal, appeared to accord with this arrangement: for when seen from the valley between, "the sides of both these mountains are equally naked and sterile;" and "the only exception in favour of the former is a small ravine coming down, opposite the west end of the town, which is indeed full of foundations and trees" (Rob. Pal. iii. 96, 97). The reason for selecting Gerizim for the blessings was probably, as Schultz supposes, the fact that it was situated on the south, towards the region of the light. "Light and blessing are essentially one. From the light-giving face of God there come blessing and life (Psalm 16:11)." - In Deuteronomy 11:30 the situation of these mountains is more clearly defined: they were "on the other side of the Jordan," i.e., in the land to the west of the Jordan, "behind the way of the sunset," i.e., on the other side of the road of the west, which runs through the land on the west of the Jordan, just as another such road runs through the land on the east (Knobel). The reference is to the main road which ran from Upper Asia through Canaan to Egypt, as was shown by the journeys of Abraham and Jacob (Genesis 12:6; Genesis 33:17-18). Even at the present day the main road leads from Beisan to Jerusalem round the east side of Ebal into the valley of Sichem, and then again eastwards from Gerizim through the Mukra valley on towards the south (cf. Rib. iii. 94; Ritter, Erdkunde, xvi. pp. 658-9). "In the land of the Canaanite who dwells in the Arabah." By the Arabah, Knobel understands the plain of Nabulus, which is not much less than four hours' journey long, and on an average from a half to three-quarters broad, "the largest of all upon the elevated tract of land between the western plain and the valley of the Jordan" (Rob. iii. p. 101). This is decidedly wrong, however, as it is opposed to the fixed use of the word, and irreconcilable with the character of this plain, which, Robinson says, "is cultivated throughout and covered with the rich green of millet intermingled with the yellow of the ripe corn, which the country people were just reaping" (Pal. iii. 93). The Arabah is the western portion of the Ghor (see at Deuteronomy 1:1), and is mentioned here as that portion of the land on the west of the Jordan which lay stretched out before the eyes of the Israelites who were encamped in the steppes of Moab. "Over against Gilgal," i.e., not the southern Gilgal between Jericho and the Jordan, which received its name for the first time in Joshua 4:20 and Joshua 5:9; but probably the Gilgal mentioned in Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6., and very frequently in the history of Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, which is only about twelve and a half miles from Gerizim in a southern direction, and has been preserved in the large village of Jiljilia to the south-west of Sinjil, and which stands in such an elevated position, "close to the western brow of the high mountain tract," that you "have here a very extensive prospect over the great lower plain, and also over the sea, whilst the mountains of Gilead are seen in the east" (Rob. Pal. iii. 81). Judging from this description of the situation, Mount Gerizim must be visible from this Gilgal, so that Gerizim and Ebal might very well be described as over against Gilgal.

(Note: There is much less ground for the opinion of Winer, Knobel, and Schultz, that Gilgal is the Jiljule mentioned by Robinson (Pal. iii. 47; and Bibl. Researches, p. 138), which evidently corresponds to the Galgula placed by Eusebius and Jerome six Roman miles from Antipatris, and is situated to the south-east of Kefr Saba (Antipatris), on the road from Egypt to Damascus. For this place is not only farther from Gerizim and Ebal, viz., about seventeen miles, but from its position in the lowland by the sea-shore it presents no salient point for determining the situation of the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. Still less can we agree with Knobel, who speaks of the village of Kilkilia, to the north-east of Kefr Saba, as the name itself has nothing in common with Gilgal.)

The last definition, "beside the terebinths of Moreh," is intended no doubt to call to mind the consecration of that locality even from the times of the patriarchs (Schultz: see at Genesis 12:6, and Genesis 35:4).

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