That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done to their gods; so should you sin against the LORD your God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 20:18. That they teach you not to do after all their abominations — Here is the great reason for the aforesaid severe execution; they were most abominable idolaters, who offered their children to Moloch; they were magicians, wizards, necromancers, and guilty of all those abominations and filthy lusts mentioned Leviticus 18. So that God thought them not fit to live any longer upon the face of the earth; for had they been spared, after obstinately rejecting terms of peace, they would undoubtedly have sought to infect the Israelites with their filthy idolatry; and it was mercy to the human race in general not to suffer such a wicked, contagious generation to subsist. From the words here quoted, That they teach you not, &c., a Jewish writer justly observes, “If they repented and forsook their idolatry, the Israelites might let them live;” for then there was no such danger in sparing them. Accordingly Rahab, her father, mother, brethren, and all her kindred, were preserved alive, and so were the Hivites or Gibeonites, on condition of servitude, which they themselves offered, Joshua 9:11-15. See Joshua 11:11-20; Jeremiah 18:7-8.Deuteronomy 7:1-4). The command did not apply to beasts as well as men (compare Joshua 11:11, Joshua 11:14).
which they have done unto their gods; to the honour of whom not only many superstitious rites and ceremonies were performed, and idolatrous actions committed, but acts of lewdness, and even unnatural uncleanness:
so should ye sin against the Lord your God; a sin the most provoking to him, as the sin of idolatry was; and cause his anger to rise to such a degree, as to suffer them to be carried captive from the land he gave them to inherit; and which afterwards, was the case, and that through learning the manners and customs of these people; see Psalm 106:34.That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. The one Pl. passage in this law, see introd. note.
abominations] See on Deuteronomy 7:25, Deuteronomy 12:31, Deuteronomy 17:1.
19 f. Of Sparing the Fruit Trees in a Siege
In a prolonged siege, Israel, while eating of the besieged’s fruit-trees, shall not destroy them (Deuteronomy 20:19). Trees which do not yield food may be cut down for siege-works (Deuteronomy 20:20).—In the Sg. address.
The practice of cutting down the enemy’s fruit trees was common. Several Assyrian kings boast of it: cp. Tiglath Pileser iii. (quoted in E.B. 4512): ‘The plantations of palms which abutted on his rampart I cut down.’ Both Pompey and Titus cleared away the trees round Jerusalem, the latter for a distance of 90 stadia (Josephus VI. B.J. i. 1, viii. 1, v. B.J. iii. 2). Mohammed destroyed the palms of the Banu Nadir, and justified this in an oracle, Ḳuran lix. See also Doughty Ar. Des. i. 23.
On invading Moab Israel cut down the fruit-trees and stopped the wells, in obedience to a word of Jehovah by Elisha (2 Kings 3:19; 2 Kings 3:25). That prophet, therefore, and his biographer cannot have known of this law of D, which shows a real advance in the ethics of warfare.—Further on Sieges see O. C. Whitehouse art. ‘Siege’ in E.B.; Billerbeck, Festungsbau im Alten Orient.Genesis 34:26); but the women and children and all that was in the city, all its spoil, they were to take as prey for themselves, and to consume (eat) the spoil, i.e., to make use of it for their own maintenance.
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