Deuteronomy 7:22
And the LORD your God will put out those nations before you by little and little: you may not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase on you.
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(22) The Lord thy God will put out.—The word for “putting out” is illustrated by its use in Deuteronomy 19:5, of the axe-head flying off from the handle in the midst of a blow, and of the olive “casting” his fruit in Deuteronomy 28:40. (Comp. also 2Kings 16:6, and 1Samuel 25:29, for a similar thought.)

By little and little.—This confirms the view already expressed, that the expulsion of each particular nation was contingent upon the Divine decree, and that none were to be attacked by Israel except when the Lord should deliver them into Israel’s hand.

Deuteronomy 7:22. Thou mayest not consume them at once — Thou shalt not be able; I will not assist thee with my omnipotence, to crush them at one run of success and victory; for you are not yet numerous enough to people the whole country at once. But I will bless thee in the use of ordinary means, and thou shalt destroy them by degrees, in several battles, that thou mayest learn by experience to put thy trust in me.7:12-26 We are in danger of having fellowship with the works of darkness if we take pleasure in fellowship with those who do such works. Whatever brings us into a snare, brings us under a curse. Let us be constant to our duty, and we cannot question the constancy of God's mercy. Diseases are God's servants; they go where he sends them, and do what he bids them. It is therefore good for the health of our bodies, thoroughly to mortify the sin of our souls; which is our rule of duty. Yet sin is never totally destroyed in this world; and it actually prevails in us much more than it would do, if we were watchful and diligent. In all this the Lord acts according to the counsel of his own will; but that counsel being hid from us, forms no excuse for our sloth and negligence, of which it is in no degree the cause. We must not think, that because the deliverance of the church, and the destruction of the enemies of the soul, are not done immediately, therefore they will never be done. God will do his own work in his own method and time; and we may be sure that they are always the best. Thus corruption is driven out of the hearts of believers by little and little. The work of sanctification is carried on gradually; but at length there will be a complete victory. Pride, security, and other sins that are common effects of prosperity, are enemies more dangerous than beasts of the field, and more apt to increase upon us.There seems to be here not so much as a reference to the plagues inflicted miraculously by God on Egypt (compare Exodus 15:26), as to the terrible diseases with which, above other countries, Egypt was infested. Compare Deuteronomy 28:27, Deuteronomy 28:35. It is not without significance that Egypt, which represents in Scripture the world as contrasted with the Church, should thus above other lands lie under the power of disease and death. 22. lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee—(See on [120]Ex 23:29). 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. Or, thou shalt not be able to consume them at once, i.e. in an instant. I will not assist thee with my omnipotency, to crush them in a moment, but will bless thee in the use of ordinary means, and destroy them successively by several battles. And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little,.... Which is observed for their encouragement, who seeing that all were not destroyed at once, might fear the work would never be thoroughly accomplished; see Exodus 23:30,

thou mayest not consume them at once; though it was in the power of their hands to do it, there being some wise reasons for sparing them awhile, at least for not cutting them off all at once, and one follows:

lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee; through so many places being waste without inhabitants, and there being none to destroy these creatures; and who therefore in course would become more numerous, and so more troublesome and distressing to the Israelites. The Targum of Jonathan adds, by way of explanation,"when they shall come to devour their carcasses,''the carcasses of the slain Canaanites; who, if destroyed at once, would be so many, that they would lie unburied, which would invite the beasts of the field to come out of their lurking places to feed upon them, and which might lead them on to mischief among the Israelites.

And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the {i} beasts of the field increase upon thee.

(i) It is to your advantage that God does not accomplish his promise as soon as you would wish.

22. cast out] See on Deuteronomy 7:1.

little and little] So, with the same reason attached, E, Exodus 23:29-30, on which see the note. This is a good instance of D’s redaction, and more fluent expression, of earlier statements. That D should repeat the fact is strange. Though in harmony with and explanatory of the actual delay in Israel’s extermination of the peoples of the land, as recorded in the older documents (Joshua 13:13; Joshua 15:63; Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:11-18; Jdg 1:19; Jdg 1:21 ff., Jdg 2:20 to Jdg 3:4; most probably all J), it is against the conception conveyed by the deuteronomic sections of Joshua, that Israel’s conquest of the peoples was rapid and complete (Joshua 10:28-43; Joshua 11:16-23; Joshua 21:43-45, etc.). This, however, is no reason for supposing the verse to be an intrusion as Steuern. does; in any case it is deuteronomic.

lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee] Field, here in its earlier sense of uncultivated territory; beasts of the field are therefore wild beasts. That this danger was real and great in partly depopulated lands is illustrated in 2 Kings 17:24 f. How constant the war of man against wild animals was in ancient Palestine may be felt from the promise of their being tamed as one of the elements of the Messianic age, Isaiah 11:6-9. See the present writer’s Isaiah i.–xxxix. 189 f.Verse 22. - (Cf. Exodus 23:30.) This mercy flowed from the love of God to Israel, and the love was manifested in blessing and multiplying the people. The blessing is then particularized, by a further expansion of Exodus 23:25-27, as a blessing upon the fruit of the body, the fruits of the field and soil, and the rearing of cattle. שׁגר, see Exodus 13:12. צאן עשׁתּרת only occurs again in Deuteronomy 28:4, Deuteronomy 28:18, Deuteronomy 28:51, and certainly signifies the young increase of the flocks. It is probably a Canaanitish word, derived from Ashtoreth (Astharte), the female deity of the Canaanites, which was regarded as the conceiving and birth-giving principle of nature, literally Veneres, i.e., amores gregis, hence soboles (Ges.); just as the Latin poets employ the name Ceres to signify the corn, Venus for love and sexual intercourse, and Lucina for birth. On Deuteronomy 7:14 and Deuteronomy 7:15, see Exodus 23:26. In Deuteronomy 7:15, the promise of the preservation of Israel from all diseases (Exodus 15:26, and Exodus 23:25) is strengthened by the addition of the clause, "all the evil diseases of Egypt," by which, according to Deuteronomy 28:27, we are probably to understand chiefly the malignant species of leprosy called elephantiasis, and possibly also the plague and other malignant forms of disease. In Egypt, diseases for the most part readily assume a very dangerous character. Pliny (h. n. xxvi. 1) calls Egypt the genitrix of contagious pestilence, and modern naturalists have confirmed this (see Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 215; and Pruner, Krankheiten des Orients, pp. 460ff.). Diseases of this kind the Lord would rather bring upon the enemies of Israel. The Israelites, on the other hand, should be so strong and vigorous, that they would devour, i.e., exterminate, all the nations which their God would give into their hands (cf. Numbers 14:9). With this thought Moses reverts with emphasis to the command to root out the Canaanites without reserve, and not to serve their gods, because they would become a snare to them (see Exodus 10:7); and then in Deuteronomy 7:17-26 he carries out still further the promise in Exodus 23:27-30 of the successful subjugation of the Canaanites through the assistance of the Lord, and sweeps away all the objections that a weak faith might raise to the execution of the divine command.
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