Deuteronomy 7:5
But thus shall you deal with them; you shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
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(5) Ye shall destroy their altars. . . .—This course, if adopted in a conquered territory, would be certain to bring matters to a crisis. The inhabitants must rise in defence of the objects of their worship—a course which would end in their extermination—or they must adopt the worship of Jehovah.

Their groves.—Here the grove itself in which the idol was worshipped, and so in Deuteronomy 16:21. Sometimes the word is used for the image.

Burn their graven images with fire.—David treated the images of the Philistines thus (1Chronicles 14:12). Compare Isaiah 37:19.

Deuteronomy 7:5. Their groves — Which idolaters planted about the temples and altars of their gods. Hereby God designed to take away whatsoever might bring their idolatry to remembrance, or occasion the reviving of it.7:1-11 Here is a strict caution against all friendship and fellowship with idols and idolaters. Those who are in communion with God, must have no communication with the unfruitful works of darkness. Limiting the orders to destroy, to the nations here mentioned, plainly shows that after ages were not to draw this into a precedent. A proper understanding of the evil of sin, and of the mystery of a crucified Saviour, will enable us to perceive the justice of God in all his punishments, temporal and eternal. We must deal decidedly with our lusts that war against our souls; let us not show them any mercy, but mortify, and crucify, and utterly destroy them. Thousands in the world that now is, have been undone by ungodly marriages; for there is more likelihood that the good will be perverted, than that the bad will be converted. Those who, in choosing yoke-fellows, keep not within the bounds of a profession of religion, cannot promise themselves helps meet for them.Their groves - Render, their idols of wood: the reference is to the wooden trunk used as a representation of Ashtaroth; see Deuteronomy 7:13 and Exodus 34:13 note.5. thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, &c.—The removal of the temples, altars, and everything that had been enlisted in the service, or might tend to perpetuate the remembrance, of Canaanite idolatry, was likewise highly expedient for preserving the Israelites from all risk of contamination. It was imitated by the Scottish Reformers, and although many ardent lovers of architecture and the fine arts have anathematized their proceedings as vandalism, yet there was profound wisdom in the favorite maxim of Knox—"pull down the nests, and the rooks will disappear." Idolaters planted groves about the temples and altars of their gods. Hereby God designed to take away whatsoever might bring their idolatry to remembrance, or occasion the reviving of it. But thus shall ye deal with them,.... The inhabitants of the land of Canaan:

ye shall destroy their altars; on which they sacrificed to their idols:

and break down their images; of their gods, and the statues and pillars erected to the honour of them:

and cut down their groves; sacred to idols, which were usually planted on hills, and about Heathen temples, and under which idols were placed to be worshipped. The Targum of Jonathan calls them trees of their adoration, under which they worshipped; though there was a worship paid to them, not indeed directly to them, or for their sakes, but for the sake of the idols they were sacred to, or were placed under them; so Maimonides (e) says, a tree which at first was planted to be worshipped is forbidden of any use (or profit); and this is the or "grove", spoken of in the law, a tree planted and lopped, of which a graven image is made for an idol; and so the tree that has been worshipped, though the body of it is, not forbidden, all the shoots and leaves, and the branches, and the fruits it produces all the time it is worshipped, are forbidden to be used: though the word here used sometimes seems to signify, not a grove of trees, but some image itself, since we read of it in the temple, 2 Kings 21:7,

and burn their graven images with fire; distinguished from their molten images, which may be meant in a preceding clause, and which are particularly mentioned as to be destroyed as well as these, Numbers 33:52.

(e) Hilchot Obede Cochabim, c. 8. sect. 3, 4. Vid. Misn. Avodah Zarah, c. 3. sect. 7.

But thus shall ye deal with them; {b} ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

(b) God would have his service pure without idolatrous ceremonies and superstitions. De 12:3.

5. The change to the Pl., together with the fact that the v. does not direct the destruction of the persons of the heathen (which would have been relevant to the preceding), but only of their altars, etc., marks this verse as a quotation or later insertion. Deuteronomy 7:6 follows on 4. So Steuern., Berth. Cp. the editorial passages Exodus 23:24 b, Exodus 34:13. The original of all three passages may be the deuteronomic law, Deuteronomy 12:3.

pillars … Asherim] See on Deuteronomy 16:21 f.Verses 5-8. - They were not only to have no fellowship with the idolaters, but they were to root out their idolatry, everting their altars and destroying their idols; and this because they were a holy people, graciously chosen of God to be his special possession - a high privilege and honor which they were to be careful not to cast away. Verse 5. - Cut down their groves; rather, cut or hew in pieces their asherahs. These were, apparently, wooden pillars of considerable height, which were firmly planted in the ground (comp. Judges 6:25-27; Deuteronomy 16:21)? and were consecrated to the worship of a female deity, the companion of Baal; probably the same as that after-war, is known as Astarte, the Venus of the Syrians (see note on Deuteronomy 16:21). In Deuteronomy 6:20-25, the teaching to the children, which is only briefly hinted at in Deuteronomy 6:7, is more fully explained. The Israelites were to instruct their children and descendants as to the nature, meaning, and object of the commandments of the Lord; and in reply to the inquiries of their sons, to teach them what the Lord had done for the redemption of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt, and how He had brought them into the promised land, and thus to awaken in the younger generation love to the Lord and to His commandments. The "great and sore miracles" (Deuteronomy 6:22) were the Egyptian plagues, like מפתּים, in Deuteronomy 4:34. - "To fear," etc., i.e., that we might fear the Lord.
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