The LORD did not set his love on you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Lord did not . . . choose you, because ye were more.—The danger lest Israel’s peculiar relation to the Most High should beget national pride is so obvious, that Moses takes special pains to counteract it by asserting God’s sovereignty in the choice.
Ye were the fewest of all people.—It may be observed that the development of the Moabites, Ammonites, Ishmaelites, and Edomites (all, like Israel, descended from Terah), was far more rapid than that of the chosen line. Abraham had twelve grandsons through Ishmael, but only the same number of great grandsons through Isaac and Jacob. Edom, Moab, and Ammon all preceded Israel in the conquest of territory. Kings reigned in Edom “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel” (Genesis 36:31). It was only “when the time of the promise drew nigh” that “the (chosen) people grew and multiplied in Egypt.” The Scripture is throughout consistent in representing their development as due to the special providence of God. (See also on Deuteronomy 10:22.)Deuteronomy 7:7-8. The fewest — To wit, at that time, when God first declared his choice of you for his peculiar people, which was done to Abraham. For Abraham had but one son concerned in this choice and covenant, namely, Isaac, and that was not till he was in his hundredth year; and Isaac was sixty years old ere he had a child, and then had only two children; and though Jacob had twelve sons, yet it was a long time before they made any considerable increase. Nor do we read of any great multiplication of them until after Joseph’s death. The Lord loved you — It was his free choice, without any cause or motive on your part.Deuteronomy 1:10; Deuteronomy 10:22 had taken place because of the very blessing of God spoken of in Deuteronomy 7:8. Exodus 1:6,7.
because ye were more in number than any people; not for the quantity of them, nor even for the quality of them:
for ye were the fewest of all people; fewer than the Egyptians, from whence they came, and than the Canaanites they were going to drive out and inherit their land, Deuteronomy 7:1. Those whom God has loved with an everlasting love, and as a fruit of it has chosen them in Christ before the world began to grace and glory, holiness and happiness, are but a small number, a little flock; though many are called, few are chosen; nor are they better than others, being by nature children of wrath even as others, and as to their outward circumstances the poor of this world.The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. set his love upon you] The radical meaning of the verb is to fix or bind, and it is used of a man’s falling in love with a woman, Deuteronomy 21:11; Genesis 34:8; cp. the Eng. use for this of ‘attachment’ (also of a passion for building, 1 Kings 9:19). Of Jehovah’s love for Israel only here and Deuteronomy 10:15. For an analogous phrase see Hosea 2:14, I will speak comfortably to her, lit. speak to her heart as from man to woman when he woos her; also Isaiah 40:2.
ye were the fewest of all peoples] Cp. Deuteronomy 4:38, Deuteronomy 7:1, Deuteronomy 9:1, all Sg., and Deuteronomy 11:23 Pl. as here; on the other hand Deuteronomy 1:10 Pl., Deuteronomy 10:22 Sg. as the stars of heaven, Deuteronomy 4:6 Pl. a great nation, Deuteronomy 26:5 Sg. great, mighty, populous. The representation of Israel’s numbers and power appears to vary in different passages, according to the thought which the writer at the time desires to express’ (Driver). Yet see on Deuteronomy 1:10.
7, 8. Change to the Pl. address. Because of this and because the choice of Israel by Jehovah is not mentioned in other Pl. passages, and also because these verses are not necessary to the connection, they are probably a later editorial insertion—or at least a quotation.Verse 7. - Set his love upon you. The Hebrew verb meaning primarily to cleave to, to be attached to, is used to express ardent and loving affection (cf. Genesis 34:8; Deuteronomy 10:15; Isaiah 38:17). The fewest of all people. It might have been supposed that, in choosing a people to be his special treasure, the Almighty would have selected some one of the great nations of the world; but, instead of that, he had chosen one of the smallest. They had, indeed, grown till now they were as the stars for multitude; but it was not in prospect of this that they were chosen. The election of Israel was purely of grace. Deuteronomy 6:14, so here are they exhorted to beware of the false tolerance of sparing the Canaanites and enduring their idolatry. - Deuteronomy 7:1, Deuteronomy 7:5. When the Lord drove out the tribes of Canaan before the Israelites, and gave them up to them and smote them, they were to put them under the ban (see at Leviticus 27:28), to make no treaty with them, and to contract no marriage with them. נשׁל, to draw out, to cast away, e.g., the sandals (Exodus 3:5); here and Deuteronomy 7:22 it signifies to draw out, or drive out a nation from its country and possessions: it occurs in this sense in the Piel in 2 Kings 16:6. On the Canaanitish tribes, see at Genesis 10:15. and Deuteronomy 15:20-21. There are seven of them mentioned here, as in Joshua 3:10 and Joshua 24:11; on the other hand, there are only six in Deuteronomy 20:17, as in Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Exodus 23:23, and Exodus 33:2, the Girgashites being omitted. The prohibition against making a covenant, as in Exodus 23:32 and Exodus 34:12, and that against marrying, as in Exodus 34:16, where the danger of the Israelites being drawn away to idolatry is mentioned as a still further reason for these commands. יסיר כּי, "for he (the Canaanite) will cause thy son to turn away from behind me," i.e., tempt him away from following me, "to serve other gods." Moses says "from following me," because he is speaking in the name of Jehovah. The consequences of idolatry, as in Deuteronomy 6:15; Deuteronomy 4:26, etc.
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