Exodus 23:27
I will send my fear before you, and will destroy all the people to whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Exodus 23:27-28. I will send my fear before thee — And they that fear will soon flee: I will strike a terror into the inhabitants of Canaan, which shall facilitate the conquest of them, Joel 2:9-10. I will send hornets before thee — Thus Joshua observes, (Joshua 24:12,) that the Amorites were driven out, not by the sword and bow of the Israelites, but by the sting of these hornets, which are a kind of wasps, only larger and fiercer than the ordinary wasp. Some explain the word hornet metaphorically, I will send my terror before thee as a hornet, it appearing to them improbable that a parcel of insects should drive out a nation. But they are fully confuted by Bochart, who produces many instances of nations being forced to leave their country by these and such like contemptible creatures, appealing to the testimony of Herodotus, Appianus, and Strabo. And he particularly observes, that the sting of this sort of wasp, called a hornet, is of all others the most pernicious; for it seldom stings a man, as Pliny says, (lib. 11. c. 21,) without throwing him into the rage of a fever.23:20-33 It is here promised that they should be guided and kept in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise, Behold, I send an angel before thee, mine angel. The precept joined with this promise is, that they be obedient to this angel whom God would send before them. Christ is the Angel of Jehovah; this is plainly taught by St. Paul, 1Co 10:9. They should have a comfortable settlement in the land of Canaan. How reasonable are the conditions of this promise; that they should serve the only true God; not the gods of the nations, which are no gods at all. How rich are the particulars of this promise! The comfort of their food, the continuance of their health, the increase of their wealth, the prolonging their lives to old age. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is. It is promised that they should subdue their enemies. Hosts of hornets made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God use for chastising his people's enemies. In real kindness to the church, its enemies are subdued by little and little; thus we are kept on our guard, and in continual dependence on God. Corruptions are driven out of the hearts of God's people, not all at once, but by little and little. The precept with this promise is, that they should not make friendship with idolaters. Those that would keep from bad courses, must keep from bad company. It is dangerous to live in a bad neighbourhood; others' sins will be our snares. Our greatest danger is from those who would make us sin against God.Destroy - Rather, overthrow. See Exodus 23:23. 21. my name is in him—This angel is frequently called Jehovah and Elohim, that is, God. My fear, i.e. a great terror, or a terror wrought by me. See Exodus 33:2 Joshua 24:12 And I will send my fear before thee,.... What should cause fear among the nations of the land of Canaan; either the hornets mentioned in the next verse as the explanative of this; or the fame of his mighty works, which he had done for Israel in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness; which struck the inhabitants of Canaan with such a panic, that they were ready to faint and melt away, and lost all courage, Joshua 2:9.

and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come; that is, the greatest part of them:

and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee; flee away, not being able to face them and stand a battle, or, however, not stand it long, but run and make their escape: "or I will give thee the neck of them" (p); cause them to submit, to lay down their necks and be trampled upon; an expression denoting their subjection, and an entire conquest of them, see Psalm 18:39.

(p) "et dabo-cervicem", Pagninus, Montanus; "exponam tibi cervicem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ponam ad te cervicem", Drusius.

I will send my {p} fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.

(p) I will make them afraid of your coming and send my angel to destroy them, as in Ex 35:2.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. my terror] a terror greater than ordinary causes would seem capable of producing, and so attributed directly to God: what we should call a panic. Cf. the ‘terror’ (not the Heb. word used here), and ‘trembling,’ ‘of God,’ in the same sense, in Genesis 35:5, 1 Samuel 14:15 (RVm.); and Zechariah 14:13.

discomfit] i.e. throw into confusion: cf. Exodus 14:24.

27–30. Jehovah will further help Israel effectually to drive out the nations of Canaan.Verse 27. - I will send my fear before thee. The fear which fell upon the nations is seen first in the case of Balak and the Moabites. "Moab was sore aft-aid of the people, because they were many" (Numbers 22:3). Later it is spoken of by Rahab as general (Joshua 2:9, 11). A very signal indication of the alarm felt is given in the history of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:3, 27). I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. For the fulfilment of this promise see Numbers 21:3, 24, 35; Numbers 31:7; Joshua 8:20-24; Joshua 10:10, etc. Had their obedience been more complete, the power of the Canaanitish nations would have been more thoroughly broken, and the sufferings and servitudes related in the Book of Judges would not have had to be endured. Relation of Jehovah to Israel. - The declaration of the rights conferred by Jehovah upon His people is closed by promises, through which, on the one hand, God insured to the nation the gifts and benefits involved in their rights, and, on the other hand, sought to promote that willingness and love which were indispensable to the fulfilment of the duties incumbent upon every individual in consequence of the rights conferred upon them. These promises secured to the people not only the protection and help of God during their journey through the desert, and in the conquest of Canaan, but also preservation and prosperity when they had taken possession of the land.

Exodus 23:20-27

Jehovah would send an angel before them, who should guard them on the way from injury and destruction, and bring them to the place prepared for them, i.e., to Canaan. The name of Jehovah was in this angel (Exodus 23:21), that is to say, Jehovah revealed Himself in him; and hence he is called in Exodus 33:15-16, the face of Jehovah, because the essential nature of Jehovah was manifested in him. This angel was not a created spirit, therefore, but the manifestation of Jehovah Himself, who went before them in the pillar of cloud and fire, to guide and to defend them (Exodus 13:21). But because it was Jehovah who was guiding His people in the person of the angel, He demanded unconditional obedience (Exodus 23:21), and if they provoked Him (תּמּר for תּמר, see Exodus 13:18) by disobedience, He would not pardon their transgression; but if they followed Him and hearkened to His voice, He would be an enemy to their enemies, and an adversary to their adversaries (Exodus 23:22). And when the angel of the Lord had brought them to the Canaanites and exterminated the latter, Israel was still to yield the same obedience, by not serving the gods of the Canaanites, or doing after their works, i.e., by not making any idolatrous images, but destroying them (these works), and smiting to pieces the pillars of their idolatrous worship (מצבת does not mean statues erected as idols, but memorial stones or columns dedicated to idols: see my Comm. on 1 Kings 14:23), and serving Jehovah alone. Then would He bless them in the land with bountiful provision, health, fruitfulness, and length of life (Exodus 23:23-26). "Bread and water" are named, as being the provisions which are indispensable to the maintenance of life, as in Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 30:20; Isaiah 33:16. The taking away of "sickness" (cf. Exodus 15:26) implied the removal of everything that could endanger life. The absence of anything that miscarried, or was barren, insured the continuance and increase of the nation; and the promise that their days should be fulfilled, i.e., that they should not be liable to a premature death (cf. Isaiah 65:20), was a pledge of their well-being.

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