Exodus 23:32
You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
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(32) Thou shalt make no covenant with themi.e., no treaty of peace; no arrangement by which one part of the land shall be thine and another theirs. (Comp. Exodus 34:12.)

Nor with their gods.—It was customary at the time for treaties between nations to contain an acknowledgment by each of the other’s gods. (See the treaty between Rameses II. And the Hittites in the Records of the Past, vol. iv., pp. 27-32.) Thus a treaty with a nation was a sort of treaty with its gods.

Exodus 23:32-33. Thou shalt make no covenant with them — Thou shalt give no toleration to idol-worship, nor suffer it to be introduced into thy territories. Thou shalt make no league with them, either civil or religious. They shall not dwell in thy land — Unless they renounce their idolatry, which is plainly understood; for, upon their becoming proselytes to the Jewish religion, they might dwell among them, and were called the strangers. If thou serve — Thou wilt serve, this will be the fruit of thy cohabitation with them. It will be a snare unto thee — Will bring great calamities upon thee, and, at last, be thy ruin, which accordingly came to pass.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.In Exodus 23:23, the limits of the Land of Canaan, strictly so called, are indicated; to this, when the Israelites were about to take possession of it, were added the regions of Gilead and Bashan on the left side of the Jordan Numbers 32:33-42; Joshua 13:29-32. These two portions made up the holy land, of which the limits were recognized, with inconsiderable variations, until the final overthrow of the Jewish polity. But in this verse the utmost extent of Hebrew dominion, as it existed in the time of David and Solomon, is set forth. The kingdom then reached to Eloth and Ezion-geber on the AElanitic Gulf of the Red Sea 1 Kings 9:26, and to Tiphsah on the "River," that is, the River Euphrates 1 Kings 4:24, having for its western boundary "the Sea of the Philistines," that is, the Mediterranean, and for its southern boundary "the desert," that is, the wildernesses of Shur and Paran (compare Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:4). 29, 30. I will not drive … out … in one year; lest the land become desolate—Many reasons recommend a gradual extirpation of the former inhabitants of Canaan. But only one is here specified—the danger lest, in the unoccupied grounds, wild beasts should inconveniently multiply; a clear proof that the promised land was more than sufficient to contain the actual population of the Israelites. To worship them, as they made a covenant with Jehovah to worship him. The sense is, Thou shalt not engage thyself, either to the people or to their gods, but shalt root out both. Thou shalt make no covenant with them,.... A covenant of peace, a league, a confederacy, so as to take them to be their allies and friends; but they were always to consider them as their enemies, until they had made an utter end of them; though the Gibeonites by craft and guile obtained a league of them; but the methods they took to get it show they had some knowledge of this law, that the Israelites might not, or at least would not, make any league or covenant with the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. This may be also extended to marriage covenants, which they were forbid to make with them; which yet they did, and proved a snare to them, for this brought them to makes a covenant with their gods, and serve them, which is here also forbidden:

nor with their gods; making vows unto them, promising to serve them, if they would do such and such things for them.

Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
Verses 32, 33. - FINAL WARNING AGAINST IDOLATRY. The "Book of the Covenant" ends as it began, with a solemn warning against idolatry. (See Exodus 20:23.) "Thou shalt make no covenant with them nor with their gods." Thou shalt not even suffer them to dwell side by side with thee in the land, on peaceable terms, with their own laws and religion, lest thou be ensnared thereby, and led to worship their idols and join in their unhallowed rites (ver. 33). The after history of the people of Israel shows the need of the warning. From the exodus to the captivity, every idolatry with which they came into close contact proved a sore temptation to them. As the author of Kings observes of the Ten Tribes" - The children of Israel did secretly those things which were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities... And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree; and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger; for they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, "Ye shall not do this thing" (2 Kings 17:9-12). Verse 32. - Thou shalt make no covenant with them. See below, Exodus 34:12-15. According to the forms usual at the time, a treaty of peace would have contained an acknowledgment of the gods of either nation, and words in honour of them. (See the "Treaty of Rameses II. with the Hittites," given in the Records of the Past, vol. 4. pp. 27-32.) This would have been equivalent to "making a covenant with their gods." 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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