Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Destroyed. So the Vulgate often expresses the Hebrew term, which signifies, "to cast out." --- Seven. Ten are mentioned, Genesis xv. 9; but some of the less powerful nations were either mixed with the others, or were exterminated. The Hevites are omitted in the passage of Genesis, and sometimes no notice is taken of the Gergezite or the Pherezite. The latter had been already conquered by Moses, as well as the Raphaim and Amorrhites, over whom Og and Sehon ruled, chap. iii. 5. (Calmet) --- It seems, however, that some of the same nations, on the other side of the Jordan, remained to be subdued, and that any one of them was naturally too strong for the Hebrews, ver. 7. Hence the latter might be convinced, that their victories were to be attributed to God.
League. Yet Josue, (ix. 3,) by mistake, entered into one with the Gabaonites, and observed it; (Haydock) whence we may conclude, that only such leagues are forbidden as would leave these nations in possession of their lands and idols, chap. xx. 10., and xxiii. 6. With foreign nations it was lawful to make leagues defensive and offensive, as David, Asa, and the Machabees did with Hiram, Benadad, and the Romans, 3 Kings xv. 18, &c. If the Hebrews were so hostile to the nations of Chanaan, it was in execution of God's decree, who had sentenced them to die; and Tacitus hence unjustly inferred, that they hated all but their own nation. See Grotius, Jur. ii. 15. --- Them. This was ill executed. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xiii. 13.) (Judges i.) (Menochius)
Marriages. Some believe that it was unlawful to marry the people of Chanaan, if they were even converted, and also those of other nations, as we find that Esdras (1 Esdras x. 2, 12,) ordered such strange wives to be sent away. But the context shews, as well as the practice of most pious Hebrews, that it was only forbidden to marry with those who adhered to their idolatry, ver. 4. Salmon took to wife Rahab, of Jericho; Mahalon and Booz successively married Ruth, the Moabitess, and Moses himself allows the Hebrews to espouse their captives, and to preserve the lives of women and children, chap. xx. 14., and xxi. 11. (Calmet) See Exodus xxxiv. 15. --- Hence all the Chanaanites were not necessarily to be slain. The few exceptions did not hinder the rule from being general. See ver. 16., and Numbers xiv. 23.
Gods. So great is the natural tendency to evil, that though a woman be generally inclined to follow the inclinations and religion of her husband, yet, when his method of living is more repugnant to flesh and blood, she is but to apt to influence him to glide smoothly with her down the hill of pleasure, into the very abyss of dissolution. The prediction, she will turn, &c., is so often verified, that those who marry with unbelievers ought to tremble. (Haydock)
Things. This was to be done with regard to the idols of Chanaan, when it was first conquered, ver. 25. Afterwards David made no scruple in wearing a crown, which had been taken from the spoils of Melchon, the idol of the Ammonites, 1 Paralipomenon xx. 2. (Calmet)
Peculiar. Hebrew sogula, laid up like something most precious and desirable. (Menochius) --- God seemed to have abandoned other nations to the corruption of their own heart. "This was, by a particular mystery, a prophetical nation." (St. Augustine, ep. cii.) (Exodus xix. 5.) (Calmet) --- Therefore must they destroy every idol in their land, to set a pattern to all other less favoured nations how they ought also to treat them.
Joined. Hebrew, "has set his love upon you." God is the most disinterested lover. (Haydock)
Strong. Hebrew el, means also God. He requires us to imitate his perfections as much as we are able. Being faithful, he will comply with his covenant exactly, and will punish those who neglect it. (Calmet)
Deserve. Hebrew, "he will repay to his face," or "he will punish immediately the person who hateth him to his face." God does not always defer the correction of the wicked till their death. (Calmet) --- But this seems to be spoken principally of those who have engaged in the covenant, 2 Machabees vi. 12. (Du Hamel) --- Thus he immediately chastised those who adored the calf, Core, Mary [Miriam], &c., (Menochius) and he does not dissemble the faults even of his chosen servants. (Tirinus) --- The Chaldean and some Rabbins give another interpretation. "The Lord rewards his enemies for the good works which they perform in this life, reserving their judgment till the life to come. He does not delay to reward was good they do, but he will punish them (for their crimes) in another world." (Calmet)
If. The promises of God to the Hebrews were conditional. (Worthington)
Womb. He will grant thee many children. (Menochius) --- This was esteemed a very great blessing, at a time when they might hope to give birth to the Messias. (Calmet)
Cattle. This shews, that no precept to marry is here given, but only a blessing. Even men cannot be commanded not to be barren, as that is not in their own power. It was, however, deemed a mark of some secret transgression when married people had no children. (Vasques.) (Tirinus)
Sickness, sent in punishment of sin, (Haydock) like the plagues of Egypt, Exodus ix. (Menochius) --- Egypt was afflicted with some peculiar disorders, such as the leprosy, called Elephantiasis. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxvi. 1.) The people were also much troubled with sore eyes, or blindness, and with ulcers upon their legs. (Juvenal, Sat. xiii. 91.) One-fourth of the inhabitants of Grand Cairo have sore eyes, or are blind. (Brun.) --- Joinville speaks of the diseases which attacked the army of St. Louis in Egypt, preying chiefly upon the legs and gums, and causing them to putrify. (Calmet)
Consume. Kill the inhabitants, plunder their effects, (Menochius) destroy their idols.
Plagues. Hebrew, "trials." God manifested by this means the latent dispositions of the Egyptians, while he punished their wickedness at the same time. (Haydock)
Hornets. Abenezra understands the leprosy, which the Hebrew may also signify. But hornets and such like insects are very destructive in hot countries; and Pausanias informs us that the Minsiens were driven out of their country by them. (Calmet) --- God destroyed the army of Sapor II, the Persian king, by sending an army of gnats, at the prayer of St. James of Nisibis, A.D. 350. "Lord, said the saint, thou art able by the weakest means to humble the pride of thy enemies, defeat these multitudes by an army of gnats." (Butler, Lives of the Saints, July 11.) --- We may, therefore, explain this text in a literal sense. (Calmet) (Wisdom xii. 8., and xvi. 9., and Josue xxiv. 12.)
Fear. Septuagint, "be wounded." In the war with the Madianites, not one was killed, (Numbers xxxi. 49,) as Josephus ([Antiquities?] iii. 2) informs us, was also the case when king Amalec and his people attacked the Hebrews, Exodus xvii. 13. The people seem to have expected such a miraculous interference of Providence in their favour; and hence, when 36 were slain at the siege of Hai, all were greatly dejected, Josue vii. 5. (Haydock)
Thee. Three millions of people not being sufficient to cultivate the land, Exodus xxiii. 29. (Menochius) --- God could easily have destroyed those mighty nations at once; but he would not give the Israelites any occasion of boasting. (Du Hamel) --- If they never succeeded to expel them entirely out of the country, they might attribute it to their own negligence and other sins. (Haydock)
Graven things. Idols, so called by contempt. (Challoner) --- Made. Hebrew, "gold (plates) on them," to cover the wood, &c. See ver. 5.
An anathema. That is, a thing devoted to destruction; and which carries along with it a curse. (Challoner) --- Like it. The curse rested upon those who kept any of the spoils. This brought death upon Achan, (Josue vii. 1,) and upon some of the soldiers of Judas the Machabee, who had secreted some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews, 2 Machabees xii. 40. (Calmet)