The graven images of their gods shall you burn with fire: you shall not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it to you…
Showing, as he always shows, a most penetrating mind, Moses points to a very subtle temptation which would arise in connection with the progress of Israel. The graven images of the heathen nations were to be burned with fire. Moses says in the twenty-fifth verse: "Thou shalt not desire...lest thou be ensnared therein." How subtle is the temptation in that direction! Shall we cast in the hideous gods and the valuable gold, and consume them both in the unsparing fire? How much better first to strip the god of his golden coat and then burn the wood or clay or grind the stone to powder! Moses, foreseeing this temptation, and by the very inspiration of God, knowing the mysteries of human nature, said: "Touch not; taste not; handle not." In such abstention is the only possible safety of the Church. The temptation operates today. Men will sustain a questionable mode of earning a livelihood on the pretence that they can gather from the forbidden trade gold and silver which they can melt down and mint with the image and superscription of God; they can allow the devastating traffic to proceed, reeking like the pit of hell, destroying countless thousands of lives, and yet justify the continuance of the iniquity by taking off the gold and the silver and throwing part of it into the coffers of the Church. Missions so sustained are dishonoured. The gold torn from any evil way of getting a livelihood and given to the Church is an abomination to the Lord thy God. He does not want even good gold stolen for His purposes, or gold won by unholy means thrown into His exchequer. Let us give honest money. Let us eat bread unleavened by wrong-doing; there may be little of it, but Christ will break it with His own hands, and it shall be more than our hunger needs. Marvellous, too, is the prevision of Moses when he lays down the only law or principle by which all these abstentions and all these actions can be sustained. Do not let us ascribe these regulations to the prevision of Moses unless we understand by that term the inspiration of God. What is the principle which guarantees safety and protects the soul from the unclean things of heathen nations? That principle is laid down in the twenty-sixth verse. Speaking of heathen abomination Moses says: "Thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it." There is no middle feeling; there is no intermediate way of dealing with bad things. "If thy right, hand offend thee, cut it off"; "if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Thus the Testaments are one: the moral tone is the same; the stern law never yields to time — its phrase changes, its words may come and go, its forms may take upon them the colour of the transient times, but the inner spirit of righteousness is the Spirit of God, without beginning, without measure, without end.
(J. Parker, D. D.).
Parallel VersesKJV: The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.
WEB: You shall burn the engraved images of their gods with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourself, lest you be snared in it; for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God.