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The Dispossession of Nonvassals

When the Lord your God brings you to the land that you are going to occupy and forces out many nations before you—Hittites,[a] Girgashites,[b] Amorites,[c] Canaanites,[d] Perizzites,[e] Hivites,[f] and Jebusites,[g] seven[h] nations more numerous and powerful than you— and he[i] delivers them over to you and you attack them, you must utterly annihilate[j] them. Make no treaty[k] with them and show them no mercy! You must not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters[l] to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they[m] will turn your sons away from me to worship other gods. Then the anger of the Lord will erupt against you and he will quickly destroy you. Instead, this is what you must do to them: You must tear down their altars, shatter their sacred pillars,[n] cut down their sacred Asherah poles,[o] and burn up their idols. For you are a people holy[p] to the Lord your God. He[q] has chosen you to be his people, prized[r] above all others on the face of the earth.

The Basis of Israel’s Election

It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the Lord favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his[s] love[t] for you and his faithfulness to the promise[u] he solemnly vowed[v] to your ancestors[w] that the Lord brought you out with great power,[x] redeeming[y] you from the place of slavery, from the power[z] of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the Lord your God is the true God,[aa] the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully[ab] with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 but who pays back those who hate[ac] him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore[ad] those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! 11 So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do.

Promises of Good for Covenant Obedience

12 If you obey these ordinances and are careful to do them, the Lord your God will faithfully keep covenant with you[ae] as he promised[af] your ancestors. 13 He will love and bless you, and make you numerous. He will bless you with many children,[ag] with the produce of your soil, your grain, your new wine, your olive oil, the offspring of your oxen, and the young of your flocks in the land that he promised your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed beyond all peoples; there will be no barrenness[ah] among you or your livestock. 15 The Lord will protect you from all sickness, and you will not experience any of the terrible diseases that you knew in Egypt; instead he will inflict them on all those who hate you.

Exhortation to Destroy Canaanite Paganism

16 You must destroy[ai] all the people whom the Lord your God is about to deliver over to you; you must not pity them or worship[aj] their gods, for that will be a snare to you. 17 If you think, “These nations are more numerous than I—how can I dispossess them?” 18 you must not fear them. You must carefully recall[ak] what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and all Egypt, 19 the great judgments[al] you saw, the signs and wonders, the strength and power[am] by which he[an] brought you out—thus the Lord your God will do to all the people you fear. 20 Furthermore, the Lord your God will release hornets[ao] among them until the very last ones who hide from you[ap] perish. 21 You must not tremble in their presence, for the Lord your God, who is present among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 He,[aq] the God who leads you, will expel the nations little by little. You will not be allowed to destroy them all at once lest the wild animals overrun you. 23 The Lord your God will give them over to you; he will throw them into a great panic[ar] until they are destroyed. 24 He will hand over their kings to you, and you will erase their very names from memory.[as] Nobody will be able to resist you until you destroy them. 25 You must burn the images of their gods, but do not covet the silver and gold that covers them so much that you take it for yourself and thus become ensnared by it; for it is abhorrent[at] to the Lord your God. 26 You must not bring any abhorrent thing into your house and thereby become an object of divine wrath[au] along with it.[av] You must absolutely detest[aw] and abhor it,[ax] for it is an object of divine wrath.


  1. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Hittites. The center of Hittite power was in Anatolia (central modern Turkey). In the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 b.c.) they were at their zenith, establishing outposts and colonies near and far. Some elements were obviously in Canaan at the time of the Conquest (1400-1350 b.c.).
  2. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Girgashites. These cannot be ethnically identified and are unknown outside the OT. They usually appear in such lists only when the intention is to have seven groups in all (see also the note on the word “seven” later in this verse).
  3. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Amorites. Originally from the upper Euphrates region (Amurru), the Amorites appear to have migrated into Canaan beginning in 2200 b.c. or thereabouts.
  4. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Canaanites. These were the indigenous peoples of the land, going back to the beginning of recorded history (ca. 3000 b.c.). The OT identifies them as descendants of Ham (Gen 10:6), the only Hamites to have settled north and east of Egypt.
  5. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Perizzites. This is probably a subgroup of Canaanites (Gen 13:7; 34:30).
  6. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Hivites. These are usually thought to be the same as the Hurrians, a people well-known in ancient Near Eastern texts. They are likely identical to the Horites (see note on the term “Horites” in Deut 2:12).
  7. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Jebusites. These inhabited the hill country, particularly in and about Jerusalem (cf. Num 13:29; Josh 15:8; 2 Sam 5:6; 24:16).
  8. Deuteronomy 7:1 sn Seven. This is an ideal number in the OT, one symbolizing fullness or completeness. Therefore, the intent of the text here is not to be precise and list all of Israel’s enemies but simply to state that Israel will have a full complement of foes to deal with. For other lists of Canaanites, some with fewer than seven peoples, see Exod 3:8; 13:5; 23:23, 28; 33:2; 34:11; Deut 20:17; Josh 3:10; 9:1; 24:11. Moreover, the “Table of Nations” (Gen 10:15-19) suggests that all of these (possibly excepting the Perizzites) were offspring of Canaan and therefore Canaanites.
  9. Deuteronomy 7:2 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
  10. Deuteronomy 7:2 tn In the Hebrew text the infinitive absolute before the finite verb emphasizes the statement. The imperfect has an obligatory nuance here. Cf. ASV “shalt (must NRSV) utterly destroy them”; CEV “must destroy them without mercy.”
  11. Deuteronomy 7:2 tn Heb “covenant” (so NASB, NRSV); TEV “alliance.”
  12. Deuteronomy 7:3 sn Heb “Do not give your daughter to his son.” The command (beginning at 7:1) is given in the singular form of “you” to emphasize individual responsibility. At this point, the Hebrew also switches from the plural (see previous clause) to the singular in reference to the Canaanite sons and daughters. While the principle applies to everyone in the nation, the rhetorical presentation is of an individual father making a decision about his specific child and a particular potential spouse.
  13. Deuteronomy 7:4 tn Heb “he will,” envisioning a particular case. See note in previous verse.
  14. Deuteronomy 7:5 sn Sacred pillars. The Hebrew word (מַצֵּבֹת, matsevot) denotes a standing pillar, usually made of stone. Its purpose was to mark the presence of a shrine or altar thought to have been visited by deity. Though sometimes associated with pure worship of the Lord (Gen 28:18, 22; 31:13; 35:14; Exod 24:4), these pillars were usually associated with pagan cults and rituals (Exod 23:24; 34:13; Deut 12:3; 1 Kgs 14:23; 2 Kgs 17:10; Hos 3:4; 10:1; Jer 43:13).
  15. Deuteronomy 7:5 sn Sacred Asherah poles. A leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon was Asherah, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles (Hebrew אֲשֵׁרִים [ʾasherim], as here). They were to be burned or cut down (Deut 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4).
  16. Deuteronomy 7:6 tn That is, “set apart.”
  17. Deuteronomy 7:6 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
  18. Deuteronomy 7:6 tn Or “treasured” (so NIV, NRSV); NLT “his own special treasure.” The Hebrew term סְגֻלָּה (segullah) describes Israel as God’s choice people, those whom he elected and who are most precious to him (cf. Exod 19:4-6; Deut 14:2; 26:18; 1 Chr 29:3; Ps 135:4; Eccl 2:8 Mal 3:17). See E. Carpenter, NIDOTTE 3:224.
  19. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn Heb “the Lord’s.” See note on “He” in 7:6.
  20. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn For the verb אָהֵב (ʾahev, “to love”) as a term of choice or election, see note on the word “loved” in Deut 4:37.
  21. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn Heb “oath.” This is a reference to the promises of the so-called “Abrahamic Covenant” (cf. Gen 15:13-16).
  22. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn Heb “swore on oath.”
  23. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn Heb “fathers” (also in vv. 12, 13).
  24. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn Heb “by a strong hand” (NAB similar); NLT “with such amazing power.”
  25. Deuteronomy 7:8 sn Redeeming you from the place of slavery. The Hebrew verb translated “redeeming” (from the root פָּדָה, padah) has the idea of redemption by the payment of a ransom. The initial symbol of this was the Passover lamb, offered by Israel to the Lord as ransom in exchange for deliverance from bondage and death (Exod 12:1-14). Later, the firstborn sons of Israel, represented by the Levites, became the ransom (Num 3:11-13). These were all types of the redemption effected by the death of Christ who described his atoning work as “a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28; cf. 1 Pet 1:18).
  26. Deuteronomy 7:8 tn Heb “hand” (so KJV, NRSV), a metaphor for power or domination.
  27. Deuteronomy 7:9 tn Heb “the God.” The article here expresses uniqueness; cf. TEV “is the only God”; NLT “is indeed God.”
  28. Deuteronomy 7:9 tn Heb “who keeps covenant and loyalty.” The syndetic construction of בְּרִית (berit) and חֶסֶד (khesed) should be understood not as “covenant” plus “loyalty” but as an adverbial construction in which חֶסֶד (“loyalty”) modifies the verb שָׁמַר (shamar, “keeps”).
  29. Deuteronomy 7:10 tn For the term “hate” as synonymous with rejection or disobedience see note on the word “reject” in Deut 5:9 (cf. NRSV “reject”).
  30. Deuteronomy 7:10 tn Heb “he will not hesitate concerning.”
  31. Deuteronomy 7:12 tn Heb “will keep with you the covenant and loyalty.” On the construction used here, see v. 9.
  32. Deuteronomy 7:12 tn Heb “which he swore on oath.” The relative pronoun modifies “covenant,” so one could translate “will keep faithfully the covenant (or promise) he made on oath to your ancestors.”
  33. Deuteronomy 7:13 tn Heb “will bless the fruit of your womb” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV).
  34. Deuteronomy 7:14 sn One of the ironies about the promises to the patriarchs concerning offspring was the characteristic barrenness of the wives of the men to whom these pledges were made (cf. Gen 11:30; 25:21; 29:31). Their affliction is in each case described by the very Hebrew word used here (עֲקָרָה, ʿaqarah), an affliction that will no longer prevail in Canaan.
  35. Deuteronomy 7:16 tn Heb “devour” (so NRSV); KJV, NAB, NASB “consume.” The verbal form (a perfect with vav consecutive) is understood here as having an imperatival or obligatory nuance (cf. the instructions and commands that follow). Another option is to take the statement as a continuation of the preceding conditional promises and translate “and you will destroy.”
  36. Deuteronomy 7:16 tn Or “serve” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV).
  37. Deuteronomy 7:18 tn Heb “recalling, you must recall.” The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute before the finite verb for emphasis. Cf. KJV, ASV “shalt well remember.”
  38. Deuteronomy 7:19 tn Heb “testings” (so NAB), a reference to the plagues. See note at 4:34.
  39. Deuteronomy 7:19 tn Heb “the strong hand and outstretched arm.” See 4:34.
  40. Deuteronomy 7:19 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
  41. Deuteronomy 7:20 tn The meaning of the term translated “hornets” (צִרְעָה, tsirʿah) is debated. Various suggestions are “discouragement” (HALOT 1056-57 s.v.; cf. NEB, TEV, CEV “panic”; NCV “terror”) and “leprosy” (J. H. Tigay, Deuteronomy [JPSTC], 360, n. 33; cf. NRSV “the pestilence”), as well as “hornet” (BDB 864 s.v.; cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT). The latter seems most suitable to the verb שָׁלַח (shalakh, “send”; cf. Exod 23:28; Josh 24:12).
  42. Deuteronomy 7:20 tn Heb “the remnant and those who hide themselves.”
  43. Deuteronomy 7:22 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 7:19.
  44. Deuteronomy 7:23 tn Heb “he will confuse them (with) great confusion.” The verb used here means “shake, stir up” (see Ruth 1:19; 1 Sam 4:5; 1 Kgs 1:45; Ps 55:2); the accompanying cognate noun refers to confusion, unrest, havoc, or panic (1 Sam 5:9, 11; 14:20; 2 Chr 15:5; Prov 15:16; Isa 22:5; Ezek 7:7; 22:5; Amos 3:9; Zech 14:13).
  45. Deuteronomy 7:24 tn Heb “you will destroy their name from under heaven” (cf. KJV); NRSV “blot out their name from under heaven.”
  46. Deuteronomy 7:25 tn The Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה (toʿevah, “abhorrent; detestable”) describes anything detestable to the Lord because of its innate evil or inconsistency with his own nature and character. Frequently such things (or even persons) must be condemned to annihilation (חֵרֶם, kherem) lest they become a means of polluting or contaminating others (cf. Deut 13:17; 20:17-18). See M. Grisanti, NIDOTTE 4:315.
  47. Deuteronomy 7:26 tn Heb “come under the ban” (so NASB); NRSV “be set apart for destruction.” The same phrase occurs again at the end of this The Hebrew word translated an object of divine wrath (חֵרֶם, kherem) refers to persons or things placed under God’s judgment, usually to the extent of their complete destruction. See note on the phrase “divine judgment” in Deut 2:34.
  48. Deuteronomy 7:26 tn Or “like it is.”
  49. Deuteronomy 7:26 tn This Hebrew verb (שָׁקַץ, shaqats) is essentially synonymous with the next verb (תָעַב, taʿav; cf. תּוֹעֵבָה, toʿevah; see note on the word “abhorrent” in v. 25), though its field of meaning is more limited to cultic abomination (cf. Lev 11:11, 13; Ps 22:25).
  50. Deuteronomy 7:26 tn Heb “detesting you must detest and abhorring you must abhor.” Both verbs are preceded by a cognate infinitive absolute indicating emphasis.