The observance of these commandments would also bring great blessings (Deu 7:12-16). “If ye hearken to these demands of right” (mishpatim) of the covenant Lord upon His covenant people, and keep them and do them, “Jehovah will keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He hath sworn to thy fathers.” In עֵקֶב, for אֲשֶׁר עֵקֶב (Gen 22:18), there is involved not only the idea of reciprocity, but everywhere also an allusion to reward or punishment (cf. Deu 8:20; Num 14:24). חֶסֶד was the favour displayed in the promises given to the patriarchs on oath (Gen 22:16).
This mercy flowed from the love of God to Israel, and the love was manifested in blessing and multiplying the people. The blessing is then particularized, by a further expansion of Exo 23:25-27, as a blessing upon the fruit of the body, the fruits of the field and soil, and the rearing of cattle. שֶׁגֶר, see Exo 13:12. צֹאן עַשְׁתְּרֹת only occurs again in Deu 28:4, Deu 28:18, Deu 28:51, and certainly signifies the young increase of the flocks. It is probably a Canaanitish word, derived from Ashtoreth (Astharte), the female deity of the Canaanites, which was regarded as the conceiving and birth-giving principle of nature, literally Veneres, i.e., amores gregis, hence soboles (Ges.); just as the Latin poets employ the name Ceres to signify the corn, Venus for love and sexual intercourse, and Lucina for birth. On Deu 7:14 and Deu 7:15, see Exo 23:26. In Deu 7:15, the promise of the preservation of Israel from all diseases (Exo 15:26, and Exo 23:25) is strengthened by the addition of the clause, “all the evil diseases of Egypt,” by which, according to Deu 28:27, we are probably to understand chiefly the malignant species of leprosy called elephantiasis, and possibly also the plague and other malignant forms of disease. In Egypt, diseases for the most part readily assume a very dangerous character. Pliny (h. n. xxvi. 1) calls Egypt the genitrix of contagious pestilence, and modern naturalists have confirmed this (see Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 215; and Pruner, Krankheiten des Orients, pp. 460ff.). Diseases of this kind the Lord would rather bring upon the enemies of Israel. The Israelites, on the other hand, should be so strong and vigorous, that they would devour, i.e., exterminate, all the nations which their God would give into their hands (cf. Num 14:9). With this thought Moses reverts with emphasis to the command to root out the Canaanites without reserve, and not to serve their gods, because they would become a snare to them (see Exo 10:7); and then in Deu 7:17-26 he carries out still further the promise in Exo 23:27-30 of the successful subjugation of the Canaanites through the assistance of the Lord, and sweeps away all the objections that a weak faith might raise to the execution of the divine command.
To suppress the thought that was rising up in their heart, how could it be possible for them to destroy these nations which were more numerous than they, the Israelites were to remember what the Lord had done in Egypt and to Pharaoh, namely, the great temptations, signs, and wonders connected with their deliverance from Egypt (cf. Deu 4:34 and Deu 6:22). He would do just the same to the Canaanites.
He would also send hornets against them, as He had already promised in Exo 23:28 (see the passage), until all that were left and had hidden themselves should have utterly perished.
Israel had no need to be afraid of them, as Jehovah was in the midst of it a mighty God and terrible. He would drive out the nations, but only gradually, as He had already declared to Moses in Exo 23:30-31, and would smite them with great confusion, till they were destroyed, as was the case for example at Gibeon (Jos 10:10; cf. Exo 23:27, where the form הָמַם is used instead of הוּם), and would also deliver their kings into the hand of Israel, so that their names should vanish under the heaven (cf. Deu 9:14; Deu 25:19; and for the fulfilment, Jos 10:22., Deu 11:12; 12:7-24). No one would be able to stand before Israel.
“To stand before thee:” lit., to put oneself in the face of a person, so as to withstand him. הִשְׁמִיד for הַשְׁמִיד, as in Lev 14:43, etc.
Trusting to this promise, the Israelites were to burn up the idols of the Canaanites, and not to desire the silver and gold upon them (with which the statues were overlaid), or take it to themselves, lest they should be snared in it, i.e., lest the silver and gold should become a snare to them. It would become so, not from any danger lest they should practise idolatry with it, but because silver and gold which had been used in connection with idolatrous worship was an abomination to Jehovah, which the Israelites were not to bring into their houses, lest they themselves should fall under the ban, to which all the objects connected with idolatry were devoted, as the history of Achan in Josh 7 clearly proves. For this reason, any such abomination was to be abhorred, and destroyed by burning or grinding to powder (cf. Exo 32:20; 2Ki 23:4-5; 2Ch 15:16).