Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. 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.
Ver. 2. 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)
Ver. 3. 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.
Ver. 4. 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 too 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)
Ver. 5. 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)
Ver. 6. 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.
Ver. 7. Joined. Hebrew, “has set his love upon you.” God is the most disinterested lover. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. 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)
Ver. 10. 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 punishment till the life to come. He does not delay to reward what good they do, but he will punish them (for their crimes) in another world.” (Calmet)
Ver. 12. If. The promises of God to the Hebrews were conditional. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. 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)
Ver. 14. 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)
Ver. 15. 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)
Ver. 16. Consume. Kill the inhabitants, plunder their effects, (Menochius) destroy their idols.
Ver. 19. Plagues. Hebrew, “trials.” God manifested by this means the latent dispositions of the Egyptians, while he punished their wickedness at the same time. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. 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.)
Ver. 21. 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)
Ver. 22. 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)
Ver. 25. Graven things. Idols, so called by contempt. (Challoner) — Made. Hebrew, “gold (plates) on them,” to cover the wood, &c. See ver. 5.
Ver. 26. 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)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
No league nor fellowship to be made with the Chanaanites: God promiseth his people his blessing and assistance, if they keep his commandments.
1 When *the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land, which thou art going in to possess, and shall have destroyed many nations before thee, **the Hethite, and the Gergezite, and the Amorrhite, and the Chanaanite, and the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite, seven nations much more numerous than thou art, and stronger than thou:
2 And the Lord thy God shall have delivered them to thee, thou shalt utterly destroy them. *Thou shalt make no league with them, nor shew mercy to them:
3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them. Thou shalt not give thy daughter to his son, nor take his daughter for thy son:
4 For she will turn away thy son from following me, that he may rather serve strange gods, and the wrath of the Lord will be kindled, and will quickly destroy thee.
5 But thus rather shall you deal with them: *Destroy their altars, and break their statues, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven things:
6 *Because thou art a holy people to the Lord thy God. **The Lord thy God hath chosen thee, to be his peculiar people, of all peoples that are upon the earth.
7 Not because you surpass all nations in number, is the Lord joined unto you, and hath chosen you, for you are the fewest of any people:
8 But because the Lord hath loved you, and hath kept his oath, which he swore to your fathers: and hath brought you out with a strong hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, out of the hand of Pharao the king of Egypt.
9 And thou shalt know, that the Lord thy God, he is a strong and faithful God, keeping his covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments, unto a thousand generations:
10 And repaying forthwith them that hate him, so as to destroy them, without further delay, immediately rendering to them what they deserve.
11 Keep therefore the precepts and ceremonies, and judgments, which I command thee this day to do.
12 If after thou hast heard these judgments, thou keep and do them, the Lord thy God will also keep his covenant to thee, and the mercy which he swore to thy fathers:
13 And he will love thee and multiply thee, and will bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy vintage, thy oil, and thy herds, and the flocks of thy sheep upon the land, for which he swore to thy fathers that he would give it thee.
14 Blessed shalt thou be among all people. *No one shall be barren among you of either sex, neither of men, nor cattle.
15 The Lord will take away from thee all sickness: and the grievous infirmities of Egypt, which thou knowest, he will not bring upon thee, but upon thy enemies.
16 Thou shalt consume all the people, which the Lord thy God will deliver to thee. Thy eye shall not spare them, neither shalt thou serve their gods, lest they be thy ruin.
17 If thou say in thy heart: These nations are more than I, how shall I be able to destroy them?
18 Fear not, but remember what the Lord thy God did to Pharao, and to all the Egyptians,
19 The exceeding great plagues, which thy eyes saw, and the signs and wonders, and the strong hand, and the stretched-out arm, with which the Lord thy God brought thee out: so will he do to all the people, whom thou fearest.
20 *Moreover the Lord thy God will send also hornets among them, until he destroy and consume all that have escaped thee, and could hide themselves.
21 Thou shalt not fear them, because the Lord thy God is in the midst of thee, a God mighty and terrible:
22 He will consume these nations in thy sight by little and little and by degrees. Thou wilt not be able to destroy them altogether, lest perhaps the beasts of the earth should increase upon thee.
23 But the Lord thy God shall deliver them in thy sight: and shall slay them until they be utterly destroyed.
24 And he shall deliver their kings into thy hands, and thou shalt destroy their names from under heaven: no man shall be able to resist thee, until thou destroy them.
25 *Their graven things thou shalt burn with fire: thou shalt not covet the silver and gold, of which they are made, neither shalt thou take to thee any thing thereof, lest thou offend, because it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.
26 Neither shalt thou bring any thing of the idol into thy house, lest thou become an anathema, like it. Thou shalt detest it as dung, and shalt utterly abhor it as uncleanness and filth, because it is an anathema.
1: Year of the World 2553. — ** Exodus xxiii. 23. and xxxiii. 2.
2: Exodus xxiii. 32. and xxxiv. 15. and 16.
5: Exodus xxiii. 24.; Deuteronomy xii. 3. and xvi. 21.
6: Deuteronomy xiv. 2. — ** Deuteronomy xxvi. 18.
14: Exdus xxiii. 26.
20: Exodus xxiii. 28.; Josue xxiv. 12.
25: 2 Machabees xii. 40.