Restoration Quarterly 17 (1974) 222-235.

                    Copyright © 1974 by Restoration Quarterly, cited with permission;

                                            digitally prepared for use at Gordon College]



                   Deuteronomy 7: A Covenant Sermon



                                                   WAYNE CRUMP

                                                 Princeton, New Jersey



            When dealing with a passage from the Pentateuch, and especially

from the Mosaic covenant sermon material in the early chapters of

Deuteronomy, the question of authorship is of central concern, since

there are many different viewpoints regarding the final form of the five

books. The predominant scholarly opinions concerning Deuteronomy

are the following:

1. Moses recorded the speeches and the laws as he delivered them to

the Israelites at Moab.

2. The sayings of Moses and the giving of the law were preserved and

written down in Yahwistic circles through the monarchical period,

primarily in Northern Israel. As the historical situation changed, certain

elements were added or omitted to make the material relevant to the

new situation.

3. The work was composed in the seventh century in reaction to the

apostasies of Ahaz and Manasseh. The ancient legal material in the book

was placed in the context of a covenant renewal at the time when

reform was essential if Judah was to remain a people under God.

This article will not depend on any one theory of authorship, but

certain points may immediately be noted in preparation for the actual

exegesis of Deuteronomy 7.

First, even conservative scholars such as R. K. Harrison recognize

that chapter 34, the account of Moses' death, is added to the original

form of Deuteronomy. It is also significant that the book begins with

"These are the words that Moses spoke. . . ," as though someone later

was putting in written form this farewell address of Moses. Indeed, the

entire Pentateuch is narrated in the third person. This situation is

comparable to the New Testament, which was written by Jesus'

followers rather than Jesus himself. Just as the Gospel writers selected

their material from the abundance of available tradition about the Lord



Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                223


to take their evangelical and theological thrist to their particular

audiences (cf. Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31), so did those who recorded

the words of Moses present and even elaborate upon them in ways that

met their theological needs. It is a fundamental principle of exegesis

the biblical materials are to be understood or the basis of their

situation in life, both of the original event or saying and of the later

audience to which the written account is addressed: Their purpose was

to meet the needs of a live historical situation with truth from God

and not simply to compile a biography of a great leader such as Moses

or Jesus.

A second important observation is that the parenetic material in

Deuteronomy is clearly Mosaic In thought and content. Chapter 7

quotes frequently from the "Book of the Covenant" (Exodus 21-23),

the laws given by Moses at Sinai in connection with the Decalogue in

chapter 20. Deuteronomy is thus centered on the covenant given

through Moses and in effect reiterates it as his last testimony to the

nation. The book is structured, roughly, in the form of an ancient

covenant document, with many elements of the Hittite suzerainty

treaty: historical prologue, stipulations in the form of commandments,

cosmic witnesses (30:19), and blessings and curses,1 found in

Deuteronomy 7 as well as in the later chapters. Chapter 29 begins with

the statement "These are the words of the covenant which the Lord

commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel" in addition to

the covenant made “at Horeb." The essential theme of Deuteronomy,

therefore, is the renewal of the covenant. Those who felt the need in

it later times for such a revival of dedication to Yahweh quite naturally

saw in this Mosaic covenant material the basis for such an endeavor.

Deuteronomy is, as Nicholson states, "the deposit of the authentic

Mosaic faith as it developed during the course of Israel's history in the

land of Canaan." The “stream of tradition" was transmitted down to

the seventh century until


. . . under the shadow of the destruction of the northern tribes and

the threat of a similar fate for the remaining Judean kingdom it

was formulated Into the book of Deuteronomy in an attempt to


1. G. E. Mendenhall, "Covenant,” The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible,

I. 714, 715.

224                             Restoration Quarterly


revive the nation and ensure its future as Yahweh's covenant



Those who wrote down Deuteronomy in its final form brought Moses'

words to bear with renewed force on the situation of the nation at a

critical moment in the history of God's people, when a weakened faith

was perceived as totally inadequate for the future of the covenant

nation. Many scholars observe affiliations between the parenesis of

Deuteronomy and the prophetic activity beginning in the eighth

century. God's love for Israel, which is an integral idea in Deuteronomy

7, is a prominent theme in Hosea (3:1; 11:1; 14:4).

The similarity in style between Deuteronomy and Jeremiah has been

widely observed.3 Dahl notes elements as well of the "social passion of

Amos" and the "national devotion of Isaiah."4 The "book of the law"

found in the temple during Josiah's reign probably was at least the

essential part of the present fifth book of the Pentateuch, which is itself

a "book of the law" (28:61; 29:21; 30:10; 31:26). Josiah's covenant to

keep Yahweh's commandments "with all his heart and all his soul" (2

Kings 23:3) echoes the command of Deuteronomy 26:16. The reforms

which Josiah proceeded to institute involved the destruction of all

vestiges of polytheism and idolatry, as the reading of Deuteronomy

might well have prompted. He had already begun to restore the political

and religious status of Israel when repairs to the temple probably led to

the discovery of the "book of the law."5

Deuteronomy 7 is founded on the covenant relationship between

God and his people based on his mighty acts on their behalf in the past

and the potential for the future if the covenant criteria are maintained.

As a genre it may best be termed a "covenant sermon." Its contents

include encouragement, warning, promise, remembrance, and

admonition. The chapter has universal implications beyond its

immediate context and expounds the central themes of the Jewish (and

indeed the Christian) religion. While several chapters in Deuteronomy,


2. E. W. Nicholson, Deuteronomy and Tradition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,

1967), p. 121.

3. G. Ernest Wright, "Deuteronomy,” The Interpreter's Bible, II. 319.

4. George Dahl, "The Case for the Currently Accepted Date of

Deuteronomy,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 47 (1928), pp. 373, 374.

5. Wright, op. cit., p.322; cf. his discussion of the disintegration of the

Assyrian Empire, which left Judah free for a time to pursue its own affairs.

Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                225


notably the one immediately preceding, stress the loving response

demanded by the one great God, Deuteronomy 7 emphasizes the hesed

bestowed by God upon his own. The chapter is essentially a unified

homiletic presentation, despite the diverse elements within it. Like the

rest of the book, and indeed the entire Deuteronomistic corpus, its

material is subordinated to the overriding concern of total dedication to


It is said that the idea of love is more prominent in Deuteronomy

than anywhere else in the Old Testament.6 Chapters 6 and 7, and

others as well, make it evident that love on the part of both God and

men is the central element in the covenant relationship. In 7:9 God's

faithfulness to his berith is inseparably linked with his hesed. The

chapter is in fact one of the outstanding expositions of grace in the Old

Testament. The author recognizes that the tremendous blessings

bestowed by Yahweh upon his chosen people are based solely on his

love and election. Of course, Israel is expected to respond

wholeheartedly to God's acts. Although there are many statutes and

commandments to observe, these are subsidiary to the "great

commendment" to love, to devote one's whole being to Yahweh. In

fact, Eichrodt maintains, the covenant stipulations are "examples and

practical guides" to help Israel fulfill the "commandment of love."7

They outline a "way of life" by which God's people can prosper under

the "gracious benefaction" of Yahweh and his covenant.8 The concept of

God as one who loves, not only with respect to the hesed promised in the

second commandment (Exodus 20:6), but also in a very personal

way ('ahab), is certainly a significant biblical viewpoint. Deuteronomy

7 is a noteworthy segment of a work which presents this sophisticated

formulation of God's relationship to Israel to an age badly in need of its

powerful truths.


The Sitz Im Leben of Deuteronomy 7


Several factors are involved in the determination of the origins of the

material in the chapter. It is part of a sermon which reiterates the


6. Jacob M. Myers, "The Requisites for Response: On the Theology of

Deuteronomy,  Interpretation, 15 (January, 1961), 29.

7. Walther Eichrodt, "Covenant and Law,” Interpretation, 20 (July, 1966),


8. Ibid., 309, 310.

226                                         Restoration Quarterly


convenant founded at Horeb (5:2ff.). This parenetic material is part of

a document structured according to the ancient covenant formula. The

point is made in 5:3 that the covenant is made with "all of us here alive

this day" and not just the "fathers" coming out of Egypt. The phrase

"this day" recurs in 8:18; 11:26; 11:32; and 26:16-18. It is evident

that chapters 5-11, connected by common ideas and particularly the

motif of the land, are concerned with a covenant renewal activity. Von

Rad thinks that the setting of this reiteration of the Mosaic covenant

was originally cultic and that for this purpose Deuteronomy is arranged

according to the liturgy of a festival of the cult.9 It has been altered,

however, into the form of homiletic instruction for the laity.10 Such a

covenant ceremony may in fact have taken place from the early days of

Israel on the basis of the farewell speeches of Moses and Joshua, who

also "made a covenant" with the people at Shechem (Joshua 24:25). If so,

Shechem or one of the other old shrines could have been the primary

location for such a cultic event down through the monarchical period.

The powerful emphasis on purification from idols and foreign gods calls

to mind kings such as Ahab and Manasseh, although the

Deuteronomistic historian condemns all the kings of North Israel and

many of those of Judah. It may be presumed that groups of ardent

Yahwists carried on the covenant ceremony in spite of hostile

monarchs. The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal that such an event took place

periodically in the Qumran community,11  a group which also withdrew

from undesirable developments in the religion of God's chosen nation.

This sermon therefore uses the covenant words of Moses for Israel's

later worship and renewal of faith.

But what information does Deuteronomy 7 provide concerning its

specific setting in life? From verse 5, there is clearly a problem with

Canaanite religion, which included 'asherim and masseboth.12

Although these references do not establish precisely the location, they

suggest the areas toward the north, closer to Syria, as in the Elijah

stories. Several expressions in the chapter, like others in the book, are


9. Gerhard von Rad, Deuteronomy, tr. Dorothea Barton (Philadelphia:

Westminster Press, 1966), p. 12.

10. Ibid., p. 23.

11. G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Harmondsworth, England:

Penguin Books, 1968), pp. 72-74.

12. Joseph Reider, Deuteronomy (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication

Society of America, 1937), pp. 81, 82.

Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                227


stylistically close to those of the "E" Pentateuchal source, which many

scholars believe to be grounded in North Israel: "to serve other gods"

(7:4), "Yahweh will bless thee" (7:13), "the Amorites" (7:1). Though

not in chapter 7, the name "Horeb" (cf. 5:2) for Sinai is a particularly

notable correlation.13 Deuteronomy 7 must be considered to have a

particular message for its immediate audience. It seems likely that the

latter-day faithful have taken the covenant of Moses with the people

and applied it to a time when the battle against the importation of

foreign cultic practices into Yahwism was at its height."14 There is

such a radical concern for separation from the slightest foreign taint (cf.

vss. 2-5, 25-26) that one must assume that contamination is a critical

and immediate problem. The best analysis seems to be that the material

was passed down through northern Yahwistic circles, became influential

in Judah after the downfall of Israel (when Judah began to feel the

threat of imminent destruction), and became in final form a strongly

parenetic recall of the covenant to the nation during and after Josiah's

reform. Conceivably it was part of a great ceremony centered on the

material in Deuteronomy at some time in the interlude between the

apostasy of Manasseh and the years just before the exile.


Relations with Other Nations


Deuteronomy 7 is not universalistic in theology. The emphasis is

rather upon separateness of the covenant nation from foreign contact.

The first five verses speak of the utter destruction which the Israelites

must bring about to the peoples who do not worship Yahweh. He will

bring them into the land and will "clear away" (nashal) many nations

so that they may possess it. The land is the central motif in the early

chapters of Deuteronomy. It represents tangibly the saving gift of God

promised since the time of the patriarchs. It is singularly appropriate as

a representation of God's love and grace at any moment in Israel's

history. The promise of the "fathers" (7:8), now to be fulfilled, is

indeed solely dependent upon the Lord, for all the nations are mightier

than Israel; yet there are conditions to be observed by the people so

that the blessing of the land under God's covenant may continue to be

realized. As Miller says, "The ideas of the divine gift and human


            13. Wright. op. cit., pp. 318-320.

14. Ibid., p. 324.

228                             Restoration Quarterly


participation are not incompatible. . . ."15 Yahweh “brings" (bo in the

Hiphil), but the people are about to “enter" (bo as a Qal participle); he

clears away the nations,16 but they must destroy them and their

worship. It is an act of faithful response to carry out these stipulations

against great odds.17

There is much in Deuteronomy that is derived from the so-called

“Book of the Covenant" (Exodus 21-23), the laws given in connection

with the decalogue.18 This observation reinforces the idea that

Deuteronomy is concerned with the renewal of the covenant originally

given at Sinai. The major part of the material is therefore of ancient

origin and is to be traced back to the Mosaic giving of the law.

Deuteronomy 7 has close affiliations with Exodus 23 in particular, and

also with Exodus 34, which repeats the covenant given on Sinai in

terms that make it likely to be Deuteronomistic. Deuteronomy 7:2

states that no covenant shall be made with the conquered peoples, nor

is Israel to "favor" them (hanan) by sparing them. Exodus 23:32

commands the Israelites: “You shall make no covenant with them;

or with their gods." The concept of the herem, or ban, wherein the

inhabitants are utterly exterminated as a devotion to Yahweh, is almost

solely Deuteronomistic.19 It is extended to the entire body of peoples

in Canaan. The proscribing of foreign wives in 7:3 is a further

development toward exclusivism in the covenant relationship, although

Exodus 34:16 and other passages (possibly Deuteronomistic) in the

historical works (Joshua 23:12, 13; Judges 3:6) do warn against the

danger of marriage entanglements.20


15. Patrick D. Miller, "The Gift of God: The Deuteronomic Theology of the

Land," Interpretation, 23 (October, 1969), 455.

16. Von Rad, Deuteronomy, p. 67, notes that the list of inhabitants of the

land in 7: 1 is "traditional" and appears with certain variations in Ex. 3:8, 17;


17. Miller, op. cit., 456.

18. Von Rad, op. cit., pp. 13, 14. Von Rad here and in succeeding pages

argues at length that the Deuteronomic wording of the old laws, together with ones

omitted as no longer applicable and other new ones, makes Deuteronomy as it

now exists considerably later than the Book of the Covenant.

19. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English

Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 355. Besides several places in Deuteronomy, the

term appears in Joshua and occasionally in the other historical books where

Deuteronomistic redaction seems probable. It is rare in the older legal materials

(cf. Ex. 22:19; Lev. 27:28, 29; Num. 21:2, 3, where a special vow is made).

20. George Adam Smith, The Book of Deuteronomy (Cambridge: University

Press, 1950), p. 107.

Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                229


The first three verses of Deuteronomy 7 address the nation as

singular throughout, with Moses as the speaker. Verse four begins a

series of fluctuations between the singular and the plural which is

characteristic of Deuteronomy21 and is notable in this chapter.

Although some explanations will be offered for this phenomenon, the

transitions are not sufficiently clear-cut to establish divergent literary

strands. Verse four inexplicably intertwines two plurals with two

singulars and even has the only first-person reference to God in the

chapter, as a suffix. The LXX, which maintains a close translation of

the MT, particularly in the early verses of the chapter, concurs with all

these contradictory endings except the plural of 'abad, with which

other versions and one Hebrew MS also disagree. Verse five, which

specifies the destruction of altars, pillars, idols and Asherim, is entirely

in the plural. Although verse four cannot be satisfactorily explained, it

is quite likely that verse five is late and purely Deuteronomic material.

The earlier exhortations are singular like their counterparts in Exodus

23 and 34, but the same plural intrusion is found in Exodus 34:13,

which is almost identical to verse five. It is likely that these parallels are

contemporary. The Old Testament references, other than in

Deuteronomy (7:5; 12:3; 16:21, 22), to masseboth and 'asherim

together as monuments of Canaanite religion are all in the monarchical

period and concentrated in its latter centuries.22 The phrase

undoubtedly became stereotyped in the Deuteronomistic history,

sometimes with the phrase "on every high hill and under every green

tree" (1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10; cf. Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6; 17:2).

Although it was Josiah who carried out the great Deuteronomic

reform after the abominations of Manasseh, it is significant that

Hezekiah also destroyed the masseboth and 'asherah (2 Kings 18:4).

Since only these kings are mentioned in this regard, it may be presumed

that the great concern for exclusiveness of religion emerged during the

period when Judah was under grave threat from foreign nations. The

circles of covenant renewal and cult purity thus began to have influence

in the South in the years following the downfall of North Israel, when

prophetic activity was strong and some of the Northern Yahwists

brought their traditions, including cult laws, worship materials, and a


21. Ibid., p..lxxiii.

22. Brown-Driver-Briggs, pp. 81, 663.

230                             Restoration Quarterly


theology Influenced by prophets such as Hosea. The trend among the

faithful was inevitably toward the revival of strict Yahwism and a

tightening of rules about contact with outsiders. If the nation was to

remain a distinct people in the face of foreign worship and military

aggression, it must be totally faithful to Yahweh. Deuteronomy 7 builds

on previous instructions to avoid pagan influence by stating this

necessity in the strongest possible terms, with specifically detailed

commands to allow marriages neither of daughters nor of sons and to

destroy altars, pillars, Asherim, and idols. As Welch states, "Chapter 7 is

intended to stiffen up the terms of the Code in the direction of

segregating Israel from the heathen."23 In earlier times, when laws such

as that of Deuteronomy 21:10-13 were not a threat to the nation, the

Code requires only a ritual purification from former heathenism;24

now, Deuteronomy 7 and Exodus 34 demand a complete break with all

possibilities for alien influence.


The Nature of the Covenant Relationship


The idea of separation is continued in verses 6-11, the magnificent

passage about the love of Yahweh for his chosen people. The

justification for the harsh actions toward foreigners previously

commanded is set forth memorably. The nation is ‘am qadosh to

Yahweh, chosen from all the nations as a people of "treasured value"

(segullah) , or a "prized possession."25 Although qadosh developed a

rich variety of connotations involving morality and godliness, its "more

elemental meaning" centers on "separation," according to Muilen-

berg26 and most other commentators. Israel is special and consecrated;

her existence has been solely determined by the choice of Yahweh and

will continue only so long as she remains "set apart" and "treasured."

These qualities of Israel expressed in verse 6 are parallel to Exodus

19:5, 6, where they are conditional upon Israel's obedience and keeping

of the "covenant." Though Deuteronomy 26:18 and 28:9 are similar

conditional statements, the emphasis in Deuteronomy 7 is upon God's


23. Adam C. Welch, "The Purpose of Deuteronomy, Chapter vii," Expository

Times, 42 (June, 1931),411.                                                               

24. Ibid.

25. Lester J. Kuyper, "The Book of Deuteronomy," Interpretation, 6 (July,

1952), 331.

26. James Muilenberg, "Holiness," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible,

II. 617.

Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                231


unconditional grace. Verses 7 and 8a, again in the plural address,

elaborate the point of verse 6 by cautioning the nation to remember

that their favored status with God is by no means because of greatness,

since they were the least among the peoples.

In 7:8 two reasons are given for God's "attaching" himself (hashaq,

a colorful verb of relationship27) to Israel: his love and his oath to their

fathers. It is not a covenant in the legal sense of two parties setting up a

mutual agreement; it is a relationship of love based solely on the hesed

of Yahweh but involving also the personal aspect of 'ahab, which

Toombs calls a "domestic" word.28 Together the three different words

used for Yahweh's attitude toward his people convey the fullness of

what is involved in the love of God: closeness of attachment, fidelity,

and personal feeling. The oath (shebulah) is the technical basis of the

covenant, but love is its fundamental characteristic. Oath and covenant

are virtual synonyms as used in Deuteronomy;29 Yahweh has "sworn a

covenant" (4:31; 8:18) to the fathers. Verses 7 and 8 (possibly

excepting the last phrase of 8, which has a singular suffix after the

verb30) are Deuteronomic statements of God's grace in founding a

covenant upon his love for his people and their response from the


Verses 9-11 return to the singular address to state definitively (with

the formula "know therefore") that Yahweh is a "faithful" God who

keeps his berith and his hesed (whether the two are parallel or to be

taken as distinct is uncertain) to those who make the response of

'ahab31 and who keep his commandments. Here it is stated that the

covenant is conditional, but love is placed before keeping the

commandments, and Israel's part is wholly subordinate to the actions

of Yahweh which have previously been described in detail. Verse 10

presents the negative side of Yahweh's dealings with men. Those who

respond to God's overtures with hatred he will speedily requite. The

point is made that the punishment will be to the individual and not to

his descendants, as in Exodus 34:7. There is a notable contrast between


27. Cf. von Rad, Deuteronomy, p. 68.

28. Lawrence E. Toombs, "Love and Justice in Deuteronomy,” Interpretation,

19 (October, 1965), 402.

29. Gene M. Tucker, "Covenant Forms and Contract Forms," Vetus

Testamentum, 15 (October, 1965), 497.

30. The LXX omits the suffix, although one is needed.

31. The LXX translates hesed with eleos and 'ahab with agapao.

232                             Restoration Quarterly


the never-ending grace of God for those who love him and the quick

destruction for those who reject him, also emphasized in verse 4. The

message is plainly yet eloquently stated: the God of steadfast love is

faithful to his covenant; if you respond in kind to his choice of you as a

people, you will be forever blessed. If you do not, as shown by your

neglect of his commandments and your attentions to other gods, you

may expect speedy and severe punishment (at the hand of these

threatening nations around you).


God's Blessings in the land


The next verses of the covenant sermon set forth in detail the

tangible blessings associated with Yahweh's covenant, particularly with

respect to the one great gift of the land. Verse 12a,  which restates the

conditional aspect of keeping the mishpatim, is in the plural and

therefore a probable later addition. The promise to Abraham in Genesis

22:17 states that God will "bless" and "multiply" the patriarchs and

their descendants. Deuteronomy 7:13 significantly adds "love" ('ahab)

before these two aspects of the promise. Descendants, produce, and

domestic animals will be abundant and prosperous in the land. In

parallel with "the offspring of thy cattle" is the interesting phrase

'asheroth soneka, which implies some connection between the goddess

Astarte and the fecundity of flocks which has come into the Hebrew

language.32 It is undoubtedly an old and commonplace association,

since otherwise the reference to a foreign goddess would not appear

thus in Deuteronomy. These same two expressions in parallel occur in

28:4, 18, 51 and therefore constitute a stereotyped expression of


The latter verses (14--16) of this section of the sermon are taken

largely from Exodus 23. The promise that there will be no barrenness

or sickness is found in Exodus 23:25, 26, although the wording is

different and other promises are included. Verse 15 elaborates this

blessing of health by referring to Exodus 15:26, which affirms that the

lord will not inflict upon his people the diseases which he gave to the

Egyptians. This verse in Exodus thus clarifies the somewhat ambiguous


32. Cf. Smith, op. cit., p.113; Brown-Driver-Briggs, p. 800.

Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                233


wording of the statement in Deuteronomy, which could be taken to

mean that the Israelites suffered the diseases.33 They are evils which

the Lord will again put upon those who hate Israel, rather than native

diseases.34 Verse 16 uses the figure of "consuming" ('akal) the peoples

which Yahweh is giving over to the nation. They are "bread" for Israel

because Yahweh is with her, as Joshua and Caleb confidently assert in

Numbers 14:9. After these blessings are mentioned, the speaker

commands, "thine eye shall not look with compassion (hum) upon

them": This idiom is found also in 13:8; 19:13; 19:21; and 25:12.35

The section concludes with an exhortation from Exodus 23:33 not to

serve other gods because "that would be a snare (moqesh) to you."

Even such a series of confident pronouncements of blessings cannot be

left alone without a reminder that fidelity to Yahweh is the



Confidence in Yahweh's Promise


The last part of the sermon is a strong exhortation to faith in the

context of war and conquest. With such a covenant as has been

expounded, there is no need to worry about adverse odds. The people

are reminded, as in 4:34, of the great power which Yahweh Elohim

displayed in bringing the nation out of Egypt after smiting Pharaoh and

his land. Remembrance of the Exodus is a significant feature of Israel's

worship and parenesis. Here the "dramatic re-enactment" of the

normative event gives it "meaning and direction for the present," in the

process of reaffirming the covenant.36 God has shown abundantly that

he will take care of Israel and defeat her enemies. Further affirmations

are taken from Exodus 23 in this regard. Yahweh will send "the

hornet" to drive out the peoples (Exodus 23:28; cf. Joshua 24:12). He

will not clear them away all at once, lest the wild beasts overrun the land

(Exodus 23:29-30). He will "discomfit" or confuse them so that they

may be destroyed (Exodus 23:27). No king will be able to stand before


33. The LXX adds the phrase has heorakas before "which you knew,” thus

 rendering the comparison with Ex. 15:26 more probable if it is original.

34. Contra Smith and Reider, who cite diseases such as dysentery and

elephantiasis as the probable references, apart from the plagues sent upon Egypt.

35. The verb hum is common in Ezekiel and other prophetic writings

(Brown-Driver-Briggs, p. 299).

36. Edward P. Blair, "An Appeal to Remembrance: The Memory Motif in

Deuteronomy,” Interpretation, 15 (January, 1961), 44.

234                                         Restoration Quarterly


them. They are not to tremble before the peoples, because God, the great

and fearful one, is in their midst. These verses "delineate the whole range

of the conceptions connected with the Holy War," as von Rad observes in

placing them in the context of the revived "sacral regulations" in the

reform period.37 Certainly they would be appropriate for the time

when powerful nations threaten tiny and impotent Judah.

The last two verses of the chapter (25, 26) again become quite

specific about what to do with the material objects of worship of the

heathen religions. The first verb of verse 25 is in the second person

plural, but the remainder of the section uses the singular address. The

next verb (hamaq). In this concluding instruction is the same as that of

the final commandment of the Decalogue--an interesting literary

correlation to the original covenant.38 No part of any idol is to be

appropriated; all the gold and silver is an "abomination" and under the

ban. Anything might be a "snare" which could bring its possessor under

the ban with it. The intensive infinitive absolutes of shiqqes and ti’ab

bring home the point with great force to accompany the repeated

nouns to’ebah and herem in making this admonition as strong as could

be imagined. The chapter thus concludes with the characteristic

Deuteronomic strictures about idols, with extreme emphasis on the

abominable nature and ritual effects of anything connected with them.

It is somewhat difficult to imagine Moses using such violent language or

expressing such strong cultic concern to the nation just before the

conquest. These latter verses deal with the peculiarly Deuteronomic

concern in the final form of the chapter.




Judah was in grave straits during the time of Hezekiah and

afterwards. Assyria, and later Babylon, loomed large before her. Many

yet remembered how God had delivered Israel in the past, and the

prophets announced that the sin of the people would be punished by

other nations acting according to the will of Yahweh. Some of the

faithful became aware that a revived devotion to the Lord was vitally

necessary, and the finding of the "book of the law" was the final


37. Gerhard von Rad, Studies in Deuteronomy, tr. David Stalker (London:

SCM Press, 1953), pp. 54, 55.

38. William L. Moran, "The Conclusion of the Decalogue,” Catholic Biblical

Quarterly, 29 (October, 1967), 543.

Crump: Deuteronomy 7                                235


impetus to reform. Its contents were expanded into a re-presentation of

the covenant, possibly in a great ceremony comparable to more

localized ones in the past. The sermon form of Deuteronomy 7 and

surrounding chapters brought the original, Mosaic covenant into

renewed effect with a reminder of God’s mighty acts and an

exhortation to follow his covenant commands so that the nation may

again fully share in its blessings. Such a "covenant renewal" may have

taken place at various times and places, but never In the systematic

fashion of Deuteronomy, of which chapter 7 is a microcosm. In it the

old promises and commands are combined with stereotyped

Deuteronomic phrasing and emphases to enjoin the radical observance

of a covenant based on the love of a faithful God at a time when the

nation needs him most.







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