Deuteronomy 9:3
Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Understand therefore.—Literally, the connection seems to be this: “The children of Anakim thou knowest—thou knowest also (the same word) to-day, that it is Jehovah thy God Himself that passeth over before thee, a consuming fire. He will destroy them, and He will make them to bow down before thee. And thou shalt make a conquest of them, and speedily annihilate them, according as Jehovah hath commanded thee.”

Deuteronomy 9:3. As a consuming fire — Before whom thine enemies shall be as easily consumed as stubble before the flames. So shalt thou drive them out — quickly — Not the whole seven nations, whom he said (Deuteronomy 7:22,) God would drive out by little and little, but so many as to make a settlement for them in Canaan.

9:1-6 Moses represents the strength of the enemies they were now to encounter. This was to drive them to God, and engage their hope in him. He assures them of victory, by the presence of God with them. He cautions them not to have the least thought of their own righteousness, as if that procured this favour at God's hand. In Christ we have both righteousness and strength; in Him we must glory, not in ourselves, nor in any sufficiency of our own. It is for the wickedness of these nations that God drives them out. All whom God rejects, are rejected for their own wickedness; but none whom he accepts are accepted for their own righteousness. Thus boasting is for ever done away: see Eph 2:9,11,12.So shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly - This is not inconsistent with Deuteronomy 7:22, in which instant annihilation is not to be expected for the reasons assigned. Here Moses urges the people to trust in God's covenanted aid; since He would then make no delay in so destroying the nations attacked by them as to put them into enjoyment of the promises, and in doing so as fast as was for the well-being of Israel itself. CHAPTER 9

De 9:1-25. Moses Dissuades Them from the Opinion of Their Own Righteousness.

1. this day—means this time. The Israelites had reached the confines of the promised land, but were obliged, to their great mortification, to return. But now they certainly were to enter it. No obstacle could prevent their possession; neither the fortified defenses of the towns, nor the resistance of the gigantic inhabitants of whom they had received from the spies so formidable a description.

cities great and fenced up to heaven—Oriental cities generally cover a much greater space than those in Europe; for the houses often stand apart with gardens and fields intervening. They are almost all surrounded with walls built of burnt or sun-dried bricks, about forty feet in height. All classes in the East, but especially the nomad tribes, in their ignorance of engineering and artillery, would have abandoned in despair the idea of an assault on a walled town, which to-day would be demolished in a few hours.

Quickly; without great difficulty or long wars.

Understand therefore this day,.... Or be it known to you for your encouragement, and believe it:

that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee as a consuming fire: did not only go before them over the river Jordan, in a pillar of cloud and fire, to guide and direct them, and was a wall of fire around them to protect and defend them, but as a consuming fire, before which there is no standing, to destroy their enemies; see Deuteronomy 4:24,

he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face; be they as great and as mighty, as large and as tall as they may, they will not be able to stand before the Lord, but will soon be made low, and be easily brought down to the earth by him, and to utter destruction; which would be done in a public and visible manner, so as that the hand of the Lord would be seen in it by the Israelites:

so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee; that is, the far greater part of them, and so many as to make room for the Israelites, and which was quickly done. The Jews commonly say (a), that they were seven years in subduing the land; otherwise they were not to be driven out and destroyed at once, but by little and little: see Deuteronomy 7:22.

(a) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31, 32.

Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which {c} goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.

(c) To guide you and govern you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Know therefore] See on Deuteronomy 7:9.

he which goeth over before thee] Deuteronomy 31:3 (cp. Joshua 3:11).

a devouring fire] Only here and Deuteronomy 4:24.

he shall destroy … and he] he emphatic.

bring them down before thee] In D the verb is found only here: it is used also of the subjection of Israel’s enemies in the deuteronomic Jdg 3:30; Jdg 4:23; Jdg 8:28, the late passage 1 Samuel 7:13, and otherwise only in late writers; except for Jdg 11:33 and 2 Samuel 8:1 which may be pre-deuteronomic.

quickly] Omitted by LXX B, but otherwise confirmed. See on Deuteronomy 7:22.

as the Lord hath spoken unto thee] Exodus 23:23 (edit.), Exodus 23:27 (E).

Verse 3. - Understand therefore this day; rather, And thou knowest today or now. The expression corresponds to ver. 1, "Thou art to pass... and thou knowest." In the victory they had obtained over Sihon and Og, they had already had experience of the Lord's going before them, and leading them on in triumph. The repetition of the He in this verse is very emphatic. Consuming fire (cf. Deuteronomy 4:24). Quickly, or suddenly. There is no contradiction here of what is said in Deuteronomy 7:22; for there the reference is to the possession of the land by Israel, here it is to the destruction which was to come on the Canaanites - the former was to be by degrees, the latter was to come suddenly and overwhelmingly. As Jehovah hath said unto thee (cf. Exodus 23:23, 27, etc.; Deuteronomy 2:24, etc.). Deuteronomy 9:3Warning against a conceit of righteousness, with the occasion for the warning. As the Israelites were now about to cross over the Jordan ("this day," to indicate that the time was close at hand), to take possession of nations that were superior to them in size and strength (the tribes of Canaan mentioned in Deuteronomy 7:1), and great fortified cities reaching to the heavens (cf. Deuteronomy 1:28), namely, the great and tall nation of the Enakites (Deuteronomy 1:28), before which, as was well known, no one could stand (התיצּב, as in Deuteronomy 7:24); and as they also knew that Jehovah their God was going before them to destroy and humble these nations, they were not to say in their heart, when this was done, For my righteousness Jehovah hath brought me in to possess this land. In Deuteronomy 9:3, היּום וידעתּ is not to be taken in an imperative sense, but as expressive of the actual fact, and corresponding to Deuteronomy 9:1, "thou art to pass." Israel now knew for certain - namely, by the fact, which spoke so powerfully, of its having been successful against foes which it could never have conquered by itself, especially against Sihon and Og - that the Lord was going before it, as the leader and captain of His people (Schultz: see Deuteronomy 1:30). The threefold repetition of הוּא in Deuteronomy 9:3 is peculiarly emphatic. "A consuming fire:" as in Deuteronomy 4:24. ישׁמידם הוּא is more particularly defined by וגו יכניעם והוּא, which follows: not, however, as implying that השׁמיד does not signify complete destruction in this passage, but rather as explaining how the destruction would take place. Jehovah would destroy the Canaanites, by bring them down, humbling them before Israel, so that they would be able to drive them out and destroy them quickly "מהר, quickly, is no more opposed to Deuteronomy 7:22, 'thou mayest not destroy them quickly,' than God's not delaying to requite (Deuteronomy 7:10) is opposed to His long-suffering" (Schultz). So far as the almighty assistance of God was concerned, the Israelites would quickly overthrow the Canaanites; but for the sake of the well-being of Israel, the destruction would only take place by degrees. "As Jehovah hath said unto thee:" viz., Exodus 23:23, Exodus 23:27., and at the beginning of the conflict, Deuteronomy 2:24.
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