For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly…
The terrible extermination of the Canaanitish nations remains a mystery too hard for us to understand. "It was of the Lord," we read (ver. 20). The history of Israel is designed to bring out in an impressive manner, by outward and visible facts, the constant intervention of God in human destinies. The history of our race is a fearful drama of blood and tears, in which ruin and devastation meet us on every hand. The Old Testament teaches us that in this history the purposes of Divine justice are carried out. It shows us the great Justiciary perpetually working. We might almost say that the veil which usually conceals His operation is lifted, so that we see that "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). If we look into the causes of this extermination of the Canaanites, we see that it was brought about by the excessive corruptness of the life of these people, under the influence of their impure idolatries. The same conditions are found today at the root of all the woes that afflict humanity. The sin is always greater than the suffering. The just God is also the God of love. His justice paves the way for His mercy. The triumph of Israel is to be turned to the account of the human race, since the establishment of the sons of Abraham in the land of promise is a necessary condition and antecedent of the universal salvation. We do net for a moment deny that an awful mystery rests upon these dark records of the Old Testament. It is impossible to think without shuddering of these myriads of human beings, swept away in a deluge of blood. But surely we may believe that even in this there was some hidden secret of love Divine, and may cling with the early Church to the "larger hope," that redemption may have come to them in that mysterious abode of spirits in prison to which Jesus Christ went to preach (1 Peter 3:17). We do not see why the victims of the first deluge should have been the only ones thus privileged. Alike in public and private misfortunes, let us ever recognise the justice of the Holy God. Let us bow beneath His mighty hand, remembering that it is at the same time the hand of our Father, and that "all things work together for good to them that love Him." - E.DE P.
Parallel VersesKJV: For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.
WEB: For it was of Yahweh to harden their hearts, to come against Israel in battle, that he might utterly destroy them, that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as Yahweh commanded Moses.