christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 7:1-11, a chosen people

Read Deuteronomy 7:1-11 at Bible Gateway.

In the parshas before this one, we saw that YHVH, in order to help us to love Him with all that we are, and worship and serve Him only (the commandment), has instructed us to hear His Word, to take heed to His Word, to do and observe His Word, and to teach His Word to the next generation.

This parsha forms a chaistic structure:

1a) Deu 7:1a, YHVH brings Israel into the Land;
1b) Deu 7:1b-2, YHVH delivers the seven nations to be utterly destroyed;
1c) Deu 7:3-5, Preserving the worship of YHVH by abhorring the idols of the Canaanites;
1d) Deu 7:6, Israel is YHVH’s holy people and special treasured possession;
central axis) Deu 7:7-8a, YHVH set His love on Israel;
2d) Deu 7:8b, Israel is His therefore He redeemed them from Egypt;
2c) Deu 7:9, YHVH is God;
2b) Deu 7:10, YHVH repays those who hate Him to their face to destroy them;
2a) Deu 7:11, Israel shall keep the commandment, statutes and judgments of YHVH.

The A pairs show that just as YHVH is keeping something, Israel is to keep something. YHVH is keeping His promise to bring Israel into the Land. Now Israel is to keep their covenant with YHVH, which is expressed by obedience to the commandment, and to the statutes and judgments.

The B pairs show that because it is the seven nations of the Canaanites who are to be utterly destroyed, and YHVH destroys those utterly who hate Him, then it is revealed that the seven nations of the Canaanites hated YHVH. Their wickedness in their idolatry was greater than the idolatry of the other nations, who were idol worshippers out of ignorance. But the Canaanites were idol worshippers out of active hatred for YHVH.

The C pairs show first of all, how Israel is to abhor the idolatry of the Canaanites and to preserve the pure worship of YHVH (for YHVH is our Elohiym, and He alone is God, vs. 9): remove every trace of their idolatry from the Land, and moreover do not mix with them! YHVH’s emphasis in the C pairs is on the future generations of Israelites – that they come from marriages and thus households where YHVH alone is God. He is not looking for a racially pure people, but a spiritually pure people of single heartedness!

Then, if Israel will keep covenant with YHVH, by purifying the Land, and keeping themselves from idolatry and not mixing through intermarriage, YHVH will also keep covenant with Israel, by showing His mercy and faithfulness to a thousand generations of Israelites!

The D pairs reveal that because we are the special treasured possession of YHVH, He has redeemed us from the hand of Pharaoh and delivered us from Egypt. We are His because of our fathers, and YHVH is faithful to the Word He promised to our fathers.

YHVH chose us to be His. Chosen is in Hebrew bachar, בָּחַר, bet, chet, resh, Strong’s H977. There is a two- letter root that this primitive root comes from, and that is bach, בָּחַ, bet chet, meaning to slaughter as a verb, or knife, as a concrete object. The bet is the house, the chet is the fence, outside, to divide or half. Slaughtering an animal was a task performed outside the house. The resh, the head of a man, adds the meaning of slaughtering that which is chiefest or choicest, and so bachar is the sacrifice, the firstfruits in its concrete meaning; but an examination to determine the choicest, thus to choose, in its verbal meaning.

You are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Deuteronomy 7:6

A special treasure is segullah in Hebrew, סְגֻלָּה, Strong’s H5459, from the primitive root segul, סְגֻלָּ, samech, gimel, lamed. In the ancient Hebrew pictographs, the samech is the thorn, so also, pierce, grab hold, and even shield, as thorn bushes were used to fence in the flock in at night to keep them from predators. The gimel is the foot, so also to walk, carry, and even gather, as men walked to an appointed place from all around in order to gather together. The lamed is the shepherd’s staff, his tool of authority by which he both guided and protected the sheep, so often to or toward, as the direction of guidance. The lamed can also mean teach, as the father or the patriarch (the one with authority) was the teacher; and yoke, as a staff that is placed across the shoulders; and even bind, as the yoke or staff is bound to the animal.

The mountain top meaning of segul, then, is that which has been gathered is bound up, then placed behind a protective shield. In its verb form, this word means to shut up; in its concrete form, this word means a jewel or precious stone. To YHVH, we are a special treasure (segullah) above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

The central axis of the parsha reveals that YHVH loves us. He set His love upon us, or in Hebrew, He desired us greatly, chashaq, חָשַׁק, because He loves us. In fact. He loves us with 1 Cor 13:4-7 love, for the Septuagint translators translated this passage with agape, the same word Paul uses in 1 Cor 13. The Hebrew word is ahab, אָהַב. Ahab is strong love which reveals the heart of the father for his children.

This parsha reveals YHVH’s love for us; He first loved us, and delivered us and redeemed us and made us His own special treasure. Now because we are thus set apart, in His heart and on this earth, we respond in love for YHVH, expressed by pure and unadulterated worship, and obedience to His commandments. We love Him because He first loved us (1 Joh 4:19), and we express that love through obedience (Joh 14:15). The theme of this parsha is the love- covenant keeping (or obedience) dynamic.


5 responses to “deuteronomy 7:1-11, a chosen people

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