A lesson in the importance of context is contained in this week’s parasha. At first glance it is easy to read the following two verses and claim the discovery of a contradiction.

“The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.” Deuteronomy 7:22

“Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.” Deuteronomy 9:3

The parallel passage of Deuteronomy 7:22 is Exodus 23:29-30. Although note verse 28 of Exodus 23:

“And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.” Exodus 23:28

Clearly the “nations” described in Deuteronomy 7:22 and Exodus 23:29-30 were the inhabitants of the Promise Land. On the other hand, Deuteronomy 9:3 was describing a present commandment revealed by the use of “today” (ha’yom). Also, note verse 2 of Deuteronomy 9:

“a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’” Deuteronomy 9:2

Clearly the “them” described in Deuteronomy 9:3 were the Anakim who stuck fear in the heart of the spies. Therefore both verses in this week’s parasha were true and both were accomplished. The inhabitants of the land needed to be removed while the Children of Israel simultaneously increased. However, when the time arrived to destroy the Anakim it had to be accomplished swiftly.

Both verses also contain important life principals. In regard to commandments we must be swift to obey and not delay! (Ps. 119:10) Though we must remember we can neither attain perfection nor holiness overnight. Once G-d saves us through Yeshua we must work out our salvation each day. (Phil. 2:12) Remember “..that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3) Yeshua used this verse to combat the temptation to turn stones into bread as suggested by Satan. (Matt. 4:4) This is an excellent reminder that we do not live by the produce of our own hands but by the will of our King, the Holy One, Blessed is He. Hallelujah!