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Concerning the Place of Worship and Sacrifices
v. 1. These are the statutes and judgments which ye shall observe to do in the land which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth, Deuteronomy 4:10. The ordinances now following are intended to govern the ecclesiastical and the civil life of Israel in the land of Canaan.
v. 2. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the nations which ye shall possess, whose land they would make their own by conquest, served their gods, upon the high mountains and upon the hills, for the idea was that the worshipers were nearer to the Deity at these places, and under every green tree, for the heathen loved groves, whose mysterious shadows furnished them the religious thrill which they felt to be essential;
v. 3. and ye shall overthrow, tear down, their altars, upon which the sacrifices of idolatry were made, and break their pillars, the statues of their idols, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images, demolish the pictures carved from wood, of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place, the very names which reminded them of the former idolatrous practices should be abolished.
v. 4. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord, your God, that is, not select any place that pleased their fancy for His worship.
v. 5. But unto the place which the Lord, your God, shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come, the Sanctuary where He would reveal His presence in the midst of His people;
v. 6. and thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave-offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your free-will offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks, as it had been prescribed by the Lord in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, Leviticus 17:8; Exodus 10:25; Numbers 15:3;
v. 7. and there ye shall eat before the Lord, your God, especially the sacrificial meals connected with peace-offerings, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, Leviticus 23:40, ye and your households, wherein the Lord, thy God, hath blessed thee. "The author takes for granted here that his hearers were familiar with what had been said by him in the earlier parts of his work, and what had become a usage among them, and does not repeat it. "
v. 8. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, for in the wilderness the regularity of an ordered existence was impossible, for which reason many of the most sacred rites, such as that of circumcision, were not practiced, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, he acted according to his individual understanding of the Law, applying it to the extent he thought possible in the conditions under which he lived.
v. 9. For Ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, to the Land of Promise, where they would be able to live in peace and security, which the Lord, your God, giveth you. The Lord implied that He expected every Israelite to follow the objective rule of the divine Law just as soon as the people would occupy their inheritance in Canaan.
v. 10. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord, your God, giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety,
v. 11. then there shall be a place which the Lord, your God, shall choose to cause His name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave-offerings of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord; because the offerings which were made to the Lord as the result of vows were distinguished for excellence;
v. 12. and ye shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and the Levite that is within your gates, who was to be invited to such sacrificial meals, forasmuch as he hath no part nor in heritance with you, Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 14:29.
v. 13. take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest, which might just happen to strike the worshiper's fancy;
v. 14. but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee, everything connected with the cultus, with the external worship of Jehovah.
v. 15. Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, or, wherever they might choose, according to the blessing of the Lord, thy God, which He hath given thee, as His rich bounty has provided; the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck and as of the hart. This precept superseded and annulled the ordinance which had been observed in the wilderness, where all animals that were to be slaughtered had to be brought to the door of the Tabernacle, Leviticus 17:3-6.
v. 16. Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water. Cf Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10. The Lord thus changed the provisions of the Civil or Ceremonial Law to suit the needs and circumstances, whereas the ordinances of the Moral Law are in force for all time.
Concerning the Care of the Levites, The Eating of Sacrificial Meat, and Idolatry
v. 17. Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy free-will offerings, or heave-offering of thine hand, whatever was taken from the possession of the Israelites as a gift to Jehovah; all these could not be consumed in the worshiper's house or in his home town;
v. 18. but thou must eat them before the Lord, thy God, in the place which the Lord, thy God, shall choose, the central Sanctuary, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates; and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord, thy God, in all that thou puttest thine hands unto, in any offering that might be made.
v. 19. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth, literally, "all thy days upon thy land," Deuteronomy 14:27; Nehemiah 13:10.
v. 20. When the Lord, thy God, shall enlarge thy border, as He hath promised thee, Exodus 34:24. and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh, literally, "because the desire of thy soul is set upon eating flesh," indicating a very great, an overwhelming longing, thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, or, wherever they would choose.
v. 21. If the place which the Lord, thy God, hath chosen to put His name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock which the Lord hath given thee, as I have commanded thee; and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
v. 22. Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, namely, not in the form of sacrifices, so thou shalt eat them; the (Levitically) unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.
v. 23. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood, they were to be strong enough to resist the temptation to use blood as food; for the blood is the life, and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh, Leviticus 17:11-14.
v. 24. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.
v. 25. Thou shalt not eat it, that it may go well with thee and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord, Exodus 15:26.
v. 26. Only thy holy things which thou hast, those consecrated to the Lord, and thy vows, thou shalt take and go unto the place which the Lord shall choose;
v. 27. and thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the Lord, thy God; and the blood of the sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the Lord, thy God, as the Law provided, Leviticus 1:5, and thou shalt eat the flesh, Leviticus 7.
v. 28. Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee and with thy children after thee forever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord, thy God.
v. 29. When the Lord, thy God, shall cut off, eradicate, the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, by taking over their country, and dwellest in their land,
v. 30. take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, fall into the same snare of idolatry which caused their downfall, after that they be destroyed from before thee, for that judgment of the Lord should deter them from a similar foolhardy course; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. They should not even inquire about the form of worship used by the heathen, lest they be tempted to try it for themselves.
v. 31. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord, thy God, not try to serve Him with a form of worship modeled after that of the heathen nations; for every abomination to the Lord which he hateth have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burned in the fire to their gods, as the Moabites did in their service of Molech. It is a dangerous matter to Christianize heathen customs, for the superstition will cling to the rites after the Christian veneer is forgotten, as in many Christmas customs.
v. 32. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it, Joshua 1:7. The Revelation of Scripture is sufficient for all purposes and teaches the way of salvation in a perfect manner. All books of modern antichristian sects which purport to be keys to the Bible are inventions of the Evil One.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 12". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany