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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 12

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



They are commanded to destroy all the places of idolatry, Deuteronomy 12:1-3; and must worship God in his own place, and after his will, Deuteronomy 12:4-15.

The eating of blood prohibited, Deuteronomy 12:16.

Where and how they should eat the tithe, Deuteronomy 12:17,Deuteronomy 12:18.

The Levite not to be forsaken, Deuteronomy 12:19.

They may eat flesh clean or unclean any where, Deuteronomy 12:20-22; but not the blood, Deuteronomy 12:23-25. Holy things to be eaten at the altar of the Lord, Deuteronomy 12:26-28.

They are forbidden to inquire after the heathen worship, Deuteronomy 12:29,Deuteronomy 12:30; or to worship the true God as they, Deuteronomy 12:31; but to keep to the law in their worship, Deuteronomy 12:32.

Verse 2

All the places; temples, chapels, altars, groves, as appears from other scriptures. The Gentiles used to employ the

high mountains for their idolatry; (see Isaiah 57:5,Isaiah 57:7; Ezekiel 6:13; Hosea 4:13 and as they consecrated divers trees to their false gods, so they worshipped these under them:

Verse 3

Their pillars, upon which their images were set. The names of them, i.e. all the memorials of them, and the very names given to the places from the idols.

Verse 4

i.e. Not worship him in several places, mountains, groves, &c., which sense is evident from the following opposition.

Verse 5

To put his name there, i.e. to set up hiss worship there, or which he shall call by his name, as his house, or dwelling-place, &c., to wit, where the ark should be, the tabernacle, or temple; which was first Shiloh, Joshua 18:1, next and especially Jerusalem.

Verse 6


sacrifices were wisely appropriated to that one and public place, partly for the security of the true religion, and for the prevention of idolatry and superstition, which otherwise might more easily have crept in; and partly to signify that their sacrifices were not accepted for their own worth, but by God’s gracious appointment, and for the sake of God’s altar, by which they were sanctified, and for the sake of Christ, whom the altar did manifestly represent. Of

tithes, See Poole "Deuteronomy 12:17".

Heave-offerings, i.e. your first-fruits, to wit, of the earth, as of corn and wine and oil and other fruits, as plainly appears by comparing this place with Deuteronomy 18:4; Deuteronomy 26:2, where these are commanded to be brought thither; and seeing here is an exact and particular enumeration of all such things, and these cannot be put under any of the other branches, these must needs be intended here, the rather because the other kind of first-fruits, to wit, of the

herds and

flocks, are here expressly mentioned. And these are called here the heave-offerings of their hand, because the offerer was first to take these into his hands, and to heave them before the Lord, (as other places tell us,) and then to give them to the priest, as appears from Deuteronomy 18:3,Deuteronomy 18:4; Deuteronomy 26:4.

Your free-will offerings; even for your voluntary oblations, which were not due by my prescription, but only by your own choice and voluntary engagement: you may choose what kind of offering you please to vow and offer, but not the place where you shall offer them.

The firstlings of your herds and of your flocks; either,

1. The holy firstlings or first-born, as appears by Numbers 18:0, where they are commanded to be brought to this one place here designed, and to be offered upon God’s altar, Deuteronomy 12:17. It is objected by some, that those were given to the priests, Numbers 18:18, but these were to be eaten by the people here, Deuteronomy 12:7. But that the next verse doth not say, but only in general, there shall ye eat, to wit, such of the offerings mentioned Deuteronomy 12:6 as they were allowed to eat, but not such as were the priest’s peculiar, for these they might not eat, nor all there expressed; for it is evident they might not eat any of the burnt-offerings, nor some parts of the other sacrifices, which are here mentioned. Or,

2. The second births, which were the people’s first-born, or the first which they could eat of, which they were to eat before the Lord by way of acknowledgment of his favour in giving them to them and all their succeeding births. See more on Deuteronomy 12:17.

Verse 7

There; not in the most holy place, wherein only the priests might eat, Numbers 18:10, but more generally in places allowed to the people for this end in the holy city.

Ye shall eat, to wit, your part of the things mentioned Deuteronomy 12:6.

Before the Lord, i.e. in the place of God’s presence, where God’s sanctuary shall be.

All that ye put your hand unto; either to bestow your pains and labour upon it; or, to take and use or enjoy it. The sense is, You thus doing shall be blessed and enabled to rejoice, or to take comfort in all your labours and enjoyments, which otherwise would be accursed to you. We have the same phrase below, Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 15:10.

Verse 8

Here; where the inconveniency of the place, and the uncertainty of our abode in and removal from several places, would not permit exact order in sacrifices, and feasts, and ceremonies, which therefore God was pleased then to dispense with; but, saith he, he will not do so there.

Every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes; not that universal liberty was given to all persons to worship whom and how they listed, but that in many things their unsettled condition gave every one opportunity to do so if he thought good.

Verse 11

His name, i.e. his majesty and glory, his worship and service, his special and gracious presence, and the tokens of it.

All your choice vows, Heb. the choice of your vows. i.e. your select or chosen vows were to be perfect, whereas superfluous or deflective creatures were accepted in free-will offerings, as appears from Leviticus 22:21-23.

Verse 12

Hence it appears, that though the males only were obliged to appear before God in their solemn feasts, Exodus 23:17, yet the women also were permitted to come, as they did. See Judges 21:19,Judges 21:21; 1 Samuel 1:3,1 Samuel 1:7,1 Samuel 1:21-23.

Verse 13

Nor the other things mentioned above, this one and most eminent kind being put for all the rest, as is usual; for being all expressed before, it was needless to repeat them again.

In every place that thou seest, to wit, with complacency and approbation, which thou thinkest very fit and proper for such a work, as one might possibly judge of some high places, or groves, or gardens.

Verse 15

Thou mayest kill and eat flesh, to wit, for thy common use and food.

In all thy gates, i.e. thy cities or dwellings.

Whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; what you shall desire either for quantity or quality, provided always you observe the laws given you elsewhere about avoiding excess and uncleanness in the things you eat.

Which he hath given thee, according to thy quality and estate; whereby he manifestly condemns those who profusely and riotously spend other men’s money, and live at a rate which their consciences know to be much above their ability; which certainly is an ungodly and unrighteous, though too common, practice.

The unclean, who is forbidden to eat of holy meats, Leviticus 7:20.

May eat thereof, to wit, of any sort of creatures, even of those sorts which are offered to God in sacrifices, which are as free to your use as the

roebuck and the

hart, which were not accepted in sacrifice, Leviticus 22:19; yet were clean beasts, Deuteronomy 14:5; and therefore here is a tacit exception of unclean beasts.

Verse 17

Thou; either,

1. Thou, O Levite; or rather,

2. Thou, O Israelite, whom he distinguisheth from the Levite, Deuteronomy 12:18, accordingly as the following particulars agree to the one or to the other of you. Within thy gates, i.e. in your private habitations, here opposed to the place of God’s worship, Deuteronomy 12:18.

The tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil. Here seems to be a great difficulty, not yet sufficiently observed nor cleared by interpreters. There were divers kinds of tithes:

1. The tithes given to the Levites out of all, of which Numbers 18:21,Numbers 18:24; Deuteronomy 14:22; Nehemiah 10:31.

2. The tithe of those tithes, which were to be given by the Levites to the priests, of which Numbers 18:21,Numbers 18:24; Deuteronomy 14:29; Nehemiah 10:37.

3. The third year’s tithe, of which Deuteronomy 14:28. To which some add another tithe, which they call the second tithe, which they say was taken after the Levites’ tithe was laid by. Now each of these hath its difficulty. It seems this place cannot be understood,

1. Of the Levites’ tithe; partly, because it might seem a great and wholly superfluous trouble to carry all their tithes up to Jerusalem, and to carry them back to their several habitations for their use; partly, because those were holy to the Lord, Leviticus 27:30, and not to be eaten by the people, Leviticus 27:31; whereas these belonged principally to the people, the Levites being only taken in as accessories to eat with them, as it is here, Deuteronomy 12:18; and partly, because those might be eaten in every place, as it is expressly affirmed, Numbers 18:31 Nor,

2. Of the tithe of the tithe, which was the priest’s; and neither Levites nor others might eat of it, except they were of or in the priest’s household. Nor,

3. Of the third year’s tithe, because that was to be eaten within their gates, Deuteronomy 14:28,Deuteronomy 14:29, as this was not.

I do therefore humbly conceive that this is meant of the second tithe, spoken of Deuteronomy 14:22; and that this was the very same tithe with that third year’s tithe, with this only difference, that in the third year they were to eat them together with the Levites within their gates, Deuteronomy 14:28,Deuteronomy 14:29, but in the two first years they were to eat them, together with the Levites also, in the place of God’s worship, as it is prescribed here and Deuteronomy 14:23. And that it is one land the same tithe which is spoken of Deuteronomy 14:22, and Deuteronomy 12:28, seems more than probable, both because they are called by the same name, all the tithe of their increase, and because that Deuteronomy 12:28 manifestly looks back to that Deuteronomy 12:22, and because otherwise every third year the Israelites were to pay three several tithes one after another, which Scripture no where affirms, and it seems to make the people’s burdens and the Levites’ provisions too great. For the objection taken from Deuteronomy 26:12,Deuteronomy 26:13, it shall be considered in its place. And the reason of that difference of place, and why the same tithes were eaten for two years together in Jerusalem, and the third in their own gates, seems to be this, that in the two first years there was a more special regard had to the Levites, who were very much conversant in Jerusalem, where those tithes were then eaten, and in the third year there is a respect had to the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are mentioned as joint sharers with the Levites in this third year’s tithe, whose occasions and obligations of coming to Jerusalem were not so many nor strong as those of the Levites, and therefore they were to be found generally within their gates, where these were to be eaten. And whereas the objection made before against the chargeable and useless carrying of the first tithes to Jerusalem might be applied here, it is answered there, and it is provided, that when they lived at a great distance from Jerusalem they might turn it into money and bestow it there, Deu 14-26, which both confirms the objection as to the first tithe, for which no such provision was made, and answers it as to this, where such a remedy is expressed. And whereas it may be pleaded on the behalf of the first, or the Levitical tithe, that those tithes were brought to Jerusalem, and that there were store-houses or chambers in the temple appointed for the receiving of the tithes, 2 Chronicles 31:5,2 Chronicles 31:6,2 Chronicles 31:11,2 Chronicles 31:12; Nehemiah 10:37,Nehemiah 10:38; Nehemiah 12:44, it may be answered, that those chambers, being only thirty-eight in number, and each of them, except two, but six cubits broad and twelve cubits long, were altogether incapable of all those tithes, and seem principally, if not solely, appointed for the priests’ tithes, and not for all them neither, but only for so much of them as would serve for the use and necessity of those priests and Levites too that were in the actual ministration.

The firstlings of thy herds, or of thy flock. As the tithes now mentioned were not the Levitical, but second tithes, as hath been discoursed; so these firstlings do not seem to be the first firstlings, which being appropriated to the Levites were not to be eaten by any of the people, except those of or in the Levites’ families, but the second firstlings, which were the first which the owner could dispose of, and which, in conformity to the second tithes, he is required to set apart for this use.

Verse 19

Take heed lest a worldly mind and self-love make thee rob the Levites of their dues, as afterwards the ungodly Jews did. See Malachi 3:8.

Verse 20

When the Lord shall enlarge thy border, which will make it inconvenient and impossible to do what now thou dost, and because of the narrow bounds of thy camp canst conveniently do, to wit, to bring all the cattle thou usest to the tabernacle, which it seems probable they did, to prevent their eating of blood. Compare Leviticus 17:3; 1 Samuel 14:34.

Verse 21

Be too far from thee; in which case, being obliged to carry their sacrifice to the place of worship, that the blood might be there poured forth, &c., they might think themselves obliged, for the same reason, to carry their other cattle thither to be killed. They are therefore released from all such obligations, and left at liberty to kill them at home, whether they lived nearer to that place, or further from it; only the latter is here mentioned, as being the matter of the scruple, and as containing the former in it.

As I have commanded thee; in such manner as the blood may be poured forth, as above, Deuteronomy 12:16, and below, Deuteronomy 12:24.

Verse 22

As the roebuck and the hart; as common or unhallowed food, though they be of the same kind with the sacrifices which are offered to God.

The unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike, because there was no holiness in such meat for which the unclean might be excluded from it.

Verse 23

The blood is the life; of which See Poole on "Genesis 9:4". See Poole on "Leviticus 17:11". The animal life depends upon the blood.

Verse 26

The holy things, mentioned before, Deuteronomy 12:6,Deuteronomy 12:11,Deuteronomy 12:17, which thou hast consecrated to God.

Verse 27

Excepting what shall be burned to God’s honour, and given to the priest according to his appointment.

Verse 29

Whither thou goest to possess them; of which phrase see Deuteronomy 9:1; Deuteronomy 11:23

Verse 30

Snared; drawn into their sin and ruin.

After that they be destroyed; i.e. by following the example they left, when their persons are destroyed.

That thou inquire not after their gods, through curiosity to know their gods, and the manner of the worship, lest thy vain and foolish mind be seduced by its speciousness or newness.

Verse 31

Shalt not do so unto the Lord; either,

1. Not offer him that indignity and injury to worship other gods together with him. Or rather,

2. Not worship him in such manner as they worshipped their gods, to wit, by offering thy children to him, as they did to their gods, as it here follows, or by their own devices or superstitions, as is implied, Deuteronomy 12:32.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 12". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/deuteronomy-12.html. 1685.
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