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12 These are the statutes and ordinances which you shall be watchful to do in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, gives you to possess all the days you live on the earth.

You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations you dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains and the hills and under every green tree.

You shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire; you shall hew down the graven images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place.

You shall not behave so toward the Lord your God.

But you shall seek the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His [a]Name and make His dwelling place, and there shall you come;

And there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the offering of your hands, and your vows and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock.

And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

You [b]shall not do according to all we do here [in the camp] this day, every man doing whatever looks right in his own eyes.

For you have not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord your God gives you.

10 But when you go over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God causes you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about so that you dwell in safety,

11 Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His Name [and His Presence] to dwell there; to it you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes and what the hand presents [as a first gift from the fruits of the ground], and all your choicest offerings which you vow to the Lord.

12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, and your menservants and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no part or inheritance with you.

13 Be watchful not to offer your burnt offerings in every place you see.

14 But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all I command you.

15 However, you may kill and eat flesh in any of your towns whenever you desire, according to the provision for the support of life with which the Lord your God has blessed you; those [ceremonially] unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the hart.

16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it upon the ground as water.

17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your new wine or of your oil, or the firstlings of your herd or flock, or anything you have vowed, or your freewill offerings, or the offerings from your hand [of garden products].

18 But you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord your God shall choose, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, and the Levite that is within your towns; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you undertake.

19 Take heed not to forsake or neglect the Levite [God’s minister] as long as you live in your land.

20 When the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as He promised you, and you say, I will eat flesh, because you crave flesh, you may eat flesh whenever you desire.

21 If the place where the Lord your God has chosen to put His Name [and Presence] is too far from you, then you shall kill from your herd or flock which the Lord has given you, as I [Moses] have commanded you; eat in your towns as much as you desire.

22 Just as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so you may eat of it [but not offer it]; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it.

23 Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you may not eat the life with the flesh.

24 You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water.

25 You shall not eat it, that all may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.

26 Only your holy things which you have [to offer] and what you have vowed you shall take, and go to the place [before the sanctuary] which the Lord shall choose.

27 And offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the Lord your God; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, and you may eat the flesh.

28 Be watchful and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.

29 When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go to dispossess, and you dispossess them and live in their land,

30 Be watchful that you are not ensnared into following them after they have been destroyed before you and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? We will do likewise.

31 You shall not do so to the Lord your God, for every abominable thing which the Lord hates they have done for their gods. For even their sons and their daughters they have burned in the fire to their gods.

32 Whatever I command you, be watchful to do it; you shall not add to it or diminish it.

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 12:5 The “Name” of God is equivalent to His gracious presence in passages such as this one. The place where God puts His Name is the place where the Lord Himself chooses to dwell. When it stands for God’s presence at the sanctuary, “Name” is capitalized.
  2. Deuteronomy 12:8 “It has been too often overlooked that the Law of Moses had a prophetic side. It was given to him and to Israel when they were not in a position to keep it [fully]. It was the law of the land which God would give them. In many ways its observance depended on the completion of the conquest of the land and upon the quietness of the times in which they lived. This prophetic aspect was certainly not unrecognized by the Jews, or they would not (for example) have neglected to dwell in booths at the Feast of Tabernacles from the time of Joshua to Nehemiah (Neh. 8:17)” (Charles J. Ellicott, A Bible Commentary).

The One Place of Worship

12 These are the decrees(A) and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land.(B) Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains,(C) on the hills and under every spreading tree,(D) where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash(E) their sacred stones and burn(F) their Asherah(G) poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names(H) from those places.

You must not worship the Lord your God in their way.(I) But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name(J) there for his dwelling.(K) To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes(L) and special gifts, what you have vowed(M) to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.(N) There, in the presence(O) of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice(P) in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit,(Q) since you have not yet reached the resting place(R) and the inheritance(S) the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving(T) you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest(U) from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. 11 Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name(V)—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord.(W) 12 And there rejoice(X) before the Lord your God—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites(Y) from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance(Z) of their own. 13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.(AA) 14 Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose(AB) in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.

15 Nevertheless, you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were gazelle or deer,(AC) according to the blessing the Lord your God gives you. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it. 16 But you must not eat the blood;(AD) pour(AE) it out on the ground like water.(AF) 17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe(AG) of your grain and new wine and olive oil,(AH) or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give,(AI) or your freewill offerings or special gifts.(AJ) 18 Instead, you are to eat(AK) them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place the Lord your God will choose(AL)—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice(AM) before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to. 19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites(AN) as long as you live in your land.(AO)

20 When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory(AP) as he promised(AQ) you, and you crave meat(AR) and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want. 21 If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name(AS) is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want.(AT) 22 Eat them as you would gazelle or deer.(AU) Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. 23 But be sure you do not eat the blood,(AV) because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.(AW) 24 You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.(AX) 25 Do not eat it, so that it may go well(AY) with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right(AZ) in the eyes of the Lord.

26 But take your consecrated things and whatever you have vowed to give,(BA) and go to the place the Lord will choose. 27 Present your burnt offerings(BB) on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat(BC) the meat. 28 Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well(BD) with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

29 The Lord your God will cut off(BE) before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land,(BF) 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared(BG) by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”(BH) 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates.(BI) They even burn their sons(BJ) and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.(BK)

32 See that you do all I command you; do not add(BL) to it or take away from it.[a]

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 12:32 In Hebrew texts this verse (12:32) is numbered 13:1.

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