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The Proper Place to Worship

12 Here are the laws and rules you must faithfully obey in the land that the Lord God of your ancestors is giving you as your own. You must obey them as long as you live in the land.

Completely destroy all the worship sites on the high mountains, on the hills, and under every large tree. The people you’re forcing out worship their gods in these places. Tear down their altars, crush their sacred stones, burn their poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah, cut down their idols, and wipe out the names of their gods from those places.

Never worship the Lord your God in the way they worship their gods. The Lord your God will choose a place out of all your tribes to live and put his name. Go there and worship him. Bring him your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, one-tenth of your income, your contributions, the offerings you vow to bring, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your cattle, sheep, and goats. There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families will eat and enjoy everything you’ve worked for, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

Never worship in the way that it’s being done here today, where everyone does whatever he considers right. Up until now you haven’t come to your place of rest, the property the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But you will cross the Jordan River and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own property. He will give you peace from all your enemies around you so that you will live securely. 11 Then the Lord your God will choose a place where his name will live. You must bring everything I command you to that place. Bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, one-tenth of your income, your contributions, and all the best offerings you vow to bring to the Lord. 12 Enjoy yourselves in the presence of the Lord your God along with your sons, daughters, male and female slaves, and the Levites. (The Levites live in your cities because they have no land of their own as you have.) 13 Be careful that you don’t sacrifice your burnt offerings wherever you want. 14 Instead, sacrifice them only at the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribes. There you must do everything I command you.

15 In whatever city you live, you may slaughter and eat as much meat as you want from what the Lord your God has blessed you with. Clean and unclean[a] people may eat it as if they were eating a gazelle or a deer. 16 But never eat the blood. Pour it on the ground like water. 17 You may not eat the Lord’s offerings in your cities. Those offerings are: one-tenth of your grain, new wine, and olive oil; the firstborn of your cattle, sheep, or goats; the offerings you vow to bring; your freewill offerings; and your contributions. 18 Instead, you, your sons and daughters, male and female slaves, and the Levites who live in your cities must eat these in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose. There in the presence of the Lord your God enjoy everything you’ve worked for. 19 Don’t forget to take care of the Levites as long as you live in your land.

20 The Lord your God will expand your country’s borders as he promised. You will say, “I’m hungry for meat.” Then eat as much meat as you want. 21 If the place the Lord your God chooses to put his name is too far away from you, you may slaughter an animal from the herds or flocks that the Lord has given you. Eat as much as you want in your city. I have commanded you to do this. 22 Eat it as you would eat a gazelle or a deer: Clean and unclean people may eat it together. 23 However, be sure you never eat blood, because blood contains life. Never eat the life with the meat. 24 Never eat blood. Pour it on the ground like water. 25 If you don’t eat blood, things will go well for you and your descendants. You will be doing what the Lord considers right.

26 Take the holy things and the offerings you have vowed to bring, and go to the place the Lord will choose. 27 Sacrifice the meat and the blood of your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God. The blood of your sacrifices is to be poured out beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat. 28 Be sure you obey all these instructions I’m giving you. Then things will always go well for you and your descendants because you will be doing what the Lord your God considers good and right.

29 The Lord your God will destroy the nations where you’re going and force them out of your way. You will take possession of their land and live there. 30 After they’ve been destroyed, be careful you aren’t tempted to follow their customs. Don’t even ask about their gods and say, “How did these people worship their gods? We want to do what they did.” 31 Never worship the Lord your God in the way they worship their gods, because everything they do for their gods is disgusting to the Lord. He hates it! They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.[b]

32 Be sure to do everything I command you. Never add anything to it or take anything away from it.

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 12:15 “Clean” refers to anything that is presentable to God. “Unclean” refers to anything that is not presentable to God.
  2. Deuteronomy 12:31 Deuteronomy 12:32 in English Bibles is Deuteronomy 13:1 in the Hebrew Bible.

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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