Deuteronomy 16

Passover celebration

1 Wait for the month of Abib, at which time you must perform the Passover for the LORD your God, because the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt at nighttime during the month of Abib.
2 Offer a Passover sacrifice from the flock or herd to the LORD your God at the location the LORD selects for his name to reside.
3 You must not eat anything containing yeast along with it. Instead, for seven days you must eat unleavened bread, bread symbolizing misery, along with it because you fled Egypt in a great hurry. Do this so you remember the day you fled Egypt for as long as you live.
4 No dough with yeast should appear in any of your territory for seven days. Furthermore, none of the meat that you sacrificed on the first night should remain until morning.
5 You are not permitted to offer the Passover sacrifice in any of the cities that the LORD your God is giving you.
6 Instead, you must offer the Passover sacrifice at the location the LORD your God selects for his name to reside, at evening time, when the sun sets, which was the time you fled Egypt.
7 Cook it and eat it in the location that the LORD your God selects. The next morning you can return to your tents.
8 For six days you will eat unleavened bread. The seventh day will be a celebration for the LORD your God. Don't do any work.

Festival of Weeks

9 Count out seven weeks, starting the count from the beginning of the grain harvest.
10 At that point, perform the Festival of Weeks for the LORD your God. Offer a spontaneous gift in precise measure with the blessing the LORD your God gives you.
11 Then celebrate in the presence of the LORD your God—you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites who live in your cities, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows who are among you—in the location the LORD your God selects for his name to reside.
12 Remember how each of you was a slave in Egypt, so follow these regulations most carefully.

Festival of Booths

13 Once you have collected the food and drink you need, perform the Festival of Booths for seven days.
14 Celebrate your festival: you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows who live in your cities.
15 Seven days you must perform the festival for the LORD your God in the location the LORD selects because the LORD your God will bless you in all you do and in all your work. You will be overjoyed.
16 Three times a year every male among you must appear before the presence of the LORD your God in the location he will select: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths. They must not appear before the LORD's presence empty-handed.
17 Each one should have his gift in hand, in precise measure with the blessing the LORD your God gives you.

Judges and officials

18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every city that the LORD your God gives you. They must judge the people fairly.
19 Don't delay justice; don't show favoritism. Don't take bribes because bribery blinds the vision of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
20 Righteousness! Pursue righteousness so that you live long and take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Rules for worship

21 Don't plant any tree to serve as a sacred pole next to the altar you make for the LORD your God.
22 Don't set up any sacred stone either, because the LORD your God hates such things.

Deuteronomy 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

The yearly feasts. (1-17) Of judges, Groves and images forbidden. (18-22)

Verses 1-17 The laws for the three yearly feasts are here repeated; that of the Passover, that of the Pentecost, that of Tabernacles; and the general law concerning the people's attendance. Never should a believer forget his low estate of guilt and misery, his deliverance, and the price it cost the Redeemer; that gratitude and joy in the Lord may be mingled with sorrow for sin, and patience under the tribulations in his way to the kingdom of heaven. They must rejoice in their receivings from God, and in their returns of service and sacrifice to him; our duty must be our delight, as well as our enjoyment. If those who were under the law must rejoice before God, much more we that are under the grace of the gospel; which makes it our duty to rejoice evermore, to rejoice in the Lord always. When we rejoice in God ourselves, we should do what we can to assist others also to rejoice in him, by comforting the mourners, and supplying those who are in want. All who make God their joy, may rejoice in hope, for He is faithful that has promised.

Verses 18-22 Care is taken for the due administration of justice. All personal regards must be laid aside, so that right is done to all, and wrong to none. Care is taken to prevent following the idolatrous customs of the heathen. Nothing belies God more, or tends more to corrupt the minds of men, than representing and worshipping, by an image, that God, who is an almighty and eternal Spirit, present every where. Alas! even in gospel days, and under a better dispensation, established upon better promises, there is a tendency to set up idols, under one form or another, in the human heart.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. March–April; called Nisan in post-exilic period
  • [b]. It, the Passover sacrifice
  • [c]. Heb asherah, perhaps an object devoted to the goddess Asherah

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 16

This chapter treats of the three grand yearly festivals, of the feast of passover, when, where, and what was to be sacrificed, how to be dressed, and in what manner to be eaten, De 16:1-8, of the feast of pentecost, when to begin it, where and how it was to be observed, De 16:9-12, and of the feast of tabernacles, when, where, and how long it was to be kept, De 16:13-15, which three times in the year all the males were to appear before the Lord, and not empty, De 16:16,17, an order is given for the appointment of judges in the land, to execute judgment, De 16:18-20, and the chapter is closed with a caution against planting groves, and setting up images, De 16:21,22.

Deuteronomy 16 Commentaries