Deuteronomy 12

The One Place of Worship

1 These are the decrees 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.
2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.
3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.
5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;
6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.
7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.
8 You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit,
9 since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance 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 you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest 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—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.
12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.
14 Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose 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, 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; pour it out on the ground like water.
17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts.
18 Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to.
19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.
20 When the LORD your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat 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 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.
22 Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat.
23 But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.
24 You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.
25 Do not eat it, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right in the eyes of the LORD.
26 But take your consecrated things and whatever you have vowed to give, and go to the place the LORD will choose.
27 Present your burnt offerings 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 the meat.
28 Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well 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 before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land,
30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”
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. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.[a]

Deuteronomy 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Monuments of idolatry to be destroyed. (1-4) The place of God's service to be kept. (5-32)

Verses 1-4 Moses comes to the statutes he had to give in charge to Israel; and begins with such as relate to the worship of God. The Israelites are charged not to bring the rites and usages of idolaters into the worship of God; not under colour of making it better. We cannot serve God and mammon; nor worship the true God and idols; nor depend upon Christ Jesus and upon superstitious or self-righteous confidences.

Verses 5-32 The command to bring ALL the sacrifices to the door of the tabernacle, was now explained with reference to the promised land. As to moral service, then, as now, men might pray and worship every where, as they did in their synagogues. The place which God would choose, is said to be the place where he would put his name. It was to be his habitation, where, as King of Israel, he would be found by all who reverently sought him. Now, under the gospel, we have no temple or altar that sanctifies the gift but Christ only: and as to the places of worship, the prophets foretold that in every place the spiritual incense should be offered, ( Malachi 1:11 ) . Our Saviour declared, that those are accepted as true worshippers, who worship God in sincerity and truth, without regard either to this mountain or Jerusalem, ( John 4:21 ) . And a devout Israelite might honour God, keep up communion with him, and obtain mercy from him, though he had no opportunity of bringing a sacrifice to his altar. Work for God should be done with holy joy and cheerfulness. Even children and servants must rejoice before God; the services of religion are to be a pleasure, and not a task or drudgery. It is the duty of people to be kind to their ministers, who teach them well, and set them good examples. As long as we live, we need their assistance, till we come to that world where ordinances will not be needed. Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we are commanded to do all to the glory of God. And we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father through him. They must not even inquire into the modes and forms of idolatrous worship. What good would it do them to know those depths of Satan? And our inward satisfaction will be more and more, as we abound in love and good works, which spring from faith and the in-dwelling Spirit of Christ.

Cross References 64

  • 1. Psalms 119:5
  • 2. Deuteronomy 4:9-10; Deuteronomy 6:15; 1 Kings 8:40; Ezekiel 20:19
  • 3. S Numbers 21:28
  • 4. 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 2 Kings 17:10; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6,13
  • 5. 2 Kings 11:18; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5; Judges 2:2
  • 6. S Exodus 32:20
  • 7. Exodus 34:13; 1 Kings 14:15,23
  • 8. S Exodus 23:13
  • 9. ver 30; 2 Kings 17:15; Jeremiah 10:2
  • 10. S Exodus 20:24; S 2 Samuel 7:13
  • 11. ver 11,13; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:2,11; Deuteronomy 18:6; Deuteronomy 26:2; 1 Samuel 2:29; 1 Kings 5:5; 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Kings 9:3; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 6:6; 2 Chronicles 7:12,16; Ezra 6:12; Ezra 7:15; Psalms 26:8; Psalms 78:68; Zechariah 2:12
  • 12. S Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 14:22-23
  • 13. S Genesis 28:20
  • 14. Joshua 22:27; Isaiah 66:20
  • 15. S Exodus 18:12
  • 16. ver 12,18; S Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 14:26; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; S Isaiah 62:9
  • 17. Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25
  • 18. S Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 3:20; Psalms 95:11; Micah 2:10
  • 19. Deuteronomy 4:21
  • 20. S Deuteronomy 11:31
  • 21. S Exodus 33:14
  • 22. S ver 5; Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:2
  • 23. S Leviticus 1:3; Joshua 22:23
  • 24. ver 7
  • 25. Deuteronomy 26:11-13
  • 26. S Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 14:29
  • 27. S ver 5
  • 28. ver 11
  • 29. ver 20-23; ver 22; Deuteronomy 14:5; Deuteronomy 15:22
  • 30. S Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10-12; Acts 15:20
  • 31. ver 23-24; S Genesis 35:14; 1 Chronicles 11:18; Jeremiah 7:18
  • 32. S Leviticus 17:13; S Deuteronomy 15:23; John 19:34
  • 33. S Leviticus 27:30
  • 34. S Numbers 18:12
  • 35. ver 26; Numbers 18:19
  • 36. Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 15:20
  • 37. Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 15:20
  • 38. ver 5
  • 39. ver 7,12; Deuteronomy 14:26; Nehemiah 8:10; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
  • 40. ver 12; Deuteronomy 14:27; Nehemiah 13:10
  • 41. Malachi 3:8
  • 42. S Exodus 34:24; Deuteronomy 19:8
  • 43. S Genesis 15:8; Genesis 15:18; S Deuteronomy 11:24
  • 44. S Exodus 16:3
  • 45. Deuteronomy 14:24
  • 46. Leviticus 17:4
  • 47. S ver 15
  • 48. ver 16; Genesis 9:4; S Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:11,14
  • 49. Ezekiel 33:25
  • 50. ver 16
  • 51. S Deuteronomy 4:40; Isaiah 3:10
  • 52. ver 28; Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 13:18; 1 Kings 11:38; 2 Kings 12:2
  • 53. S ver 17; Numbers 5:9-10
  • 54. S Leviticus 1:13; Lev 1:5,9,13
  • 55. Leviticus 3:1-17
  • 56. ver 25; Deuteronomy 4:40; Ecclesiastes 8:12
  • 57. Joshua 23:4
  • 58. S Deuteronomy 6:10
  • 59. S Exodus 10:7
  • 60. S ver 4
  • 61. S Leviticus 18:25; Deuteronomy 9:5
  • 62. S Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 32:35
  • 63. S 2 Kings 3:27
  • 64. S Deuteronomy 4:2; Joshua 1:7; Revelation 22:18-19

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. In Hebrew texts this verse (12:32) is numbered 13:1.

Chapter Summary


In this chapter orders are given to destroy all altars, pillars, groves, and images, made for the worship of idols in the land of Canaan, De 12:1-3 and to bring all sacrifices and holy things unto the place which the Lord should choose for his habitation, and not do as they then did, not being come to their rest, De 12:4-14, flesh for their common food might be killed and eaten in their own houses, provided they did not eat the blood, but poured it out upon the earth, De 12:15-25, tithes, vows, and freewill offerings, were to be eaten in the holy place, De 12:17-19 and burnt offerings to be offered on the altar of the Lord and the blood of them to be poured out upon the altar, De 12:26-28, all which they were carefully to observe, De 12:29, and they are cautioned against idolatry, and inquiring after the manner of it, as practised by the old inhabitants of the land, and introducing their customs into the service of God, De 12:30-32.

Deuteronomy 12 Commentaries

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