Deuteronomy 12

Listen to Deuteronomy 12

The Lord's Chosen Place of Worship

1 1"These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, 2all the days that you live on the earth.
2 3You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, 4on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.
3 You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces 5their pillars and burn their 6Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and 7destroy their name out of that place.
4 8You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.
5 But you shall seek 9the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation[a] there. There you shall go,
6 and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, 10your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the 11firstborn of your herd and of your flock.
7 And 12there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and 13you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
8 "You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, 14everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes,
9 for you have not as yet come to 15the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you.
10 But when 16you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, 17and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety,
11 then to 18the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, 19your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD.
12 And 20you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since 21he has no portion or inheritance with you.
13 22Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see,
14 but at 23the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.
15 "However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, 24according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. 25The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer.
16 26Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water.
17 You may not eat within your towns 27the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present,
18 but 28you shall eat them before the LORD your God in 29the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And 30you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake.
19 31Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.
20 "When the LORD your God 32enlarges your territory, 33as he has promised you, and you say, 'I will eat meat,' because you crave meat, you may eat meat whenever you desire.
21 If 34the place that the LORD your God will choose to put his name there is too far from you, 35then you may kill any of your herd or your flock, which the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your towns whenever you desire.
22 Just 36as the gazelle or the deer is eaten, so you may eat of it. 37The unclean and the clean alike may eat of it.
23 38Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, 39for the blood is the life, and you shall 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, 40that all may go well with you and with your children after you, 41when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.
26 But the 42holy things that are due from you, and 43your vow offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to 44the place that the LORD will choose,
27 and 45offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, but the flesh you may eat.
28 Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, 46that 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.

Warning Against Idolatry

29 "When 47the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land,
30 take care 48that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods?--that I also may do the same.'
31 49You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every 50abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for 51they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.
32 [b]"Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. 52You shall not add to it or take from it.

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 52

  • 1. Deuteronomy 6:1
  • 2. Deuteronomy 4:10
  • 3. Deuteronomy 7:5; Exodus 34:13
  • 4. 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 2 Kings 17:10; Jeremiah 3:6
  • 5. See Deuteronomy 16:22
  • 6. See Deuteronomy 16:21
  • 7. [Zephaniah 1:4; Zechariah 13:2]
  • 8. ver. 31
  • 9. Deuteronomy 16:2; Deuteronomy 26:2; 1 Kings 8:29; 2 Chronicles 7:12; [Joshua 18:1]
  • 10. Deuteronomy 14:22, 23; Deuteronomy 15:19, 20
  • 11. Deuteronomy 14:23
  • 12. Deuteronomy 14:23, 26; Deuteronomy 15:20
  • 13. Deuteronomy 14:26; Deuteronomy 16:11, 14, 15; Deuteronomy 26:11; Deuteronomy 27:7; Deuteronomy 28:8; Leviticus 23:40
  • 14. Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25
  • 15. 1 Kings 8:56; Psalms 95:11; [Hebrews 4:8]
  • 16. See Deuteronomy 11:31
  • 17. Deuteronomy 25:19; Joshua 23:1; [2 Samuel 7:1; 1 Kings 5:4]
  • 18. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 19. [See ver. 6 above]
  • 20. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 21. See Numbers 18:20
  • 22. Leviticus 17:3, 4; [1 Kings 12:28, 33]
  • 23. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 24. Deuteronomy 16:17
  • 25. Deuteronomy 14:5; Deuteronomy 15:22
  • 26. See Leviticus 3:17
  • 27. [See ver. 6 above]
  • 28. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 29. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 30. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 31. Deuteronomy 14:27; [2 Chronicles 31:4]
  • 32. Deuteronomy 19:8
  • 33. Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 19:8, 9; Genesis 28:14; Exodus 34:24
  • 34. See ver. 5
  • 35. ver. 15
  • 36. Deuteronomy 14:5; Deuteronomy 15:22
  • 37. Deuteronomy 14:5; Deuteronomy 15:22
  • 38. See Leviticus 3:17
  • 39. See Genesis 9:4
  • 40. Deuteronomy 4:40; [Ecclesiastes 8:12; Isaiah 3:10]
  • 41. Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 13:18; Exodus 15:26; 1 Kings 11:38
  • 42. [Numbers 5:9, 10; Numbers 18:19]
  • 43. [1 Samuel 1:21]
  • 44. [See ver. 21 above]
  • 45. Lev. 1:5, 9, 13; Leviticus 17:11
  • 46. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 47. Deuteronomy 19:1; Joshua 23:4, 5
  • 48. Deuteronomy 7:16
  • 49. ver. 4; Lev. 18:3, 26, 30; [2 Kings 17:15]
  • 50. Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 17:1; Deuteronomy 18:12; Deuteronomy 23:18; Deuteronomy 25:16; Deuteronomy 27:15
  • 51. 2 Kings 17:31; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5
  • 52. See Deuteronomy 4:2

Footnotes 2

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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.