Deuteronomy 12

Laws of the Sanctuary

1 "These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess 1as long * as you live on the earth.
2 "You shall utterly destroy all the places where * the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the 2high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.
3 "3You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and 4obliterate their name from that place.
4 "You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God.
5 "5But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.
6 "There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, 6your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock.
7 "There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and 7rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
8 "You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;
9 for you have not as yet come to 8the resting place and the 9inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you.
10 "When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and 10He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security,
11 11then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD.
12 "And you shall 12rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants *, and the 13Levite who is within your gates, since 14he has no portion or inheritance with you.
13 "15Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see,
14 but in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
15 "16However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of 17the gazelle and the deer.
16 "18Only you shall not eat the blood; 19you are to pour it out on the ground like water.
17 "20You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand.
18 "But 21you shall eat them before the LORD your God in 22the place which the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants *, and the 23Levite who is within your gates; and you shall 24rejoice before the LORD your God in all your undertakings.
19 "25Be careful that you do not forsake the Levite as long * as you live in your land.
20 "When the LORD your God extends your border 26as He has promised you, and you say, 'I will eat meat,' because you desire to eat meat, then you may eat meat, whatever you desire.
21 "If the place which the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter of your herd and flock which the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you; and you may eat within your gates whatever you desire.
22 "Just as a gazelle or a deer is eaten, so you will eat it; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it.
23 "Only be sure 27not to eat the blood, for 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 ground like water.
25 "You shall not eat it, so that 28it may be well with you and your sons after you, for 29you will be doing what is right in the sight of the LORD.
26 "30Only your holy things which you may have and your votive offerings, you shall take and go to the place which the LORD chooses.
27 "And 31you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on 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 32you shall eat the flesh.
28 "Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that 33it may be well with you and your sons after you forever *, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
29 "When 34the LORD your God cuts off before * you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land,
30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before * you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?'
31 "35You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for 36they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
32 "37Whatever * * I command you, you shall be careful to do; 38you shall not add to nor take away 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 38

  • 1. Deuteronomy 4:9, 10; 1 Kings 8:40
  • 2. 2 Kings 16:4; 2 Kings 17:10, 11
  • 3. Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5; Judges 2:2
  • 4. Exodus 23:13; Psalms 16:4; Zechariah 13:2
  • 5. Exodus 20:24; Deuteronomy 12:11, 13; 2 Chronicles 7:12; Psalms 78:68
  • 6. Deuteronomy 14:22
  • 7. Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 12:12, 18; Deuteronomy 14:26; Deuteronomy 28:47; Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
  • 8. Deuteronomy 3:20; Deuteronomy 25:19; Psalms 95:11
  • 9. Deuteronomy 4:21
  • 10. Joshua 11:23
  • 11. Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:2; Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 18:6
  • 12. Deuteronomy 12:7
  • 13. Deuteronomy 12:18, 19; Deuteronomy 26:11-13
  • 14. Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 14:29
  • 15. Deuteronomy 12:5, 11
  • 16. Deuteronomy 12:20-23
  • 17. Deuteronomy 12:22; Deuteronomy 14:5; Deuteronomy 15:22
  • 18. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10-12; 1 Samuel 14:33; Acts 15:20, 29
  • 19. Deuteronomy 15:23
  • 20. Deuteronomy 12:26
  • 21. Deuteronomy 14:23
  • 22. Deuteronomy 12:5
  • 23. Deuteronomy 12:12
  • 24. Deuteronomy 12:7; Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
  • 25. Deuteronomy 14:27
  • 26. Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 19:8
  • 27. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:16
  • 28. Deuteronomy 4:40; Isaiah 3:10
  • 29. Exodus 15:26; 1 Kings 11:38
  • 30. Numbers 5:9; Numbers 18:19; Deuteronomy 12:17
  • 31. Leviticus 1:9, 13
  • 32. Leviticus 3:1-17
  • 33. Deuteronomy 4:40; Ecclesiastes 8:12
  • 34. Joshua 23:4
  • 35. Deuteronomy 9:5
  • 36. Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:10; Psalms 106:37; Jeremiah 32:35
  • 37. Deuteronomy 4:2; Joshua 1:7
  • 38. Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18

Footnotes 17

  • [a]. Lit "all the days"
  • [b]. Lit "ground"
  • [c]. I.e. wooden symbols of a female deity
  • [d]. Or "heave offering"
  • [e]. Lit "the putting forth of your hand"
  • [f]. Or "heave offering"
  • [g]. Lit "in every desire of your soul"
  • [h]. Lit "heave offering"
  • [i]. Lit "the putting forth of your hand"
  • [j]. Lit "all your days upon your land"
  • [k]. Lit "your soul desires"
  • [l]. Lit "in every desire of your soul"
  • [m]. Lit "in every desire of your soul"
  • [n]. Lit "soul"
  • [o]. Lit "soul"
  • [p]. Lit "after them"
  • [q]. Lit "Everything that"

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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