Deuteronomy 12
Benson Commentary
These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
Deuteronomy 12:1. These are the statutes — Moses, being still deeply impressed with a sense of the great danger his nation would be in of falling into idolatrous practices, after their settlement in the promised land, in the neighbourhood of so many superstitious nations, begins here a new exhortation to them, reminding them of the laws provided against it, as the indispensable conditions of their happy and peaceful enjoyment of that fruitful country.

Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
Deuteronomy 12:2. Ye shall destroy all the places — Temples, chapels, altars, groves, as appears from other scriptures. Green tree — As the Gentiles consecrated divers trees to their false gods, so they worshipped these under them. Pillars — Upon which their images were set. Names — That is, all the memorials of them, and the very names given to the places from the idols. Not do so — That is, not worship him in several places, mountains, and groves.

And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
Deuteronomy 12:5. To put his name there — That is, to set up his worship there, and which he shall call by his name, as his house, or his dwelling-place; namely, where the ark should be, the tabernacle, or temple: which was first Shiloh, and then Jerusalem. There is not one precept in all the law of Moses so largely inculcated as this, to bring all their sacrifices to that one altar. And how significant was this appointment! They must keep to one place, in token of their belief, that there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man. It not only served to keep up the notion of the unity of the Godhead, but the one only way of approach to God, and communion with him in and by his Son.

And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
Deuteronomy 12:6. Thither bring your burnt-offerings — Which were wisely appropriated to that one place, for the security of the true religion, and for the prevention of idolatry and superstition, which might otherwise more easily have crept in; and to signify that their sacrifices were not accepted for their own worth, but by God’s gracious appointment, and for the sake of God’s altar, by which they were sanctified, and for the sake of Christ, whom the altar manifestly represented. Your heave-offerings — That is, your first-fruits of corn, and wine, and oil, and other fruits. And these are called the heave-offerings of their hand, because the offerer was first to take these into his hands, and to heave them before the Lord, and then to give them to the priest. Your free-will-offerings — Even your voluntary oblations, which were not due by my prescription, but only by your own choice: you may choose what kind of offerings you please to offer, but not the place where you shall offer them.

And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
Deuteronomy 12:7. There — Not in the tabernacle or temple, where only the priests might eat the most holy things, (Numbers 18:10,) but in the court of the tabernacle, or in some place adjacent to the sanctuary. Ye shall eat — Your part of the things mentioned Deuteronomy 12:6; before the Lord — In the place of his peculiar presence, where his sanctuary shall be. And ye shall rejoice — For God is to be served with delight and gladness, and his worship ought to be a source of consolation to us, and it will be such if we worship him in spirit and truth. In all that you put your hand unto — In all your possessions and labours whatsoever, which shall otherwise be accursed to you.

Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
Deuteronomy 12:8. That we do here — Where the inconvenience of the place, and the uncertainty of their abode, would not permit exact order in sacrifices, and feasts, and ceremonies, which therefore God was then pleased to dispense with; but, saith he, he will not do so there. Right in his own eyes — Not that universal liberty was given to all persons to worship how they listed: but in many things their unsettled condition gave opportunity to do so.

For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.
But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
Deuteronomy 12:11. His name — His majesty and glory, his worship and service, his special and gracious presence. Your choice vows — Hebrew, the choice of your vows; that is, your select or chosen vows; so called, because things offered for vows were to be perfect, whereas defective creatures were accepted in free-will-offerings. Your daughters — Hence it appears, that though the males only were obliged to appear before God in their solemn feasts, yet the women also were permitted to come.

And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.
Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
Deuteronomy 12:13. Thy burnt-offerings — Nor the other things mentioned above, this one and most eminent kind being put for all the rest.

But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.
Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
Deuteronomy 12:17. Within thy gates — That is, in your private habitations, here opposed to the place of God’s worship.

But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.
When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
Deuteronomy 12:20-21. Enlarge thy border — Which will make it impossible to bring all the cattle thou usest to the tabernacle. If the place be too far — Being obliged to carry their sacrifices to the place of worship, they might think themselves obliged to carry their other cattle thither to be killed. They are therefore released from all such obligations, and left at liberty to kill them at home whether they lived nearer that place, or farther from it; only the latter is here mentioned, as being the matter of the scruple. As I have commanded — In such a manner as the blood may be poured forth.

If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.
Deuteronomy 12:22. As the roe-buck — As common or unhallowed food. They might eat of such cattle as were appointed for sacrifices, no less than of those not so appointed. The unclean — Because there was no holiness in such meat for which the unclean might be excluded from it.

Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.
Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.
Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.
Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose:
And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh.
Deuteronomy 12:27. Thou shalt eat the flesh — Excepting what shall be burned to God’s honour, and given to the priest, according to his appointment.

Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.
When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
Deuteronomy 12:30. By following them — By following the example they left, when their persons are destroyed.

Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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