Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
C. Chs. 12–26. The Statutes and Judgements
The Deuteronomic Code, of which all the rest of the book is the religious and historical introduction and enforcement, consists of some seventy separate laws, connected by and mingled with exhortations and religious formulas in a style similar to that of the introductory discourses. The laws fall into four divisions of unequal size, consisting of smaller groups distinguished by their separate subjects: the whole upon a manifest plan of arrangement which however is not perfectly observed but is broken at several points by the appearance of single laws or small groups of laws out of their proper relation. This will be seen from the following conspectus:—
The Title to the whole Code Deuteronomy 12:1I. Laws of Religious Institutions and Worship Deut 12:2–16:17, 21–17:7
Of the One Altar (in several forms) Deuteronomy 12:2-28Against Heathen Rites and the Worship of Other Gods Deut 12:29–13
[with perhaps Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7]
Against Rites for the Dead Deuteronomy 14:1-2Of Clean and Unclean Beasts, etc. Deuteronomy 14:3-21Of Tithes Deuteronomy 14:22-29Of the Remittance or Release Deuteronomy 15:1-18(1) for Israelite and foreign creditors (Deuteronomy 15:1-11),
(2) for slaves (Deuteronomy 15:12-18)
Of Firstlings Deuteronomy 15:19-23Of the Three Feasts: Passover, Weeks, Tabernacles Deuteronomy 16:1-17Against ’Asherim and Maṣṣebôth Deuteronomy 16:21-22Against Blemished Sacrifices Deuteronomy 17:1Against Worshippers of Other Gods Deuteronomy 17:2-7For the last three see above Deuteronomy 12:29 to Deuteronomy 13:18.
II. Laws of Offices of Authority Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Deuteronomy 17:8-18.
Of Judges and Justice Deuteronomy 16:18-20Of Judges of Final Appeal Deuteronomy 17:8-13Of the King Deuteronomy 17:14-20Of Priests, Levites Deuteronomy 18:1-8Of Prophets (in contrast to Diviners, Augurs, etc.) Deuteronomy 18:9-22III. Laws mainly on Crime, War, Property, the Family Deuteronomy 18:19-22.
Of Cities of Refuge for the Manslayer Deuteronomy 19:1-13Against Removing Landmarks Deuteronomy 19:14Of Witnesses Deuteronomy 19:15-21Of the Conduct of War, and who are Exempt Deuteronomy 20:1-20Of Communal Responsibility for a Murder Deuteronomy 21:1-9Of Marriage with a Female Captive Deuteronomy 21:10-14Of the Right of the Firstborn Deuteronomy 21:15-17Of Disobedient Sons Deuteronomy 21:18-21Of Hanged Malefactors Deuteronomy 21:22-23Of Humane Duties in various directions:— Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Deuteronomy 22:6-8A neighbour’s lost property (Deuteronomy 22:1-3) and derelict (Deuteronomy 22:4); sparing the mother-bird (Deuteronomy 22:6-7); protecting roofs with parapets (Deuteronomy 22:8)
Against Various Mixtures:— Deuteronomy 22:5; Deuteronomy 22:9-11Wearing clothes of the other sex (Deuteronomy 22:5); mixture of seeds (Deuteronomy 22:9), animals (Deuteronomy 22:10), cloths (Deuteronomy 22:11)
Of Tassels on the Garments Deuteronomy 22:12Of Procedure in Cases of Unchastity:— Deuteronomy 22:13-301
 From this to the end of ch. 23 the verses are numbered one more in the Heb. text, in which Deuteronomy 23:1 is the Eng. Deuteronomy 22:30.
Charges against a bride (Deuteronomy 22:13-21); adulterers discovered in the act (Deuteronomy 22:22); intercourse with a betrothed virgin, with (Deuteronomy 22:23 f.) or without (Deuteronomy 22:25 ff.) her consent; with a virgin not betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:28 f.); with a father’s wife (Deuteronomy 22:30)
Of Right to Enter the Congregation:— Deuteronomy 23:1-8Denied to the mutilated (1), the illegitimate (2), Ammonites and Moabites (Deuteronomy 23:3-6); but granted to third generation of Edomites and Egyptians (Deuteronomy 23:7 f.)
Of Ritual Cleanness in the Camp Deuteronomy 23:9-14Of Runaway Slaves Deuteronomy 23:15-16Against Hierodules Deuteronomy 23:17-18Against Exaction of Interest from Israelites Deuteronomy 23:19-20Of Vows Deuteronomy 23:21-23Of Use at Need of Others’ Fruits and Corn Deuteronomy 23:24-25Of Re-marriage after Divorce Deuteronomy 24:1-4Of Equity and Humanity in various directions:— Deuteronomy 24:5 to Deuteronomy 25:4Exemption of newly-married from war-service (Deuteronomy 24:5); against taking in pledge the necessaries of life (Deuteronomy 24:6; Deuteronomy 24:10-13; Deuteronomy 24:17 f.), stealing Israelites for slaves (Deuteronomy 24:7), neglect of leprosy (Deuteronomy 24:8 f.), withholding wages (Deuteronomy 24:14 f.), putting the fathers to death for the children or vice versâ (Deuteronomy 24:16), and inequity to strangers, fatherless, and widows (Deuteronomy 24:17 f.); on leaving for these parts of the harvest (Deuteronomy 24:19-22); against excessive punishment (Deuteronomy 25:1-3), and muzzling the labouring ox (Deuteronomy 25:4)
Of Levirate Marriage Deuteronomy 25:5-10Of Reckless Assault Deuteronomy 25:11-12Against Divers Weights and Measures Deuteronomy 25:13-16On ‘Ămaleḳ Deuteronomy 25:17-19IV. Laws of Ritual Procedure with Proper Players Deuteronomy 26:1-15In Offering First Fruits Deuteronomy 26:1-11In Distributing Tithes Deuteronomy 26:12-15Concluding Exhortation Deuteronomy 26:16-19Within this Code the laws are never called Torôth (applied in the Code only to the oral directions of the priests, Deuteronomy 17:11, Deuteronomy 24:8) but always Huḳḳim and Mishpatim, Statutes and Judgements. If we may distinguish these terms, as on the one hand decrees of religion, worship, and the theocratic constitution, and on the other civil and criminal laws and sentences with their relevant procedures (cp. debarîm and mishpatim, Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33, Driver, p. 202), then to such a distinction the above arrangement roughly conforms. For of its four main divisions I, II and IV are of the former class, but III of the latter.
As in the Decalogue and the law-book of E, Exodus 20:22-23, the laws of religion and worship come first because of their sacred character, but also for the further reason, peculiar to D, that the law of the One Altar with which they open is the practical corollary to D’s fundamental doctrine of the Unity of Israel’s God (see on Deuteronomy 12:2-28). Accordingly this law is immediately followed by laws against heathen rites and seductions to the worship of other gods, Deuteronomy 12:29 to Deuteronomy 13:18, among which the similar laws, Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7, seem originally to have stood. The law of clean and unclean foods, Deuteronomy 14:3-21, based on religious grounds, falls naturally into this group (though it may be a later addition); and the rest of the division, Deuteronomy 14:22 to Deuteronomy 16:17, also deals with religious practices and institutions. The Second place is naturally assigned to offices of various authority in the theocracy, Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Deuteronomy 17:8-18. The Third division, Deuteronomy 17:19-20, enforces the duties of the individuals of the commonwealth in their family, civic, and military relations; and deals with crimes against these social interests and the relevant procedures. In the Fourth, Deut 17:26, more detailed ritual is enjoined with regard to two of the offerings commanded under the first group.
The chief interruptions in the plan of the Code, which is so manifest throughout, are the separation of the religious laws, Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7, Deuteronomy 23:1-8; Deuteronomy 23:17 f. and 26, from Division I to which by their subjects they properly belong. But further in Division III the laws on marriage and married life are separated from each other, two in Deuteronomy 21:10-17, one in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and one in Deuteronomy 25:5-10; as are those on murder, Deuteronomy 19:1-13, Deuteronomy 21:1-9, and on war and military service, Deuteronomy 20:1-20, Deuteronomy 23:9-14, Deuteronomy 24:5, and the subordinate groups on equity and humanity, Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Deuteronomy 22:6-8, Deuteronomy 24:5 to Deuteronomy 25:4. Even within the smaller groups there are curious interruptions and isolations; that on humanity, Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Deuteronomy 22:6-8, is broken by Deuteronomy 12:5, against wearing the clothes of the other sex, which properly belongs to the sub-group, Deuteronomy 22:9-11, against various mixtures. Altogether the Code transgresses its own prohibition of the confusion of things naturally diverse. ‘Moses sometimes mixes together precepts respecting different things’ (Calvin on Exodus 23:19).
Sometimes this disorder is necessitated by the overlapping or crossing of the subjects of various laws; sometimes, as in the separation of Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7 from Deuteronomy 12:29 to Deuteronomy 13:18, it may be due to the carelessness of a copyist. Other possible causes are the gradual growth of the Code by the addition of laws instituted or adopted later than its original form, and the compilation of the whole Code from separate smaller Codes (as in the case of the Code of E; see Driver’s Exod. 202 ff). Of the former cause ch. 26 may be an illustration. But while gradual additions may have been made from time to time to the Code, the chief impression which the above list makes on the mind is that the whole Code, as it stands, is a compilation from various sources. And this impression is corroborated by the facts that several of the laws appear in more than one form—especially the first and fundamental law of the One Altar, but cp. also the Laws on the Passover and the Priests—and that some of these doublets are distinguished by being couched in different forms of address, Sg. and Pl. Thus the same phenomena as those which betray a plurality of sources in the introductory discourses, 1–11, persist in the Code, 12–26, and prove the composite character of even this the central portion of the Book of Deuteronomy. The proofs will be given in the detailed notes.
The bulk of the laws are based either on those of E and (in fewer cases) of J, or upon the consuetudinary laws of which the Codes of E and J are the other precipitates. But their chief distinction from the Codes of E and J is that the latter have no counterpart to the law of the One Altar in D. On the contrary they imply that Israel may sacrifice to their God at many altars, wheresoever He records His Name (cp. Chapman, Introd. to Pent. 131 ff., and Driver, Exod. 207 f.). The law of the One Altar necessitated many other differences between the Code of D and the earlier legislation; for example in permitting at a distance from the One Altar the slaughter and eating of domestic beasts without ritual; in the laws on Tithes and Firstlings; and most of all in the institution of the Cities of Refuge, for which no equivalent was required in the earlier legislation, since according to this the man who slew his brother accidentally might find asylum at any of the many altars which it sanctions. On the details of the relation of D’s laws to those of H and P see the notes below; here it need only be said that the laws of H and P give proof of belonging to a later stage than D’s in the social and ecclesiastical development of Israel; and that in particular many of their differences from D’s are due to the increased influence of the priesthood, its separation from the general body of the Levites, and its encroachment upon their rights and the rights of the lay worshippers.
The Title to the Code
Like some other titles this is mixed of the Sg. and Pl. forms of address. Sam. confirms the Heb. text. The LXX harmonising gives Pl. throughout.
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.1. These are the statutes and the judgements] As in Deuteronomy 6:1 but minus the Commandment or Charge (Miṣwah) because this, the introductory enforcement of the religious principles on which the laws are based, is now finished.
observe to do] See on Deuteronomy 4:6, Deuteronomy 5:1.
God of thy fathers] See on Deuteronomy 6:3.
all the days, etc.] Cp. Deuteronomy 4:9-10, Deuteronomy 31:13.
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:2–7. First Statement of the Law of the One Altar
In the Pl. address, with one later insertion, Deuteronomy 12:3, and possibly another Deuteronomy 12:5 b; the rest is a unity. It appropriately opens with the command to destroy all the places at which the nations worship, whom Israel is about to dispossess; for it was the use of these sanctuaries for the worship of Jehovah and the consequent confusion of Him with the Canaanite deities that produced the evils from which the only practical escape was by concentrating His worship. The preface to this first form of the law differs from that to the second which is also Pl.
Deuteronomy 12:2. surely destroy] A form of the vb. used only with Pl. address, Deuteronomy 11:4, Deuteronomy 12:2-3. Another form of the same vb. is used both with Sg. and Pl., Deuteronomy 7:24, Deuteronomy 8:20, etc.
all the places] The Heb. maḳôm, lit. place of standing up but used in the widest sense of spot or locality, is to be understood throughout this ch. as holy or sacred place (cp. Genesis 12:6, the maḳôm of Shechem); like its Ar. form, maḳâm, ‘sacred place,’ whether as the place where one stands up to pray (one of the special senses of the vb. kâm) or, with the name of a saint attached to it, as the place of his burial which he still haunts, or at which he once stood, e.g. ‘maḳâm ’Ibrahim’ (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arabum, 124). But in this restricted sense the Heb. maḳôm is rather the place of the Deity, His habitation: cp. Deuteronomy 12:5, Isaiah 60:13, place of my sanctuary = place of my feet; Ezekiel 43:7, place of my throne, of the soles of my feet, where I dwell, etc.; Acts 6:13, this holy place, 14, this place.
wherein the nations which ye are to dispossess worshipped their gods] On dispossess see Deuteronomy 9:1. Worshipped or have worshipped may be a sign of the writer’s own time when the Canaanites were no more; yet it is not incompatible with the standpoint of the speaker.
upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree] A frequent combination in O.T. The part of a hill selected for a shrine was not the top but either one of the lower promontories (so, and not tops, in Hosea 4:13; Ezekiel 6:13), or a hollow below the summit or between two summits (e.g. the high-place at Gezer discovered by Mr Macalister) within reach of water. Green can hardly be the meaning of the Heb. ra‘ănân, which is either luxuriant, branching and overshadowing, or mobile and wavy, or full of sound; as variously appears from the forms of the same root in Ar. (= loose, with much motion, quickly changing, but also redundant and bulging), from the LXX translations of the Heb. (leafy, overshadowing, and the like), and from such passages as Hosea 4:13 (they sacrifice under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, for their shade is good), Ezekiel 6:13 (under every spreading tree and thick oak), Ezekiel 20:28 (every thick tree). ‘The luxury of the trees’ (Bacon), ‘her leafy arms with such extent were spread’ (Dryden). The presence of a god was suggested not merely by the power of life manifest in the greenness of the tree (W. K. Smith, Rel. Sem. 173) nor only by its conspicuousness in the landscape and the shade it gave from a glowing atmosphere, but also by the mobility (cp. the N.H. ra‘al, to wave, and the Syr. r‘ula, shaking) and the rustling of the tree which suggested the movement or speech of the deity; the sound of a marching in the tops of the mulberry trees … Jehovah gone forth before thee (2 Samuel 5:24), the sound of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the wind (Genesis 3:8), and terebinths of Moreh, i.e. Revealer, oracle-giver (Deuteronomy 11:30; Genesis 12:6). It is among these ideas of luxuriance, shade, mobility and sound that the meaning of ra‘ănân is to be found. That it cannot mean green is also proved by its application to oil, Psalm 92:10 (11), where LXX renders it by rich.
These sites, naturally sympathetic to worship, were used by the Semites as by other races. On mountains, as especially places of burnt offering, see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 99, III, 470 f.; on trees as objects of worship, id. 125 f., 169; and believed by modern Arabs to be inhabited by spirits, Musil, Ethn. Bericht, 325 f. So frequently in the O.T. of the Canaanite cults. But the same sites were indicated by God to the Hebrew Patriarchs:—Abraham was bidden to offer Isaac on a mountain (J, Genesis 22:2), Jehovah appeared to him at the place of Shechem, the oak or terebinth of Moreh, and there he built an altar to Jehovah (J, Genesis 12:6 f.), similarly at the oak of Mamre (J, Genesis 13:18); while at Be’ersheba he planted a tamarisk and called on God’s name (J, Genesis 21:33). At Sinai Moses went up into the Mount to meet God (JE, Exodus 19 ff.). So too after Israel’s entrance into Canaan:—an oak stood in the sanctuary of Jehovah at Shechem (E, Joshua 24:26). As in Abraham’s time, Gideon was bidden build an altar on the top of the stronghold, and Jehovah’s angel appeared to him under the oak in ‘Ophrah and there Gideon presented offerings and built an altar to Jehovah (Jdg 6:11; Jdg 6:19; Jdg 6:24; Jdg 6:26); under Samuel the ark of Jehovah was taken to the house of Abinadab on the hill (1 Samuel 7:1), and Israel sacrificed at Miṣpah, Gilgal, and Ramah at the high place there (1 Samuel 7:5 ff., 1 Samuel 7:16 f., 1 Samuel 9:12 f.,1 Samuel 9:19), on the hill of God with a high place (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 10:13), and Nob (1 Samuel 21:1 ff.); cp. the altars built by Saul on the field of a victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:35) and by David on the threshing floor of Araunah, where the angel had appeared (2 Samuel 24:21; 2 Samuel 24:25) and the yearly sacrifice by David’s family at Beth-lehem (1 Samuel 20:6; 1 Samuel 20:29), and Solomon’s sacrifices at Gibeon, the great high place (1 Kings 3:4). Elijah was bidden to go to Carmel, and build there an altar to Jehovah (1 Kings 18:19 f., 1Ki18:32), and again went to Ḥoreb the Mount of God (1 Kings 19:8 ff.). Deut. itself repeats the account of Moses’ intercourse with Jehovah on the Mount (9, 10) and contains (Deuteronomy 27:4 ff., partly from E?) the command to put up stones inscribed with the Law and an altar upon Mt Ebal. Therefore down at least to the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, it was the custom in Judah and Benjamin to worship Jehovah on such high places as those at which the Canaanites worshipped their gods, and this custom was continued in N. Israel by Elijah. By the 8th century Israel appears to have promiscuously adopted the Canaanite shrines, and the prophets complain of their apostasy and licentious rites on the headlands of the mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree with special mention of oaks, poplars, and terebinths and predict the futility and disappointment of their trust in such places (Hosea 4:12 f.; Isaiah 1:29; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 3:8; Jeremiah 3:13; Jeremiah 3:23; Jeremiah 17:1 f.; Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 18:5 f., Ezekiel 20:28; Isaiah 57:5; Isaiah 65:7). The prophets regard all this as a backsliding from the pure worship of earlier times. Israel ought to have known better than sink to such traitorous and degrading practices. But the prophets appeal to no law on the subject and it is clear that their objections to sites so natural for worship, and used by the Patriarchs and leaders of Israel with the sanction of Israel’s God, is due both to the emergence with prophecy of a purer religion and to the experience throughout the intervening centuries of the evil effect on Israel of the associations of these sites with the immoral practices of the Canaanites and of the trust in purely material objects which they engendered in the worshippers. Nothing could overcome these evils except the destruction of the high places and the concentration of the worship of Jehovah upon one altar. Hence the rise of D’s law, clearly unknown to the Judges, Prophets, and Kings of Israel at least down to Solomon and also to Elijah. The law is therefore the result of the teaching of the prophets of the 8th century; but this conclusion does not preclude the possibility of earlier sporadic attempts, especially in Judah, to do away with the heathen sanctuaries (see Introd. § 11).
Deuteronomy 12:3. Destruction of altars, and other sacred objects in the Canaanite places. Similarly Deuteronomy 8:5; cp. Exodus 34:13. But here the verse is evidently a later intrusion; it breaks the connection between Deuteronomy 12:2; Deuteronomy 12:4.
break down] Rather, tear down; in O.T. of altars, high places, walls.
altars] Lit. positions for slaughter and sacrifice. See Driver on Exodus 20:24.
pillars … Asherim] For these see on Deuteronomy 16:21-22. The verbs burn and hew down ought probably to be transposed (Grätz), cp. LXX and Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25.
graven images of their gods] Apparently distinct from the pillars and ’Ashçrîm. Heb. pasîI as in Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25 (also in Hos. and Mic.) another form of pesel, Deuteronomy 4:16; Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 4:25, Deuteronomy 5:8.
and destroy their name out of that place] Deuteronomy 7:24 with another form of the same vb.: see on Deuteronomy 12:2. To destroy the worship of a god is to prevent his manifestation to men, so that it is as if he ceased to be. Cp. the analogy in Israel, when Moses pleads that Jehovah will not destroy for His name’s sake; if they perish, who will perpetuate His name, i.e. His worship, His revelation, Himself? See on Deuteronomy 12:4.
Deuteronomy 12:4. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God] Clearly this follows not the preceding verse but Deuteronomy 12:2.
Deuteronomy 12:5. the place which the Lord your God shall choose] Place, Sg., in contrast to all the places of Deuteronomy 12:2. ‘Jehovah chooses it (in contrast to the sanctuaries chosen by Israel themselves) for a sanctuary for Himself, as He has chosen the people that it may be holy to Him (cp. Deuteronomy 7:6). He is therefore no limited, local deity, tied to the soil, like the Ba‘alim. He might have chosen another place out of all your tribes than Jerusalem’ (Bertholet). The phrase is D’s regular description of the One Sanctuary: either alone, Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 12:26, Deuteronomy 14:25, Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:7; Deuteronomy 16:15-16, Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 17:10, Deuteronomy 18:6, Deuteronomy 31:11; or with additions:—in one of thy tribes (Deuteronomy 12:14) = out of all your tribes (here LXX, in one of your cities); to put His name there, here Deuteronomy 12:21, Deuteronomy 14:24; to cause His name to dwell there, Deuteronomy 12:11, Deuteronomy 14:23, Deuteronomy 16:2; Deuteronomy 16:6; Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 26:2. All these except Deuteronomy 12:4; Deuteronomy 12:11 are in the Sg. address. The only other passage in the Hex. in which the phrase occurs is the deuteronomic Joshua 9:27. In E. Exodus 20:24, the parallel but contradictory phrase is in every place where I record my name (see Driver’s note). For shall choose Sam. has curiously hath chosen, abandoning the standpoint of the speaker, assumed by the Heb. text, for that of the writer. The place is of course Jerusalem (cp. 1 Kings 8:44; 1 Kings 8:48 and other deuteronomic passages in Kings). The naming of the place would not be compatible with the standpoint of the speaker, and was superfluous to the generation for whom D wrote.
to put his name there] For other instances of the phrase in D and its alternative, cause his name to dwell there, see previous note. The name of God is just God Himself as manifested to men. So E, Exodus 23:21, of the angel sent by Him before Israel: my name is in him; and J, Exodus 33:19, of the moral nature of Israel’s God: I will make all my goodness pass before thee and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee. His sanctuary is the place of Jehovah’s name (Isaiah 18:7) because there He reveals Himself to Israel; to Jerusalem the nations shall gather to the name of Jehovah (Jeremiah 3:17); cp. the deuteronomic phrase to build an house to the name of Jehovah (2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 5:3; 1 Kings 5:5 (17, 19). 1 Kings 8:16-20; 1 Kings 8:44; 1 Kings 8:48.
even unto his habitation] So Heb.; but LXX (as in Deuteronomy 12:11), to cause it to dwell. If this reading be adopted the following vb. must refer back to the words, to the place, at the beginning of the verse.
shall ye seek] A technical term for resort to the Deity or his shrine: Deuteronomy 12:30, after other gods (but with sense of enquiring); J, Genesis 25:22, to Jehovah; Amos 5:5, to Bethel. In Deuteronomy 4:29 the sense is not technical but has a moral force. For another meaning of the same vb. see Deuteronomy 11:12.
and thither thou shall come] The only Sg. phrase in this statement of the law; but either delete thou shalt come with LXX B, or read ye shall come with Sam., LXX A and other codd. and Luc.
Deuteronomy 12:6. Thither all sacrifices and sacred dues are to be brought; for variants in the other statements of the law see Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:13; Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 12:27.
your burnt offerings and your sacrifices] ‘Olôth and zebaḥim: the two most ordinary forms of animal sacrifice, Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:27; Exodus 10:25 (J) and Deuteronomy 18:12 (E), but in Exodus 20:24 (E), ‘olôth and shelamîm. The ‘ôlah, what goes up, either upon the altar or in smoke to heaven, was the whole victim (except the hide) and was wholly consumed (hence the LXX, ὁλοκαύτωμα, Vg. holocaustum); the worshippers took no part of it. The zebaḥ, lit. the slaughtering—at first all slaughter of domestic animals was sacrificial—was the more ancient and common form of sacrifice, of which the blood was poured out and the fat burned as the Deity’s portion, certain other parts were given to the priest as his due (see on terumah below) and the rest eaten by the worshippers. In early Israel the zebaḥ is mentioned along with the minḥah (lit. gift), the cereal or ‘meat’ offering (1 Samuel 3:14; 1 Samuel 26:19). The shelem: R.V. peace offering (after the LXX), according to others thank offering, is more probably, because of its name (from shillem, to fulfil or discharge) and because of its use (instead of zebaḥ) for sacrifices in general, fulfilment, discharge, i.e. of vows, etc. Yet in this case the form shillum would be more natural. See on Deuteronomy 27:7.
These ordinary sacrifices, then, which the older law in E directs shall lie made on an altar in every place where Jehovah shall record His name (Exodus 20:24), must, according to D, be brought to the One Altar. The necessary corollary is not given in this first statement of the law but follows in the third, Deuteronomy 12:15 f., Deuteronomy 12:20 ff.
your tithes] or tenths: at first used generally in Eng.—‘every tithe soul,’ ‘the tithe of a hair’ (Shakespeare)—but like the Scots ‘tiends’ generally limited to taxes of one-tenth especially in kind; in D of corn, wine and oil, Deuteronomy 12:17, Deuteronomy 14:23, of the increase of thy seed, Deuteronomy 14:22, of the increase of each third year, Deuteronomy 14:28, Deuteronomy 26:12. See further on these passages.
the heave offering of your hand] Heb. terumah from herîm, to raise; not as the Eng. translation suggests that which is elevated ritually before the altar; but that which is lifted off or out of a greater mass, LXX, ἀφαίρεμα, and separated or abstracted, LXX, ἀφόρισμα, for the sanctuary. In D (before which it does not occur) only here and Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:17. Probably it is here intended to cover the firstfruits of corn, wine, oil and wool, Deuteronomy 18:4, of all the fruit of thy ground, Deuteronomy 26:2 (on which see further), already prescribed in the earlier legislation of E, Exodus 23:16; Exodus 23:19. The term is much more frequent in P and Ezekiel and with a wider application: of fruits of the soil, Numbers 15:19-21 (cp. Nehemiah 10:37); of gold, silver, bronze and other precious objects for the sanctuary, Exodus 25:2 f.; of the sanctuary half-shekel, Exodus 30:13; of the lands reserved for priests and Levites, Ezekiel 45:1; Ezekiel 45:6 f.; of the portions for priests lifted off the sacrificial victims, Leviticus 7:14; Exodus 29:27 f. Contribution is therefore the Eng. word which comes nearest to it, but is not satisfactory1. Of your hand: it is not to be abstracted by an official but must be a direct and personal gift of the worshipper.
 Transfer or conveyance is also possible.
your vows] Things vowed to God or to the sanctuary in connection with prayers, for deliverance from some pressing danger or the success of an enterprise, see further on Deuteronomy 23:21-23 (22–24), and here note only the development from the simple directions of D to the elaborate and discriminating laws of P on the same subject, Leviticus 27:1-29; Numbers 30 (further in the Mishna tractate Nedarim); and the frauds practised with vows, Malachi 1:14, and the casuistry, Matthew 15:4 f.; Mark 7:10 f.
your freewill offerings] Sacrifices you are moved to make without previous promise or legal injunction.
firstlings of your herd and of your flock] See on Deuteronomy 15:19-23.
Deuteronomy 12:7. and there ye shall eat before the Lord your God] i.e. sacra-mentally; for this eating is as much a part of the religious rite as the offering of certain portions of the victim on the altar. Before your God (Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18, Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 14:26, etc.), in His presence; there is no statement that the feast was shared with Him, though of course the burning of the fat on the altar meant that He shared it; and there can be no doubt that this physical communion of the deity and his worshippers was the original meaning of such sacrifices (see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 207 ff.). The absence of the statement of any such idea was, however, to be expected in D.
and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto] Rejoice, so simply, Deuteronomy 14:26; before Jehovah thy God, Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 27:7; rejoice in the feast, Deuteronomy 16:14; be altogether joyful, Deuteronomy 16:15; in all the good which Jehovah thy God hath given thee, Deuteronomy 25:11; in all the mission or enterprise of your hand, Deuteronomy 12:18, Deuteronomy 15:10, Deuteronomy 23:20 (21); cp. Deuteronomy 28:8; Deuteronomy 28:20, blessing … and rebuking in all that thou puttest thy hand to. This last expression is peculiar to D and synonymous with the work of thy hand (Deuteronomy 2:7, Deuteronomy 14:29, Deuteronomy 16:15, Deuteronomy 24:19, Deuteronomy 28:12, Deuteronomy 30:9). The sacrament was thus also an eucharist; a thanksgiving for the success of the year’s toil.
It has been rightly emphasised (Steuern. and Berth.) that in so elaborate a list of offerings, apparently meant to be complete, there is no mention of the sin and guilt offerings which are enforced in P; these, therefore, were unknown, or disregarded, by the deuteronomists. The worship to which Israel is commanded in D is, in spite of D’s rigorous ethical teaching and sense of Israel’s sins, one only of joyous communion with Jehovah and thankfulness for the material blessings which He annually provides.
ye and your households] The family character of the worship is frequently emphasised by D and is very striking in view of his centralisation of Israel’s worship. Here again there is a contrast with P.
I. First Division of the Laws: on Worship and Religious Institutions—Deuteronomy 12:2 to Deuteronomy 16:17, Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7Some 16 laws occupying because of their subject the premier place in the Code.
2–28. The Law of the One Altar and its Corollary
As we have seen the law of One Sanctuary for Israel was, in the circumstances of that people in the 7th century, an inevitable consequence from the prophetic proclamation of One God for Israel. For the practice of worshipping Him at many shrines, sanctioned by Himself in the earlier period of Israel’s settlement, had, especially as many of the sites chosen were those of the Canaanite worship of local Ba‘alim, tended to break up the people’s belief in His Unity. He became to their minds many Jehovahs (see above on Deuteronomy 6:4); and at the same time their conceptions of Him were degraded by the confusion of His attributes with those of the deities to whose shrines He had succeeded. Therefore as the Unity of Jehovah and His ethical character are the burden of the Miṣwah or Charge introductory to the Code it is appropriate that the first of the laws should be that abolishing the custom of sacrifice at many sanctuaries and limiting His ritual to a single altar. Note, too, how this is immediately followed by a warning against the worship of other gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-31); and that the next laws (Deuteronomy 12:32 to Deuteronomy 13:18) deal with those who entice, or are enticed, to that worship. Nothing could more clearly show how urgently the concentration of the worship of Jehovah was required in the interest of faith in His Unity and in His spiritual nature. How thoroughly such a law contradicts the earlier legislation about altars, as well as the divinely sanctioned practice of sacrifice in Israel after the settlement; and how far it is incompatible with the corresponding laws in P, will appear in the notes.
The chapter has some obvious editorial insertions disturbing the connection (Deuteronomy 12:3; Deuteronomy 12:15-16; Deuteronomy 12:32); but there are besides repetitions of the central injunction of the law in the same or similar phraseology and introduced or followed by different reasons for it. A careful analysis shows that these are not due to the discursiveness of one writer, but are statements of the same law from different writers of the same religious school. This conclusion is confirmed by the prevalence in Deuteronomy 12:2-12 of the Pl. and in Deuteronomy 12:13-28 of the Sg. form of address. But even within Deuteronomy 12:2-12 there is a double statement of the central injunction; on the other hand in Deuteronomy 12:13-28 the repetitions are either clearly editorial insertions, or due to the necessity of repeating the central injunction of the law in a practical corollary permitting the non-sacrificial enjoyment of flesh to Israelites, too far from the One Altar to be able regularly to consecrate it there. Thus we may distinguish three statements or editions of the law, 1st Deuteronomy 12:2-7 Pl.; 2nd Deuteronomy 12:8-12 Pl.; 3rd Deuteronomy 12:13-19 Sg., with the practical corollary or supplement to the law, Deuteronomy 12:20-27, the whole enforced by a general exhortation in Deuteronomy 12:28. All three statements have much in common: defining the One Sanctuary as the place which Jehovah your (or thy) God shall choose to put His name there (1st and 3rd) or cause His name to dwell there (2nd); detailing the same list of sacrifices and offerings which are to be brought (1st and 2nd) or offered (3rd which has also take and go), but with some variations, for while all have burnt offerings, vows, tithes, contributions (A.V. and R.V. heave offerings), only the 1st and 3rd add sacrifices to burnt-offerings, the 2nd speaks of choice vows, the 3rd defines the tithes to be in kind, the 1st and 3rd add freewill offerings and firstlings and the 3rd speaks of holy things. The variations in the descriptions of how the feasts are to be enjoyed and who are to enjoy them are just such as might be made by different but sympathetic writers with the same aim. But all three give different prefaces to the law, the first two containing different reasons for it. As it is uncertain whether we have these three readings of the law complete, it is impossible to say which of them is the earlier. It is natural to suppose priority for the Sg. statement; but as they stand the 1st is the least developed. And it is only the 3rd or Sg. statement which has added to it the practical corollary of permission for the non-sacrificial enjoyment of flesh.
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:
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:
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.
Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.8–12. Second Statement of the Law of the Single Sanctuary
With a different preface from the first, contrasting Israel’s duty after settlement to concentrate on the one altar, not with the practice of the Canaanites, but with that of Israel itself in the time of the wanderings: for the rest substantially the same as the first statement, and like it in the Pl. address, with one doubtful transition to Sg.: see on Deuteronomy 12:9.
Deuteronomy 12:8. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day] That is in the time of Moses the speaker, and in Moab; but with reference (as the following vv. indicate) to the ritual practice of Israel during the whole forty years preceding their settlement. There may, however, be also here a reflection of the religious practice of the writer’s own time (Oettli).
every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes] So with regard to the multiplication of local shrines after the settlement in Canaan, Jdg 17:6, cp. Jdg 21:25.
But if Israel and even Moses—we!—worshipped, where every man thought good, what are we to make of P’s account of the institution of the Tabernacle at Sinai, and of its use during the rest of the forty years and of P’s rigorous and exact laws (e.g. Leviticus 17) concerning the ritual? Obviously P either did not exist when D’s law of the one altar was written, or was unknown to its author. Amos agrees with D. His challenge to Israel (Deuteronomy 5:25), did ye bring unto Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years? expects a negative answer in support of his polemic against all sacrifice. Jeremiah’s report of a word of God (Deuteronomy 7:22): I spake not unto your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices is also indicative of the non-existence of P in the 7th century; and though it continues to give expression to the essential contents of the deuteronomic covenant in deuteronomic language it is difficult to reconcile it with such a law as is now before us.
Deuteronomy 12:9. for ye are not as yet come to the rest, etc.] The present irregular form of Israel’s worship is excused by their unsettled, wandering condition. It was then inevitable, but if so what becomes of P’s central sanctuary in the wilderness and his rigorous laws for the ritual? To the rest, 1 Kings 8:56 (deuteronomic); there the erection of the Temple marks the close of Israel’s struggles for possession of the land: cp. Deuteronomy 5:10 b.
the inheritance which the Lord your God is about to give you] See on Deuteronomy 4:21. Heb. thy and thee. But probably your and you should be read with Sam. and some LXX codd. (most read our God giveth you). At the same time inheritance is elsewhere used with passages in the Sg. address: if the Sg. be retained here the clause must be a later insertion.
Deuteronomy 12:10. when ye go over Jordan] The usual phrase with the Pl., see on Deuteronomy 3:18, Deuteronomy 4:21; but Deuteronomy 9:1 is Sg.
causeth you to inherit] See on Deuteronomy 1:38.
giveth you rest, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 12:9.
Deuteronomy 12:11. See on Deuteronomy 12:5 f. where the expressions are the same or similar; only cause his name to dwell there for put his name there (Deuteronomy 12:5,); all I am about to command you (cp. Deuteronomy 12:14); firstlings and freewill offerings are omitted; and for vows there is choice vows, Heb. all the choice of your vows—ambiguous, and either only the choicest of the things you have vowed (cp. Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4) in which case the form of the law is a modification of the other, or the choice things, your vows. More probable is the former. Of the contrary opinion is Bertholet.
Deuteronomy 12:12. See on Deuteronomy 12:7 : eat found there is here omitted; and your households is defined as sons, daughters, bondmen and bondmaids, and the Levite within your gates. So Deuteronomy 12:18, Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14 (+ stranger, fatherless, widow, cp. Deuteronomy 14:29), Deuteronomy 5:14 (stranger instead of Levite), Deuteronomy 14:26 f. (household and Levite), Deuteronomy 26:11 (thou, Levite and stranger). Wives are not mentioned, for they are included in those to whom the law is addressed; a significant fact. The Levite within your gates (the only instance of the phrase with the Pl. address, see on Deuteronomy 12:17) is the family or local minister of the ritual, who is deprived of the means of subsistence by the disestablishment of the rural shrines, and hath no portion nor inheritance with you, no land of his own: see on Deuteronomy 10:9 and further under Deuteronomy 18:1-8.
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:
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:13–19. Third Statement of the Law of the One Sanctuary
In the Sg. address and with phrases characteristic of that form. In substance much the same as the two previous statements, the zebaḥim being curiously omitted from the list of offerings. Deuteronomy 12:15 f. are clearly a later insertion. We see from this statement how a law tended in the hands of the deuteronomists to grow both in content and form.
Deuteronomy 12:13. Take heed to thyself] See on Deuteronomy 6:12.
burnt offerings] ‘Olôth alone without zebaḥim. This may have been the original form of the law. Contrast Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11.
in every place that thou seest] Peculiar to this statement: i.e. every sacred place used as such by the Canaanites on the conspicuous positions described in Deuteronomy 12:2. Thou seest, cp. Ezekiel 20:28, when I had brought them into the land … then they saw (or looked out for) every high hill and every thick tree and offered there, etc.
Deuteronomy 12:14. See on Deuteronomy 12:5 : here in one of thy tribes instead of out of all thy tribes.
Deuteronomy 12:15-16. Notwithstanding … Only] Both = Heb. raḳ, used to introduce exceptions or qualifications to the laws, 10 times, and 10 more in the rest of the book (see on Deuteronomy 10:15). On the contents of these verses see Deuteronomy 12:20-25 which they anticipate, disturbing at the same time the list of offerings begun in Deuteronomy 12:13-14 and continued in Deuteronomy 12:17. The immediate connection of Deuteronomy 12:17 with Deuteronomy 12:14 is clear. On these grounds Deuteronomy 12:15-16 are generally taken as a later insertion. Note, too, the Pl. ye shall not eat in 16. The Pl. does not occur in the rest of this statement of the law and may well be due to the hand that has made this addition; as so many of these sporadic changes of address are found in editorial additions. The LXX confirms the Pl. here: the Sam. Sg. may be due to harmonising.
Deuteronomy 12:17. Direct continuation of Deuteronomy 12:13-14, completing the list of offerings to be brought to the one altar. On the contents see on Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11 : the phraseology is however, characteristic of the Sg. passages.
Thou mayest not] Heb., lit. thou shalt not be able: in the sense thou must or darest not only in Sg. passages: here, Deuteronomy 16:5, Deuteronomy 17:15, Deuteronomy 22:3, or with he, Deuteronomy 21:16; Deuteronomy 22:19; Deuteronomy 22:29; Deuteronomy 24:4.
within thy gates] Thy homestead or town of residence: used almost exclusively with Sg. (Deuteronomy 5:14, Deuteronomy 12:17 f., 21, Deuteronomy 14:21; Deuteronomy 14:27-29, Deuteronomy 15:22, Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14, Deuteronomy 17:8, Deuteronomy 24:14, Deuteronomy 26:12, Deuteronomy 31:12, cp. Deuteronomy 28:57). Only one Pl. passage has it, Deuteronomy 12:12.
Deuteronomy 12:18. See on Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:12.
Deuteronomy 12:19. Take heed, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 6:12.
thou forsake not the Levite, etc.] So Deuteronomy 14:27.
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:
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.20–28. Practical Corollary to the Law of the One Altar
Originally among the Semites as among some other races all slaughter of domestic animals was sacramental1: cp. the Heb. and Arab. word ‘for altar, lit. slaughter-place (see on Deuteronomy 12:3). But if this law was still to prevail when sacrifice was limited to one altar the flesh of these animals could only be enjoyed at it, and the lawful or ‘clean’ enjoyment of flesh became impossible to all who lived out of reach of the altar. Compare the analogy in Hosea 9:3 f. where it is said that when Israel are exiled and cease to dwell in Jehovah’s land, where alone sacrifice is legal for them, they must eat unclean food, and become polluted for their food has not first come into a house of Jehovah (cp. Amos 7:17). The confinement of sacrifice to one place therefore rendered it necessary to sanction non-ritual slaughter and eating of animals. This is done in the following verses but on two conditions, (1) that God shall have enlarged Israel’s territory, and (2) that the eaters do not live in the neighbourhood of the altar. On these conditions the eating of domestic animals shall be as that of game, in need of no ritual sanction (Deuteronomy 12:22). Only their blood must be poured on the ground (Deuteronomy 12:23-25). And all holy things, specially consecrated, must be brought to the one altar, and the ‘olôth and the blood of the zebaḥim put upon it (Deuteronomy 12:26 f.). The section closes with a general injunction of obedience (Deuteronomy 12:28).—There appears no reason to doubt the unity of this supplement to the law of the one sanctuary (apart from small, possibly editorial, insertions). It is throughout in the Sg. address, and logical in its arrangement. The return to the keynote of the law is natural. Note the religious advance which it involves. By separating the enjoyment of animal food from religious rites (as well as by directing the blood of the animals to be poured on the ground), the law cut off the ancient primitive superstitions of the physical kinship of a tribe and their god with their animals, and rendered less possible the animal idolatry which these engendered.
 For the argument that this practice was due to belief in the kinship of the tribe (and its god) with its animals and that in consequence these were too sacred to be slain except with solemn rites and in the presence and with the consent of the whole family, clan or tribe, who all partook of the flesh and set apart certain portions and the blood for their god, see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. Lects. viii., ix.
Deuteronomy 12:20. shall enlarge thy border] So Deuteronomy 19:8, also Exodus 34:24, probably editorial.
as he hath promised thee] Heb. has said. To regard this as an editorial addition, on the ground that it anticipates 21 b (Steuern., Berth.), is precarious. The spirit of such a promise is in several previous passages: e.g. Deuteronomy 1:21.
thy soul desireth] On the soul as seat of the appetite see Deuteronomy 14:26, Deuteronomy 24:15; Genesis 27:9; Proverbs 27:7. The frankness of this statement is noteworthy.
after all the (or every) desire of thy soul] The utmost freedom is granted. But the whole passage implies that flesh was eaten only seldom in early Israel, which is confirmed by Nathan’s parable and the Book of Ruth (W. R. Smith, OTJC2, 249 n.).
Deuteronomy 12:21. If] Rather, Because.
the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 12:5.
thou shalt kill] The same vb. as is used of sacrifice but here in a non-ritual sense.
as I have commanded thee] Can only refer to Deuteronomy 12:15 and if that, as we have seen probable, is a later insertion, this must be of the same character (Steuern., Bertholet).
within thy gates] See on Deuteronomy 12:17.
Deuteronomy 12:22. Even as the gazelle and as the hart is eaten] Gazelle. Heb. Ṣebî, and Ar. ẓaby or thobby (Doughty, Ar. Des. ii. 468) are both properly the gazella Dorcas, a horned animal about the size of a roebuck, but more graceful, numerous in Arabia and Syria; but as ẓaby was used as the more general term for ghazâl or gazelle (Lane), so ṣebî probably covered several species of gazelle and antelope. Hart, Heb. ’ayyal, from ’ul to precede, as leader of the herd, perhaps the fallow deer cervus dama; but Ar. ’iyyal is mountain-goat (Lane). The two names occurring together here, Deuteronomy 12:15, Deuteronomy 14:5, Deuteronomy 15:22, are not to be taken specifically, but generally of many kinds of gazelle, antelope and deer eaten by Israel and the Arabs, but not allowed for sacrifice (except in certain cases among the Arabs, Wellh. Reste d. Arab. Heid. 112). The reason was that wild animals taken in hunting were not akin to man, and therefore needed not to be eaten sacramentally. Hence the following clause—
unclean and clean shall eat thereof alike] Both adj., used also in physical and ethical sense, here mean ritually unclean and clean: the injunction is found elsewhere in D, Deuteronomy 12:15, Deuteronomy 15:22, and in P. Sam., LXX add among thee. Alike, Heb. together, the one as well as the other.
so thou shalt eat thereof] i.e. of domestic animals: out of reach of the sanctuary they may be slain and eaten without rites. What freedom the deuteronomic law thus effected, in contrast to petty and embarrassing scrupulousness engendered by the legislation of P and its elaboration in later Judaism, can be appreciated only by a study of the N.T. texts on the question of meats. Cp. Acts 10:15, what God hath cleansed make not thou common; 1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 11:20 ff.; Romans 14:20; 1 Timothy 4:4, and for the expression of a still higher principle Matthew 15:11.
Deuteronomy 12:23. Only] Heb. raḳ, see on Deuteronomy 10:15, and Deuteronomy 12:15-16.
be sure] Lit. be firm or strong: usually in D with another verb—be strong and courageous; see on Deuteronomy 1:38, Deuteronomy 3:28.
that thou eat not the blood] That there was at once a strong temptation to partake of the blood and from the earliest times a national conscience against doing so, is seen in 1 Samuel 14:32 ff., according to which the people flew upon the spoil—sheep, oxen and calves—and slew them on the ground, without altar or rites, and ate them with the blood.… So the people sin against Jehovah in that they eat with the blood, and he said, Ye have transgressed. For a similar conscience, and violation of it, among the Arabs, see Doughty, Ar. Des. ii. 238.
for the blood is the life] The identification of blood and life was a matter of ordinary observation; as the one ebbed so did the other. As life, the blood belonged to the Deity. Cp. P (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14), in which, however, the belief was strengthened by the stress that P lays on the expiatory value of sacrifice. Other Semitic peoples shared the same belief. ‘In all Arabian sacrifices, except the holocaust … the godward side of the ritual is summed up in the shedding of the victim’s blood, so that it flows over the sacred symbol, or gathers in a pit (ghabghab) at the foot of the altar idol.… What enters the pit is held to be conveyed to the deity’ (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 321). The same authority points out that the practice existed also in some Syrian sanctuaries. That it was still older than the Semites is proved by Mr R. A. S. Macalister’s discovery of the neolithic sanctuary at Gezer. Note, however, that D (unlike P) sets no atoning value on the shedding of the blood or life, nor any ritual significance on the slaughter of animals apart from the one altar, but simply states—
Deuteronomy 12:24. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it out upon the earth as water] It shall have no other significance than that!
Deuteronomy 12:26-27. The return to the fact that solemn sacrifices shall nevertheless be made at the one altar is natural. On holy things cp. Numbers 5:9 f., Deuteronomy 18:19. On burnt offerings which, of course, included the blood, and on sacrifices see on Deuteronomy 12:6. Of both the blood had a religious significance.
Deuteronomy 12:28. A closing injunction to keep the whole law of the One Sanctuary.
Observe and hear] See on Deuteronomy 6:3, Deuteronomy 7:12.
that it may go well with thee] Deuteronomy 4:40.
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.
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.
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;29–31. Transition to the Laws in 13 (and those in Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7)
When settled in W. Palestine Israel shall not inquire into the manner of the worship of the local deities, and so be enticed to imitate it in the worship of their own God, for the Canaanites in their worship practise every abomination to Jehovah: they even burn their children to the gods.—Here we meet one of the greater difficulties raised by the order of the laws in the code. For unless this short passage be merely one of the many exhortations, which, like a chorus, break in upon both the narratives and the laws of D, it is meant as an introduction to the laws against seducers to idolatry, which follow in ch. 13. Yet, as such, it is abrupt and incomplete; Deuteronomy 12:31 warns against every abomination to Jehovah, and then, instead of a list of those abominations, gives only one. Now others are given in Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7; and that passage is clearly out of place where it stands, between laws relating to judicial authorities and procedure. The suggestion has therefore been made (first by Dillmann, cp. Driver on Deuteronomy 16:21 and Bertholet on Deuteronomy 12:29 and Marti in Kautzsch’s Heil. Schrift des A.T.) that Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7 originally stood between Deuteronomy 12:29-31 and Deuteronomy 13:2 ff. There is much in favour of this suggestion; Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7 naturally continues Deuteronomy 12:29-31 and has phrases in common with this (which thy God hateth and abomination), while its second part commanding the punishment of idolatrous Israelites as naturally leads up to the three laws in Deuteronomy 13:2 ff. (Deuteronomy 13:1 ff.). On the relation to Deuteronomy 12:29-31 of Deuteronomy 18:9-12, also on the sacrifice of children, see on the latter passage. A further difficulty is Deuteronomy 12:32 (Deuteronomy 13:1), see the note on it.
Deuteronomy 12:29. When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations] So Deuteronomy 19:1 (cp. deuter. Joshua 23:4 f.); beyond this the verses differ.
whither thou goest in to dispossess them] Characteristic of the Sg. passages, cp. Deuteronomy 9:5; Deuteronomy 19:1 has whose land the Lord thy God is about to give thee.
and thou shalt have dispossessed them] So Deuteronomy 19:1 : R.V. succeedest them.
and dwellest in their land] Deuteronomy 19:1, their cities.
Deuteronomy 12:30. take heed to thyself] See Deuteronomy 6:12.
ensnared to follow them] snared away after them; cp. Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 7:25.
inquire not after] See on seek, Deuteronomy 12:5.
How do these nations, serve, etc.] Rather How used these nations to worship.
so will I do, I also or in my turn] The lighter form of the pronoun, ’anî, used in the Song 32 and throughout P, is found in D (which elsewhere uses the heavier form ’ânôki) only here and Deuteronomy 29:5; and is to he explained by the common O.T. usage of preferring ’anî when the pronoun is employed in emphasis as here.
The whole verse is true to the religious situation in which Israel found themselves after settlement in Canaan. They came under the belief, prevalent in antiquity, that not only must the gods of a land be propitiated by its invaders, but that worship must be offered only after the local mishpat or ritual (1 Samuel 26:19; 2 Kings 17:25 ff.). So they inquired what that mishpat was and conformed to it the worship of their own God, with the result of confusing Him with the gods of the land.
for even their sons and their daughters do they burn] or used to burn. That the Semites (as well as other ancient races) sacrificed children has been amply proved. Mesha of Moab, hard pressed by Israel, slew his first-born to Kemosh (2 Kings 3:27) just as we know, through the Greeks (Diod. Sic. xx. 14, Porph. apud Euseb. Praep. Evang. iv. (64, 4), was the practice of Phoenicians and Carthaginians in times of national danger or disaster. On human sacrifices among them, the Syrians, and ancient Arabs see notes to pp. 346 ff. of W. R. Smith’s Rel. Sem. For the Canaanites the evidence of the sacrifice of children by slaughter and burning is conclusive, both from the O.T. texts, and recent discoveries:—
At Gezer round the feet of the maṣṣeboth (see on Deuteronomy 16:22) and ‘over the whole area of the High Place the earth was discovered to be a regular cemetery in which the skeletons of young infants were buried. These infants were never more than a week old. Two at least showed marks of fire.’ They were buried in jars, each with a lamp and a bowl, as if symbols of fire and blood (R. A. S. Macalister, PEFQ, 1903, Bible Side Lights etc., 73 f.). At Ta‘anak Sellin found jars with the remains of 20 infants, some up to 5 years of age close to a rock altar (Tell Ta‘annek, 35 ff.). At Megiddo (Tell el-Mutesellim) under the corner of a temple four jars with remains of infants were dug up from a stratum probably of the late Israelite period. Others have been found under the walls of houses, but whether these were of still-born infants or of such as died naturally is not known; in Egypt, as the present writer has been informed by the American missionaries, the still-born children of Copts are buried in the house (whether with the hope that they may be re-born into it?). See further Frazer, Adonis, Attis etc. 78. But there can be no doubt of the fate of those found in the sanctuaries; the marks of fire on some and the presence of lamps and bowls prove slaughter and sacrifice by fire. So too the vb. burn used here and in Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5, as well as the story of Abraham and Isaac, indicates a full sacrifice, slaughter and at least partial consumption by fire on an altar. On this Ezekiel 16:21 (cp. Ezekiel 23:39) is explicit: thou hast slain my children and didst deliver them up in causing them to pass through (sc. the fire) to them. The fire was the means of their conveyance to the deity. Therefore the expression to make son or daughter pass through the fire (Deuteronomy 18:10) cannot he explained as merely a consecration or ordeal by fire. The data do not enable us to determine whether at any time the practice of devoting the firstborn was binding and universal among the Canaanites, or was confined to periods of calamity. That even among the Canaanites there was a revolt from it is proved by Mr Macalister’s discovery (op. cit. 170 f., PEFQ, 1903, 8 f.), in some strata of the pre-Israelite period, of lamps and bowls buried with the jars instead of children and as if in substitution for these.
The practice by Israel of sacrificing children after the same fashion and from the same motives is proved by the narratives and laws of the Old Testament as well as by the prophets:—
The story, which is found in E, Genesis 22, that the divine word bade Abraham sacrifice Isaac and then revealed a substitute in the ram, is evidence that at one time among the Hebrews the belief had prevailed in the duty of fathers to slay their children, if required, us proof of their fidelity to their God, but that by His mercy a substitute was allowed. This is confirmed by the form of the law in J, Exodus 13:12. Though this sanctions the redemption of the firstborn son by an animal, the way in which it opens—thou shalt cause to pass over unto Jehovah all that openeth the womb and every firstling which thou hast that Cometh of a beast—indicates that the original principle, on which Israel acted, was that the firstborn of men, equally with those of animals, were due to the deity by sacrifice. In Judah in the 7th century the popular belief was that Jehovah Himself had given a law obliging the burning of children, for Jeremiah (or a deuteronomic writer whose words have been here placed among his prophecies) emphatically denies the existence of such a law: which I commanded not, neither came it into my mind (Jeremiah 7:31, Jeremiah 19:5). On the other hand Ezekiel supports the opinion that Israel’s God had given such a law and explains that this was in order to punish the second generation in the wilderness. 20:25: moreover I gave them also statutes not good and judgements whereby they should not live, and I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through (sc. the fire) all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate (see A. B. Davidson’s note on this passage in Ezekiel in this series).
There was therefore a memory in Israel that the fathers of the race had shared the general Semitic conscience that the sacrifice of children was sanctioned or even expressly commanded by God, but that from an early time He had permitted the substitution of an animal, which permission, J tells us, was expressly dictated by Moses at the Exodus. In the early centuries after the settlement there are no instances of child-sacrifice in Israel except in the story of Jephthah (and more doubtfully in that of Hiel, the re-builder of Jericho). And the cases which recur later are all explicable by the bad influence of the neighbouring heathen, and the panic produced by national disaster, either actual or threatened. So in the case of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:4), the historical character of which there is no reason to doubt (see as against Moore, E.B. art. ‘Molech’ the present writer’s Jerusalem, ii. 127, 264); and so with the recrudescence of the practice in the 7th century under Manasseh, and the use of the horrible Topheth or Tephath in the valley of Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; ‘Mi.’ Deuteronomy 6:6 f.; Ezekiel 16:21; Ezekiel 20:18 ff; Ezekiel 23:39). The present Hebrew text of Jer. says that these sacrifices were offered to ‘Molech,’ but ‘there are grounds for believing that this was a divine title, Melek or King, rather than a name; and that the awful despot who demanded such a propitiation was regarded by the Jews as none other than their own God’ (Jerusalem, ii. 264). This is clear, as we have seen above, from the passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. And the reason is plain why D, a work of the 7th century, should alone of all Israel’s law-books be ardent, equally with the great prophets of the time, in repudiating child-sacrifice.
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.
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.32. (Deuteronomy 13:1 in Heb.) is remarkable here; and would seem more in place at the beginning of the section before 29. The text is not certain; LXX A harmonises to Sg. throughout, but other versions confirm the Heb., though variously (LXX B you and the rest Sg., but Sam. thee and the rest Pl.), in a change of address. This and the use of common formulas mark the verse as editorial. It may have been thought necessary, after the removal from here of Deuteronomy 16:21 to Deuteronomy 17:7 (see above), as an introduction to Deuteronomy 13:1 ff. (Deuteronomy 13:2 ff. in Heb.).
command you] Sam., LXX add to-day.
observe to do] See on Deuteronomy 5:1.
thou shall not add, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 4:2.