Deuteronomy 12:17
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:
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(17) The tithe.—This is understood by Jewish commentators of what is called “the second tithe.” The disposal of it is more particularly specified in Deuteronomy 14:22-29. (See also on Deuteronomy 26:12, &c.)

Deuteronomy 12:17. Within thy gates — That is, in your private habitations, here opposed to the place of God’s worship.

12:5-32 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, Mal 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, Joh 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.While a stringent injunction is laid down that the old rule (compare Leviticus 17:3, etc.) must be adhered to as regards animals slain in sacrifice, yet permission is now given to slaughter at home what was necessary for the table. The ceremonial distinctions did not apply in such cases, anymore than to "the roebuck" (or gazelle) "and hart," animals allowed for food but not for sacrifice. De 12:16-25. Blood Prohibited.

16. ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water—The prohibition against eating or drinking blood as an unnatural custom accompanied the announcement of the divine grant of animal flesh for food (Ge 9:4), and the prohibition was repeatedly renewed by Moses with reference to the great objects of the law (Le 17:12), the prevention of idolatry, and the consecration of the sacrificial blood to God. In regard, however, to the blood of animals slain for food, it might be shed without ceremony and poured on the ground as a common thing like water—only for the sake of decency, as well as for preventing all risk of idolatry, it was to be covered over with earth (Le 17:13), in opposition to the practice of heathen sportsmen, who left it exposed as an offering to the god of the chase.

Thou; either,

1. Thou, O Levite; or rather,

2. Thou, O Israelite, whom he distinguisheth from the Levite, Deu 12:18, accordingly as the following particulars agree to the one or to the other of you. Within thy gates, i.e. in your private habitations, here opposed to the place of God’s worship, Deu 12:18.

The tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil. Here seems to be a great difficulty, not yet sufficiently observed nor cleared by interpreters. There were divers kinds of tithes:

1. The tithes given to the Levites out of all, of which Numbers 18:21,24 Deu 14:22 Nehemiah 10:31.

2. The tithe of those tithes, which were to be given by the Levites to the priests, of which Numbers 18:21,24 Deu 14:29 Nehemiah 10:37.

3. The third year’s tithe, of which Deu 14:28. To which some add another tithe, which they call the second tithe, which they say was taken after the Levites’ tithe was laid by. Now each of these hath its difficulty. It seems this place cannot be understood,

1. Of the Levites’ tithe; partly, because it might seem a great and wholly superfluous trouble to carry all their tithes up to Jerusalem, and to carry them back to their several habitations for their use; partly, because those were holy to the Lord, Leviticus 27:30, and not to be eaten by the people, Leviticus 27:31; whereas these belonged principally to the people, the Levites being only taken in as accessories to eat with them, as it is here, Deu 12:18; and partly, because those might be eaten in every place, as it is expressly affirmed, Numbers 18:31 Nor,

2. Of the tithe of the tithe, which was the priest’s; and neither Levites nor others might eat of it, except they were of or in the priest’s household. Nor,

3. Of the third year’s tithe, because that was to be eaten within their gates, Deu 14:28,29, as this was not.

I do therefore humbly conceive that this is meant of the second tithe, spoken of Deu 14:22; and that this was the very same tithe with that third year’s tithe, with this only difference, that in the third year they were to eat them together with the Levites within their gates, Deu 14:28,29, but in the two first years they were to eat them, together with the Levites also, in the place of God’s worship, as it is prescribed here and Deu 14:23. And that it is one land the same tithe which is spoken of Deu 14:22, and Deu 12:28, seems more than probable, both because they are called by the same name, all the tithe of their increase, and because that Deu 12:28 manifestly looks back to that Deu 12:22, and because otherwise every third year the Israelites were to pay three several tithes one after another, which Scripture no where affirms, and it seems to make the people’s burdens and the Levites’ provisions too great. For the objection taken from Deu 26:12,13, it shall be considered in its place. And the reason of that difference of place, and why the same tithes were eaten for two years together in Jerusalem, and the third in their own gates, seems to be this, that in the two first years there was a more special regard had to the Levites, who were very much conversant in Jerusalem, where those tithes were then eaten, and in the third year there is a respect had to the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are mentioned as joint sharers with the Levites in this third year’s tithe, whose occasions and obligations of coming to Jerusalem were not so many nor strong as those of the Levites, and therefore they were to be found generally within their gates, where these were to be eaten. And whereas the objection made before against the chargeable and useless carrying of the first tithes to Jerusalem might be applied here, it is answered there, and it is provided, that when they lived at a great distance from Jerusalem they might turn it into money and bestow it there, Deu 14-26, which both confirms the objection as to the first tithe, for which no such provision was made, and answers it as to this, where such a remedy is expressed. And whereas it may be pleaded on the behalf of the first, or the Levitical tithe, that those tithes were brought to Jerusalem, and that there were store-houses or chambers in the temple appointed for the receiving of the tithes, 2 Chronicles 31:5,6,11,12 Ne 10:37,38 12:44, it may be answered, that those chambers, being only thirty-eight in number, and each of them, except two, but six cubits broad and twelve cubits long, were altogether incapable of all those tithes, and seem principally, if not solely, appointed for the priests’ tithes, and not for all them neither, but only for so much of them as would serve for the use and necessity of those priests and Levites too that were in the actual ministration.

The firstlings of thy herds, or of thy flock. As the tithes now mentioned were not the Levitical, but second tithes, as hath been discoursed; so these firstlings do not seem to be the first firstlings, which being appropriated to the Levites were not to be eaten by any of the people, except those of or in the Levites’ families, but the second firstlings, which were the first which the owner could dispose of, and which, in conformity to the second tithes, he is required to set apart for this use.

Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil,.... This cannot be understood of the tithe given to the Levites, or of that which the Levites out of theirs gave to the priests, for that was only eaten by them; but of the tithe which every three years they were to lay up within their gates, and which they were to eat with their families and others; but the other two years they were to carry it to the place the Lord chose, or turn it into money, and when they came thither purchase with it what they pleased, and eat it, they and their household, and others with them, before the Lord; see Deuteronomy 14:22,

the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flocks; these also the firstborn males belonged to the Lord, and so to the priests, and could not be eaten by the people any where; and must be understood either of the next firstlings, which were the people's, or of the female firstlings, which they might devote to the Lord, and so not allowed to eat at home, but in the chosen place:

nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings; which were species of peace offerings, and so to be eaten not in their own cities, but in the place appointed:

or heave offerings of thine hand; the firstfruits; see Deuteronomy 26:1 these were such they were not bound to bring, but brought them freely.

Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the {l} 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:

(l) Meaning, whatever was offered to the Lord, may not be eaten, except where he had appointed.

Verses 17-19. - (Cf. vers. 6, 7, 12.) Thou mayest not eat; literally, thou art not able to eat; i.e. there is a legal inability to this. So the verb to be able (יָכֹל) is frequently used (cf. Genesis 43; Numbers 9:6; Deuteronomy 16:5; Deuteronomy 17:15, etc.). Deuteronomy 12:17Sacrificial meals could only be held at the sanctuary; and the Levite was not to be forgotten or neglected in connection with them (see at Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:7, and Deuteronomy 12:12). תוּכל לא, "thou must not," as in Deuteronomy 7:22.
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