But you must eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God shall choose, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite that is within your gates: and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you put your hands to.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Levite that is within thy gates.—The distribution of the Levites throughout the several tribes (ordered in Numbers 35:1-8), and carried out by Joshua (Deuteronomy 21), is here anticipated. The Levites had this provision in Israel until Jeroboam and his sons cast them off, when they migrated to the kingdom of Judah (2Chronicles 11:13-14).
THE EATING OF THE PEACE-OFFERING
There were three bloody sacrifices, the sin-offering, the burnt-offering, and the peace-offering. In all three expiation was the first idea, but in the second of them the act of burning symbolised a further thought, namely, that of offering to God, while in the third, the peace-offering, there was added to both of these the still further thought of the offerer’s participation with God, as symbolised by the eating of the sacrifice. So we have great verities of the most spiritual religion adumbrated in this external rite. The rind is hard and forbidding, the kernel is juicy and sweet.
I. Communion with God based on atonement.
II. Feeding on Christ.
What was sacrifice becomes food. The same Person and facts, apprehended by faith, are, in regard to their bearing on the divine government, the ground of pardon, and in regard to their operation within us, the source of spiritual sustenance. Christ for us is our pardon; Christ in us is our life.
III. The restoration to the offerer of all which he lays on God’s altar.
The sacrifice was transformed and elevated into a sacrament. By being offered the sacrifice was ennobled. The offerer did not lose what he laid on the altar, but it came back to him, far more precious than before. It was no longer mere food for the body, and to eat it became not an ordinary meal, but a sacrament and means of union with God. It was a hundredfold more the offerer’s even in this life. All its savour was more savoury, all its nutritive qualities were more nutritious. It had suffered a fiery change, and was turned into something more rich and rare.
That is blessedly true as to all which we lay on God’s altar. It is far more ours than it ever was or could be, while we kept it for ourselves, and our enjoyment of, and nourishment from, our good things, when offered as sacrifices, are greater than when we eat our morsel alone. If we make earthly joys and possessions the materials of our sacrifice, they will not only become more joyful and richer, but they will become means of closer union with Him, instead of parting us from Him, as they do when used in selfish disregard of Him.
Nor must we forget the wonderful thought, also mirrored in this piece of ancient ritual, that God delights in men’s sacrifices and surrenders and services. ‘If I were hungry, I would not tell thee,’ said the Psalmist in God’s name in regard to outward sacrifices; ‘Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?’ But he does ‘eat’ the better sacrifices that loving hearts or obedient wills lay on His altar. He seeks for these, and delights when they are offered to Him. ‘He hungered, and seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He came to it.’ He still hungers for the fruit that we can yield to Him, and if we will, He will enter in and sup with us, not disdaining to sit at the poor table which we can spread for Him, nor to partake of the humble fare which we can lay upon it, but mending the banquet by what He brings for our nourishment, and hallowing the hour by His presence.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.
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, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates; who were all to come with him to this place; See Gill on Deuteronomy 12:12.
and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hand unto; cheerfully make and keep this feast in the manner directed to, rejoicing with his family and his friends, with the Levites and with the poor, expressing his thankfulness to God for his blessing on his labour.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Leviticus 22:21, and Numbers 15:3, Numbers 15:8) distinctly shows. - "Rejoicing before the Lord," which is the phrase applied in Leviticus 23:40 to the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles, was to be the distinctive feature of all the sacrificial meals held by the people at the sanctuary, as is repeatedly affirmed (Deuteronomy 14:26; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 26:11; Deuteronomy 27:7). This holy joy in the participation of the blessing bestowed by the Lord was to be shared not only by sons and daughters, but also by salve (men-servants and maid-servants), that they too might taste the friendliness of their God, and also by "the Levite that is in your gates" (i.e., your towns and hamlets; see at Exodus 20:10). This frequently recurring description of the Levites (cf. Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 16:14; Deuteronomy 18:6; Deuteronomy 26:12) does not assume that they were homeless, which would be at variance with the allotment of towns for them to dwell in (Numbers 35); but simply implies what is frequently added in explanation, that the Levites had "no part nor inheritance," no share of the land as their hereditary property, and in this respect resembled strangers (Deuteronomy 14:21, Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 16:11, etc.).
(Note: The explanation given by De Wette, and adopted by Riehm, of the expression, "the Levite that is within thy gates," is perfectly arbitrary and unfounded: viz., that "the Levites did not live any longer in the towns assigned them by the earlier laws, but were scattered about in the different towns of the other tribes.")
And the repeated injunction to invite the Levites to the sacrificial meals is not at variance with Numbers 18:21, where the tithes are assigned to the tribe of Levi for their maintenance. For however ample this revenue may have been according to the law, it was so entirely dependent, upon the honesty and conscientiousness of the people, that the Levites might very easily be brought into a straitened condition, if indifference towards the Lord and His servants should prevail throughout the nation. - In Deuteronomy 12:13, Deuteronomy 12:14, Moses concludes by once more summing up these instructions in the admonition to beware of offering sacrifices in every place that they might choose, the burnt-offering, as the leading sacrifice, being mentioned instar omnium.
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