But to the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even to his habitation shall you seek, and thither you shall come:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes.—The very form of the order proves its antiquity. No one who was acquainted with the removal of that “place” from Shiloh to Nob, from Nob to Gibeon, from Gibeon to Jerusalem, could have written with such utter unconsciousness of later history as these words imply. It is noticeable that in the reading of this precept in the times of our Lord, the Jews seem to have arrived at the came state of unconsciousness. They could not conseive of the presence or worship of Jehovah anywhere but at Jerusalem. (See on this topic St. Stephen’s speech in Acts 7, and the incidental proofs it contains of God’s presence with Israel in many places, in reply to the accusation made against Stephen of preaching the destruction of the one idolized seat of worship at Jerusalem.)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.
The purpose of the command of the text is to secure the unity, and through unity the purity of the worship of God. That there should be one national center for the religion of the people was obviously essential to the great ends of the whole dispensation. Corruption began as soon as the precepts of the text were relaxed or neglected: Compare the case of Gideon, Judges 8:27; of Micah, Judges 18; of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:26 ff.
The words "the place which the Lord shall choose to put His Name there" suggest Jerusalem and Solomon's temple to our minds. But though spoken as they were by a prophet, and interpreted as they are by the Psalms (e. g. Psalm 78:67-69), they have a proper application to the temple, yet they must not be referred exclusively to it. The text does not import that God would always from the first choose one and the same locality "to put His Name there," but that there would always be a locality so chosen by Him; and that there the people must bring their sacrifices, and not offer them at their pleasure or convenience elsewhere. Neither does the text forbid the offering of sacrifices to God at other places than the one chosen by Him "to put His Name there" on proper occasions and by proper authority (compare Deuteronomy 27:5-6; Judges 6:24; Judges 13:16; 1 Kings 3:4; 1 Kings 18:31). The text simply prohibits sacrifices at any other locality than that which should be appointed or permitted by God for the purpose.To put his name there, i.e. to set up hiss worship there, or which he shall call by his name, as his house, or dwelling-place, &c., to wit, where the ark should be, the tabernacle, or temple; which was first Shiloh, Joshua 18:1, next and especially Jerusalem.
shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there; to place his tabernacle, set up his worship, take up his residence, and cause the Shechinah, or his divine Majesty, to dwell there, as the next clause explains it; out of what tribe it should be chosen, and where it should be, is not said. Maimomides (b) gives three reasons for it; he says there are three great mysteries why the place is not clearly, but obscurely mentioned;1) lest the Gentiles should seize upon it, and make war for the sake of it, supposing this place to be the end of the law; 2) lest they in whose hands the place then was should by all means waste and destroy it; 3) which is the chief, lest every tribe should desire to have it in its own lot and jurisdiction; and so strifes might arise among them on account of it, as happened to the priesthood:
even unto his habitation shall ye seek; the temple at Jerusalem is meant, where the Lord took up his dwelling, and whither men were to come and seek unto him by prayer and supplication for whatsoever they needed, and to inquire of him in matters doubtful, and they wanted counsel in:
and thither thou shall come: with sacrifices of every sort, where they were to be slain and offered to the Lord, and become acceptable to him, as is more largely declared in the following part of this chapter.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:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Deuteronomy 11:31-32 contain the reason for these instructions, founded upon the assurance that the Israelites were going over the Jordan and would take possession of the promised land, and should therefore take care to keep the commandments of the Lord (cf. Deuteronomy 4:5-6).
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