Deuteronomy 12:5
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:
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(5) 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.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."To put his name there" means to manifest to men His divine presence. The Targumists rightly refer to the Shechinah; but the expression comprehends all the various modes in which God vouchsafed to reveal Himself and His attributes to men.

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.

5. unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose … to put his name there … thou shalt come—They were forbidden to worship either in the impure superstitious manner of the heathen, or in any of the places frequented by them. A particular place for the general rendezvous of all the tribes would be chosen by God Himself; and the choice of one common place for the solemn rites of religion was an act of divine wisdom, for the security of the true religion. It was admirably calculated to prevent the corruption which would otherwise have crept in from their frequenting groves and high hills—to preserve uniformity of worship and keep alive their faith in Him to whom all their sacrifices pointed. The place was successively Mizpeh, Shiloh, and especially Jerusalem. But in all the references made to it by Moses, the name is never mentioned. This studied silence was maintained partly lest the Canaanites within whose territories it lay might have concentrated their forces to frustrate all hopes of obtaining it; partly lest the desire of possessing a place of such importance might have become a cause of strife or rivalry amongst the Hebrew tribes, as about the appointment to the priesthood (Nu 16:1-30). 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. But unto the place which the Lord your God,.... The Targum of Jonathan is, that the Word of the Lord your God:

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.

(b) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 45. p. 475.

But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

Deuteronomy 12:4
Top of Page
Top of Page