Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
These. Having inculcated the general precepts, and the obligation of loving God above all things, Moses now descends to particular duties. (Calmet)
Tree. See Genesis xxi. 33. All the monuments of idolatry must be destroyed. The very names of the idols must be abhorred and obliterated, (Exodus xxiii. 13,) to shew that they have lost possession of the country. So, (ver. 5,) to put his name there, means to take possession of a place.
Statues. The most ancient idols were not finely carved, but only rough stones. The Phrygian goddess, sent to Rome by Attalus, was a small dark-coloured stone of this nature. (Arnob., contra Gentes. 8.) --- The Venus of the Arabs was but a stone in the form of a pyramid. (Calmet)
It, where the ark was to be kept. (Haydock) --- Before the building of the temple, it was removed from one tribe or place to another. Jerusalem was thenceforward styled the city of the great king, Psalm xlvii. 1, 9.
Hands, which you have procured by your industry, (Menochius) or what you are able to present to the Lord, Leviticus v. 11.
You. In gratitude, you shall therefore offer your victims. (Haydock) --- The Jews were accustomed to make a feast thrice a year in the holy city. They might also eat some parts of the peace-offerings. (Menochius)
Himself. Some confine this to the sacrifices, which each person might offer, where he thought proper, till the ark was fixed at Silo. But many other parts of the ceremonial law, seem not to have been in force till the Hebrews crossed the Jordan, Amos v. 25. Circumcision was omitted, as well as most of the festivals. Several laws were, however, designed for the people during their sojournment, such as those which regard the order of judgment, the cleanness of the camp, the purification of women, and of those who had touched a dead body, &c., Exodus xviii. 25., Numbers v. 2., and Leviticus xv. 31. It was not left to their option to observe or to neglect the sabbath, (Numbers xv. 32,) the loaves of proposition, or the perpetual fire, &c., Numbers iv. 7, 13. (Calmet)
Therein. While you are performing your duty to God, you need not fear the incursions of your enemies; or, according to the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Chaldean, "There shall be a place which....Thither," &c. (Menochius) --- Hands. Aquila, &c., have, "your voluntary oblations." --- Gifts. Hebrew, "your choice-vows." (Calmet)
You. The Levite hath no portion of the land like the rest. He and all people in distress shall be invited to these feasts, chap. xvi. 11. (Menochius)
See. On the high places, &c., as the heathens did, (ver. 2,) or in any other place but that which God appointed.
But. Hebrew, "Yet thou mayst kill and eat the flesh which thy soul desireth in all thy gates, with which the Lord thy God hath blessed thee, the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roe buck," &c. (Haydock) --- The Vulgate translates ver. 22 in this sense, intimating that these meats did not contract any such peculiar sanctity, as to exclude those who were unclean, ver. 20., and Leviticus xvii. 3. Fagius pretends, that only the clean were allowed as yet to eat of such meats, though the unclean might eat in the promised land what was lawful, without bringing the beast to be slain before the tabernacle. But this opinion seems to have no solid foundation. Unclean beasts could never be eaten. (Calmet) --- But those which had any defect, were excluded from being sacrificed, Leviticus xxii. 22. (Menochius)
Water, without any ceremony. It was afterwards to be covered, Leviticus xvii. 13.
Tithes. These were of an extraordinary nature, destined for feasts, chap. xiv. 22., and Leviticus xxvii. 30. The usual tithes belonged entirely to the Levitical tribe. (Calmet) --- First-born, or the most excellent, ver. 11., and Exodus xii. 11, 12. The first-born, if it proved to be without defect, and a male, was given to the priests, Numbers xviii. 15. --- Voluntarily. If the thing was vowed to the Lord without restriction, it fell to the share of the priests alone: but if the person specified that he intended it for a peace-offering, &c., the priest could only claim what was allotted to him by the law. (Calmet) --- Hands. The fruits of trees, in the fourth year, may be insinuated. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] iv. 8.) (Menochius)
Hand, in all thy undertakings and labours, (Haydock) and in all thy goods. (Menochius)
Far off. Hence many conclude, that those who lived near the tabernacle, were bound to bring the animals which they designed for their own use, to be slain there, as they did in the desert. Others suppose that all were under the same predicament, and are hereby authorized to follow the same regulations, and to eat the flesh, whether they be clean or otherwise, provided they abstain from the blood. See Leviticus xvii. 3. (Calmet) --- The custom of bringing the beasts to be slain before the door of the tabernacle, was to be no longer obligatory. (Menochius)
Alike. This must be understood of those who had contracted only a smaller stain, which did not communicate the uncleanness to others, but debarred people from approaching to sacred things. (Calmet) --- Those who had touched the dead, &c., were not allowed to eat with people, who were not under any such legal uncleanness. (Menochius)
Soul. See Genesis ix. 4. Blood maintains the life of animals, and it would seem cruel to begin to eat them before they were perfectly dead. But the obligation of this positive law has long ago ceased, as it was intended chiefly for the Jews.
Oblations. Hebrew, "holocausts....and the blood of the sacrifices," of peace. Parts of the latter were eaten by the offerer, but the former victims were entirely burnt. (Haydock)
Imitate. Hebrew, "be ensnared by imitation them." The example of the wicked, is one of the most dangerous snares which the devil can place in our way. Notwithstanding these repeated admonitions of God, we see how prone the Hebrews were to adopt the superstitious customs of these nations, whose destruction ought surely to have warned them to keep at a distance. (Haydock)
Fire. See Leviticus xviii. 21.
That only do thou, &c. They are forbid here to follow the ceremonies of the heathens, or to make any alterations in the divine ordinances. (Challoner) --- To adopt fresh regulations, in the same spirit, was not forbidden. Thus David ordered those who had kept the baggage, to share equally with the soldiers who had gone into battle; (1 Kings xxx.) and our Saviour approved, by his presence, the feast of the dedication of the temple, instituted long after Moses, 1 Machabees iv., and John x. (Worthington) --- He perfected the law by the precepts of the gospel, Matthew v. 17. Jospehus (contra Apion ii.) says, "During so many years, no one has dared to retrench any thing from, (the sacred books) or to make any addition to them. We look upon them as of divine authority,....and we would lay down our lives, if necessary, to defend them. (Calmet) Among us, who believe that the law was first given by the will of God, noting is pious but the exact observance of it. For who can introduce any change, or invent any thing better?" (Chap. iv. 2.) Christ is full of grace and truth, John i. He has fulfilled the law and the prophets. (Haydock) St. Augustine, contra Faustus xvii. 2, and xix. 9.---"Grace," says he, "pertains to the fulness of charity, truth to the completion of the prophecies." (Du Hamel)