Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.The Israelites were not only to suffer no idolatry to rise up in their midst, but in all their walk of life to show themselves as a holy nation of the Lord; and neither to disfigure their bodies by passionate expressions of sorrow for the dead (Deuteronomy 14:1 and Deuteronomy 14:2), nor to defile themselves by unclean food (vv. 3-21). Both of these were opposed to their calling. To bring this to their mind, Moses introduces the laws which follow with the words, "ye are children to the Lord your God." The divine sonship of Israel was founded upon its election and calling as the holy nation of Jehovah, which is regarded in the Old Testament not as generation by the Spirit of God, but simply as an adoption springing out of the free love of God, as the manifestation of paternal love on the part of Jehovah to Israel, which binds the son to obedience, reverence, and childlike trust towards a Creator and Father, who would train it up into a holy people. The laws in Deuteronomy 14:1 are simply a repetition of Leviticus 19:28 and Leviticus 21:5. למת, with reference to, or on account of, a dead person, is more expressive than לנפשׁ (for a soul) in Leviticus 19:28. The reason assigned for this command in Deuteronomy 14:2 (as in Deuteronomy 7:6) is simply an emphatic elucidation of the first clause of Deuteronomy 14:1. (On the substance of the verse, see Exodus 19:5-6).
For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.With reference to food, the Israelites were to eat nothing whatever that was abominable. In explanation of this prohibition, the laws of Leviticus 11 relating to clean and unclean animals are repeated in all essential points in vv. 4-20 (for the exposition, see at Leviticus 11); also in Deuteronomy 14:21 the prohibition against eating any animal that had fallen down dead (as in Exodus 32:30 and Leviticus 17:15), and against boiling a kid in its mother's milk (as in Exodus 23:19).
These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,
The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.
And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.
And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.
Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
And every raven after his kind,
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.
But of all clean fowls ye may eat.
Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.As the Israelites were to sanctify their food, on the one hand, positively by abstinence from everything unclean, so were they, on the other hand, to do so negatively by delivering the tithes and firstlings at the place where the Lord would cause His name to dwell, and by holding festal meals on the occasion, and rejoicing there before Jehovah their God. This law is introduced with the general precept, "Thou shalt tithe all the produce of thy seed which groweth out of the field (יצא construes with an accusative, as in Genesis 9:10, etc.) year by year" (שׁנה שׁנה, i.e., every year; cf. Ewald, 313, a.), which recalls the earlier laws concerning the tithe (Leviticus 27:30, and Numbers 18:21, Numbers 18:26.), without repeating them one by one, for the purpose of linking on the injunction to celebrate sacrificial meals at the sanctuary from the tithes and firstlings. Moses had already directed (Deuteronomy 12:6.) that all the sacrificial meals should take place at the sanctuary, and had then alluded to the sacrificial meals to be prepared from the tithes, though only causally, because he intended to speak of them more fully afterwards. This he does here, and includes the firstlings also, inasmuch as the presentation of them was generally associated with that of the tithes, though only causally, as he intends to revert to the firstlings again, which he does in Deuteronomy 15:19. The connection between the tithes of the fruits of the ground and the firstlings of the cattle which were devoted to the sacrificial meals, and the tithes and first-fruits which were to be delivered to the Levites and priests, we have already discussed at Deuteronomy 12. The sacrificial meals were to be held before the Lord, in the place where He caused His name to dwell (see at Deuteronomy 12:5), that Israel might learn to fear Jehovah its God always; not, however, as Schultz supposes, that by the confession of its dependence upon Him it might accustom itself more and more to the feeling of dependence. For the fear of the Lord is not merely a feeling of dependence upon Him, but also includes the notion of divine blessedness, which is the predominant idea here, as the sacrificial meals were to furnish the occasion and object of the rejoicing before the Lord. The true meaning therefore is, that Israel might rejoice with holy reverence in the fellowship of its God.
And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:In the land of Canaan, however, where the people would be scattered over a great extent of country, there would be many for whom the fulfilment of this command would be very difficult-would, in fact, appear almost impossible. To meet this difficulty, permission was given for those who lived at a great distance from the sanctuary to sell the tithes at home, provided they could not convey them in kind, and then to spend the money so obtained in the purchase of the things required for the sacrificial meals at the place of the sanctuary. ממּך ירבּה כּי, "if the way be too great (too far) for thee," etc., sc., for the delivery of the tithe. The parenthetical clause, "if Jehovah thy God shall bless thee," hardly means "if He shall extend thy territory" (Knobel), but if He shall bless thee by plentiful produce from the field and the cattle.
Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:"Turn it into money," lit., "give it up for silver," sc., the produce of the tithe; "and bind the silver in thy hand," const. praegnans for "bind it in a purse and take it in thy hand...and give the silver for all that thy soul desireth, for oxen and small cattle, for wine and strong drink," to hold a joyous meal, to which the Levite was also to be invited (as in Deuteronomy 12:12, Deuteronomy 12:18, and Deuteronomy 12:19).
And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:Every third year, on the other hand, they were to separate the whole of the tithe from the year's produce ("bring forth," sc., from the granary), and leaven it in their gates (i.e., their towns), and feed the Levites, the strangers, and the widows and orphans with it. They were not to take it to the sanctuary, therefore; but according to Deuteronomy 26:12., after bringing it out, were to make confession to the Lord of what they had done, and pray for His blessing. "At the end of three years:" i.e., when the third year, namely the civil year, which closed with the harvest (see at Exodus 23:16), had come to an end. This regulation as to the time was founded upon the observance of the sabbatical year, as we may see from Deuteronomy 15:1, where the seventh year is no other than the sabbatical year. Twice, therefore, within the period of a sabbatical year, namely in the third and sixth years, the tithe set apart for a sacrificial meal was not to be eaten at the sanctuary, but to be used in the different towns of the land in providing festal meals for those who had no possessions, viz., the Levites, strangers, widows, and orphans. Consequently this tithe cannot properly be called the "third tithe," as it is by many of the Rabbins, but rather the "poor tithe," as it was simply in the way of applying it that it differed from the "second" (see Hottinger, de decimies, exerc. viii. pp. 182ff., and my Archol. i. p. 339). As an encouragement to carry out these instructions, Moses closes in Deuteronomy 14:29 with an allusion to the divine blessing which would follow their observance.
And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.