Deuteronomy 12

 

אֵלֶּה הַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשֹׂות בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּהּ   12:1

כָּל־הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל־הָאֲדָמָה

Deut. 12:1   “These are the statutes and the ordinances that you shall observe to do in the land which the Lord, God of your fathers, has given to you to possess it all the days that you will be living on the earth.”

אַבֵּד תְּאַבְּדוּן אֶת־כָּל־הַמְּקֹמֹות אֲשֶׁר עָבְדוּ־שָׁם הַגֹּויִם אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹרְשִׁים אֹתָם אֶת־אֱלֹהֵיהֶם עַל־   12:2

רַעֲנָן הֶהָרִים הָרָמִים וְעַל־הַגְּבָעֹות וְתַחַת כָּל־עֵץ

Deut. 12:2   “You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you will be dispossessing served their gods on the tall mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.”

וְנִתַּצְתֶּם אֶת־מִזְבְּחֹתָם וְשִׁבַּרְתֶּם אֶת־מַצֵּבֹתָם וַאֲשֵׁרֵיהֶם תִּשְׂרְפוּן בָּאֵשׁ וּפְסִילֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם תְּגַדֵּעוּן   12:3

וְאִבַּדְתֶּם אֶת־שְׁםָם מִן־הַמָּקֹום הַהוּא

Deut. 12:3   “And you shall break down their altars and crush their pillars, and you shall burn their Asherim to ashes, and you shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and you shall destroy their name from that place.”

לֹא־תַעֲשׂוּן כֵּן לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם   12:4

Deut. 12:4   You shall fashion no such thing to the Lord, your God.”

כִּי אִם־אֶל־הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם מִכָּל־שִׁבְטֵיכֶם לָשׂוּם אֶת־שְׁמֹו שָׁם לְשִׁכְנֹו תִדְרְשׁוּ   12:5

וּבָאתָ שָׁמָּה

Deut. 12:5   “But at the place that the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name, there you shall seek His habitation and there you shall come,

וַהֲבֵאתֶם שָׁמָּה עֹלֹתֵיכֶם וְזִבְחֵיכֶם וְאֵת מַעְשְׂרֹתֵיכֶם וְאֵת תְּרוּמַת יֶדְכֶם וְנִדְרֵיכֶם וְנִדְבֹתֵיכֶם וּבְכֹרֹת   12:6

בְּקַרְכֶם וְצֹאנְכֶם

Deut. 12:6   and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices and your tithes and the offerings of your hands and your vows and your freewill offerings and the firstlings of your herds and your flocks,

וַאֲכַלְתֶּם־שָׁם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם בְּכֹל מִשְׁלַח יֶדְכֶם אַתֶּם וּבָתֵּיכֶם אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַךְךָ יְהוָה   12:7

אֱלֹהֶיךָ

Deut. 12:7   and there you shall eat before the Lord, your God, and you shall rejoice in every occupation, you and your households, by which the Lord, your God, has blessed you.”

לֹא תַעֲשׂוּן כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנַחְנוּ עֹשִׂים פֹּה הַיֹּום אִישׁ כָּל־הַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו   12:8

Deut. 12:8   “You shall not do after all that we are doing here today, each anything that is pleasing in his eyes,

כִּי לֹא־בָּאתֶם עַד־עָתָּה אֶל־הַמְּנוּחָה וְאֶל־הַנַּחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ   12:9

Deut. 12:9   for as yet you have not come to the resting place and to the inheritance that the Lord, your God, will be giving to you.”

What do these two verses (12:8 and 12:9) mean?  Particularly v. 12:8!  “You shall not do ... [what] we are doing here today...!”  I believe Moses is speaking of the manna that the Israelites have been eating till then.  The sages, however, appear to have interpreted these two verses to mean that the Israelites will no longer bring their sacrifices to the Tabernacle, but instead to the temple.  Further, the terms “resting place” and “inheritance” are thought to refer to Shiloh and Jerusalem, respectively, the two places where many sacrifices would eventually be brought.  I believe both these aspects of the sages’ interpretation to be incorrect, for the reason that they ignore vss. 12:5 f., 12:11, 12:14, and 12:21, all of which which refer to only one place.  I believe that the resting place and the inheritance in this verse, 12:9, are the same place, and they refer to Israel, not to where the sacrifices will be taken.  Verse 12:10, which speaks of the place of rest and of the possession as being the land on the other side of the Jordan, seems to corroborate my view.  What surprises me about all these verses is that the sages don’t seem to have a comment on the fact that the sacrifices in Shiloh (and elsewhere) violate them.  They also violate v. 12:13.

וַעֲבַרְתֶּם אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן וִישַׁבְתֶּם בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם מַנְחִיל אֶתְכֶם וְהֵנִיחַ לָכֶם מִכָּל־אֹיְבֵיכֶם   12:10

מִסָּבִיב וִישַׁבְתֶּם־בֶּטַח

Deut. 12:10   “But you will cross over the Jordan and you will dwell in the land that the Lord, your God, will be giving you to possess, and He will give rest to you from all your enemies from the surroundings and you will dwell in safety.”

וְהָיָה הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בֹּו לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמֹו שָׁם שָׁמָּה תָבִיאוּ אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי   12:11

מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם עֹולֹתֵיכֶם וְזִבְחֵיכֶם מַעְשְׂרֹתֵיכֶם וּתְרֻמַת יֶדְכֶם וְכֹל מִבְחַר נִדְרֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר תִּדְּרוּ לַיהוָה

Deut. 12:11   “Then it shall be that the place in which the Lord, your God, shall choose to have His name reside there, there shall you bring all that I am commanding you:  Your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the offering of your hand and all the choicest of your vows that you will vow to the Lord.”

Referring back to the sages’ interpretations mentioned in connection with v. 12:9, notice that the word place is singular, not plural.  There was to be one place, not two, where the Lord’s name would reside.  The people chose Shiloh, not the Lord.

וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אַתֶּם וּבְנֵיכֶם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶם וְעַבְדֵיכֶם וְאַמְהֹתֵיכֶם וְהַלֵּוִי אֲשֶׁר   12:12

בְּשַׁעֲרֵיכֶם כִּי אֵין לֹו חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה אִתְּכֶם

Deut. 12:12   “And you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, you and your sons and your daughters and your men servants and your maid servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, for there is no portion for him or an inheritance with you.”

הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תַּעֲלֶה עֹלֹתֶיךָ בְּכָל־מָקֹום אֲשֶׁר תִּרְאֶה   12:13

Deut. 12:13   Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in any place that you may see,

כִּי אִם־בַּמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַר יְהוָה בְּאַחַד שְׁבָטֶיךָ שָׁם תַּעֲלֶה עֹלֹתֶיךָ וְשָׁם תַּעֲשֶׂה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי  12:14

מְצַוֶּךָּ

Deut. 12:14   but only in the place that the Lord shall choose among one of your tribes.  There you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.”

רַק בְּכָל־אַוַּת נַפְשְׁךָ תִּזְבַּח וְאָכַלְתָּ בָשָׂר כְּבִרְכַּת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לְךָ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶיךָ הַטָּמֵא   12:15

וְהַטָּהֹור יֹאכְלֶנּוּ כַּצְּבִי וְכָאַיָּל

Deut. 12:15   “However, in all the desire of your soul you may kill and eat of flesh, according to the blessing of the Lord, your God, that He has given to you, within all your gates.  The unclean and the clean may eat of it, like the gazelle and like the hart.”

Interesting, intriguing, and astonishing!  The gazelle and the hart were not animals brought for sacrifice, and there was no specification as to their cleanness.  So apparently even blemished animals could be eaten in the home or anywhere else in the city.  What does this say about some of the kosher laws?

רַק הַדָּם לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ עַל־הָאָרֶץ תִּשְׁפְּכֶנּוּ כַּמָּיִם   12:16

Deut. 12:16   “Only you cannot eat of the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water.”

In this verse we are told again that the blood of any animal is not to be consumed with the flesh.  Thus all meat must be salted and soaked to remove any traces of remaining blood.  Notice that the first instance of the pronoun you is plural, indicating to the congregation that this rule applies to everyone who is part of the community.  It is an  ordinance to be observed by each member of the community.  But the second instance of the pronoun you is singular; so it addresses the community as a whole.  The community is directed to completely eliminate the blood.

לֹא־תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ מַעְשַׂר דְּגָנְךָ וְתִירֹשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ וּבְכֹרֹת בְּקָרְךָ וְצֹאנֶךָ וְכָל־נְדָרֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר   12:17

תִּדֹּר וְנִדְבֹתֶיךָ וּתְרוּמַת יָדֶךָ

Deut. 12:17   “You are not permitted to eat within your gates of the tithe of your corn or of your wine or of your oil or of the firstlings of your herd or your flock or of any of your vows that you will promise or of your freewill offerings or of the offerings of your hand,

כִּי אִם־לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ תֹּאכְלֶנּוּ בַּמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בֹּו אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ   12:18

וַאֲמָתֶךָ וְהַלֵּוִי אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ וְשָׂמַחְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכֹל מִשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ

Deut. 12:18   but only before the Lord, your God, shall you eat of it in the place in which the Lord, your God, shall choose to be, you and your son and your daughter and your manservant and your maidservant and the Levite who is within your gates, and you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, in all the work of your hand.”

In vss. 12:17 and 12:18 the instances of the second-person pronouns are all singular.  Thus these verses are directed to the entire community.  The same is true for the subsequent verses (vss. 12:19 to 12:31, which are, for the most part, a repetition of vss. 12:15 to 12:18).

הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תַּעֲזֹב אֶת־הַלֵּוִי כָּל־יָמֶיךָ עַל־אַדְמָתֶךָ   12:19

Deut. 12:19   “Take heed to yourself lest you would forsake the Levite all your days you are on your land.”

כִּי־יַרְחִיב יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת־גְּבוּלְךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר־לָךְ וְאָמַרְתָּ אֹכְלָה בָשָׂר כִּי־תְאַוֶּה נַפְשְׁךָ לֶאֱכֹל   12:20

בָּשָׂר בְּכָל־אַוַּת נַפְשְׁךָ תֹּאכַל בָּשָׂר

Deut. 12:20   “When the Lord, your God, enlarges your territory as He has promised to you, and you will say, ‘I would eat of flesh,’ because your soul will desire to eat of flesh, with all the desire of your soul, you may eat of flesh.”

כִּי־יִרְחַק מִמְּךָ הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לָשׂוּם שְׁמֹו שָׁם וְזָבַחְתָּ מִבְּקָרְךָ וּמִצֹּאנְךָ אֲשֶׁר   12:21

נָתַן יְהוָה לְךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִךָ וְאָכַלְתָּ בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ בְּכֹל אַוַּת נַפְשֶׁךָ

Deut. 12:21   “If the place where the Lord your God will choose to put His name will be too far from you, then you may kill from your herd and from your flock that the Lord has given to you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates in all the desire of your soul.”

In accordance with vss. 12:6, 12:11, 12:17, and 12:18, this verse does not apply to the tithe.  However, as we are told in Numb. 18:26f., part of the tithe is for the priests and Levites.               [Return to Deut. 14:27]

אַךְ כַּאֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל אֶת־הַצְּבִי וְאֶת־הָאַיָּל כֵּן תֹּאכְלֶנּוּ הַטָּמֵא וְהַטָּהֹור יַחְדָּו יֹאכְלֶנּו   12:22

Deut. 12:22   “However, as one would eat the gazelle or the hart, so may you eat it; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it.”

רַק חֲזַק לְבִלְתִּי אֲכֹל הַדָּם כִּי הַדָּם הוּא הַנָּפֶשׁ וְלֹא־תֹאכַל הַנֶּפֶשׁ עִם־הַבָּשָׂר   12:23

Deut. 12:23   “Just be steadfast to not eat of the blood, for the blood of it is the soul, and you shall not eat the soul with the flesh.”

This verse is more than a repetition of the earlier verse (v. 12:16).  It explains why the blood is not to be eaten.  The soul of the animal is its blood.  Why do you suppose we are not to eat of the soul?  See v. 12:25 below for part of the clue.

לֹא תֹּאכְלֶנּוּ עַל־הָאָרֶץ תִּשְׁפְּכֶנּוּ כַּמָּיִם   12:24

Deut. 12:24   “You shall not eat it.  Upon the earth you shall pour it like water.”

לֹא תֹּאכְלֶנּוּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לְךָ וּלְבָנֶיךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ כִּי־תַעֲשֶׂה הַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה   12:25

Deut. 12:25   “You shall not eat it in order that it will be well for you and for your children after you, because you will have done what is right in the eyes of the Lord.”

This verse, like so many others in the Torah, seems to promise reward for doing right.  To me, this is a misunderstanding of the intent of the Torah.  We do not receive punishment for doing wrong and we do not receive reward for doing right.  We simply experience the consequences of our behavior.  That’s the way the world is set up -- so we may learn to be better for the sake of the Lord.  That’s what I believe.

רַק קָדָשֶׁיךָ אֲשֶׁר־יִהְיוּ לְךָ וּנְדָרֶיךָ תִּשָּׂא וּבָאתָ אֶל־הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַר יְהוָה   12:26

Deut. 12:26   “Only your holy things that become yours, and your vows, shall you take and bring to the place that the Lord will choose,

וְעָשִׂיתָ עֹלֹתֶיךָ הַבָּשָׂר וְהַדָּם עַל־מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְדַם־זְבָחֶיךָ יִשָּׁפֵךְ עַל־מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ   12:27

וְהַבָּשָׂר תֹּאכֵל

Deut. 12:27   and you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord, your God; and blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out against the altar of the Lord, your God, and you may eat of the flesh.”

שְׁמֹר וְשָׁמַעְתָּ אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּךָּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לְךָ וּלְבָנֶיךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ עַד־עֹולָם   12:28

כִּי תַעֲשֶׂה הַטֹּוב וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ

Deut. 12:28   “Observe that you shall obey all these words that I am commanding you, in order that it may be well for you and for your children after you forever, because you will have done what is good and what is right in the eyes of the Lord, your God.”

כִּי־יַכְרִית יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת־הַגֹּויִם אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בָא־שָׁמָּה לָרֶשֶׁת אֹותָם מִפָּנֶיךָ וְיָרַשְׁתָּ אֹתָם   12:29

וְיָשַׁבְתָּ בְּאַרְצָם

Deut. 12:29   “When the Lord your God will cut off the nations in which you are going to dispossess them from your face, and you dispossess them and you dwell in their land,

הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תִּנָּקֵשׁ אַחֲרֵיהֶם אַחֲרֵי הִשָּׁמְדָם מִפָּנֶיךָ וּפֶן־תִּדְרֹשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם לֵאמֹר אֵיכָה יַעַבְדוּ   12:30

הַגֹּויִם הָאֵלֶּה אֶת־אֱלֹהֵיהֶם וְאֶעֱשֶׂה־כֵּן גַּם־אָנִי

Deut. 12:30   take heed to yourself lest you become ensnared behind them after their destruction from before you and you inquire about their gods saying, ‘How would these nations have served their gods?  Now I will also do the same.’”

לֹא־תַעֲשֶׂה כֵן לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי כָּל־תֹּועֲבַת יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר שָׂנֵא עָשׂוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם כִּי גַם אֶת־בְּנֵיהֶם   12:31

וְאֶת־בְּנֹתֵיהֶם יִשְׂרְפוּ בָאֵשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם

Deut. 12:31   “You shall not do the same for the Lord your God, for they have done for their gods every abomination of the Lord that He hates, for they would burn even their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”

These last few verses seem to be implying something I have suspected for some time, namely that the abominations of the Lord are those acts that the pagans practiced in their rituals in service to their gods.  Possibly, if if my suspicion is correct, it could have a profound effect on many of the more controversial commandments.

Torah Commandments in this Chapter

412. You shall destroy all the pagan places of worship in the promised land.    V. 12:2

413. You shall break down all pagan worship structures.    V. 12:3

414. You shall fashion no abomination to the Lord, your God.    V. 12:4

415. You shall seek and come to the place that the Lord, your God, shall

        choose to put His name.    V. 12:5

416. You shall bring all your offerings there.    V. 12:5, 12:6

417. There you shall eat and rejoice before the Lord, your God.    V. 12:7

418. You shall not eat of any of your tithes except before the Lord.    V. 12:17, 12:18

419. Do not forsake the Levite.    V. 12:19

420. If you are too far from the place the Lord will choose to put His name,

        you may eat within your gates of any of your animals.    V. 12:21

 

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