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Deuteronomy 12 The Voice (VOICE)

12 Moses: These are the regulations and judgments you must carefully obey in the land the Eternal, the God of your ancestors, is giving you to live in, for as long as you are alive. Completely destroy all the places where the nations you’re going to conquer worshiped their gods—on the mountain heights and hilltops, and under every leafy tree.

Commanding heights are recognized as positions of power and advantage. They are also closer to the sky on mountains and hills, which are thought to be the home of the gods. Nations chose heights and hilltops as places of worship. Leafy trees are also a favored location because of the shelter and shade they provided in a hot climate, and because they reach all realms of creation—the underworld, the physical world, and the heavens. In the absence of trees, carved poles serve as portable tree shrines honoring the goddess Asherah.

Moses: Tear down their altars, smash their monoliths, burn their sacred poles,[a] and shatter their idols! Wipe out every trace of the names of their gods in those places. The Eternal your God doesn’t want you to worship Him in the way these nations worshiped their gods, setting up shrines and altars all over the land. He will choose a place within the territory of one of your tribes to be His home; He will put His Name there. Go there to worship Him. Whenever you have something to offer, take it there: burnt offerings and sacrifices, tithes, uplifted offerings, freewill gifts, payments to fulfill vows, and firstborn animals from your herds and flocks. Eat your sacred meals there in His presence, and celebrate with your whole household how the Eternal your God has blessed everything you’ve done. Right now we’re letting everyone do as he or she sees fit here with unregulated sacrifices, because you aren’t yet living in peace on the land He is going to give you. 10 When you’ve crossed the Jordan River and have settled in the land He is giving you to live in and pass on to your descendants, and you’re living in safety because He’s defeated the enemies all around you and they’re no longer a threat, 11 then bring everything I command you to the place the Eternal, your True God, will choose as a sanctuary, as a place for His name. Bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices there; bring your tithes, uplifted offerings, and the special gifts you choose to dedicate along with your vow to the Eternal. 12 Celebrate in His presence with your sons and daughters and with your male and female slaves. And be sure to invite any Levites who live in your town, because their tribe won’t have any property as yours does. 13 Be careful! Don’t offer burnt sacrifices just anywhere that you find suitable. 14 Offer your burnt sacrifices only in the place He will choose in the territory of one of your tribes. And that’s the only place you should make any of the burnt offerings and execute everything else I’m telling you.

15 However, if you just want to have meat for a meal, if the Eternal your God has blessed you and you can afford it, you can do that in your own towns. Slaughter the animals and eat them there. It’s not a sacred meal, so people don’t need to be ritually pure to eat it, and it can be a gazelle or a deer. 16 But don’t consume any of the blood; pour it out on the ground like water as you would for any slaughter or sacrifice. 17 And remember you still can’t eat any of the special offerings in your own towns: tithes of grain, new wine, and olive oil; firstborn animals from your herds and flocks, any payments to fulfill vows, or freewill gifts and uplifted offerings. 18 Eat these special offerings in His presence in the place He chooses. Bring your sons, your daughters, and your male and female slaves, and remember to invite the Levites who live in your town. Celebrate together, in His presence, everything you’ve been able to accomplish. 19 (Don’t ever neglect the Levites! Make sharing with them a part of your lifestyle the whole time you’re living in that land.)

20-21 You see, the Eternal your God is going to give you an extensive territory as He’s promised. You may be living at some distance from the place where He chooses to put His name. And there will be times when you say to yourself, “I’m going to have some meat—that’s what I’m craving!” Go right ahead—as often as you wish. If you take from one of the domesticated animals the Eternal has given you from your herd or your flock and eat it in your own town, I’m telling you it’s all right to do that. 22 It’s just like eating a gazelle or a deer. People don’t need to be ritually pure to eat this meat. 23 But discipline yourselves not to eat the blood because the blood is the soul, and you mustn’t eat the soul along with the meat. 24 Don’t eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 25 If you don’t eat it, you’ll be doing what the Eternal considers right, and everything will go well for you and your descendants.

26 But bring anything that will be a sacred meal and any sacrifice that will be offered to pay a vow to the place He will choose. 27 There you will offer both the meat and the blood of your burnt sacrifices on His altar. You must pour out the blood of your sacrifices on the altar, but you will eat the meat. 28 Be very careful to obey all these words I’m telling you. Then you’ll be doing what the Eternal your God considers good and right, and everything will go well for you and your descendants forever.

The people are required to make certain offerings and are invited to make others. All of these offerings are to be handled with special care and not treated as ordinary food. Here Moses is warning specifically against pagan magical practice. It is believed by them that the life force, qualities, and powers of an animal can be taken over by consuming its blood, particularly as it flows from its body. The pagan nations look for power within the created order, and they try to tap into that power through fertility rites and other magical acts. All the blessings of life, fertility, and abundance are to be found in obedient relationship to the Lord. They can’t be obtained by trying to manipulate the forces of the natural world.

Moses: 29 When the Eternal your God has destroyed the nations whose land you’re going to occupy, when you’ve displaced them and settled there, 30 then be very careful! Don’t fall into a deadly trap by doing what those nations did, since they were destroyed when you came into their land! Don’t try to find out about their gods. Don’t ask, “How did these nations worship their gods? I’m going to do the same thing!” 31 Don’t worship the Eternal your God the way those nations worshiped their gods! They did every horrible thing He hates. They even burned up their sons and daughters as sacrifices to those gods. 32 Be very careful to do everything I’m commanding you. Don’t add anything to your worship, and don’t take anything away from it.

Footnotes:

  1. 12:3 Hebrew, Asherim
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Deuteronomy 12 New International Version (NIV)

The One Place of Worship

12 These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land. Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.

You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit, since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. 11 Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord. 12 And there rejoice before the Lord your God—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. 14 Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.

15 Nevertheless, you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were gazelle or deer, according to the blessing the Lord your God gives you. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it. 16 But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. 18 Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place the Lord your God will choose—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to. 19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.

20 When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want. 21 If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. 22 Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. 23 But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. 24 You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 25 Do not eat it, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

26 But take your consecrated things and whatever you have vowed to give, and go to the place the Lord will choose. 27 Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat. 28 Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

29 The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.[a]

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 12:32 In Hebrew texts this verse (12:32) is numbered 13:1.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Deuteronomy 12 New King James Version (NKJV)

A Prescribed Place of Worship

12 “These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all[a] the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their [b]wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.

“But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling[c] place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in [d]all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes— for as yet you have not come to the rest[e] and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, 11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord. 12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you. 13 Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; 14 but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.

15 “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike. 16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water. 17 You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the [f]heave offering of your hand. 18 But you must eat them before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in [g]all to which you put your hands. 19 [h]Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land.

20 “When the Lord your God enlarges your border as He has promised you, and you say, ‘Let me eat meat,’ because you long to eat meat, you may eat as much meat as your heart desires. 21 If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter from your herd and from your flock which the Lord has given you, just as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates as much as your heart desires. 22 Just as the gazelle and the deer are eaten, so you may eat them; the unclean and the clean alike may eat them. 23 Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat. 24 You shall not eat it; you shall pour it on the earth like water. 25 You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord. 26 Only the holy things which you have, and your vowed offerings, you shall take and go to the place which the Lord chooses. 27 And you shall offer your burnt offerings, the meat and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, and you shall eat the meat. 28 Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.

Beware of False Gods

29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every [i]abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 12:1 As long as
  2. Deuteronomy 12:3 Heb. Asherim
  3. Deuteronomy 12:5 home
  4. Deuteronomy 12:7 all that you undertake
  5. Deuteronomy 12:9 Or place of rest
  6. Deuteronomy 12:17 contribution
  7. Deuteronomy 12:18 all your undertakings
  8. Deuteronomy 12:19 Be careful
  9. Deuteronomy 12:31 detestable action
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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