12:5the place that the Lord your God will choose. This passage has been used to argue that Deuteronomy was written in the sixth century b.c. so as to support Josiah’s centralization of worship at Jerusalem in that period (Introduction: Date and Occasion). But that view, which presupposes an evolutionary theory of the development of Israelite religion, misreads this verse. The reference here to “the place” certainly need not imply that the location of the temple in Jerusalem was known when this text was written. In the course of Israel’s history, worship of the Lord was successively centered in several places: Shiloh (Josh. 18:1) and Gibeon (1 Chr. 16:39), as well as later in Jerusalem. The stress here is on the contrast between “the place . . . the Lord your God will choose” and “the places where the nations . . . served their gods” (v. 2). Purity of worship in obedience to divine command, rather than centralization, is primarily in view.
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