One Center of Worship. 1These are the statutes and ordinances which you must be careful to observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess, throughout the time you live on its soil.a 2b Destroy entirely all the places where the nations you are to dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains, on the hills, and under every green tree.c 3Tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, burn up their asherahs, and chop down the idols of their gods, that you may destroy the very name of them from that place.
4That is not how you are to act toward the LORD, your God. 5Instead,d you shall seek out the place which the LORD, your God, chooses out of all your tribes and designates as his dwelling to put his name there.* e There you shall go, 6bringing your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and personal contributions, your votive and voluntary offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks.f 7There, too, in the presence of the LORD, your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in all your undertakings, in which the LORD, your God, has blessed you.g
8You shall not do as we are doing here today, everyone doing what is right in their own sight,h 9since you have not yet reached your resting place, the heritage which the LORD, your God, is giving you. 10But after you have crossed the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage, when he has given you rest from all your enemies round about and you live there in security,i 11* j then to the place which the LORD, your God, chooses as the dwelling place for his name you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and personal contributions, and every special offering you have vowed to the LORD. 12You shall rejoice in the presence of the LORD, your God, with your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, as well as with the Levite within your gates, who has no hereditary portion with you.
13k Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like, 14but offer them in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribal territories; there you shall do what I command you.
Profane and Sacred Slaughter. 15* However, in any of your communities you may slaughter and eat meat freely, according to the blessing that the LORD, your God, has given you; the unclean as well as the clean may eat it, as they do the gazelle or the deer.l 16* Only, you shall not eat of the blood, but must pour it out on the ground like water.m 17Moreover, you may not, in your own communities, partake of your tithe of grain or wine or oil, of the firstborn of your herd or flock, of any offering you have vowed, of your voluntary offerings, or of your personal contributions. 18These you must eat in the presence of the LORD, your God, in the place that the LORD, your God, chooses, along with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and the Levite within your gates; and there, in the presence of the LORD, you shall rejoice in all your undertakings. 19Be careful, also, that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.n
20o After the LORD, your God, has enlarged your territory, as he promised you,p and you think, “I will eat meat,” as it is your desire to eat meat, you may eat it freely; 21and if the place where the LORD, your God, chooses to put his name is too far, you may slaughter in the manner I have commanded you any of your herd or flock that the LORD has given you, and eat it freely in your own community. 22You may eat it as you would the gazelle or the deer: the unclean and the clean eating it together. 23q But make sure that you do not eat of the blood; for blood is life; you shall not eat that life with the flesh. 24Do not eat of the blood, therefore, but pour it out on the ground like water. 25Do not eat of it, that you and your children after you may prosper for doing what is right in the sight of the LORD. 26However, any sacred gifts or votive offerings that you may have, you shall bring with you to the place which the LORD chooses, 27and there you must sacrifice your burnt offerings, both the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the LORD, your God; of your other sacrifices the blood indeed must be poured out against the altar of the LORD, your God,r but their flesh you may eat.
28Be careful to heed all these words I command you today, that you and your descendants after you may forever prosper for doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD, your God.s
Warning Against Abominable Practices. 29t When the LORD, your God, cuts down from before you the nations you are going in to dispossess, and you have dispossessed them and are settled in their land, 30be careful that you not be trapped into following them after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire regarding their gods, “How did these nations serve their gods, so I might do the same.” 31You shall not worship the LORD, your God, that way, because they offered to their gods every abomination that the LORD detests, even burning their sons and daughters to their gods.u
* [12:5] The place…to put his name there: Moses thus designates Jerusalem (Mt. Zion), in accordance with the Deuteronomic doctrine that the Lord “chooses” Zion, as the place where eventually the Temple will be built, as he chooses the house of David to reign over Israel; see 2 Sm 7; 1 Kgs 8; Ps 132. But the Lord’s presence in Jerusalem consists in putting his “name” there (12:11, 21; 14:23–24; 16:2, 6, 11; 26:2; 1 Kgs 8:44, 49; 9:3; 11:36; 14:21; 2 Kgs 17:34; 21:4, 7; 23:27). The Lord himself “cannot be contained” in an earthly dwelling (1 Kgs 8:27), but because he says of the Jerusalem Temple that “my name will be there” (1 Kgs 8:16, 29; 2 Kgs 23:27), he is present. This theology allows God in a way to dwell with Israel and at the same time preserves divine transcendence. See note on 1 Kgs 8:12–13.
* [12:11] Sacrifice is to be confined to the single place that the Lord has chosen; eventually this was Jerusalem.
* [12:15] At this point a distinction is being made between cultic sacrifice and slaughter of animals for food. In any of your communities: lit., “within your gates.”