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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 12

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Deuteronomy 12-26, 28. A code of laws (Deuteronomy 1-26) followed by promises to the obedient and threats of punishment for the rest (Deuteronomy 28): see Introd., p. 231. The great Deuteronomic law of one sanctuary is taught or implied in Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 19:13 and hardly in any other part of Dt. This section may, therefore, represent essentially the original Deuteronomic code (see Introd.).

Verses 1-28

Deuteronomy 12:1-28 . The Law of One Sanctuary.— The local sanctuaries (originally Canaanite) with everything belonging to them, are to be destroyed, and all sacrifices are to be offered at the place which Yahweh should choose. Yet ( Deuteronomy 12:15 f.) animals intended for food alone may be killed and eaten locally. Though the name Jerusalem does not occur in D, it is fairly evident that no other place can be intended by “ the place which Yahweh . . . shall choose,” etc., though A. Duff holds that the Deut. code originated in the Northern Kingdom before its fall, and that it aimed at making Shechem the one worship centre for both kingdoms (see his OT Theology, ii. 24ff.). Jer. and Dt. have so much in common (see Introd.) that one may be used to interpret the other. In Jeremiah 7:4-9; Jeremiah 31:6-12 Zion is distinctly mentioned as the one sanctuary. In P and related writings (Ezek., Ch., etc.) centralisation of worship at Jerusalem is assumed as undisputed. If Shechem were intended it is strange that no hint of this occurs in any extant document. Besides, there is evidence to show that D was not written until after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in Deuteronomy 7:22 B.C. (see Introd.).

Deuteronomy 12:5 . place: the Heb. word ( maqom), as the cognate Arabic one, means a sacred place. Dt. does not use the word bamah, “ high place.”

Deuteronomy 12:6 . The sacred gifts (pp. 98– 100) to be brought to the one sanctuary are the following (note the translation): ( a) Whole-offerings, ‘ oloth ( Genesis 8:20, Leviticus 1*); lit. “ that which goes (wholly) up” (to Yahweh); “ burnt offerings” (EV) is misleading since other offerings were in part burnt. The idea of pure worship is best seen in this species of sacrifice, since the whole was offered up to Yahweh in the form of sacrificial smoke. ( b) Partial offerings (EV “ sacrifices” ). The Heb. word ( zebaḥ? im) usually denotes animal sacrifices in general, in P as contrasted with the cereal (meal) offerings (see Numbers 28); but in Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:27, etc., it represents shelamim (Leviticus 3*), compensation offerings (EV wrongly “ peace offerings” ), part of which was offered to Yahweh, the rest being reserved for the social meal ( Deuteronomy 12:7). The latter Heb. term occurs in Dt. but once. Deuteronomy 27:7, which is dependent on Exodus 20:24 (E). ( c) Tithes ( Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:21-24 *). ( d) Contributions (EV, “ heave offerings of your hand” (see on Exodus 25:2 (P)). ( e) Votive offerings, and ( f) voluntary offerings, i.e. such as were given in addition to the legal requirements with ( e) or without ( f) a preceding vow ( Deuteronomy 23:21-23). Neither sin nor guilt (trespass) offerings are mentioned; sacrifice in D has a joyous character.

Deuteronomy 12:11 . your choice vows: better, “ your chosen votive offerings,” i.e, “ what you choose to vow.”

Deuteronomy 12:12 . the Levite: Deuteronomy 10:8.— within your gates: i.e. in cities other than Jerusalem (see Deuteronomy 12:15).

Deuteronomy 12:15 f . is probably a marginal summary of Deuteronomy 12:20-25 and should be omitted.

Deuteronomy 12:15 . the unclean and the clean: i.e. ceremonially so ( 1 Samuel 20:26); the law concerning sacrificial was more rigid than that concerning ordinary food.

Deuteronomy 12:17 continues Deuteronomy 12:14, but restores partial offerings (EV sacrifice).

Deuteronomy 12:20-22 . This concession was due to the suppression of the local sanctuaries: animal food (formerly partaken of at sacrificial meals only) could under the Deuteronomic law be eaten at Jerusalem alone. Animals killed and eaten locally came now under the category of food and not sacrifice, the regulation being less stringent ( Deuteronomy 14:4 ff.).

Deuteronomy 12:23-25. The prohibition of blood (because containing the “ soul” not “ life” is common to many peoples (see Genesis 9:4 *, Leviticus 3:17, and cf. Frazer, Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, pp. 239– 251).

Deuteronomy 12:26 . Holy things . . . and . . . vows = obligatory and voluntary altar gifts.

Verse 32

Deuteronomy 12:29 to Deuteronomy 13:1 . Yahwism must be kept free from all taint of Canaanite heathenism when Israel has entered Canaan. The danger would arise from the ancient belief that everyone should worship the god of the country in which he resides. D is an uncompromising Yahwist.

Deuteronomy 12:32 to Deuteronomy 13:18 . Three classes of seducers to idolatry to be put to death. ( a) The false prophet ( Deuteronomy 12:32 to Deuteronomy 13:5). ( b) The friend or relative ( Deuteronomy 13:5-11). ( c) Worthless Israelites ( Deuteronomy 13:12-18). In the last case the seducers and the city seduced shall be devoted ( Deuteronomy 2:34 *) In the Heb. Deuteronomy 12:32 rightly begins Deuteronomy 13.

Deuteronomy 13:1. Dreams are one medium of prophetic inspiration, especially in E ( Numbers 12:6, Joel 2:28); but it is not of the highest kind ( Jeremiah 23:28).

Deuteronomy 13:2. A false prophet may foretell what really comes to pass. In Deuteronomy 18:22 he is known by the fact that what he foretells does not come to pass. On the other hand, the word of the true prophet is fulfilled ( Jeremiah 28:9). What stamps the prophet as false in the present context is the doctrine.

Deuteronomy 13:6. Read (with LXX Sam.) “ If thy brother the son of thy father” (=a half-brother) “ or the son of thy mother” (=a full brother), see Genesis 27:29, Psalms 50:20. In a polygamous (non-polyandrous) state of society (see Deuteronomy 21:15) the same man has often two or more wives. In the East the woman never marries a second time.

Deuteronomy 13:9 . The convicting witness, however nearly related to the culprit, must begin the punishment.

Deuteronomy 13:10 . See Exodus 8:26. Stoning is the only form of capital punishment recognised in Heb. law. Perhaps it originated in the desire of avoiding blood-shedding (see Deuteronomy 12:23-25, Deuteronomy 21:22 *, Genesis 4:10 *).

Deuteronomy 13:13 . base fellows: lit. “ sons of worthlessness;” “ sons of” in Heb. means persons possessing the quality of (see Oent. B on Psalms 79:11). Even if the Heb. word for the latter (Belial) is a proper name for the Babylonian Pluto (so Cheyne, Hommel, see Proverbs 6:12 *) the phrase bears the same sense (see Cent. B on Psalms 10:15).

Deuteronomy 13:15 . See Deuteronomy 23:4.

Deuteronomy 13:16 . every whit: better, “ as a whole offering,” ( cf. mg.) . The Heb. word is used in Deuteronomy 33:10; it does not occur in Deuteronomy 13:6.— a heap: Heb. tel ( cf. Tel el-kebir = “ the great hill” ); see Joshua 8:28 (Ai), Jeremiah 49:2 (Rabbah). cf. Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 25:2, Jeremiah 30:18.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 12". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/deuteronomy-12.html. 1919.
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