King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Deuteronomy 12

Monuments of idolatry to be destroyed. (1-4) The place of God’s service to be kept. (5-32)

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Monuments of idolatry to be destroyed

1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.

2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:

3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.

The place of God’s service to be kept

5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:

7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.

8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.

10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;

11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:

12 And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.

13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:

14 But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.

15 Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.

16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.

17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:

18 But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.

20 When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.

21 If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.

22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.

23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.

24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.

25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose:

27 And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh.

28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.

29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;

30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. These. Having inculcated the general precepts, and the obligation of loving God above all things, Moses now descends to particular duties. C.

Ver. 2. Tree. See Gen. xxi. 33. All the monuments of idolatry must be destroyed. The very names of the idols must be abhorred and obliterated, (Ex. xxiii. 13,) to shew that they have lost possession of the country. So, (v. 5,) to put his name there, means to take possession of a place.

Ver. 3. Statues. The most ancient idols were not finely carved, but only rough stones. The Phrygian goddess, sent to Rome by Attalus, was a small dark-coloured stone of this nature. Arnob. c. Gentes. 8. — The Venus of the Arabs was but a stone in the form of a pyramid. C.

Ver. 5. It, where the ark was to be kept. H. — Before the building of the temple, it was removed from one tribe or place to another. Jerusalem was thenceforward styled the city of the great king. Ps. xlvii. i. 9.

Ver. 6. Hands, which you have procured by your industry, (M.) or what you are able to present to the Lord. Lev. v. 11.

Ver. 7. You. In gratitude, you shall therefore offer your victims. H. — The Jews were accustomed to make a feast thrice a year in the holy city. They might also eat some parts of the peace-offerings. M.

Ver. 8. Himself. Some confine this to the sacrifices, which each person might offer, where he thought proper, till the ark was fixed at Silo. But many other parts of the ceremonial law, seem not to have been in force till the Hebrews crossed the Jordan. Amos v. 25. Circumcision was omitted, as well as most of the festivals. Several laws were, however, designed for the people during their sojournment, such as those which regard the order of judgment, the cleanness of the camp, the purification of women, and of those who had touched a dead body, &c. Ex. xviii. 25. Num. v. 2. Lev. xv. 31. It was not left to their option to observe or to neglect the sabbath, (Num. xv. 32,) the loaves of proposition, or the perpetual fire, &c. Num. iv. 7. 13. C.

Ver. 11. Therein. While you are performing your duty to God, you need not fear the incursions of your enemies; or, according to the Heb. Sept. and Chaldee, “There shall be a place which…Thither,” &c. M. — Hands. Aquila, &c. have, “your voluntary oblations.” — Gifts. Heb. “your choice-vows.” C.

Ver. 12. You. The Levite hath no portion of the land like the rest. He and all people in distress shall be invited to these feasts. C. xvi. 11. M.

Ver. 13. See. On the high places, &c. as the heathens did, (v. 2,) or in any other place but that which God appointed.

Ver. 15. But. Heb. “Yet thou mayst kill and eat the flesh which thy soul desireth in all thy gates, with which the Lord thy God hath blessed thee, the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roe buck,” &c. H. — The Vulgate translates v. 22 in this sense, intimating that these meats did not contract any such peculiar sanctity, as to exclude those who were unclean, v. 20. Lev. xvii. 3. Fagius pretends, that only the clean were allowed as yet to eat of such meats, though the unclean might eat in the promised land what was lawful, without bringing the beast to be slain before the tabernacle. But this opinion seems to have no solid foundation. Unclean beasts could never be eaten. C. — But those which had any defect, were excluded from being sacrificed. Lev. xxii. 22. M.

Ver. 16. Water, without any ceremony. It was afterwards to be covered. Lev. xvii. 13.

Ver. 17. Tithes. These were of an extraordinary nature, destined for feasts. C. xiv. 22. Lev. xxvii. 30. The usual tithes belonged entirely to the Levitical tribe. C. — First-born, or the most excellent, v. 11. Ex. xii. 11. 12. The first-born, if it proved to be without defect, and a male, was given to the priests. Num. xviii. 15. — Voluntarily. If the thing was vowed to the Lord without restriction, it fell to the share of the priests alone: but if the person specified that he intended it for a peace-offering, &c. the priest could only claim what was allotted to him by the law. C. — Hands. The fruits of trees, in the fourth year, may be insinuated. Josep. iv. 8. M.

Ver. 18. Hand, in all thy undertakings and labours, (H.) and in all thy goods. M.

Ver. 21. Far off. Hence many conclude, that those who lived near the tabernacle, were bound to bring the animals which they designed for their own use, to be slain there, as they did in the desert. Others suppose that all were under the same predicament, and are hereby authorized to follow the same regulations, and to eat the flesh, whether they be clean or otherwise, provided they abstain from the blood. See Lev. xvii. 3. C. — The custom of bringing the beasts to be slain before the door of the tabernacle, was to be no longer obligatory. M.

Ver. 22. Alike. This must be understood of those who had contracted only a smaller stain, which did not communicate the uncleanness to others, but debarred people from approaching to sacred things. C. — Those who had touched the dead, &c. were not allowed to eat with people, who were not under any such legal uncleanness. M.

Ver. 23. Soul. See Gen. ix. 4. Blood maintains the life of animals, and it would seem cruel to begin to eat them before they were perfectly dead. But the obligation of this positive law has long ago ceased, as it was intended chiefly for the Jews.

Ver. 27. Oblations. Heb. “holocausts…and the blood of the sacrifices,” of peace. Parts of the latter were eaten by the offerer, but the former victims were entirely burnt. H.

Ver. 30. Imitate. Heb. “be ensnared by imitation them.” The example of the wicked, is one of the most dangerous snares which the devil can place in our way. Notwithstanding these repeated admonitions of God, we see how prone the Hebrews were to adopt the superstitious customs of these nations, whose destruction ought surely to have warned them to keep at a distance. H.

Ver. 31. Fire. See Lev. xviii. 21.

Ver. 32. That only do thou, &c. They are forbid here to follow the ceremonies of the heathens, or to make any alterations in the divine ordinances. Ch. — To adopt fresh regulations, in the same spirit, was not forbidden. Thus David ordered those who had kept the baggage, to share equally with the soldiers who had gone into battle; (1 K. xxx.) and our Saviour approved, by his presence, the feast of the dedication of the temple, instituted long after Moses. 1 Mac. iv. Jo. x. W. — He perfected the law by the precepts of the gospel. Mat. v. 17. Jospehus (c. Ap. ii.) says, “During so many years, no one has dared to retrench any thing from, (the sacred books) or to make any addition to them. We look upon them as of divine authority,…and we would lay down our lives, if necessary, to defend them. (C.) Among us, who believe that the law was first given by the will of God, noting is pious but the exact observance of it. For who can introduce any change, or invent any thing better?” C. iv. 2. Christ is full of grace and truth. Jo. i. He has fulfilled the law and the prophets. H. S. Aug. c. Faust. xvii. 2. and xix. 9.—”Grace,” says he, “pertains to the fulness of charity, truth to the completion of the prophecies.” D.