Deuteronomy 12 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Deuteronomy 12)

Verse 2

[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:

All the places — Temples, chapels, altars, groves, as appears from other scriptures.

Green-tree — As the Gentiles consecrated divers trees to their false gods, so they worshipped these under them.

Verse 3

[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.

Pillars — Upon which their images were set.

Names — That is, all the memorials of them, and the very names given to the places from the idols.

Verse 4

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

Not do so — That is, not worship him in several places, mountains, and groves.

Verse 5

[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:

To put his name there — That is, to set up his worship there, and which he shall call by his name, as his house, or his dwelling-place; namely, where the ark should be, the tabernacle, or temple: which was first Shiloh, and then Jerusalem. There is not one precept in all the law of Moses, so largely inculcated as this, to bring all their sacrifices to that one altar. And how significant is, that appointment? They must keep to one place, in token of their belief. That there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man. It not only served to keep up the notion of the unity of the godhead, but the one only way of approach to God and communion with him in and by his son.

Verse 6

[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:

Thither bring your burnt-offerings — Which were wisely appropriated to that one place, for the security of the true religion, and for the prevention of idolatry and superstition, which might otherwise more easily have crept in: and to signify that their sacrifices were not accepted for their own worth, but by God's gracious, appointment, and for the sake of God's altar, by which they were sanctified, and for the sake of Christ, whom the altar manifestly represented.

Your heave-offerings — That is, your first-fruits, of corn, and wine, and oil, and other fruits. And these are called the heave-offerings of their hand, because the offerer was first to take these into his hands, and to heave them before the Lord, and then to give them to the priest.

Your free-will-offerings — Even your voluntary oblations, which were not due by my prescription, but only by your own choice: you may chuse what kind of offering you please to offer, but not the place where you shall offer them.

Verse 7

[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.

There — Not in the most holy place, wherein only the priests might eat, but in places allowed to the people for this, end in the holy city.

Ye shall eat — Your part of the things mentioned, Deuteronomy 12:6.

Before the Lord — In the place of God's presence, where God's sanctuary shall be.

Verse 8

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

Here — Where the inconveniency of the place, and the uncertainty of our abode, would not permit exact order in sacrifices and feasts and ceremonies, which therefore God was then pleased to dispense with; but, saith he, he will not do so there.

Right in his own eyes — Not that universal liberty was given to all persons to worship how they listed; but in many things their unsettled condition gave opportunity to do so.

Verse 11

[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:

His name — His majesty and glory, his worship and service, his, special and gracious presence.

Your choice vows — Heb. the choice of your vows, that is, your select or chosen vows; so called, because things offered for vows, were to be perfect, whereas defective creatures were accepted in free-will-offerings.

Verse 12

[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.

Your daughters — Hence it appears, that though the males only were obliged to appear before God in their solemn feasts, yet the women also were permitted to come.

Verse 13

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

Thy burnt-offerings — Nor the other things mentioned above, this one and most eminent kind being put for all the rest.

Verse 17

[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:

Within thy gates — That is, in your private habitations, here opposed to the place of God's worship.

Verse 20

[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.

Enlarge thy border — Which will make it impossible to bring all the cattle thou usest to the tabernacle.

Verse 21

[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.

If the place be too far — Being obliged to carry their sacrifices to the place of worship, they might think themselves obliged to carry their other cattle thither to be killed. They are therefore released from all such obligations, and left at liberty to kill them at home, whether they lived nearer that place, or farther from it; only the latter is here mentioned, as being the matter of the scruple.

As I have commanded — In such a manner as the blood may be poured forth.

Verse 22

[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.

As the roe-buck — As common or unhallowed food, tho' they be of the same kind with the sacrifices which are offered to God.

The unclean — Because there was, no holiness in such meat for which the unclean might be excluded from it.

Verse 27

[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.

The flesh — Excepting what shall be burned to God's, honour, and given to the priest according to his appointment.

Verse 30

[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.

By following them — By following the example they left, when their persons are destroyed.