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Deuteronomy 12 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Only One Place To Worship the Lord

Moses said to Israel:

12 Now I’ll tell you the laws and teachings that you have to obey as long as you live. Your ancestors worshiped the Lord, and he is giving you this land. But the nations that live there worship other gods. So after you capture the land, you must completely destroy their places of worship—on mountains and hills or in the shade of large trees. Wherever these nations worship their gods, you must tear down their altars, break their sacred stones, burn the sacred poles[a] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and smash their idols to pieces. Destroy these places of worship so completely that no one will remember they were ever there. Don’t worship the Lord your God in the way those nations worship their gods.

5-19 Soon you will cross the Jordan, and the Lord will help you conquer your enemies and let you live in peace, there in the land he has given you. But after you are settled, life will be different. You must not offer sacrifices just anywhere you want to. Instead, the Lord will choose a place somewhere in Israel where you must go to worship him. All of your sacrifices and offerings must be taken there, including sacrifices to please the Lord[b] and any gift you promise or voluntarily give him. That’s where you must also take one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil,[c] as well as the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats.[d] You and your family and servants will eat your gifts and sacrifices[e] and celebrate there at the place of worship, because the Lord your God has made you successful in everything you have done. And since Levites will not have any land of their own, you must ask some of them to come along and celebrate with you.

Sometimes you may want to kill an animal for food and not as a sacrifice. If the Lord has blessed you and given you enough cows or sheep or goats, then you can butcher one of them where you live. You can eat it just like the meat from a deer or gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And even those people who are unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat. But you must not eat the blood of any animal—let the blood drain out on the ground.

20-21 The Lord has promised that later on he will give Israel more land, and some of you may not be able to travel all the way from your homes to the place of worship each time you are hungry for meat.[f] But the Lord will give you cattle, sheep, and goats, and you can butcher any of those animals at home and eat as much as you want. 22 It is the same as eating the meat from a deer or a gazelle that you kill when you go hunting. And in this way, anyone who is unclean and unfit for worship can have some of the meat.[g]

23-24 But don’t eat the blood. It is the life of the animal, so let it drain out on the ground before you eat the meat. 25 Do you want the Lord to make you successful? Do you want your children to be successful even after you are gone? Then do what pleases the Lord and don’t eat blood.

26-27 All sacrifices and offerings to the Lord must be taken to the place where he chooses to be worshiped. If you offer a sacrifice to please the Lord, all of its meat must be burned on the altar. You can eat the meat from certain kinds of sacrifices, but you must always pour out the animal’s blood on the altar.

28 If you obey these laws, you will be doing what the Lord your God says is right and good. Then he will help you and your descendants be successful.

Worship the Lord in the Right Way

Moses said:

29 Israel, as you go into the land and attack the nations that are there, the Lord will get rid of them, and you can have their land.

30 But that’s when you must be especially careful not to ask, “How did those nations worship their gods? Shouldn’t we worship the Lord in the same way?” 31 No, you should not! The Lord hates the disgusting way those nations worship their gods, because they even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices.

32 Obey all the laws and teachings I am giving you. Don’t add any, and don’t take any away.

Footnotes:

  1. 12.3 sacred poles: Or “trees,” used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
  2. 12.5-19 sacrifices to please the Lord: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “whole burnt offerings” because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the Lord with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are often called “sacrifices to please the Lord.”
  3. 12.5-19 one tenth of your grain, wine, and olive oil: The Israelites had to give one tenth of their harvest of these products to the Lord each year (see 14.22-29; 26.12,13; Leviticus 27.30-33).
  4. 12.5-19 the first-born of your cattle, sheep, and goats: The Israelites had to sacrifice these to the Lord (see 15.19-22).
  5. 12.5-19 sacrifices: Some sacrifices were completely burned on the altar; in other sacrifices, part of the animal was burned and part was given to the priests, but most of the meat was eaten by the worshipers as a sacred meal.
  6. 12.20,21 meat: Usually eaten only on special occasions, such as during a sacred meal when sacrifices were offered to the Lord.
  7. 12.22 anyone. . . the meat: Only those who were properly prepared for worship, or “clean,” could eat a sacred meal, but anyone could eat this kind of meat.

Deuteronomy 12 New International Version (NIV)

The One Place of Worship

12 These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land. Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.

You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit, since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. 11 Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord. 12 And there rejoice before the Lord your God—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. 14 Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.

15 Nevertheless, you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were gazelle or deer, according to the blessing the Lord your God gives you. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it. 16 But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. 18 Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place the Lord your God will choose—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to. 19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.

20 When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want. 21 If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. 22 Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. 23 But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. 24 You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. 25 Do not eat it, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

26 But take your consecrated things and whatever you have vowed to give, and go to the place the Lord will choose. 27 Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat. 28 Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

29 The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.[a]

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 12:32 In Hebrew texts this verse (12:32) is numbered 13:1.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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