Reading 54/341, Deuteronomy 12-15

The laws today are reminiscent of Leviticus. Some are the same and some are different. One difference is the tithe. Whereas Leviticus had the tithe given freely to the Levites, this law says that the person goes with his family to the temple to eat the tithe himself, but should be generous to the Levites.

...Deuteronomy...

These are the statutes and the ordinances which you shall carefully do in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places in which the nations that you shall dispossess served their gods: the high mountains, and the hills, and under every green tree, and you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods, and you shall destroy their name from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God thus, but you shall seek the place which the Lord your God chooses out of all your tribes, to put his name and dwelling there. There you shall come, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and the wave offering of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock, and there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all that you put your hand to, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

You shall not act in every way as we do here today: every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord your God gives you. But when you go over the Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God causes you to inherit, and he gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then you shall bring to the place which the Lord your God chooses, to cause his name to dwell there, all that I command you: your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the wave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow to the Lord. You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you, and your sons, and your daughters, and your male servants, and your female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you. Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see, but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you. Nevertheless, you may kill and eat flesh within all your gates, after all the desire of your soul, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you, the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle, and as of the hart. Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain, or of your new wine, or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, nor any of your vows which you vow, nor your freewill offerings, nor the wave offering of your hand; these you shall eat before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord your God shall choose, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your male servant, and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you put your hand to. Take care that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land.

When the Lord your God enlarges your border, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat’, because your soul desires to eat meat, you may eat meat, after all the desire of your soul. If the place which the Lord your God shall choose, to put his name there, is too far from you, then you shall kill of your herd and of your flock, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates, after all the desire of your soul. As the gazelle and as the deer is eaten, so you shall eat of it, the unclean and the clean may eat of it alike. But be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, when you shall do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Only your holy things which you have, and your vows, you shall take, and go to the place which the Lord shall choose, and you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God, and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, and you shall eat the flesh. Observe and hear all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

When the Lord your God cuts off the nations from before you, where you go in to dispossess them, and you dispossess them, and dwell in their land; take care lest you be ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, or lest you inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? I will do likewise.’ You shall not thus worship the Lord your God, for every abomination to the Lord, which he hates, have they done to their gods; they burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever thing I command you, that you shall carefully do. You shall not add to it, nor take from it. If there arises in the midst of you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them’, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or to that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God tests you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and hold fast to him. That prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he has spoken rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to draw you aside out of the way which the Lord your God commanded you to walk in. So shall you put away the evil from the midst of you.

If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend, who is like your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’, which you have not known, you, nor your fathers; of the gods of the peoples who are round about you, near to you, or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him, nor listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare, nor shall you conceal him, but you shall surely kill him. Your hand shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he has sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. All Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall not do anymore such wickedness as this is in the midst of you. If you shall hear about one of your cities, which the Lord your God gives you to dwell there, saying, ‘Certain base fellows are gone out from the midst of you, and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known”’, then you shall inquire, and make search, and ask diligently, and, behold, if it is true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is done in the midst of you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein and the livestock of it, with the edge of the sword. You shall gather all the spoil of it into the middle of the street, and burn the city with fire, and all the spoil of it, every bit, to the Lord your God, and it shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. Nothing devoted to destruction shall hold fast to your hand, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show you mercy, and have compassion on you, and multiply you, as he has sworn to your fathers, when you listen to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep all his commandments which I command you this day, to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

You are the children of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth. You shall not eat any abominable thing. These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, the deer, and the gazelle, and the roebuck, and the wild goat, and the ibex, and the antelope, and the chamois. Every animal that parts the hoof, and has the hoof cloven in two, and chews the cud, among the animals, that may you eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of those who have the hoof cloven: the camel, and the hare, and the rabbit; because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, they are unclean to you. The pig, because it has a split hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. These you may eat of all that are in the waters, whatever has fins and scales may you eat, and whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean to you. Of all clean birds you may eat. But these are the ones of which you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the falcon of any kind; every raven of any kind; the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant, the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat. And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. All clean winged things you may eat. You shall not eat of anything that dies of itself, you may give it to the immigrant living among you who is within your gates, that he may eat it; or you may sell it to an immigrant, for you are a holy people to the Lord your God. You shall not boil a kid goat in its mother's milk.

You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed, what comes forth from the field year by year. You shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place which he shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there, the tithe of your grain, of your new wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. If the way be too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God shall choose, to set his name there, when the Lord your God blesses you, then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place which the Lord your God chooses, and you shall bestow the money for whatever your soul desires, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul asks of you, and you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. The Levite who is within your gates, you shall not forsake him, for he has no portion nor inheritance with you. At the end of every three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your yield in the same year, and shall lay it up within your gates, and the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the immigrant living among you, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

At the end of every seven years you shall make a release. This is the manner of the release, every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the Lord's release has been proclaimed. Of an immigrant you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. However there shall be no poor among you, for the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it, if only you diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, to carefully do all this commandment which I command you this day. For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. If there be among you a poor man, one of your brothers, within any of your gates in your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall surely open your hand to him, and shall surely lend him what is sufficient for his need which he lacks. Beware that there not be a base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand’, and your eye be evil against your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and it be sin for you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him; because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work, and in all that you put your hand to. For the poor will never cease out of the land, therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor, in your land.’

If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let them go free from you. When you let them go free from you, you shall not let them go empty: you shall furnish them liberally out of your flock, and out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress; as the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to them. You shall remember that you were a bondservant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you, therefore I command you this thing today. It shall be, if he tell you, ‘I will not go out from you’, because he loves you and your house, because he is well with you; then you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise. It shall not seem hard to you, when you let him go free from you; for at half the cost of a hired worker has he served you six years, and the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do. All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock you shall sanctify to the Lord your God. You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. You shall eat it before the Lord your God year by year in the place which the Lord shall choose, you and your household. If it have any blemish, be it lame or blind, any ill blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. You shall eat it within your gates, the unclean and the clean shall eat it alike, like the gazelle, and like the deer. Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.