Deuteronomy 12:12
And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; for as much as he has no part nor inheritance with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
12:5-32 The command to bring ALL the sacrifices to the door of the tabernacle, was now explained with reference to the promised land. As to moral service, then, as now, men might pray and worship every where, as they did in their synagogues. The place which God would choose, is said to be the place where he would put his name. It was to be his habitation, where, as King of Israel, he would be found by all who reverently sought him. Now, under the gospel, we have no temple or altar that sanctifies the gift but Christ only: and as to the places of worship, the prophets foretold that in every place the spiritual incense should be offered, Mal 1:11. Our Saviour declared, that those are accepted as true worshippers, who worship God in sincerity and truth, without regard either to this mountain or Jerusalem, Joh 4:21. And a devout Israelite might honour God, keep up communion with him, and obtain mercy from him, though he had no opportunity of bringing a sacrifice to his altar. Work for God should be done with holy joy and cheerfulness. Even children and servants must rejoice before God; the services of religion are to be a pleasure, and not a task or drudgery. It is the duty of people to be kind to their ministers, who teach them well, and set them good examples. As long as we live, we need their assistance, till we come to that world where ordinances will not be needed. Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we are commanded to do all to the glory of God. And we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father through him. They must not even inquire into the modes and forms of idolatrous worship. What good would it do them to know those depths of Satan? And our inward satisfaction will be more and more, as we abound in love and good works, which spring from faith and the in-dwelling Spirit of Christ.Moses points out that heretofore they had not observed the prescribed order in their worship, because during their migratory life in the wilderness it had been impossible to do so. During their wanderings there were doubtless times when the tabernacle was not set up for days together, and when the daily sacrifice Numbers 28:3, together with many other ordinances, were necessarily omitted (compare Joshua 5:5). This consideration must be carefully borne in mind throughout Deuteronomy. It illustrates the necessity for a repetition of very much of the Sinaitic legislation, and suggests the reason why some parts are so urgently reiterated and impressed, while others are left unnoticed. Moses now warns the people that as they were about to quit their unsettled mode of life, God's purpose of choosing for Himself a place to set His Name there would be executed, and the whole of the sacred ritual would consequently become obligatory. The "rest and safety" of Canaan is significantly laid down Deuteronomy 12:10-11 as the indispensable condition and basis for an entire fulfillment of the Law: the perfection of righteousness coinciding thus with the cessation of wanderings, dangers, and toils. 12. ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, &c.—Hence it appears that, although males only were commanded to appear before God at the annual solemn feasts (Ex 23:17), the women were allowed to accompany them (1Sa 1:3-23). Hence it appears, that though the males only were obliged to appear before God in their solemn feasts, Exodus 23:17, yet the women also were permitted to come, as they did. See Judges 21:19,21 1 Samuel 1:3,7,21-23. And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God,.... In the place chosen and fixed, where a temple would be built for him, and he would take up his residence; eating with joy and gladness that part of the offerings which belonged to them, keeping as it were a feast before the Lord, in token of gratitude for what they had received from him:

ye and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants; which explains what is meant by their household, Deuteronomy 12:7 wives are not mentioned, because it could not be thought they would eat and rejoice, or keep such a feast, without them, and therefore needless to name them:

and the Levite that is within your gates; such also were to partake of this entertainment, who were useful in instructing their families in the knowledge of divine things, and serviceable to them on many accounts in the worship of God:

forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you; in the division of the land, and so having nothing to manure and cultivate, was destitute of the fruits of the earth, and could make no improvement and increase of his substance, as they could.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 12. - Of their offerings they should make a festive meal for themselves and their household; and of this the Levite who might happen at the time to be resident among them was to partake. Rejoice before the Lord. This phrase occurs frequently in this book (Deuteronomy 14:26; Deuteronomy 16:11, 14; Deuteronomy 26:11; Deuteronomy 27:7); elsewhere it appears only once - Leviticus 23:40, where it is used with reference to the Feast of Tabernacles, Moses now enjoins this festivity to be observed in connection with all the sacrificial meals. The Levite that is within your gates. The Levites had no share in the land as the property of their tribe; but they had towns allotted to them among the different tribes (Numbers 35.), so that in this way they were dispersed through the nation. Hence, perhaps, they are described as "within the gates" of the rest of the people. Or, as the Levites seem to have itinerated in the discharge of various offices among the people, the phrase may designate them as on this account occasionally resident among others in their community; just as "the stranger that is within thy gates" means the person of some other nation who for the time being was resident in any of the towns of Israel. Thither they were to take all their sacrificial gifts, and there they were to celebrate their sacrificial meals. The gifts are classified in four pairs: (1) the sacrifices intended for the altar, burnt-offerings and slain-offerings being particularly mentioned as the two principal kinds, with which, according to Numbers 15:4., meat-offerings and drink-offerings were to be associated; (2) "your tithes and every heave-offering of your hand." By the tithes we are to understand the tithes of field-produce and cattle, commanded in Leviticus 27:30-33 and Numbers 18:21-24, which were to be brought to the sanctuary because they were to be offered to the Lord, as was the case under Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:5-7). That the tithes mentioned here should be restricted to vegetable tithes (of corn, new wine, and oil), is neither allowed by the general character of the expression, nor required by the context. For instance, although, according to Deuteronomy 12:7 and Deuteronomy 12:11, Deuteronomy 12:12, as compared with Deuteronomy 12:17, a portion of the vegetable tithe was to be applied to the sacrificial meals, there is no ground whatever for supposing that all the sacrifices and consecrated gifts mentioned in Deuteronomy 12:6 were offerings of this kind, and either served as sacrificial meals, or had such meals connected with them. Burnt-offerings, for example, were not associated in any way with the sacrificial meals. The difficulty, or as some suppose "the impossibility," of delivering all the tithes from every part of the land at the place of the sanctuary, does not warrant us in departing from the simple meaning of Moses' words in the verse before us. The arrangement permitted in Deuteronomy 14:24-25, with reference to the so-called second tithe, - viz., that if the sanctuary was too far off, the tithe might be sold at home, and whatever was required for the sacrificial meals might be bought at the place of the sanctuary with the money so obtained, - might possibly have been also adopted in the case of the other tithe. At all events, the fact that no reference is made to such cases as these does not warrant us in assuming the opposite. As the institution of tithes generally did not originate with the law of Moses, but is presupposed as a traditional and well-known custom, - all that is done being to define them more precisely, and regulate the way in which they should be applied, - Moses does not enter here into any details as to the course to be adopted in delivering them, but merely lays down the law that all the gifts intended for the Lord were to be brought to Him at His sanctuary, and connects with this the further injunction that the Israelites were to rejoice there before the Lord, that is to say, were to celebrate their sacrificial meals at the place of His presence which He had chosen. - The gifts, from which the sacrificial meals were prepared, are not particularized here, but are supposed to be already known either form the earlier laws or from tradition. From the earlier laws we learn that the whole of the flesh of the burnt-offerings was to be consumed upon the altar, but that the flesh of the slain-offerings, except in the case of the peace-offerings, was to be applied to the sacrificial meals, with the exception of the fat pieces, and the wave-breast and heave-shoulder. With regard to the tithes, it is stated in Numbers 18:21-24 that Jehovah had given them to the Levites as their inheritance, and that they were to give the tenth part of them to the priests. In the laws contained in the earlier books, nothing is said about the appropriation of any portion of the tithes to sacrificial meals. Yet in Deuteronomy this is simply assumed as a customary thing, and not introduced as a new commandment, when the law is laid down (in Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:22., Deuteronomy 26:12.), that they were not to eat the tithe of corn, new wine, and oil within their gates (in the towns of the land), any more than the first-born of oxen and sheep, but only at the place of the sanctuary chosen by the Lord; and that if the distance was too great for the whole to be transported thither, they were to sell the tithes and firstlings at home, and then purchase at the sanctuary whatever might be required for the sacrificial meals. From these instructions it is very apparent that sacrificial meals were associated with the delivery of the tithes and firstlings to the Lord, to which a tenth part of the corn, must, and oil was applied, as well as the flesh of the first-born of edible cattle. This tenth formed the so-called second tithe (δευτέραν δεκάτην, Tob. 1:7), which is mentioned here for the first time, but not introduced as a new rule or an appendix to the former laws. It is rather taken for granted as a custom founded upon tradition, and brought into harmony with the law relating to the oneness of the sanctuary and worship.

(Note: The arguments employed by De Wette and Vater against this arrangement with regard to the vegetable tithe, which is established beyond all question by the custom of the Jews themselves, have been so fully met by Hengstenberg (Dissertations, ii. 334ff.), that Riehm has nothing to adduce in reply, except the assertion that in Deuteronomy 18, where the revenues of the priests and Levites are given, there is nothing said about the tithe, and the tithe of the tithe, and also that the people would have been overburdened by a second tithe. But, apart from the fact that argumenta e silentio generally do not prove much, the first assertion rests upon the erroneous assumption that in Deuteronomy 18 all the revenues of the priests are given separately; whereas Moses confines himself to this general summary of the revenues of the priests and Levites enumerated singly in Numbers 18, "The firings of Jehovah shall be the inheritance of the tribe of Levi, these they shall eat," and then urges upon the people in Numbers 18:3-5 an addition to the revenues already established. The second objection is refuted by history. For if in later times, when the people of Israel had to pay very considerable taxes to the foreign kings under whose rule they were living, they could give a second tenth of the fruits of the ground in addition to the priests' tithe, as we may see from Tobit 1:7, such a tax could not have been too grievous a burden for the nation in the time of its independence; to say nothing of the fact that this second tenth belonged in great part to the donors themselves, since it was consumed in sacrificial meals, to which only poor and needy persons were invited, and therefore could not be regarded as an actual tax.)

"The heave-offerings of your hand," which are mentioned again in Malachi 3:8 along with the tithes, are not to be restricted to the first-fruits, as we may see from Ezekiel 20:40, where the terumoth are mentioned along with the first-fruits. We should rather understand them as being free gifts of love, which were consecrated to the Lord in addition to the legal first-fruits and tithes without being actual sacrifices, and which were then applied to sacrificial meals. - The other gifts were (3) נדרים and נדבות, sacrifices which were offered partly in consequence of vows and partly of their own free will (see at Leviticus 23:38, compared with Leviticus 7:16; Leviticus 22:21, and Numbers 15:3; Numbers 29:39); and lastly (4), "firstlings of your herds and of your flocks," viz., those commanded in Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:12., and Numbers 18:15.

According to Exodus 13:15, the Israelites were to sacrifice the firstlings to the Lord; and according to Numbers 13:8. they belonged to the holy gifts, which the Lord assigned to the priests for their maintenance, with the more precise instructions in Deuteronomy 12:17, Deuteronomy 12:18, that the first-born of oxen, sheep, and goats were not to be redeemed, but being holy were to be burned upon the altar in the same manner as the shelamim, and that the flesh was to belong to the priests, like the wave-breast and right leg of the shelamim. These last words, it is true, are not to be understood as signifying that the only portions of the flesh of the firstlings which were to be given to the priest were the wave-breast and heave-leg, and that the remainder of the flesh was to be left to the offerer to be applied to a sacrificial meal (Hengstenberg); but they state most unequivocally that the priest was to apply the flesh to a sacrificial meal, like the wave-breast and heave-leg of all the peace-offerings, which the priest was not even allowed to consume with his own family at home, like ordinary flesh, but to which the instructions given for all the sacrificial meals were applicable, namely, that "whoever was clean in the priest's family" might eat of it (Numbers 18:11), and that the flesh was to be eaten on the day when the sacrifice was offered (Leviticus 7:15), or at the latest on the following morning, as in the case of the votive offering (Leviticus 7:16), and that whatever was left was to be burnt. These instructions concerning the flesh of the firstlings to be offered to the Lord no more prohibit the priest from allowing the persons who presented the firstlings to take part in the sacrificial meals, or handing over to them some portion of the flesh which belonged to himself to hold a sacrificial meal, than any other law does; on the contrary, the duty of doing this was made very plain by the fact that the presentation of firstlings is described as ליהוה זבח in Exodus 13:15, in the very first of the general instructions for their sanctification, since even in the patriarchal times the זבח was always connected with a sacrificial meal in which the offerer participated. Consequently it cannot be shown that there is any contradiction between Deuteronomy and the earlier laws with regard to the appropriation of the first-born. The command to bring the firstlings of the sacrificial animal, like all the rest of the sacrifices, to the place of His sanctuary which the Lord would choose, and to hold sacrificial meals there with the tithes of corn, new wine, and oil, and also with the firstlings of the flocks, and herds, is given not merely to the laity of Israel, but to the whole of the people, including the priests and Levites, without the distinction between the tribe of Levi and the other tribes, established in the earlier laws, being even altered, much less abrogated. The Israelites were to bring all their sacrificial gifts to the place of the sanctuary to be chosen by the Lord, and there, not in all their towns, they were to eat their votive and free-will offerings in sacrificial meals. This, and only this, is what Moses commands the people both here in Deuteronomy 12:7 and Deuteronomy 12:17, Deuteronomy 12:18, and also in Deuteronomy 14:22. and Deuteronomy 15:19.

(Note: If, therefore, the supposed discrepancies between the law of Deuteronomy and that of Exodus and Leviticus concerning the tithes and firstlings vanish into mere appearance when the passages in Deuteronomy are correctly explained, the conclusions to which Riehm comes (pp. 43ff.), - viz., that in Deuteronomy the tithes and firstlings are no longer the property of the priests and Levites, and that all the laws concerning the redemption and sale of them are abrogated there-are groundless assertions, founded upon the unproved and unfounded assumption, that Deuteronomy was intended to contain a repetition of the whole of the earlier law.)

"Rejoice in all that your hand has acquired." The phrase יד משׁלח (cf. Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 15:10; Deuteronomy 23:21; Deuteronomy 28:8, Deuteronomy 28:20) signifies that to which the hand is stretched out, that which a man undertakes (synonymous with מעשׂה), and also what a man acquires by his activity: hence Isaiah 11:14, יד משׁלוח, what a man appropriates to himself with his hand, or takes possession of. אשׁר before בּרכך is dependent upon ידכם משׁלה, and בּרך is construed with a double accusative, as in Genesis 49:25. The reason for these instructions is given in Deuteronomy 12:8, Deuteronomy 12:9, namely, that this had not hitherto taken place, but that up to this day every one had done what he thought right, because they had not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord was about to give them. The phrase, "whatsoever is right in his own eyes," is applied to actions performed according to a man's own judgment, rather than according to the standard of objective right and the law of God (cf. Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25). The reference is probably not so much to open idolatry, which was actually practised, according to Leviticus 17:7; Numbers 25:1; Ezekiel 20:16-17; Amos 5:25-26, as to acts of illegality, for which some excuse might be found in the circumstances in which they were placed when wandering through the desert, - such, for example, as the omission of the daily sacrifice when the tabernacle was not set up, and others of a similar kind.

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