Deuteronomy 12:15
Notwithstanding you may kill and eat flesh in all your gates, whatever your soul lusts after, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh.—This may very possibly be intended as a slight modification of a law made for the wilderness journey (Leviticus 17:3-4). There the “killingof an ox, or lamb, or goat is forbidden anywhere except at the door of the tabernacle. The word “kill,” though often used sacrificially, cannot be limited to sacrifice in that place, although the animals mentioned are all sacrificial animals. It would seem that the practice of sacrificing those animals elsewhere, very possibly for the sake of the feast which followed, had become so common that it was necessary to forbid the killing of them anywhere but at the door of the tabernacle. But the continuance of this precept in Canaan would stop the eating of flesh altogether. Hence the exception made here.

As of the roebuck, and as of the hart.—The frequent mention of these animals in this connection suggests the idea that the hunting and catching of them may not have been an uncommon thing in the wilderness.

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.While a stringent injunction is laid down that the old rule (compare Leviticus 17:3, etc.) must be adhered to as regards animals slain in sacrifice, yet permission is now given to slaughter at home what was necessary for the table. The ceremonial distinctions did not apply in such cases, anymore than to "the roebuck" (or gazelle) "and hart," animals allowed for food but not for sacrifice. 15. Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates—Every animal designed for food, whether ox, goat, or lamb, was during the abode in the wilderness ordered to be slain as a peace offering at the door of the tabernacle; its blood to be sprinkled, and its fat burnt upon the altar by the priest. The encampment, being then round about the altar, made this practice, appointed to prevent idolatry, easy and practicable. But on the settlement in the promised land, the obligation to slay at the tabernacle was dispensed with. The people were left at liberty to prepare their meat in their cities or homes.

according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee—The style of living should be accommodated to one's condition and means—profuse and riotous indulgence can never secure the divine blessing.

the unclean and the clean may eat thereof—The unclean here are those who were under some slight defilement, which, without excluding them from society, yet debarred them from eating any of the sacred meats (Le 7:20). They were at liberty freely to partake of common articles of food.

of the roebuck—the gazelle.

and as of the hart—The Syrian deer (Cervus barbatus) is a species between our red and fallow deer, distinguished by the want of a bis-antler, or second branch on the horns, reckoning from below, and for a spotted livery which is effaced only in the third or fourth year.

Thou mayest kill and eat flesh, to wit, for thy common use and food.

In all thy gates, i.e. thy cities or dwellings.

Whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; what you shall desire either for quantity or quality, provided always you observe the laws given you elsewhere about avoiding excess and uncleanness in the things you eat.

Which he hath given thee, according to thy quality and estate; whereby he manifestly condemns those who profusely and riotously spend other men’s money, and live at a rate which their consciences know to be much above their ability; which certainly is an ungodly and unrighteous, though too common, practice.

The unclean, who is forbidden to eat of holy meats, Leviticus 7:20.

May eat thereof, to wit, of any sort of creatures, even of those sorts which are offered to God in sacrifices, which are as free to your use as the

roebuck and the

hart, which were not accepted in sacrifice, Leviticus 22:19; yet were clean beasts, Deu 14:5; and therefore here is a tacit exception of unclean beasts. Notwithstanding, thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates,.... They might kill such cattle that were allowed for food, and eat the flesh of them in theie own cities and houses in which they dwelt; they were not obliged to bring these to the place God should choose, and kill them there, as they had been wont to bring them to the tabernacle while in the wilderness:

whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; whatever they had a mind to, or their appetite craved, and were desirous of, provided it was not any thing forbidden, but was allowed to be eaten:

according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee; which it was in the power of their hands to procure for themselves; they might live according to their abilities, and keep a table answerable to what God had blessed them with; from which they were so far from being restrained, that it was rather commendable in them so to do, provided they did not indulge to luxury and intemperance:

the clean and the unclean may eat thereof; that is, such in their families who laboured under any ceremonial uncleanness by the touch of a dead body, or by reason of issues and menstrues; these, as well as those who were free from anything of this kind, might eat of common food in their houses, though they might not eat of the holy things; see Leviticus 7:20.

as of the roebuck, and as of the hart; that is, as those were clean creatures, and allowed for food, Deuteronomy 14:5 so they might eat of oxen or sheep, or lambs or rams, and goats, though they were creatures used in sacrifice.

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

(i) As God has given you power and ability.

(k) Everyone may eat equally at home the beast appointed for sacrifice and the other.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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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