Deuteronomy 12

One special place to worship the Lord

1 These are the laws and the rules that you must obey. Be careful to obey them when you live in the land that the Lord your God has given to you. He is the God that your ancestors worshipped. Obey these laws all the time that you live in that land.

2 You will chase out the nations who live there. Then you must destroy completely all the places where those people worship their gods. Those places are on the tops of mountains and hills, and under big green trees. 3 You must break into pieces their altars and stone pillars. Burn their Asherah poles. Knock down the images of their gods. Destroy those places so that nobody remembers the false gods.

4 Do not worship the Lord your God in the same way that those people worship their gods. 5 The Lord will choose one place from the land where all your tribes live. That is the place where people must go to worship him. That is his special home. 6 That is where you must take your burnt offerings and other sacrifices to offer to the Lord. Take your tithes and offerings to him there. Take the gifts that you have promised to give, and the gifts that you choose to give. Take the firstborn animals from your cows, sheep and goats. 7 You and your families will go there to meet with the Lord your God. You will be happy as you eat together there. You will enjoy the results of all your work, because the Lord has blessed you.

8 At this time, all of you now do what you think is right. But when you are in the land, you must worship God in a different way. 9 You have not yet reached the place where you can rest. That is in the land that the Lord your God is giving to you as your home. 10 But when you go across the Jordan river, that land will become your home. The Lord will protect you from all the enemies who are around you. You will live safely. 11 At that time, the Lord your God will choose one special place for his people to worship him. You must take there everything that I have told you. Take your burnt offerings and other sacrifices to offer to the Lord. Take your tithes and special offerings. Take the special gifts that you have promised to give to him. Take everything to the place that God will choose. 12 Go there to enjoy time with the Lord your God. Take with you your children and your servants. Also take with you the Levites who live in your towns. Remember that they have not received any land for themselves, as you have.

13 So be careful! Do not offer your burnt offerings in any place that you choose for yourself. 14 Only make offerings to the Lord in the place that he chooses. That will be in land that belongs to one of your tribes. It is the place where you must do all the things that I am commanding you to do.

15 But you may kill your animals and eat the meat in any of the towns where you live. When the Lord your God blesses you and he gives you animals, you may eat them as often as you want. It is the same as if you are eating meat from deer. Anyone may eat it. That includes people who are clean and people who are unclean. 16 But you must not eat the blood of any animal. You must pour it on the ground like water. 17 Do not eat any of your offerings to the Lord in the places where you live. Do not eat the tithes that you have taken from your grain, your new wine or your olive oil. Do not eat at home the firstborn animals from your cows, sheep or goats. Do not eat the gifts that you have promised, the gifts that you choose to give or any other special gifts. 18 You may only eat these offerings in the place that the Lord will choose as his special home. That is true for you, your children, your servants and the Levites who live in your towns. At that place, you should meet with the Lord your God and you should enjoy the results of all your work. 19 As long as you live in the land, be careful to take care of the Levites.

12:19The Levites were the special servants of God. They did not have their own land. So the Israelites must give them some of the food that they offered to God. The Israelites must always remember to do this.

20 The Lord your God has promised to give you more and more land. When he does that, perhaps you will say, ‘I would like to eat some meat.’ Then you may eat as much meat as you like. 21 The place that God chooses as his special home may be far away from you. If it is, you may kill any of the animals that the Lord has given to you. You may eat the meat at your own town, in the way that I have told you. 22 You should eat them in the same way that you eat deer. People who are unclean may eat them, as well as people who are clean. 23 But never eat the blood. The blood of an animal gives it life. You must not eat the life together with the meat! 24 You must not eat the blood. You must pour it on the ground like water. 25 Do not eat it! Then you will be doing what the Lord says is right. You will enjoy a happy life and so will your children.

26 It is only the holy things that you must take to the place that the Lord will choose for himself. Those are the gifts and sacrifices that you are offering to him. 27 Offer the meat and the blood of your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God. For the other sacrifices, you must pour out the blood beside the altar. But you may eat the meat. 28 Be careful to obey all these commands that I am giving to you. Then you will be doing things that the Lord your God says are good and right. You and your children will enjoy a happy life.

29 When you go into the land where the other nations live, the Lord your God will remove them. You will take their land and you will live on it. 30 But after the Lord has destroyed them, be careful! Do not do the same wrong things as they do. Do not try to worship their gods. Do not say, ‘How do the people of these nations worship their gods? I would like to do the same thing!’

31 No! You must not worship the Lord your God in the same way that those people worship their gods. When they worship, they do wicked things that the Lord hates. They even burn their children with fire, to make sacrifices to their gods.

32 Be careful to do everything that I am telling you. Do not add anything to these commands. Do not remove anything from them.