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This Study Series is being released according to the Torah Reading Schedule.

This week- Section 27
Name- תזריע (She Conceives) (She Bears Seed)
Parashah/Parsha- Vayikra 12.1-13.59
Torah Portion- Leviticus 12.1-13.59

Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from the JPS edition of The Torah, The Five Books of Moses, A New Translation of The Holy Scriptures, according to the Masoretic Text, First Section. Copyright 1967 by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Second Edition.

This week I want to discuss Deuteronomy 12.2-7.

2You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to disposes worshiped their gods, whether on lofty mountains and on hills or under any luxuriant tree. 3Tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to the fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site.

4Do not worship the LORD your God in like manner, 5but look only to the site that the LORD your God will choose amidst all your tribes as His habitation, to establish His name there. There you are to go, 6and there you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices, your tithes and contributions, your votive and freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks. 7Together with your households, you shall feast there before the LORD you God, happy in all the undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

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This Essay is part two. See the Year 2 Essay 26 for part 1.

This series of Essays includes my commentary about this material being presented from Moses’ own individual point of view. Please see my previous Essays for those discussions.

In Year 2 Essay 26, I discussed that Deuteronomy 12.2-3 is a contrast to what occurs in Deuteronomy 12.4-7.

The purpose of Deuteronomy 12.2-3 was to establish that Israel, as a nation, would not have multiple worship centers.

The purpose of Deuteronomy 12.4-7 was to establish that Israel, as a nation, would establish the foundation that the nation would gather in and at one place for sacrifices and worship.

In Deuteronomy 12.2-3, Moses reminds Israel what had already been covenanted between God and Israel (Exodus 34.13).

Deuteronomy 12.4 serves as the transition point. Moses again tells Israel that they are not permitted to conduct their worship as the previous inhabitants had done, which is not a direct accusation against the previous inhabitants, but it is a direct prohibition to Israel. Israel is not permitted to have multiple gods to which they serve (Exodus 20.3-5a, 34.14a).

Since Israel is not permitted to have multiple gods, Israel is also not permitted multiple worship centers. Israel is to have one God and one worship center, becoming an experiential, practical, and spiritual contrast to the previous inhabitants and the other nations.

With that in mind, Israel was to look to Jehovah, letting Jehovah establish the site at which Jehovah would permit the center for worship.

Moses is telling Israel that Jehovah has the right to declare the location for the worship place, and that Jehovah will establish that place, but that it would be chosen from amongst the tribes.

The interesting issue is that early Israel, the days of Moses, the days of Joshua, and the days of the Judges, all experienced national life with the tabernacle, even Samuel, along with King Saul, King David, and King Solomon experienced life with the Tabernacle.

But beginning with Solomon’s reign the Temple became prominent, replacing the Tabernacle.

In the early conquest days of Joshua, it seems the main location of the Tabernacle was Gilgal (Joshua 5.8-11).

At the close of the conquest, the Tabernacle was assembled at Shiloh (Joshua 18.1, 19.51), which is in the territory belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, from whom Joshua was descended (Numbers 13.8, 13.16).

Additionally, it appears that the Tabernacle might have been located in Bethel during the days of Phinehas, who was Aaron’s grandson (Judges 20.26-28a).

However, at some point the story of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle seem to separate, where the Ark has its own travels and eventually winds up in the city of David, known as Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6.16-19).

So, in some ways, it seems difficult to fully understand the exactitude of the statement “the site the LORD your God will choose amidst all your tribes as His habitation, to establish His name there”.

Why?

Because it could be argued that wherever the Tabernacle took up residence is where Jehovah had chosen to make as habitation and dwelling place.

However, it seems that once the Ark arrived in Jerusalem that the City of David became the habitation for Jehovah and become the center for worship.

Additionally, what is important is that Moses emphasized to the nation that they were to go wherever the Tabernacle, then later the Temple, was in order to worship, because the Tabernacle, later the Temple, represented not only the center for worship but also the habitation of Jehovah.

So, the nation of Israel, at one time, worshipped in Gilgal, and worshipped at Bethel, then later at Jerusalem.

But what needs to be seen is that when the Tabernacle was relocated, the nation itself came to that location, at that worship center, gathering together as a nation, offering burnt offerings and other sacrifices, giving their tithes and contributions, along with their votive and freewill offerings, and the firstlings from their herds and flocks.

That can also be seen when the Ark arrived in Jerusalem and the Temple was built, the nation came together at one worship center.

Irrespective of Tabernacle or Temple, the nation gathered where Jehovah’s habitation was, gathered together with their households, having their annual feasts (Exodus 23.14-17; Leviticus 23.1-44), celebrating in all that they had been permitted to do.

That is, up until Jeroboam and the Kingdom of Israel (the Northern Tribes) established two worship centers, one at Bethel and the other at Dan (1 Kings 12.25-29), each location having a calf constructed of gold to represent Jehovah, in order to encourage the Nation of Israel not to go to Jerusalem to worship, located in the Kingdom of Judah (the Southern Tribes).

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