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

This week- Section 30

Name- קדשׁים (Holy People) (Holy Ones)
Parashah/Parsha- Vayikra 19.1-20.27
Torah Portion- Leviticus 19.1-20.27

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 12.13-16.

13Take care not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like, 14but only in the place which the LORD will choose in one of your tribal territories. There you shall sacrifice your burnt offerings and there you shall observe all that I enjoin upon you. 15But whenever you desire, you may slaughter and eat meat in any of your settlements, according to the blessing which the LORD your God has granted you. The unclean and the clean alike may partake of it, as of the gazelle and the deer. 16But you must not partake of the blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.

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This Essay is part 2 of 2 discussing Deuteronomy 12.13-16, this part focuses on verses 15-16.

This Essay continues my commentary on this section of Moses’ presentation to Israel, which began back with Deuteronomy 12.2. See my Year 2 Essays, beginning with Essay 26 for my comments on those verses.

In previous Essays, I have established that I interpret Moses as presenting these things to Israel from his own individual, personal, volitional perspective.

I recommend my reader to read Essay 29, which includes some explanation of why I hold that view.

I now move into my discussion about verses 15-16.

Moses includes the information of verses 15-16 in order to clarify the information in verses 13-14.

Verses 13-14 specifically refer to sacrifices and where those sacrifices are permitted.

Verses 15-16 exist in order to clarify that Moses is not referencing the “sacrificing” of animals for daily or weekly dietary needs.

Verses 13-14 are sacrifices for Jehovah.

Verses 15-16 are “sacrifices” for the person.

Why am I doing a word play on: sacrifice?

Because the animal has to be bled, whether at the Tent of Meeting or at the tent of the house, and when that animal is properly bled, its life is sacrificed for the purpose of that moment, whether that purpose is for Jehovah or that purpose is for the person’s dietary needs.

That means that Jehovah specified that Israel is not to ingest the blood of the animal that has been sacrificed, whether sacrificed for Jehovah or “sacrificed” for dietary needs at the home.

Since both types of sacrifices required the death of the animal and that animal has to be bled in a proper way, Moses is making sure that Israel understands that Moses is telling Israel that is it perfectly acceptable to “sacrifice” the animal for dietary intake at the place of residence, which means that an animal does not have to “sacrificed”, slaughtered, at the Tent of Meeting to be acceptable, when, and only when, the animal is for dietary intake.

Hence, Moses’ statement of Deuteronomy 12.15a JPS:
But whenever you desire, you may slaughter and eat meat in any of your settlements, according to the blessing which the LORD your God has granted you.

Therefore, Moses is helping Israel understand that they have the liberty to “sacrifice” animals in any location, when the animal it is considered a slaughter for dietary needs.

It might seem unnecessary to make that clarification, but since sacrificed animals at the Tent of Meeting and the animals ‘sacrificed’ (slaughtered) at the tent of a house required proper bleeding of the animal, then we can see that there is distinction to be made.

The animal sacrificed at the Tent of Meeting is for a sacred (not-common) purpose because it is for Jehovah, which means the animal sacrificed at the tent of a house is for a non-sacred (common) purpose because it is a person’s dietary needs.

Since the animal sacrificed (slaughtered) at the house of Jehovah (Tent of Meeting, Tabernacle) could only be accepted by certain people, Moses makes another specific point to the people of Israel.

When the animal is ‘sacrificed’ (slaughtered) at the house of a person (tent of the house), then there is no distinction to be made about who could eat of that animal and who could not.

Hence, Moses’ statement of Deuteronomy 12.15b JPS:
The unclean and the clean alike may partake of it, as of the gazelle and the deer.

Even though Moses helped Israel to understand that every animal was not required to visit the Tabernacle to be slaughtered, it seems that verse 16 is unneeded.

But, it seems that Moses didn’t want the liberty of ‘sacrificing’ animals at the tent of the house of the person to be interpreted as liberty to ingest the blood of the animal.

Therefore, to make certain that Israel did not violate the liberty of sacrificing an animal for dietary purposes, Moses reiterated Jehovah’s prohibition that Israel is not permitted to consume the animal’s blood, “But you must not partake of the blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.”

However, that injunction against ingesting blood was not new to Moses at that point in Deuteronomy.

That injunction was something that had already been experienced, from Jehovah to Moses where Moses is to instruct the people, and is seen in Leviticus 17.1-2, 10-14:

1The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

2Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelite people and say to them:

This is what the LORD has commanded:

10And if any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers who reside among them partakes of any blood, I will set My face against the person who partakes of the blood, and I will cut him off from among his kin. 11For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have assigned it to you for making expiation for your lives upon the altar; it is the blood, as life, that effects expiation. 12Therefore I say to the Israelite people: No person among you shall partake of blood, nor shall the stranger who resides among you partake of blood.

13And if any Israelite or any stranger who resides among them hunts down an animal or a bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 14For the life of all flesh – its blood is its life. Therefore I say to the Israelite people: You shall not partake of the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Anyone who partakes of it [the blood] shall be cut off.

The difficult thing about the entirety of Deuteronomy 12.13-16 is that, as I wrote in Essay 29, some interpret this passage as no longer permitting actual sacrifices to Jehovah anywhere “in every place” within the boundaries of Israel, but that this is limiting sacrifices to one location.

When one reads passages like Leviticus 17.3-9 it makes it appear that the Israelites were, at one time, permitted to sacrifice in any location, “in every place”.

However, I don’t take that perspective.

It is my interpretation that the nation of Israel, when in Egypt, actually sacrificed to Jehovah and did so wherever they wanted.

However, upon the exodus from Egypt, Jehovah is making it clear that practice is no longer permitted.

Why?

Because while in Egypt, Israel did not have knowledge or possession of the Law.

Why?

Because when Israel was in Egypt, Israel was not in covenant with Jehovah.

But upon the exodus, Israel came in covenant with Jehovah at Sinai and agreed to that covenant, and upon that agreement Israelite behavior had to change.

Therefore, I interpret that there was one location for sacrifices to Jehovah once the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) was established, and Israel had to adapt to that new edict, which prohibited Israelites from sacrificing however they wanted, which is what Israelites were accustomed to while in Egypt.

Thus, upon the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites agreed to covenant with Jehovah, and then had to learn a whole new way of doing things.

But that learning of the new way of doing things does not insinuate or convey that Jehovah ever actually permitted multiple sacrifice sites within the camp of Israel.

Did multiple-site sacrifice occur?

Most likely. Why? If Israel was willing to build the calf of gold, and was willing to stand against Moses, then it seems plausible they had multiple-site sacrifices, which had to be brought to an end.

The only thing that I have interpreted differently, as far as I know, is the timing of when multi-site sacrificial locations were brought to a end.

I am arguing that multi-site sacrificial locations were brought to an end much earlier than the commentary conveys.

That is why, I am stating that Moses is not presenting any “new” concept to Israel in Deuteronomy 12.13-16.

Instead, I am arguing that Deuteronomy 12.13-16 is Moses providing sermonic exposition and exhortation about information that Jehovah had already presented to Israel during previous events.

Therefore, I am articulating that Moses is not necessarily covering new territory, doctrinally.

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