THE PENTATEUCH PART V: DEUTERONOMY
Lesson 7: Chapters 11-13
Moses' Second Homily: The Ethical Stipulations of the Covenant Treaty Continued
Your Law was the center of faith for the Old Covenant Church, but You have given us our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the center of our faith. Through Him all people are drawn to share in the life of His Body, the New Covenant Church. Inspire us, Lord, to be faithful witnesses to our life in Christ. We pray that we will have the generosity to welcome and support all who come to share in our covenant family of faith. Guide us in our study, Most Holy Spirit, of Moses' teachings to the Old Covenant Church as the Israelites prepared for their rendezvous with destiny in the conquest of the Promised Land. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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replied, 'Away with you, Satan! For scripture says: The Lord your God is the
one to whom you must do homage, him alone you must serve.'
What do we understand
here by rain, except the words of sacred preaching? We apply this passage to
the holy teachers who were preachers in Judea ... We are watered by the word of
their holy preaching when we acknowledge the aridity of our hearts with true
Paterius (late 6th to early 7th century),
Exposition of the Old and New Testaments: Deuteronomy 2
Chapter 11: Israel's Obligations Continued
Chapter 11:1-25 concludes the part of Moses' second homily that was an appeal for covenant loyalty based on the covenant documents of the Decalogue (chapters 5-10). Chapter 11:26-32 will be an introduction to the discourse on the series of laws known as the Deuteronomic Code. The Pentateuch contains three sets of law codes that expand the basic law of the Decalogue:
Moses' argument for obedience and covenant loyalty continue. He lays out his argument in three distinct paragraphs in verses 1-25. Moses' main theme in all three paragraphs is that loyalty to Yahweh's covenant provides the conditions for life and prosperity in Canaan. Each of the paragraphs in this section of Moses' address is distinct from the other; however, the paragraphs compliment each other and share many of the same features. Within each paragraph there is the command to:
The first two paragraphs share a focus on possession of the land and the blessing to keep it:
In the first and third paragraphs, Moses speaks of God's power as manifested in historical events (verses 3-6 and 23), and in the second he address God's control over nature (verses 12-17). The word "land" is repeated twelve times in chapter 11.
Israel's Past Experiences
1 'You must love Yahweh your God and always keep his observances, his laws, his customs, his commandments. 2 [And you know today] You are the ones who have had the experience, not your children. They have not had the experience, they have not witnessed the lessons of Yahweh your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, 3 the signs and the deeds which he performed in the heart of Egypt, against Pharaoh king of Egypt and his entire country, 4 what he did to the armies of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots, by overwhelming them with the waters of the Sea of Reeds when they were pursuing you, and leaving no trace of them to this day; 5 what he did for you in the desert, until you arrived here; 6 what he did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when, with all Israel standing round, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their families, their tents and all their supporters. 7 All these great deeds of Yahweh you have seen with our own eyes. 8 'You must keep all the commandments which I enjoin on you today, so that you may have the strength to conquer the country [land] into which you are about to cross, to take possession of it, 9 and so that you may live long in the country which Yahweh promised on oath to bestow on your ancestors and their descendants, a country flowing with milk and honey.
[..] = literal translation; "this day" and "today" are the same Hebrew word (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 489-90).
Question: In this first section, after repeating
God's demand to love Him and keep His commandments, what argument does Moses
use to persuade the people should obey the Lord?
Answer: Having been eyewitnesses to God great works on behalf of Israel as well as His mighty judgments for disobedience, this generation should be able to understand better than any future generation that Israel's success, both in conquering the Promised Land and in keeping it, depends on Israel's obedience and loyalty to God.
Deuteronomy 11:4 ... what he did to the armies of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots, by overwhelming them with the waters of the Sea of Reeds when they were pursuing you, and leaving no trace of them to this day.
In Deuteronomy, the word "today" (in the Hebrew text), also translated "this day," is repeated eight times in chapter 11 and over fifty times in Moses' three homilies, emphasizes the contemporary nature of the covenant.(1)
Moses tells his people that not only are they the chosen people but they are the chosen generation of the chosen people. Some of them have eye-witness experiences of Yahweh's great works and some have also witnessed His divine wrath, as in the case of the rebellion of the Reubenites in Numbers 16:1-17:15/16:50, when fourteen thousand seven hundred rebels perished.(2) It is interesting that Moses does not mention the rebellion of the Levites that took place at the same time, perhaps because his focus is intertribal rebellion and not the rebellion of the lesser ministers who belong to God and not to Israel.
This section is similar to Deuteronomy 5:2-3 where Moses also reminded the people that their covenant with Yahweh was unique and was not the same covenant He made with the Patriarchs.
Promises and Warnings
10 For the country [land] which you are about to enter and make your own is not like the country [land] of Egypt from which you have come, where, having done your sowing you had to water the seed by foot, as though in a vegetable garden. 11 No, the country [land] which you are about to enter and make your own is a country [land] of hills and valleys watered by the rain of heaven, 12 Yahweh your God looks after this country [land], the eyes of Yahweh your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end. 13 Depend on it: if you faithfully obey the commandments I enjoin on you today, loving Yahweh your God and serving him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 I shall give your country [land] rain at the right time, rain in autumn, rain in spring, so that you can harvest your wheat, your new wine and your oil. 15 I shall provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat to your heart's content. 16 Beware of letting your heart be seduced: if you go astray, serve other gods and bow down to them, 17 Yahweh's anger will be kindled against you, he will shut the heavens, there will be no more rain, the soil will not yield its produce and in the fine country [good land] given you by Yahweh, you will quickly perish. [..] = literal translation (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 490-91).
This paragraph contrasts the Promised Land with the land of Egypt. The word "land" is repeated seven times, with the final seven being the description of Canaan as "the good land." See Deuteronomy 8:1-10 where this pattern first appeared with seven repetitions of the word "land" ending in the phrase "the good land" in verse 10.
Deuteronomy 11:13-21 is the second passage recited in the Shema, the twice daily recited Jewish profession of faith, which includes in order the passages from Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41. As has been mentioned previously in the study on chapter 6, the verses that comprise the Old Covenant profession of faith known as the Shema are in effect a summary of a covenant treaty:
Question: How will the sowing of the soil and the
harvest of the Promise Land be different from Egypt? See verse 10.
Answer: In Egypt they irrigated their fields manually with water from the Nile, but in the Promised Land they will have to depend on God to give them water for their crops.
Deuteronomy 11:14 I shall give your country rain at the right time, rain in autumn, rain in spring, so that you can harvest your wheat, your new wine and your oil.
Notice the abrupt change in the speaker in this verse. The speaker changes from Moses to Yahweh (see the same change in the speaker in Dt 7:4; 17:3 and 28:20); God is speaking through Moses. The Promised Land has two rainy seasons referred to as the former rains in the late fall and the latter rains in the spring (see the chart on the Liturgical and civil year).(3) St. Jerome compared the seasons of rain to the revelation of the Law and the revelation of the Son. The early spiritual "rain" came in the time of the Law and the late "rain" came at the time of the incarnation of the Christ.
Question: From what Moses says about rain in the
Promised Land, what can the Israelites conclude about adequate rainfall for
Answer: Since the Promise Land is going to be watered by God, rainfall is conditional upon obedience to Him.
18 'Let these words of mine remain in your heart and in your soul; fasten them on your hand as a sign and on your forehead as a headband. 19 Teach them to your children, and keep on telling them, when you are sitting at home, when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are standing up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that you and your children may live long in the country [land] which Yahweh swore to your ancestors that he would give them for as long as there is a sky above the earth. 22 For if you faithfully keep and observe all these commandments that I enjoin on you today, loving Yahweh Your God, following all his ways and holding fast to him, 23 Yahweh will dispossess all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and more powerful than yourselves. 24 Wherever the sole of your foot treads will be yours; your territory will run from the desert all the way to the Lebanon; and from the River, from the River Euphrates, as far as the Western Sea, will be your territory. 25 No one will be able to resist you; Yahweh your God will make you feared and dreaded throughout the territory [land] you tread, as he has promised you.
[..] = literal translation (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 491-92).
Verses 18-21 are a repeat of the commands concerning the wearing of tefilin/teffilin and the posting of mezuzot on doorposts that were given in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. In verse 24 the extent of the land promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 is repeated.
The phrase in verse 24: Wherever the sole of your foot treads will be yours ... may reflect God's command to Abraham to walk the land God had promised him in Genesis 13:17 as a kind of spiritual conquest. It was a practice in ancient times to formally acquire legal title to a parcel of land by walking through it (also see Josh 1:3-4).
Question: What three points can you identify as the
focus of Moses' message in this section of the second homily?
Introduction to the Deuteronomic Code
26 Today, look, I am offering you a blessing and a curse: 27 a blessing, if you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God which I enjoin on you today; 28 a curse, if you disobey the commandments of Yahweh your god and leave the way which today I have marked out for you, by following other gods hitherto unknown to you. 29 And when Yahweh your God has brought you into the country [land] which you are about to enter and make your own, you must set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 (These mountains, as everyone knows, are on the other side of the Jordan on the westward road, in the territory [land] of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, near the Oak of Moreh.) 31 For you are about to cross the Jordan, to enter and take possession of the country [land] given you by Yahweh your God. You will possess it, you will live in it, 32 and you must keep and observe all the laws and customs promulgated by me to you today.' [..] = literal translation (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 492-92).
This section is a summing up of the preamble to the laws from 5:1-11:28 and also serves as an introduction to the Deuteronomic Code. The promises for covenant obedience and the warnings of punishments for disobedience are predominantly addressed to the people in the plural "you," stressing the communal responsibility of Israel as people in covenant with Yahweh.
Question: In his second homily, Moses has essentially
offered the Israelites what two choices concerning their future in the Promised
Answer: He has offered them a future full of God's blessings if they remind faithful to the covenant and obedient to God's Law or a future filled with divine judgment and disaster if they fail in their covenant obligations.
Question: In what unique ceremony are the Israelites
to be reminded of their two choices concerning their future after they enter
the Promised Land? See Josh 8:32-35
Answer: In a covenant renewal ceremony, the Israelites and the non-Israelites traveling with them were to stand, half on Mount Gerizim and the other half on Mount Ebal, with the Ark of the Covenant in the valley between them, while Moses' homilies from the Decalogue and the Deuteronomic Code, together with the blessings and curses/judgments, were read to them.
Deuteronomy 11:29-31 And when Yahweh your God has brought you into the country [land] which you are about to enter and make your own, you must set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30(These mountains, as everyone knows, are on the other side of the Jordan on the westward road, in the territory [land] of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, near the Oak of Moreh.) The oaks of Moreh were at Shechem where God first spoke to Abraham in Canaan (Gen 12:6). After the conquest, the Israelite camp of Gilgal was to be located across from Jericho, many miles to the south of Shechem. But the Gilgal mentioned in verse 30 must be the Gilgal mentioned in 2 Kings 1:2 and 4:38 that was south of Ebal and Gerizim. The ceremony was to take place near Shechem where the Oak of Moreh used to stand.
Question: What was significant about the Oak of
Moreh? See Gen 12:1-7.
Answer: The Oak of Moreh was where Abraham erected his first altar to Yahweh after arriving in the Promised Land (Gen 12:6-7). The covenant renewal ceremony after the invasion took place near the very place where God made His covenant promised to Abraham and where Abraham showed His faith in Yahweh's promises by building his first altar and worshiping Yahweh with sacrifices.
It may also have been where Jacob buried foreign idols (see Gen 35:4) and the site where Joshua later set up the desert Tabernacle (Josh 24:26). The two mountains face each other south (Gerizim) and north (Ebal) of Shechem. It was on Mount Gerizim that the Samaritan's built their Temple.(4)
Chapter 12: The Deuteronomic Code
... Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen as a dwelling-place for my name.
1 Kings 11:36.
That is why even the earlier covenant was inaugurated with blood, and why, after Moses had promulgated all the commandments of the Law to the people, he took the calves' blood, the goats' blood and some water, and with these he sprinkled the book itself and all the people, using scarlet wool and hyssop; saying as he did so: This is the blood of the covenant that God has made with you. And he sprinkled both the tent and all the liturgical vessels with blood in the same way. In fact, according to the Law, practically every purification takes place by means of blood; and if there is no shedding of blood, there is no remission. Hebrews 9:18-22
The Deuteronomic Code proclaimed on the Plains of Moab is the longest code of laws proclaimed in the Bible.
Question: What does this code of laws have in common
with the others? How is it different? See Ex 20:22; Lev 17:1; Dt 1:3; 12:1.
Answer: Like the other codes, the commandments contained in this series of laws was also given to Moses by Yahweh and then proclaimed by Moses to the people. It is also an extension of the laws proclaimed in the Ten Commandments, but it is different in that the laws pertain to life in the Promised Land and not life in the wilderness.
Contrary to the way the codes are presented within the Pentateuch, many modern scholars who do not believe Moses was the writer of the Pentateuch and date these three codes to different periods in Israel's history, all of which are post-Mosaic. Jewish scholar Jon Levenson who embraces this theory writes: The experience of Sinai, whatever its historical basis, was perceived as so overwhelming, so charged with meaning, that Israel could not imagine that any truth or commandment from God could have been absent from Sinai (Levenson, Sinai & Zion, pages 18-19). In the view of Levenson and other modern scholars, the various law codes were redacted into the Pentateuch by later editors of Sacred Scripture.
God's Holy Shrine is Limited to One Place and One Sacred Altar
1 'Now, these are the laws and customs which you must keep in the country [land] which Yahweh, God of your ancestors, is giving you as yours, and which you must observe every day that you live in that country. 2 You must completely destroy all the places where the nations you dispossess have served their gods, on high mountains, on hills, under any spreading tree; 3 you must tear down their altars, smash their sacred stones, burn their sacred poles, hack to bits the statues of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. 4 Not so must you behave towards Yahweh your God. 5 You must seek Yahweh your God in the place which he will choose from all your tribes, there to set his name and give it a home: that is where you must go. 6 That is where you must bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and offerings held high, your votive offerings and your voluntary offerings, and the first-born of your herd and flock, 7 and that is where you must eat in the presence of Yahweh your God, rejoicing over your labors, you and your households, because Yahweh your God has blessed you. 8 You must not behave as we are behaving here today, each of you doing what he himself sees fit, 9 since you have not yet come to the resting place and the heritage that Yahweh your God is going to give you. 10 You are about to cross the Jordan and live in the country [land] given you by Yahweh your God as your heritage; he will grant you peace from all the enemies surrounding you, and you will live in safety. 11 To the place chosen by Yahweh your God as a home for his name, to that place you must bring all the things that I am laying down for you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and offerings held high, and all the best of your possessions dedicated by your to Yahweh. 12 That is where you will rejoice in the presence of Yahweh your God, you and your sons and daughters, your serving men and women, and the Levite living in your community since he has no share or heritage of his own among you.
The Deuteronomic Code contains laws that will be necessary for Israel to live in harmony with God in the Promised Land. Some scholars see the Deuteronomic Code as a replacement for the Book of the Covenant which they present as only serving the Israelites during the wilderness years. However, examination of the Book of the Covenant does not support this theory since the laws contained in it address social and moral laws for maintaining harmony within the community that are meant to continue (Ex 20:22-23:9), and also laws that apply only to the time when the Israelites were to occupy the Promised Land. For example, the laws in Exodus 23:10-11 concerning observance of the sabbatical year rest of the land is a law not observed during the forty years of nomadic life but which only went into effect when the Israelites occupied Canaan.
Question: What are the Israelites commanded to do
with pagan religious sites and why?
Answer: The Israelites must not be drawn to sites of pagan worship but must completely destroy all pagan sites and their cultic symbols.
Question: What is the central theme of this passage?
Answer: Yahweh's Sanctuary is the only place for right worship and the Israelites are to bring their sacrifices and communion offerings only to Yahweh's shrine.
Deuteronomy 12:5 You must seek Yahweh your God in the place which he will choose from all your tribes, there to set his name and give it a home: that is where you must go.
The Bible is consistent in its declaration that after the Sanctuary was consecrated at Sinai the Israelites must bring their sacrifices to only Yahweh's holy altar and must worship Yahweh only at His holy shrine. In order to train the Israelites to only offer worship to Yahweh and to not be tempted to eat meat by offering sacrifice to other gods, the restriction in the first laws of the Holiness Code demanded that during the wilderness years the Israelites were only to eat the meat of their communion sacrifices offered to Yahweh (Lev 17:3-16). It is not until the Israelites take possession of the Promised Land that they will be permitted to kill and eat clean animals wherever they live provided they observe the covenant prohibition against eating raw flesh or drinking blood (Dt 12:15-16; 23, 27).
Deuteronomy 12:6-7 That is where you must bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and offerings held high, your votive offerings and your voluntary offerings, and the first-born of your herd and flock, 7 and that is where you must eat in the presence of Yahweh your God, rejoicing over your labors, you and your households, because Yahweh your God has blessed you.
Question: What classifications of offerings are the
Israelites commanded to bring to Yahweh's Sanctuary? See the chart on the
three major classifications of offerings and sacrifices in Appendix I, and
Leviticus chapters 1-7.
Answer: The Israelites must bring their altar sacrifices that include individual free-will burnt offerings (males from the herd or flock) and the sacrifices for sin (for the individual a ewe or she-goat) and reparation offerings (a ram). They must also bring the communion sacrifices (males or females from the herd or flock for votive and free-will festival communion offerings) that will be eaten in the "camp of God." In addition they must bring their tribute offerings to God their great king in the form of the first of the harvest and first-born of their herds and flocks. In the place that God has selected for His name, in His "camp," they must also eat their Todah communion offerings (male or female animals from the herd or flock) in the presence of God
Initially, during and after the conquest, God's Sanctuary would rest at several places. For example, immediately after crossing into Canaan the Sanctuary was established at Gilgal (Josh 4:19); later the proto-Temple was located at Shiloh during the time of the prophet Samuel (1 Sam 1:3, 9). Deuteronomy 12:5-12 addresses a time when one place "chosen by Yahweh your God as a home for his name" was to be selected as a permanent Sanctuary location.
Question: What events had to take place before that
one place would be designated as a permanent home for "Yahweh's name" and what
was the Biblical significance of that place? Gen 22:1-2, 11-14; 2 Sam 2:4;
5:1-7; 1 Chr 21:14-19, 26-28; 22:1, 7-10; 2 Chr 3:1-2; 1 Kng 11:36.
Answer: David of Judah had to be born. He had to be anointed by God, grow to manhood, and be elected King of a united Israel. He had to defeat the Jebusites and conquer the city of Jerusalem (Y/Jirah-salem). The significance of Jerusalem and Mt. Moriah where the Temple was built is that it was the same site where Abraham was told to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God and where both Abraham and David had a visionary experience of the divine.
Jerusalem is the site that Yahweh refers to in the passage in Deuteronomy 12.
Question: What is the significance of God's message
that the selection of the site for His Sanctuary will be a place where His
"name" will dwell among the tribes of Israel? How was Yahweh's Sanctuary
unlike the shrines of pagan gods?
Answer: Unlike pagan gods whose images dwelled in their sacred shrines, Yahweh cannot be confined to a building. It is the liturgy of His people that must be confined to only one shrine. Yahweh will not dwell in the shrine in a literal anthropomorphic sense, but that His "name" dwells there means His essence, nature, and divine will is manifested there.
Even when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587/86 BC, the spot where the Temple stood retained its sanctity. During the Babylonian exile, the prophet Daniel and the other exiles remembered the Tamid sacrifice that took place twice daily in the Temple liturgy through their daily prayers that were offered to coincided with the times the Tamid lamb was offered in sacrifice for the covenant people by praying in the direction of Jerusalem and then a third time at night before retiring (Dan 6:11; 9:20-21).
Deuteronomy 12:12 ... and the Levite living in your community since he has no share or heritage of his own among you.
Question: Why will the Levites have no share in the
land? See Num 8:3-4, 13-22; 18:20-24 and Lev 25:32-34; Num 35:1-8.
Answer: In the dedication of the Levites as the lesser ministers of the Sanctuary, they gave up their claim to ancestral land in Canaan. Instead, God became their heritage. It was God who provided for their welfare out of the tithes and offerings of the other tribes, and it was God who gave them Levitical towns in the Promised Land that became their homes.
13'Take care you do not offer your burnt offerings in all the sacred places you see; 14 only in the place that Yahweh chooses in one of your tribes may you offer your burnt offerings and do all the things which I have commanded you. 15 This notwithstanding, and whenever you wish, you may slaughter and eat meat wherever you live-as much as the blessing of Yahweh affords you. Clean or unclean may eat it, as though it were gazelle or deer. 16 You will not, however, eat the blood, but will pour that like water on the ground. 17 You must not eat the tithe of your wheat, of your new wine or of your oil, or the first-born of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings or voluntary offerings, or your offerings held high to Yahweh, at home. 18 You must eat these in the presence of Yahweh your God in the place Yahweh your God chooses and there alone, you, your son and your daughter, your serving man and serving woman, and the Levite living in your community, expressing your joy in all your labors in the presence of Yahweh your God. 19 As long as you live on your soil [land], be careful not to neglect the Levite. 20 When Yahweh your God enlarges your territory [land] as he has promised you, and you say, "I should like to eat meat," if you want to eat meat you may eat as much as you like. 21 If the place in which Yahweh your God chooses to set his name is too far away, you may slaughter any of your herd or flock that Yahweh has given you, as I have prescribed for you; you may eat as much of it as you please at home. 22 But you must eat it as you would gazelle or deer; clean and unclean may eat it together.' [..] = literal translation (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 494-95).
Verses 13-16 introduce two important distinctions in Israelite worship, both of which are revolutionary-for Israel and for the times.
Question: What is the prohibition in verses 13-14?
Answer: Legitimate sacrifice to Yahweh can only be practiced at His holy Sanctuary at Yahweh's one altar of sacrifice and at no other site.
Question: What is the other unique requirement in
Answer: There is a distinction between the ritual sacrifice of animals at God's altar and the secular slaughter of domestic animals for food.
This section gives permission for the secular slaughter of clean animals suitable for sacrifice and indicates how secular slaughter of animals differs from ritual sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12:15 ... Clean or unclean may eat it, as though it were gazelle or deer.
"Clean" and "unclean" are categories that do not refer to cleanness but to ritual purity according to the Law (see Lev chapters 11-15 and Num chapter 19). Those who were ritually unclean were not permitted to eat what was holy in the communion sacrifices (Lev 7:19-21). However, even when animals were slaughtered secularly, eating raw meat and drinking blood was prohibited; therefore, the blood had to be thoroughly drained from the animal.
Deuteronomy 12:17-18 You must not eat the tithe of your wheat, of your new wine or of your oil, or the first-born of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings or voluntary offerings, or your offerings held high to Yahweh, at home. 18 You must eat these in the presence of Yahweh your God in the place Yahweh your God chooses ...
Those offerings designated first fruits from the domestic animals or the grains or fruits could not be eaten and must be given to Yahweh at His Sanctuary. The bread and grain offerings and the meat of animals sacrificed at Yahweh's altar could only be eaten in either the Sanctuary courtyard (Todah voluntary communion offerings) or in the "camp of God," in the community where the Sanctuary was located, (Neder votive/vow offerings, or Nedavah volunteer festival communion offerings). See Lev 3:1-17; 7:11-17/7:1-7; 22:18-23.
Deuteronomy 12:22 But you must eat it as you would gazelle or deer; clean and unclean may eat it together.
Not only may the ritually impure eat secular meat, they may also share it with those who are ritually pure, eating as was the practice, from a common bowl.
Question: Why are these requirements for right
worship a radical change from prior covenants with Yahweh and with pagan
Answer: Prior to the Sinai Covenant, every father of every family served as God's priestly representative to his family, building altars and making sacrifices and eating sacrificed animals whenever it was decided that a sacrifice was necessary. Pagans had many holy sites and made sacrifices on many altars to many gods.
Question: While living in the Promised Land on their
own parcels of land, when the Israelites decide to eat animals that can be
designated for sacrificial offerings to Yahweh (cattle, sheep, and goats), what
does Moses imply that they must not do in addition to observing the prohibition
against eating raw flesh or drinking blood? See verses 15 and 21-22.
Answer: They cannot consider the slaughtering of those "clean" animals a ritual sacrifice. Those animals must simple be considered food like the gazelle and other "unclean" animals (those animals not suitable for sacrifice to Yahweh) that they may also eat. True sacrifice to Yahweh must be offered on His one altar of sacrifice in His Sanctuary.(5)
Since the Israelite tribes will be scattered throughout Canaan and the Transjordan, the laws pertaining to the slaughter of animals in the Holiness Code no longer applied. In the Holiness Code, ritually clean animals slaughtered for food (animals approved for ritual sacrifice on God's altar) had to be brought to the Sanctuary for sacrifice (see Lev 17:1-9). This law will not apply when the Israelites are living in the Promised Land.
In this passage Moses repeats the prohibition against consuming raw flesh or drinking blood. The prohibition against consuming blood, either in raw flesh or drinking blood is repeated eight times in Scripture, beginning with the covenant obligation in the covenant with Noah (Gen 9:4; Lev 3:17; 7:26; 17:12, 14; 19:26; Dt 12:16, 23; 15:23). Blood symbolized the vitality and "life" of both animals and humans. Blood was the essence of life, and therefore in God's plan of salvation had an expiatory value (Lev 17:11). The blood of the slain victim had a pre-eminent part in sacrificial ritual (Ex 24:8) and must only be performed at the altar of Yahweh's Sanctuary (Lev 17:3-7). This was a feature unique to Israelite worship and not found in other pagan religions where there were numerous shrines and altars and where drinking blood was not uncommon.
Question: Why is the eating of raw flesh and the
drinking of blood, a common practice in the ancient world and even in some
cultures today, a covenant prohibition? What did this Old Covenant prohibition
and the sacrifice and application of the blood of certain animals prefigure in
the New and eternal covenant? Quote two key verses. See Lev 17:11-12; Rom 5:9; Eph 1:7;
18-22; 10:4-10 and CCC 517, 1963, 2260.
Answer: In God's plan to save mankind from eternal death as a consequence of sin, God designated blood as the means of expiation and redemption. Blood is therefore both a sacred sign of life and the means of expiation, as the inspired writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews noted: In fact, according to the Law, practically every purification takes place by means of blood; and if there is no shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sins] (Heb 9:22). It was a plan of redemption fulfilled in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ and the shedding of His precious blood for remission of our sins: In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace ... (Eph 1:7, NAB).
Deuteronomy 12:19 As long as you live on your soil, be careful not to neglect the Levite.
Question: How could the Israelites neglect the care
of the Levites? See Num 18:20-32; Dt 14:22-29.
Answer: The chief priests and the Levites depend on the obedience of the tribes in making their tithes to Yahweh. The laity lived on the produce of the soil and the chief priests and Levites lived on the tithe. All the tithes collected from the tribes of Israel went to the support the Sanctuary and its ministers.
Additional Warnings Concerning the Blood Prohibition
23 Take care, however, not to eat the blood, since blood is life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. 24 You must not eat it, but must pour it like water on the ground. 25 You must not eat it-so that you, and your children after you, may prosper, doing what is right in Yahweh's eyes. 26 But the holy things of your and the things which you have dedicated, you must go and take to the place chosen by Yahweh. 27 The burnt offerings of meat and blood must be presented on the altar of Yahweh your God; whereas, in your sacrifices, the blood must be poured out on the altar of Yahweh your God; the meat you yourselves may eat. 28 Faithfully keep and obey all these orders which I am giving you, so that you and your children after you may prosper for ever, doing what is good and right in the eyes of Yahweh your God.
The permission to slaughter animals for food is presented in a new light, however, by explaining it as a necessary consequence of the Israelites spreading out across the Promised Land to establish their settlements. There are a number of repetitions in chapter 12. Repetitions in Scripture are like underlining for emphasis. Verse 27 makes a distinction between whole burnt offerings that are completely consumed on the altar fire with the blood of the animal splashed around the altar and communion offerings where the fat of the animal is burned on the altar and the blood of the animal is sprinkled around the altar but the meat God shares with the offered in a communion meal.
Question: What was the penalty for violating the
covenant prohibition against eating raw flesh or drinking blood? Did this
penalty only apply to Israelites? See Lev 17:14.
Answer: The penalty was excommunication from the covenant community, even for resident aliens living among the Israelites.
Question: Keeping this covenant prohibition in mind,
what caused many Jews to be upset, even causing many of Jesus' disciples to
leave Him, when He announced in the "Bread of Life Discourse" that in order to
have eternal life one must eat His flesh and drink His blood? See Jn 6:53-62,
Answer: What Jesus was requiring would cause them to be excommunicated from the Sinai Covenant. They were horrified by His statements.
Question: Did Jesus mean for the Old Covenant people
to leave the bond of the Sinai Covenant? Was He speaking symbolically or
literally about His Body and Blood?
Answer: Yes, the offering of His glorified Body and Blood in the New Covenant sacrament of the Eucharist was meant to bring them away from what was good in the Old Covenant into what was better and eternal in the New. He could not have been speaking symbolically. The Jewish crowd certainly did not think He was speaking symbolically, and when they left Jesus did not stop them. If He was speaking symbolically and let them go away believing that He literally meant what He said, then Jesus would be perpetrating a lie-a sin, and Jesus was incapable of sinning.
Since Jesus was incapable of lying, He must have been speaking literally because He let them go and then challenged the Apostles as to what they believed He meant. Jesus was not speaking of His physical/human flesh and blood but of His glorified body and blood that the Spirit of God was going to transform into the Sacrament of the Eucharist (Jn 6:63).
Warning to Avoid Canaanite Cultic Practices and Worship sites
29 'When Yahweh your God has annihilated the nations confronting you, whom you are going to dispossess, and when you have dispossessed them and made your home in their country [land], 30 beware of being entrapped into copying them, after they have been destroyed to make way for you, and do not enquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations worship their gods? I am going to do the same too." 31 This is not the way to treat Yahweh your God. For in honor of their gods they have done everything detestable that Yahweh hates; yes, in honor of their gods, they even burned their own sons and daughters as sacrifices!' 13:1/29:32 Whatever I am now commanding you, you must keep and observe, adding nothing to it, taking nothing away.'
[..] = literal translation (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 496).
The warning not to inquire about pagan gods worshipped in the region was a necessary warning because of the customs of the times. In ancient times it was believed that certain gods inhabited certain regions. When the Assyrians exiled the ten Northern tribes of Israel into Assyrian lands to the east, they brought in five different pagan peoples to inhabit the vacated land of the Northern Kingdom (1 Kng 17:24). After experiencing attacks by wild animals, the people inquired about the gods the former inhabitants had worshipped (1 Kng 17:25-26). Discovering the Israelites had worshipped one god named Yahweh, the immigrants adopted Yahweh as one of their gods, believing that they would have protection in His land (2 Kng 17:27-34).
Deuteronomy 12:32 This is not the way to treat Yahweh your God. For in honor of their gods they have done everything detestable that Yahweh hates; yes, in honor of their gods, they even burned their own sons and daughters as sacrifices!'
The Canaanites practiced child sacrifice. Children were burned alive in sacrifice to Baal by parents attempting to gain material blessings from the god. The reason for child sacrifice was self-interest, much like the reasons women and men abort children in modern society-sacrificing to the false gods of selfishness and materialism.
'Whatever I am now commanding you, you must keep and observe, adding nothing to it, taking nothing away.'
In Deuteronomy 4:2 Moses made a similar warning not to add or take away from the obligations and prohibitions of covenant Law.
Question: How does this verse complete the previous
stipulations on right worship?
Answer: The Israelites may worship Yahweh in only the ways He commands. They may not add to their worship of Yahweh by including their own customs, and they must not deviate in any way from what Yahweh has established as right worship.
The limiting the worship of the Israelites (in the Bible, worship is defined as sacrifice) to one Sanctuary and one altar of sacrifice is one of the most unique aspects of the Sinai Covenant. Prior to the Sinai Covenant every father of every family functioned as a priest who established altars and worship wherever he felt called to offer sacrifice to Yahweh. All of that expression of religion changed at Sinai. Now, for the first time since the Garden of Eden there is one earthly Sanctuary where God communes with man and for the first time in the history of Yahweh's relationship with His covenant people, there is an ordained priesthood serving God and His people.
Chapter 13:2-19/18 Moses' Appeal to Avoid the Enticements of Idolatry
Chapter 13 is divided into three units, each of which deals with the temptation of straying away from Yahweh to worship false idols:
Each section repeats the same terminology:
Temptation to being led Astray by False Prophets
2 'If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you, offering you some sign or wonder, 3 and the sign or wonder comes about; and if he then says to you, "Let us follow other gods (hitherto unknown to you) and serve them," 4 you must not listen to that prophet's words or to that dreamer's dreams. 5 Yahweh your God is testing you to know if you love Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul. Yahweh your God is the one whom you must follow, him you must fear, his commandments you must keep, his voice you must obey, him you must serve, to him you must hold fast. 6 That prophet or that dreamer of dreams must be put to death, since he has preached apostasy from Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the place of slave-labor; and he would have diverted you from the way in which Yahweh your God has commanded you to walk. You must banish this evil from among you.
Question: Can you give any examples where false
prophets/visionaries have introduced new religions?
Answer: An example of a modern day false prophet is the visionary L. Ron Hubbard. His ideas have spawned the modern Scientology religion where he is virtually worshiped as a god in a religion that promises its members a godlike present and future existence.
Jesus warned His followers against listening to false prophets (Mt 7:15-20). He said in the last days may false prophets would arise (Mt 24:11-13) with may claiming to offer salvation as false christs and even showing impressive signs (Mt 24:24; Mk 13:22). St. Peter wrote in his letter to the Church to beware of false teachers even within the covenant community: As there were false prophets in the past history of our people, so you too will have your false teachers, who will insinuate their own disruptive views and, by disowning the Lord who bought them freedom, will bring upon themselves speedy destruction. Many will copy their debauched behavior and the Way of Truth will be brought into disrepute on their account. In their greed they will try to make a profit out of you with untrue tales. But the judgment made upon them long ago is not idle, and the destruction awaiting them is forever on the watch (2 Pt 2:1-3).
Question: What can we do to protect ourselves and our
children from false prophets?
Answer: We must read and study Sacred Scripture; we must also understand our faith, apply the Sacraments to our lives, and obediently follow the teachings of Mother Church. The Church founded by Jesus Christ through His Apostles is the only vehicle Christ has given us to lead us to salvation. The Church contains the fullness of faith and truth. We can protect our children by teaching them the doctrine of faith and salvation passed on to us by Jesus and to be obedient to the teachings of His Church.
Temptation to be led Away from Yahweh by Family Members and Friends
7 'If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries secretly to seduce you, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods," unknown to you or your ancestors before you, 8 gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, 9 you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. 10 No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. 11 You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, from the place of salve-labor. 12 All Israel, hearing of this, will be afraid, and none of you will do such a wicked thing again.
Verses 10-11 do not suggest disregarding the rule of law but emphasize that one must not protect a family member of friend from justice-such an act makes one an accomplice to the sin of apostasy. Deuteronomy 17:2-7 outlines the procedure for a legal court case against someone accused of idolatry.
Question: Read Deuteronomy 17:2-7. What are the legal procedures for such a case?
Answer: The accused is brought to trial before the elders of Israel. If the person is convicted, after being legally brought to trial with a minimum of two witnesses, the family member or the one who brought the charge against the person is to cast the first stone, but the whole community is also to take part in the execution.
Dangers in being led Away from Yahweh by Fellow Citizens
13 'If you hear that in one of the towns which Yahweh your God has given you for a home, 14 there are men, scoundrels from your own stock, who have led their fellow-citizens astray, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods," hitherto unknown to you, 15 it is your duty to look into the mater, examine it, and enquire most carefully. If it is proved and confirmed that such a hateful thing has taken place among you, 16 you must put the inhabitants of that town to the sword; you must lay it under the curse of destruction [herem]-the town and everything in it. 17 You must pile up all its loot in the public square and burn the town and all its loot, offering it all to Yahweh your God. It is to be a ruin for all time, and never rebuilt. 18 From what is thus put under the curse of destruction [herem] you must keep nothing back, so that Yahweh may turn from the ferocity of his anger and show you mercy, and have pity on you and increase your numbers, as he swore he would to your ancestors, 19 on condition that you listen to the voice of Yahweh your God by keeping all his commandments which I am enjoining on your today, and by doing what is right in the eyes of Yahweh your God.'
Question: How are the Israelites to treat the
Israelite town that has forsaken the covenant with Yahweh by turning to idol
worship? See Dt 7:1-2, 21-24; 20:17-18; Josh 6:17.
Answer: The Israelites are to treat the town as though it was a Canaanite town during the conquest and utterly destroy it and everything in it.
The accusers and those who legally condemned the offending town could not profit from the verdict rendered against it. Chapter 13 establishes that the Israelites, individuals and as a covenant community, owed their first allegiance to Yahweh and not to family, friends, or fellow citizens at the expense of their covenant relationship with Yahweh.
Question: What is the penalty for those who lead the
covenant people astray into false religions? See 13:6/5, 10/9, 16/15-18/17.
Why is the penalty so severe?
Answer: The penalty is death. There are two dangers to the covenant community:
Question: How does the death penalty required in all
three cases reflect upon Israel's covenant obligations to love and serve Yahweh
Answer: All three cases of apostasy reflect the concept that Yahweh is Israel's king and God; therefore, worshiping other gods subverts one's allegiance to Yahweh alone and is high treason for which the just penalty is death.
Question: What is the definition of "apostasy" for a
Christian? What is heresy? See CCC 465, 675, 817, 2089, 2577.
Answer: Apostasy(6) is the "falling away" or total rejection by a baptized person of the Christian faith he once professed. Heresy refers to a doctrinal belief held in opposition to the recognized standards of belief of the Church. A heretic is a baptized Christian who while remaining nominally a Christian pertinaciously denies or persistently doubts any of the truths that must be believed through divine revelation passed on by Jesus Christ to His Apostles and from the Apostles to the Church (i.e., doubting the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ).
For a Catholic to be declared a heretic, four elements must be verified:
Question: What should be your response to anyone who
attempts to lurk you into apostatizing from the faith and/or serving another
god-whether in a false religion or the false gods of materialism and
Answer: Your answer should be the same answer Jesus gave Satan when the fallen angel invited Jesus to worship him: Then Jesus replied, 'Away with you, Satan! For scripture says: The Lord your God is the one to whom you must do homage, him alone you must serve' (Mt 4:10).
Questions for group discussion:
God permits us to be tested by sin for our benefit. Such temptations remind us that we must depend not on our own power but on divine power to keep God's commandments. Some temptations may lead us to fail and to fall into sin, while other temptations when resisted strengthen the quality of our faith.
Question: Discuss how resisting the temptations of the material world and the seductive allure of sins of the flesh can help one to grow in faith and to resist future temptations.
Question: How is the Sacrament of Reconciliation not only a remedy for forgiveness of sins but also an aid in avoiding future temptations?
1. See Dt 5:1, 3; 6:6, 24; 7:11; 8:1, 11, 18, 19; 9:1, 3; 10:8, 13, 15; 11:2, 4, 8, 13, 26, 27, 28, 32; 12:8; 13:18; 15:5, 15; 19:9; 26:3, 16, 17, 18; 27:1, 4, 9, 10; 28:1, 13, 14, 15; 29:4, 12, 15 (twice), 28; 30:2, 8, 11, 15, 16, 18, 19; 31:2, 27; 32:46; 34:6.
2. Since Yahweh's judgment on the Exodus generation was only against those who were twenty years old and older at the time of the rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea (Num 13-14), there were members of the covenant community who were alive when the rebellion the Levities led by Korah and the Reubenites led by Dathan and Abiram took place. Not all members of the rebel's households perished. Scripture records that Korah's innocent children survived (Num 26:11).
3. In the land of Israel the first showers of the civil year (which begins with the feast of Rosh Hashanah in Sept/Oct), known as the yoreh, fall intermittently in October and November. These rains soften the soil that has become hardened over the dry summer months and allows the farmers to plow the soil and sow their seed. Rain increases in the winter months from December through February with about seventy percent of the year's rain normally falling at that time. The final rains, or malkosh (latter/late rains), come in April or May, when the grain needs the final moisture to properly mature. Timing is everything; if the rains come too early or too late, the crops will fail.
5. King Saul's soldiers broke the blood prohibition in 1 Sam 14:32, but in an attempt to offer a sin sacrifice for his troops' covenant breech, Saul compounded the problem by building his own altar and offering sacrifice (1 Sam 14:34-35).
6. Apostasy: etymology in Latin = apostasia, "falling away or separation from God"; Greek = apostasies, "revolt," literally, "a standing off." Heresy: Etymology in Latin = haeresis; Greek = hairesis, "a taking," "choice," "sect," "heresy" (The Modern Catholic Dictionary, pages 25 and 175.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2011 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Catechism references for this lesson:
CCC 517, 1963, 2260
|The Classifications of Offerings and Sacrifices|
|Types of offerings||
1. Tribute Offerings/Vassal payments
Num 3:45-48; 18:13-19
2. Sanctuary endowments
Ex 25:1-2; 35:4-5, 29; 36:3;
Ezra 7:16; 8:28-30
(voluntary and compulsory)
Lev chapters 1-7; 16; 23
|Reason||Owed for services rendered by God to His people||To support God's Sanctuary||Liturgical service and covenant continuation|
|Gifts and Offerer||First fruits of animals, sons, and harvest presented to God by individuals.||Any gift for use in the Sanctuary presented by the people||Offerings to God made by individuals or presented by the priests for the whole community|
|Purpose||For the maintenance of the ministerial priesthood||Used by the priests for the Sanctuary and liturgical services||
1. To provide for communal and personal expiation of
2. To reestablish communion with God through a sacred meal.
A. first produce of the harvest
B. animals from the herd and flock
C. first-born sons redeemed by a redemption tax
2. olive oil
5. anything of value
A. Bleeding sacrifices from 5 kinds of animals:
1. Daily communal Tamid whole burnt offering (2 unblemished male lambs).
2. Sabbath sacrifice (2 male lambs).
3. Individual gift whole burnt offerings according to wealth: male from herd or flock, or turtle dove and pigeon, or wheat flour
4. Individual sin offering (animal designated according to wealth/status)
5. Individual sin of reparation offering (ram and restoration plus 1/5th of the value)
offerings (male or female from flock or herd):
a. eaten in the "camp" of God with family and friends of the covenant: vow offerings (votive) and free-will festival offerings. b. eaten in the courtyard of the Sanctuary with family, friends and any covenant members present: the Todah "thanksgiving" offering
7. Feast day compulsory and communal offerings (designated according to the feast)
B. Bloodless sacrifices:
1. five classes of wheat flour/unleavened bread offerings
4. olive oil
|Who received||Priests and Levites||Priests on behalf of the Sanctuary||God or shared with God in a sacred meal|
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2011 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|
ISRAEL'S LITURGICAL AND
CIVIL CALENDAR YEAR
|Month||Liturgical year order||Civil year order||Modern equivalent||Feast days and agricultural season (+ = God ordained feast; * = national feasts)|
15-21st (Sacred Assembly on 15th and 21st)
+Firstfruits on Sunday of Unleavened Bread holy week.
Spring equinox 15th.
The "Latter rains"& flood season, beginning of barley and flax harvest
|Ziv (Iyyar)||2||8||April/May||Dry season, apricots ripen|
50 days from Firstfruits as ancients counted;
wheat harvest, dry winds, early fig harvest, grapes ripen
|Tammuz||4||10||June/July||Hot, dry season: grape harvest|
|Ab||5||11||July/Aug.||Hot, olive harvest|
|Elul||6||12||Aug./Sept.||Dates and summer figs|
+Trumpets = 1st
(Civil New Year)
+Day of Atonement = 10th
+Booths (Tabernacles) =
15-21st & 22nd Sacred Assembly;
Fall equinox 15th
"Former (early) rains," plowing & seed time
Rains, winter figs,
wheat and barley sown
(feast of dedication);
|Tebeth||10||4||Dec./Jan.||Coldest month, rains, snow in mountains|
almond trees in bloom
spring: "Latter rains" begin,
citrus fruit harvest
+ Seven annual feasts are God ordained feasts (Ex 12:1-28;
43-51; 13:1-10; Lev 23:5-44; Num 28:16-39);
*Hanukkah and Purim are national feasts proclaimed by the people and are not God ordained (1 Mac 4:36-61; 2 Mac 10:1-8; Esther 9:20-32).
The Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles fell respectively on the spring and fall equinoxes.
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2011 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|