The Place for Worship 12 1These are the commands and laws you must carefully obey in the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Obey them as long as you live in the land. 2When you inherit the lands of these nations, you must completely destroy all the places where they serve their gods, on high mountains and hills and under every green tree. 3Tear down their altars, smash their holy stone pillars, and burn their Asherah idols in the fire. Cut down their idols and destroy their names from those places. 4Don’t worship the Lord your God that way, 5but look for the place the Lord your God will choose— a place among your tribes where he is to be worshiped. Go there, 6and bring to that place your burnt offerings and sacrifices; bring a tenth of what you gain and your special gifts; bring what you have promised and the special gifts you want to give the Lord, and bring the first animals born to your herds and flocks. 7There you will be together with the Lord your God. There you and your families will eat, and you will enjoy all the good things for which you have worked, because the Lord your God has blessed you. 8Do not worship the way we have been doing today, each person doing what he thinks is right. 9You have not yet come to a resting place, to the land the Lord your God will give you as your own. 10But soon you will cross the Jordan River to live in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own, where he will give you rest from all your enemies and you will live in safety. 11Then the Lord your God will choose a place where he is to be worshiped. To that place you must bring everything I tell you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your offerings of a tenth of what you gain, your special gifts, and all your best things you promised to the Lord. 12There rejoice before the Lord your God. Everyone should rejoice: you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no land of their own. 13Be careful that you don’t sacrifice your burnt offerings just anywhere you please. 14Offer them only in the place the Lord will choose. He will choose a place in one of your tribes, and there you must do everything I am commanding you. 15But you may kill your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were a deer or a gazelle; this is the blessing the Lord your God is giving you. Anyone, clean or unclean, may eat this meat, 16but do not eat the blood. Pour it out on the ground like water. 17Do not eat in your own towns what belongs to the Lord: one-tenth of your grain, new wine, or oil; the first animals born to your herds or flocks; whatever you have promised to give; the special gifts you want to give to the Lord, or any other gifts. 18Eat these things when you are together with the Lord your God, in the place the Lord your God chooses to be worshiped. Everyone must do this: you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns. Rejoice in the Lord your God’s presence about the things you have worked for. 19Be careful not to forget the Levites as long as you live in the land. 20When the Lord your God enlarges your country as he has promised, and you want some meat so you say, “I want some meat,” you may eat as much meat as you want. 21If the Lord your God chooses a place where he is to be worshiped that is too far away from you, you may kill animals from your herds and flocks, which the Lord has given to you. I have commanded that you may do this. You may eat as much of them as you want in your own towns, 22as you would eat gazelle or deer meat. Both clean and unclean people may eat this meat, 23but be sure you don’t eat the blood, because the life is in the blood. Don’t eat the life with the meat. 24Don’t eat the blood, but pour it out on the ground like water. 25If you don’t eat it, things will go well for you and your children, because you will be doing what the Lord says is right. 26Take your holy things and the things you have promised to give, and go to the place the Lord will choose. 27Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices should be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat. 28Be careful to obey all the rules I am giving you so that things will always go well for you and your children, and you will be doing what the Lord your God says is good and right. 29You will enter the land and take it away from the nations that the Lord your God will destroy ahead of you. When you force them out and live in their land, 30they will be destroyed for you, but be careful not to be trapped by asking about their gods. Don’t say, “How do these nations worship? I will do the same.” 31Don’t worship the Lord your God that way, because the Lord hates the evil ways they worship their gods. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods! 32Be sure to do everything I have commanded you. Do not add anything to it, and do not take anything away from it.
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