The Place for Worshiping God
1 “These are the laws and rules that you must obey in your new land. You must carefully obey them as long as you live in this land. The LORD is the God of your ancestors, and he is giving this land to you. 2 You will take that land from the nations that live there now. You must completely destroy all the places where the people of these nations worship their gods. These places are on high mountains, on hills, and under green trees. 3 You must smash their altars and break their memorial stones into pieces. You must burn their Asherah poles and cut down the statues of their gods. Wipe out everything that would remind you of those gods.
4 “You must not worship the LORD your God in the same way these people worship their gods. 5 The LORD your God will choose a special place among your tribes. That will be the home for his name. You must go to that place to worship him. 6 There you must bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, one-tenth of your crops and animals,* one-tenth … animals Or “tithes.” Also in verse 11. your special gifts, any gifts you promised to him, any special gift you want to give, and the first animals born in your herds and flocks. 7 You and your families will eat together at that place, and the LORD your God will be there with you. You will enjoy sharing the things you worked for there. You will remember that the LORD your God blessed you and gave you these good things.
8 “You must not continue to worship the way we have been worshiping. Until now each of us has been worshiping God any way we wanted. 9 This is because we have not yet entered the peaceful land that the LORD your God is giving you. 10 But you will go across the Jordan River and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. There he will give you rest from all your enemies, and you will be safe. 11 Then the LORD your God will choose a place that will be the home for his name. You must bring everything I command you to that place. Bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, one-tenth of your crops and animals, your special gifts, and any gifts that you promised to give to the LORD. 12 Come to that place with all your people—your children, all your servants, and the Levites living in your towns. (These Levites will not have a share of the land for their own.) Enjoy yourselves together there with the LORD your God. 13 Be sure you don’t offer your burnt offerings in just any place you see. 14 The LORD will choose his special place among your tribes. Offer your burnt offerings and do everything else I told you only in that place.
15 “Whenever you want to eat meat, you can enjoy that blessing from the LORD your God wherever you live. You can butcher the animal just as you do gazelles and deer, and anyone, clean or unclean, can eat it. 16 But you must not eat the blood. You must pour the blood on the ground like water.
17 “Also, the things you are offering to God must not be eaten where you live. These include the part of your grain that belongs to God, the part of your new wine and oil that belongs to God, the first animals born in your herd or flock, any gift that you promised to God, any special gifts you want to give, or any other gifts for God. 18 You must eat these offerings only in his presence at the special place that the LORD your God will choose. You must go there and eat together with your sons, your daughters, all your servants, and the Levites living in your towns. Enjoy yourselves there with the LORD your God. Enjoy what you have worked for. 19 But be sure that you always share these meals with the Levites. Do this as long as you live in your land.
20-21 “The LORD your God promised to make your country larger. When he does this, you might live too far from the place the LORD your God chooses to be the home for his name. If it is too far, and you are hungry for meat, you may eat any meat you have. You may kill any animal from the herd or flock that he has given you. Do this the way I have commanded you. You may eat this meat there where you live any time you want. 22 You may eat this meat the same as you would eat gazelle or deer meat. Anyone can do this—people who are clean and people who are unclean. 23 But be especially careful not to eat the blood, because the life is in the blood. You must not eat meat that still has its life in it. 24 Don’t eat the blood. Pour it out like water onto the ground. 25 So don’t eat blood. You must do what the LORD says is right, and good things will happen to you and to your descendants.
26 “If you decide to give something special to God, you must go to the special place that the LORD your God will choose. And if you make a special promise, you must go to that place to give that gift to God. 27 You must offer your burnt offerings in that place. Offer the meat and the blood of your burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD your God. For your other sacrifices, you must pour the blood on the altar of the LORD your God. Then you may eat the meat. 28 Carefully obey all the commands that I give you. When you do what is good and right—what pleases the LORD your God—then everything will go well for you and for your descendants forever.
29 “You are going to take your land from other people. The LORD your God will destroy these people for you. You will force them out of that land, and then you will live there. 30 But be careful that you don’t fall into the same trap they did! Don’t go to their false gods for help. Don’t say to yourself, ‘They worshiped these gods, so I will worship them too.’ 31 Don’t do that to the LORD your God! These people do all kinds of bad things that the LORD hates. They even burn their children as sacrifices to their gods!
32 “You must be careful to do everything I command you. Don’t add anything to what I tell you, and don’t take anything away.
*12:6 one-tenth … animals Or “tithes.” Also in verse 11.