This week’s Torah portion covers Deuteronomy 11:26 to 16:17. Deuteronomy opened with a historical recap of the Exodus and Sinai. But in chapter 12, the author stops reminiscing and starts reiterating the Torah’s law code. For 14 chapters, Deuteronomy lays out the statutes that are to govern the twelve tribes once they settle in the land of Canaan.
Most of the decrees cover the everyday life of Israelites and are familiar from previous Torah portion. But it is Deuteronomy 12 that introduces a new reform in the sacrificial life of all Israelites. Moses says, “You are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burn offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts.”
Deuteronomy 12 looks to a future day when the Tabernacle no longer needs to be portable. When they are living in relative safety, God desires His presence to also have a place of rest.
The location of God’s sanctuary is not named outright. But the principle of centralization, restricting sacrificial worship to one place, is asserted six times in the same chapter. Many Bible scholars feel this command is the most important legislation to come out of all of Deuteronomy.