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Deuteronomy 16:1-22

Context
The Passover-Unleavened Bread Festival

16:1 Observe the month Abib 1  and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in that month 2  he 3  brought you out of Egypt by night. 16:2 You must sacrifice the Passover animal 4  (from the flock or the herd) to the Lord your God in the place where he 5  chooses to locate his name. 16:3 You must not eat any yeast with it; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, symbolic of affliction, for you came out of Egypt hurriedly. You must do this so you will remember for the rest of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt. 16:4 There must not be a scrap of yeast within your land 6  for seven days, nor can any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until the next morning. 7  16:5 You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of your villages 8  that the Lord your God is giving you, 16:6 but you must sacrifice it 9  in the evening in 10  the place where he 11  chooses to locate his name, at sunset, the time of day you came out of Egypt. 16:7 You must cook 12  and eat it in the place the Lord your God chooses; you may return the next morning to your tents. 16:8 You must eat bread made without yeast for six days. The seventh day you are to hold an assembly for the Lord your God; you must not do any work on that day. 13 

The Festival of Weeks

16:9 You must count seven weeks; you must begin to count them 14  from the time you begin to harvest the standing grain. 16:10 Then you are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks 15  before the Lord your God with the voluntary offering 16  that you will bring, in proportion to how he 17  has blessed you. 16:11 You shall rejoice before him 18  – you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites in your villages, 19  the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows among you – in the place where the Lord chooses to locate his name. 16:12 Furthermore, remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and so be careful to observe these statutes.

The Festival of Temporary Shelters

16:13 You must celebrate the Festival of Temporary Shelters 20  for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest. 21  16:14 You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages. 22  16:15 You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the Lord your God in the place he 23  chooses, for he 24  will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do; 25  so you will indeed rejoice! 16:16 Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him 26  empty-handed. 16:17 Every one of you must give as you are able, 27  according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.

Provision for Justice

16:18 You must appoint judges and civil servants 28  for each tribe in all your villages 29  that the Lord your God is giving you, and they must judge the people fairly. 30  16:19 You must not pervert justice or show favor. Do not take a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and distort 31  the words of the righteous. 32  16:20 You must pursue justice alone 33  so that you may live and inherit the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Examples of Legal Cases

16:21 You must not plant any kind of tree as a sacred Asherah pole 34  near the altar of the Lord your God which you build for yourself. 16:22 You must not erect a sacred pillar, 35  a thing the Lord your God detests.

1 sn The month Abib, later called Nisan (Neh 2:1; Esth 3:7), corresponds to March-April in the modern calendar.

2 tn Heb “in the month Abib.” The demonstrative “that” has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

4 tn Heb “sacrifice the Passover” (so NASB). The word “animal” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in the previous verse.

6 tn Heb “leaven must not be seen among you in all your border.”

7 tn Heb “remain all night until the morning” (so KJV, ASV). This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

8 tn Heb “gates.”

9 tn Heb “the Passover.” The translation uses a pronoun to avoid redundancy in English.

10 tc The MT reading אֶל (’el, “unto”) before “the place” should, following Smr, Syriac, Targums, and Vulgate, be omitted in favor of ב (bet; בַּמָּקוֹם, bammaqom), “in the place.”

11 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

12 tn The rules that governed the Passover meal are found in Exod 12:1-51, and Deut 16:1-8. The word translated “cook” (בָּשַׁל, bashal) here is translated “boil” in other places (e.g. Exod 23:19, 1 Sam 2:13-15). This would seem to contradict Exod 12:9 where the Israelites are told not to eat the Passover sacrifice raw or boiled. However, 2 Chr 35:13 recounts the celebration of a Passover feast during the reign of Josiah, and explains that the people “cooked (בָּשַׁל, bashal) the Passover sacrifices over the open fire.” The use of בָּשַׁל (bashal) with “fire” (אֵשׁ, ’esh) suggests that the word could be used to speak of boiling or roasting.

13 tn The words “on that day” are not in the Hebrew text; they are supplied in the translation for clarification (cf. TEV, NLT).

14 tn Heb “the seven weeks.” The translation uses a pronoun to avoid redundancy in English.

15 tn The Hebrew phrase חַג שָׁבֻעוֹת (khag shavuot) is otherwise known in the OT (Exod 23:16) as קָצִיר (qatsir, “harvest”) and in the NT as πεντηχοστή (penthcosth, “Pentecost”).

16 tn Heb “the sufficiency of the offering of your hand.”

17 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

18 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

19 tn Heb “gates.”

20 tn The Hebrew phrase חַג הַסֻּכֹּת (khag hassukot, “festival of huts” or “festival of shelters”) is traditionally known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The rendering “booths” (cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV) is now preferable to the traditional “tabernacles” (KJV, ASV, NIV) in light of the meaning of the term סֻכָּה (sukkah, “hut; booth”), but “booths” are frequently associated with trade shows and craft fairs in contemporary American English. Clearer is the English term “shelters” (so NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT), but this does not reflect the temporary nature of the living arrangement. This feast was a commemoration of the wanderings of the Israelites after they left Egypt, suggesting that a translation like “temporary shelters” is more appropriate.

21 tn Heb “when you gather in your threshing-floor and winepress.”

22 tn Heb “in your gates.”

23 tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

24 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

25 tn Heb “in all the work of your hands” (so NASB, NIV); NAB, NRSV “in all your undertakings.”

26 tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

27 tn Heb “a man must give according to the gift of his hand.” This has been translated as second person for stylistic reasons, in keeping with the second half of the verse, which is second person rather than third.

28 tn The Hebrew term וְשֹׁטְרִים (vÿshoterim), usually translated “officers” (KJV, NCV) or “officials” (NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), derives from the verb שֹׁטֵר (shoter, “to write”). The noun became generic for all types of public officials. Here, however, it may be appositionally epexegetical to “judges,” thus resulting in the phrase, “judges, that is, civil officers,” etc. Whoever the שֹׁטְרִים are, their task here consists of rendering judgments and administering justice.

29 tn Heb “gates.”

30 tn Heb “with judgment of righteousness”; ASV, NASB “with righteous judgment.”

31 tn Heb “twist, overturn”; NRSV “subverts the cause.”

32 tn Or “innocent”; NRSV “those who are in the right”; NLT “the godly.”

33 tn Heb “justice, justice.” The repetition is emphatic; one might translate as “pure justice” or “unadulterated justice” (cf. NLT “true justice”).

34 tn Heb “an Asherah, any tree.”

sn Sacred Asherah pole. This refers to a tree (or wooden pole) dedicated to the worship of Asherah, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. See also Deut 7:5.

35 sn Sacred pillar. This refers to the stelae (stone pillars; the Hebrew term is מַצֵּבֹת, matsevot) associated with Baal worship, perhaps to mark a spot hallowed by an alleged visitation of the gods. See also Deut 7:5.



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