New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Deu 12:1 These are the statutes and ordinances which you shall observe to do in the land which Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess all the days that you live on the earth-
The Hebrew mishpat, "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.  

Deu 12:2 You must surely destroy all the places in which the nations that you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree-
Israel were told to "throw down", "break in pieces" and "utterly destroy" the idols and altars of Canaan. There were times during their history when they obeyed this command by purging themselves from their apostasy in this. The Hebrew words used scarcely occur elsewhere, except very frequently in the context of how God "broke down", "threw down" and "destroyed" Israel at the hands of their Babylonian and Assyrian invaders as a result of their not 'breaking down' (etc.) the idols. "Throw down" in Ex. 34:13; Dt. 7:5; 12:3; 2 Chron. 31:1 is the same word in 2 Chron. 36:19; Jer. 4:26; 31:28; 33:4; 39:8; 52:14; Ez. 16:39; Nah. 1:6. "Cut down" in Dt. 7:5; 12:3; 2 Chron. 31:1 later occurs in Is. 10:33; Jer. 48;25; Lam. 2:3. So Israel faced the choice: either cut down your idols, or you will be cut down in the day of God's judgment. Those who worshipped idols were like unto them. The stone will either fall on us and destroy us, or we must fall on it and become broken men and women (Mt. 21:44). For the man untouched by the concept of living for God's glory, it's a hard choice. God will conquer sin, ultimately. When a man dies, it isn't just a biological, clockwork process. It is God's victory over sin in that individual. Either we must be slain by God; or with His gracious help, we must put sin to death in our members through association with the only One who really did this- and thereby rise to life eternal.

Deu 12:3 and you must break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You must cut down the engraved images of their gods-
The Lord's description of the rejected being cut down and thrown into the fire (Mt. 7:19) is surely referring to these words (cp. 7:5), where the idols of the world were to be hewn down and thrown into the fire. The Lord understood that those who worship idols are like unto them (Ps. 115:8; 135:18). Because all idols [of whatever kind] will be destroyed in the last day, all who worship them will have to share their destruction. And yet we can be hewn down by God's word now (Hos. 6:5) rather than wait for God to do it to us by the condemnation process. We must cut off (s.w. hew down) our flesh now (Mt. 5:30; 18:8 cp. 7:19).

And destroy their names out of that place-
But when we read the later historical accounts of the place names in the land, we find many cases of names with idolatrous associations not being renamed. Especially we note the prevalence of the "Baal" prefix. They didn't widely obey this.

Deu 12:4 You shall not do so to Yahweh your God-
Verse 3 has just spoken of the need to destroy the names of the idols which were reflected in the place names in Canaan, and instead they were to recognize that Yahweh had placed His Name in the land and especially at the sanctuary (:5). God placed His Name upon places in order to make them suitable places for sacrifice to be offered to Him (Dt. 12:4-7,21; Jer. 7:12). They were to call upon His Name alone, and not allow anything else to tempt them to call upon the name of idols. Commonly enough, the New Testament speaks of baptism as a calling upon the Name of the Lord. This must be understood against its Hebrew background- qara' beshem Yahweh, which originally referred to approaching God in sacrifice (Gen. 12:7,8; Ps. 116:4,17). Baptism was thus seen as a sacrificial commitment to Yahweh in solemn covenant.

Deu 12:5 But to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there-
Worldly religion is made as convenient as possible for the worshipper to come and participate in; the shrines of the Canaanite gods were everywhere in the land, whereas Yahweh insisted that there was one specific place to where His people should come to worship Him. This was perhaps partly to inspire national unity within the family of God. The pagan shrines were each different; they had no uniformity between them, as archaeologists have demonstrated. But the one true God has principles of worship and service which don’t vary geographically and are consistently the same because truth is truth and in that sense doesn’t vary from place to place nor context to context.

To His dwelling place you shall seek, and there you shall come-
The judgment will be the time when God 'requires' of us our behaviour. And yet the Hebrew word is used about our enquiring / searching to God in prayer now (Gen. 25:22; Ex. 18:15; Dt. 4:29; 12:5; 1 Kings 22:5), as well as His 'requiring' / searching of us at the last day (Dt. 18:19; 23:21; Josh. 22:23; 1 Sam. 20:16; 2 Chron. 24:22; Ez. 3:20; 33:6,8). There is a mutuality between a man and his God.

Yahweh cared for / sought after the land and Kingdom He had promised Israel (Dt. 11:12). The same word is used of how His people were to seek Him, to care for the things of His Kingdom above all else (Dt. 12:5). There thus develops a mutuality between God and man.

Deu 12:6 and bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the wave offering of your hand, your vows, your freewill offerings and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock-
The Hebrew word here for "freewill" carries the idea of spontaneity. This is the clear implication of its usage in places like Ex. 35:27; 36:3; Jud. 5:2,9; 1 Chron. 29:5,9; 2 Chron. 35:8; Ps. 54:6. There is a strong sense of immediate emotion attached to the word (Hos. 14:4). And there was a major emphasis in the law of Moses upon freewill offerings (Lev. 7:16; 22:18,21,23; 23:38; Num. 15:3; 29:39; Dt. 12:6,17; 16:10; 23:23). The other legal codes of the nations around Israel were all about rituals; whereas Yahweh's law encouraged spontaneous giving as part of the way of Yahweh. For He is not a God of rituals, but of relationship. The way of the Spirit is the same today; spontaneous, emotional, personal response to God's grace, responding to Him on our own initiative and in our own way, in addition to obeying His specific requirements.        

Deu 12:7 There you shall eat before Yahweh your God and you shall rejoice in all that you put your hand to, you and your households, in which Yahweh your God has blessed you-
LXX "And ye shall eat there before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all the things on which ye shall lay your hand, ye and your houses". The idea may be that what they laid their hands on was the sacrifices which they offered. For that is the context. They were to rejoice in sacrificing their blessings to God. "God loves a cheerful giver" may refer to this (2 Cor. 9:7). And to this day, the only way to "eat and enjoy the good things that you have worked for" (GNB) is by offering them to Yahweh.

Deu 12:8 You shall not do all the things that we do here this day, every man whatever is right in his own eyes-
This may refer to how the Mosaic laws were often intended for obedience once settled in the land. During the 38 years journey, it seems the people were not particularly obedient to God's laws and had just done whatever was right in their own eyes. The lament of Judges is that Israel in the land continued to do what was right in their own eyes (Jud. 17:6; 21:25). The moral anarchy sadly continued. Prov. 21:2 contrasts doing what is right in our own eyes or mental perception, with God judging the hearts / minds. The fact something may appear morally right to us doesn't mean it is. We may know nothing against ourselves in our own conscience, but this doesn't mean we are thereby justified before God (1 Cor. 4:4). There is one thing which will judge us at the end, and that is the word spoken to us (Jn. 12:48)- not our own native sense of right or wrong. Our conscience will not as it were jump out of us and stand there and judge us in the last day. 

Deu 12:9 for you haven’t yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which Yahweh your God gives you-
The idea may simply be that in the wilderness, they had not been able to obey all the commandments in the law because they were not yet in the land, "the rest". But there may be a hint here at something deeper. For Joshua didn't in fact lead the people to "the rest" in ultimate terms (Heb. 4:8). That was to be the work of the Lord Jesus. There is a connection between the ark and God's resting place:
- Num. 10:33  "The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them... to search out a resting place"
- 1 Chron. 28:2 "An house of rest for the ark".
However, the real resting place of God's Name is not in the literal ark, but in the hearts of people humble to God's Word. The exiles were told: "Where is the house that you build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest?... to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word" (Is. 66:1,2). 

Deu 12:10 But when you go over the Jordan, and dwell in the land which Yahweh your God causes you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you, so that you dwell in safety-
Several times Moses describes Israel’s inheritance of the land as entering “rest”, mindful of how God had sworn that they would not enter into that rest, and yet he had pleaded with God to change His mind about that (Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11), even though Israel at the time didn’t realize the intensity of pleading and self-sacrifice for them which was going on up in the mountain. Just as we don’t appreciate the extent of the Lord’s mediation for us, that we might enter the final “rest” (Heb. 4:9).

Deu 12:11 then to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose, to cause His name to dwell there, you must bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the wave offering of your hand and all your chosen vows which you vow to Yahweh-
The idea of a central place of worship was perhaps to stop the Israelites just doing their own thing in their local areas when it came to Yahweh worship. His desire for unity amongst His people was reflected in this otherwise strange idea that they were to offer all sacrifices in only one place in the land. No other legal code amongst the nations featured this. But Israel didn't do this, and so it seems that He did accept sacrifice in local sanctuaries; we think of acceptable offerings made in other places, by Gideon, Manoah, David and others. We see reflected here God's willingness to accept less than ideal sacrifices, so desirous is He of relationship with His people.

Deu 12:12 Rejoice before Yahweh your God, you and your sons, your daughters, your male servants, your female servants and the Levite who is within your gates, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you-
We see God's desire that male and female, slave and free, should unite together in the joy which arises from acceptable sacrifice. Again we see this as the basis of being a "cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7), for true joy arise not from selfish hoarding but from sacrifice and giving as God intended. If there were to be no local sacrifices, then the Levites would have had to take their food from the sacrifices offered at the central sanctuary, and transport it home. This would have required them to be in regular contact with the sanctuary. This whole plan would have been unworkable if Israel at this point had inherited as intended up to the Euphrates river; but God had clearly recalculated their inheritance in accordance with their possibilities and spiritual capacities. 

Deu 12:13 Be careful not to offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see-
We can’t worship God any way we like, thinking that the fact we accept His existence and even worship Him means that we are somehow free to do it as we think. Israel didn't do this, and so it seems that He did accept sacrifice in local sanctuaries; we think of acceptable offerings made in other places, by Gideon, Manoah, David and others. We see reflected here God's willingness to accept less than ideal sacrifices, so desirous is He of relationship with His people. 

Deu 12:14 but in the place which Yahweh shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you-
It is hard to discern when exactly God named such a place. David and Solomon were confident that God had chosen Zion, but it's unclear whether this was their own preference which they then claimed was God's choice. At any rate, these words of Moses imply God would choose such a place soon after Israel entered Canaan. But there is no record of Him doing so, and the sanctuary moved around to various places. Perhaps that was the idea- that God would choose a place and then move it around, choosing another at a later date. Or perhaps this simply didn't happen; because the people showed themselves not sufficiently spiritual, and so He allowed them to just use local shrines. In this case we see the flexibility of God, and His ability to recalculate and downgrade His expectations of His people. We must note that He alone has the prerogative to do so.

Deu 12:15 Notwithstanding, you may kill and eat flesh within all your gates after all the desire of your soul, according to the blessing of Yahweh your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the hart-
They were allowed to kill animals for food for their own use, and being ritually unclean was no barrier to eating such meat. The gazelle and hart, GNB "deer or antelope", were given as examples of clean animals which could be eaten, perhaps clarifying the question of whether they could eat animals killed in hunting, who died from arrows at a distance from the hunter, and whose blood could only be poured out some time after killing them. 

Deu 12:16 Only you must not eat the blood. Pour it out on the earth as water-
The blood was understood as representing life (:23; Lev. 17:11). We are not to take life to ourselves; not merely in that we aren’t to murder, but we also aren’t to assume that our lives, or any life, is in fact ours to use or dominate for ourselves. Our lives and those of others are God’s, and we cannot take any life to ourselves.

Deu 12:17 You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil-
Perhaps this command was addressed specifically to the Levites.

Or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, nor any of your vows which you vow, nor your freewill offerings, nor the wave offering of your hand-
The Israelites weren't allowed to eat the firstborn, but rather must offer it to God, and the Levites ate part of it. But :18 speaks of them eating these things before Yahweh along with the Levite. So the idea seems to be that the Levites in each local area were to accompany the offerers to the central sanctuary. This was intended to create a strong social bond between the people and the Levites. But sadly this didn't seem to happen. 

Deu 12:18 but you must eat them before Yahweh your God in the place which Yahweh your God shall choose, you and your son, your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God in all that you put your hand on-
Whatever they put their hand on to give to God they were to give with joy; for God loves cheerful giving, and hates reluctant or manipulated ‘giving’ (2 Cor. 9:7). The idea was that all the family were to go to the sanctuary and rejoice together in their giving. See on :17.

Deu 12:19 Take heed to yourself-
Paul warned the new Israel that after his death ("after my departing", Acts 20:29) there would be serious apostasy. This is the spirit of his very last words, in 2 Tim. 4. it is exactly the spirit of Moses' farewell speech throughout the book of Deuteronomy, and throughout his final song (Dt. 32) and Dt. 31:29: "After my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves". Paul's "Take heed therefore unto yourselves" (Acts 20:28) is quoted from many places in Deuteronomy (e.g. Dt. 2:4; 4:9,15,23; 11:16; 12:13,19,30; 24:8; 27:9).

That you don’t forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land-
The implication is that they would no longer live in the land if they forsook the Levite. But they clearly never really supported the Levites. God's patience with them lasted many centuries. For they were not cast out of the land for a long time.

Deu 12:20 When Yahweh your God enlarges your border, as He has promised you, and you say I want to eat meat, because your soul desires to eat meat, you may eat meat, after all the desire of your soul-
Vegetarianism is a matter of personal choice, but it certainly isn’t commanded by God- indeed, quite the opposite (1 Tim. 4:3). If Israel had been obedient, then “the Lord your God shall enlarge thy border” (Dt. 12:20). Thus “blessed be He that enlarges Gad” (Dt. 33:20). Who knows the height and depth, length and breadth of what could have been for God’s people? And the same is true for us today. According to Israel’s perception of the land, so it was defined for them.

Deu 12:21 If the place which Yahweh your God shall choose to put His name there is too far from you, then you shall kill of your herd and of your flock which Yahweh has given you, as I have commanded you; you may eat within your gates, after all the desire of your soul-
They were always allowed to kill animals and eat their meat for personal use (:15). So the killing of animals here seems to refer to the possibility of offering the sacrifices in their own "gates", but only once the land was enlarged. We never read of the land being enlarged, indeed their territory was progressively "cut short" (2 Kings 10:32) after Solomon's time and frequently in the time of the Judges, immediately after their entry into the land. There was never any signal from God that He had now enlarged the land (:20) and therefore this change of the law was allowed. We note that the law of Moses was flexible and open to change. That it should later be abrogated is therefore no surprise. The argument that each Mosaic law was eternal is therefore lacking in careful attention to the text of the law itself.  

Deu 12:22 As the gazelle and the hart is eaten, so you shall eat of it; the unclean and the clean may eat of it alike-
As explained on :21, the context appears to be here about eating the sacrificed animals at the time when the land had been enlarged, and such animals didn't have to be sacrificed at the sanctuary. So we note that unclean offerers could eat of the sacrifices in this case. It was not allowed for unclean offerers to eat peace offerings (Lev. 7:20), nor could Levites or priests approach to the sacrifices whilst unclean (Lev. 22:3). But there is no statement that the offerer had to be clean, indeed Dt. 12:22 says that some sacrifices could be eaten by the offerer whilst unclean. We see here God's willingness to by all means accept the offerer of sacrifice.

Deu 12:23 Only be sure that you don’t eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you shall not eat the life with the flesh-
The life with the flesh" effectively means "the blood with the flesh", i.e. the blood must be drained out of the meat. One practical consequence of this was that obedience would have meant social separation from the Canaanites; for none of them observed these positions on blood, indeed eating blood or meat with much blood in it was a delicacy.

Deu 12:24 You must not eat it; pour it out on the earth as water-
We note the triple, laboured emphasis upon not eating blood in :23-25. The blood was understood as representing life (:23; Lev. 17:11). We are not to take life to ourselves; not merely in that we aren’t to murder, but we also aren’t to assume that our lives, or any life, is in fact ours to use or dominate for ourselves. Our lives and those of others are God’s, and we cannot take any life to ourselves.

Deu 12:25 You must not eat it, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do that which is right in the eyes of Yahweh-
The Lord Jesus specifically alluded to the major Jewish principle of not eating blood- when He taught that unless His blood was drunk, then they had no life in them. This alludes to another reason for not eating blood, given in Lev. 17:11: "I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life". The blood looked ahead to the blood which God would give which would make atonement. The blood of animals couldn't take away sins (Heb. 10:4). So the blood only 'made atonement' because it pointed forward to that of the Lord Jesus. The whole structure of the laws about blood required some blood of atonement which had to be shed in future, a blood sacrifice of a representative human who was not an animal. That blood was to be given to God, and not to man. Hence the stress upon not eating blood.

Deu 12:26 Only your holy things which you have and your vows, you shall take and go to the place which Yahweh shall choose-
The situation in view is hard to imagine; whether this speaks of when the borders were enlarged, or whether this specifically applies to the priests. The Rabbis like to think that this refers to an Israelite outside the land.

Deu 12:27 and you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of Yahweh your God. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured out on the altar of Yahweh your God, and you shall eat the flesh-
For the situation in view, see on :26. It's unclear whether "the flesh" refers to the meat, or to the literal skin of the animal. The blood of hunted animals was to be covered with dust (Lev. 17:13), as if buried in death. So the idea may have been that it drained from the altar onto the dust upon which the altar stood. Or it may be that the altar represented God's facility to accept the offering of life.

Deu 12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command you-

Moses really wanted Israel's well-being, he saw so clearly how obedience would result in blessing (e.g. Dt. 6:3; 12:28). This is a major theme of Moses in Deuteronomy. There was therefore a real sense of pleading behind his frequent appeal for Israel to "hear" or obey God's words. "Hear, O Israel" in Deuteronomy must have had a real passion behind it in his voice, uncorrupted as it was by old age. He didn't rattle it off as some kind of Sunday School proof. At least four times Moses interrupts the flow of his speech with this appeal: "Hear [‘be obedient’], O Israel" (Dt. 5:1; 6:3,4; 9:1; 20:3). And a glance through a concordance shows how often in Deuteronomy Moses pleads with them to hear God's voice. So he was back to his favourite theme: Hear the word, love the word, make it your life. For in this is your salvation. And the Lord Jesus (e.g. in passages like Jn. 6) makes just the same urgent appeal.  

That it may go well with you and with your children after you forever-
Things 'going well / good' with Israel is the language of the Kingdom of God in Dt. 8:16 "to do you good / well at your latter end". It is associated with days being prolonged (Dt. 22:7) and the fulfilment of the promises to Abraham (Dt. 30:5), and Israel and the children somehow existing "forever" (Dt. 12:28). So I deduce in the wish "that it may go well with you" a hint towards the eternal establishment of God's Kingdom based around Israel, what Paul terms "the hope of Israel". 

When you do that which is good and right in the eyes of Yahweh your God-
Israel had been told by Moses that their doing what was "good and right" was required for them to possess the land (Dt. 6:18; 12:28). The Gibeonites use the same phrase in appealing for Joshua to do what was "good and right" (Josh. 9:25) in not slaying them but accepting them into covenant relationship with Yahweh. The people generally didn't want to do this (Josh. 9:26). It seems God's providence used Joshua's initial unwisdom in order to give Joshua a chance to do what was "good and right", so that Israel could indeed possess Canaan. We marvel at how God works through human unwisdom and dysfunction, in order to achieve His final purpose of giving His people His Kingdom.

Dt. 12:28 AV "Observe and hear all these words... that it may go well with thee... when thou doest that which is good and right", is as if to say 'When you are obedient, you will be even more obedient'. "You shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall even live in them" (Lev. 18:5) seems to mean that if we seriously try to be obedient, then obedience becomes a way of daily life, and the individual acts of obedience are not so difficult. This was undoubtedly the Lord's source of victory over the flesh. He lived a life that was in harmony with an atmosphere of obedience.

Deu 12:29 When Yahweh your God cuts off the nations from before you, where you go in to dispossess them, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land-
"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Deu 12:30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods saying, How do these nations serve their gods? I will do likewise-
The word so often used for "keeping" / "diligently observing" Yahweh's commandments is from the word meaning a thorn hedge; the idea originally was to hedge in. Taking this too literally led Judaism to all their endless fences around the law, i.e. forbidding this or that because it might lead to doing that or this, which in turn would then lead to breaking an actual commandment. And those various fences become elevated to the level of commandments. But this is not the idea. We are indeed to hedge ourselves in ("take heed to yourself", Dt. 11:16; 12:13,19,30,32 s.w.), so that we may keep / hedge ourselves in to keep the commandments of God (Lev. 18:4,5,26,30; 19:19,37; 20:8,22; 22:9,31; 25:18; 26:3; Num. 28:2;   Dt. 7:11,12; 8:1,11 [s.w. "beware"]; 10:13; 11:1,8,22,32; 12:1; 13:4,18; ; 15:5,9 ["beware"];  17:19; 19:9; 23:9 ["keep yourself"]; 24:8; 26:16-18; 27:1; 28:1,9,13; 29:9; 30:10,16; 31:12; 32:46). And without falling into the legalism of Judaism, self discipline does require a degree of fencing ourselves in to the one way. Thus the man struggling with alcoholism avoids the supermarket where alcohol is pushed in front of the eyes of the shoppers; the married woman struggling with attraction to another man makes little laws for herself about avoiding his company. And if we do this, then the Lord will "keep" us, will hedge us in to keeping His way (s.w. Num. 6:24).

Deu 12:31 You must not do so to Yahweh your God, for every abomination to Yahweh, which He hates, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they burn in the fire to their gods-
The sacrifice of children to idols was clearly felt by God to be a particularly great abomination. Israel's children were His- in that they were to be raised for Him and to live lives devoted to Him. If we do not raise our children as dedicated for Him [whether or not they accept that path is of course their choice], then we have effectively done what we would most recoil at- to offer our children to the gods of wealth, career and secular success.

Deu 12:32 Whatever I command you, you must observe to do. You must not add to it, nor take away from it-
As Moses very intensely manifested God to the people, so he foreshadowed the supreme manifestation of the Father in the Son. The commands of Moses were those of God (Dt. 7:11; 11:13,18; and 12:32 concerning Moses' words is quoted in Rev. 22:18,19 concerning God's words); his voice was God's voice (Dt. 13;18; 15:5; 28:1), as with Christ. Israel were to show their love of God by keeping Moses' commands (Dt. 11:13); as the new Israel do in their response to the word of Christ. Indeed, the well known prophecy that God would raise up a prophet "like unto" Moses to whom Israel would listen (Dt. 18:18) is in the context of Israel saying they did not want to hear God's voice directly. Therefore God said that he would raise up Christ, who would be another Moses in the sense that he too would speak forth God's word.  

Pharaoh had insisted that nothing should be "diminished" from the quota of bricks he had set (Ex. 5:11), and the same word is later used of how Israel were not to "diminish" ["take away"] from obeying Yahweh's commandments (Dt. 4:2; 12:32). They were being reminded that they had changed masters when they crossed the Red Sea, just as Paul says happens when we are baptized (Rom. 6). And the Red Sea crossing represented baptism into Jesus (1 Cor. 10:1,2). Like us, Israel were not radically free to do as they pleased. What happened was that they changed masters; hence the appeal to Pharaoh to let God's people go, that they may serve Him rather than Pharaoh. We too will only find ultimate freedom through this servitude to God's ways, and will finally emerge into the radical liberty of the children of God in the Kingdom age (Rom. 8:21).

The Divine intention was that perfect obedience to the law of Moses would lead to a perfect character, which is what we see in the Lord Jesus. The laws were intended to confirm and strengthen the way of obedience. To reduce or expand the corpus of commandments was therefore to take away this self reinforcing nature of the law.