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18 And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.

19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand. (Deuteronomy 33:18, 19)

This is Moses blessing Issachar and Zebulun prior to entering the land of Canaan. So, during this time, the Israelites did sacrifices at the Tabernacle for the temple had not been built yet. It seems to me that verse 19 is stating that Zebulun and Issachar would call people onto a mountain to offer sacrifices because of the richness and treasure in their respective tribal allotments. But, I thought that sacrifices could only be offered at the Tabernacle according to Deuteronomy 12:5-6. Can someone explain the fulfillment of this prophecy?

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  • The tabernacle would, thus, be taken to the 'mountain'. Which, in effect, is what happened when the tabernacle, as it were, became a permanence (the oracle) in the elevated situation of Jerusalem.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 4, 2023 at 3:13

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Yes, except that this prophecy refers to the time after the Israelites entered Canaan. In fact sacrifices were allowed throughout Israel until the establishment of the Temple of Jerusalem, and even for a time after that in some cases. This seems to contradict Deut. 12:5-6 but a close reading shows that the ban against sacrifices outside of Jerusalem does not apply until after the land has been completely conquered, which did not take place until the time of King David.

10 But when you go over the Jordan, and live in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you live in safety, 11 then to the place which the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, thither you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the offering that you present, and all your votive offerings which you vow to the Lord. 12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your menservants and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you.

The text implies that, since travel was still unsafe, local sacrifices were acceptable. Sacrifices were offered at the high places of Gibeon, Gilgal, Beth-el, Beersheba, Ramah, Nob and others. The Book of Kings emphasizes the importance of Gibeon, as Solomon sponsored large scale sacrifices there, follow by God's appearance to him:

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4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings upon that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”

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Regarding high places in the land of Zebulun mentioned in the OP, the most likely location is Mount Tabor, pictured above in the 19th c. It overlooked the conjunction of the lands Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali. It is also the traditional location of the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter hoped to establish memorials for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. (Mt. 17:4)

Since Levites were trained as priests and were assigned to serve local populations throughout the land of Israel, it is likely that they supervised most sacrifices at the various high places. The Bible also mentions several other men who conducted sacrifices at such altars, notably Samuel (Ramah) and Elijah (Mt. Carmel).


NOTE: The date of Deuteronomy is disputed. Scholars often date it to the time of King Josiah, in which case its policy served to centralize worship in Jerusalem -- a requirement which is not recorded in the other books of the Torah.

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