Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The cardinal point on which the whole of the prescriptions in this chapter turn, is evidently the same as has been so often insisted on in the previous chapters, namely, the concentration of the religious services of the people round one common sanctuary. The prohibition against observing the great Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and tabernacle, the three annual epochs in the sacred year of the Jew, at home and in private, is reiterated in a variety of words no less than six times in the first sixteen verses of this chapter Deu 16:2, Deu 16:6-7, Deu 16:11, Deu 16:15-16. Hence, it is easy to see why nothing is here said of the other holy days.
The Feast of Passover Exo. 12:1-27; Num 9:1-14; Lev 23:1-8. A re-enforcement of this ordinance was the more necessary because its observance had clearly been intermitted for thirty-nine years (see Jos 6:10). One Passover only had been kept in the wilderness, that recorded in Num. 9, where see the notes.
Sacrifice the passover - "i. e." offer the sacrifices proper to the feast of the Passover, which lasted seven days. Compare a similar use of the word in a general sense in Joh 18:28. In the latter part of Deu 16:4 and in the following verses Moses passes, as the context again shows, into the narrower sense of the word Passover.
After the Paschal Supper in the courts or neighborhood of the sanctuary was over, they might disperse to their several "tents" or "dwellings" Kg1 8:66. These would of course be within a short distance of the sanctuary, because the other Paschal offerings were yet to be offered day by day for seven days and the people would remain to share them; and especially to take part in the holy convocation on the first and seventh of the days.
Feast of Weeks; and Deu 16:13-17, Feast of Tabernacles. Nothing is here added to the rules given in Leviticus and Numbers except the clauses so often recurring in Deuteronomy and so characteristic of it, which restrict the public celebration of the festivals to the sanctuary, and enjoin that the enjoyments of them should be extended to the Levites, widows, orphans, etc.
These verses are closely connected in subject with the following chapter, and introduce certain directions for the administration of justice and the carrying on of the civil government of the people in Canaan. During the lifetime of Moses, he himself, especially inspired and guided by God, was sufficient, with the aid of the subordinate judges (compare Exo 18:13 ff), for the duties in question. But now that Moses was to be withdrawn, and the people would soon be scattered up and down the land of Canaan, regular and permanent provision must be made for civil and social order and good government.
A grove ... - Render, Thou shalt not plant for thee any tree as an idol: literally as an Asherah," "i. e." an image of Astarte or Ashtaroth, the Phoenician goddess (compare Deu 7:5 note, Deu 7:13 note). The word is rendered "grove" by the King James Version also in Deu 7:5; Deu 12:3; Exo 34:13; Jdg 6:25, but cannot be maintained, for the word is connected with various verbs which are quite inapplicable to a grove. The wooden idol in question was the stem of a tree, stripped of its boughs, set upright in the ground, and rudely carved with emblems.